On Marco Island: Independent Reporting, Documenting Government Abuses, Exposing the Syndicate, Historical Records of Crimes Against the Environment

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Friday, July 30, 2010

EPA Lawsuit Update & Conclusion

Have received word that more documents have been released and are being forwarded.

With notice of this release, I have already agreed with the Asst. U.S. Attorney to dismiss the Freedom of Information Act case.

The documents will be posted on this blog upon receipt and such will be the next-to-last post.


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Saturday, July 10, 2010

EPA Releases More Documents: Violations Evident

As part of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA has just produced another approximately 200 pages of documents. This new set of documents covers primarily the dumping of effluent into the waterways and the release of hydrogen sulfide gas into neighborhoods.

This is the second production of documents made available as part of the FOIA lawsuit. The first production of documents consisted of approximately 500 pages as reported on this blog on June 23, 20101 and dealt mostly with the asbestos contamination.

These documents6 prove that the city2 violated federal law.

Executive Summary

  1. The city pumps raw untreated effluent from their dewatering efforts directly into the waterways, and releases hydrogen sulfide gas into neighborhoods.
  2. Citizens complain.
  3. Moss/Joel claim that the city has a permit to discharge untreated effluent into the waterways.
  4. Activist citizens contact the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the EPA to demonstrate that the city has no such permit.4
  5. Moss/Joel claim that the city's standard storm-water runoff permit suffices.
  6. FDEP, under pressure from the EPA, issue a Notice of Violation (technically, a letter of Non-Compliance).
  7. City attorney argues that the storm-water runoff permit suffices.
  8. FDEP (under pressure) and EPA disagree.
  9. City claims that pumping has stopped. Evidence sent to the EPA proves otherwise.
  10. City then applies for Generic Permit for the Discharge of Produced Ground Water permit
    which the FDEP summarily grants.5
  11. EPA notifies FDEP that the effluent being pumped into the waterways by city requires a federal NPDES (Clean Water Act) permit because the just-granted discharge permit is insufficient and inappropriate.
  12. FDEP and city ignore notice – continue pumping.

Violations of the Laws

Given the pervasive corruption in Florida (ergo the statewide grand jury), municipal vice and malfeasance is not illegal.

But what is certain is that the FDEP was required to demand from the city that a NPDES permit be obtained before any pumping of effluent into the waters from the dewatering was started. The city, under cover from the FDEP continued to discharge the effluent into the waterways despite being ordered to stop. When the mess was exposed the EPA clearly stated that a NPDES permit was required. The required NPDES permit was never obtained. The city and the FDEP violated the federal Clean Water Act.

As to the release of toxic levels of hydrogen sulfide gas into populated areas, it is unclear at this time if the EPA will pursue and enforcement action, as it appears that given the subterfuge being spun by the FDEP, they (the EPA) believed that the hydrogen sulfide being referred to by the citizens was the hydrogen sulfide suffused in the effluent, and not the one being released into the air. If true, this would imply that the EPA was incosiderate of the documents they were being provided with since the agency is in possession of myriad documents with airborne hydrogen sulfide gas readings.

Details of Interest

Evident in the documents is that this whole mess became very troubling for the EPA because the agency believed that the FDEP was simply "not vigilant". Then later it becomes obvious that in fact the FDEP was complicit in the illegal discharge because (in but one example) they claimed to the EPA that the effluent discharge into the waterways was not going to occur, and then once the dumping of effluent into the waterways was exposed it also became apparent that the toxicity levels far exceeded the allowed parameters.

What is known from piecing together previously available documents and photographic evidence is that Moss/Joel were disingenuous when they claimed that the pumping of effluent into the waterways had stopped or that the city had permits or that the odor was inexistent (the deceptions are many). This is not new. But also stitched together from several sources is that the FDEP alerted Moss/Joel as to when investigators were coming to Marco Island so that the pumps could be shut off before the investigators arrived hence deceiving them into believing that no pumping was occurring. There are even documents that have city operatives on a conference call with the FDEP/EPA proclaiming that no pumping of effluent into the waterways was occurring while the EPA was at the same time receiving via email photographs (with embedded GPS-generated time and latitude/longitude coordinates) and videos showing that the pumping was in fact occurring as they were speaking.

One of the salient communiqués proving that the city, in conjunction with the FDEP violated federal law:

Based upon my conversation with [redacted] of the NPDES Permit Section3, a permit is needed for the discharge to U.S. Waters. [redacted] felt that the Generic Permit for the Discharge of Produced Ground Water from any Non-Contaminated Site Activity did not apply since the discharge was previously found to be toxic to the juvenile shrimp species.

It is imperative to reiterate the above verbatim quote from two EPA investigators: the Generic Permit for the Discharge of Produced Ground Water permit summarily granted by the FDEP to the city when the storm-water runoff permit ruse was exposed WAS NOT VALID. Scrambling to show some permit so as to further the hoax camouflaged in the purposeful confusion, a permit from the South Florida Water Management District was obtained, which is also decried in the documents are utterly irrelevant. The FDEP and the city were so informed but Moss/Joel continued pumping.

As noted in another communiqué, a "criminal lead" was opened by the EPA. And in yet another email, EPA investigators ridicule Joel and the city attorney for suggesting that the standard storm-water runoff permit somehow covers the discharge of non-storm toxic effluent into U.S. waters.

The Obfuscation

Lying to the EPA, the conspiracy to hide the illegal dewatering, the slander and making disparaging remarks by certain current and former city employees as well as by the FDEP was known to activists at the time the environmental crimes were being committed, but now the documents bear proof.

In but one email exchange within the EPA, one agent writes to the other

"This statement is not true: 'The email we got from the EPA says everything looks real good, but please take care of these two things'."

Also of note is that while the FDEP was in essence running cover for the city, they were busy sending disparaging and making scurrilous remarks about the residents of Marco Island that dared to complain about the illegal discharge or about the toxic fumes. This tactic of denigrating concerned citizens is an endemic practice by the syndicate, but now we learn that it was well orchestrated by current and former city councilors and "staff". As in but one example, there is an email from the FDEP to the EPA where Marco Island citizens are disparaged is nearly identical words and substance to the statement given by Moss (and another undisclosed city operative) to FBI agent Matt Chester, and indistinguishable to the aspersions used by city councilors and their handlers in the syndicate.


The content can be validated by reviewing the 700+ pages of documents turned over by the EPA, as well as by correlating to city emails and documents released by the FDEP.6

But where does one go from here?

The EPA has acknowledged that the Clean Water Act (CWA) has been violated. Since the FDEP did not enforce the law, as they are required to do as related to the CWA, the EPA will step in to prosecute/enforce the law only if it is sued to do so – oddly enough, a relatively common occurrence. In the unlikely event that the EPA does act, this time around the city cannot throw Quality Enterprises under the proverbial bus since Moss/Joel took a hands-on approach to directing what is now known to be the illegal discharge. (Who can forget Joel's Rube Goldberg contraption to "scrub" the toxic effluent and filter out the hydrogen sulfide gas – it actually made matters worse.)

No one on Marco Island is going to sue the EPA. One lone soul has sued the EPA and is forever finished.

The FDEP clearly want this matter to be buried (pun intended as to how they were also complicit in the asbestos contamination) lest they themselves be prosecuted (unlikely given how Florida works).

Those responsible for lying, violating the federal Clean Water Act, making despicable remarks about Marco Island citizens, polluting the environment and harming the health of countless citizens must be censured and prosecuted. Herein is the roadmap in case anyone cares.


References & Notes:

2 Hereafter when referring to violations or other illegal acts, the "city" actually refers to the current and former employees, and current and former city councilors, and their handlers in the syndicate that participated in the violations, illegal acts and cover-up. Namely a handful of individuals.

3 The NPDES is a section of the federal Clean Water Act that mandates that a special permit be requested for discharging into U.S. waters. See http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/

4 At this point the activists were not aware that the FDEP was conspiring with the city or that it was making disparaging remarks about the citizens of Marco Island. Once this fact was realized, the activists ceased communicating with the FDEP and with the department's insider at the city, Lisa Douglass.

5 It is interesting to note, and unbeknownst to the activists up until the release of these documents, that the city's test for mercury in the effluent being dumped into the waterways was rejected by the authorities, yet there are no documents where the correct testing for mercury was ever done. It is possible that this too was "overlooked" by the FDEP.

6 All 700+ pages are at http://marcoislandblog.blogspot.com. ibid the FDEP and City of Marco Island produced emails.


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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Asbestos Water Pipes

As was reported by this blog two years ago, (see http://marcoislandblog.blogspot.com/2008/10/stupefying.html ) the water mains on the island are "AC" – asbestos-cement. And as reported in that same article, the then public works director, and his staff, noted that the city was not testing the water for asbestos being sent through those pipes.

As evidenced by the recent closure to one aspect of the long-running asbestos problem on the island, and in light of the current council chairman and city manager to clean up the endemic mismanagement and oversights by previous councils, it is time to address the water pipes issue.

And how much asbestos-cement pipe does the city have carrying drinking water? Sixty (60) miles.

The current/former utilities management is also concerned about the AC pipes. Note this email exchange: 

From: Don Blalock
Sent: Monday, April 26, 2010 9:46 AM
To: Rony Joel; Gretchen Baldus; Bart Bradshaw
Cc: Steve Olmsted
Subject: RE: EPA/ AC Pipe


 This is my cost estimate for IT's, Gretchen Baldus' and my time for this project:

 Don Blalock – Three weeks         15 Days            $5900

Gretchen Baldus – 8 Hrs            1   Day              $  350

IT Staff – 4 Hrs                           ½  Day              $  170?  ( I Don't know exactly what Jon or Mark's rate is but I think this is a fair estimate)

            Total                                                     $6420

 After discussing this project with Bart Bradshaw it is my understanding the EPA wants:

1)       All the AC pipe displayed on a map (we can color the AC Pipe RED and all other pipes BLUE, or any color type you choose)

2)       Labels' showing the GPS coordinates for the beginning point and ending of all AC mains runs.

 If this is the case, I believe I can locate all of the runs without having to use C/D Staff. 


1) Do you want a static Map similar to Jim Miller's STRP connection PDFs which he places on the WEB? or

2) Do you want a dynamic map similar to Gretchen's Boil Order Notification Map where the consumer can search their address?

 We probably could get this up within a month baring any unforeseen issues such as a utility event or a natural disaster. If we don't need to display GPS coordinates on the map, the time table and cost could be cut in half.  Let me know if I am incorrect in my assumptions of this project.

 Donald R. Blalock, Jr.

Asset Manager

Marco Island Utilities

771 E. Elkcam Cir.

Marco Island, Fl  34145

Office: 239-389-3997


From: Rony Joel
Sent: Thursday, April 22, 2010 6:30 PM
To: Don Blalock; Gretchen Baldus; Bart Bradshaw
Cc: Steve Olmsted
Subject: EPA/ AC Pipe


Don, Gretchen and Bart

I need your help. We need to develop a cost estimate to locate accurately every AC pipe on the Island (about 60 miles) and put it on a city wide GIS map which would be accessible to every resident on our web site.

This would include crews from Bart team, Don developing the data base and Gretchen inserting into a GIS data base.

I need to have a cost estimate of how many hours of labor will it take to accomplish this.

I need to have this to our attorneys by Tuesday afternoon

If EPA accepts this project, we will have a year to implement – now all I need is a scope and hour estimate


Please see me so you can coordinate this project



Note that the figure quoted is not to replace the pipes, or inspect them for fissures, or to even test the water for asbestos – but to merely document where they exist.

Several EPA studies show that asbestos-cement pipes do release fibers into the water. In but one study, several factors attributed to the release of the fibers into the water, noting that "… monitoring results and pilot studies indicate that the A/C pipes do release these fibers into the water." Namely, from "Decay of asbestos cement in water mains".1

Asbestos in the water mains presents two problems: one from ingestion and the other from contact with the skin (as when showering or taking a bath.)

According to the EPA, adverse health effects from ingesting asbestos have been documented. The Agency's list of contaminants notes that adverse health effects occur when there are 7 million fibers per liter (7MFL), resulting in an increased risk of developing benign intestinal polyps.2 The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (a federal agency) found that some areas with asbestos fibers in drinking water have a "higher than average death rates from cancer of the esophagus, stomach and intestines."4

Asbestos on the skin causes itching, predominantly right after bathing, and can cause warts ("Asbestos Warts" 3) and corns.

We call upon the independent city councilors to direct the staff to:

  • Identify and document for public review the exact location of these asbestos-cement water pipes
  • Regularly test the drinking water for asbestos in a statistically significant number of locations – where those locations are at the point where the asbestos-cement water pipes connect to homes and food-serving businesses.
  • Seek independent (outside of the city) expert(s) to evaluate the test results.
  • Make public those tests and evaluations in a timely fashion.

Health and safety must be the predominant concern of a government "For the People".


Controlling Asbestos Loss from Asbestos-Cement Pipe in Aggressive Waters. EPA. Water Engineering Research Laboratory. Sept. 1985.





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Sunday, July 04, 2010

Call for Referendum

All civic matters that can have profound effects on the community should be decided upon by the residents of that community.

Such an approach reaffirms a vital tenet of a democracy that up until recently served this country splendidly because it puts the destiny of a community in the hands of where it belongs – with the people. Just as importantly, aberrant political forces are abated thereby preventing the divisive rancor and justifiable bitterness when costly and impinging initiatives are undertaken on misconceptions, outright lies, political machinations and the marginalization of people with opposing views – as we have suffered repeatedly here on Marco Island.

Let's not repeat those mistakes again.

To that end the city council is asked to authorize the placement of two non-binding questions on the upcoming November 2, 2010 ballot:

  1. Do you support a high school on Marco Island?
  2. Do you support a high school on Tract K?

Prior to the election one or two moderated town hall meetings can be held where the proponents, the detractors and the residents desirous in becoming apprised of both sides of this issue can participate in an open discussion.

As there are legitimate questions concerning a high school that can impact this community, the community should be allowed to opine in a formal and quantifiable manner.


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Friday, July 02, 2010

Marco Island Sued in Federal Court

As reported by CBS- WINK News.

Interesting case: public safety vs. probable cause for unreasonable searches and seizures (4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution)?


  • I just does not seem fair to ask Island Drug to not fill RX's from the east coast but Walgreens and CVS can? As far as I can tell Island drug has done nothing wrong, the scripts were legal, go after the doctor who wrote them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, July 02, 2010 9:47:00 PM  

  • i agree. if the prescriptions are valid even if they are for 10,000 pills, what responsibility is it of the pharmacy's if the doctor that issued the prescription is a drug dealer and the person picking up the pills is a pusher? police working on probable cause can stop anyone in the parking lot - fair enough - but to tell the pharmacy that it will be closed down despite the pharmacy is doing nothing wrong seems wrong. and the other businesses are complaining - oh, ok, so when the usual marco island drunks leave one of the local vomitoriums stone drunk are the police going to threaten that vomitorium? i dont think so - why not? well, because the chamber of commerce and the restaurant association. if the same enforcement occurs when drunks leave these island sleaze places, there would be practically no one left on the island and the vomitoriums would be out of business. but in the end i hope that dr. recker does his magic and minimizes the loss to the tax payers.

    By Blogger Dr. Mario, at Saturday, July 03, 2010 9:31:00 AM  

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