WHITEWASHED: Davis Enterprise Downplays TCP Story at Target Site

On Monday, the Vanguard ran an article reporting on a new discovery of TCP, at a level well over the reporting limit. The local group, Frontier Fertilizer Superfund Oversight Group (FFSOG) is concerned enough that they want to see additional testing.

Now the Enterprise runs a story with the same facts available to them that the Vanguard has, however, they completely bury the concerns of FFSOG and its president, longtime community activist Pam Nieberg, and place complete faith in the EPA and its spokesperson Bonnie Arthur.

The headline itself displays the full bias of the article: “Toxics won’t impede Target: New contaminant deemed low-risk.”

Claire St. John of the Enterprise writes:

The discovery of the pesticide isn’t surprising. It was first detected at the Superfund cleanup site west of where the new Target will be built. TCP was first discovered in 1983, after the Environmental Protection Agency began cleaning up a site where the former Frontier Fertilizer company dumped pesticides in unlined pits along Second Street.

‘It’s not a new discovery of contamination,’ said Bonnie Arthur, project supervisor for the EPA’s Superfund Division. ‘It’s a slightly different area than what we’ve seen before. It’s a little bit further to the east. It’s not unexpected in terms of what we know about how this chemical moves around in the subsurface.’

‘We’ll probably have to install some additional monitoring wells just to investigate it further,’ Arthur said. ‘But it’s not something that’s a showstopper to us in terms of the Target development.’

‘We have an enforceable agreement with them, so if we had to, we’d drill through their slab,’ Arthur said. ‘We’ve done it before. We’re not going to ignore it, but we don’t think there’s any health risk. Nobody’s drinking the water.'”

FFSOG and Pam Nieberg Disagree with Arthur here

In a letter to EPA Project Manager Bonnie Arthur, Pam Nieberg wrote:

“I am concerned that Target is planning to move ahead with construction prior to further evaluation of the extent of the TCP contamination. I expressed these concerns to the FFSOG Board and community members in attendance and they believe that further sampling should occur to determine the extent and source of the TCP contamination prior to further construction at the Target site.”

She continued:

“You stated in your November 24th response that EPA can require Target to investigate the TCP contamination if you determine at a later date that the plume does not come from the Frontier site. However, once the foundation and parking lot are built, sampling will be much more difficult if not impossible in the case of the store concrete slab. Moreover, if the TCP originated from the source area, it changes the nature and scope of the Frontier site clean up and investigation. Specifically, this detection may indicate that the contamination has moved further that previously thought thus requiring reassessment of the pump and treat system and the extent of the groundwater contamination. Therefore, in addition to assessing the extent of the contamination, it is also essential to ascertain its source to the extent possible.”

She concludes:

“The issue is not just whether or not Target mitigates for possible TCP intrusion into the store as is currently planned. It is an issue of determining the extent and probable source of the TCP contamination, possible health impacts in the neighborhood and how to remediate if necessary. This is to request that the EPA take immediate action to further investigate the source, extent and movement of the TCP in the groundwater in the vicinity of the planned Target store and adjacent homes. Time of the essence as Target plans to move ahead very soon to build the store foundation.”

People may not be drinking the water, but it may be getting into the neighborhood.

Enterprise Sides with the Bush EPA

One of the common practices of journalism is to place heavy emphasis and a large amount of weight on the testimony of experts and official sources. However, in general, when there are conflicting points of view, you present a more balanced picture. It is one thing for a blog such as the Vanguard to take one side of the story, it is another for the newspaper.

The question comes down to the credibility of the source, and recent events suggest that maybe a representative from the EPA, even a civil servant such as Bonnie Arthur, might want to have a much higher degree of skepticism that Clair St. John and the Enterprise exhibited.

Indeed in 2002, the same Bonnie Arthur was involved in a case in Nevada and acknowledged changes in the Bush administration’s policies over the previous Clinton administration’s policies.

“Bonnie Arthur, EPA project manager, said her agency is overseeing the state effort but Nevada is the lead enforcement regulator at the mine.

In the waning months of the Clinton administration, the agency announced it was considering the Superfund listing after determining the mine posed a significant threat to residents’ drinking water.

Under President Bush, the push is to let states oversee cleanups as much as possible, Arthur said.

But if the state fails to follow through on site investigations and cleanup, the EPA would consider pursuing a Superfund listing or federal enforcement order, she said.

“We’re trying to make sure the state follows through out there,” Arthur said. “The political reality is we have to give the state a chance.””

It took six years, but finally in July 2008, the EPA ordered the owner of that mine to finish their study.

As we learned this week, that’s not the only change that the Bush administration has done with regards to environmental regulation.

Citizens’ groups had to take the administration and the EPA to court in order to enforce parts of the clean air act–and they won.

“Citizens’ groups succeeded in closing a gaping air pollution loophole with a win in federal court today.

The groups, represented by the public interest law firm Earthjustice, were fighting a regulation adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that has allowed refineries, chemical plants, and other industrial facilities to ignore pollution limits whenever equipment malfunctions, and whenever they start up or shut down operations. During these periods, toxic emissions can skyrocket, severely degrading air quality. And some facilities evade clean air protections by claiming that they are in startup, shutdown, or malfunction mode during much of their operating time.”

The article posted on Yubanet continues:

The plaintiffs in the case were Environmental Integrity Project along with Sierra Club, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Coalition for a Safe Environment, and Friends of Hudson — groups in affected communities in the Gulf Coast, southern California, and upstate New York.

And the defendants, the people on the bad side of this environmental issue, you guessed it the EPA under the Bush Administration’s leadership. The same EPA that the Enterprise is placing its entire stock in.

“For more than a decade polluters have relied on this loophole at the expense of neighboring communities,” said Earthjustice attorney Jim Pew. “Today’s victory is a big win for the people in these communities, who can now breathe easier.”

Excess emissions occur routinely at industrial facilities throughout the country, according to a comprehensive report by the Environmental Integrity Project titled “Gaming the System: How the Off-the-Books Industrial Upset Emissions Cheat the Public Out of Clear Air.”

Under this notorious EPA exemption, industrial facilities have been allowed to operate like a fleet of junk cars parked in neighborhoods while spewing blue smoke, misfiring, backfiring, stalling, and chugging,” said Marti Sinclair, Chair of Sierra Club’s Clean Air Team. “This court ruling provides a ray of hope for those neighborhood who have been rendered helpless as dark angry clouds of uncontrolled toxic pollution have rolled over their homes from poorly maintained and poorly operated facilities.”

Here’s a telling quote from Sierra Club Senior Attorney David Bookbinder:

This is just the latest example of a court striking down yet another attempt by the Bush EPA to gut the Clean Air Act. It’s a good thing that inauguration is right around the corner, because we’re beginning to lose track of the number of such decisions.”

Local activists are thinking the exact same thing. There is a reason why Target wants to pour that slab on January 5, it is just over two weeks before the Obama administration takes over. The new head of the EPA will be Lisa Jackson who has a reputation pushing and enforcing environmental regulations.

This week, California’s Senator Barbara Boxer sent a very pointed letter to the US Attorney General Michael Mukasey dated December 22, 2008, castigating Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson charging that “he has run amok and will waste taxpayer dollars in his most recent action to avoid controlling global warming pollution in Clean Air Act permits.”

Senator Boxer said:

“This illegal document issued by Stephen Johnson makes it clear that he has become a renegade Administrator. He defies the clear language of our environmental laws and acts without legal authority. Mr. Johnson’s latest action is intended to make the job of combating global warming more difficult and will add to the millions of taxpayer dollars he has wasted in defending his illegal decisions. The Attorney General has an obligation to intervene when the actions of the Administration are so clearly outside the law.”

These are just two examples from this week that show the pattern over the last eight years that the EPA has taken steps to intentionally avoid implementing and enforcing existing US environmental law.

However, when it comes to a local issue in the city of Davis that may well affect the existing residents in that neighborhood and perhaps the workers and customers of a new Target store, the Enterprise swallows the line of the Bush administration EPA hook, line, and sinker.

Ms. Arthur may indeed be a civil servant, but she as she admitted in 2002, is operating under the orders of the Bush Administration. She may say it does not pose a threat, but the research that FFSOG contradicts her assessment.

Unfortunately it seems that the remedy here is going to have to be a legal remedy. Someone, probably FFSOG itself, needs to sue Target getting a court order to stop the laying off the slab until testing can be done or at the very least until the Obama Administration comes in with new orders.

The EPA may be right, but until someone does a test to figure out exactly what is down there right now, should we not err on the side of caution? What is a month or two in the process of building Target? They are scheduled to open the store in October, it certainly can be done in far less time than nine months. Let us just be sure before we make unalterable decisions.

And to the Davis Enterprise, I have seen biased reporting in the past from this paper, this may be the most egregious example. Any inkling that the local group objected to the EPA’s decision was buried well off the front page and the headline itself belied the newspaper’s slant. This type of reporting does not serve our community well.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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55 Comments

  1. Deb W.

    Yes, this was the worst and most egregious I've seen the Enterprise. I'd also describe the piece as pathetic and desperate. When I first read the headline my thought was, …Well, thank goodness the Target is still going to go through!… Of course there's no mention of the neighbors or houses near by. The Enterprise keeps it's priorities straight; we care about the Target and its advertising dollars, not the health risk of the neighborhood. With how many AP wire stories, how many people they've fired and how thin the paper is, I'll be amazed if there still is an Enterprise when Target opens.

  2. Vanguard blogger

    Anonymous 9:36,You must obviously not know or be familiar with the blog environment.You said, …Must be a bummer when you have to answer your own blog subject. I think free ink will do that to a person….A good blogger such as David engages and debates and discusses issues with those who blog. That's why we like this blog so much. Like it or not it is engaging and thought provoking.You further state, …Also sounds like your a person who doesn't enjoy what you do, lashing out at the few who read this blog makes a lot of sense….Disagreeing and debating with people doesn't mean that a person does not like what they do. Perhaps you are projecting and you need to do some self-evaluation.Thanks for the Toxic Target update David! In the Enterprise, all is good in Disneyland, so we would not know what is really going on in Davis were it not for the People's Vanguard.12/24/08 9:36 AM

  3. Anonymous

    It's one thing to write a blog and have a biased or slanted perspective. It's another to not conduct due diligence and provide readers with a broader perspective. It's intellectual laziness. Give your readers some credit at being able to draw their own conclusions. Don't withhold information or fail to investigate more deeply. Provide all the facts, respond with your own commentary or interpretation of the facts, and let the chips fall where they may. Your readers deserve that much.

  4. David M. Greenwald

    Look forward to it Jeremy.To others:…The news was made by the EPA, not by Pam Nieberg….Actually without Pam Nieberg is it doubtful that either the Vanguard or the Enterprise would have covered this story.

  5. David M. Greenwald

    …The Enterprise at least contacted the EPA….I think Claire based on how she wrote the story probably talked to the EPA. But honestly she could have written the same story simply pulling quotes from Bonnie Arthur from her letter which I had access to.

  6. Pam

    Actually, the story did not begin with an EPA release. David is correct. Two of us from the oversight group attended a technical meeting with EPA, their contractor, and reps from the State Water Board, DTSC, Target and their contractor. There we found out about the surprise (EPA's word) detect of TCP north east of the Target footprint. At that meeting, whether or not Target would have to do more sampling prior to pouring the slab for the store was discussed. There were concerns among others, not just the oversight reps, as to the origin and extent of the detect and what risk it posed. It was ultimately decided that EPA was probably going to allow Target to pour the slab given certain engineering controls designed to protect workers in the building. The design of these controls was also subject to EPA's and DTSC's approval. That has not happened yet, but it is in progress.When the two members took the information back to the rest of the Board of Directors of the oversight group and some community members, it was universally felt that appropriate samplings should be done prior to pouring the slab, help ensure that the neighbors of the site were not at risk. As a consequence, the oversight group sent a letter with their concerns and this request to EPA and some of our elected representatives. The information from the meeting with Target, etc. was also broadcast throughout the concerned community and was picked up by the Vanguard. Some in the community also contacted the Enterprise. The Enterprise contacted the oversight group for the story and also asked for an EPA contact. They subsequently spoke to EPA. So,the actual story when it was picked up by the Enterprise was about EPA's failure to do the right thing by doing the appropriate samplings prior to allowing Target to proceed, as it appeared in the Vanguard, with a response by EPA as a result of being contacted by the Enterprise.

  7. Anonymous

    …It was ultimately decided that EPA was probably going to allow Target to pour the slab given certain engineering controls designed to protect workers in the building….Pam,Are you saying that by putting in a vapor barrier below the slab workers at Target will be safe? That's what it sounds like, that there will be no likely danger to anyone working at Target from this chemical.

  8. Anonymous

    Anonymous Mike said… To those who say TCP is not dangerous, you need to watch this video. You will come away realizing that David Greenwald is not as stupid as he appears to be. TCP has killed many people, and if we don't prohibit its spread in Davis, great brain damage will occur. 12/24/08 1:07 PMAnything to get attention, eh, Mike? But the question is, will you be shopping for TCP DVDs at Target? Or asking the sales staff why they don't stock TCP DVDs?While wearing a gas mask?

  9. Anonymous

    …But honestly she could have written the same story simply pulling quotes from Bonnie Arthur from her letter which I had access to….Okay, but that's evading the argument. Why didn't YOU contact the EPA? Again, MORE bias isn't a counterargument against bias.

  10. 3 Cheers for Vanguar

    Great story David! Don't worry about the infamous …Anonymous… who keeps defending the Enterprise. For all you know it could be the reporter or someone from the Enterprise.Obviously they don't understand …journalism… and they are a newspaper. The Enterprise, Claire in particular as a reporter, always slant stories to support their chamber of commerce interests because their editor – Debbie Davis – sits on the board. Hmmmm….doesn't take long to figure out that there is a conflict of interest.What the …lame… …anonymous does not understand is that you are a blogger, founder, publisher, …bleditor… as their own Dunning called you. Blogs can be as bias as they choose and take a more conservative, liberal, or centrist approach like the Huffington Post, or the Daily Kos.Keep up the great work David!!! As your blog – The Vanguard – grows the Enterprise shrinks in size. You're a modern day muckraker….cleaning up the dirt in Davis. Making our town better and beautiful.

  11. 3 Cheers for Vanguar

    Partial from Wikipedia: …Muckraker is a term associated with a group of American investigative reporters, novelists, and critics from the late 1800s to early 1900s, who investigated and exposed societal issues.Although the term muckraking might appear to have a negative connotation to it, muckrakers have often served the public interest by uncovering crime, corruption, waste, fraud and abuse in both the public and private sectors….The People's Vanguard is a modern day muckraker! Thank you David.Happy Hanukkah to you and Cecilia.

  12. Don Shor

    …The Enterprise, Claire in particular as a reporter, always slant stories to support their chamber of commerce interests because their editor – Debbie Davis – sits on the board….Debbie is not on the board of the Chamber. I also happen to think Claire St. John is a good reporter who generally does fine work within the constraints of her deadlines and limited resources. The Enterprise is one of the best local newspapers I have seen. I read the local papers in Davis, Dixon, Woodland, and Vacaville; the Enterprise has the best columnists and very good local coverage. It is true that the Enterprise editorial positions generally are similar to those of the Chamber, to the extent that the Chamber take positions at all. That is not surprising nor is it any particular …conflict of interest… that their values converge. David has the luxury of selecting one story at a time, of his own choosing, and can give it as much attention as he wishes. I think the Vanguard and the Enterprise complement each other very well, and the community is fortunate to have both of them.

  13. Pam

    Anonymous 1:41 yesterday:In response to the question re the vapor barrier: The preliminary plans submitted to EPA and DTSC call for a layer of gravel covered by a vapor barrier membrane between the ground and the slab. Piping will run throughout the gravel to collect any TCP vapors. It will be a passive system. They will not be actively pulling vapors up out of the groundwater. The pipes will run inside the walls of the building and vent out to the air above the building. This is the basic design. DTSC had many comments on the design and EPA also submitted comments. They both want improvements, such as an upgrade to the proposed vapor barrier. We also pointed out that they would not want to be venting toxic vapors, so they are going to require a treatment system before vapors are released in that event. This should protect the workers in the store. However, it does nothing to ensure that the near-by residents are protected, obviously. That is still an issue.

  14. Yolo Flatlander

    If neighboring houses are on the contaminated property, then those homeowners are responsible for cleaning up and remediating the pollution. Target isn't the only one responsible for paying for the cleanup. So, if you can prove that TCP is in a plume of contaminated ground water under current homes, those homeowners are responsible for the cost of the cleanup. If you don't challenge the EPA findings, perhaps those homeowners won't receive a bill? Perhaps they will receive a bill anyway ?http://www.lectlaw.com/files/env12.htmLiability Under CERCLA. CERCLA imposes joint and several liability for cleaning upcontamination caused by hazardous substances on four categories ofresponsible parties: (1) the current owner or operator of a vessel or a facility; (2) the owner or operator of a vessel or facility at the time of disposal of any hazardous substance; (3) the generators of any hazardous substances located on the site; and (4) any transporter of hazardous substances to a site the transporter selected. 42 U.S.C. sec. 9607(a)(1)- (4). Although agreements can be made to apportion liability between responsible parties, no agreement will shield any responsible party from CERCLA liability. CERCLA also imposed liability retroactively to contamination predating the act's passage in 1980

  15. Yolo Flatlander

    I think that all the property owners that have contaminated ground water are liable for the cleanup and remediation costs. Target is just one of the property owners; all the neighboring homeowners are liable for the cleanup costs too. Just because Target is paying for the cleanup costs doesn't mean that Target couldn't send a bill to the homeowners .http://www.lectlaw.com/files/env12.htmLiability Under CERCLA. CERCLA imposes joint and several liability for cleaning upcontamination caused by hazardous substances on four categories ofresponsible parties: (1) the current owner or operator of a vessel or a facility; (2) the owner or operator of a vessel or facility at the time of disposal of any hazardous substance; (3) the generators of any hazardous substances located on the site; and (4) any transporter of hazardous substances to a site the transporter selected. 42 U.S.C. sec. 9607(a)(1)- (4). Although agreements can be made to apportion liability between responsible parties, no agreement will shield any responsible party from CERCLA liability. CERCLA also imposed liability retroactively to contamination predating the act's passage in 1980.

  16. Anonymous

    Don't worry about the infamous …Anonymous… who keeps defending the Enterprise. For all you know it could be the reporter or someone from the Enterprise….I am neither. That itself is intellectual laziness. I'm still waiting for someone to provide me with a reasonable explanation for how more bias is an appropriate antidote to bias. MORE bias is supposed to make the blog MORE credible? That to me is lazy and exposes an absence of critical thought. Apparently those who value critical thought shouldn't consider this a reliable source of information(?). That you're only capable of concluding that a Vanguard critic can only be the editor or reporter of the Enterprise or some other conspiracy is amusing.

  17. Don Shor

    …I think that all the property owners that have contaminated ground water are liable for the cleanup and remediation costs….I am definitely not an expert on this, but I seem to recall reading that subsequent EPA regulations and court rulings have modified this.

  18. Anonymous

    ……A blog in general has a point of view, a perspective. It is NOT GENERALLY governed by the norm of objectivity or the guise of balance…. Except this is incorrect. The format is a blog, but you're creating news and therefore subject to the same expectations of objectivity as any other news source. Other blogs usually react and respond to news. You create it. Your responsibility is greater.

  19. Anonymous

    …Creating news?…Wrong term. Should have used …covering… or …breaking… news. When you're responding to other media-covered stories or providing general commentary, then a blog is appropriate to provide personal opinion. When you're covering or introducing a story that has not been covered then your responsibility to become more objective is greater. The point here is that your interest is in being a credible alternative to the Enterprise. You will never achieve that objective if in introducing a story, you don't attempt objectivity and cover it with more bias than the Enterprise ended up doing. If you're objective is to be a credible source of information, then you don't counterbalance perceived bias with MORE bias. You do it with Less bias, more facts, provide a separate subheading of …commentary… and let the chips fall where they may. If you're confident and secure in the strength your position you needn't hide facts, an alternative viewpoint, or fail to investigate or research properly. It should be able to stand on its own merit.That is, if your objective is to be credible to more than those who already blindly follow your viewpoint. It seems like it should be.

  20. Anonymous

    …Except this is incorrect. The format is a blog, but you're creating news……The endgame of the blog revolution in our time. The bloggers become part of the news. Hunter Thompson became …part of the story… long ago, to get at undercurrents of truth. Now, blog …make… news not by physically becoming part of the story but by making fact-checking passe. Not that People's Vanguard does, per se. But that a person making a comment on People's Vanguard's bulletin board is the first instance I've seen of the idea floating around out there: that blogs don't report news but subjectively …create… it.

  21. Anonymous

    …Not that People's Vanguard does, per se….The Vanguard only fact checks when doing so suits its predetermined position. In the case of the school district, the Vanguard when to considerable effort to make sure the facts were out there. With other issues, fact checking is optional. In this case, the Vanguard …broke… the TCP story, but didn't fact check or consider an objective viewpoint. All it would have taken to balance the story was to call the EPA. If the EPA fails to respond, the Vanguard either runs the story stating so, or holds off on the story until contact is made. That would have been responsible. Had the Enterprise run the story first (which I concede may not have happened), then it would have been appropriate to …blog… about the shortcomings of the Enterprise story. I'm simply illustrating the point that when the Vanguard presents news or stories that are not covered elsewhere, it is not blogging, it is serving as an information source. Selective inclusion of the facts is a greater disservice to the community than an accusation of bias against the Enterprise. If the intent is to be a credible source of information, you don't do this. And if the intent is not to be credible, then what's the point of doing it? Let me also state that being a Vanguard critic doesn't make me an Enterprise apologist. I simply believe that any media source that introduces news or stories are obligated to attempt objectivity. Otherwise, you're not a credible source of information to me. Groupthink does not benefit anybody. Critical thought does.I say this because I think the Vanguard, with more journalistic discipline, has the opportunity to become more than it is. The coverage of the school district financial situation is a case in point. But the discipline isn't there and I don't trust it as a news source. Too often, it's lazy commentary. That's fine when responding to other media sources. It's not fine when introducing new stories or …breaking… news.

  22. Anonymous

    All I have to say is that I'd rather read the Vanguard than the Enterprise. DPD is an honest and thorough journalist. He started this blog to expose the real problems that are slowly rotting the underbelly of Davis. Davis has become this haven for hippy hatin republicans that are controlling the local governments and making loads of money off of the taxpayers of Yolo County. I can't tell you how many republicans I've come across (rich and poor) that swear up and down how much they hate Davisites, yet they live and work here and gladly take whatever they..be it social services or extremely exhorbitant high paid positions in the County.DPD has exposed the truth. Sometimes the truth hurts, but someone has to do it. Thanks to DPD and his journalistic integrity.The EPA is just another example of how republicans have inserted themselves into the governmental institutions, in order to continue the fleecing of America. The EPA is not interested in helping the environment. It's blazingly obvious. The EPA is going to do nothing about this, because they are pro business and anti environment. I'm tired of bowing down to the republicans. It's time for people to stand up and say enough is enough. Let's undo the damage that bush has done. We start with getting rid of the money hungry puppets in local governments, and demand a pro environment administrator.

  23. Anonymous

    Anonymous 4:08You are exactly what's becoming wrong with Davis. The polarization of community with such negative undertones is extremely damaging. The Vanguard has done some good things but also conducted some very questionable …journalism…. …Integrity… is supposed to be a neutral term and in the journalistic world implies a sincere attempt at objectivity. The Vanguard fails in that respect.What the Vanguard has more accurately exposed is the deep dark underbelly of Davis' extreme left minority, which alienates the majority who is clearly left of center. So it may be doing more harm than good because it's not a credible source of information.What needs to happen with the Vanguard regarding local issues is an open dialogue with all the facts (not selective facts) on the table through respectful conversation, not animosity and antagonism. Special interest groups rule Davis and they fail to look beyond their own interest, the secondary effects of those interests. We need more people willing to compromise and consider the greater good for Davis. I imagine most residents would like to actually solve some of our local problems in a collaborative manner that *respectfully* takes into account all viewpoints. There's no other way around it, really. I don't see that here, and your post is a perfect example. Finger pointing and name calling is counterproductive.

  24. Don Shor

    …even though …This classification denotes that methyl bromide is not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity… I've always been under the impression it causes ozone depletion.So, toxicity to the earth does eventually mean toxicity to humans, though maybe not as cancer .http://www.epa.gov/Ozone/defns.html…... Production of methyl bromide was phased out on December 31, 2004, except for allowable exemptions……..It does. That's why it is being phased out. Strawberries are one of the last remaining allowable exemptions.

  25. David M. Greenwald

    I’m going to say this first–The Vanguard is a blog. The Enterprise is a newspaper. A blog in general has a point of view, a perspective. It is governed by the norm of objectivity or the guise of balance. Objectivity is probably unattainable as a standard, but balance is obtainable. The Enterprise operates under this guise that it should provide somewhat objective and impartial reporting of news stories. The Enterprise has done anything but in this case.I began this blog two-and-a-half years ago because I believed there needed to be a counterweight or at least a response to the Enterprise’s reporting. In that time, this is probably the most egregious example of biased reporting on the part of the Enterprise. They did not even attempt to feign neutrality or impartiality in this story.You can call me biased all you want, but for those of you who are inclined to believe the EPA here, I want to know why you do. What has the EPA done over the last eight years to earn your trust.I especially want to hear from the those Democrats on this board who supported Target, because that is a large percentage of the Target vote. That’s who I am interested in hearing from. No offense to the Republicans on the board, but you only speak for about 15% of the population of Davis.

  26. David M. Greenwald

    typo, should read…A blog in general has a point of view, a perspective. It is NOT GENERALLY governed by the norm of objectivity or the guise of balance….

  27. Anonymous

    Still a non-issue. A contaminant in the water below ground won’t bother those in a building above ground. While Target opponents weep and pule, it will get built and they will see conspiracy.

  28. Chester

    … A blog in general has a point of view, a perspective. It is governed by the norm of objectivity or the guise of balance….-Then-…No offense to the Republicans on the board, but you only speak for about 15% of the population of Davis….Wow David, if you had been born 60 years ago, might you have felt comfortable excluding other minority groups now protected by law? I find it fascinating that many on the left can’t recognize what is essentially blatant discrimination of people that don

  29. David M. Greenwald

    Chester:I think you misinterpretated what I said which was that I especially wanted to hear from Democrats who voted for target. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to here Republicans, I do. I think Republicans have less splaining to do on this than Democrats frankly.I want to understand how Democrats who call themselves environmentalists, Democrats who are supportive of the EPA and critical of the Bush administration, and voted for Target, react to this news and this information. This is not a me discriminating against Republicans thing, it just seems that Republicans on this blog in these comments are overrepresented with regard to their population. I have no problem with that, as always, I welcome all comments, but I wanted to lay out whose opinion was interesting to me on this issue.Hope you understand better.

  30. David M. Greenwald

    …The concerned about Target employees is a dubious claim because Target has more genuine motivation to mitigate risk of future employment lawsuits….BTW, I disagree with this point, unless there is a clear concern cluster, this is not a realistic concern.

  31. Anonymous

    Must be a bummer when you have to answer your own blog subject. I think free ink will do that to a person.Probably why the Enterprise has such good talent, like BOB DUNNING , cause they have limited space to write those great articles.Also sounds like your a person who doesn’t enjoy what you do, lashing out at the few who read this blog makes a lot of sense.

  32. Pam Nieberg

    To anonymous at 8:53: I have to point out that the presence of a volatile chemical in the groundwater most definitely can and will affect a home above ground. Volatile chemicals—-volatilize! And they enter the atmosphere above ground and can enter a structure above ground. That is why Target is installing the venting controls in the store–to protect workers from any vapors of TCP that might enter the building via the concrete slab from below ground. Shouldn’t the same consideration be given to home owners north of the superfund site, many of whom bought houses there not fully aware of the dangers or at least trusting EPA to do their job and protect the community? I am afraid David is dead on re EPA under the Bush administration.All the neighbors are asking is some credible assurance from EPA that they are not at risk from the TCP.

  33. Don Shor

    It would have been nice if either the Vanguard or the Enterprise had sought an independent opinion about the toxicity of TCP. There is a Department of Environmental Toxicology at UC Davis. …several years ago the strawberry farm just outside of town was caught using methyl bromide

  34. Anonymous

    I’ll bite. I fit the criteria you describe. I’m comfortable with the EPA response because, taking the quotes at face value, the substance was known and it has merely migrated. They’re aware of it and are going to monitor it. It’s not a new discovery so why additional testing. Quite honestly, in this case the EPA is still more credible than Pam Nieberg. The Enterprise at least contacted the EPA. You did not. I’ve seen you rake credible conscientious people I know over the coals before so I don’t have any reason to give your slant any of my consideration.

  35. Anonymous

    Such a kneejerk reaction, to blame that evil Bush EPA. I can’t wait until the best!president!ever! (yeah right) takes over and you can see how things are going to be pretty much the same re: environmental policy. The EPA is like any bureaucracy. There are always going to be situations that they aren’t entirely on top of and require lawsuits or whatever to make them act. I’m tired of everyone suggesting that this is some huge conspiracy to intentionally pollute the environment or something when really, it is just trying to keep a reasonable cap on regulations and huge fees to businesses.

  36. Chester

    David:…I want to understand how Democrats who call themselves environmentalists, Democrats who are supportive of the EPA and critical of the Bush administration, and voted for Target, react to this news and this information…. Fair enough, but you are running a blog, not a polling device… I think. But, I understand your interest.We will have to agree to disagree on the point about Target being more motivated to mitigate risks for future employee health issues. You may not understand the power that HR and staff attorneys have in most large organizations. These folks are generally even more tenacious than you and Pam when it comes to blocking development. Given this and other points, I still do not get why you and others feel justified forcing Target to delay (thereby costing them lost revenue and extra contruction expense) when the problem existed before and would still exist after the building is constructed. The only logic that make sense to me is that you, her and others on this TCP-scare crusade hope more testing and delay creates more political will to somehow reverse the measure K approval and finally prevent the Target from being built. I am really tired of driving around downtown Davis looking for parking and then leaving empty-handed because I could not find what I was looking for… or driving all the way to Woodland leaving my sales tax dollars with them. If somebody can better quantify the real TCP impact differences between a delayed Target and a built Target, then I can be convinced to support a delay. From my perspective, your only real claim is that testing becomes more difficult after Target is built. Not enough.

  37. Mike Hart

    Dear David-I am concerned that you might have used up all of your exclamation points in your story so I am sending you a fresh supply:!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I am particularly impressed by the artful linking between Target’s construction project, an un-related plume of toxins and global warming. Sort of journalistic origami…Hopefully this will last you through the holiday seasons. You might want to use a couple for the new front-line headline that the Service Workers Strike has saved Davis once again from having another has-been political hack haunt Davis (Clinton, Nunez and now Steinem!) Yeah!!!In any case, thank you for the article and if for nothing else, keeping the Enterprise looking over their shoulder!Merry Christmas!

  38. Anonymous

    …Now the Enterprise runs a story with the same facts available to them that the Vanguard has, however, they completely bury the concerns of FFSOG and its president, longtime community activist Pam Nieberg, and place complete faith in the EPA and its spokesperson Bonnie Arthur….The news was made by the EPA, not by Pam Nieberg. It was the EPA’s decision which made this a news story at all. Therefore, to claim that the Enterprise …buried… the reaction of an environmental activist is just plain stupid.Also, it’s untrue to say the Enterprise writer …placed complete faith… in Bonnie Arthur or the Bush EPA (as you later say). The journalist showed no bias at all. She reported what the EPA had to say which made news. And she then included in her story a response by the environmental activist who had a different opinion.If the writer had instead led with the response by the environmental activist, that would have been bad journalism. That is what you did. You are a bad journalist for doing so.You criticize the headline for being biased. However, the headline fully captures the news in this story: that …the new contaminant was deemed low-risk…. The headline did not say that the Enterprise or the journalist believes the contaminant is low-risk. Yet because you have a strong bias that the contaminant is a risk, agreeing with the environmental activist, a headline which reports the news as news seems biased to you. That is more bad journalism on your part….One of the common practices of journalism is to place heavy emphasis and a large amount of weight on the testimony of experts and official sources. However, in general, when there are conflicting points of view, you present a more balanced picture….This is completely bogus. The Enterprise placed the emphasis on the party which made the news. That is the correct tactic. Your approach is wrong. You want the Enterprise to share your bias and lead with someone who is responding to the story. That is bad journalism….However, when it comes to a local issue in the city of Davis that may well affect the existing residents in that neighborhood and perhaps the workers and customers of a new Target store, the Enterprise swallows the line of the Bush administration EPA hook, line, and sinker….You don’t understand how a straight news story operates. Your ignorance is apparent in …hook, line and sinker…. The Enterprise writer never endorsed anyone’s opinion in the story. She reported the news and reported a response to the news from an activist who disagrees with the government. If the writer had approached the story from your perspective, that would have been bad journalism. You don’t get it. You shouldn’t be in the business of attacking straight news reporters when you are so obviously ignorant of how to fairly report a story.

  39. David M. Greenwald

    Chester:Talking to a few people in the last few days, most think that Target has enough time between January 5 and the October opening, that even a two month delay in pouring the slab should not stop the opening.

  40. David M. Greenwald

    Don:…It would have been nice if either the Vanguard or the Enterprise had sought an independent opinion about the toxicity of TCP. …I’ll probably be able to do that after the 1st, it was tough trying to get anyone to even return an email this week.

  41. Anonymous

    I still fail to see how writing a blog that is *more* biased than what you claim the Enterprise to be is an appropriate counterbalance to that publication. The correct response is to do a *better* job than them, not worse.

  42. cancer is not the only way to die

    Hey Don, even though …This classification denotes that methyl bromide is not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity… I’ve always been under the impression it causes ozone depletion.So, toxicity to the earth does eventually mean toxicity to humans, though maybe not as cancer.http://www.epa.gov/Ozone/defns.html…Methyl Bromide is an effective pesticide used to fumigate soil and many agricultural products. Because it contains bromine, it depletes stratospheric ozone and has an ozone depletion potential of 0.6. Production of methyl bromide was phased out on December 31, 2004, except for allowable exemptions. Much more information is available….

  43. surprise news: agency head confirms how well agency is at doing its job

    Wow, the tone is fairly toxic these days. My observations:1. David- saying something to the effect …someone should sue them over this… is an irresponsible statement, in my opinion. This is a highly charged subject, but saying …sue em!… is not very journalistic, even if you aren’t officially a journalist.2. Those that try to belittle this blog simply fear it’s influence. This perspective assumes the readers are dumber than they are. Most of us understand David’s bias and read with that understanding. Even if you don’t agree with his biases, this blog is full of VERY RICH information despite the biases involved. There does tend to be a lack of depth to the information sometimes printed in the Enterprise, and this blog helps fill that gap. As does the Davis Wiki, I might add.3. Regarding the EPA. I’m surprised to see people defending the agency. It is well known that the EPA has been a joke during the Bush administration. This isn’t breaking news and the Enterprise just missed the boat on that- it was pretty lazy, but that is what deadlines do to you. What is next- reprinting the FCC Chair’s statement regarding the progress of the DTV transition? …Things are going swimmingly well! Nothing new to report!…

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