Petition to Dave Cobrain
NMED: Provide Printed Information for Those Affected by Triassic Park Hazardous Waste Dump
Fifteen years ago the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) permitted the Triassic Park hazardous waste dump in southeast New Mexico near the city of Roswell and the villages of Dexter, Hagerman and Lake Arthur. The dump was never built but now the owners of the site, Gandy-Marley, Inc., have applied to renew the permit and NMED has said it is their intention to do so. However, despite requests, NMED is not providing up-to-date information to those who would be most affected by the site in a form they can actually use. Please sign this petition to send your comments to the New Mexico Environment Department requesting that: • Hardcopy of the entire Administrative Record, including the draft permit, English and Spanish Fact Sheets, and associated documents be placed in a library near the site that is open evenings and weekends • The online Administrative Record be corrected, be made complete, be updated in a timely manner, and be made more user-friendly • The comment period be extended for an additional 60 days, starting after these requests have been fulfilled During the first public permitting process fifteen years ago, it was difficult to get NMED to provide information in Spanish and locally for the public, but eventually a Fact Sheet in both Spanish and English and copies of the draft permit were made available in a local public library that was open evenings and weekends so people could inform themselves and participate in the permitting process. This area of New Mexico is rural, with high levels of poverty and a high number of Spanish-speaking residents. The Spanish Fact Sheet is the only information on the proposed waste dump in Spanish (except for NMED’s notifications). Even that and the English Fact Sheet are not available in printed form anywhere near the site after business hours or on weekends. (The Fact Sheets, Draft Permit and the Index of the online Record are available in NMED's Roswell office during business hours.) Even worse, almost no one has been informed that any printed information is available there at all. Though NMED has said they have too limited a budget to provide a printed copy of the Administrative Record in local libraries, they have recently received a grant of over $850,000 from EPA for, among other things, permitting and "providing program information." The online Record—the only source of information on most of the documents on the waste dump—is in disarray with almost 200 items out of order between the index of the Record and the Record itself, poor descriptions of what many documents are, missing documents, and documents nested inside other documents so they are almost impossible to find. And nothing was added to the online Record for more than two months, between August 18th and October 19th. Even at the end of October—just over two weeks from the end of the comment period on November 18th—citizen comments and other documents have still not been entered. Southeastern New Mexico is not a paperless environment. Rural people, poor people, Hispanics and those with a high-school degree or less are all more likely to have fewer online research skills and less access to computers in general. (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/09/07/some-americans-dont-use-the-internet-who-are-they/ and http://jbhorrigan.weebly.com/uploads/3/0/8/0/30809311/digital_readiness.horrigan.june2014.pdf) This describes much of the population near the proposed waste dump who are often all of those categories combined. Many people who might want to be involved are unable to research the permit efficiently online. Even if computers are available in the library, they are of no use to someone who isn't comfortable online when even experienced online researchers familiar with the permit are finding the online Record difficult to study. To expect people who don't know how to use a computer, or who only regularly use Word and email, to do such research is unreasonable. The law governing the permit says that "Public participation....should be provided for, encouraged, and assisted by the Administrator and the States" but right now the public is being both discouraged and held back by a lack of accessible information. Please sign this petition to tell the New Mexico Environment Department to do their duty in providing reasonably accessible information in printed form and in a language they understand to those most affected by the proposed hazardous waste dump. If you would like more information on the Triassic Park Hazardous Waste permit or would also like to write your own comment to NMED, please visit www.SacredTrustNM.org.