Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pollution of Monona Bay by Ghidorzi Companies

Construction at the intersection of S Park St and Fish Hatchery Rd has caused repeated bouts of muddy plumes, litter, and dust pollution of Monona Bay.  The contractor is Ghidorzi Companies.

Despite complaints from neighbors, the problems have persisted for months.  Steve Vanko (right) and Tom Ulrich--retired firefighters who live on the bay--have obtained 160* signatures on a petition:

"I am a landowner, resident, or neighbor with an interest in Monona Bay.  I am concerned that activities at the Wingra Clinic construction site at 1102 S. Park Street, operated by Ghidorzi Companies, Inc., may have led to unnecessary pollution of Monona Bay, and I support action to ensure that the company fully complies with all applicable stormwater management and erosion control requirements."

Documenting the pollution

The first step was demolition of the old Bancroft Dairy.  Piles of concrete (above) were ground up for recycling, creating toxic crystalline silica dust.  Click on photos to enlarge them.

On May 24 and June 8, high winds produced clouds of dust from construction sites in Madison. Residents within a few blocks of the Ghidorzi site reported films of dust indoors. Pieces of insulation blew about the neighborhood and onto the bay.

On July 18, there were two heavy storms, one in the early morning and another in late afternoon.  During both storms, large amounts of Styrofoam fragments (white, above) washed into the bay.  After Steve complained, a Vactor truck came to skim Styrofoam from the bay, achieving about 85-90% removal.  The photo above shows Styrofoam remaining after the cleanup.

By August 18, much Styrofoam remained--lodged in the rocks along the shoreline.

After the second storm on July 18, Steve noticed more Styrofoam coming from a stormwater pipe in front of his house, along with muddy water.

Steve traced the mud to a large "pond" of runoff on the construction site, which was overflowing silt socks and running onto Park St.  After Steve called the City again, two Vactor trucks arrived, and began to suck water out of the pond.

On Oct.14, another storm dumped 1.74 inches of rain. Steve noticed a plume of mud in Monona Bay (above), extending 150 feet from shore and drifting all the way east to Bernie's Beach.  Steve made more calls to the City.

On Oct. 16, two days after the storm, Steve noticed muddy water coming out of the site (above).  When he walked to the Ghidorzi site, he saw no muddy water in the gutter.  But when he asked a worker on the site if they were "pumping," the worker said "yes."  Steve made more calls to the City and DNR.

On Oct. 17, a new storm of 0.62 inches caused another muddy discharge into the bay.  By this time, officials seemed "very unhelpful--not wanting to do anything any more."

On Oct. 22, there was yet another runoff event...

...resulting in another muddy plume in Monona Bay.

On Oct. 19, the dust screens at the site were in bad repair (right), and two large dirt piles were uncovered.  Then when Hurricane Sandy hit on Oct. 30, gusts averaged 59 mph, with a peak gust of 91 mph at Truax. Steve saw clouds of dust blowing towards Monona Bay. 

On Nov. 11, there was a storm off 0.73 inches. Runoff entering the bay was now much less muddy.

Since then, we've documented clogged stormwater inlet filters, Styrofoam blowing off-site, and the dirt piles remain uncovered.

These abuses at the Ghidorzi site are the worst I've seen in Madison--due to construction--since muddy plumes in Lake Wingra in 2010 

Studies show that 19% of the phosphorus in our lakes--an important nutrient that causes the growth of toxic algae--comes from construction site erosion.

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*  The petition had 166 signatures, as of 12/4/12.  Everyone living on the bay who was contacted signed the petition.

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