facing the Cotter Corp.
The Daily Record
Cotter Corporation currently has three approval processes underway
with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. The three
1. Regular, five-year renewal of Cotter's operating license. This
began in 2000.
2. Review of 16 "items of noncompliance" with the company's
current operating license. This began April 23, 2002.
3. Review of Cotter's proposal to deposit contaminated soil from
Maywood, N.J., at the plant site south of Canon City. This review
began April 1, 2002.
processes are listed here:
Step 1 - Cotter submitted its application on Dec. 1, 2000, 30 days
in advance of the expiration of its license. Thirty days is the
length of time required. Because the application was submitted on
time, the existing license remains in effect until the process is
complete. The process may take years.
Required, government-imposed improvements are incorporated into
the renewed license. The company can also request changes to the
license that reflect alterations or desired alterations to its operation.
Step 2 - The health department reviews all plans and documents for
the full life and full scope of the site's activities. This means
that not only are operations for the coming five years considered,
but also projected operations beyond five years, including the eventual
shutdown of the site. Cotter projects a plant shutdown in 2020,
at which time the federal government would take possession of the
site. Shutdown costs are projected and bonded. This step is currently
Step 3 - The health department issues a preliminary decision and
offers opportunity for public comment. Cotter will be required to
pay the costs of an adjudicatory style hearing with a hearing officer.
Interested parties or individuals can participate in a legal "discovery"
process in which documents may be demanded. Testimony may be given.
Questions may be asked of Cotter and the state. Step 3 will likely
occur in 2003.
Step 4 - The health department executive director makes a final
decision based upon the staff recommendation and the results of
hearings as presented in a "Findings of Fact, Conclusions of
Law, and Order." The executive director then issues a license
renewal amendment, which includes additional protections for the
public and any changes of operation that the company will be permitted
to make. Step 4 is expected to be complete late in 2003.
health department reported that although Cotter submitted its application
for renewal Dec. 1, 2000, it will likely submit a revised application
letter later in 2002. The health department said that "authorizations
desired by Cotter have shifted" and the health department has
identified shortcomings in the Cotter operation, both prompting
a revised application letter.
of "items of non-compliance."
Step 1 - The health department cited Cotter on April 23, 2002, for
16 violations of its license and 18 areas of concern, which are
not license violations but could lead to future problems.
Step 2 - Cotter responded to the health department on May 23, 2002.
Four of the sixteen items were resolved with that response.
Step 3 - Cotter agreed to correct six items but the state in a July
9 letter required the company to submit specific written procedures
that it will use to meet the terms of the license.
Step 4 - Cotter submitted those procedures on July 29 but they have
yet to be fully reviewed by the state.
Step 5 - Six additional violations are under state review as part
of the state's suspension of all Cotter activities on July 9, 2002.
The health department announced Aug. 27 that it will not lift the
operational suspension until it is satisfied that all the violations
have been resolved and until a 21-day public comment period has
elapsed and public comments considered. The department did, however,
on Sept. 13 permit the company to receive and process two shipments
six violations that resulted in the suspension of activities at
Inability to determine occupational doses of radiation to workers.
In other words, the health department believes that the company
is not adequately testing the air to assure that workers health
and safety are safeguarded. This is a repeat violation identified
as long ago at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation report in the
Bioassay sampling is not being conducted at required frequencies.
Bioassay samples are, for example, urine tests or thyroid counts
used to determine the kinds, quantities and locations of radioactive
material in the human body.
Failure to investigate or take corrective action when an individual's
bioassay result exceeds the established limits. This, also, is a
Inadequacy in respiratory protection program.
No written procedures regarding issuance, maintenance and testing
of respirators, the supervision and training of personnel and written
procedures for record keeping.
Not performing annual In Vivo lung scans on workers. In Vivo lung
scans are bioassay tests done within the living body.
of Maywood soil proposal
Step 1 - Cotter submitted a "Material Acceptance Report"
on April 1, 2002. The report stated the company's intent to receive
contaminated soil from the Maywood Chemical Works, a Superfund site
in and around Maywood, N.J. The report included a Waste Profile
Record prepared for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by Stone and
Webster, Inc. Cotter also included its "Materials Handling
Step 2 - The Radiation Services Program staff completed initial
review of the report and supporting documents. "Reviewers have
not found any technical or legal contradiction to Cotter's determination
that the material is acceptable for receipt and disposal,"
the health department wrote in answer to a question about the process.
Step 3 - As a result of House Bill 1408 passed in this year's legislative
session, the health department required submission of an environmental
assessment for "transportation, receipt and use" of the
Maywood soil. The Fremont County Board of Commissioners was required
to review the assessment or conduct its own and submit its comments
to the state. The county has completed its review of the existing
assessment; it did not conduct an independent environmental assessment.
The new law also required public hearings, which have been completed.
Transcripts have been submitted to the state.
Step 4 - The health department is currently reviewing the documents
and transcripts. It has questions that it will ask of Cotter. Satisfactory
answers to the questions need to be submitted before the health
department will be ready to conclude that all requirements of radiation
regulations and House Bill 1408 have been met. The environmental
assessment is currently on the health department's executive director's
desk for review.
health department has not approved or disapproved of the Maywood
soil as of yet.