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Page Ranch reply erroneous

By John McIver
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
October 13, 1999

To the editor,

(Editor's note: Mr. McIver wrote this as an open letter to Steve Holland, the UA's director of Risk Management and Safety) As a retired resident of Oracle who is concerned not only about the environment, but especially about ground water, I read over the Parton Report on the Page-Trowbridge Landfill. After the first reading, I then studied the documentation and consulted with others.

Why did I take such an interest? As a member of the Oracle Town Hall Water Study Committee, I was the designated person who was asked to review the 1995 Arizona Department of Water Resources' preliminary water report, put together for a developer who would be using Oracle's wells located at Oracle Junction - Oracle's only source of water.

In my report back to the Water Study Committee, I stated that the ADWR document expressed a concern about the quality of that water. And I quote: "Quality of water could be an issue in the future due to the proximity of the Page-Trowbridge Landfill."

What does that tell the public? For sure, at the very least, it cautions the Falcon Valley developers about their ground water.

As a result of all this, some Oracle residents took action to investigate further. I, personally, was the one who first got 'public' clearance, starting with ADEQ and ADWR in Phoenix, and then with you, Mr. Holland, and your department, to review the Page-Trowbridge Landfill files.

Mr. Holland, you and your assistant, Mr. Herb Wagner, have overlooked the fact that Oracle has a very diverse citizenry. These people have decades of on-the-job experience managing the largest industry in Arizona (mining) over the last century, with full knowledge of mining, geology, hydrology, metallurgy, chemistry and, let us not forget - 30 mil plastic liners under millions of tons of toxic soils with monitor wells, stabilization techniques, sampling analyses - and with honest umpires to boot. Many of these people have had years of experience working with, not against, the EPA and ADEQ. And these people are still active in Oracle.

When members of this community read press statements like the one your assistant made regarding "500 feet of clay" between your landfill and our groundwater in Big Wash, they seriously question all your statements and your department's work. Especially when they have copies of well logs from your files and others that refute these statements. That 500' barrier is simply not true.

You personally made the statement that the Parton Report was conceived and written to inflame opposition to real estate development near Oracle, which also is not true. You stated that 'key facts' were misunderstood and misrepresented by Mr. Parton in his report. In contrast, a reading and study of the photocopy files from your own office give a large segment of our profession's society serious doubts about your own understanding and representation of the facts as an engineer, if you are an engineer. Plus, [it raises] doubts about your contribution to public service for the 'health, welfare and safety of the public,' and your respect for your fellow man as a Christian.

Much of the press release by you and Mr. Wagner contained pertinent information. It is a shame your department could not have been honest and objective in all of your statements. It would have been helpful in your evaluation of the facts if you had been wholly objective in your evaluation of this critical situation that will ultimately affect the health and safety of all of us.

John McIver

Retired manager of plant operations,

Magma Copper Company

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