About Us

Founded in 1962, the Civic League For New Castle County is an organization comprised of community civic associations, umbrella civic groups, good government groups, businesses, and interested individuals. The League provides a forum for education about, discussion of, and action on issues relating to the impact of government on the quality of life in New Castle County

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Petition DNREC To Regulate Sandblasting of Surfaces Containing Lead or Other Toxic Metals on Outdoor Structures in Delaware

Civic League Board member Sara Bucic is currently circulating a petition which follows up on the Civic League for New Castle County's resolution from April 2017 regarding the Sandblasting of Surfaces Containing Lead or Other Toxic Metals on Outdoor Structures in DelawareIf you haven't yet signed it, please consider signing it HERE.

Read more about Lead Hazards in Delaware in Sarah Bucic's News Journal Op-Eds from April, The lead exemption loophole that DNREC must fix and September Lead paint sandblasting on water towers remains an environmental hazard. 

In this petition, citizens are urging Secretary Garvin to follow through with promised regulatory reform from his October response ~ DNREC chief: We're taking action on lead paint sandblasting

First, I thank Sarah Bucic, RN, for her vigilance in advocating for the environment and public health and safety from potential toxic lead contamination as a result of dry abrasive blasting of lead-based paint from water towers.
After documenting that lead paint chips fell near her home, Ms. Bucic brought the issue to my attention when I became DNREC secretary earlier this year and to the public’s attention in a recent News Journal “Delaware Voice” op-ed. 
Lead is a neurotoxin, which means exposure to high levels of it, either through inhalation or ingestion, can cause damage to the brain and kidneys. As nurse Bucic reminds us, lead exposure for children is of particular concern, since even at lower levels of exposure, lead can permanently affect a child’s mental and physical growth.
Historically, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s regulations exempted dry abrasive blasting and painting of water towers. 
But this past spring, the department took steps to clarify our expectation for containment of lead during dry abrasive blasting by water tank owners. We moved to reach agreement with the tank owners on steps that they would take immediately on a voluntary basis.
DNREC developed and vetted with the industry an approach of “principles and commitments” to properly manage blasting activities to ensure no lead or other materials would enter the environment – and that, should a release occur, a prepared response plan would be implemented. The approach included an expectation for a public notification to nearby residents 30 days prior to the activity.
More recently, DNREC has embarked on developing a general permit spearheaded by the Division of Air Quality to include the measures identified in the “principles and commitments” as well as further strengthening the public participation process and DNREC oversight. The general permit will provide clear direction on what is required if you are engaged in dry abrasive blasting of water towers.
The department intends to begin developing the permit process this month and to revise the regulation that currently provides an exemption for dry-abrasive blasting activities by mid-2018. DNREC considers these actions to be appropriate and responsible, given what has long been known about the dangers of lead in the environment and the harm it can cause.
The department also recognizes there are still many challenges as we continue to protect our public health and our environment, and we know that it will take all of our collective efforts to meet those challenges.
The largest source of potential lead exposure is in homes constructed before 1978. To learn more about lead abatement strategies, please visit www.LeadSafeDelaware.org or call the Public Health Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (302) 744-4546, ext. 4.
Shawn M. Garvin is secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

And read Green Delaware’s action alert on the sandblasting petition ~ Sign on to anti-lead-poisoning petition/letter
Back to lead poisoning.  There is no safe level of lead exposure.  It dumbs us down..........In September we urged support for an effort lead by Sarah Bucic, calling on the Delaware DNREC to establish stronger regulations.  See Protect Delawareans from lead poisoning and her op-ed in the Wilmington News Journal.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Coastal Zone Act changes need more public input

A Delaware Voice Op-Ed by Jordyn Pusey, President Civic League for New Castle County

Coastal Zone Act changes need more public input: Delaware Voice

In June of this year, the Coastal Zone Conversion Permit Act (HB 190) was introduced before the General Assembly. Many groups, including the Civic League for New Castle County, had bemoaned the lack of outreach to civic groups, environmental groups, and especially “fenceline” communities that will be most affected by any changes to the Coastal Zone Act regulations.
The appearance of this legislation, the process behind its formulation, and the speed in which it went from introduction to approval seemed to cater to special interests and industry insiders, at the expense of a fully transparent and public process. At that time, groups were assured by the bill’s sponsors and other proponents that the public would have the opportunity for input during the promulgation of regulations.
When the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary Shawn M. Garvin signed the Start Action Notice for the regulatory process in late September, he was quoted as saying that “DNREC is committed to developing the regulations governing Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act Conversion Permit in a transparent manner that facilitates and encourages public input and involvement” and that “in order to ensure a wide representation, the Regulatory Advisory Committee will be composed of stakeholders including regulated parties, large and small businesses, organized labor, communities, conservation and environmental organizations, regional and local government, and other affected persons.”
The Critical Needs Assessment notes that “DNREC shall begin the Public Workshop process no later than October 1, 2017” and that failure to meet certain deadlines would “have political consequences and likely erode the public trust.”
By some twist of logic, the promised public workshops morphed into “confidential, stakeholder interviews” with a third party: the Consensus Building Institute. These interviews were conducted with 25 different individuals and groups identified by DNREC as “stakeholders” and took place towards the end of October.
Not one member of a community or civic group was initially invited to participate. DNREC did eventually invite the Civic League to participate, and despite our deep concerns over the opaque process, we agreed. We strongly encouraged that finding consensus must be an inclusive, open process for all stakeholders.  
Where does that leave fenceline communities? They are not being truly included in the public process, and are consigned to live with the environmental and health implications of legacy pollution and potential new heavy industrial pollution.
It is troubling that community leaders and residents have not been deemed valuable enough by a state agency to share their experiences, goals, and concerns about changes to the Coastal Zone Act and how those changes will directly impact their communities.
DNREC scheduled two "public workshops" this week. While we encouraged people to attend so that their voices were heard, holding two “public workshops” on short notice is wholly insufficient.
Public workshops are not public hearings. They are not necessarily part of any formal record. Giving two weeks notice of workshops held the week after Thanksgiving does not allow for the public to engage on a meaningful level about regulations that can potentially impact their lives in very serious ways.
If our leaders truly value a public, transparent process, then DNREC needs to immediately change course and call for at least four public hearings prior to the formation of the Regulatory Advisory Committee. Residents from neighboring communities should ultimately serve on the RAC. These workshops should be held in the areas of Claymont, Southbridge, the Route 9 Corridor, and Delaware City. They should be held at a convenient time, so that working citizens can attend, and in locations that are accessible to public transit and pedestrians.
Public trust is eroding steadily. Claims of valuing transparency and open government mean nothing if actions do not match words. Please call your legislators to request this process be as open and inclusive as possible. We must start valuing the opinions of all of our citizens and making the necessary accommodations to reach out and bring groups together for the benefit of all. It’s never too late to do the right thing.