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newsies 23-30 june '97
from PANNA updates:
In related news, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported on May
17, 1997, that Monsanto's vice-president, Virginia Weldon, is
a "top candidate" for the job of chief of the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration (FDA).
"New Respect for Estrogen's Influence." New York Times, 24 June
Estrogen is gaining respect, according to this story,
following the discovery of a second estrogen receptor.
Although it has been linked to cancer, asthma, fibroids,
migraines and mood disorders, the benefits of the drug lead
researchers to suggest that it may be prescribed for
"Phoenix, Arizona [Across the USA]." USA Today, 24 June 97, 10A.
A chemical mishap in which ferric chloride was
sulfuric acid and damaged a tank at the Phoenix Verde Water
Treatment Plant could cost $100,000.
"Charleston, West Virginia [Across the USA]." USA Today, 23 June
The National Institute for Chemical Studies said residents
along I-64 are vulnerable to possible hazmat spills.
"Tanker Crash [Nationline]." USA Today, 26 June 97, 3A.
A tanker truck carrying hazmat overturned near Blacksville,
W.Va. Three hundred residents were forced to leave their
"High Court Upholds Ruling Against Asbestos Settlement. Decision
May Restrict Broad Liability Pacts." Washington Post, 26 June
97, C1, C3. "Voiding of Class-Action Asbestos Settlement Is
Upheld." New York Times, 26 June 97, A29. "High Court Rules
Against Asbestos Settlement [Legal Beat]." Wall Street Journal,
26 June 97, B1.
In the case of Amchem Products v. Windsor, the Supreme Court
upheld a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit blocking a $1.3 million settlement between 20 former
asbestos manufacturers and attorneys representing future
claimants. THE DECISION "IS A MAJOR BLOW TO INDUSTRIES
SEEKING TO PUT FUTURE LIABILITY CLAIMS BEHIND THEM BY
NEGOTIATING SINGLE, GLOBAL DEALS OUT OF COURT AND THEN
GETTING THEM BLESSED BY JUDGES."
"A 6-Year Incinerator Battle Pays Off." New York Times, 30 June
A neighborhood in the South Bronx has waged a six-year fight
against a medical waste incinerator designed to serve the
Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center. NY State and local officials
finally heeded the demands of neighborhood residents when it
was demonstrated that the incinerator had exceeded carbon
monoxide levels seven times during the first three weeks of
FROM GREENPEACE, Greenbase Project <<< TOXICS >>>
5 BBC Summary of World Broadcasts June 26, 1997 HEADLINE:
Ministries to survey health effects of dioxins SOURCE: Source:
Kyodo News Service, Tokyo 25 Jun 97 Excerpts from report by the
Japanese news agency Kyodo Tokyo, 25th June: The Health and
4 The Daily Yomiuri June 28, 1997 HEADLINE: Tougher laws on
dioxin emissions eyed BYLINE: Yomiuri The International Trade and
Industry Ministry will ask the Environment Agency to include
electric steel furnaces under a proposed new set of guidelines
2 Arctic seeks global offensive against pollution By Vicki Allen
UNITED NATIONS, June 25 (Reuter) A global effort must be made to
fight pollution accumulating in the Arctic that has contaminated
its people and wildlife with toxins, Norway's environment minister
2  The Toronto Star June 28, 1997 HEADLINE: Mexican ban 'too
little, too late' BYLINE: BY DAN TROTTA DATELINE: MEXICO CITY
MEXICO'S DECISION to ban the pesticide DDT within 10 years is a
bittersweet victory and a reminder that harmful pesticides are
NOTE: The above newsclips are to indicate the environment news
of the day. Whole news articles are copyright protected,
so unfortunately Greenpeace cannot distribute them publicly.
Resource Pointer #131 June 24, 1997
*Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the
Environment, 1997.* Sandra Steingraber. Explores
personal, political and historical aspects of how
industrial pollutants affect health and the environment
-- with a focus on pesticides. Examines toxics release
and cancer registry data, discusses history of
industrial reliance on toxins and argues for eliminating
industrial carcinogens. Includes brief appendix with
information on how to obtain information about
environmental toxins. 357 pp. US$24. Addison-Wesley
Publishing Company, Inc., Attn: Order Services, One
Jacob Way, Reading, MA 01867; phone toll free (800) 358-
4566 or (617) 944-3700 ext.5190; fax toll free (800)
367-7198; order online http://www.aw.com/gb/.
*Environmental Health Threats to Children, 1996.* U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Summarizes
threats to children's health from environmental toxins,
including pesticides, lead and drinking water
contaminants. Describes EPA's agenda for protecting
children and recommends actions, including in areas of
research, national policy and education. States that
each year more than 100,000 children accidentally
directly ingest pesticides in the U.S. 13 pp. No charge.
National Center for Environmental Publications and
Information, P.O. Box 42419, Cincinnati, OH 45242; phone
toll free (800) 490-9198 or (513) 489-8190; fax (513)
*California: Environmental Links to Breast Cancer
Handbook, 1997.* Women's Environment and Development
Organization (WEDO). Reviews theories about
environmental factors linked to breast cancer, focusing
on how activists and public officials can work together
to eliminate harmful substances. Documents legal gains
in California but provides information useful elsewhere,
including discussions of pesticides and cancer. Gives
contact information for organizations and agencies
working on issues related to pesticides, race,
radiation, electromagnetic fields and toxins. 60 pp.
US$10. WEDO, attn: Pamela Ransom, 355 Lexington Avenue,
3rd Floor, New York, NY 10017; phone (212) 973-0325
ext.211; fax (212) 973-0335; email firstname.lastname@example.org;
| Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) |
Bacterium's Taste for Toxics Offers Food for Thought on Cleanups.
The Washington Post, June 23, 1997, pA3.
A newly discovered bacterium, Dehalococcoides ethenogenes,
has a diet that consists solely of two toxic solvents-
tetrachloroethylene (aka perchloroethylene or PCE) and
TCE and PCE are common groundwater contaminants in the
A Cornell University team reports in the June 6 issue of
Science that D. ethenogenes Strain 195 converts TCE and PCE,
which are suspected carcinogens, into a simple and
environmentally benign hydrocarbon called ethylene. Ethylene is
commonly used to ripen fruit and is a base component of
Cornell microbiologist Stephen Zinder and colleagues
isolated Strain 195 from a culture found in sludge pulled out of
an old sewage treatment plant in Ithaca, NY.
The scientists speculate that the organism has not been in
existence very long since PCE wasn't manufactured in large
quantities until after World War II. Because of this, writes
Stanford researcher Perry McCarty, "an interesting question of
high ecological significance is how such an organism with such a
restricted diet could have evolved, since chlorinated solvents
are such new compounds to the environment."
Scientists are researching how the bacterium might be used
to cleanup sites that contain the chlorinated solvents. TCE is
found at more than 60% of 1,300 priority sites identified by EPA.
PCE is still used by tens of thousands of dry-cleaning
Both solvents are heavier than water and can sink to the
bottom of aquifers. The compounds, while not soluble, are
considered dangerous. EPA sets a limit of 5 parts per billion in
drinking water for TCE.
Four years ago remediation experiments with another
bacterium failed because the organism was converting TCE and PCE
into a more dangerous compound called vinyl chloride. "They were
turning a suspected carcinogen into a know carcinogen," said
Cornell engineer James Gossett, a co-discoverer of the new
pollution eating microbe.
D. ethenogenes use chlorine much the same way human cells
use oxygen. Many critical energy-producing processes require the
constant transfer of electrons. Many air-breathing organisms have
evolved to employ oxygen as an electron acceptor. Carbon dioxide
and water are the byproducts of this process in humans and other
Strain 195 uses chlorine in a similar way, but hydrogen must
be present as an electron donor. The microbe's metabolism
successively strips chlorine atoms away from the two double-
bonded carbon atoms at the core of the molecule, replacing each
chlorine atom with a hydrogen atom and removing the chlorine atom
as hydrochloric acid.
The microbes may not be the solution to all of America's
chlorinated waste problems. D. ethenogenes only works in
cooperation with other bacteria that apparently provide it with
crucial nutrients. The bacterium also needs lots of vitamin B12
ICI MUST PAY FOR CONTAMINATION OF OLYMPIC SHORES: GREENPEACE
SYDNEY, 24 June, 1997 : On the eve of a historic shareholder
meeting to discuss the future of ICI Australia, Greenpeace
today served notice on the chemical giant to clean up
contamination from its Rhodes phthalate production plant on the
shores of the Olympic 2000 site.
Activists working from a river barge planted 12, two-metre wide
warning signs showing the ICI logo emblazoned with: DANGER TOXIC
HAZARD, in waters in front of the ICI Rhodes plant, Homebush
Bay. At the same time, four activists scaled an ICI storage
tank to hang a banner reading: ICI POISONING THE OLYMPICS.
The signs were erected to warn local people of the dangers of
fishing in the bay and to draw attention to the toxic soup that
ICI has left in Homebush Bay, following shut-down of its Rhodes
plant in February 1997. ICI is in the process of demolishing the
Rhodes plant, but has made no commitment to clean up Homebush
Water and sediment samples taken by Greenpeace from around the
ICI Rhodes Plant last year, showed some of the highest levels
of the hormone disrupting chemical, dihethylhexyl-phthalate
(DEHP) to be found anywhere in the world. One of the samples
exceeded Australian water quality guidelines by more than 7350
Phthalates are a plasticiser, used to make plastic products
flexible. Known as "gender benders" phthalates can mimic the
female hormone, oestrogen. They are used worldwide in the
manufacture of PVC, the most environmentally destructive of all
plastics. PVC is used in products such as teething rings, soft
toys, shower curtains, some paper products, surface lubricants
Just two weeks ago a British newspaper reported that dangerously
high levels of phthalates had been found in the umbilical cords
of babies. The blood of one baby had levels of phthalates one
million times higher than natural hormone levels. ICI Rhodes
was Australia's only phthalate producing plant.
"Shareholders need to understand the full liabilities of owning
ICI," warned Olympics campaigner Michael Bland. "They cannot
pollute the gateway to the Sydney 2000 Olympics and expect the
community to pick up the bill.=94
Greenpeace Toxics campaigner, Dr Darryl Luscombe said: "There is
a chemical cocktail brewing in Homebush Bay and the long term
cost to the environment and future generations will far outweigh
any current costs for a clean-up today. Unless ICI is called to
order, they will sneak out the back door without paying."
Today Greenpeace also released the results of analysis of five
sea mullet and bream caught in the waters off the ICI site
earlier this year. The fish contained levels of heavy metals
well above safe eating levels.
= that ICI take full responsibility for cleaning up all toxic
pollution from its Rhodes plant, including the extensive
phthalate and heavy metal pollution in Homebush Bay
= that ICI commit to a full and open public assessment and consultation
process in the
clean-up of Homebush Bay
Contact: Susan Cavanagh, media, 04111 79529; Michael Bland 0411
742 753 or the Greenpeace media office, 9261 4666.