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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
            97, C1.
                 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
                 middle-aged men.
            "Phoenix, Arizona [Across the USA]."  USA Today, 24 June 97, 10A.
                           A chemical mishap in which ferric chloride was
  mixed with
                 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
            97, 10A.
                 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
            "A 6-Year Incinerator Battle Pays Off."  New York Times, 30 June
            97, A14.
                 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  [2] The Toronto Star June  28, 1997 HEADLINE: Mexican ban 'too
  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 wedo@igc.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
  United States.
                 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
  polyethylene plastics.
                 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
  establishments nationally.
                 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
  to perform.
  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
  and raincoats.
  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.