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newsies, 10-16 july '97

  from mini-air (annals of improbable research :-)
  1997-07-14      May We Recommend
  Research reports that merit a trip to the library.
  (These items are additional to the many, many which appear in the
  pages of AIR itself.)
  "Sea-Floor Depth and the Lake Wobegon Effect," Seth Stein and
  Carol A. Stein, "Science," vol. 275, March 1997, pp. 1613-4.
  (Thanks to Donald W. Schaffner for bringing this to our
  "Induction of ear wiggling in the estrous female rat by
  gonadectomized rats treated with androgens and estrogens," J.T.M.
  Vreeburg and M.P. Ooms, "Hormones and Behavior," vol. 19, 1985,
  pp. 231-6. (Thanks to Wendy Cooper for bringing this to our
  July 10, 1997
  FROM GREENPEACE, Greenbase Project
  <<< TOXICS >>>
    5 4  Steelmakers to cut dioxin emissions from mills TOKYO, July
  10 (Kyodo)  A steel industry group has begun efforts at  reducing
  emissions of cancer-causing dioxin from steel mills, industry
  officials said Thursday.  The Japan Iron and Steel Federation
  July 11, 1997
  FROM GREENPEACE, Greenbase Project
  <<< TOXICS >>>
     2  INTERVIEW-Shin-Etsu remains firm on U.S. PVC plant TOKYO,
  July 11 (Reuter)-Shin-Etsu Chemical Co Ltd says it is sticking to
  its plan to build a 500,000 tonnes-per-year polyvinyl chloride
  resin (PVC) factory in the United States despite opposition from
  July 13, 1997
  FROM GREENPEACE, Greenbase Project
  <<< TOXICS >>>
    2 [2] Hamilton Spectator  July 12, 1997  Difficult for officials
  to sort out toxic mess: Greenpeace says dioxins are dangerous, but
  health department downplays effect by Mark McNeil The fire at
  Plastimet Inc. is creating a toxic mess that will be very difficult
    5 Institute for Public Affairs-In These Times July  14, 1997  /
  July  27, 1997 SECTION: LETTERS; HEADLINE: Smoking dioxin
  dioxin,  chlorine,  incineration and pesticides ("Poison and
            "U.S. Bans Some Poultry, Fearing Dioxin."  Wall Street Journal,
            15 July 97, B14.
                 The Food and Drug Administration has banned the sale and
                 distribution of poultry and eggs from some producers in the
                 South until they can certify their products aren't tainted
                 with dioxin. The contamination has been traced to two
                 Arkansas animal feed makers who use clay as an anti-caking
                 agent. The clay is used in soybean meal which is fed to
            "Some Poultry Plants Idled After Traces of Dioxin are Found in
            Their Products."  Wall Street Journal, 16 July 97, B2.
                 The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and the FDA shut down 4
                 poultry plants in Arkansas after traces of dioxin were found
                 in their products. Two of the plants were owned by Tyson
                 Foods. The dioxin was traced to a feed company that used
                 clay in soybean meal fed to chickens; the clay came from an
                 open pit mine in Sledge, Miss., that was found to be
                 contaminated with dioxin.
  Nichols to Resign as Head of Air Office; Had Role in Moving Major
  Rules. Daily Environment Report, July 15, 1997, ppAA-1-2.
       Mary Nichols, head of EPA's Air and Radiation office is
  expected to resign later this summer according to agency
       Nichols was a driving force behind the agency's proposals to
  strengthen air quality standards for ozone and particulate
  matter. She is expected to step down when the rules are
  finalized. EPA Administrator Carol Browner is expected to sign
  the rules during the week of July 14 and Nichols may leave around
  August 15, according to Prudence Goforth, an assistant to
       David Hawkins, an attorney with the Natural Resources
  Defense Council and a former head of EPA's air office generally
  praised Nichols performance. "Overall, I think she did a very
  good job," he said.
       William Becker, executive director of the State and
  Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators and Association
  of Local Air Pollution Control Officials credited Nichols with
  formulating a program that took a regional approach to
  controlling air pollution. "She is one of the best assistant
  administrators EPA has ever had," said William Becker.
       Ernest Rosenberg, vice president of environmental affairs
  for occidental International, said Nichols is "clearly the most
  knowledgeable and politically experienced assistant administrator
  that office has had since Dave Hawkins in the 1970s."
  [re: our old Chlorine Institute financed buddies, Charles River Associates:]
  White House Begins Push for New Global Warming Pact. The New York
  Times, July 16, 1997, pA12.
       With the aid of revised computer models, the Clinton
  administration predicted that measures to reduce greenhouse gas
  emissions would not effect the US economy as much as some
  industry groups have claimed.
       The administration's analysis is the beginning of a campaign
  to build support for a proposed binding treaty limiting these
  emissions, which could be signed later this year in Kyoto, Japan.
       The computer models suggested that the economic side effects
  would only be half as severe as those predicted by economists in
  -->  a recent study by Charles River Associates for the American
  Petroleum Institute.
       Critics feel the administration is moving too quickly on
  global warming. They warn that factories and mines will close,
  with increases in inflation and reductions in productivity.
       The treaty's economic effect is also being questioned by
  Congress, which has control over the country's energy policy. The
  Senate must also ratify any treaty.
       In a staff paper, the White House contends that tough action
  on greenhouse gas emissions over the next few decades may shave a
  fraction of a percent off the nation's economic growth, followed
  by a recovery.
       "It just boils down to this," said Janet Yellen, chairwoman
  of the Council of Economic Advisers. "If we do it dumb, it could
  cost a lot, but if we do it smart, it will cost much less, and
  indeed could produce net benefits in the long run."
       Many members of the House Commerce Committee were skeptical
  of Yellen's comments.
       "Unfortunately, in the area of global climate change, the
  Administration has not yet presented a persuasive case," said
  Rep. Thomas Bliley (R-VA).
       Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) stated that the analysis suggested
  "huge economic constraints" on American businesses.
  Senate Bill Would Discourage Agencies From Important Priorities,
  NRDC Says.  Daily Environment Report, July 14, 1997, pAA-1.
       A bill introduced by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) would discourage
  federal agencies from addressing environmental and safety issues
  by requiring them to prepare cost-benefit analyses for major
  regulations, according to a statement made by the Natural
  Resources Defense Council.
       The bill requires that before an agency can create or
  tighten regulations for environment, safety or health protection,
  it must apply cost-benefit tests.  The agency can still move
  forward with the rule even if it doesn't pass these tests, but
  only if it can explain why it "cannot reasonably" select an
  alternative method of regulation, says the NRDC.  According to
  the NRDC, this requirement "appears to impose a nearly impossible
       Senator Levin disagrees with the NRDC's assessment of the
  bill, saying that the cost-benefit analyses are "useful tools to
  help agencies issue reasonable regulations, [but] are not the
  sole basis upon which regulations should be developed or issued."
       Levin's remarks were made in a statement on the Senate
  floor.  He continued, "This bill explicitly recognizes that many
  important benefits may be nonquantifiable, and that agencies have
  the right and authority to fully consider such benefits when
  doing the cost-benefit analysis."
  Impact of Disaster could reach continental proportions
  HAMILTON, ONTARIO----July 12, 1997 --- A Greenpeace team begins
  sampling for dioxin around Hamilton and its vicinity today as
  firefighters assess the clean-up required following a fire at a
  PVC plastic (vinyl) plant located in the heart of one of the
  city's residential areas.
  The burning of PVC plastic (vinyl), which is the second most
  common plastic in the world, produces large quantities of
  dioxin, a known carcinogen also believed to interfere with human
  reproduction and children's development.  Officials admitted
  yesterday there were approximately 200 tons of PVC plastic
  (vinyl) in the plant, most of it discarded car interiors. A U.S.
  Environmental Protection Agency study on this type of fire
  suggests that the amount of dioxin produced could be on a level
  with a year's worth of emissions from the whole ofCanadian
  "We must discover exactly where the toxic plume of smoke dropped
  its trail of dioxin," said Dr. Matthew Bramley, a Greenpeace
  expert who is leading the operation. "Once the dioxin is found,
  every possible effort must be made to clean it up.  Dioxin is an
  especially dangerous chemical because it will not degrade: the
  damage caused in these neighborhoods could last for decades."
  Greenpeace sampling efforts coincide with those now being
  carried out by the provincial authorities.  The team will be
  testing ash, soil, and run-off water from the fire.
  "We are eager to assist provincial and local authorities in any
  way we can," said Dr. Bramley.  Greenpeace has had many years
  experience in Europe documenting the impact of similar fires at
  PVC plastic (vinyl) plants.  "One of the most important problems
  we're facing here in Canada, is that few people, even official
  authorities, know about the severe hazards of PVC plastic when
  it  burns," said Bramley.  "These hazards are one of the main
  reasons why the use of PVC, in all its forms, should be phased
  Bramley also noted that if the dioxin contamination is not
  cleaned up the impact of the disaster will reach far beyond
  Hamilton,  most likely to Canada's north. Long range atmospheric
  transport is known to carry particulate matter containing dioxin
  to Arctic regions.  Levels of dioxin found in the tissues of
  Inuit people are seven to twenty times higher than in southern
   Action targets vinyl  industry's toxic record and expansion
   Lake Charles, LA, July 14, 1997 -- Greenpeace activists and
  Lake Charles residents,   including the daughter of a Louisiana
  state senator, climbed onto    pipes that transport chemicals to
  vinyl companies and unfurled  a   16'x120'  banner.  The banner
  reads: "No More Dioxin Factories - Stop   PVC the Poison Plastic
  - Environmental Justice Now - Greenpeace."
   The banner illustration depicts toxic chemical pipes being
  blocked  by two sets of hands.
   The hands represent a growing united multi-racial movement
  organized in southern Louisiana, the United States, and around
  the   world, to stop the increasing levels of dioxin, the by-
  product of   polyvinyl chloride (PVC) commonly known as vinyl.
  The climbers can be   seen hanging from the landmark "Welcome to
  Westlake" sign at   Interstate 10 and the Westlake Exit.  The
  site was chosen because   dangerously high levels of dioxins and
  other toxic chemicals are   regularly produced and released by
  local vinyl production facilities,   including PPG and Condea
  Vista.  These two companies are responsible   for contaminating
  Louisiana's waterways and have been sued for   endangering
  workers' health. A th d vinyl production plant is being
  constructed in the nearby Vincent Settlement community.
   The action also calls attention to Greenpeace's work with
  residents of   St. James Parish to stop the Shintech Corporation
  from building an   enormous PVC complex in their community.
  Citing the President's   Executive Order on Environmental
  Justice, Greenpeace and Tulane   University Environmental Law
  Clinic filed a citizens' petition with   the Environmental
  Protection Agency (EPA) to revoke permits granted   to Shintech.
  EPA's decision is due by July 22, 1997, and would be the   first
  permitting decision by the federal agency that involves
  environmental justice issues.
   "We believe vinyl companies are dioxin factories," said Laura
   Cox-Filo, a Lake Charles resident and the state Senator's
  daughter, who participated in the banner hanging.  "With
  companies like Westlake and Shintech proposing to build more of
  these   factories next to our elementary school and homes, we
  feel like we're   the next Love Canal or Times Beach, Missouri."
   Dioxins are among the most toxic synthetic chemicals known.
  Governmental reports conclude that dioxin causes cancer in
  humans and   disrupts the hormone system causing damage to human
  reproductive,   immune and neurobehavioral systems. Greenpeace
  is waging  an   international campaign to phase out PVC because
  it accounts for   nearly 40% of chlorine use and is a growing
  source of dioxin.   Greenpeace has criticized the vinyl industry
  for continuing to locate   many of its dioxin factories near
  poor and communities of color.
   "The production of this poison plastic begins here," said Beth
   Zilbert, a Greenpeace campaigner, who has been working with
  residents   in Louisiana.  "We are united to stop dioxin and
  turn off the   pipeline of  poison, which is being pumped from
  Louisiana an the   south to the rest of the world."  Actions to
  phase out PVC are   already in process in 12 countries,
  including, Sweden, Denmark,   Czechoslovakia, and Germany.  In
  the United States, the American   Public Health Association
  (APHA) passed a resolution to phase out PVC   medical products
  and a growing number of builders and architects are   avoiding
  PVC.  ###
  Toronto, July 14, 1997 -- Greenpeace representatives will return
  to Hamilton today to help ensure that the city's residents are
  adequately protected from the severe long-term chemical
  contamination expected as a result of last week's huge PVC
  plastic (vinyl) fire.  All traces of deadly dioxin contamination
  will have to be removed to ensure the safety of the population.
  But the reported handover of the fire site to its owner raises
  concerns that they be unable or unwilling to conduct the special
  hazardous waste cleanup required.
  "The Ministry of the Environment must take a clear lead in
  ensuring the safe cleanup of the fire site," said Dr. Matthew
  Bramley, a Greenpeace chemist.  "Hamilton residents will not
  trust the owner to carry out that cleanup."
  Citizens are organising a meeting tonight at 6.30pm at the
  Bennetto Recreation Centre, 450 Hughson Street N., at which
  Greenpeace will provide information to residents - including the
  risks from dioxin.  Scientists from both Greenpeace and the
  Ministry have sent samples to laboratories certified for dioxin
  testing.  The samples came both from the fire site and from
  areas as much as two miles away which were hit by heavy soot
  fallout.  Results are expected in several days' time.
  According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer,
  dioxin is a known human carcinogen.  Many studies, including a
  huge one conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency
  study (USEPA), have also linked it to falling sperm counts,
  menstrual problems, and harm to child development and the immune
  system.  Many scientists believe that these effects may be
  occurring even at low "background" levels.
  Research on fires burning PVC plastic suggests the Hamilton fire
  could have added substantially to this hazard.  One USEPA study
  (1) tested the burning of scrap car interiors similar to those
  believed to have burnt in the Hamilton fire.  The study suggests
  the amount of dioxin generated in Hamilton could be on a level
  with a year's worth of emissions from the whole of Canadian
  "PVC or vinyl plastic is the only common material to produce
  large amounts of dioxin when it burns.  PVC can be easily
  replaced and should be phased out as soon as possible by the
  federal government," said Dr. Bramley, who suggests modification
  to the revised Canadian Environmental Protection Act, due to be
  enacted in the coming months.  Last September the Danish
  government imposed severe restrictions on PVC, and more than 200
  municipalities across Europe have restricted its use in public
  buildings and hospitals.
  (1) Editor's note: a summary of this study is available on
  request. Jennifer Good
  Information Coordinator
  ph: (416) 597-8408
  fax: (416) 597-8422