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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  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
BYLINE: JOHN JONIK, PHILADELPHIA, PA. BODY: In his report on
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:]
** GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE **
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
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.
** REGULATORY REFORM **
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."
GREENPEACE BEGINS SAMPLING FOR DIOXIN FOLLOWING TOXIC PVC FIRE
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
GREENPEACE & LAKE CHARLES RESIDENTS UNFURL BANNER
OVER LOCAL LANDMARK TO PROTEST PVC, "THE POISON PLASTIC"
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
GREENPEACE CALLS FOR DECONTAMINATION AFTER TOXIC PVC FIRE
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
ph: (416) 597-8408
fax: (416) 597-8422