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Huge Dioxin Levels Discovered at PVC Fire Site in Canada

  For Immediate Release 
  On site tests reveal huge dioxin levels 
  Hamilton, August 25, 1997 --  Hamilton's Plastimet fire site
  contains deadly dioxin at levels so high the site is "probably
  the most toxic in Canada," according to Dr. Matthew Bramley of
  Greenpeace, who announced the environmental organization's
  sampling results at a press conference today.  During the press
  conference, Greenpeace also condemned the Ontario Ministry of the
  Environment and Energy (MOEE) for being slow to release details about
  the  site's contamination, for disposing of contaminated material
  improperly, and for waiting  nearly two weeks after the fire to ensure
  the site's security.
  Greenpeace took two samples from the Plastimet fire site on
  Saturday,  July 12 and analyzed  them for dioxin at  Zenon
  Laboratories in Burlington.  One, from a stream of wet ash
  emanating from the main part of the fire, contained 25,000 parts
  per trillion (ppt) toxic equivalent (TEQ) of dioxin.  The second
  sample, sooty residue in a stream of water running over Simcoe
  Road, contained 7600 ppt.  The Ontario cleanup guideline for
  contaminated industrial land is 1000 ppt, and for agricultural
  land, just 10 ppt. 
  Dioxin is one of the most toxic substances known.  It  causes
  cancer and is also  linked to problems with growth, reproduction, and
  the immune system.  Dioxin takes decades to degrade in the
  environment, and accumulates in the food chain.  
  "Greenpeace has consistently stated there would be extensive
  dioxin contamination because of the large amount of the PVC
  plastic that burned," said Dr. Bramley.  "But I was shocked when
  I saw these figures.  None of the past PVC fires documented by
  Greenpeace generated dioxin levels quite so high.  I am concerned for
  fire fighters and others who have been exposed to this material
  without adequate protection."
  More than six weeks after the fire, the MOEE has still not
  announced the results of its own dioxin sampling from the
  Plastimet site, despite earlier having demonstrated its ability
  to perform the laboratory analysis for off-site samples in a
  matter of days. "The Ministry is clearly trying to conceal the
  seriousness of the situation from the public for as long as
  possible," said Greenpeace Toxics Campaigner Morag Simpson who
  was briefing politicians at Queen's Park today. 
  Greenpeace has repeatedly criticized the Ministry for  not
  issuing  a field order to ensure containment of contaminated dust and
  run-off from the Plastimet site until July 22, ten days after the fire
  was extinguished. Today,  Greenpeace also revealed that dioxin-laden
  steel debris from the Plastimet site is being sent to Dofasco's steel
  mill, which may not be certified as a hazardous waste disposal
  The announcement last week by the Hamilton's Medical Officer of
  Health that the levels of contamination posed no significant
  health risk to the community "was  premature," said Simpson.  "
  To insist that there'll be no adverse effects before all the
  results were in showed  poor judgement. No responsible politician can
  now deny residents of Hamilton, and those who attended the fire the
  right,  to a full public inquiry."
  In addition to its demand for a full  inquiry, Greenpeace is now
  urgently calling on federal Environment Minister Christine
  Stewart to draft legislation to take account of PVC's proven role as a
  dioxin precursor.  Dioxin is targeted for elimination from the
  environment under the federal government's Toxic Substances Management
  For more information please contact:
  Dr. Matthew Bramley or Mary MacNutt in Hamilton:  416-505-1792
  (cell) or 416-597-8408 or Morag Simpson:  416-597-8408 or 416-
  451-9354 (cell)
  Charlie Cray
  Greenpeace US Toxics Campaign
  847 W. Jackson Blvd., 7th floor
  Chicago, IL 60607
  Ph: (312) 563-6060 x218
  Fax: (312) 563-6099
  Note new e-mail address: Charlie.Cray@dialb.greenpeace.org