Chen Yuqian’s daughter posted photos online showing injuries to his face after he was beaten
SHANGHAI, CHINA — “Chen Yuqian, a 60-year-old resident of Pailian village in Zhejiang province, was one of at least three concerned citizens who last week called on Chinese environmental officials to brave the rivers they were supposed to be keeping clean.
…Mr Chen, a farmer who has spent the last decade fighting pollution, posted his challenge on the internet, hoping it would trigger government action.
Instead, his daughter says he was severely beaten by a gang of baton-wielding men at around 6am last Sunday.”
— Tom Phillips, The Telegraph
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AMHERST, MA — “An international team of experts reported today that evidence linking hormone-mimicking chemicals to human health problems has grown stronger over the past decade, becoming a ‘global threat’ that should be addressed.
The report is a joint effort by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme to give policymakers the latest information on chemicals that alter the hormones of people and wildlife.
Much has changed since 2002, when the organizations released a report that called the evidence linking the chemicals to human health impacts ‘weak.’
The panel of 16 scientists from 10 nations in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia found that endocrine-related diseases and disorders are on the rise. There is now ‘emerging evidence for adverse reproductive outcomes’ and ‘mounting evidence’ for effects on thyroids, brains and metabolism, according to the report summary.”
— Brian Bienkowski, Environmental Health News
link to press release
Volunteer Alex Lamp at a Watershed Volunteer Program event in Parma, OH. Over 100 trees and shrubs were planted in a floodplain along West Creek to enhance a riparian buffer zone. Join us this spring at the same restoration site to plant native grasses, sedges, and wildflowers.
CLEVELAND — “As a Cleveland Metroparks priority watershed, West Creek Reservation and the surrounding area present residents with a unique opportunity to learn more about watershed health and best management practices designed to restore urban ecosystems. What are the issues? And what can be done to address them? Located in a dense urban/suburban area where loss of riparian habitat, increasing stormwater flows, stream bank erosion, and invasive species encroachment are increasingly common, there’s no better place to start than West Creek watershed.
Based out of the new Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek, the Watershed Volunteer Program is an effort to engage residents in an array of active management projects to improve watershed conditions. Participants learn about issues through various training sessions and workshops, take part in restoration and monitoring events, and reach out with community extension projects.”
— Jennifer Grieser, Cleveland Metroparks
read more about the project
In 2001, siblings Larry, Krystal, and Deborah Parks lean against the entrance of a house which was bought and razed by Pacific Gas & Electric. The company was found to have polluted the ground water around Hinkley, California with cancer-causing hexavalent chromium.
WASHINGTON, DC — “The story of chromium (VI), full of twists and turns, offers a case study in how the Obama administration has failed to shield science at the EPA from industry influence.
Companies with a stake in chromium have borrowed from the Big Tobacco playbook, using science to create doubt. Ever since the brassy Brockovich knocked on doors in Hinkley to organize a class-action lawsuit, scientists paid by industry have tried to convince the courts and regulators that chromium (VI) poses no health risk.
Some of those scientists ended up on the panel chosen to review the EPA’s chromium findings, the Center for Public Integrity found:
- Three of the five panelists who urged delay had worked on industry’s behalf in the Hinkley court cases.
- One of those scientists was retained by PG&E in the company’s ongoing chromium cleanup in Hinkley at the same time he was serving on the EPA panel.
- Another scientist who urged the EPA to wait for the American Chemistry Council studies served as a consultant on those studies.”
— David Heath and Ronnie Greene, The Center for Public Integrity
link to article
Researchers tracked more than 6,000 workers through 2004; salaried workers fared better
Fernald Feed Materials Production Center
FERNALD — “More than 18 years later, Hamilton County’s Fernald Feed Materials Production Center is in the news again. This time, a study found a correlation between higher rates of cancer mortality and hourly workers, with some evidence of radiation causing intestinal cancer.
The study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found salaried workers fared much better than hourly workers, and all-cause mortality was below expectations for them despite increased malignancies in blood, bone marrow, spleen, lymph nodes and thymus cells.
…Fernald was initially surrounded by controversy in 1984 when it was revealed that it was releasing millions of pounds of uranium dust into the atmosphere, causing radioactive contamination in surrounding areas. The controversy was elevated when Dave Bocks, an employee at the factory, mysteriously disappeared and was later found dead at a uranium processing furnace. Some suspected Bocks was murdered for allegedly being a whistleblower, but no evidence of foul play was ever officially recorded.”
— German Lopez, Cincinnati City Beat
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Rainforest Action Network Executive Director, Rebecca Tarbotton
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — “Rainforest Action Network (RAN), and the community that has grown around it for more than 25 years, are mourning the sudden and tragic loss of Executive Director, Rebecca Tarbotton, who died unexpectedly on Wednesday, December 26.
A self-proclaimed “pragmatic idealist,” Rebecca Tarbotton (‘Becky’ to friends and family) was admired by environmentalists and climate change activists for her visionary work protecting forests, pushing the nation to transition to a clean energy economy and defending human rights. She was the first female executive director of RAN and a strong female voice in a movement often dominated by men.
The RAN staff, her friends and family remember a ‘force of nature’ with an infectious laugh, adventurous spirit, and a heart bursting with love.”
— Rainforest Action Network
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Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney
CINCINNATI — On Monday, Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney released his 2013 draft city budget.
Unlike previous years, plans to make up a revenue deficit do not include cuts to the Office of Environmental Quality. In fact, the budget lays out plans to semi-automate the city’s solid waste program which are designed to reduce worker’s compensation costs by nearly $1 million a year, further standardize the solid waste function, facilitate cleaner neighborhoods, expand efficiency, and promote higher levels of recycling.
Dohoney proposes to –
- Reverse the decision to co-mingle yard waste with trash and offer biweekly curbside pickup from April to December.
- Issue standard 95- or 64-gallon garbage carts and restrict set out beyond that limit, unless a special bulky item pick-up is scheduled.
- Develop a plan to add side-loading vehicles to the Public Services fleet in the future, which would pave the way toward one day instituting volume-based trash fees.
- Expand marketing efforts to achieve higher recycling rates.
- Save money by reducing routes.
- Franchise commercial waste collection.Comments from the public will be heard during two Budget and Finance Committee hearings:
Dec. 6, 2012 – 6 p.m.
City Hall Council Chambers
801 Plum St., Room 308
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Dec. 10, 2012 – 6 p.m.
Corryville Recreation Center
2823 Eden Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45219
The Cincinnati Green Group, an ad hoc environmental network sent out a call to, “Wear green, speak out and let our council know the environmental community supports these and other efforts to make our city cleaner, greener and smarter.”
– Melissa K. English, Development Director, Ohio Citizen Action
Whirlpool Park, an area built for children to play in the Clyde, Ohio area, was a dumping ground for PCBs and a sludge filled with toxic metals.
CLYDE — “Soil samples showing high levels of a chemical believed to increase the risk of certain cancers were found at a former park in an area of northern Ohio where cancer has sickened dozens of children for more than a decade, according to environmental regulators.
… A tip left on a hotline indicated the Benton Harbor, Mich.-based company used a black sludge-like material to fill in the area near the basketball court, the EPA report said.
…Families whose children were among those diagnosed with brain tumors, leukemia, lymphoma and other forms of cancer said they were troubled by the report.
‘Obviously it is upsetting to learn that such significant amounts of poison sludge are dumped anywhere, but to either dump it in proximity or cover it over with a children’s park and a swimming pool filled with water coming from the very spot where the dumping occurred, is an outrage,’ said Alan Mortensen, an attorney working with some of the families.”
— Associated Press
— Tom Jackson, Sandusky Register
— Jennifer Feehan, Toledo Blade
Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action
COLUMBUS — “Ohio EPA’s relationship with environmentalists and U.S. EPA, though, has had a long and troubled history in large part because of its coal production and manufacturing history.
Tensions came to a boil starting in 1997 when Ohio Citizen Action, along with other environmental groups, filed a petition calling for EPA to strip the state agency of its authority to implement federal statutes like the Clean Air Act.
The effort was originally spurred by legislation that would have allowed corporations to keep environmental audits shielded from the public, but it eventually morphed in 2001 into EPA’s largest investigation into a state counterpart ever. Among the charges EPA looked into was whether Ohio EPA was failing to act against polluters.
Sandy Buchanan, Ohio Citizen Action’s executive director, recalled that she also launched a “pink slip” campaign to get Chris Jones, then Ohio EPA director, fired.
In an unusually strongly worded report, EPA found severe flaws in Ohio EPA’s methods, including its enforcement of the Clean Air Act and permit process. But, ultimately, it allowed the state EPA to largely retain its enforcement authority. ‘U.S. EPA did require Ohio to make a bunch of changes in how they were operating,’ Buchanan said. ‘More significantly, U.S. EPA ended up taking over enforcement of many individual cases.’
Buchanan’s effort also unintentionally produced other results. In 2001, President George W. Bush nominated Donald Schregardus, who directed Ohio EPA during the 1990s, to be U.S. EPA’s top enforcement officer. EPA’s report, taken up by Democrats on Capitol Hill, effectively sunk Schregardus’ confirmation.
— Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E Greenwire
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Akbar Tyler, a healthy-housing manager with the nonprofit group Environmental Health Watch, talks with Velma Lewis about reducing asthma triggers. Tyler has visited 25 Cleveland area homes in the past year under a new federal housing grant that pays for repairs to improve the home-health environment.
CLEVELAND — “The air in Velma Lewis’ home on East 96th Street is heavy and difficult to breath.
There’s mold growing under the flooring and there’s a cockroach infestation: small ones crunch under foot on the basement stairs, medium-sized bugs crawl up the counters and larger ones flit around the kitchen-ceiling light.
‘Sometimes I don’t even want to come home,’ admits Lewis, a 53-year-old mother of five. Her youngest child, a 16-year-old boy, was admitted to University Hospitals in September after a severe asthma attack. He was there seven days.
Substandard houses all over Cleveland are making kids sick: An estimated 44,000 homes rated below ‘fair condition’ during a 2009 city analysis could be a factor for the 14,500 asthmatic children and teens who live in the city, according to Mike Piepsny of the nonprofit Environmental Health Watch and Dr. Dorr Dearborn, a local pediatric pulmonologist.
The two have worked together for more than a decade to fix the houses, which they say are full of hazards such as mold, mildew and cockroaches.”
— Sarah Jane Tribble, The Plain Dealer
link to article
Barry Commoner in 1971 at Washington University in St. Louis.
NEW YORK, NY — “Described in 1970 by Time magazine as the ‘Paul Revere of ecology,’ Commoner followed Rachel Carson as America’s most prominent modern environmentalist. But unlike Carson, Commoner viewed the environmental crisis as a symptom of a fundamentally flawed economic and social system. A biologist and research scientist, he argued that corporate greed, misguided government priorities and the misuse of technology accounted for the undermining of ‘the finely sculptured fit between life and its surroundings.’
Commoner insisted that scientists had an obligation to make scientific information accessible to the general public, so that citizens could participate in public debates that involved scientific questions. Citizens, he said, have a right to know the health hazards of the consumer products and technologies used in everyday life. Those were radical ideas in the 1950s and ’60s, when most Americans were still mesmerized by the cult of scientific expertise and such new technologies as cars, plastics, chemical sprays and atomic energy.
Commoner linked environmental issues to a broader vision of social and economic justice. He called attention to the parallels among the environmental, civil rights, labor and peace movements. He connected the environmental crisis to the problems of poverty, injustice, racism, public health, national security and war.”
— Peter Dreier, The Nation
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CINCINNATI — As part of its 2012 Sustainability Week events, Xavier University will bring noted activist, author and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber for a series of events. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s landmark work Silent Spring, which first sounded the alarm about chemical threats to public health and the environment. Ms. Steingraber and fellow presenter Kaiulani Lee will examine Carson’s legacy and its influence on their own work. Several events are free and open to the public including:
Wednesday, September 26, Living Downstream, Kennedy Auditorium in CLC 412, 7pm: A film based on featured guest Sandra Steingraber’s book;
Sunday, October 7, Sandra Steingraber lecture, Cintas Banquet Center, 7 pm: Biologist Sandra Steingraber’s work and books (Living Downstream and Raising Elijah) focus on the links between environmental toxins and cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities, and other ailments. She continues Rachel Carson’s prophetic tradition, empowering us to take greater responsibility for our personal, communal, and environmental health.
For a complete listing of events, visit http://www.xavier.edu/green/documents/Sustainability_Week_2012.pdf
— Melissa K. English, Development Director, Ohio Citizen Action
CLEVELAND – Alexander Cockburn, a brilliant and influential journalist, author and social critic, died in Bad Salzhausen, Germany, on Saturday. Born in Scotland, raised in Ireland, Cockburn had lived in the United States since 1972.
He was much taken with a passage from Tristes Tropiques (1955) by anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss:
If men have always been concerned with only one task—how to create a society fit to live in—the forces which inspired our distant ancestors are also present in us. Nothing is settled; everything can still be altered. What was done but turned out wrong, can be done again. The Golden Age, which blind superstition had placed behind us, is in us.
To this, Cockburn added his own words:
These days we’re shy imaginers of Utopias on hold. We know we live in the age of iron, lamented by Hesiod and Ovid. All the more reason not to lose heart. There is abundance, if we arrange things differently. The world can be turned upside down; that is, the right way up. The Golden Age is in us, if we know where to look, and what to think.
— Paul Ryder, Assistant Director, Ohio Citizen Action
The Bhopal disaster in 1984 was one of the worst industrial accidents in history. But almost three decades later, toxic waste is still being stored on the site under poor conditions. Now, a German government agency will transport hundreds of tons of hazardous material to Germany for disposal.
BHOPAL, INDIA — ” Rusted metal barrels filled with a dark, dusty material stand in a warehouse on the site of the former Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India. Dirt and sand trickle from worn plastic bags piled up in a corner. The barrels contain toxic materials, but they have no lids and are not inside any containers. Any slum child can pick the lock on the entrance gate. It’s hazardous waste storage, Indian style.
Now, German experts want to clean it up.
On the night of December 2, 1984, one of the biggest chemical accidents in history occurred in the Indian city of Bhopal. A factory owned by the US chemical company Union Carbide, now part of Dow Chemical, produced an insecticide called Sevin at the Bhopal plant. The facility was intended to bring work and prosperity to the capital of Madhya Pradesh, a largely rural state in the heart of India, a little bigger than Italy. Instead, the plant brought death to the residents of Bhopal. Several dozen tons of methyl isocyanate, a highly toxic chemical, leaked from a tank that night, releasing a deadly cloud of gas over the city. The leak is believed to have caused up to 30,000 deaths, although the exact number, especially in the slums adjacent to the plant, was never determined.
Today the people in Bhopal still live with the consequences of the gas cloud and are still fighting for compensation. It took a decree by India’s highest court for the toxic waste to finally be removed. The partner the Indians found to perform the task is the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), a German government agency that provides services for sustainable development. ”
— Simone Kaiser, Der Spiegel
link to article
Approximately 2 grams of phenol in glass vial.
HAVERHILL — ” The stench of phenol was overpowering, wafting from mud taken from a layer of rock thousands of feet beneath southern Ohio.
It was 1989 and workers for the Aristech Chemical Corp. had begun drilling a disposal well for dangerous, chemical-laden waste from the company’s acetone manufacturing plant in Haverhill.
The well site was next to two older Aristech disposal wells, in a spot where federal and state regulators believed hazardous materials would remain safely tucked away forever almost 6,000 feet under the earth’s surface.
But the phenol – a deadly chemical used in Aristech’s processes that is known to cause internal burns, muscle spasms and organ failure – indicated that something might have gone wrong. ”
— Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica
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