Lisa Jackson: Finalize the EPA’s Dioxin Study Once and for All

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Pressure is mounting on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to make good on her promise to finalize the EPA’s 25+ year-long delayed Dioxin Reassessment.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

Today CHEJ’s Executive Director Lois Gibbs sent EPA Administrator Jackson a letter strongly urging EPA to finalize the Dioxin Reassessment once and for all.  Lois has been working on dioxin issues for over 30 years, even going back to 1978 when she organized her neighbors to be relocated from the dioxin-contaminated community at Love Canal.

You can read the letter here, and I’ve selected some choice excerpts:

“It is outrageous that EPA has been evaluating the risks of dioxin exposure since 1985 – for more than 25 years – and that the agency has repeatedly allowed the regulated industry to delay its efforts to finalize its assessment.

As EPA has continued to work on the Dioxin Reassessment, people in communities across the country are continuing to be exposed to this highly toxic chemical.

Yet once again, industry is attempting to stall the release of this important report. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) and other industry trade associations are once again pressuring the agency to further delay the release of this important document. Once again they are asking for more review, more certainty, and more delays.  EPA will never satisfy these requests no matter what information you provide, because these groups continue to benefit from an incomplete report that is not finalized.

EPA has a moral and ethical responsibility to make public in final form its best scientific opinion on the health risks posed by exposure to dioxin and dioxin-like compounds. The American public has a right to know about the health consequences of exposure to dioxins, and EPA needs to take steps to protect American families from this unnecessary harmful class of chemicals.”

We’re not in this alone.

A broad coalition of environmental health, environmental justice, labor, Vietnam, women’s groups, and reproductive health organizations has joined this urgent call.

Today, James Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who represents over 1.4 million workers, sent a letter to Lisa Jackson urging EPA to finalize this report.  The Teamsters represent many workers that are likely exposed to dioxin on the job, as EPA has reported landfill fires are one of the biggest source of dioxin in America.  The letter reads in part:

“Over 32,000 of our members are represented by the Teamsters Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division.  The Teamsters Union is committed to standing up for the rights of all waste workers.

Waste workers may potentially be exposed to dioxin from landfill fires, the disposal of residual ash generated by incineration, and commercial and industrial sites that were not properly cleaned up.

According to your Agency’s January 5, 2012 report, air releases of dioxin rose 10 percent from 2009-2010, while other releases, such as landfill disposal, increased 18 percent.

These exposures to dioxin, in addition to its presence in our food supply, means that waste workers may face increased risks of high dioxin levels.

I am pleased that the EPA “is committed to a transparent, scientifically sound process to determine how this chemical impacts Americans’ health” and I respectfully urge you to move expeditiously, past two decades of delay, to guard the health of American workers, families and the public from this unnecessary hazard.”

Last week Rep. Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Committee and senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, sent EPA a fantastic letter urging EPA to finalize this dioxin study.  You can read Markey’s letter and press release here. This comes at a time when EPA actually announced dioxin releases increased by 18% from 2009-2010, and dioxin air releases increased by 10%.  Read about it in this story in the Washington Post.

A growing body of organizations have written to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson the past few weeks urging the agency to act on dioxin.  Other organizations include:

You can join us by signing on to our letter to EPA, which we plan to deliver next week.

Will you join us and stand up to the chemical industry?