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Corporate Espionage Non Profits Without Legal Consequences

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Greenpeace received word that the DC Court of Appeals has ruled against them in their lawsuit against Dow Chemical, Sasol, Dezenhall Resources, Ketchum, and the former operates of the now-defunct Beckett, Brown, Inc. corporate espionage firm. The court dismissed the case because Greenpeace rents its office space and the court ruled that as tenants and not owners, Greenpeace had no standing to sue the burglars for intruding on our premises.

Some of you that have been with CHEJ for a while might remember this is the same suit in which CHEJ and Lois Gibbs was targeted with both her home address listed in the espionage firm’s documents as well as photos of the front of her house.  Too bad the case was dismissed but not surprising.  CHEJ knows that they are watched and our phone and internet wires cut a few years ago also went unsolved. For a recap of the case read Ralph Nader’s recent article.

Like other firms specializing in snooping, Beckett Brown turned to garbage swiping as a key tactic. BBI officials and contractors routinely conducted what the firm referred to as “D-line” operations, in which its operatives would seek access to the trash of a target, with the hope of finding useful documents. One midnight raid targeted Greenpeace. One BBI document lists the addresses of several other environmental groups as “possible sites” for operations: the National Environmental Trust, the Center for Food Safety, Environmental Media Services, the Environmental Working Group, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, an organization run by Lois Gibbs, famous for exposing the toxic dangers of New York’s Love Canal. For its rubbish-rifling operations, BBI employed a police officer in the District of Columbia and a former member of the Maryland state police. Ridgeway Mother Jones Article.

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Cindy Crawford Pulls Kids Out of School Due to Elevated Levels of PCBs

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Better safe than sorry! Cindy Crawford is not taking any chances when it comes to the health and safety of her two kids Presley and Kaia, whom she shares with husband Rande Gerber. The celeb kids missed their first day of school at Malibu High School after testing showed elevated levels of PCBs at their school and others in the county.

PCB is a chemical typically found in the window caulking of older buildings that was outlawed by Congress in 1976. Over time it can cause cancer, damage the immune and reproductive system, and negatively impact brain development in children. Crawford, 48, spoke on the Today Show with special correspondent Maria Shriver about her concerns for her children on Tuesday, Aug. 19.


“I don’t feel 100 percent safe,” she said during the interview. “I look 10 years down the line, what if my kid, God forbid, had a problem? How could I live with myself if I knew that it was a possibility, and I still sent them there?”  Read more.

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BPA and Reproductive Health

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In 2006 a panel of experts reviewed the literature to that point on potential health effects arising from exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a high-production-volume chemical that is broadly detectable in the environment as well as in most people’s bodies in developed countries.1 A new review takes stock of the knowledge gained since then, focusing on potential reproductive health effects while also considering new and lingering questions.

Jackye Peretz, Lisa Vrooman, William A. Ricke, Patricia A. Hunt, Shelley Ehrlich, Russ Hauser, Vasantha Padmanabhan, Hugh S. Taylor, Shanna H. Swan, Catherine A. VandeVoort, and Jodi A. Flaws

Read entire article here.

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Three new reasons retailers must ban triclosan

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Last week, Bloomberg News broke a major story that shined the light on the dangers of triclosan, a hormone-disrupting chemical commonly used in antibacterial soaps and even Colgate Total toothpaste.

#1 – FDA approved use of triclosan, despite evidence to suggest harm

Bloomberg News’ story reveal an all too common practice in Washington – where chemicals are approved to be used based on limited studies conducted by the same companies that profit from their use. The expose revealed how In the case of the FDA’s approval of triclosan in Colgate Total toothpaste, the agency approved the chemical despite the fact that there was early evidence suggesting it could be harmful to consumers. These revelations have come to light only after NRDC sued the FDA to make these documents public, after the FDA withheld them from public view.

I had the opportunity to appear on live national TV to discuss this breaking story, and talk about our Mind the Store campaign, which has been challenging the nation’s largest retailers to eliminate the worst-of-the-worst chemicals like triclosan. Check out the video below to see the story. Bloomberg News also ran a great follow-up story on our campaign’s work to get retailers to scrub their supply chains of unnecessary dangerous chemicals like triclosan.

#2 – Brushing teeth with Colgate Total = 5 time the level of triclosan

The Bloomberg story came on the heels of a brand new study which found that brushing your teeth with Colgate Total toothpaste can lead to higher exposures to this dangerous substance. Our colleagues at NRDC wrote:

“It’s a study of hospital workers at two different hospitals. One hospital used triclosan-containing soap, the other did not. Not surprisingly, the study shows that people who washed their hands with the triclosan-containing soap had higher levels of triclosan in their urine.

The really interesting part of the study showed that the numbers were skewed heavily by brushing with Colgate Total toothpaste. As it turns out, people who brushed their teeth with Colgate Total had more than five times as much triclosan in their urine as people who didn’t use it.“

#3 – Babies and pregnant women exposed to triclosan

Along with these new reports come yet another brand new study which found that pregnant women and fetuses in the womb are being exposed to triclosan and its cousin chemical, triclocarbon. Every single one of the women tested had triclosan in their bodies, and half of newborns tested were also exposed to triclosan.

“We looked at the exposure of pregnant women and their fetuses to triclosan and triclocarban, two of the most commonly used germ-killers in soaps and other everyday products,” says Benny Pycke, Ph.D. “We found triclosan in all of the urine samples from the pregnant women that we screened. We also detected it in about half of the umbilical cord blood samples we took, which means it transfers to fetuses. Triclocarban was also in many of the samples.”

Will Retailers Mind the Store?

In the absence of real federal chemical form, many leading brands are filling the regulatory void and have already taken precautionary steps to eliminate triclosan, such as Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, and Avon. Even Colgate has eliminated it from their dish and hand soaps. Colgate Total should join them and move swiftly to remove triclosan.

Alliance Boots, who Walgreens is merging with, has banned triclosan as part of its its corporate chemicals policy. We’ve been calling on Walgreens to adopt Boots’ chemicals management program as a first step in developing a comprehensive chemical policy, and are hopeful Walgreens will do what’s right for American consumers. Both Target and Walmart have identified over 1,000 chemicals to reduce and work to eliminate, though it’s unclear whether triclosan has made it onto their priority lists.

In light of the Bloomberg story and the ever-growing evidence that triclosan is harmful to our health and getting into our bodies, big retailers like Walgreens should leverage their purchasing power to eliminate this unnecessary toxic chemical from products on their shelves once and for all. Will you join us and call on the nation’s top retailers to Mind the Store?

TAKE ACTION: Tell the nation’s biggest retailers to ban dangerous chemicals like triclosan.

Protect yourself from triclosan:

1. Check the label: avoid products with the words triclosan and triclocarban on the ingredient labels of personal care products, soaps and hand sanitizers. Triclosan may also marketed under the trade name Microban™ when used in plastics and clothing, and Biofresh™ when used in acrylic fibers.

2. Be wary of products like cutting boards that are labeled as “anti-microbial” or “anti-bacterial.”

3. Stick to washing your hands with hot water and soap and alcohol based hand sanitizers when on the go.

Written by Mike Schade, Mind The Store Campaign

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Crude Oil Trains Moving Across NY State Pose Unaddressed Risk to Children, Schools, and Communities

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The recent spike in oil train traffic in the Albany region presents unexamined and unaddressed risks to public safety, including potential impacts to 75 K-12 schools, according to new mapping by environmental and health groups. The recent accidents in Lac Megantic, Quebec and Casselton, ND that resulted in mass casualties and huge releases of air toxins illustrate how woefully unprepared New York State is to address derailments and other accidents.

Read more.

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Keep America Energy Independent

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These are my arguments for the direction our country must take to protect our citizen’s and secure our homeland. Natural gas extraction, exports, damages and lack of regulations have been front page news for several years.  What’s the answer, here are my thoughts but I welcome others to contribute their thoughts.

  • Natural gas is a part of the answer to our energy needs in this country. In fact, America is today energy independent if we keep what we harvest and not ship our energy resources overseas. It’s really that simple.
  • Our abundance of energy resources, if kept in the U.S., will provide affordable energy for America’s industries today and attract new industries tomorrow.
  • Exporting liquid natural gas according to the Energy Department’s own report will end up being worse from a greenhouse gas perspective to climate change than if China simply built a new power plant and burned its own coal supplies.
  • Exporting natural gas creates environmental and public health risks through gas industries “boom” to drill as many wells as possible with little regulations to make quick profits especially in the export markets which will purchase at five times the domestic rates.
  • Exporting Americas energy resources increases the country‘s security risks. American men and women fought and hundreds died in wars around oil. Let’s honor those who fought for America by not selling our energy and placing the country and its armed forces at risk again.  More than 600 Kuwaiti oil wells were set on fire by the Iraqi forces causing massive environmental and economic damage.
  • The only one who benefits from exports is the corporations making profits exporting our natural resources.

In fact, exporting our natural resources creates a different equation entirely. The overseas workforce is very cheap, in many cases not paying close to a living wage. If we provide an influx of new energy resources for countries that don’t even pay a living wage, why in the world would any corporation want to set up business in America? They have cheap labor and an abundance of energy which they don’t have today.

I want to take care of America and keep our energy —our gas —here so we can grow and prosper. It’s un-American to export energy sources when men and women have died in wars over oil.  It doesn’t change the climate crisis and doesn’t provide an incentive for new industries to set up business in America or existing ones to expand. Lastly, holding on our our gas and oil resources will slow down the drilling of new wells giving us time to explore the real environmental and health impacts from hydro-fracturing.

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Germany Wants To Ban Fracking

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Germany is seeking a ban on shale gas and oil drilling over the next seven years because of worries that the practice could pollute drinking water and damage the environment. Read full story.

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Groups Demand Ohio Injection Well Be Closed

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Concerned Citizens Ohio and CHEJ contend that the Kovach injection well in Shalersville Township, OH has improperly received wastes for years to be injected into rock formations underground. The groups are asking the U.S. EPA to issue an immediate order to stop further injection. and filed a complaint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency against an injection well in northern Portage County for allegedly accepting millions of gallons of drilling wastes improperly. Read more here.

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Childhood Cancer & Environment

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Between 1975 and 2011, the U.S. has seen a 55% increase in the number of children diagnosed annually with childhood leukemia. Read more from Environmental Health Policy/PSR.

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Public Health Risks & Corporate Profits

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People’s bodies are being contaminated with industrial chemicals without their consent or knowledge. Unlike food and drugs, most of these industrial chemicals have never been tested to determine their effects on human health or the environment. Diseases linked to chemicals like childhood cancers are on the rise. Our laws need to be changed to protect public health and the environment. We must phase out the worst chemicals and switch to safer, effective and affordable alternatives that already exist. Because our country’s laws are outdated—prevention, substitution and proof of safety—are not our nation’s goals. Instead calculated harm and sacrifice are the goals of today’s regulations and laws. Risk of harm and cost of change (regardless of how large or small) dominate decisions around chemical exposures of innocent people and the environment.

Corporations and our government try to confuse the public about risks or make a certain level of risk somehow acceptable. To simplify the entire mathematical formula to justify unnecessary risks for the average person I came up with this analogy. Although this may be a bit of over simplification it is the formula that is used to dismiss risks and allow corporations to expose people, innocent children, to very dangerous chemicals in order to increase their profits.

Here is the analogy to demonstrate their technique.

Protective Gates vs. Cheap Pillows

Most people believe if you have a toddler and an open staircase it makes sense to be cautious and place a gate across the stairs to prevent the child from falling down the stairs.

U.S. chemical industries would argue investing in the gate may not be necessary—instead they would do studies to determine how many toddlers would fall and the level of harm from each tumble down the stairs.

After defining statistically how many toddlers would likely fall down the stairs and the percentage that could be harmed, industry would still argue the gate is too expensive and purchasing them would cause financial harms.

They would argue that instead of expensive gates, believed to be overkill, they would invest in cheap pillows at the bottom of the stairs which would provide adequate protection for tumbling toddlers.

So the next time you are faced with a risk benefit equation from corporations or government ask them (using this analogy) if they are suggesting pillows instead of a gate? Are they really interested in protecting public health especially from involuntary risks?