News

Beautiful Irina breastfeeding Patrick in the park.

Breastfeeding exposes babies to water- and stain-proofing chemicals

Print

Women exposed to toxic water-proofing and stain-proofing chemicals may be passing these compounds on to their children via breastfeeding. These chemicals are linked to immune system problems that can place children at risk.

Learn more about this issue at Environmental Health News.

Pyrro_Falling_On_Deaf_Ears-front-large

Where In The World Is Gina McCarthy?

Print

Has EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy totally written off oversight and action in contaminated communities and the Superfund program? Is she just turning a deaf ear to the cries for help?

McCarthy did visited Colorado after and EPA cleanup accidentally released a million gallons of toxic wastewater into the Animas River, a tributary of the Colorado River turning the water orange color. That was so big, so bad, she just couldn’t ignore it.

McCarthy said about the accident, “It is a heartbreaking situation.” I can’t disagree with that but what about all the on-going toxic waste sites where children, hardworking tax paying families live and can’t even get a simple response or acknowledgement from her office?

I’ve never seen so many community being treated so poorly by EPA. This past week in Springfield, Ohio over 700 people turned out at a meeting to tell EPA “NO.” Even the Chamber of Commerce (not always standing with us) paid for buses to help people get to the EPA meeting to show EPA people are serious. State Senator Chris Widener (R) also called on EPA to remove hazardous. Quite loudly they said, “Dig it up and take it out!”  Did that get McCarthy’s attention?

EPA wants to dig up more than 2.8 million gallons of wastes that sits over the drinking water aquifer and put it into an adjunct hole, which also sits above the aquifer that provides drinking water to county families. The community has been fighting for years to get the wastes away from their drinking water source.

Ohio not alone. A deaf ear was turned to the folks in Birmingham, Alabama a low wealth community of color. Instead of listening to a very strong assessment by the federal health agency (ATSDR) that children are at serious risk in North Birmingham stating:

  • Past and current exposure to arsenic found in surface soil of some residential yards could harm people’s health.
  • Children are especially at risk. past and current exposure to lead found in surface soil of some residential yards could harm people’s health.
  • Swallowing this lead‐contaminated soil could cause harmful health effects, especially in children and in the developing fetus of pregnant women. long‐term exposure to PAHs found in the surface soil of some residential yards is at a level of concern for lifetime cancer risk.

EPA’s response is to tell parents to not let their children into their homes until they have taken their shoe and clothes off.

Does Administrator McCarthy really think this is the answer? Has she even talked to her staff about why they are handling this situation or others so poorly? I doubt it.

Missouri joins Ohio and Alabama in being ignored. St. Louis, MO almost every politician from federal Senator Blunt (R) to most recently the County Executive, has asked EPA and McCarthy personally to address the concerns of the burning landfill moving toward the radioactive waste landfill and cluster of childhood cancers. Yesterday a new report from the Attorney General’s office said the groundwater and, yes the trees around the site, are radioactive.

The community leaders Just Moms STL raised money through bake sales and traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with the administrator this past spring and she closed her door to them. She was there in her office and choose to ignore the mothers who came to talk with her.

I understand that Administrator Gina McCarthy has a full plate with Climate Change, Air Standards and so on but people are literally dying. Her office has only suggested that concerned public should look to the regional offices for help.  Unfortunately, regional offices don’t have the authority to open a Record of Decision or relocate temporarily or permanently families at risk.

Many are advocating a federal investigation on EPA and Gina McCarthy’s response or better the lack of response to serious toxic waste crisis. If you are interested in helping to advocate an investigative hearing let us know and we’ll connect you with others.

Gina McCarthy, enough is enough, please pay attention.

By 2050 Almost All Marine Birds Will Have Ingested Plastic

Print

By: Katie O’Brien

Seabirds are facing a growing threat from plastic. According to researchers in Australia, by 2050, 99% of marine birds (135 species) will have ingested plastic.  Currently, about 90% of birds have ingested some form of plastic. This is a big leap from earlier published studies, which state that 60% of birds have ingested plastic. These birds show us just how bad plastic pollution has become. According to the study’s coauthor, Denise Hardesty, “In the next 11 years we will make as much plastic as has been made since industrial plastic production began in the 1950s”. This means that the risk for these marine birds will grow over the next decade.

Even though only a small percentage of plastics make it into the ocean, it makes a huge impact. The plastic comes from all over the world, making its way into the ocean through sewers and rivers.  It is no secret that there are giant floating garbage patches in the ocean, some swirling somewhere in between Hawaii and California.  But the most vulnerable areas are within the Tasman Sea, between New Zealand and Australia. Birds mistaken this garbage for food, accidently ingesting it, risking sickness and death.  Birds around Europe are better off because of their reduced use of plastic pellets. Hardesty claims she has seen entire glowsticks and “everything from cigarette lighters, to bottle caps, to model cars, even toys.”

Ingesting these plastics is very dangerous to these marine birds.  After ingestion, the chemicals within the plastic can start to release making the birds sickly. Birds also are not meant to digest plastic, sometimes causing a build up in the stomach, which in turn keeps the bird from being able to get the proper nutrients it needs. Birds are not the only marine life affected; whales and fish are also at risk from eating plastic. We must figure out a way to  prevent future pollution and clean up ocean plastic to help keep marine life diverse and preserve our oceans and planet for future generations.

just moms stl

St. Louis Moms Call On Obama For Help

Print

Anger builds at EPA over radioactive landfill.  “We believe that it would be within the power of the president to issue an executive order to clean up the bureaucratic administrative mess at West Lake Landfill, put one government agency in charge, said Ed Smith.”  Matt LaVanchy, a local fire department official, told radio station KTRS that he believes the fire could be less than 1,000 feet from the radioactive material, and is trying to train firefighters for possible outcomes.

CHEJ has been working with this community for years and agrees that it is time Obama steps in and commands action. EPA refuses to . . . Republic Service has failed nearly every step and people are dying. Time to take the site out of the hands of the incompetent and move the families down wind of the site. Read more here.

celophane

A West Virginia town battles toxic pollution and corporate greed

Print

“DuPont deceived as many people as they could deceive as for as long as they could,” Jim Tennant, a farmer in Parkersburg, tells The Huffington Post. “Now that their secrets are out and they’ve been forced to clean up the water, they’re starting again with a new set of chemicals. This isn’t a fight that will be won in my lifetime.”

The Huffington Post reports on “one of the most brazen, deadly corporate gambits in U.S. history” in ‘Welcome to Beautiful Parkersburg, West Virginia.’

Travis Dove for Bloomberg Businessweek

The EPA Doesn’t Know How to Deal With 300 Million Tons of Animal Poop

Print

‘Rene Miller grew up on a seven-acre slip of Duplin County, N.C., where her mother, Daisy, raised corn, chickens, and hogs. Now, what was a neighbor’s tobacco farm across the narrow two-lane road is a field where a giant sprinkler sprays waste from an industrial hog-raising operation onto whatever happens to be planted there—corn, hay, soybeans. The force of the liquefied manure is so strong it splatters the street sign Miller installed to mark Daisy Miller Lane. “I can’t go out in my yard to watch the cars go by. I can’t put my clothes out on the line,” she says. “It stinks.” ‘


Travis Dove for Bloomberg Businessweek



Read more at Bloomberg Businessweek.

springfield oh 700 people aug 27 2015

700 People Told EPA “Dig it Up -Take It Out”

Print

YES! The people of Clark County, Ohio showed up last night in force….

  • Their Health District attendance counters stopped at 650, with more people coming in the door.
  • US EPA’s Joan Tanaka said in all her 20 years’ work on Superfund sites, she had never seen such a huge crowd.

EPA’s purpose in coming to Clark County was to tell residents what information they wanted us to know….

  • They listened politely to too many power point slides that were unreadable, too many reassurances that were not believable, and too much talking that glossed over or avoided the real questions.

Their united purpose last night was to tell EPA what they wanted them to know–and boy did they do just that.

In summary the people were clear that they:

  • Do not and will not accept their proposed plan.
  • Want all hazardous wastes permanently removed from the Tremont City Barrel Fill.
  • Will continue to work with Ohio EPA and our elected leaders to change their remedy.
  • Do not trust EPA, their reassurances, or their ability to protect our health and water source forever.

Our preference last night was made very clear….We want permanent removal of all  hazardous wastes at the Barrel Fill.

U.S. EPA: Dig it up! Truck it out! Protect our water!

Historic Environmental Justice Group Threatens to Sue EPA

Print

August 26, 2015

Veteran St. Louis Activist Threatens to Sue EPA

Our group and others are filing a legal notice with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today demanding immediate action to stop oil and gas companies from dumping drilling and fracking waste in ways that threaten public health and the environment. We’ll like file a federal lawsuit in 60 days.

Statement of Laura Barrett of St. Louis, Executive Director, Center for Health, Environment and Justice

“Our group, CHEJ, and others are filing a legal notice today with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency demanding immediate action to stop oil and gas companies from dumping drilling and fracking waste in ways that threaten public health and the environment. We’ll likely file a federal lawsuit in 60 days.

The oil and gas industry is growing by leaps and bounds.  EPA must do its job and update and enforce these vital regulations. Our water and air are threatened by toxic waste from the improper storage of fracking wastes while corporate polluters are allowed to run wild. Homes, small businesses, and low income and indigenous communities are being laid to waste by an industry that is virtually unregulated.”


Statement of Lois Gibbs, Founder, Center for Health, Environment and Justice

“For public safety, EPA must update its woefully outdated 25+ year old regulations on the fast growing oil and gas industry.  I have been called the “Mother of the Superfund” because of the work that I did to get relief for children and families poisoned by toxic wastes in Love Canal.  We won relocation for over 800 families because President Carter and EPA finally stepped up.  The EPA must act now before more rural, indigenous, innocent communities are destroyed.”

More information is available here.

fracking smokey

Groups Threaten To Sue EPA Over Dangerous Fracking Waste Disposal

Print

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 26, 2015

Groups File Notice of Intent to Sue EPA Over Dangerous Drilling and Fracking Waste

Call on Agency to Issue Rules for Handling and Disposal of Oil and Gas Waste

WASHINGTON, D.C.  (August 26, 2015) – A coalition of environmental organizations filed a legal notice with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today demanding regulations to stop oil and gas companies from dumping drilling and fracking waste in ways that threaten public health and the environment.

The groups filing today’s notice letter are the Environmental Integrity Project, Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthworks, Responsible Drilling Alliance, San Juan Citizens Alliance, West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization, and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. The groups are calling on EPA to comply with its long-overdue obligations to update waste disposal rules that should have been revised more than a quarter century ago.

“We’re asking that EPA finally do what it found to be necessary back in 1988:  update the regulations for oil and gas wastes,” said Adam Kron, attorney at the Environmental Integrity Project.  “The oil and gas industry has grown rapidly since then, and yet EPA has repeatedly shirked its duties for nearly three decades.  The public deserves better protection than this.”

For example, EPA should institute stricter controls for underground injection wells, which accept two billion gallons of oil and gas wastewater every day and have been linked to numerous earthquakes in Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas. EPA should ban the practice of spreading fracking wastewater onto roads or fields, which allows toxic pollutants to run off and contaminate streams. And EPA should require landfills and ponds that receive drilling and fracking waste to be built with adequate liners and structural integrity to prevent spills and leaks into groundwater and streams.

“Oil and gas waste is extremely dangerous—yet the EPA admitted decades ago that federal rules are inadequate protect the public,” said Matthew McFeeley, attorney at NRDC.  “The scary truth is that right now this waste—complete with carcinogens and radioactive material—is being dumped irresponsibly or disposed of like everyday household garbage. Toxic waste should not be sent to run-of-the-mill landfills, sprayed on our roads and fields, or stored in open air pits.”

The groups notified EPA that they will file a lawsuit in 60 days unless the agency complies with its duty under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to review and revise the federal regulations governing how oil and gas waste must be handled and disposed.  RCRA requires that EPA review the regulations at least every three years and, if necessary, revise them.  The agency determined that such revisions of the regulations were necessary to address specific concerns with oil and gas wastes more than 25 years ago, yet has failed to meet its legal responsibility to act.

Over the last decade, the oil and gas industry’s fracking-based boom has produced a vast amount of solid and liquid waste. Each well produces millions of gallons of wastewater and hundreds of tons of drill cuttings, which contain contaminants that pose serious risks to human health. These include known carcinogens such as benzene, toxic metals such as mercury, and radioactive materials. However, the current RCRA rules that govern oil and gas wastes are too weak because they are the same rules that apply to all “non-hazardous” wastes, including household trash.

As a result, oil and gas companies are handling, storing, and disposing of these wastes in a number of troublesome ways. These include: spraying fracking waste fluids onto roads and land near where people live and work; disposing of billions of gallons of oil and gas wastewater in underground injection wells; sending the drill cuttings and fracking sands to landfills not designed to handle toxic or radioactive materials; and storing and disposing of wastewater in pits and ponds, which often leak.  Across the U.S., there are numerous instances of wastes leaking out of ponds and pits into nearby streams and the groundwater beneath, and operators often “close” the pits by simply burying the wastes on site.

Aaron Mintzes, Policy Advocate for Earthworks, said: “While it’s sadly common for states to fail to enforce their own oil and gas oversight laws, it is especially shameful that we should have to sue the Environmental Protection Agency, the only federal agency solely dedicated to protecting the environment and human health, to force EPA to fulfill its legal obligations to protect us from fracking pollution.”

The following are some examples of problems caused by the improper disposal and handling of fracking and drilling waste:

  • Ohio: Underground injection wells in Ohio accepted 22 million barrels of oil and gas wastewater for disposal in 2014, nearly four times the amount in 2009.  This has resulted in scores of earthquakes in the well-dense Youngstown area, with one well alone linked to 77 earthquakes.  The Ohio Oil and Gas Commission recently noted that regulations “have not kept pace” with the problem, and that (to an extent) both the state and industry are “working with their eyes closed.”
  • Pennsylvania: In May 2012, a six-million-gallon industrial pond holding fracking wastewater in Tioga County leaked pollutants, including arsenic and strontium, through holes in its liner into groundwater and a nearby trout stream.
  • West Virginia: Oil and gas wastewater dumped or spilled in rivers in West Virginia and Pennsylvania contains high levels of potentially hazardous ammonium and iodide, according to a study by Duke University scientists.
  • North Dakota: In January 2015, three million gallons of drilling wastewater spilled from a leaky pipe outside Williston, polluting a tributary of the Missouri River.  In July 2011, a pipeline serving a well in Bottineau County leaked over two million gallons of fracking wastewater, damaging twenty-four acres of private land.
  • Colorado: A contractor for a pipeline services firm gave a detailed account of sand-blasting pulverized waste buildup (called “scale”) from pipeline seals directly into the air outdoors without a filter, even though such dust can be radioactive and cause damage to lungs.
  • Across the Marcellus region: Over the past several years, landfills in states around the Marcellus shale formation—even in New York, where fracking is prohibited—have experienced increasing shipments of drill cuttings that contain high levels of radiation.  Many of the landfills do not test for radiation and do not have adequate controls to prevent the often toxic and radioactive “leachate” from seeping into groundwater.

EPA’s current regulations do not take into account the dangerous contents of oil and gas wastes or their unique handling and disposal practices.  Since 1988, the agency has acknowledged the shortcoming of its basic rules for solid waste management and has indicated that it needs to create enhanced rules tailored to the oil and gas industry. However, the agency has yet to take any action to develop these updated regulations.

“Improper handling of drilling waste threatens the health and safety of 3.5 million Pennsylvania residents whose drinking water comes from private wells,” said Barbara Jarmoska, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Responsible Drilling Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Lycoming County, Pa.  “It is past time for the EPA to put public and environmental health and safety first. EPA should revise existing regulations and specifically address issues relevant to the modern oil and gas industry.”

If EPA does not act within 60 days of today’s notice letter, the groups intend to ask a federal court to set strict deadlines for EPA to complete this long-needed update and strengthening of its regulations for oil and gas wastes.

“These are not your mom and pop wells of the 1980s, and their waste can no longer be ignored and listed as being non-hazardous,” said Teresa Mills, director of the Ohio field office for the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice.  “For the agency to continue to classify millions of gallons/tons of hazardous material as non-toxic is mind-boggling.  The free ride for the oil and gas industry must come to an end, now.”

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Environmental Integrity Project: Tom Pelton, 202-888-2703 or tpelton@environmentalintegrity.org

Natural Resources Defense Council: Kate Kiely, 212-727-4592 or kkiely@nrdc.org

Earthworks: Alan Septoff, 202-887-1872 ×105 or aseptoff@earthworksaction.org

ABOUT THE ORGANIZATIONS:

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

The Environmental Integrity Project, based in Washington, D.C., is dedicated to advocating for more effective enforcement of environmental laws across the U.S.   The organization provides objective analyses of how the failure to implement laws increases pollution, and it holds governments and corporations accountable to protect public health. Learn more at www.environmentalintegrity.org and follow us on Twitter @EIPOnline.

Earthworks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while promoting sustainable solutions. Earthworks stands for clean air, water and land, healthy communities, and corporate accountability. Website: https://www.earthworksaction.org/

The Responsible Drilling Alliance is a registered 501(c)(3) education and advocacy coalition, based in Pennsylvania that seeks to educate members and the public about deep shale gas drilling and all of its ramifications. The alliance advocates for federal, state and local regulations needed to protect our economy, environment, health, safety and quality of life. Website: www.rdaPA.org

The West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization is a statewide membership organization representing over 900 members, almost all of who live or own land in the state’s oil and gas producing counties. One of the organizations primary purposes is to educate its members and the public regarding surface owners’ rights and the environmental and other impacts associated with oil and gas exploration and production. Website: www.wvsoro.org

The San Juan Citizens Alliance is a Colorado-based grassroots organization dedicated to social, economic and environmental justice.  The alliance organizes San Juan Basin residents to protect the basin’s water and air, public lands, rural character, and unique quality of life while embracing the diversity of the region’s people, economy, and ecology. Website: http://sanjuancitizens.org/

The Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) mentors a movement, empowering people to prevent harm to human health caused by exposure to environmental threats. Through training, coalition building and one-on-one technical and organizing assistance, CHEJ works to level the playing field so that people can have a say in the environmental policies and decisions that affect their health and well-being. Website: http://chej.org/

###

incinerator

United Workers calls for opposition to incinerator project in Curtis Bay

Print

United Workers has released a video for the Free Your Voice project calling for community control of the land being held hostage by the incinerator project. After watching the video, sign their petition (unitedworkers.org/stop_the_incinerator) calling on Maryland Department of the Environment to enforce the law and support their push for Fair Development.

“Like many communities, we find ourselves in a basic struggle for survival in which our health is sacrificed and the very air we breathe is made toxic by failed development. In such times we must come together to use our creativity and collective resources to find solutions to the crisis we face. Today, we are proud to share this powerful video calling for community control of the 80 acre site currently being held hostage by Energy Answers’ plan to build the nations’ largest trash burning incinerator less than a mile from schools in Curtis Bay.

For the past several years community members and an amazing group of supporters have developed a democratic process to identify community driven solutions to the challenges we face. Ideas emerging from this process include a community solar farm that would utilize Maryand’s new community solar legislation to generate truly green energy along with savings and wealth for local residents. We have also identified a number of recycling and composting businesses that would bring hundreds of good jobs along with practical solutions to dealing with waste (instead of burning or burying it all).

Meanwhile, the incinerator project has failed to meet the requirements of the federal Clean Air Act and is holding over 80 acres of land hostage. Many of you reading this were instrumental in our successful push to get over 20 public entities to choose to terminate their energy contracts with the incinerator. Now it is time for the Maryland Department of the Environment to step up and do the right thing for our health, our environment and our economy. Along with this video, we are gathering comments and petitions calling upon the Maryland Department of the environment to enforce the law and hold Energy Answers accountable. Stop holding us back from taking a big step toward Fair Development!”