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Barack Obama

Greenpeace Starts Countdown Clock Asking: Why is Obama Letting the EPA Slow-walk Chemical Plant Safety?

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By Rick Hind, Greenpeace — When he was a Senator, President Obama championed legislation to prevent chemical disasters. On the Senate floor in 2006 he warned, “these plants are stationary weapons of mass destruction spread all across the country.”

As a candidate for in 2008, Obama made it an issue in his campaign platform, Change We Can Believe In

As President he sent representatives from the Department of Homeland Security and EPA to Capitol Hill to testify in favor of the same prevention policies that he had championed in the Senate. After the legislation was blocked by the chemical lobby in 2011 a coalition of over 100 organizations urged the President to use EPA’s long standing authority under the Clean Air Act to prevent future disasters by requiring safer alternatives.

Two years ago on April 17th, following the deadly chemical fertilizer disaster in West, Texas President Obama spoke at the memorial service of the fifteen victims of that preventable calamity, most of whom were first responders, saying, “we’ll be there even after the cameras leave and after the attention turns elsewhere.” Obama video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARMMiH1UjSk

On August 1, 2013 the President appeared to put those words into action when he issued an executive order directing federal agencies to modernize their safety rules. Last May the EPA committed to finalizing new safety requirements by 2016. But two years after the disaster in West, Texas we’re still waiting for the EPA to begin the rule-making process. In the meantime there have been more than 350 additional chemical accidents. And there are still 466 chemical plants that each pose a catastrophic hazard to 100,000 or more people – 88 of which put one million or more people at risk.

Because the EPA rarely finalizes new rules in less than 18 months, our Coalition has urged them to start as soon as possible. If they don’t finish by June 2016 a new President or Congress could kill it by using the Congressional Review Act (CRA), as President Bush did to important workplace safety rules in 2001.

Unfortunately, the EPA has chosen to wait until sometime in September to start this process.

To track their progress Greenpeace created a Countdown Clock on our web site. If the President and the EPA are serious about prioritizing disaster prevention, they must move up their start time to June 1st of this year so they can finalize a new rule by June 2016. After that, any new rule will be more vulnerable to the CRA.

The safety of millions of people depends on the administration finishing what they started. The EPA has been “considering” this issue on and off for 20 years. We finally have a President who knows how and what to do.

If he’s serious and wants this to be an important part of his legacy, he needs to ensure that the EPA acts as soon as possible. He’s hearing from the chemical lobby so please let him hear from you today by clicking here.

——– ***Chronology of the EPA “Considering” Chemical Disaster Prevention***

1995 “EPA does not favor inclusion of a specific requirement in the initial program for an analysis of the inherent safety of processes…EPA is considering further study of this issue with all stakeholders and requests comment on this issue.”

2002 Following the 9/11 attacks, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman proposed regulations in 2002 following the 9/11 attacks but they were scuttled by the Bush White House. She has since urged Obama to issue new safety rules.

2009 Peter S. Silva, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, testified in favor of requirements to use inherently safer technologies (IST) also known as safer chemical processes.

2010 Cynthia Dougherty, EPA’s Director of the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water of the Office of Water testified in favor of requirements to use inherently safer technologies (IST) also known as safer chemical processes.

2011 Rand Beers, Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary testified in favor of requirements to use safer technologies (IST) also known as safer chemical processes.

2012 EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council recommended that the “EPA use its authority under the 1990 Clean Air Act section 112 (r) to reduce or eliminate these catastrophic risks, where feasible, by issuing new rules and guidance…”

2012 EPA says they will address a petition from 54 organizations urging that they use their Clean Air Act authority to require inherently safer technologies (IST).

2013 President Obama issued Executive Order 13650 giving federal agencies such as the EPA, DHS and OSHA nine months to propose ways to modernize their chemical facility safety and security policies.

2014 In a multi-agency report to the President the EPA pledged to complete new regulations by 2016 including possible requirements for inherently safer technologies (IST)

2015 EPA plans to issue “proposed” regulations in September 2015 with the expectation of completing them in 2016.

unfinishednuclear

Unfinished nuclear plants raise safety doubts

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A new generation of giant reactors, meant to provide fresh hope for nuclear power in Europe, has been found to have a serious safety problem.

By Paul Brown
Climate News Network

LONDON − The future of the world’s biggest nuclear reactor, under construction at Flamanville in northern France, is now in doubt after a serious flaw was found in its steel pressure vessel.

Examination has shown that the steel contains too much carbon, which can weaken the vessel’s structure and breaches safety rules. The Chinese, who have two similar 1,600 megawattEuropean Pressurised Reactors under construction, have been warned that they too may share the potentially catastrophic problem.

Investigations are continuing to check whether the problem can be rectified, but whatever happens it will add more delays and greater costs to the already troubled projects.

The problem also casts doubt on the much-heralded nuclear renaissance in Europe, where EPR reactors are being built not only in France but also in Finland.

Four more are planned for Britain, where they form a cornerstone of the UK government’s policy to fight climate change. A decision on whether to go ahead with the first two in the UK has already been postponed twice, and this revelation will cause further delays.

The French nuclear engineering firm Areva, involved in the EPR’s design and development, found the flawed steel and reported the problem to the country’s nuclear regulator, ASN, which has ordered an investigation.  The French energy minister, Ségolène Royal, says the results of tests to check the extent of the problem will be released in October.13-frenchminister

Serious blow

It is understood that the maximum allowable carbon content of steel in the pressure vessel is 0.22%, but tests have shown 0.30% in parts of the Flamanville vessel. This could render it subject to cracking in operation and shorten its intended lifespan.

The discovery is another serious blow to the French nuclear industry, which already faces severe financial problems, partly because of existing delays to the reactors at Flamanville and at Finland’s Olkiluoto site. The Finnish reactor, which is not affected by this problem because its pressure vessel steel comes from Japan, not France,, is already nine years behind schedule for other reasons and has more than doubled in cost.

Following the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan any compromise on minimum safety standards would be hard to sell to the public, especially since nuclear power has fallen out of favour with the French government, which wants to invest heavily in renewables.

French energy minister, Ségolène Royal, says the results of tests to check the extent of the problem will be released in October.

France is already considering merging Areva and Électricité de France (EDF), the two nuclear companies in which it owns the majority of shares. Areva is building the Flamanville reactor on behalf of EDF, Europe’s largest electricity producer.

EDF recently estimated the construction costs of Flamanville at €8 billion (US$8.7bn) compared with an original estimate of €3.3bn, and that was before this setback. The plant was due to have been working by now, but its start date had already been put back to 2017 – which is now looking optimistic.

It is understood that the parts of the pressure vessel found with excess carbon were manufactured in France at the Creusot Forge, in Burgundy, owned by Areva. It was this same company that made parts for the two Chinese reactors, hence the fears that they too will contain carbon above safety limits.

Large subsidies

One problem is the pressure vessel’s sheer size and the fact that it was already in place when the fault was detected. The vessel weighs 410 tonnes and cannot now be removed, and it is hard to see how it could be repaired or modified.

The problem was discovered in December but made public in a low-key website announcement only on 7 April.

One knock-on effect might be to seriously damage the British government’s own energy policy, which relies on building four similar reactors in England. Work has already been completed on preparatory works for two at Hinkley Point, in the west of England, using the Flamanville design.

The UK government has agreed large subsidies to support the projects, but EDF has repeatedly delayed signing a final deal to build them, because of a lack of investors. Two Chinese utilities were negotiating to back the project financially, but the discovery of a flaw at Flamanville may complicate matters.

In any event, the decision on whether to go ahead with the two reactors at Hinkley Point had already been postponed until the summer and now seems certain to be postponed yet again until the issue of the safety of the French and Chinese pressure vessels has been resolved.

The UK government has repeatedly said that the expansion of nuclear power is vital to its energy security and its ability to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets. The country is currently in the middle of a general election campaign. Whichever government gets into power may have to rapidly rethink its energy policy.

Paul Brown is a reporter with Climate News Network, a journalism news service delivering news and commentary about climate change for free to media outlets worldwide.

The Daily Climate is an independent, foundation-funded news service covering energy, the environment and climate change. Find us on Twitter @TheDailyClimate or email editor Brian Bienkowski at bbienkowski [at] EHN.org

Top photo – Wikimedia Commons; Middle photo - Parti Socialiste/flickr

Find more Daily Climate stories in the Daily Climate Newsroom

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Based on a work at www.dailyclimate.org

Boy (2-4) looking at cookie jar while eating chocolate chip cookie

Endocrine disruptors in our food

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Would you eat something that some cosmetics companies won’t put in their products? You might be.

A new EWG analysis has found propyl paraben, a preservative linked to endocrine disruption and not allowed in food sold in the European Union, in nearly 50 U.S. snack foods, including Sara Lee cinnamon rolls, Weight Watchers cakes, Cafe Valley muffins, and La Banderita corn tortillas.

Some cosmetics companies have removed propyl paraben from their formulations, so why aren’t food companies doing the same?! It’s time to stand up for the health of allconsumers.

Click here to sign EWG’s petition: Tell Sara Lee, Weight Watchers and other food companies to stop using the endocrine-disrupting preservative propyl paraben in their food NOW!


EWG


What is propyl paraben? This endocrine-disrupting chemical has been shown to decrease sperm counts and testosterone in animals and has been reported to accelerate the growth of breast cancer cells. It can even alter the expression of genes!

Despite this and other mounting evidence that propyl paraben disrupts the endocrine system, the federal Food and Drug Administration has allowed it to be labeled “Generally Recognized As Safe” and has not taken action to eliminate its use in food or reassess its safety in light of recent science.

Consumers can’t wait for the FDA to act – endocrine disruptors shouldn’t be in the food we eat!

Click here to stand with EWG and demand that food companies remove propyl paraben from their products immediately.

fracking_leak

Rise of deadly radon gas in Pennsylvania buildings linked to fracking industry

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A new study published Thursday reported a disturbing correlation between unusually high levels of radon gas in mostly residences and an oil and gas production technique known as fracking that has become the industry standard over the past decade.

Read more.

Doesn’t take a rocket scientist.

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The headline in the Columbus Dispatch reads “Radon may be linked to fracking, researchers suspect”.  This really doesn’t come as much of a surprise now does it.  I have had this concern ever since I started dealing with fracking almost four years ago.  This is one of the reasons I believe that the state of Ohio  is totally wrong to classify vertical drill cuttings as NORM and not require that it be treated as TENORM.  For years Ohio officials have said that there wasn’t much chance that the vertical drill cutting would contain radioactive isotopes and just consider them plain old dirt. However, that was when they were only drilling down a few hundred feet.  Now that they are drilling down more than 15,000 feet, of course they are going to hit radioactive strata.  I still think that any area that has high radon will have high levels of radioactive isotopes in drill cuttings, both from vertical and horizontal drilling.  But Ohio does not require testing of vertical drill cutting so we will never know. But that means that we will also never know where this material was disposed of and how many more radioactive sites will at some point need to be cleaned up at tax payers expense.

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/04/09/link-suspected-between-fracking-radon.html

Gibbs Ohio

Board of Directors Announce Lois Gibbs Shifting Energy To Field

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The Board of Directors of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) is pleased to s, our founder and Executive Director, has accepted the opportunity to shift the focus of her work to our newly created Leadership Training Academy program.

To maintain our momentum in supporting community-based environmental health and justice work, we have begun the formal search for the next grassroots leader with excellent training and management skills and a vision of powerful action – our successor Executive Director. To support the Board in the search process, CHEJ has engaged Democracy Partners. Our process of outreach and selection begins very soon. Questions or suggestions should be directed to Cheri Whiteman by e-mail at cheriwhiteman@democracypartners.com.

Lois Gibbs will shift her full-time attention away from her current day-to-day administrative responsibilities with the engagement of our next Executive Director, which is expected to occur this summer. “I’m excited to spend more time in the field to build the advocacy base for change!” said Lois, “and it’s a great opportunity for one of the emerging community leaders out there to take CHEJ to the next level!”

CHEJ has launched the Leadership Training Academy program to strengthen and sustain the infrastructure of fledgling environmental health and justice organizations in the United States.

CHEJ recently completed a strategic review and refocus of our work. We were aided as a Board in this process by a group of allies and advisors, and our retreat was facilitated by Jim Abernathy. In examining our work, the following important findings led CHEJ’s Board to take those steps to reshape the organization to meet the increasing demand from the field for Leadership Training Academy program services:

• There are more local, state and regional groups emerging than in the past. This is due primarily to energy-related proposals and activities such as pipelines, extraction wells, export terminals and associated waste disposal.

• Established groups are growing and looking for advice on long-term organizing, establishing collaborative efforts, Board development and establishing a three-year strategic organizational plan.

Lois describes the Academy program this way: “The Leadership Training Academy is a training center ‘without walls.’ It provides a distinctive brand of leadership skills-building training and mentoring of local group leaders around the country to build the base of the environmental health and justice movement. This program is based on a proven, time-tested methodological framework that is grounded in CHEJ’s 34 years of grassroots leadership and coaching experience, campaign strategy knowledge and the tactics of successful grassroots victories. A special focus of the training activities is with thousands of women leading grassroots groups on a range of environmental health and economic justice issues. People of color, young people and women together comprise what many call the ‘emerging American electorate,’ and it is they who will both determine environmental and economic policy, and live with the consequences of the decisions.”

I personally am excited to “free Lois” to spend more of her energy in the field, and the Board of Directors looks forward to working with new leadership. We’ve always known that success comes when we learn from the past and step boldly into the future. With a new CHEJ Executive Director and our legendary friend and teacher, Lois Gibbs, we will have the best of both worlds!

Thank you,

Peter B. Sessa
CHEJ Board Chair

no-fracking MD -bloomberg 304

Maryland Senate Pass Ban on Fracking – Nexr the House Vote

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The natural gas extraction method known as “fracking” would be banned in Maryland until October 2017 under legislation approved Monday night by the Maryland Senate.

By a 45-2 vote, senators sent the measure to the House, which has passed a version of the bill that environmental advocates believe is stronger. The House bill calls for a three-year moratorium and further study of the health and economic development impact of the practice. The Senate bill does not require a study.

It now needs to go back to the house who earlier this year passed a stronger bill so should be no problem.

Read the entire story here.

white house science fair

Crowdsourcing Discovery: White House Celebrates Citizen Science

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Expanding our environmental monitoring networks and empowering students to learn about science and the environment: both these elements are critical to advancing a more sustainable, healthier future for communities in the U.S. and worldwide. The annual White House Science Fair this past March gave special focus to citizen science, announcing that the Office of Science and Technology Policy will be holding a Citizen Science Forum before the end of 2015.

Citizen science, also known as crowd-sourced science, is a powerful tool for advancing environmental health and justice. While investigations by scientific professionals add necessary rigor to the analysis of environmental issues, citizens can contribute to monitoring environmental phenomena and gathering data on issues in their own communities that might not otherwise be brought into the light of discovery.

In a recent example from EPA Region 2, citizen science was used in Newark, New Jersey to monitor fine particulate air pollution from traffic. Kim Gaddy, a member of the NJ Environmental Federation, states that the study tried to “bring exposure to the fact that in the City of Newark, and most urban communities, one in four children is asthmatic.” The connections between asthma and air pollution are known in a general, global sense, but gathering concrete data at the local level can help stimulate changes to policies that directly affect community health. The White House’s Citizen Science Fact Sheet also speaks to the power of citizen science projects as “tools for providing students with skills needed to excel in science, technology, engineering and math.”

The announcement particularly highlighted efforts by the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, a group that uses do-it-yourself monitoring techniques to enable communities facing environmental hazards to more effectively participate in decision making processes.  The group is committing to “putting 6,000 low-cost, accessible sensors…into the hands of community environmental researchers to enable residents to identify pollution affecting their own backyards.” New tools include a conductivity/temperature/depth sensor and an oil testing kit. Public Lab is also partnering with SciStarter, the Museum of Science Boston, and Arizona State University’s Center for Engagement and Training in Science and Society to “connect citizen scientists to data collection tools” through a lending library.

In communities facing toxic pollution and exposures, a lack of both scientific attention and the resources to conduct investigations lead many problems to go unaddressed. Citizen science can help leverage the energy and ingenuity of those who have the most at stake in environmental issues, and provide the tools and frameworks necessary for advancing policy change at the local level. Public Lab and other groups are leading the charge to address environmental hazards through crowdsourcing, and the recent White House announcements are an encouraging sign of the increasing importance of citizen science on the national policy level.

vienna

Vienna residents receive donated water, expedited tests

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Vienna residents may find some relief for an oil spill affecting their wetlands is just around the corner.

State Representative Sean O’Brien announced Monday morning that the Nestle company has donated two truck loads of donated water to Vienna residents dealing with the recent spill.

Rep. O’Brien will announce more details at a press conference at the Second Harvest Food Bank in Youngstown at 1:30 p.m. on Monday.

Read More…

IBM

IBM toxic pool defies cleanup

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ENDICOTT – After 35 years, IBM Corp. contractors have stanched the flow of industrial solvents into a commercial and residential district in the heart of the village, but they have yet to find a solution for the source of the problem at the company’s former flagship manufacturing plant.

Read more at pressconnects.com