An explosion at the TPC Group plant in Port Neches, Texas this morning (Wednesday, November 27) has left 3 workers injured and hundreds other on evacuation notice. Families outside the evacuation zone are encouraged to shelter-in-place. Responders are still tending to the plant as officials work to uncover the cause of the explosion. Read More.
Month: November 2019
What Are You Thankful For?
By Liz Goodiel, CHEJ Science and Tech Fellow
The holiday season, and Thanksgiving in particular, is the time of the year where we all take time to reflect on the things in our lives we are thankful for. Some might give thanks for a loving family, supportive friends, a steady job or maybe even just a roof over one’s head. Another thing to be thankful for is the hard work communities have accomplished over the last year.
One thing to be thankful for is leaders and groups who are working hard for the health and protection of their communities. Individual communities across the country have been burdened by toxic chemicals, abandoned waste facilities, contaminated water sources and various other threats to public health. To combat these issues and to seek justice on behalf of their impacted neighbors, leaders everywhere have been speaking up and working tirelessly for remediation. We give thanks to the people who refuse to give up and continue to fight their local problems.
One example of a leader who won’t quit is Lee Ann Smith, the cofounder of P.O.W.E.R. Action Group in Asheville, North Carolina. A mother of two, Ms. Smith is an elementary school librarian by day and a local activist by night. Alongside her community, Lee Ann has fought without rest for the cleanup of an abandoned CTS facility with residual radioactive waste. She has attended a handful of meetings with her representatives, assisted in countless protests and has even met with some of the highest officials in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). From her fight and the support of her neighbors, the CTS Superfund site has received cleanup action with a plan for further remediation. However, there is still work to be done and her willingness to fight won’t end until the battle is over and her community receives a complete cleanup.
Lee Ann is just one example of the thousands of leaders taking the charge against unjust community exposure to harmful contaminants. We give great thanks to all of the people speaking up about their local concerns and taking action to address the problem. We give thanks to those that schedule community meetings to hear all the voices of those individuals that are most impacted. We give thanks to those who march alongside their neighbors to raise awareness and to organize others for the common goal. We give thanks to the leaders that consistently contact their local political leaders and we give thanks to those political leaders that fight for their constituency with their concerns at the forefront.
Everyday, people across the country are burdened with environment and/or public health problems; today, we give thanks to all of those who refuse to give up the fight.
Louisiana health officials have plans to initiate a new study to determine how many individuals surrounding the Denka Performance Elastomer plant in St. John Parish have developed cancer. The Denka plant is the only one in the country to release chloroprene, a likely carcinogen to humans. The study will include graduate students going door to door of 1,900 homes in a 2.5 kilometer range to determine who has developed cancer. Read More.
The holiday season is the happiest time of the year, but is it the most sustainable? The end of the year holidays come with an increase in travel, eating, shopping and waste. This year, find ways to celebrate in a more sustainable way. Read More.
By Teresa Mills
Today the Trump administration finalized its 49th de-regulatory action since he took office. What will be the next human and environmental protection to hit the chopping block?
The administration says this move will make less of a burden on chemical plants by getting rid of “unnecessary regulatory burdens.” The regulation was updated after a fertilizer plant exploded in Texas that killed 15 people, injured 160 and damaged or destroyed 150 buildings. A crater 93-foot-wide was almost all that was left of the plant site.
In January 2017 under the Obama administration and reacting to the explosion in Texas the Risk Management Plan (RMP) rules were update to protect local communities from chemical disasters. However, the Trump administration claims that the Obama update was burdensome and that little data showed that the Obama rule did not reduce accident rates.
Under the new Environmental Protection Agency’s risk management program (RMP), chemical plants will be rid of what the chemical industry says are “unnecessary regulatory burdens,” aligning with the wishes of the chemical industry.
The original plan was developed in 1996, with almost 12,500 facilities falling under the RMP.
EPA’s finalized rule Thursday comes two years after the agency tried to suspend the Obama rule, but in March of 2018 a federal judge reinstated the rule.
Of Course the American Petroleum Institute (API) applauded the Trumps administration gutting of the rule. Welcome to the United States of Petroleum.
While the agency said that from 2007-2016 about 90 percent of the facilities that were required to report, reported no accidents. Well gee do you think that might have been because they were required to clean up their act. The rule was working as it should have. Now however we will have to wait and see if they threw out the baby with the bath water. I pray that someone will be there to catch that baby. Read more.
The EPA finalized a rule relieving chemical plant facilities from some of the major safety regulation set by the chemical disaster rule. The EPA explained in their press release Thursday that the updated rule will no longer require facilities to consider safer technology alternatives. In combination with other regulation easements, the update is expected to save American $88 million a year. However, groups are not as convinced that the change will keep chemical plant employees and surrounding communities safe. Read More.
Eighth graders in Raleigh take on PFAS
A group a ten middle school students, from the Exploris School in downtown Raleigh, NC, have taken on the challenge to study the presence of PFAS in water and raise awareness in their community on the substance’s health impacts. The Exploris School and students are working in participation with the Design for Change program, a global nonprofit that encourages students to examine some the worlds most challenging social issues. The students are currently in the brainstorming phase of their project, where they will discuss potential solutions to decrease water testing time to more efficiently identify the presence of PFAS contaminated sources. Read More.
Cancer Alley May be Expanding
Formosa, a Taiwanese plastics production company, has proposed to build a $9.2 billion facility in St. James Parish, Louisiana. St. James Parish, positioned on a bend of the Mississippi River is already an area highly concentrated with industry and overburden by harsh chemicals. If approved, the facility project would be the largest in state history, with a plant spanning the length of 80 football fields, consisting of 16 facilities and releasing the cancerous chemicals ethylene oxide, benzene and formaldehyde. Read More.
By: Sharon Franklin
New York Times Reporter, Erica L. Green recently reported on November 6, 2019 that Flint’s Children Suffer in Class After Years of Drinking the Lead-Poisoned Water. She reported that Angy Keelin’s son Averey, was exposed to lead, and had to repeat kindergarten, and Ms. Keelin now fears a Michigan law that calls for students to repeat third grade if they are more than one grade level behind in reading. She stated “I don’t want him to be continuously held back.” Ms. Keelin says that she wanted to stay in Flint Community Schools, where her blind son, was progressing in a program for visually impaired students, but then it ended abruptly and she was forced to follow the program 10 miles from her home to Genesee County.
Ms. Green reported, that now, five years after the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis the city’s lead crisis has migrated from its homes to its schools, where neurological and behavioral problems — real or feared — are threatening to overwhelm the education system.
Nearly, 30,000 of Flint Michigan school children have been exposed to a neurotoxin known to have detrimental effects on children’s developing brains and nervous systems. Katherine Burrell, Neurodevelopmental Center of Excellence Associate Director said the percentage of the city’s students who qualify for special education services has nearly doubled, to 28 percent, from 15 percent the year the lead crisis began, and the city’s screening center has received more than 1,300 referrals since December 2018.
For other Flint parents, there is consolation, because they have the opportunity to send their children to Educare a 36,000-square-foot early childhood center, which opened in December 2017. It is funded largely by private money in response to the Flint Water crisis. It serves 220 students ages 0 to 5 years with lead exposures. Educare is part of a national network that uses research into early childhood education, brain development and the achievement gap between rich and poor to shape its approach.
Today, Pediatrician, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha remains optimistic. She is the doctor who used science to prove Flint kids were exposed to lead in 2015, when she went public with her research. She says that because of the Flint Water crisis, the fallout has created a road map to assist other cities like Newark, New Jersey that are experiencing a similar crisis. Dr. Hanna-Attisha further stated “We’re leaning on the science of trauma and resilience,”… “because kids across this country are waking up to the same nightmare.” She went on to say that “toxicity” existed here long before the water crisis.
…Photo Credit: Brittany Greeson for The New York Times
Residents of Dover, New York and concerned individuals across the Northeast came together on Saturday, November 16, to block the construction of the Cricket Valley power plant. The protest included a tractor blockade and protesters climbing to the top of a 275 foot smoke stack. New York residents oppose the construction because it will dramatically set the state back in its goals to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2040. Once completed, the massive plant will release 6 million tons of greenhouse gases into the air, in addition to hundreds of tons of other harmful chemicals. Read More.
Link to livestream video of protesters
Link to video of protesters on a smoke stack