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MarketWatch of April 23, 2004, says the
the novel has "some very funny moments," and that the
non-fiction mixes "global statistics and first-person
accounts." The Washington
of March 15, 2004, calls Predatory Bender: America in
the Aughts "the first novel about predatory lending;" the
Times of April 15, 2004, "A Novel Approach," said it "has
a cast of colorful characters." See
Lit: Roman a Klepto [Review of ‘Predatory Bender’]," by
Matt Pacenza, City Limits, Sept.-Oct. 2004. The Pittsburgh
City Paper says the 100-page afterword makes the
"indispensable point that predatory lending is now being
aggressively exported to the rest of the globe," and opines that
that the "novel Predatory Bender: A Story of Subprime
Finance may, in fact, be the first great American lending
malfeasance novel" including "low-level loan sharks,
class-action lawyers, corporate bigwigs, hired muscle, corrupt
politicians, Iraq War veterans, Wall Street analysts, reporters
and one watchdog with a Web site." And environmental
justice too! Click here
review; for or with more information, contact us.
owners of a
power plant --
agreed to stop
units and to
and New Jersey
as part of a
outlined in a
stems from a
by New Jersey
in 2007 over
the lawsuit in
May 20, 2013
The owners of a Pennsylvania power plant -- GenOn Power Generation, GenOn REMA, and Dynegy –have agreed to stop burning coal in two generating units and to provide $1 million towards environmental mitigation in Connecticut and New Jersey as part of a clean air settlement outlined in a consent decree filed Wednesday, May 15 in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. The settlement stems from a lawsuit filed by New Jersey in 2007 over the greenhouse gases sent downwind from the Portland Generating Station in eastern Pennsylvania. Connecticut intervened in the lawsuit in 2008.May 13, 2013
The Los Angeles City Council has approved BNSF’s Southern California International Gateway railyard project, 11-2. Uh, disproportionate impacts on low income communities of color...May 6, 2013
Community groups in Texas and Louisiana have sued to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review archaic and inaccurate formulas used for reporting the levels of toxic emissions from refineries and chemical plants.April 29, 2013
Manchester, a Houston neighborhoods, is ringed a Rhodia chemical plant; a car crushing facility; a water treatment plant; a train yard for hazardous cargo; a Goodyear synthetic rubber plant; oil refineries belonging to Lyondell Basell, Valero, and Texas Petro-Chemicals... The refineries around Houston have been called the “keystone to Keystone” because they’re expected to process 90 percent of tar sands crude from Alberta if the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is completed....April 22, 2013
EJ comes to Buffalo: SUNY Buffalo Law School is hosting a housing seminar at the end of the month about sustainable living. "Green and Healthy Homes and Communities in Greater Buffalo: An Environmental Justice Forum," is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., April 26 at the UB Buffalo Clinical and Translational Research Center, 875 Ellicott St., Buffalo. Speakers will include Matthew Tejada, director of the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Justice...April 15, 2013
In New Hampshire, a jury found Exxon Mobil liable last week in a lawsuit over groundwater contamination by the gasoline additive MTBE, and ordered the polluter to pay $236 million...April 8, 2013
RIP Emelda West, who died on Saturday, March 30, 2013, activist of Convent, Louisiana and the Lower Mississippi River...April 1, 2013
In India, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) on Saturday ordered closure of Sterlite Industries' copper smelter unit, located in Tuticorin, with immediate effect owing to leaks of noxious gas. The TNPCB, under instructions from district collector Ashish Kumar, issued a notice, directing the Vedanta group company to close the plant.March 25, 2013
To see TD Bank challenged for funding the Keystone XL pipeline does good for the soul.March 18, 2013
In Nigeria, the governor of Rivers State Chibuike Amaechi has threatened to sue the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation for indiscriminate pollution of Okrika environment. The governor noted that the UNEP report on Ogoniland which discloses high level of Benzene which causes cancer in underground water.
March 11, 2013
Recently near Philadelphia, Crystal Lameman of the Beaver Lake Cree nation in Alberta, Canada talked about the negative impact of the exploitation of tar sands in her people’s ancestral lands.
February 25, 2013
A gloss on EJ: “The environmental justice movement was born in September 1982 when a group of poor residents of rural Warren County, North Carolina laid down in front of trucks transporting waste containing toxic PCBs to a nearby landfill. Those primarily African American activists eventually lost their battle to keep toxic waste out of the area, but their actions eventually led to an executive order by President Clinton in 1996.” And?
February 18, 2013
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has given hundreds of permits for Marcellus Shale gas development in Pennsylvania's low income communities of color. But none of those permits has triggered intervention by DEP's Office of Environmental Advocate to inform residents of those communities about potential health and environmental impacts from proposed industrial developments.
That's because Marcellus Shale gas facilities are not included on the list of "trigger permits" the DEP uses to determine when to provide enhanced notification, information and public participation opportunities in those "environmental justice" communities. Holly Cairns, new director of DEP's Office of Environmental Advocate, said that's fine. "[Marcellus permit proposals] were not recognized as a trigger permit at the time this program was developed," she said. "And they're not something that's on the table for consideration at this time."
February 11, 2013
As Fashion week begins in New York, we have this: six leading fashion brands rejected a recent survey which asked about their supply chains, on toxic water pollution and deforestation. Dolce&Gabbana, Chanel, Hermès, Prada, Alberta Ferretti and Trussardi refused to disclose information for the survey....
February 4, 2013
On January 30 the district court in The Hague, The Netherlands, ruled that Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria has to pay compensation to plaintiff Friday Alfred Akpan, a resident of the Nigerian village of Ikot Ada Udo in Akwa Ibom State in the Niger Delta. Applying Nigerian law, the Dutch court found that Shell Nigeria had breached its duty of care and had committed negligence by failing to take sufficient measures to prevent sabotage by third persons to Shell Nigeria’s submerged pipelines near the Nigerian village...
January 28, 2013
Incoming at EPA's Office of EJ, Tejada was asked and said "Tejada: Since Lisa Jackson has been administrator of the EPA, they have systematically gone through what environmental justice means within the agency, and also what environmental justice means outside of the agency, and tried to fill in some very important gaps, whether it be permitting or enforcement or different sorts of rule-making, to make sure environmental justice had its requisite chair at the table. I see it as my job to get in there and make use of these new rules."
But what are his views of Jackson's evasion of FOIA? Will he commit to stop it?
January 21, 2013
"As she prepares to step down as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa P. Jackson says one of the 'prouder moments' of her tenure was President Obama's agreement to have the federal government take the lead in trying to ramp up the lagging Chesapeake Bay restoration effort."
What about the fake e-mail accounts to evade FOIA?
January 14, 2013
The Environmental Protection Agency has tapped a Texan to help integrate the concept of environmental justice into the agency's everyday decision-making. Matthew Tejada, who has led Air Alliance Houston for five years, will start as director of the Office of Environmental Justice in Washington in March, the EPA said Friday.
January 14, 2013
Ranking 378 coal-fired power plants on the basis of toxic emissions and demographic factors, the NAACP has found that more than two-thirds of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired plant. Of the four million people living within three miles of the nation’s 75 "failing plants" – which account for the highest levels of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides – 53 percent are minorities, while more than three quarters of the people living near the 12 "worst offending plants" are people of color.
December 31, 2012
So Lisa Jackson is out from EPA, perhaps for the right reasons. But her decision to use scam email accounts to evade the Freedom of Information Act, we cannot support. Click here for Inner City Press' FOIA work on the Federal Reserve.
December 24, 2012
EPA's agency’s inspector general has announced plans to begin an audit of “electronic records management practices.... Our objective is to determine whether EPA follows applicable laws and regulations when using private and alias email accounts to conduct official business." The question is whther the agency promoted or encouraged the use of private or alias email accounts to conduct official business and whether employees comply with federal records management requirements pertaining to electronic records from private or alias email accounts. Jackson appeared to use the name Richard Windsor on an official account that she utilized to conduct agency business. The researcher figured it out because he dug up an EPA memo indicating that alias email accounts were created by a former agency head and it appeared that this was common practice at the agency. Now it's in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
December 17, 2012
From FirstMerit's submission to the Federal Reserve about Citizens Republic, the entire "Environmental Matters" section is blacked out, in response to Inner City Press' FOIA request...
December 10, 2012
DOJ brags a Liberian corporation was ordered to pay a $500,000 penalty after pleading guilty to violating a federal pollution law. U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan handed down the sentence last week against Tyana Navigation Limited. The case involved a cargo ship owned by the company. The ship dumped engine room sludge directly overboard from late September 2011 until late July 2012, including time when it was in United States waters....
What about Trafigura?
December 3, 2012
The NAACP studied the 378 coal plants in the United States by combining emissions of pollutants – particularly sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide – the population within three miles of the plants, and the median income and percentage of minorities living nearby. In this view, 75 plants were identified as having a "disproportionate and considerable impact on people of color and low-income people."
November 26, 2012
What an absurdly low fine of Trafigura Beheer BV for illegally exporting waste to Cote d'Ivoire in 2006. The company's chairman bargained its way to a piddling fine of 67, 000 Euros, barely a slap on the wrist for owner Claude Dauphin. Where is accountability?
November 19, 2012
Ruling: New York City violated State environmental law when it built a Bronx school complex on contaminated land without making public a detailed long-term monitoring plan before construction, the state’s Court of Appeals has ruled, against the City’s Education Department and School Construction Authority. If the city wants to build a school on a polluted site, state law requires it to present in-depth remediation and monitoring plans to the public during the initial environmental review process....
From 1985 through
2000, more than 1200 cases of cancer were reported
in Ecuador's oil-producing regions, including
Sucumbios, Orellana, Napo, and Pastaza -- this per Ecuador’s National
November 5, 2012
HSBC has bankrolled logging companies causing widespread environmental destruction and human rights abuses in Sarawak, Malaysia, violating its sustainability policies and earning around US$130 million in the process, a Global Witness investigation reveals today. The bank is also providing financial services to companies widely suspected of systematic bribery and corruption. Malaysia’s Sarawak region exports more tropical timber than South America and Africa combined and now has just five per cent of its forests left intact following decades of industrial-scale logging and plantation development. The Global Witness report, “In the Future There Will Be No Forests Left”, identifies loans and services to seven of the region’s largest logging conglomerates that would have generated HSBC an estimated US$130 million in interest and fees.
October 29, 2012
In the southwest Detroit neighborhood of Delray the population is now under 3,000 people, down from 30,000 in 1930. Now, the New International Trade Crossing bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, should it get built, would land squarely in the Delray neighborhood. Debate, it's said, is focused too much on Manuel "Matty" Moroun (the Ambassador Bridge owner and financier of a campaign calling the NITC project into question) and Gov. Rick Snyder. We hope to have more on this.
October 22, 2012
At U of Tennessee last week, Robert D. Bullard, was scheduled in the University Center Auditorium. Hosted by the UT Amnesty International chapter, the lecture focused on how environmental justice, racism and corporate accountability relate to human rights. Right on!
October 15, 2012
In Texas, an appeals court on October 12 vacated a sanctions award Wells Fargo Bank Minnesota NA had won against an Austin appraisal district that refused to grant it a property tax break for its pollution control measures, holding the bank didn’t follow tax protest procedures. The case revolves around a former landfill site owned by Wells Fargo that now houses an apartment building and qualified for a pollution control tax break based on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s determination the land has a "positive use"...
Wells Fargo scamming? We've seen it before.
October 8, 2012
In Alaska, "the long dormant Healy Clean Coal Plant, a $300 million state-owned fiasco that shut its doors soon after they were opened, may get a second lease on life, thanks to a commitment by the Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) to spend tens of millions of dollars to reduce pollution at the plant if it fires up again. Utility officials believe that bringing the plant back to life will reduce oil-dependent energy costs in the Interior, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. In a deal stuck with the Environmental Protection Agency and the state, the utility has agreed to pay the state $50 million for the 50-megawatt plant and plunk down more than $40 million on pollution-reduction measures. The utility must also take other steps, including speeding up installation of a $5 million pollution-control system at another coal plant the utility operates."
October 1, 2012
Which way forward? U Mich is asking about the "legacy and future of the environmental justice field" at the Ann Arbor Sheraton Hotel, and celebrating the work (and retirement) of Bunyan Bryant. New era in EJ?
September 24, 2012
Ah, Illinois: "Ameren Corp. will get more time to meet tougher state pollution-control rules that company executives claimed would have cost hundreds of jobs at downstate power plants. The Illinois Pollution Control Board, meeting in Chicago, voted 4-0 to grant the company's request for a five-year delay, to 2020, of new standards for sulfur dioxide emissions from coal plants."
September 17, 2012
The Scotts Miracle-Gro is subject to $4 million in fines after pleading guilty to the illegal application of insecticides to wild bird seed. It's the largest fine in history under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Hear FIFRA roar!
September 10, 2012
We are watching: "The draft California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool would use nvironmental, health & socioeconomic data to assign scores to areas by ZIP code. It would consider ozone pollution, traffic density, pesticide use, the number of hazardous waste dumps and cleanup sites, cancer and asthma rates, and the number of childrens and seniors." How would, for example, The Bronx come out?
September 3, 2012
In Hanford, California, opponents of the California High-Speed Rail Authority project now argue the route violates environmental justice laws. The argument came at a meeting at the Hanford Fraternal Hall to take official public comment on the Fresno-to-Bakersfield draft environmental impact report. The deadline for official comment is Oct. 19, an extension of 30 days over the original deadline of Sept. 20. Game on.
August 27, 2012
In the Philippines, environmentally-minded Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has been picked the new Chief Justice to replace Renato Corona, who was ousted in May. The EcoWaste Coalition said, "under her watch she will revitalize the green courts to serve as bastions of environmental justice upholding our people's constitutional right to a healthful and balanced ecology." We'll see.
August 20, 2012
In Louisiana, residents
near Baton Rouge’s ExxonMobil Chemical Plant
last week spoke out against the June 14 spill of
naphtha. What’s in the air? How to clear the
air? Supposedly there a community dialogue with
ExxonMobil... We'll see.
August 13, 2012
The California Supreme Court has ruled that the state can recover money from its insurance carriers part of the cost of cleaning up the Stringfellow acid pits in Jurupa Valley, where 35 million gallons of toxic industrial waste was dumped. The dispute now returns to the trial court to determine the amount the state will receive. A group of 16 insurers, including Lloyd's of London, settled in 2005 for $93 million...
August 6, 2012
In Toronto on July 30, more 150 people showed up to hear two indigenous leaders and two delegates to the People's Summit Rio +20. on Contested Futures: Tar Sands and Environmental Justice....
July 30, 2012
In North Carolina, Taylor Finishing Inc. is being sued in federal court alleging the concentrated animal feeding operation illegally dumped pig waste and pollutants near the coastal plain of the Neuse River Basin...
July 23, 2012
Enviros want North Carolina regulators to force a full clean-up of PCBs in a waterway near the closed Alcoa Inc. aluminum smelter. Alcoa proposes covering a three-acre section of the Badin Lake bottom near the smelter it operated for 90 years to keep PCBs there from moving.
July 16, 2012
The city of Los Angeles has charged 4 Los Angeles-area scrap metal recyclers with criminal misdemeanor charges for environmental violations. Central Metal Inc. and its president Jong Uk Byun were charged with three violations of waste discharge requirements of the company's permit by allegedly allowing the discharge of stormwater containing toxic chemicals, such as copper, lead and zinc, and failing to implement best management practices designed to prevent releases of toxic chemicals by allowing lead pipes and aluminum to be stored on the ground, allowing bins containing metal scrap to remain open and peeling, allowing sediment to seep onto a nearby street and causing an oil spill; five violations for failing to label hazardous waste containers; and failing to maintain the facility to prevent spills or releases of hazardous waste.
July 9, 2012
Last on Rio, from the People's Summit / side event to Rio+20. It drew about 15,000 people a day: indigenous groups, environmental activists, unions, land rights groups and others opposing the timidity of proposals coming out of the official convention. Beyond timidity...
July 2, 2012
NY's environmental regulator last week adopted regulations requiring new and expanding power plants to meet stricter carbon dioxide limits and to conduct environmental justice reviews to mitigate pollution in poor communities. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s rule, proposed in January, will take effect July 12 and will apply to all new generating facilities greater than 25 megawatts and expansions greater than 25 megawatts at existing facilities. The rule limits carbon dioxide emissions from new and expanded fossil fuel-fired power plants to 925 pounds...
June 25, 2012
As noted from Rio , the word "reaffirm" is used 59 times in the 49-page document titled "The Future We Want." They reaffirm the need to achieve sustainable development (but not mandating how); reaffirm commitment to strengthening international cooperation (just not right now); and reaffirm the need to achieve economic stability (with no new funding for the poorest nations). And involved? Wal-Mart, Coca Cola and Unilever...
June 18, 2012
From Rio, Nikhil Seth, director of the U.N.'s Division for Sustainable Development, said on June 15 that consensus has been reached on just 28 percent of the Rio+20 outcome document. An estimated 130 heads of state are expected in Rio for the summit's three final days from June 20-22, culminating in the signing of some final document. Among the attendees? Some who are accused of war crimes...
June 11, 2012
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, whom Inner City Press has interviewed at the UN, went to Detroit ostensibly to support the M-1 light rail project. But the outcome is the cash-strapped and environmentally challenged city may have to wait two months longer for a federal verdict. Thanks, Ray....
June 4, 2012
Mexico's National Congress has given the Ministry of the Environment (SEMARNAT) 15 days to report on actions surrounding the environmental impact approvals granted to the controversial Cabo Cortés mega-tourism project. The Congress also urged the Ministry to consider canceling the project’s permits all together. The Cabo Cortés project is proposed by the local subsidiary of Spanish developer Hansa Urbana on land neighboring Cabo Pulmo National Park – a critical marine reserve in Baja California Sur that protects one of the region's most important coral reefs...
May 29, 2012
From a statement by Nnimmo Bassey and Laura Livoti: "Since the end of Biafra and the civil war in Nigeria, another war has been raging here and continues unabated. It is an ecological war. International oil companies are the source of the conflict, with Chevron playing a leading role. The latest front occurred on January 16, 2012 when an explosion rocked a gas well drilling rig at Chevron’s Apoi North field. That explosion killed two workers. This is the same Chevron that made oil rig safety the theme of its last shareholder meeting in May 2011. Following the explosion, Chevron offered initial information and updates on the incident, assuring that steps were being taken to contain and mitigate the disaster. This clearly was a half-hearted public relations gesture." And so: 99! 99!
May 21, 2012
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on May 20 announced the release of the New York City Wetlands Strategy... "The protection and preservation of wetlands is a critical component of the City’s strategy to improve water quality," said Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland. "The ability of wetlands to clean water is exemplified by our award-winning Bluebelt program which, from Staten Island to Queens, and soon the Bronx" --
What? Why does The Bronx come after?
May 14, 2012
In Newark, protests were rejected last week when the city's planning board approved a 655-megawatt natural gas power plant to be built in the East Ward. "The proposed new Hess natural gas power plant … will utilize the best available technologies and be one of the cleanest fossil fuel power plants ever constructed," said Adam Zipkin, Newark’s deputy mayor of economic development. Ah, Cory Booker...
May 7, 2012
At UN, Right to Info Stripped from Rio + 20, Extra Week Set, Indigenous Silenced?
Matthew Russell Lee
May 4 -- In the run up to the Rio + 20 conference, on Friday
evening at the UN yet another week of negotiations was
arranged, for May 29 to June 2.
Four hundred paragraphs remain without agreement; Inner City Press asked about those dealing with the "right to information," switched by the US to "legitimate access" to information, limited by trade secrets, patents and copyright.
After Friday night's deferral, the nine "Major Groups" were given two minutes each to speak. The Indigenous group, which started speaking in Spanish about la Madre Tierra or Pachamama, was cut off by the chair and told to speak in English. Ultimately this was translated by the Local Authorities group.
Still the Groups hit hard, with Farmers criticizing the mention of the World Trade Organization in the agriculture section, and the Youth group denouncing greenwashing (if not Blue-washing, in a week where Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Myanmar congratulated a company involved in spying technology, as exposed by Inner City Press.)
At the front of the room was outgoing DESA chief Sha Zukang, urging that at least 90% of the text be agreed before Rio begins. China has put in two names to replace Sha, but Brazil is pushing hard now for the DESA post, as Inner City Press exclusively reported yesterday.
Now, this update: China might accept the top post at the
Department of General Assembly and Conference Affairs as long
as it also got the Number Two post in DESA, at the Assistant
Secretary General level.
But then what would sub Saharan Africa get? The Department of Public Information has, as Inner City Press reported, been promised to a European. And so it goes at the UN.
At a press conference Friday afternoon, Inner City Press asked about the right to information that was in Rio Principle 10. The response, from Neth Dano of the ETC Group of the Philippines, was that "one delegation" pushed to limited the right to only "legitimate" information.
Inner City Press asked her to name that delegation, but she declined. Afterward she said it was the US, "from the State Department." Meanwhile, the US was expected to make a statement on Friday night about no more funding - will that now come on June 2? Will Obama go to Rio? Watch this site.
April 30, 2012
Welcome to "Southwest Detroit's 48217 zip code area which a study by University of Michigan Professor Paul Mohai concluded was the most polluted in the state of Michigan and third most in all of the United States. Now, the struggle of some 13 residents caught between the near simultaneous erection of Marathon's multi-billion dollar tar sands oil refinery expansion and the city's Waste Water Treatment plant in 2008."
April 23, 2012
In Texas, they haven't had chlorinated drinking
water since October of last year and now arsenic has
been found in the water. Those are just two of the
issues facing one of Nueces County's Colonias. Last
week, those issues got a first hand look by a group of
people representing several environmental agencies. It
was billed as an opportunity for residents of the Cyndie
Park Colonias, located about 10 miles North of
Banquette, to talk to folks from the Texas Commission on
Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection
Agency and the U. S. Environmental Justice Interagency
And what will come of it?
April 16, 2012
The owner of rental properties in Bridgeport is facing up to $127,150 in Environmental Protection Agency penalties for violating federal lead paint disclosure rules. According to a complaint filed by EPA's New England office, Juan Hernandez allegedly violated lead-based paint disclosure requirements seven times when he rented apartment units in Bridgeport between 2008 and 2010. During the EPA's investigation, all of the apartment buildings owned by Hernandez were located in potential environmental justice areas.
April 9, 2012
The World Bank says it will showcase new initiatives on oceans and the valuation of ecosystem services at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, in Brazil in late June, but is attracting criticism from civil society groups for its approach to ‘green growth’. We'll see.
April 2, 2012
A Corpus Christi, Texas group is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to require Citgo to quit storing and using hydrofluoric acid and to switch to a safer alternative. In the letter to EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz, Citizens for Environmental Justice executive director Suzie Canales writes that hydrofluoric acid could kill thousands of people. "Citgo has repeatedly shown that it cannot be trusted to use HF and must be made to switch to a safer alternative for the sake of its employees and the community," the letter states. Could this have something to do with Citgo's ownership?
March 26, 2012
Enviros say President Barack Obama has decided to ignore the environmental devastation associated with tar sands mining and its disproportionate impact on global climate change, and the unconscionable contributions to local air pollution in Port Arthur, Texas. Port Arthur is one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Environmental Justice Showcase Communities” due to a concentration of environmental health risks that disproportionally burden minority communities. They say Keystone XL also poses another risk – a risk to U.S. consumers and the fragile economic recovery. Analysts and economists agree that building the southern leg of this pipeline will alleviate a glut of oil in Cushing, Okla., and allow more oil products to be exported to other countries, thereby reducing domestic supply and raising gas prices.
The southern leg of this pipeline does not bring oil into the country (a goal our organization does not endorse), but does create a clear path to get oil out to export markets. Since refined oil products are now the largest export commodity in the U.S., it seems obvious that pushing more oil to the Gulf Coast will result in more export activity and less supply for Americans....
March 19, 2012
" In response to the State Assembly's budget proposal to sweep up to $200 million in ratepayer-funded clean energy and energy efficiency programs administered by the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority, more than 20 environmental, energy and community groups sent a letter to Governor Cuomo, the State Senate, and the Assembly opposing the the use of clean energy funds for non-energy related purposes." Sounds like the states which are trying to put their portion of the $25 billion mortgage settlement into their General Funds...
March 12, 2012
In El Salvador, 14 years have passed since the Environment Law was approved, establishing the creation for agro-environmental courts to hear cases involving contamination and environmental damage, but so far, this has not happened. The Supreme Court, which would be responsible for creating the new chambers, has failed to create them....
March 5, 2012
In New Bedford, Lisa Garcia, EPA's associate assistant administrator for environmental justice, and Curt Spalding, EPA Region 1 administrator, will host a meeting on March 6 at Keith Middle School. EPA says they've heard "a lot of reactions from the community as far as environmental justice concerns." EPA staff working on the Parker Street Waste Site and New Bedford Harbor projects will be at the meeting in order to answer specific questions on those projects...
February 27, 2012
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson now says hydraulic fracturing can be done safely: "I think that fracking as a technology is perfectly capable of being clean. I do. But it requires people who are doing it and innovators who use the technology to take some time to make sure that it's done right. And it requires smart regulation, smart rules of the road," Jackson said at Richard Stockton College in Galloway, New Jersey. Hmm...
February 20, 2012
On Rio + 20: "Twenty years ago, the UN played an important role in calling attention to the dangers that human and nonhuman life runs if the myth of endless economic growth goes on dominating economic policies... Unfortunately, this moment of reflection and hope soon disappeared" -- as did positive UN role. So, alongside the UN Conference, civil society is organizing the Peoples Summit in Rio. We'll have more on this.
February 13, 2012
With the focus on the Canadian government's push to export tar sands bitumen via the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat, and from there by ship to China, the British Colombia government reclaimed some attention on the energy file when it released a strateg. Rabble says: "The short of it is that shale gas from B.C.'s Northeast is to be pipelined to Kitimat and loaded onto tankers in liquid form (LNG) to be exported to China. But while the Enbridge pipeline has huge swaths of B.C. up in arms, particularly First Nations and "environmentalists, the LNG plans, which already have been approved and have an export permit, have not." Until now...
February 6, 2012
"The indisputable health care and humanitarian crises from mountaintop removal coal mining should place it at the forefront of any litmus on President Obama’s commitment to health care, clean energy and dealing with climate change. Dr. Michael Hendryx of West Virginia University released a study that should have headlined every newspaper in the country—and launched an all-out national campaign on the level of the anti-tobacco campaigns of the past. Hendryx concluded: “Living in a mountaintop mining area was a bigger risk for birth defects than smoking.”
January 30, 2012
News from Ohio last week: FirstEnergy is closing units at six of the dirtiest coal plants in the nation. FirstEnergy temporarily idled its Lake Shore plant near Cleveland in 2010 because of lower regional power demand and the increasing costs of running a plant built in 1916 still using a 50 year old boiler. The plant was grandfathered in under the Clean Air Act and the company had avoided putting major new environmental controls on it for decades, even as it emitted a horrific plume of toxins and particulate matter on the surrounding community. The facility a target of the environmental justice movement for years because of its outsized impact on the African American community.
FirstEnergy’s nearly-60-year-old Bay Shore plant shares many of Lake Shore’s problems. But in addition to spewing toxic air pollution and climate changing-CO2 the facility is also one of the nation’s most efficient fish-killing machines. Located at the confluence of the Maumee River and Lake Erie, the plant sits astride one of the world’s most prolific fish spawning areas. Its water intake system and scalding water kill 46 million fish and 2 billion fish larvae annually, taking a significant bite out of the region’s $1.4 billion recreational and commercial fishing economy. Just to put the numbers into perspective, the State of Ohio says that the plant’s aquatic annihilation totals more fish than all the other plants in the state combined. h/t NRDC
January 23, 2012
South Bronx clean up of
"The site lies on the Hunts Point peninsula in the South Bronx. It was the former location of the Con Edison Hunts Point Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP), also known as the Hunts Point Coking Station. The initial coke oven plant at the facility was constructed over the period from 1924 through 1926 and had a capacity of 20 million cubic feet of gas per day. The gas produced was used as a primary source of energy for lighting and heating. Another battery of coke ovens was installed in 1931, increasing gas production capacity by 10 million cubic feet per day. The MGP included 46 buildings or structures and was devoted entirely to the manufacture of gas and its associated by- products, including coal tars, cyanide-contaminated purifier waste, sludge, and oils. The structures included two gas holders. The MGP operated into the 1950s."
January 16, 2012
It was only last month we received a notice from
the New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation’s (“NYSDEC”) Brownfield Cleanup Program
(“BCP”), specifically about its draft Final Engineering
Report (FER) for the remedial actions performed at the
1800 Southern Boulevard Site....The Site is currently
being developed with a new ten (10) story mixed-use
building that will provide affordable housing to 68
moderate income households, as well as 12,579 square
feet of commercial space and 4,922 square feet of
community facility space. Historically the Site has been
used as a filling station, auto repair facility and car
wash beginning sometime between 1927 and 1940. The car
wash operation closed in 1993 and the service station
closed in 2003. BP-Amoco was operating the station at
the time of closure in 2003.Removal
of (17) 550-gallon underground storage tanks
Unstated was that this is where the gas was bought for the Happy Land Social Club mass murder... And now, dated January 13, comes a DEC announcement "that cleanup requirements have been achieved to address contamination related to the 1800 Southern Boulevard Site #C203046 (Bronx), under New York's Brownfield Cleanup Program." That was fast...January 9, 2012
NRC in Florida:
The environmental justice impact analysis evaluates the potential for disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects on minority and low-income populations that could result from activities associated with the proposed EPU at St. Lucie Nuclear Plant... The NRC considered the demographic composition of the area within a 50-mi (80.5-km) radius of St. Lucie Units 1 and 2 to determine the location of minority and low-income populations and whether the proposed action may affect them.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau (USCB) data for 2000 on minority populations in the vicinity of St. Lucie Units 1 and 2, an estimated 1.2 million people live within a 50-mi (80.5-km) radius of the plant located within parts of nine counties. Minority populations within 50 mi (80.5 km) comprise 27 percent (274,500 persons). The largest minority group was African-American (approximately 135,250 persons or 13.3 percent), followed by Hispanic or Latino (approximately 111,000 persons or 11 percent). The 2000 census block groups containing minority populations were concentrated in Gifford (Indian River County), Fort Pierce (St. Lucie County), Pahokee (Palm Beach County near Lake Okeechobee), the agricultural areas around Lake Okeechobee, and Hobe Sound (Martin County).
Noise and dust impacts would be temporary and limited to onsite activities. Minority and low-income populations residing along site access roads could experience increased commuter vehicle traffic during shift changes. Increased demand for inexpensive rental housing during the EPU-related plant modifications could disproportionately affect low-income populations; however, due to the short duration of the EPU-related work and the availability of housing properties, impacts to minority and low-income populations would be of short duration and limited.
Oh really? For comment by February 6... http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-01-06/html/2012-32.htm
January 2, 2012
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board is getting petitions opposing Entergy's application to re-license the Indian Point nuclear power plants for another 20 years. Last summer the Atomic Safety Licensing Board accepted an Environmental Justice contention; there's a "potential for disproportionate impact" on inmates at Sing Sing state prison: "the ability of prisoners to respond to emergencies is completely different to that of the general population."
December 26, 2011
In the NY City Council two new bills on polychlorinated biphenyl will inform parents and school employees of contamination by PCBs, which was banned it in 1979 for its toxicity. Bill 563 makes the Department of Education to notify parents and employees of PCB testing results or if the school uses T12 fluorescents, an outdated type of lamp that often leaks PCB. Bill 566 asks for detailed reports from the DOE on their progress and plan eradicating PCB from schools. Nearly 800 city schools — built between the 1950s and late 1970s — are likely contaminated.
And how many are in The Bronx?
December 19, 2011
For planning purposes: "July
1-7, 2012, Location to be announced when the time is
right., Marcellus Shale Earth First! is working side by
side with many local groups, attending meetings,
offering workshops and trainings, and helping to build a
campaign of direct action that is putting increasing
pressure on the drillers, to show all of those fighting
fracking that there is effective resistance growing in
From iWatch, "A March 2011 review of OCR by Deloitte Consulting, commissioned by the EPA, found that the office “has drifted in focus and struggled to perform fundamental tasks.” In its partially redacted report, Deloitte criticized OCR for focusing too much on “minor responsibilities” and “not enough on the critical cases affecting … disadvantaged communities.”
The Deloitte report suggested that Jackson and her predecessors were partly to blame for the office’s ineffectiveness. “The Director of OCR has a direct line reporting relationship to the EPA Administrator and takes administrative direction from the Chief of Staff or Deputy Chief of Staff on a day-to-day basis,” the consulting firm found.
In December 2010, Jackson chose Rafael DeLeon to lead the office. He manages an annual budget of $2.3 million and a staff of 38, nine of whom work on Title VI cases, according to the EPA spokeswoman.
In the wake of the damning Deloitte evaluation, DeLeon, who also headed OCR for a time during the Clinton administration, came under fire. The National Whistleblowers Center called for his ouster, alleging that he made disparaging remarks about former EPA whistleblowers and has had “numerous” discrimination complaints filed against him by female staffers.
“We call on you to make a clean break from the past,” Richard Renner, the center’s legal director, wrote in an April letter to Jackson. “We call on you to make a decision that visibly rejects discrimination, retaliation, and intimidation … We need your decisive leadership to end the paralysis of silence.”
December 12, 2011
When an eardrum piercing noise awoke residents of Roosevelt Island and Astoria and Long Island City, Queens last week, no one knew what it was. It can from a power plant run by TransCanada, which refused to answer press inquiries. TransCanada is the owner of the proposed XL Pipeline -- this should be another strike against them...
December 5, 2011
This is about the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (“NYSDEC”) Brownfield Cleanup Program (“BCP”), specifically its draft Final Engineering Report (FER) for the remedial actions performed at the 1800 Southern Boulevard Site....The Site is currently being developed with a new ten (10) story mixed-use building that will provide affordable housing to 68 moderate income households, as well as 12,579 square feet of commercial space and 4,922 square feet of community facility space. Historically the Site has been used as a filling station, auto repair facility and car wash beginning sometime between 1927 and 1940. The car wash operation closed in 1993 and the service station closed in 2003. BP-Amoco was operating the station at the time of closure in 2003.
• Removal of (17) 550-gallon underground storage tanks; and
Unstated: this is where the gas was bought for the Happy Land Social Club mass murder...
November 28, 2011
On reports that the US and
Saudi Arabia won't sign on to the Green Climate Fund, Inner
City Press asked for the UN Ban Ki-moon's view. Spokesman
Martin Nesirky said that beyond the Green Climate Fund,
Durban's discussions will include other topics, "we need to
wait and see." That is, unlike even
the UK, no criticism of the Obama administration's
November 21, 2011
The EPA has promulgated Plan EJ 2014 as its implementation of Executive Order 12898:
Plan EJ 2014 is not a rule or regulation. It is a strategy to help integrate environmental justice into EPA’s day to day activities.
Here is its plan document:
This implementation plan outlines a process by which the workgroup will research, solicit ideas for, prioritize, and then develop a suite of tools to better enable overburdened communities to have full and meaningful access to the permitting process and for permits to address environmental justice issues to the greatest extent practicable. For the first year, our activities will focus on developing a cohesive suite of tools most applicable to EPA-issued permits, and also collecting a larger set of tools for a public database.
Watch this site.
November 14, 2011
While one school under-participated, the Delaware County Alliance for Environmental Justice (DelCo Alliance) and the Chester Green youth group recently hosted Chester city’s first Environmental Justice collective during the last weekend in October during which they offered a tour pointing out all the polluters in Chester. The tour included stops at a coal power plant, two major natural gas burning power plants, a paper mill, the nation’s largest trash incinerator, a sewage sludge incinerator, two oil refineries, and various chemical plants and toxic waste sites. The paper mill, Kimberly Clark, burns waste coal and petroleum coke. It also produces six times more mercury than normal coal...
November 7, 2011
Of Keystone XL, Clayton Thomas-Muller of the Pukatawagan Cree Nation has said, "we were all overcome and awash with inspiration and positive emotion with the election of President Obama. Some of the things he said were very enchanting - that this would be the generation that our grandchildren would look back on and say that's when they took action on climate change. But through the continuation of deep sea exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, the permitting of Shell to drill for offshore oil resources in Bristol Bay in the outer continental shelf of Alaska, with the expansion of the fracking industry and now with the consideration of the Keystone XL pipeline, we know that Obama hasn't been able to meet his commitments to social movements in America that helped get him elected."
October 31, 2011
In Queens, NY until 1996, Jamaica Water Supply pumped millions of gallons of water out of the ground daily. When the City Department of Environmental Protection took over, DEP started bringing water from upstate, leaving the excess water underground with no place to go. In 15 years, the standing ground water level in Southeast Queens has risen to 30 feet, leaving many homeowners to deal with saturated basements each time there is heavy rainfall.
Now they should investigate...
October 24, 2011
The Aarhus Convention provides that environmental challenges should not be “prohibitively expensive." The UK system of “loser pays the costs” violates this. So the Ministry of Justice is proposing "that costs protection should be provided via codification of the rules concerning Protective Costs Orders. That means that a claimant in any public interest case may ask the court for a PCO, to “cap” his liability to pay the other side’s costs to such a figure as does not deter him from bringing those proceedings." We'll see.
October 17, 2011
By Matthew Russell Lee
WALL STREET, October 12 -- New
York City police threatened to arrest protesters and the Press
in front of a Bank of
America branch on lower Broadway Tuesday at dusk, a
block from Zuccotti Park which some now call Liberty Plaza.
Click here for video
by Inner City Press.
At dusk a non-violent group long concerned with Bank of
America funding of mountain-top removal coal mining crossed
Broadway from the park. Inner City Press was among them. White
suited Reverend Billy began an "exorcism," preaching how Bank
of America finances wars -- then the police moved in.
Other signs in the crowd spoke of Capital One, which in applying to buy ING DIRECT could become the fifth largest bank in the United States. It has sought to evade the protests against the Big Four -- Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase -- by means of comedic advertisements featuring such liberal icons as Alec Baldwin and Jimmy Fallon. Baldwin has yet to respond to mounting requests by NCRC and others that he distance himself from Capital One.
October 10, 2011
In (Occupy) Chicago there's been a call for the closure of the city's coal-fired power plants: Fisk Generating Station, 1111 W. Cermak Rd.—right across from the park—and Crawford Generating Station, 3501 S. Pulaski Rd. in Little Village. Both are owned by Midwest Generation...
September 26, 2011
Activists charges that the World Bank’s promotion of the controversial forest-carbon scheme called REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) harms both forests and forest dependent communities in developing countries, while encouraging continued pollution in vulnerable communities in developed countries like the USA. This follows the announcement of a new sub-national REDD agreement between the states of California, USA, Chiapas, Mexico and Acre, Brazil during the UN Climate Conference in Cancun last December. In Chiapas the REDD project claims to create carbon offset credits by quantifying the carbon stored by trees in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in the Lacandon Jungle. The World Bank has been involved in the global forest/climate program known as REDD through its Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, announced by World Bank President Robet Zoellick, during the 2007 UN Climate Conference in Bali, Indonesia. The announcement met with strong popular protest, and the World Bank continues to draw criticism for its role in promoting schemes that displace forest dependent communities and promote large-scale industrial tree plantations that could potentially include socially and ecologically dangerous genetically engineered trees.
September 19, 2011
In San Fran / Oakland, the Superior Court has blocked the proposed early transfer of the toxic parcels of the Hunters Point Superfund site. “The court finds that the EIR does not adequately inform the public that the developer proposes to remediate portions of the shipyard instead of the Navy under an early transfer agreement. … Therefore, the court orders that the development of a parcel at the shipyard site may not proceed until the CERCLA remediation process for the parcel is complete and approved by regulating agencies as safe for human health and development, unless an early transfer is approved after completion of environmental review in compliance with CEQA,” according to the judge’s ruling. H/t Bayview.
September 12, 2011
The Keystone XL pipeline protest arrests took place in front of a White House without solar panels, that activists note the Obama Administration had promised to install by this spring....
September 5, 2011
Whither -- or wither -- Obama on the environment? He dropped the ozone regulations, just after calling for Congress to extend Bush-era funding for highway projects, and late August's go-ahead from the Obama State Department to construct an oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Will there be a Democratic Party primary challenge to Obama, on this or other issues? Watch this site.
August 29, 2011
Last week, the US State Department released its for the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, predictably finding that there will be no Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) significant environmental impact to most resources. Activists say Secretary of State Clinton did not keep her promise to “leave no stone unturned” and the State Department’s pledge to do a “thorough and objective” assessment: the State Department is rushing this project.
August 22, 2011
In Los Angeles, we note the "MTA Cuts to Bus Service Lifelines" event begins at Immanuel Presbyterian in Koreatown about the impact that recent bus service cuts and fare hikes have had. Yes, it's an environmental justice issue...
August 15, 2011
In Kentucky, American Synthetic Rubber in western Louisville says it's "making plans to phase out the use of the moderately toxic chemical toluene. The plant has long used toluene to produce rubber, and it used to emit great quantities of it — as much as 4.7 million pounds in 1991, for example. That compares to 408,000 pounds of toluene emissions in 2009, the most recent year for which U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data is available. The company, which makes rubber for tires, is exploring the change because two replacement chemicals are considered safer and more useful, said Lynn Mann, a spokeswoman for Michelin North America, which owns the plant. It’s seeking a permit from the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District, which is accepting public comment through Aug. 30."
August 8, 2011
In California, a Jurupa Valley-based environmental group has filed a lawsuit seeking to set aside Riverside County's approval of an industrial project that would put warehouses next door to a Mira Loma housing tract, contending that Riverside County and developers of the proposed Mira Loma Commerce Center project violated the California Environmental Quality Act by preparing an environmental study that failed to analyze the project's impacts on air quality and traffic. It asks the court to set aside the certification of the environmental impact report and order a new one. A status conference on the lawsuit is set for August 18...
August 1, 2011
In Connecticut the Bridgeport Harbor Station (owned by New Jersey based Public Service Enterprise Group or PSEG) is among the worst polluters, according to an algorithm combining levels of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions together with demographic factors to calculate the score for the 431 coal-fired power plants in the United States. So - will it be shut down?
Johnson, who was seen as the architect of the fight for environmental justice in Altgeld and Roseland was omitted from Obama’s book, Dreams from My Father, in which Obama traced his roots as a community activist in those communities.”
CCEJ, which worked with the New Haven Environmental Justice Network to prevent the recommissioning of the English Station power plant in the Fair Haven neighborhood. The plant would have burned fossil fuels to provide power during peak periods.m"Electricity would have been produced during times of the year when air quality was at its worst," Mitchell said. "The folks who would get the bulk of air pollution can't afford air conditioners, so they would have opened their windows." The state DEP denied the permit application filed by Quinnipiac Energy...
EPA Region IV includes North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky. In the last three years activists have asked EPA to revoke permitting authority in states across the country, including Alaska, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Maryland...
As Palau and Pew Fight To Save Sharks and Tuna, Japan Counters with Sushi and Conditional Aid
UNITED NATIONS, May 24 -- When nations and activists met this year about endangered species of sharks and Atlantic blue tuna, Japan lobbied against protections with conditional financial aid to small island states, and even sushi and shark fin soup receptions.
These stories were told Monday evening in the UN's new North Lawn building, as Jacques Cousteau's grandson spoke about seeing fewer and fewer sharks during his dives. . "We protect what we love," he quoted. But with sharks, given the perception of them as people killers, the phrase may not be helpful.
The event was sponsored by Palau, which had declared itself a shark sanctuary. A speech was given by its Permanent Representative to the UN, Stuart Beck, who is decidedly not from Palau. But as his deputy later explained to Inner City Press, he was Palau's lawyer even before it became independent.
Beck testified that Palau "championed adding four sharks to the CITES list of endangered species. Despite winning the majority of votes on all four, we could not overcome the obstructive super majority requirement."
Experts in the crowd uniformly trashed the role of Japan. It was ironic, as elsewhere in the North Lawn building Japan was presenting itself as an anti-nuclear hero. Janus face, forked tongue, one said.
Monday, the Pew Environment Group held a press
conference urging Regional Fisheries Management
Organizations to do more about illegal,
unregulated and unreported fishing. Inner City
Press asked about such fishing off the coasts of
Somalia and Western Sahara.
Pew's Kristin Von Kistowski cautioned against excusing piracy in terms of illegal fishing. She added that international fleets harm coastal communities in Western Africa.
of Pew said that European Union fleets are
overfishing, and the the depletion of fish stock
off Somalia may have played a role in driving
former fishermen to piracy. Video here,
from Minute 36.
This stood in welcome contrast to the commander of
the EUNAVFOR ships, who earlier this month was
dismissive of Somali claims about illegal fishing.
May 24, 2010
In Vermont, a mishap during a test at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant last week allowed the water level to rise too high in the reactor, flowing through emergency valves that are typically about 8 feet above the water level and into pipes that normally carry steam to the turbine. David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists and Diane Screnci of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said if water mixes with steam it can damage a plant's turbine...
Dutch oil trading firm Trafigura denied last week that it had paid witnesses to give false testimony about toxic waste dumped on public trash sites in Abidjan. Some men who said they had transported the toxic waste in 2006 told Dutch current affairs television program "Nova" yesterday that they had given false information in statements about the waste. Greenpeace said it has asked Dutch prosecutors to investigate the men's statements. Trafigura settled out of court in February 2007 over the dumps, paying the Ivorian government $225 million...
May 17, 2010
New Jersey regulators have ordered Exelon Corp .to cooperate with an investigation and clean up a leak of radioactive tritium at the company's Oyster Creek nuclear power plant. About 180,000 gallons of tritium-contaminated water is believed to have leaked from two pipes at the plant, and some of the water could have reached the Cohansey Aquifer..
Weird cooperation of the week: U.S. EPA will work with the Chinese environmental bureau to monitor the air quality at the World Expo in Shanghai. The two agencies will use an online system called AIRNow International to deliver real-time data and day-before forecasts of air quality. The Expo, which began May 1, is expected to attract 7 million people on top of the 20 million who live in Shanghai...
May 10, 2010
Bolivian President Evo Morales has announced that his government now controls 80 percent of the country's electricity production after nationalizing four utility companies. Among the utilities was Corani SA, a subsidiary of French utility GDF SuezSA. Morales, who has also nationalized Bolivia's oil and natural gas industries, said this weekend that he intends for the state to control all utilities..
In California, environmental groups have sued U.S. EPA over the agency's weak response to pollution in the San Joaquin Valley. The lawsuit says EPA could do more to force the California Air Resources Board and other local air quality boards to monitor the region...
May 3, 2010
In the week of focus on nuclear issues, in Nevada the Yucca Mountain site remained mired in delay. The NRC has given the US Department of Energy until June 1 to withdraw its contested application...
April 26, 2010
York, state environmental officials in New York
announced that they will exclude the Catskills
watershed from regulations authorizing hydraulic
fracturing in the state's portion of the Marcellus
Shale. Though the Department of Environmental
Conservation did not explicitly ban natural gas
drilling in the Catskills, the decision to exclude the
region from the regulations creates daunting and
costly bureaucratic hurdles for any companies that
would want to drill there. Officials originally
included the Catskills watershed in their regulations,
but backed down after New York City raised concerns.
"We acknowledge that there's a separate subset of
issues that are independent of the safety of
hydrofracking," said Stuart Gruskin, executive deputy
commissioner at the department. "It's better to leave
those issues out of it."
April 26, 2010 - click here for BloggingHeads.tv debate on Afghanistan cover up, Bhutto, Iran, Sudan and the UN's Love Boat in Haiti, by Inner City Press
April 19, 2010
In Texas, blood and urine tests of residents of the Denton County town Dish show they have the same toxic chemicals found in the community's air and water but not in elevated levels. State health officials cautioned that no one element was elevated and that residents should not jump to conclusions. Residents have complained for more than a year about the environmental impact of natural gas compressors and a natural gas well in their town...
A report last week found that the northern part of Sudan may have been hording oil revenues and owes South Sudan at least $700 million, in addition to the approximately $7 billion of oil money it has transferred to the south since striking a peace agreement five years ago that mandates sharing oil revenues. The watchdog group said oil production figures published by one of the biggest foreign companies producing oil in the country, the Chinese National Petroleum Co., indicate production levels that were 12 percent higher in Blue Nile state in 2009 than what the Sudanese government in Khartoum reported for the same time period...
April 12, 2010
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will conduct additional inspections at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant because of a recent radioactive tritium leak. Entergy Corp., which operates the plant, found and stopped the leak, and NRC said the contamination did not threaten the public or plant workers. The leak did prompt the Vermont Senate to vote not to renew the plant's license when it expires in 2012...
In Kenya, environmentalists successfully blocked a shipment of genetically modified maize from South Africa. Protestors said the maize developed by multinational firm Monsanto Co. had not been properly checked and could contaminate the soil. Several African countries have banned the import of genetically modified plants...
Environmental justice as international human rights:
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will hear a complaint filed by the New Orleans-based Advocates for Environmental Human Rights (AEHR) on behalf of the people of Mossville, La. An autonomous body of the Organization of American States, the IACHR along with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights comprise the inter-American system for promoting and protecting human rights.
Scheduled to take place some time in the next three months, the review will consider whether the U.S. government has violated the predominantly African-American community's residents' human rights to life, health, equality, freedom from racial discrimination, and "privacy as it relates to the inviolability of the home" by allowing numerous industrial facilities to locate there and emit millions of pounds of highly toxic chemicals every year.
Located near Lake Charles in southwestern Louisiana's Calcasieu Parish, the unincorporated rural community of Mossville is surrounded by 14 industrial facilities that each year spew more than 4 million pounds of highly toxic chemicals to the environment. The pollution includes known carcinogens including dioxin, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, solvents like xylene and toluene, and heavy metals such as lead and mercury.
29, 2010 --
Pachauri's Opaque Moonlighting
Critiqued by Figueres, of 2 Costa Ricans and the
Alba Group, UNFCCC
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, March 22 -- The embattled chairman of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, refuses to disclose how much money he makes from his simultaneousconsultancies with Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and other institutions. Now, a candidate to head the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica, has announced she would cease all outside consulting if given the "full time and a half" post.
Inner City Press asked Ms. Figueres on Monday for her view of Pachauri's side business and other IPCC matters. "That would not be my choice," Ms. Figueres said, of Pachauri's side work for business. She also said diplomatically that "Doctor Pachauri I believe is at freedom to allocate his time as he sees fit." Video here, from Minute 27:18.
shouldn't Pachauri at least be required to
formally disclose who he works for on the side,
and how much he gets paid? He has resisted even
Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon and his spokesman for the UN view on this lack of transparency. The answer was that the IPCC is not a UN body, and that Pachauri would answer the questions himself. But when he came to the UN, seeking to use Ban Ki-moon as a prop and character witness, neither took any questions from the press.
Figueres, the daughter of a former Costa Rican
president, is viewed as a serious contender to
replace Yvo de Boer, who is moving to KPMG (some
are calling it cashing in). Inner City Press asked
her if the recent appointment of another Costa
Rican, Rebecca Grynspan, to the number two post at
the UN Development Program might make it less
likely she will get this job.
"It may be a stretch," Ms. Figueres agreed, that a country of four million people could get two high posts. India's candidate is said to also have the support of China.
Inner City Press asked Ms. Figueres about the opposition to the Copenhagen process by the five Latin American countries in the Alba Group. Surprisingly to some, Ms. Figueres responded that the Alba Group was "correct in the moment," that all now agree with them. An Alba Group-er afterwards said skeptically to Inner City Press, "Costa Rica never gets along with the Alba Group." Hey -- climate change bring everyone together...
March 22, 2010
While more than 84,000 chemicals manufactured, used, or imported in the United States are currently listed on the TSCA Inventory. But EPA is unable to publicly identify nearly 17,000 of those chemicals because they have been claimed as confidential business information under TSCA by the manufacturers. Some database...
A review of OMB could revoke or revise Clinton's Executive Order 12866, which gives OIRA the power to review and edit agency regulations and makes cost-benefit analyses a significant factor in rulemaking. For major rules, OIRA and federal agencies use cost-benefit analysis to try to ensure that the benefits of regulations outweigh the costs. Environmentalists and regulatory watchdog groups -- many of which accused Bush's White House of using the regulatory review process to make rules more industry-friendly -- have called for a major overhaul of the review process, including scaling back the role of cost-benefit analysis and reducing the White House's influence in agency regulatory decisions. But some lawmakers and regulatory experts have argued that provisions included in the Clinton order are needed to protect against overly costly and burdensome regulations.
March 15, 2010
Sacharine politics in the Sunshine State: "The South Florida Water Management District voted unanimously today to keep the state's offer to buy 73,000 acres of land from United States Sugar Corp. for Everglades restoration on the table for six more months.
The extension until Sept. 30 will allow the deal to remain on hold as the Florida Supreme Court considers a challenge to the $536 million offer backed by Gov. Charlie Crist (R). Praised by environmentalists who see the land purchase as key for the protection of the Everglades, the extension was viewed cynically by critics who describe the deal as a taypayer-funded handout for a struggling sugar company. It would allow a decision on the controversial land deal to be put off until after Crist's primary contest against Marco Rubio, said Gaston Cantens, a spokesman for sugar competitor Florida Crystals Corp., which supports Rubio in the race."
March 8, 2010
In the court case against Syncrude Canada Ltd., an oil sands company accused of violating provincial and federal wildlife laws, environmentalists have rallied around images of birds trapped in sticky bitumen. During proceedings yesterday in Alberta, images of ravens eating a trapped duck alive were presented...
March 1, 2010
First Amendment rights burned like dirty coal: a federal judge extended an order that bans protests at the Massey Energy Co. coal mining facility. The temporary order bars protestors, agents, lawyers and Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice from their yearlong protests. Massey wants the ban extended to the duration of a lawsuit filed against five protesters arrested in the complex last month ...
February 22, 2009
In West Virginia, Massey Energy is asking a court to bar protesters of mountain top removal mining from any of its facilities in the southwestern part of the state...
Click here for Inner City Press' questions and answers last week with Guatemala's president about mining.
February 15, 2010
EPA Region IV, which has so far not agreed to activists' calls to investigate a history of inequitable decisions, has allowed minority and economically disadvantaged communities to bear the brunt of pollution problems in the area, most recently by allowing coal ash that spilled from a Tennessee power plant in 2008 to be disposed near an environmental justice community in Alabama...
February 8, 2010
Kentucky's former director of mine permits has filed a "whistleblower" lawsuit, contending he was fired for complaining that his superiors broke the law by approving certain permits. Ron Mills was fired in November without explanation. His suit charges that the administration of Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) and Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters had implemented a policy to "improperly and unlawfully allow coal companies to obtain mining permits that would encompass land sites for which the coal companies had failed to obtain right of entry." Peters said in interviews that he fired Mills because he lacked the management skills required for the job
February 1, 2010
Last week saw the launch of the Congressional Coal Caucus, an organization dedicated to representing the embattled fossil fuel's role in national energy policy. Republican Reps. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Dennis Rehberg of Montana and John Shimkus of Illinois joined Democrats Jason Altmire and Tim Holden of Pennsylvania and John Salazar of Colorado in announcing the caucus and sent out a letter encouraging other members to join. Just what we need...
January 25, 2010
Chicagoans have resisted racially imbalanced
distribution of transportation services. There's
another battle on Feb. 7 when new CTA cuts will weigh
most heavily on predominantly African-American and
Latino neighborhoods. Out of the nine express bus
routes that the CTA plans to eliminate, seven cross
South and West Side neighborhoods that are typically
populated by minorities less likely to own cars.
And what about, in NYC, the MTA's cuts? Also in NYC the Board of Education, rather than closing ALL of Alfred E. Smith Career and Technical Education High School in the Bronx, is only phasing out carpentry, plumbing, electrical and other trade programs, leaving open only automotive... What was that about green jobs again?
January 11, 2010
EPA defends itself -- why are we not surprised? Despite protests to efforts to redevelop the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard which residents are being harmed by toxic dust from the project, U.S. EPA believes the project has effective safeguards to prevent asbestos exposure, according to a draft report. The agency's report bragged of "no reason to suspend or stop the construction project," saying it is effectively preventing "dust generation and limiting asbestos exposure." We'll see.
January 4, 2010
We step back from weekly news to note and mourn the loss in June 2009 of EJ activist Luke Cole, in a car crash in Uganda. He will be missed...
December 28, 2009
In the UK, H&M and Zara are two stores accused of using cotton suppliers in Bangladesh. It is thought many of their raw materials come from Uzbekistan, where children as young as 10 are forced to work in the fields. They are calling on retailers to ban the use of Uzbek cotton and implement "track and trace" systems to make sure the source of the material can be vouched for. H&M said it "does not accept" child labor and "seeks to avoid" using Uzbek cotton. But the company said it did "not have any reliable methods" to ensure Uzbek cotton did not end up in any of its products...
December 21, 2009
In Massachusetts, court documents filed at the Bristol County Superior Court last week show that Monsanto Co. and Cornell-Dubilier Electronics Inc. manufactured pesticides and electrical parts, respectively, which have been linked to PCB contaminations at three properties near Keith Middle School. The documents, filed in the ongoing lawsuit neighbors brought against the city of New Bedford, include photographs of PCB-containing electrical capacitors.December 14, 2009
Flies 700 Staff to Copenhagen, Coup
Leader Set to Speak, Major
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, December 10 -- In the run up to the Copenhagen climate change conference, Inner City Press on December 4 asked UN climateer Janos Pasztor how many UN system staff, officials and consultants would be traveling to Denmark, with what carbon footprint. Pasztor said it wouldn't be known until the conference began.
On December 10, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky finally answered the question, or part of it. He said that the Copenhagen conference has among its participants 477 people from the UN Secretariat and 309 from 19 specialized agencies and related organizations. That is, 786 people from the UN. But does this include consultants? And what is the carbon footprint and will it be offset?
Nesirky did however answer two questions Inner City Press asked on December 10, after an ill attended noon briefing held at the same time as a media stakeout by U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice. Inner City Press asked if Ban Ki-moon is aware of the request that the coup leader of Madagascar not be allowed to participate in the Copenhagen conference, just as he was barred from speaking before the General Assembly in September.
for Madagascar, it is scheduled to speak on next
Wednesday 16 December, sometime after 6 p.m., so
they seem to have been invited." But what about the
request that, as at the UN General Debate in
September, they be disinvited?
On December 8, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon
Inner City Press: Has Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, has he indicated to you – we’ve heard that you’ve spoken to him weekly by videoconference – he represents the African Union. Is the $10 billion enough? They threatened to walk out if not sufficient funds were committed. What’s you stance on how that issue’s going to play out?
SG: As you know I, together with Prime Minister [Lars Løkke] Rasmussen [of Denmark], have been engaging in weekly videoconferences with major stakeholders on climate change - particularly the representatives of the most vulnerable countries, including the African Union and small island developing countries. We are going to continue to do that, as we did in Trinidad and Tobago. Now the idea of short-term fast-track financial support is supported by developing countries. We had a very in-depth discussion on this issue during our Commonwealth summit meeting in Trinidad and Tobago. As you know the 53-Member State Commonwealth adopted a consensus declaration where this financial support – fast-track support – was agreed by all the Member States, including a provision that 10% of this $10 billion will be provided to small island developing countries.
So the Commonweath agreed -- but has the African Union? Inner City Press asked Ban's top humanitarian John Holmes on December 10, but he said he hadn't been involved in setting the $10 billion figure. So who was?
Inner City Press also asking about the block on participation by Taiwan, which is a major industrial emitter. Nesirky answered only that "Taiwan is not a party to the UNFCCC." But why not? Would the UN want a major source of emission like Taiwan to participate?The answer, of course, in China, a senior diplomat of which told Inner City Press a good joke on Thursday. He noted that U.S.' Susan Rice had been harsh against Iran in that morning's Council meeting. She has to play to the electorate, he said, just as Iran's teetered regime tries to strengthen its power by being ever more hard-line. The Chinese diplomat said, "This is the problem with democracy." And then he laughed.
December 7, 2009
Even as cleanup efforts are still under way for a North Slope oil spill discovered Sunday, BP reported a leak from another pipeline it manages on Wednesday. BP discovered the new spill Wednesday afternoon and reported it to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Officials estimate 7,000 gallons of "produced water" -- water pumped with oil from wells and then separated from crude at processing centers -- are at the leak site. The leaky 6-inch pipeline was inside a manifold building where different pipes come together. BP estimated that about 5,040 gallons remained inside the building while the remaining produced waters spilled out onto the gravel production pad outside... Beyond Petroleum?
November 30, 2009
In Lagos last week, Ngeri Benibo, the director general and chief executive of Nigeria's National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, argued that “Africa should be equitably compensated in the context of environmental justice, for environmental resources, economic and social loses as a result of climate change...the Copenhagen outcome must provide new, additional, sustainable, accessible and predictable finance for climate change programs."
The call for unity comes as the UK and UN got the Commonwealth meeting to endorse the $10 billion proposal, lower than Africa's reported $67 billion figure. Then again, Ms. Benibo's comments were in a speech at the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society / ExxonMobil annual conference. Couldn't find another sponsor?
November 23, 2009
Alcoa said last week that it would suspend operations at two aluminum smelters in Italy, cutting about 2,000 jobs, over concerns that it would no longer receive what it considered affordable electricity rates. A recent ruling by the European Union struck down rate subsidies the Italian government had provided for the smelters, ordering the government to recover its previous aid...
November 16, 2009
In August, five months after the Mozambican government adopted its biofuels policy, two organizations released a study called "Jatropha! A Socio-economic Pitfall for Mozambique." In it, the groups Environmental Justice and the National Union of Peasants question what they say are "myths" propagated by the jatropha industry and government officials. "Almost all of jatropha planted in Mozambique has been on arable land, with fertilisers and pesticides," the report says. "Jatropha is planted in direct replacement of food crops," it adds. "Given that around 87 percent of Mozambicans are subsistence farmers ... major concerns arise when one considers the plan to encourage (them) to plant large amounts of jatropha."
As UN's Ban Admits Copenhagen Deal Unlikely, His Story Is Re-Written
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, November 4 -- For months, the UN and its Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have been calling for a legally binding agreement on climate change to be reached at the Copenhagen meetings in December. When Ban's advisor Jeffrey Sachs on October 6 said this would be unlikely, and Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson to comment, the response was that Sachs spoke only his his personal capacity.
When UN climate negotiator Yvo de Boer later in October was quoted by the Financial Times that a legally binding agreement was unlikely, and Inner City Press asked Ban's climate point man Janos Pasztor about it, Pasztor said that de Boer had been spoken to, and was incompletely quoted by the FT.
Ban was quoted in London that a legally binding
agreement is unlikely, and Inner City Press asked
his spokesperson Michele Montas to comment on this
change of position, she replied "that has already
been said here." Video here, from Minute 20:25.
To some it seemed that comments portraying an
agreement in Copenhagen as unlikely has been
repudiated by Team Ban, and only now adopted. Why
not admit to the change?
Later a senior Ban advisor explained to Inner City Press, a legally binding agreement is now "physically impossible," given the amount of time remaining. But why publicly downplay the change? Inner City Press asked the advisor, and will continue to ask: what does "Seal the Deal" mean now? And who has the SealTheDeal2010 website, now that the 2009 version become of only historical interest? Watch this site.
November 2, 2009
Surreally, in the run up to this week's NJ governor election with its high profile endorsement, efforts to deepen the Delaware River's main channel would face a lawsuit if the Army Corps of Engineers begins the work without permits, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) said Monday. The Corps said last week that it would go ahead with its $300 million project, which has not yet received permits from Delaware.
October 26, 2009
China has started to evict 330,000 people to make way for a project to divert water from the south of the country to the north. The central route, which is scheduled for completion sometime in 2014, is supposed to supply about a quarter of Beijing's water. Critics argue that the water diversion will be harmful to the environment...
October 19, 2009
When even UN advisor Jeffery Sachs says a deal is unlikely at Copenhagen, there's little chance. Inner City Press has pursued whether Sachs spoke on behalf of or with the knowledge of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. No, it appears.
October 12, 2009
The UK's BP and the China National Petroleum Corp.have signed an initial agreement with Iraq to develop Rumaila, Iraq's largest producing oil field. According to the deal, which could lead to $15 billion in investment, BP will hold a 38 percent stake in the venture, with CNPC and the Iraq government holding 37 percent and 25 percent, respectively
October 5, 2009
In China, more than 100 children in Fujian province have suffered lead poisoning as a result of pollution from a nearby battery plant. Blood samples of children younger than 14 taken last week revealed 121 of 287 had excessive lead levels, officials announced. Local authorities have closed the local Huaqiang Battery Factory and promised to treat the poisoned children and provide them with extra nutrition
September 28, 2009
In Utah, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has taken a coal mine off of its special watch list. The Horizon mine had faced scrutiny for the number of roof falls and safety violations it had wracked up. The mine's present operator, American West Resources Inc., has retreated from the problematic mine section, abandoning 300,000 tons of coal. For now...
The Italian oil firm Eni SpA has decided against trying to take over Tullow Oil PLC, a British firm that has rich oil-development prospects in Uganda and Ghana. Tullow, which saw its value jump this week after it announced two additional finds in Africa, opposed the bid...
September 21, 2009
In Uganda, Tullow Oil PLC last week said it has made the largest oil find yet in the Lake Albert area of Uganda, a region where it has already found more than 700 million barrels of oil equivalent. The find could prompt bids for the company. Italian energy firm Eni SpA is one potential bidder...
September 14, 2009
New tests have confirmed extremely high levels of dioxin, a toxic ingredient used in the military defoliant Agent Orange, at the site of a former U.S. air base in Vietnam. The site, where Danang Airport now sits, shows dioxin levels in the soil, sediment and fish at 300 to 400 times higher than international safety standards.
September 7, 2009
The EPA is being asked to stay implementation of its rule changing the definition of solid waste (DSW) until the agency finishes the review of how the regulation would impact lower-income and minority communities. The concern is that companies with previously dubious environmental practices are taking advantage of regulatory exemptions in the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) rule...
August 31, 2009
In Michigan, a huge fire tore through a subsidiary of Sterling Oil & Gas, closing down rail service between Detroit and Pontiac. The fire sent black smoke hundreds of feet into the air. U.S. EPA says that it is monitoring the fire's residue, but that it expects it should cause no health risks. Oh really?
August 24, 2009
In California, the operator of the cargo ship that caused a 2007 oil spill in the San Francisco Bay has pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to pay a $10 million fine. The Hong Kong-based company, Fleet Management Ltd., pleaded guilty to charges of obstruction, making false statements and negligent discharge of oil. The deal must still be approved by a federal judge. It shouldn't be...
August 17, 2009
Exxon Mobil had pled guilty to killing at least 85 protected birds in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming between 2004 and 2009 by exposure to natural gas well reserve pits and waste water storage facilities drilling and production facilities
August 10, 2009
In the U.S. Senate last week, Gary Guzy was asked how Browner and Mary Nichols, the head of the California Air Resources Board, decided to keep their discussions as quiet as possible during the run-up to new national auto standards proposed in May, holding no group meetings and taking care to not leak updates to the press -- what ever happened to transparency?
August 3, 2009
USEC won't withdraw a $2 billion loan-guarantee application for building a commercial nuclear-fuel enrichment plant, despite the Energy Department's request that it do so, the company announced last week. The Bethesda, Md.-based company said it is proceeding with the application to fund construction of the American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio, because the proposal meets "the financial and technical requirements of the department's loan guarantee program as well as numerous Obama administration policy objectives," USEC said...
July 27, 2009
China's CNOOC and Sinopec have agreed to buy a 20% stake in an oil field off the coast of Angola for $1.3 billion, the latest in a series of Chinese acquisitions of overseas energy and mining assets. The companies would split ownership of the resources in an area known as block 32, which has already yielded 12 discoveries ...
July 20, 2009
JPMorgan Chase has a Community Reinvestment Act duty in West Virginia and Kentucky, for example, and in neighboring states. Meanwhile, Chase is funding 6 out of the top 8 corporate producers of MTR coal in Appalachia. (Massey, International Coal Group, Arch Coal, Consol Energy, TECO and Foundation Coal.), per RAN. Chase was a co-lead arranger and underwriter for more than $1 billion in new financing to Massey Energy less than 12 months ago. Massey Energy is the biggest and most controversial MTR mining company in Appalachia, and is responsible for nearly 20% of all MTR coal mined. Others have stopped funding it -- why not Chase?
July 13, 2009
In Delaware, the federal government fined Sunoco more than $200,000 this week, citing multiple health and safety violations at the company's refinery near Wilmington. Sunoco did not provide employees with proper protective equipment and did not maintain diagrams that accurately reflect the refinery's piping structure, according to OSHA...
July 6, 2009
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will aim toward climate legislation with a hearing July 7 including three top Obama administration officials. U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are slated to testify at the hearing. The Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved a broad energy bill last month, while Majority Leader Harry Reid has given other committees with jurisdiction expected to weigh in -- Agriculture, Commerce, Finance and Foreign Relations -- until Sept. 18 to produce their additions to the package. The Senate hearing follows the House's passage of a climate and energy bill last week. The 219-212 House vote shifts the battle to the Senate, where assembling the 60-vote coalition needed to pass a climate bill is expected to be as tough as securing House passage, if not harder.
June 29, 2009
In California, The company that operated a container ship that rammed into the Bay Bridge in 2007 and released 53,000 gallons of fuel oil was denied its request yesterday to limit its fine to $400,000 on criminal charges of polluting San Francisco Bay. Fleet Management Ltd., which operated the 901-foot-long Cosco Busan during the Nov. 7, 2007 spill, offered to plead guilty to two misdemeanors last month, but U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said federal prosecutors are entitled to file amended charges that could carry fines of $40 million...
June 21, 2009
Will the Obama administration release the locations of 44 coal-ash disposal sites deemed national security risks? The information has been requested under FOIA from the U.S. EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Homeland Security requesting a list of coal-ash dumps designated "high hazard," meaning they could threaten human life if their barriers fail. Questions about health and environmental risks posed by ash impoundments arose following the collapse of an impoundment at a Tennessee Valley Authority power plant last December. EPA collected information about impoundments from power companies that operate ash sites, but was urged by Homeland Security and the Army Corps not to make public the locations of those dumps. The requests argue that people who live near these sites have a right to know about their potential hazards, noting that locations of nuclear, Superfund and other hazardous sites are public knowledge. Is there a "we are embarrassed" exception?
June 15, 2009
In Kentucky, an agreement to allow 50 additional state counties and 20 more in Indiana at the the Outer Loop Landfill was discarded because it violated the state's open meeting law. Seven months ago, the chairwoman of the Louisville/Jefferson County Waster Management District board mailed the agreement to board members, asking for their approval. But it had to be done in public...
In California, two waste management companies, American Metal and Iron Inc. and California Waste Solutions are being fined by U.S. EPA for violating the Clean Water Act. Waste Solutions is in violation of sending trash and other pollutants from three of its locations in Oakland and San Jose into nearby waterways from 2002 to 2007, agency officials said. American Metal and Iron is in violation of sending polluted storm water discharges from two of its San Jose sites into Coyote Creek. The companies combined will pay a mere $306,000 in fines...
May 18, 2009
In China, more than 160 are in the hospitals and hundreds more are sickened by air pollution suspected to have come from a chemical plant in the country's northeast. Staff at the plant and residents living near the Jilin Chemical Fibre Group facility complained of headache, nausea, vomiting and general fatigue in late April. Air tests by authorities have not been able to identify what could be causing the illnesses
May 11, 2009
Asking, asking: The federal government is being asked to investigate whether scores of Crestwood residents are suffering any diseases or illnesses after drinking the village's tainted water for decades. Durbin sent a letter this week to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asking it to at least try to answer the difficult question of whether illnesses could be linked to the tainted water. There appears to be very little information available to guide such a review...
Chevron is being asked to be more transparent with shareholders about the company's potential liability in a $27 billion environmental damages case in Ecuador. Texaco, which Chevron acquired in 2001, is accused of dumping toxic wastewater from drilling operations into unlined pits in Ecuador, causing widespread environmental damage and alleged cancer deaths. Chevron is fighting the lawsuit filed on behalf of tens of thousands of Ecuadorian villagers in the Amazon
May 4, 2009
In Oklahoma, Freeport-McMoRan and Phelps Dodge are defendants in a zinc smelter pollutions class action case returned last week to state court... Meanwhile on the other side of the world, Chevron is under fire in Western Australia for gas flares...
April 27, 2009
a federal judge gave residents living near two
chemical companies the opportunity to "opt out" of a proposed
foul odors from the Louisville plants they say have degraded their properties. U.S. District Court Judge John G. Heyburn II's decision
extends the deadline to May 15 to ensure there has been adequate public notice about the settlements, which total an estimated $800,000
in joint scholarships but restrict participants' right to make legal claims against companies Rohm and Haas and DuPont...
Saudi petrochemicals maker Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the largest listed company in the Middle East, reported a first-quarter loss of $260 million, its first quarterly loss since 2001 -- which was the year when...
April 20, 2009
Defense lawyers in the W.R. Grace & Co. asbestos trial last week urged the judge to order federal agents to produce their pretrial communications with government witnesses and accused prosecutors of intentionally presenting false testimony and withholding evidence. Grace and five former managers are standing trial over allegations that the company and executives knowingly exposed Libby to a particularly lethal form of asbestos... Click here for Inner City Press' story last week about asbestos at the UN...
The Nigerian government has fined Shell $6,800 for its refusal to clean up its September 2008 oil spill in a timely matter. The oil company has also been ordered to pay damages to landowners adjacent to the spill. Civil unrest, vandalism and sabotage have lowered Nigeria's total crude production to 1.78 million barrels per day, down from 2.6 million barrels in 2006
April 13, 2009
In New Mexico, Espanola Mayor Joseph Maestas and a group of business owners plan to oppose a federal agency they see as the only obstacle to a multi-million dollar reconstruction project on Paseo de Onate. Maestas said Tuesday he plans to file an environmental justice complaint against the Federal Highway Administration’s New Mexico Division for allegedly discriminating against Espanola while favoring projects elsewhere. “We’re ready to go, but we have a federal agency that is obstructing the process,” said Maestas, a former Administration engineer. Under this administration?
April 6, 2009
The U.S. Department of Justice is accepting public comments until April 25 on the proposed $52 million settlement agreement with Asarco for cleanup of its El Paso copper smelter site. The proposed settlement agreement can be found online at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/1043.htm
Separately, the Texas attorney general's office is accepting public comments on the proposed agreement until May 3.
March 30, 2009 -- annals of environmental
justice: the president of the Sierra Club wrote in the New
York Times, March 26, that "We
offer at-risk young people in the Bronx their first wilderness
experience." No, we have some wilderness right here in The
March 23, 2009
Consider American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO), which filed for bankruptcy in 2005. ASARCO faces some $7.9 billion in environmental claims. ASARCO offered to submit payments for only $1.1 billion for toxic cleanups. Who would pay for the rest? What ever happened to Superfund?
March 16, 2009
We hear that the Ecuadorian government has closed Accion Ecologica in "retaliation against Accion Ecologica's opposition to mining, an activity eagerly promoted by President Rafael Correa's government." Hmm...
While Detroiters fight to close down the garbage incinerator run by the Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Authority, some argue that it must remain open and receiving the city's waste, due to the one-sided contract with NJ-based Covanta Energy and Boston's Energy Investors Funds. Yes, we can call this contract a suicide pact...March 9, 2009
As UN Covers For Obama Climate Backslide, It Does Not Carbon Offset, "Act Not Together"
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, March 6 -- As the UN provides groundcover for the Obama administration's retreat from its climate change rhetoric during the electoral campaign, the UN "doesn't have its act together" on even offsetting the impacts of travel by its Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other high officials, the UN's Yvo de Boer told the Press on Friday.
Mr. de Boer held a press conference to announce positive movement on climate change in Congress, at least in the House of Representatives. Inner City Press asked if he and UN agree with the Denmark's Minister of Climate and Energy Conniee Hedegaard, who has said if the U.S. doesn't pass cap and trade legislation in 2009, it will be a step backwards. De Boer responded that Rep. Markey (Dem-MA) told him legislation should emerge from his House committee in May. The Senate, de Boer said, is more complicated. That's an understatement.
Inner City Press asked if he agreed that Obama's climate negotiator Todd Sterns statement that any 25% reduction in emissions by the U.S. by 2020 is unrealistic is a "diss" of the UN's IPCC. De Boer said he agreed with Stern -- de Boer subtly moved the goal post being dissed to 40% -- but said that perhaps the U.S. could invest money in deforestation projects as a way to show seriousness.
On that, Inner City Press asked de Boer whether he, Ban Ki-moon and the UN are offsetting the carbon emission of their travel. De Boer admitted that they are not, saying that they are trying to come up with a methodology but "we don't have our act together yet." Video here, from Minute 49:22.
This seems the least one could expect from a
Secretary-General who speaks so much about climate change. A
senior Ban advisor, speaking on condition of anonymity, told
Inner City Press that the Ban administration thinks that
carbon offsetting is hype. Why not say that publicly, then?
Inner City Press asked asked de Boer about a leaked
draft of European finance ministers, that industry and not
government should foot the bill of helping the developing
world reduce its emissions. Governments print money, de Boer
quipped, but they don't make it. One way or another, the
taxpayer is on the hook. It's what the banks are saying,
too. Some view it as competing ransom notes.
De Boer was asked about the climate "mini-summit" with Obama that the Ban Administration had leaked and then undercut, when they thought Obama would not come. De Boer said that climate and summits will be on Ban's agenda in Washington next week. We will continue to follow these issues.
fairness to Ban Ki-moon, Inner City Press asked the
spokesman for President of the General Assembly Miguel
d'Escoto Brockmann, before his recent trip through Iran,
Syria and Geneva, if he would be carbon offsetting. Ask the
PGA, the spokesman said.
next day, when d'Escoto took questions in front of the
Trusteeship Council, Inner City Press was asked to not
repeat the question, an answer would be forthcoming. Then
none was received, despite Inner
City Press providing its previous coverage of UN
offsetting -- in the case of one conference -- and not
It's like Ban's demotion of Tanzanian Anna Tibaijuku from the UN's top post in Nairobi, during women and gender week: practice what you preach. We'll see.
Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate
March 2, 2009
Off the coast of New Jersey, there are proposals for three port storage and regasification (conversion of liquid back to gas) facilities for imported liquefied natural gas (LNG), including the "Atlantic Sea Island Group (ASIG) proposal that envisions building the world's first man-made opensea island, located 19.5 miles from Sea Bright and 13 miles from Long Beach, N.Y. A group of investors proposes to build a 116-acre LNG terminal and industrial complex for a project known as Safe Harbor Energy. Next is Excalibur Energy, a new conglomerate of Canadian Superior Energy and Global LNG, a Delaware company, is promoting the Liberty Natural Gas project, which would consist of four submerged turret buoys and 50 miles of new pipeline to be built 15 miles off Asbury Park. And there's ExxonMobil's BlueOcean Energy project, which proposes a LNG floating terminal with storage and regasification facilities. It is slated for 20 miles off Manasquan...
February 23, 2009
In March 2005 in Texas City, Texas, BP killed 15 people and injured more than 170. Last week, BP paid a $180 million fine. "We are pleased to have achieved this settlement and will work to continue reducing emissions and to ensure regulatory compliance at Texas City," BP's spokesman said-in-a-statement...
One of the 10,000 students heading to Washington for Power Shift '09 said was quoted that, "We need to make this movement more than just Whole Foods and Toyota Priuses." Yeah -- how about targeting corporate wrongdoers?
February 16, 2009
We note "Palm Beach County Judge Laura Johnson, who ruled last week that environmental activists Lynne Purvis and Panagioti Tsolkas would spend 30 and 60 days, respectively, in jail. Their crime? Organizing a February protest that blocked the entrance to Palm Beach Aggregates — soon to be the site of the West County Energy Center. The natural gas-fueled power plant will one day have three 1,250-megawatt units, enough juice to power three-quarters of a million homes and businesses. It will require massive amounts of natural gas for burning and water for cooling." Some justice....
Faith in action: The country’s environmental movement in Honduras has significantly slowed deforestation in one section of the country, but an activist priest says he will keep up the pressure against commercial logging. "We have neutralized the enemy," said Father Jose Andres Tamayo, the parish priest in this ramshackle town in Olancho, a once heavily-forested central department of Honduras. “We haven’t won everything we wanted, but we’ve achieved a greater level of awareness and changed the mentality of people in the government offices where decisions are made,” he told Catholic News Service. “In this region we’ve stopped 80 per cent of the illegal logging.” Hear, hear...
February 9, 2009
American International Group has withdrawn its membership from the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, the company said Friday. AIG still stands to gain from the creation of a potential multi-trillion dollar market in insuring climate change policies that could range from protection for potential weather-related incidents to liability for carbon dioxide storage leakage.
In West Virginia, Patriot Coal Corp. will pay $6.5 million in fines to settle hundreds of water pollution violations at mining operations across the state. citizen groups likely will seek to intervene and oppose the government's deal with Patriot, saying it's not clear how much damage was done by Patriot's violations, and therefore impossible for the government to know if the fines are adequate.
February 2, 2009
In Nevada, Native American tribes vowed to charge forward with their efforts to stall the expansion of a gold mine on federal land in Nevada despite the fact that a federal judge denied an injunction this week. U.S. District Judge for the Nevada District Larry Hicks this week said there was not enough evidence to force Barrick Gold Corp. to stop digging its 900-acre, 2,000-foot-deep open-pit gold mine at its Cortez Hills site on Mount Tenabo in Lander County, Nev...
In Australia, "uncertainty over the future of the Gunns pulp mill in Tasmania has again weighed down the forester's share price. The Environment Minister Peter Garrett has suggested the company may have misled the stock exchange by yesterday saying the mill's technology would meet approval requirements... After sitting in the red for most of the day Rio Tinto shares surged in late trade to close more than five per cent higher. But it has little option other than to go ahead with a carve-up in order to keep its promise to pay off $AU15-billion of debt this year.
Today it announced it's sold some of its South American operations to Brazilian iron ore giant Vale for $US1.6-billion or about $AU2.5-billion. And another miner with debt issues, OZ Minerals, is selling its eight per cent stake in zinc producer Nyrstar at a loss for $33-million.
OZ Minerals has until late February to refinance about $AU870-million in debt, and today it confirmed it's prepared to sell all of its flagship prominent hill mine in South Australia. BHP Billiton is seen as a likely buyer."January 26, 2009
January 19, 2009
The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a proposal last week to build a natural gas terminal on the site of the former Sparrows Point shipyard in eastern Baltimore County, and an 88-mile pipeline to Pennsylvania. The five-member FERC panel voted 4-1 without discussion to approve the request from Virginia-based AES Corp. The pipeline is to run through Baltimore, Harford and Cecil counties on its way to southern Pennsylvania. AES Corp., which declined to comment yesterday, has 30 days to accept the commission's conditions and 90 days to submit implementation plans. Other parties to the case have 30 days to appeal the decision. Fight fight fight.
January 12, 2009
NY State governor Patterson has a new plan of which his supporter say, "In New York City there's a much stronger emphasis on environmental justice and access to parks, which ties into the governor's proposal to have more healthy, outdoor exercise accessible to children." We'll see...
January 5, 2009
While a press release promotes "the NYC Community Air Survey [a]s an initiative of Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC, which aims to... Reforest targeted areas of our parkland," parkland in The Bronx was given away and eliminated for the new Yankee Stadium. Oh but "air samples will be analyzed for fine particles (PM2.5), nitrogen oxides (NOx), elemental carbon (EC), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and ozone (O3)." Hot air...
December 29, 2008
So HBOS is said to be cutting off Oz Minerals, not extending loans, the extractive party is over... and in New York, the Parks Department has closed Harlem's Thomas Jefferson Park due to elevated levels of lead...
December 22, 2008
Wisconsin Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner on December 18 offered to give his take on the status of the negotiations after spending a full week at the Poznan climate conference for meetings with foreign diplomats, industry officials and former Vice President Al Gore. Obama did not send his own team to the U.N. meeting, but instead asked members of Congress and staff attending the negotiations to brief him when they got back. Several U.S. lawmakers signed up for the trip to Poland, but only Sensenbrenner and Sen. John Kerry actually crossed the Atlantic for the negotiations. On December 15, Obama said he had spoken with Kerry, the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, about the Poznan negotiations. But a Sensenbrenner spokesman said today that no such conversation has taken place between the Republican congressman and the president-elect. Meeting with reporters last week in Poland, Sensenbrenner predicted that because of the economic implications of cap-and-trade legislation, Democrats would lose their House and Senate majorities in the 2010 elections if they pursue votes on such a bill.
In his letter to Obama, Sensenbrenner said he was "deeply concerned" about the shape of the U.N. climate negotiations after hearing from Chinese and Indian diplomats who explained that they would not accept legally binding emission reductions in a new international global warming agreement.
Sensenbrenner cautioned Obama that the U.S. Senate rejected the 1997 Kyoto Protocol because developing countries took a similar position more than a decade ago. "The current negotiations seem to be leading toward a similarly flawed outcome," he wrote. At the U.N. negotiations, representatives from several emerging economies did outline new domestic emission reduction strategies that show a willingness to go much further than they did during the Kyoto negotiations. Brazil, for example, said it would set a target to reduce deforestation 70 percent over the next decade. Mexico said it would establish a cap-and-trade program aimed at curbing its midcentury emissions by 50 percent compared with 2002 levels.
China, South Africa and South Korea also drew praise for their domestic climate plans. And U.N. climate meetings over the next year are aimed at figuring out exactly how to actually measure, report and verify the global warming policies of developing countries -- with the outcomes included when the talks conclude in December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. "They're not saying what we heard a few years ago, which is we won't take action," said the head of the international policy office at the Natural Resources Defense Council. He said there was good reason for Obama to sit down with the Republican congressman to talk about climate change. "Given the bipartisan spirit Barack Obama has pledged going forward, it'd be useful to hear both sides of the perspective," Schmidt said. "It'd give Obama a chance to compare notes." An Obama spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.
December 15, 2008
In Texas, a Dallas program that seeks to improve local air quality by offering up to $3,000 in subsidies to low-income residents to replace old vehicles with new ones is struggling as applications have dropped 40 percent amid economic turmoil. Participation in a similar program in Houston is down about 55 percent. Old cars and trucks emit up to 30 times more pollution than new vehicles...
In Ukraine, President Viktor Yushchenko said his country will pay in full for any natural gas it imports and that any Russian supplies will flow unmolested through his country's borders. The statements came hours after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Ukraine has not fully paid its electricity bills and said the West had no grounds to demand Russia sell gas to Ukraine at subsidized prices...
December 8, 2008
Falling uranium prices forced Toronto-based Denison Mines Corp. to shut down the Tony M mine in southern Utah last week, but the company will open another Utah mine, the Beaver Shaft mine, that has higher grades of uranium and deposits of vanadium, which is used in steel alloys. Uranium yellowcake hit a high of $136 a pound last year, then dropped to $44 a few weeks ago...
Meanwhile in Virginia, a state commission will study whether 60,000 tons of uranium can be safely mined in the rural south-central region despite opposition from the General Assembly. The Coal and Energy Commission can review the possible effects mining would have on the air, land and drinking water resources, but it does not have the power to lift a 25-year-old ban on uranium mining, which the General Assembly enacted shortly after the deposits were discovered. Supporters of the study say Virginia needs to expand its search for alternative energy sources, but opponents from the area where the uranium was discovered and environmental groups say mines put the drinking water and other natural resources at risk of contamination
China National Petroleum Corp., the parent of Asia's biggest oil producer PetroChina Co., has made six major oil and gas discoveries this year and may hit a record for a third year, the company said on its Web site. It is stepping up efforts on fuel searches to meet rising domestic demand for energy and will maintain a "stable" increase in crude production and a "rapid" gain in gas output next year, the statement said...
December 1, 2008
For a grassroots debate in Cincinnati this week, "environmental Justice is about keeping already polluted neighborhoods from having to accept more polluting neighbors – usually industry, not a family of 12 or more. The myth that jobs will be lost and businesses will choose other locations (taking their precious tax dollars with them) is one of several objections used to support placing polluting companies in 'overburdened' areas."Globally, HSBC client companies' violations include... client companies embroiled in conflicts over lands and forests with the Penan communities in Sarawak regarding the establishment of oil palm plantations on community lands
.. long standing conflicts between client companies and communities in North Sumatra which have led to the imprisonment of villagers and restrictions being placed on people’s movements, which have in turn prevented children from getting to school and villagers from going to market or their farmland
.. the takeover of community lands in West Kalimantan undermining community food security
.. repeated allegations that client companies in several parts of Indonesia are clearing forests and areas of high conservation value.
Nearly all of the 17 business groups which are HSBC’s clients have announced plans to expand their palm oil operations. Unless their practices change, these operations will inevitably destroy more forest, wildlife and peoples’ homes. Yep, that's HSBC..
November 24, 2008
On Climate, UN Lobbies Itself, On Migration It Tells the Poor to Go Home
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, November 20
-- That women are impacted by climate change, and that global
warming talks in Poznan should take notice, are hardly
controversial positions. But Thursday at the UN a strange
grouping held a briefing on this issue. Ostensibly a "civil
society" organization, the "Global Gender and Climate
Alliance," said they will try in Poznan "to ensure that
climate change funds target women and men equally."
the founders of this Alliance are UN agencies, the UN
Development Program and the UN Environment Fund. Inner City
Press asked if this doesn't constitute the UN lobbying itself,
the UN taking up the space where independent civil society
should be. Video here,
"under construction" (at time of press conference) GGCA web
November 17, 2008
In Indiana, a a 79-year-old Vigo County woman is suing Pfizer, claiming her property was contaminated by PCBs when a breached wastewater lagoon at a Pfizer plant flooded the property after heavy rains in June. The woman is seeking temporary housing, and the lawsuit claims that Pfizer was negligent in maintaining the lagoon's dam, and also seeks environmental legal action against the company...
In Vietnam, the environment minister admitted the fines for industrial polluters were too low to deter them from fouling the environment and proposed raising the penalties for every breach of regulation from 70 million dong ($4,100) to 500 million dong ($29,800). There were a series of pollution scandals in which companies from Taiwan and other nations were caught pumping toxic waste into rivers. The government was aware of 4,000 factories that were heavily polluting the air and water, but the environmental agency in Vietnam lacked the resources to staff them and efficiently crack down on the corruption...
November 10, 2008
The Maryland Public Service Commission approved plans proposed by a subsidiary of Clipper Windpower last week for 28 turbines on 3,000 acres of Backbone Mountain, and the company hopes to start construction next year. The project would cost more than $120 million, and a representative for the company said that given the credit crisis, they still face many challenges...
In the UK, car sales fell for the sixth consecutive month, dropping 23 percent in October as consumers hesitated to make big purchases while the U.K.'s economy headed toward a recession. The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders lowered its 2008 sales forecast 4.9 percent, to 2.15 million vehicles, and is also calling for lower interest rates and cuts in vehicle taxes. Sales are also falling in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, which also lowered its vehicle sales predictions...
As per the WashPost, another down side of ethanol: Alexandria, Va., is one example of a town caught off guard by ethanol transport through its boundaries. A company working with Norfolk Southern Corp. railroad started unloading ethanol in the densely populated Washington, D.C., suburb in April, but it was more than a month later that Alexandria firefighters obtained the key tools they needed to extinguish ethanol fires, which cannot be put out with typical foams. Emergency preparation evacuations at an elementary school across from the loading operation did not begin until this month.
Officials are looking to shut down or restrict the ethanol transfer operation, saying it is potentially dangerous and a slap at city residents. The Alexandria ethanol controversy has also spurred a congressional scrutiny of rail laws. Long-established laws give railroads broad powers to move freight across state lines, including the authority to unload and load what they want with little or no deference to local officials in most cases. Top Alexandria officials, including the mayor, met with Norfolk Southern executives about the operation starting in 2006, but they did not notify residents or discuss it publicly, mistakenly assuming that Norfolk Southern would be required to apply for city approval before opening.
Now, Alexandria officials have taken their concerns to federal regulators, who have yet to issue a ruling. The two sides are also in court. Ethanol transfer accidents have been serious. A 2006 derailment of 23 Norfolk Southern tank cars in New Brighton, Pa., sparked a fire that burned for 48 hours and forced a seven-block evacuation...
In Peru, a mining mess could contaminate ponds that provide drinking water to Lima. The metals company, Gold Hawk Resources of Canada, stopped production at its processing plant for its Coricancha mine in May as a preventative measure, and the government issued an emergency decree in July that helped stop farmers from irrigating crops on the hills above the tailing site to prevent the water from pressuring the walls of the ponds, which contain toxic chemicals. But the rainy season is approaching, and the government is bracing for a potential disaster...
October 27, 2008
In Pennsylvania, Penn Ridge Coal LLC and Allegheny Pittsburgh Coal Co. are suing Blaine, claiming that ordinances that protect the community from long-wall mining violate their right to do business. The ordinance prohibits corporations that have more than three violations against it in the past 20 years from doing business in the township, and companies claim that is an "anti-corporation law." No, we call it wise...
In Ivory Coast, a court jailed two men for dumping toxic waste from a ship chartered by an international oil trader at open sites around the commercial capital Abidjan. The spill killed 17 people and sickened thousands. Nigerian Salomon Ugborugbo, director of the local Tommy company that had used trucks to distribute the waste, was charged with poisoning and given a 20-year sentence, while Ivorian shipping agent Desire Kouao got a five-year sentence for complicity. But what about the bigger fish?
October 20, 2008
In Columbus, Ohio, Georgia-Pacific sued to force AIG, its insurer, to cover part of the $22 million settlement it paid to South Side residents when one of its resin plants exploded in 1997. Georgia Pacific paid $22 million to residents in 2001, but AIG refused to reimburse the company for its losses...
In Rhode Island, a Texas-based gas company is guilty of illegally storing liquid mercury without a permit, a jury decided this week. The mercury was removed from home gas regulators, and Southern Union was guilty of storing the containers inside an abandoned home in Pawtucket instead of shipping it out. The company faces a maximum fine of $38 million...
Than Shwe versus nature, too: skins, teeth, claws and bones of 1,200 protected species, including 107 endangered tigers and cats, are being sold in Myanmar's markets...
October 13, 2008
Fund diversion averted: the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has agreed to pay $1 million to track air pollution and screen children for illnesses in south Phoenix after an outcry over a plan to use the money to fight global warming. The money came from a $6 million fine levied against a Honeywell plant for discharging harmful solvents and jet fuel into soil and the sewer system...
Alabama-based Drummond Co. has claimed a 2.3-trillion cubic foot natural gas field that the company says could supply 10 percent of the annual U.S. usage. The field is near the company's vast coal fields in northeastern Colombia...
October 6, 2008
Native rights organizations and environmental justice groups are calling on the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee and other Congressional Committees to conduct hearings concerning federal land management practices that threaten or destroy Tribal sacred lands.
At UN, Green Funding Is Blood Oil Money As Questions Are Excluded
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, September 24 -- When climate change is discuss in the UN, there is more than a little hot air. Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg appeared alongside Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on September 24, to announce $35 million in funding to the new UN Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program, known by the catchy acronym REDD. As one correspondent noted, REDD in Norwegian means fear. Inner City Press asked about Norway's controversial $10 billion Arctic liquefied natural gas facility near Snoehvit, which will increase carbon emission levels. Video here.In response, Stoltenberg acknowledged that Norway's green philanthropy is an attempt to make up for the country's still rising level of green house gas emissions. That sure wasn't in the UN's press release.
September 22, 2008
In St. Paul, Virginia 11 protesters were arrested in what they called "an action that successfully demonstrated to Dominion that there are a lot of people in the community that are having strong opposition to the power plant and to mountaintop removal mining and to what Dominion is trying to do to Southwest Virginia." Hear, hear.
September 15, 2008
A Kentucky environmental group sued the Clintwood Elkhorn Mining Co. for dumping mining waste into an Appalachian stream valley without a permit. The company acknowledged the dumping and called it an "isolated incident."
And that makes it okay?
In Norway, as high gas prices increase incentives, the country's oil and gas industry will boost investments to $22.9 billion in 2009 to increase exploration for new reserves, the state statistics office said. Costs for companies such as StatoilHydro ASA Click for Enhanced Coverage Linking Searchesand Det Norske Oljeselskap ASA have also climbed as a worldwide expansion in exploration drives up demand and prices for drilling rigs and engineers...
September 8, 2008
In West Virginia, the head of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board said the agency's investigation into last week's deadly explosion at the Bayer CropScience plant could take about a year. The explosion occurred in the methomyl section of the plant and involved a new 4,000-gallon tank in the plant's southwestern corner. Bayer makes the pesticide methomyl in the plant and uses it to make Larvin, an insecticide used to kill pests on cotton, corn and other vegetables...
Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev led the groundbreaking ceremony yesterday for a $5.8 billion new nuclear plant near the northern town of Belene, following the partial closure of the country's single nuclear facility. Building work on the first of the plant's two reactors was expected to be completed in 2013, and work on the second reactor was to be operational in 2014...
September 1, 2008
Why on September 11?
Pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), Public Law 92-463, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hereby provides notice that the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) will convene a meeting on the date and time described below. All meetings are open to the public. Members of the public are encouraged to provide comments relevant to the specific issues being considered by the NEJAC. For additional information about registering for public comment, please see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.
DATES: The NEJAC will convene an open meeting via teleconference call on Thursday, September 11, 2008, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. (all times noted are Eastern Time). Due to limited telephone lines, all members of the public who wish to attend the teleconference meeting or to provide public comment must register in advance, no later than Monday, September 8, 2008.
ADDRESSES: Because this meeting will be held via teleconference call, there is no physical location where members of the public can listen in. To attend, you must register in advance. See FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section below.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Pre-registration for all attendees is required. Because this meeting is conducted via teleconference call, online registrations will not be accepted. Rather, requests should be sent to Ms. Julianne Pardi of ICF International at: 33 Hayden Avenue, 3rd Floor, Lexington, MA 02421; Telephone: (781) 676-4010; E-mail: email@example.com, or FAX: (781) 676-4005. Please provide name, organization, and telephone number for follow-up as necessary.
Correspondence concerning the
meeting should be sent to Ms. Victoria Robinson, NEJAC Program
Manager, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, at 1200
Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., (MC2201A), Washington, DC 20460; via
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by telephone at
(202) 564-6349; or by FAX at (202) 564-1624. Additional
information about the meeting is available at the Internet Web
again, why on September 11?
August 25, 2008
In Alaska, Canadian mining firm Ucore Uranium Inc. will spend $4 million this year to conduct exploratory drilling for uranium and other precious metals on the Prince of Wales Island, where the state's only producing uranium mine was in operation from 1957 to 1971...
China National Petroleum Corp. said it has discovered oil and natural gas in two blocks in Kazakhstan. Chinese oil companies have boosted investment in domestic and overseas fields recently to help meet domestic demand in the world's fastest-growing major economy. China National's subsidiary, PetroKazakhstan Inc., made the discoveries, which yielded as much as 203.2 cubic meters (1,278 barrels) of oil per day and 173,100 cubic meters (6.11 million cubic feet) of natural gas per day. China National acquired PetroKazakhstan in 2005 for $4.18 billion in the country's biggest energy takeover...
August 18, 2008
The Ecuadorian government has agreed to mediate a settlement between Chevron Corp. and 30,000 Amazon residents suing the company for up to $16 billion in environmental damages. The jungle dwellers are suing the U.S. oil company over charges it polluted the jungle and damaged their health by dumping 18 billion gallons of oil-laden water between 1997 and 1992. Neither party has ruled out a settlement, but experts say a deal is unlikely...
In Arizona, Honeywell International directed $1 million of its environmental justice settlement for polluting Phoenix to... the Western Governors Association. The settlement, which still must be approved by the courts, states that the money will be earmarked for the governors' use as part of the Western Climate Initiative efforts to "develop regional strategies for addressing climate change." ADEQ Director Steve Owens claims, "This grew out of Honeywell's own interest in doing something to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions."
August 11, 2008
Some Alaska lawmakers considered rescinding approval for an exclusive TransCanada license to build a gas pipeline after the company's chief executive remarked to a newspaper, "Nothing goes ahead until Exxon is happy with it." TransCanada Chief Executive Hal Kvisle sought to reassure legislators that the comment was neither meant as a slight against Exxon Mobil nor an indication that the gas company would have veto power over the project, a 1,715-mile line that would run from the North Slope to Alberta...
Norway's Petroleum Directorate said it had completed a seismic scan of Arctic waters near the Lofoten Islands, which industry would like to see opened for oil and gas exploration and environmental groups say should not be disturbed. The state is refusing to publish the survey...
August 4, 2008
In Kentucky, U.S. military officials last Tuesday confirmed that "trace" amounts of mustard gas, a deadly nerve agent, had leaked from a weapons stockpile in Richmond...
The Bulgarian The environment ministry has granted a permit to a Canadian company to expand Europe's largest gold mine. Dundee Precious Metals Inc. has agreed to pay Bulgaria a higher annual fee and to allow the country to take a 25-percent stake in a planned gold- and copper-processing plant...
July 28, 2008
Resources, resources, and extractive industries -- Canadian mining company Minco Silver Corp. has agreed to pay $62.3 million for Sterling Mining Co., which has had financial problems that would have required it to unload assets if it did not find a partner. In 2003, Sterling bought the Sunshine silver mine, which has produced about 360 million ounces of silver since it opened in 1884...
Vietnam wants to continue pursuing a joint oil-exploration project with Exxon Mobil Corp. in disputed waters despite warnings from China to drop the deal. The exploration would occur in parts of the South China Sea that both Vietnam and China have laid claim to...
July 21, 2008
In North Carolina, there is a suit in federal court to stop a proposed Duke Energy Corp. Click for Enhanced Coverage Linking Searchespower plant in Cliffside, saying the utility needs to remove more mercury from the future plant's emissions...
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed an agreement with the Indonesian president Saturday to cooperate on biofuels. The two nations are home to much of the world's remaining intact tropical rainforests. Brazil is a leading sugar cane-based fuel producer, and Indonesia is the world's largest producer of palm oil...
July 14, 2008
In France, a 75-kilogram leak of untreated liquid uranium from a nuclear plant in Provence last week forced officials to ban residents and visitors in the popular tourist destination from drinking well water, swimming, or fishing in two rivers. Nuclear officials set the leak at the lowest danger tanking, but the incident embarrassed the government amid an arts festival in nearby Avignon...
In California, state lawmakers called for an investigation of a Mojave Desert chemical plant after a San Francisco Chronicle series about a former chemical worker who battled for a decade to convince officials that toxic substances at the company -- now called the Searles Valley Minerals -- have harmed workers...
July 7, 2008
Bangladesh last week called for global action to control soaring global crude prices, the day after it raised state-set fuel prices by up to 66 percent. The country explained that it could no longer afford to sell petrol, diesel, kerosene and gas at subsidized rates when oil has soared above $140 per barrel... In Haiti, gasoline subsidies were further cut last week, pushing the price per gallon up to $6.14, further burdening an impoverished people. The subsidies began after April riots over the high cost of food, but the cash-strapped government could not maintain the assistance that totaled an estimated $15 million over three months...
In Utah, Emery County has signed an agreement with the U.S. subsidiary of British Columbia-based Blue Rock Resources Ltd. to build a $100 million uranium mill to produce yellowcake for nuclear reactors. According to the company, the mill would be modern, green, a source of good jobs, and just the first facility in an industrial park that could later include a nuclear reactor and coal-fired power plant on land leased by the state
June 30, 2008
In West Virginia, DuPont filed an appeal Tuesday after a West Virginia jury in October found the company negligent in creating a waste site tainted with heavy metals and ordered it to pay $196.2 million in punitive damages for the way it handled cleanup of the Spelter site. ..
In Myanmar, the Thai energy firm PTT Exploration and Production on Monday signed a deal to drill for natural gas in Burma's Gulf of Martaban. The field, which will require an investment of about $2 billion, is expected to produce about 300 million cubic feet of gas a day, 80 percent of which will be exported to Thailand. Not unlike a Laos dam Inner City Press covered last week, click here for that.
On global issues, click here for hour-long debate...
June 23, 2008
In California, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has ordered an investigation into the illegally dumped trash that was allowed to sit for weeks in South Los Angeles, one of the city's poorest neighborhoods. The report, Villaraigosa said, will evaluate deployment of waste collection workers and their response times...
The British navy has denied allegations by animal rights activists that its use of underwater sonar is to blame for the deaths of 32 dolphins found stranded in a creek near Falmouth. The animals had empty stomachs, leading experts to suspect that they were not looking for food when they fled to shallow waters -- but a navy official said it was "extremely unlikely" that side-scan sonar used by one of its survey vessels could have anything to do with it...
June 16, 2008
In West Virginia, officials from chemical maker DuPont Co. discovered evidence of elevated cancer rates among workers at a plant near Parkersburg, according to government records. Rates at the plant were five times those at Dupont's other plants, the company told federal regulars. The officials say they do not know the cause but have pledged a full review
PetroChina Co. plans to match China's record corporate bond sale, raising 60 billion yuan ($8.7 billion) as refining losses strain its resources. The bonds will last 15 years and may be sold in stages. China's biggest oil producer and the world's second-biggest company by market value plans to increase capital spending by 15 percent this year to 207.9 billion yuan to increase energy supplies in the fast-growing economy.
June 9, 2008
Cote d'Ivoire citizens are suing London-based Trafigura in British courts, alleging the company's 2006 dumping of 400 tons of toxic waste was responsible for 10 deaths and led 100,000 to seek medical attention. The company has already agreed to pay $195 million (£100 million) for environmental damages, but denies the dumping was associated with health effects. After the incident, many in the Ivory Coast national government resigned. But not President Gbagbo, who is meeting with a UN Security Council delegation on June 9...
The Maryland Department of the Environment filed a lawsuit against Atlanta-based Mirant power company for allegedly allowing polluted water and heavy metals to escape from a landfill in southern Maryland. The lawsuit seeks millions of dollars in penalties and an end to dumping of coal ash, the alleged pollutant, at the 38-year-old Faulkner landfill...
June 2, 2008
In Russia, metal magnates are discussing a three-way merger to create a metals and mining giant. Holdings company officials Vladimir Potanin and Alisher Usmanov would combine assets to buy blocking shares in Norilsk Nickel and Metalloinvest to further control the country's metals market. The merger would be the largest in the country's history.
In Alabama, Teledyne Brown Engineering is expanding its nuclear engineering and manufacturing with a new 200,000-square-foot plant and a $92 million contract to make service modules that aid uranium enrichment...
May 26, 2008
In Brazil, Franco-Belgian water and energy utility Suez has won a building and operation license for the second of two controversial hydroelectric power dams on the River Madeira on the edge of the Amazon rainforest. The plants are opposed by indigenous peoples and former environment minister Marina Silva, who resigned last week in protest of the projects...
In Texas, the EPA will examine air samples for trichloroethylene -- a likely carcinogen -- in the town of Grand Prairie this week. The chemical in liquid form has pooled beneath parts of the town, and residents fear it is affecting their air quality...
May 19, 2008
In DC, the 33-acre federal Fort Reno Park in northwest Washington was abruptly shut Tuesday and will remain closed indefinitely after soil analysis showed arsenic levels far above what the federal government considers safe...
In Massachusetts, Federal environmental officials have recommended all buildings at the Starmet Corp. hazardous waste site in Concord be demolished because they are contaminated with depleted uranium and other hazardous substances. Officials say they could pose a safety threat. Demolishing and disposing of the waste could cost an estimated $64 million
Malaysia's national oil firm Petronas announced last week it had signed production sharing agreements for oil fields in Uzbekistan, where it will also take part in a gas-to-liquid project. Petronas is already involved in several Uzbeki oil exploration blocks...
May 12, 2008
In Idaho, construction on a new $2 billion uranium enrichment plant near Idaho Falls could begin as early as 2011, once French-backed Areva obtains a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It will be one of the largest construction projects in the state's history and could create 1,000 jobs for the five years it takes to complete it. The facility will produce fuel for nuclear power plants. Calling the IAEA...
Ghana's first industrial-scale ethanol plant, build by Constran S/A of Brazil, will begin exporting ethanol to Sweden by the end of 2010, said officials from Constran and Northern Sugar Resources Ltd., which will provide the sugar cane for refinement. Swedes starving...
May 5, 2008
Here's pro-corporatism cum environmentalism: "Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, called for the state Public Service Commission to drop conditions it has placed on Spanish utility Iberdrola SA in return for approving the company's bid to buy Energy East Corp., the parent company of New York State Electric & Gas Corp. Schumer said the PSC is insisting that Iberdrola sell all its wind power assets in New York and promise not to develop any new wind power. The senator said that requirement is not in keeping with the goal of moving New York toward renewable sources of energy. He also said the PSC wants Iberdrola to sell a coal-fired power plant near Rochester but would not require a new owner to convert the plant to cleaner natural gas. Anne Dalton, a spokeswoman for the PSC, said in response to Schumer's statement that wind generation is only one issue surrounding the proposed deal."
Yeah, but isn't a wonderful two-fer, lobbying in favor of a corporate merger, in the name of the environment?
In Nigeria, another pipeline has been sabotaged, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta announced Friday. The militant group is demanding more oil revenue be directed to their oil-rich but heavily polluted region. Royal Dutch Shell PLC confirmed three attacks during the past week and announced it may be unable to meet its commitment to exporting 169,000 barrels per day from Nigeria during the next few weeks.
Critics are accusing Norway's sovereign oil fund of pursuing nationalist motives after it voted last May for Exxon Mobil to reduce greenhouse emissions -- the country owns 0.3 percent of the company's stock. The fund makes no such demands of state-controlled StatoilHydro, of which it owns 62.5 percent. The ExxonMobil measure failed 68 percent to 32 percent. The fund has defended itself, saying it follows strict ethical guidelines such as refusing to own shares in nuclear arms makers and emphasizing climate change awareness
April 28, 2008
Maryland State Treasurer Nancy Kopp is pushing for Exxon Mobil shareholders to approve a resolution that would separate the roles of chairman and chief executive officer and make the company's board chairman independent. Kopp said the current board of directors is led by an "insider chair," which does not bode well for the decisions the board must make. Exxon's board opposes the resolution
Ecuador's Energy Minister Galo Chiriboga said Wednesday that the country has settled with U.S. oil company Occidental Petroleum Corp. and will return $100 million of the $171 million in tax dollars that the company demanded. In a separate claim, Occidental, which operated in Ecuador from 1999 to 2006, is seeking $1 billion in damages for property it said was illegally confiscated...
April 21, 2008
In Pennsylvania, Amerikohl Mining Inc. has proposed a strip mine next to the Youghiogheny River and along the popular Allegheny Highland trail. Amerikohl President John Stilley said the mine would have minimal impact on the trail, but citizen groups say it will be an eyesore and an environmental hazard
In Spain, two senior managers of a Catalonian nuclear plant run by energy company Endesa have been fired for failing to disclose full information about a radioactive leak, the plant's directors said yesterday. The managers discovered the link on March 14 but failed to notify the CSN, Spain's nuclear safety body, until April 4. A subsequent inspection discovered that the leak was more serious than the managers had first indicated...
April 14, 2008
Washington State regulators fined Puget Sound Energy $1.25 million last week over falsified gas pipeline inspection records. The Utilities and Transportation Commission said there were 209 violations in which PSE's subcontractor, Pilchuck Contractors Inc., falsified and altered safety maintenance records. PSE said that although records were falsified, the work had been performed. Great defense, that...
Italy has not fulfilled its obligation to clear mountains of rubbish dumped in landfill sites and elsewhere around the Naples area, according to a ruling yesterday by a European court. Many of the landfills in the region are controlled by the Camorra mafia, which make a lucrative business out of subverting waste-handling procedures and shipping in industrial waste from the north...
April 7, 2008
A judge exonerated Ingram Barge Co. of liability for its 200-foot barge that broke away from its Industrial Canal moorings during Katrina and landed on top of houses in the Lower 9th Ward. The judge found that the barge was in the custody of another firm at the time but did find negligence in two other marine companies for not properly securing two Ingram barges...
In Malaysia, the government scrapped plans yesterday to build a 1.3 billion ringgit ($408 million) coal-fired power plant in eastern Sabah state on Borneo island due to worries it would pollute the environment. The 300-megawatt plant was to have been built near a tropical forest by a subsidiary of state-controlled utility Tenaga Nasional and a Sabah state government agency...
March 31, 2008
In California, Kern County officials approved Cilion Inc.'s plans Tuesday to build a corn-powered ethanol plant north of Bakersfield. The project is expected to generate up to 55 million gallons of fuel additive each year. Environmentalists protested, saying the plant would worsen air quality in the San Joaquin Valley...
In Afghanistan, about 70 percent of people do not have access to safe drinking water, a government minister said Tuesday at the opening of the first of a chain of hydrological stations to monitor water supply. The Qargha hydrological station is the first of 174 to be erected across Afghanistan to measure water resources, including rainfall, as well as water quality and levels, Deputy Minister for Energy and Water Shojaudin Ziaie said...
March 24, 2008
In Wyoming, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will take responsibility for cleaning up one source of contamination in Cheyenne's drinking water. A Cold War-era missile site near the city has been identified as one source of trichloroethylene, a chemical used as a nuclear missile cleaner and lubricant, in the water....
In France, over 3,000 barrels of fuel oil leaked into and along the Loire River after a pipe burst while a tanker was being loaded at the Donges refinery in western France late Sunday, the oil company Total said Monday. Cleanup teams were using floating dams, and Total mobilized a separate 200-member team to cope with the spill...
March 17, 2008
In Maryland, Mirant Mid-Atlantic, the owner of three coal-burning power plants in the state, has agreed to pay a $175,000 fine and reduce the soot coming from its smokestacks after regulators found that the plants had repeatedly violated emissions limits. The agreement, laid out Tuesday in a consent decree filed in Prince George's County Circuit Court, also requires that the company, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Mirant, donate $75,000 to reduce pollution coming from Prince George's school buses...
Ukraine President Viktor Yushencko last week denounced his prime minister over her call to eliminate immediately all joint venture intermediaries that ship gas in from Russia and distribute to Ukrainian consumers. The flap comes ahead of new talks to resolve long-running price and supply disputes between the two countries...
March 10, 2008
In Arkansas, state officials have filed a preliminary injunction request as part of the state's 2005 lawsuit against the $2 billion poultry operation in Arkansas -- including Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest meat producer, Cargill Inc., George's Inc. and Simmons Foods Inc. -- for polluting the once-pristine Illinois River watershed with chicken waste, which contains bacteria, antibiotics, growth hormones and harmful metals...
In Brazil, police used rubber bullets last week to oust 900 activists from a tree farm they had invaded to highlight allegations its Swedish-Finnish operators, Stora Enso, violated a law forbidding foreign companies from owning certain lands
March 3, 2008
In Indiana, a federal Superfund site of lead-contaminated soils spanning an entire neighborhood in Jabsville will be cleaned up as part of a $21 million project that could take up to five years, U.S. EPA announced on Tuesday. The cleanup is expected to begin in Spring 2009...
In Seoul, Samsung Heavy Industries Co. announced last week that it will set up a fund worth only $107 million to help residents in areas hit by a December oil spill in which a barge it operated leaked 78,920 barrels of oil into South Korea's western waters...
February 25, 2008
In Kazakhstan, Ministry of Emergencies head Vladimir Bozhko last week warned ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steel company, that it could be forced to close one of its coal mines it if does not improve safety conditions after an explosion last month killed 30 people. The company was given one month to draw up a plan to introduce 41 safety reforms at the Abaiskaya mine in central Kazakhstan. ArcelorMittal is making steel for New York's Freedom Tower...
Meanwhile, New York State Inspector General Kristine Hamann released a report last week concluding that Gov. Eliot Spitzer's (D) nomination last year of Angela Sparks-Beddoe as chairwoman of the state Public Service Commission created a number of ethical problems because Sparks-Beddoe began assuming official duties at the agency while still working for the utility Energy East...
February 18, 2008
In Texas, regulators last week approved a controversial air permit to allow Tucson-based Asarco LLC to restart a dormant copper smelter in West Texas over the objections of elected officials in El Paso, Texas; New Mexico; and Juarez, Mexico. The three-member Texas Commission on Environmental Quality voted unanimously to approve Asarco's request...
In Nepal more than 80 percent of Katmandu's buses, vans and trucks were non-operational this week because a fuel shortage made it impossible to buy diesel and gasoline to run them...
February 11, 2008
In California, the secretary of the state Environmental Protection Agency has called for an independent investigation of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, after Marin Country officials were slow to respond to two January spills that dumped more than 5 million gallons of raw and partially treated sewage into the bay...
The Mexican Energy Ministry announced this week that it will soon begin issuing the first-ever permits for companies to produce biofuels in the country in a bid to cut emissions from cars and boost incomes for impoverished farmers. And, some ask, what about the cost of corn and tortillas?
February 4, 2008
In Michigan, a lawsuit against Dow Chemical stating that dioxin from the company's Midland plant got into the Tittabawassee River and contaminated property should become a class-action suit, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled last week. There could be as many as 2,000 plaintiffs in the case. Blue Planet Run, anyone?
France's government-owned electricity group EDF recently held preliminary talks with Spain's ACS about a joint bid for Spanish utility Iberdrola, and EDF also is reportedly weighing bids for Germany's RWE and the Belgian assets that other French utilities Suez and Gaz de France must shed to meet European Union conditions in their still-only-proposed merger...
January 28, 2008
BG Group's project to build a liquefied natural gas terminal in the port of Brindisi has faced environmental protests and political hurdles that have turned the investment into a "nightmare for the British energy group," per the FT...
ConAgra Foods said last week it has dropped plans to build an ethanol plant in Clovis in eastern New Mexico. Last month, the state Environmental Improvement Board ordered another hearing on the Clovis plant after groups that opposed it appealed the Environment Department's decision to issue an air quality permit for the facility. The company planned to build it on property where ConAgra operates a grain elevator, but opponents objected. They contended the location was too close to mostly Hispanic and black neighborhoods, subjecting those residents to pollutants. They said that was inconsistent with an environmental justice executive order signed in 2005. Letters sent in 2006 to some residents, as well as radio and print notices, described the location as three miles west of Clovis. The site actually was at the city's edge on land straddling the city limits.
January 21, 2008
Bausch & Lomb, DuPont Chemical Corp., Eastman Kodak and Xerox are among eight companies that will pay New York $1.6 million in remediation fees to clean up Rochester Fire Academy, which is a hazardous waste site where six companies -- along with the University of Rochester and Monroe County -- disposed of hazardous waste from 1954 to 1980.
U.S.-based NSF International said yesterday it withdrew certification for pipes made by Saudi Industries for Pipes Co. after high lead levels were found in pipes used for drinking water...
January 14, 2008
Environment Maryland has now said in a report it found potentially toxic fly ash residue, a byproduct of coal-fired plants, in air samples taken near a power company's dumpsite..
Nigeria now accounts for 36 percent of global gas flaring, making it one of the single largest contributors to global warming. The government and industry are forming an ad hoc "Flare Reduction Committee" to purport to address the flaring...
January 7, 2008
In Kentucky, the Army Corps of Engineers withdrew its permit for a large-scale mountaintop-removal expansion until it can review issues raised by environmentalists...
Which kind of green? Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni last month revived a controversial plan to give ownership of a 7,100-hectare swath of rainforest land to the Mehta Group, which is planning to destroy the forest and replace it with a sugarcane plantation...
December 31, 2007
In Kentucky, there is a U.S. Army plan to use off-site disposal for sarin. Army and DOD agencies charged with storage and destruction of chemical weapons at Blue Grass Army Depot, KY, this month announced an emergency plan to destroy three containers holding a mixture of sarin (GB) nerve agent and acidic neutralizing chemicals. The unplanned disposal of the containers and their contents is necessary, military sources say, following the discovery of a serious leak from one of them in August. Great...
December 24, 2007
Missouri's chief utility regulator, Jeff Davis, plans early next year to hold public hearings to discuss changing the laws governing commissioners' contacts and disclosures, after protests erupted regarding an informal meeting he held with a utility executive prior to a proposed merger was announced...
Mongolia's new prime minister, Sanj Bayar, said the government has a "moral right" to full control of the $2.4 billion Tavan Tolgoi coal project, but has vowed not to abuse the rights of its private developers, according to officials...
December 17, 2007
In Louisiana, state environmental officials last week officially declared an emergency to clean up two 1,500-gallon tanks filled with a toxic substance that were dumped illegally along Interstate 12 near Lacombe. The state Department of Environmental Quality hired contractor U.S. Environmental Services to remove the tanks and clean up any contaminated soil nearby
Don't believe the hype: Beijing will target outdoor kebab sellers as part of a 20-day campaign against street-level polluters leading up to the 2008 Olympics, it was reported last week...
December 10, 2007
In Maryland, a retired Navy hospital ship is barred from being exported from Baltimore's harbor after U.S. EPA obtained a warrant to search it for toxic chemicals...
China-based Yunnan Joint Power Development Co. announced this week that it brokered a deal with the Burmese government to operate the Shweli dam power station in Myanmar for the next 40 years...
December 3, 2007
More than 500 Southwestern Utah residents have signed a petition to stop the building of Toquop Energy Project, a proposed 750-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Mesquite...
EPA said last week that Anadarko Petroleum Co. was fined $157,500 for destroying 3 acres of wetlands in southwest Wyoming during a natural gas well drilling project, violating the federal Clean Water Act. EPA officials said the company agreed to restore the wetlands
The Chilean government awarded Apache Corp. rights to explore two oil and natural gas drilling blocks on the island of Tierra del Fuego last week...
November 26, 2007
In New Jersey, remediation company EnCap has until Nov. 27 to fix environmental and financial problems with the $1 billion Meadowlands landfill project. Jimmy Hoffa, anyone? The Meadowlands Commission wants to clean up and close four landfills by using some of the $149 million collateral put up by EnCap in its $1 billion plan to turn nearly 800 polluted acres into a development of luxury homes. Great...
In Brazil, the increase in carbon dioxide pollution that the country produced in the past 13 years surpassed the country's rate of economic growth, according to a study published this week by the Economy and Energy Institute...
November 18, 2007
The Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Department last week charged Purco Coal Inc. with intentionally discharging acid mine drainage into Jonathan Run creek in Fayette County and concealing the pipes to prevent its discovery...
Able UK, the company behind plans to scrap U.S. "ghost ships," was fined more than 20,000 pounds for failing to cover or dampen asbestos when it disposed of at Hartlepool's Seaton Meadows landfill. Heavy machinery used to crush the material could have released dangerous fibers into the air...
In Kentucky, plaintiffs rejected a proposed emissions settlement with Zeon Chemicals that would prohibit them from saying anything negative about the company, leading to further settlement discussions. Gag....
November 12, 2007
In Iowa, debate is heating up over two proposed, coal-fired power plants near Waterloo and in Marshalltown as environmentalists, NASA's chief climate scientist, industry experts and citizens line up to testify about the projects
Meanwhile, Idaho Power Co. said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it is abandoning its plans to develop 250 megawatts of coal-fired power by 2013, concluding that it is not the best technology to meet its resources needs. Instead, it will develop natural gas, wind and geothermal power facilities to meet its expected demand...
But Indonesia, the world's largest exporter of thermal coal, is planning to instate a domestic market obligation on coal producers to ensure sufficient supplies for 35 power stations, following attempts to nationalize other resource-based industries, including palm oil and gas...
November 5, 2007
In Minnesota, EPA has completed soil testing of an area surrounding a pesticide plant in south Minneapolis, concluding that the contamination of the soil near hundreds of homes is likely due to several sources, most of them not known. Great...
Qatar Airways is striving to be the first carrier to fuel its fleet with natural gas, said the airline's commercial general manager, Ali al-Rais, who added that the state-owned airline would announce details of the plan at the Dubai Air Show next month. Meanwhile, Maurice Flanagan, the executive vice chairman of the Dubai-based carrier Emirates, said that he does not believe in global warming and thinks Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" is "absolute rubbish." In denial in the Emirates...
October 29, 2007
The Pennsylvania Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reported this week that there was no conclusive link between cases of a rare cancer and any environmental factors in northeastern Pennsylvania. There were 97 cases of polycythemia -- a bone marrow cancer -- in Schuylkill, Luzerne and Carbon counties reported to the ATSDR between 2001-05. Based upon the population, there should have only been about 25 cases...
President Hamid Karzai wants an international scientific committee formed to review the environmental and health risks of herbicides used to destroy the country's opium poppy crop. The government has already formed two review committees of its own. Politics over science...
October 22, 2007
Alabama-based Vulcan Materials Co., a producer of construction materials, has reached a settlement with the city of Modesto over claims a dry cleaning compound produced by one of the company's former divisions contaminated the city. Vulcan sold the manufacturer that produced the perchloroethylene in June 2005...
BHP Billiton bought a $10 million stake in Falklands oil exploration this month, triggering yet more controversy between Britain and Argentina. Ah, oil...
October 15, 2007
In Montana, W.R. Grace & Co. is challenging a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that restored criminal charges of "knowing endangerment" to the government's case regarding citizens' and employee's exposure to asbestos in Grace's vermiculite mine...
In Northern Cyprus, more than 1,000 metric tons of sewage spilled into the sea after a wall collapsed Wednesday at a Kyrenia waterfront sewage plant, and the flow was continuing at a rate of 42 metric tons per hour yesterday, Turkish Cypriot authorities admitted...
October 8, 2007
In West Virginia, DuPont Chemical Corp. is liable for environmental damage in the town of Spelter where the chemicals manufacturer dumped waste from a zinc-smelting operation, a jury decided last week. The company was sued by 10 Harrison County residents in 2004 after they claimed they were exposed to high levels of the toxic metals from a 100-foot waste pile in the town...
In El Paso, Texas, requests have been made to County Attorney Jose Rodriguez to seek criminal prosecution of the copper company Asarco for burning illegal toxic waste...
Meanwhile, U.S. President Bush signed off on the first U.S. shipment of heavy fuel oil to North Korea in five years after the country agreed to complete an inventory of its nuclear programs and disable its existing nuclear facilities by the end of the year. The United States will send 50,000 metric tons of fuel worth about $25 million, according to the president's order...
October 1, 2007
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) paid Vermont-based Native-Energy $1,152 on Tuesday to offset the emissions his weekly flights home are likely to generate over the next year. The funds will finance pollution-free energy projects like wind turbines
The state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Company announced Sunday that the United Arab Emirates would cut oil output by around 600,000 barrels per day in November due to planned maintenance work at three oilfields...
September 24, 2007
The French consortium Novarka signed a contract last week to construct a steel shield over the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident for more than 430 million euros...
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) fired state Fish and Game commissioner Judd Hanna last week, just weeks after Hanna voiced support for a ban on hunters using lead ammunition in California's condor range. At least 12 condors have died from lead poisoning in the past decade. Thirty-four Republican state senators and Assembly members wrote a letter the governor asking him to fire Hanna, calling the commissioner "an outspoken advocate seeking to achieve his own personal objectives"....
September 17, 2007
In North Carolina, Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigators visited the McGuire nuclear plant in Lake Norman on September 11 after Duke Energy reported last week that it found improperly installed caps on heat exchangers that cool the oil in the plant's pumps...
An explosion on a pipeline carrying natural gas from Iran to Turkey caused a temporary supply cut to the country, Turkish and Iranian officials said last week. The explosion, caused by a "technical malfunction," caused only partial damage to the pipeline, but it is unknown when deliveries will resume for the pipeline...
September 10, 2007
In Delaware, DuPont Chemical Corp.'s Edge Moor plant released more than 1,000 pounds of highly reactive titanium tetrachloride into the Delaware River on September 2. The plant reopened late Tuesday after the company investigated the leak...
In Finland, two decades after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine, fish and mushrooms in parts of Finland still have elevated levels of cesium-137 from radioactive fallout, the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority and Finnish Food Safety Authority said last week...
September 3, 2007
The recent ExxonMobil refinery suit in Louisiana, St. Bernard Citizens For Environmental Quality, et al. v. Chalmette Refining, could not have been brought if the EPA's April 20 rule letting emitters off the hook from minimizing emissions during startups, shutdowns and malfunctions (SSM) were in place. The rule among other things denies the public a right to see the SSM plans, purportedly due to security concerns. Polluters still trying to milk and hide behind 9/11...
August 27, 2007
In Louisiana, the U.S. Justice Department may pursue criminal charges against Citgo Petroleum Corp. for the oil spill at its refinery near Lake Charles last year. The investigation became public last week after Citgo filed court papers trying to keep its employees from having to give pre-trial testimony to investigators about the June 2006 spill that released about 99,000 barrels of oil from the refinery's tanks. ICP note: It's not yet clear if there is any political aspect to the case, given that Citgo is controlled by... Chavez' Venezuela...
In Guyana, mercury used by gold miners has poisoned number of residents of rural Guyana by seeping into area rivers and streams. In one community, 90 percent of villagers showed signs of illness and tested positive for mercury...
August 20, 2007
California regulations to reduce diesel engines' greenhouse gas emissions have prompted equipment rental companies to begin selling construction equipment that does not meet new standards set by the California Air Resources Board to countries with looser environmental rules, such as Mexico, Taiwan and Vietnam. That's it, push the pollution elsewhere...
Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, called on New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma to consider setting up an experimental clean coal plant when the state reports on its energy needs this month
August 13, 2007
In California, people are starting to question the environmental record of British grocery giant Tesco, which plans to open 27 stores in Arizona and California, saying the company has a mixed record on labor and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions...
About two billion people in Asia lack proper sanitation, which leaves Asian nations facing huge cleanup costs, according to the Manila-based Asian Development Bank. Underinvestment in sanitation has led to "massive pollution of both surface and groundwater," which leads to disease outbreaks, the ABD said...
August 6, 2007
The New Jersey Environmental Protection Department announced last week it is fining Encap and other firms $1.9 million for allowing uncontrolled methane emissions to escape from the Meadowlands landfills they hope to refurbish for their $1 billion EnCap Golf project...
A UN review board has rejected an emissions-cutting project in Equatorial Guinea, making it the largest project to fail the approval process under the Kyoto Protocol. The project, which would have turned natural gas into methanol, failed to demonstration how the emissions cuts would have happened with or without Kyoto incentives...
July 30, 2007
Increased bureaucracy and terrorism-rated concerns have made it more difficult to access data on toxic chemicals stored in the Wichita area, a Wichita Eagle analysis of state records shows. All told, there are 240 companies in Sedgwick County that handle toxic chemicals, storing as much as 1.4 billion pounds of toxic and flammable compounds...
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko fired the heads of Belneftekhim, the state petrochemicals company; state gas pipeline group Beltransgas; and Belarussian Oil Company, the state oil and refined products trader, for failing to avert an energy shock in the nation due to a sudden rise in Russian gas prices. The firings took place as Belarusian officials were holding crisis talks at the Gazprom headquarters regarding Belarus' unpaid gas debt of $500 million...
July 23, 2007
In Illinois, EPA is supervising the testing of natural-gas systems at 80 homes in Park Ridge after PCB-contaminated liquids were found in four homes. The gas company Nicor found the chemicals in three homes in February and one in May, a spokeswoman said last week...
In Serbia, 10 metric tons of fish have been found dead in the Toplica River, a tributary of the Sava River. The incident recalls one earlier this month, in which 20 metric tons of dead fish were found in the river due to high concentrations of ammonia...
Shell and Colombian state-owned oil company Ecopetrol announced on July 16 they will work together on a 50-50 partnership to explore 650,000 hectares of land in central Colombia for oil. And human rights?
July 16, 2007
Self-investigation? The New Jersey Environmental Protection Department approved DuPont Chemical Corp.'s plan Tuesday to continue its investigation into contamination from PFOA used in non-stick and stain resistant products at its Chamber Works plant near the Delaware River. A company report filed with state regulators last fall confirmed the presence of the chemical in groundwater around the plant and in the factory's discharges into the Delaware River...
Britain's Brinkley Mining signed a protocol with the Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday agreeing to jointly develop uranium reserves in the central African country. The Congolese atomic energy agency CGEA would hold 25 percent of the venture while Brinkley would hold the remaining 75 percent. The British firm has already committed at least $3 million to the venture...
July 9, 2007
The Mongolian government came out in favor last week of the construction of a mine at the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold deposit by Canada's Ivanhoe Mines and U.K.-listed Rio Tinto. The government will receive a 34 percent stake in what will be the country's largest mining investment
The Hungarian government is drafting legislation to prevent a possible takeover of Mol, the country's oil and natural gas company, by OMV, its Austrian rival, Hungarian Finance Minister Janos Veres said last week. The legislation is a response to OMV's announcement that it increased its stake in Mol to 18.6 percent and would like to hold "friendly talks" on a possible alliance... Yeah, very friendly...
July 2, 2007
In Ohio, DuPont Corp. will begin testing private wells for the chemical C8 in Barlow, Belpre, Decatur, Dunham and Warren townships as part of the first phase of a new contamination survey mandated by U.S. EPA. The agency reported last year that C8 was "likely" carcinogenic to humans. DuPont continues to claim there are no known health effects associated with C8...
In Armenia, the government has approved plans to begin developing the Teghut copper-molybdenum deposit in the Lori region despite fears over the mine's environmental impacts. In the 1970s, the former Soviet republic banned the development of the reserve out of fear for the mine's effects on local humans, plants and wildlife
June 25, 2007
Confession time? Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare has finally acknowledged financial ties to his country's controversial logging industry, after previously denying personal association with the forest industry. He admits chairing the Sepik River Development Corporation...
Sleazy with the books, too: Xcel Energy agreed Tuesday to pay $64.4 million to settle a dispute with the Internal Revenue Service over whether it could deduct costs of corporate-owned life insurance on employees from taxable income. Officials said the profit deduction would cause the company to lose 5 cents per share.
On a positive note, for the first time in more than 40 years, bluebirds are nesting on San Juan Island, according to a recent sighting...
June 18, 2007
In Massachusetts, state lawmakers introduced legislation last week that would require the phasing out the use of 10 toxic chemicals in the By State, mandating that alternatives be used for dry cleaning, pesticides and solvents. The chemicals proposed are formaldehyde; lead; trichloroethylene; perchloroethylene; dioxins and furans; hexavalent chromium; organophosphate pesticides; polybrominated diphenyl ethers; di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, aka DEHP; and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid...
Last week, the European Commission yesterday approved a planned joint venture between South Korean group Hyundai Heavy Industries and Finnish company Wartsila to build engines for liquefied natural gas tankers that can run on LNG or oil-based fuels. The commission concluded the deal would not impede competition...
June 11, 2007
Chile's Supreme Court ruled last week that the general government must compensate 356 residents of two slums in Arica for health problems due to exposure to toxic waste from the town's mining industry. The Swedish company responsible for importing the toxic materials, Promel, cannot pay the residents because it no longer exists...
In Florida, EPA received $2 million to begin initial work cleaning up Mt. Dioxin, a mound of contaminated soil at the former Escambia Treating Co. The cleanup is expected to take 16 months and EPA will spend at least another $15 million to encase more than a half-million cubic yards of soil containing dioxin, arsenic and other toxic chemicals at the Superfund site...
June 4, 2007
In Kentucky, a federal judge has approved a class-action settlement filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky between Hexion Specialty Chemicals and residents of Rubbertown, a southwestern Louisville neighborhood. According to the settlement, the company will have to spend $4 million upgrading its operations and pay about $2,500 to Rubbertown residents. Cheap settlement in Rubbertown....
Australian mining company Rio Tinto PLC may be considering a $27 billion bid for Canadian rival Alcan Inc., analysts said this week. Rio Tinto has hired Deutsche Bank to advise it on a possible bid for Alcan, the analysts said...
HSBC last week was fined $850,000 for mismanaging "hundreds of containers of abandoned chemicals... NYS said HSBC knew of the abandoned chemicals, as well as frozen pipes and faulty fire suppression system at the site. However, HSBC didn't contact the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation or any state or local emergency responder to report the threat as required under state law." Meanwhile HSBC makes loud claims about carbon neutrality and climate change funding. Environmental responsibility begins at home, though, no?
May 28, 2007
In Maryland, Baltimore officials approved a consent agreement last week with New Jersey-based Honeywell International, requiring the company to study pollution at its former pesticide plant in South Baltimore and propose a way to stop the leaking of toxic chemicals. The study comes a little late, no?
Efforts to put a stop to Japan's bid to resume commercial whaling have been strengthened by new countries joining the conservation bloc, New Zealand's conservation minister said yesterday. The International Whaling Commission holds its annual meeting next week in Alaska. Japan has been recruiting countries in an attempt to meet the three-quarters majority necessary to overturn the ban. We'll see...
May 21, 2007
In Cambodia last week, a factory spill outside Phnom Penh poisoned nearby fisheries, killing more than 50 metric tons of fish when it seeped into ponds. Farmers said they doubted they would be compensated for their loss.
In North Carolina, Duke Energy Corp. says it will move ahead with a controversial coal-fired power project at its Cliffside facility in the Blue Ridge Foothills, Duke CEO Jim Rogers said last week after the company's annual shareholders meeting. The company still needs a permit from the North Carolina Division of Air Quality. We'll see.
May 14, 2007
Exxon Mobil agreed last week to pay $400,000 in penalties to California for air permit violations at its Torrance Refinery. The company also said it would spend a mere $2 million on a plan to cut excessive emissions of carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds and other pollutants...
Nepal has been hit by fuel shortages after state-run Indian Oil Corporation reduced supplies to the country by 40 percent, a minister said yesterday. Indian Industry Minister Rajendra Mahato said Nepal owes $91 million dollars to the company. The fuel cuts began last week...
May 7, 2007
In Massachusetts last week, nearly 100 residents of Spencer went to the hospital with burns or rashes after the town's water supply was accidentally treated with too much corrosive lye, officials said. Water treatment plants routinely put lye in water to reduce acidity and limit pipe corrosion....
Last week the Chinese government finally released environmental activist Tan Kai from jail after he spent 18 months behind bars, accused of taking state secrets from a government official's computer he was repairing, Tan was targeted due to his investigation of a chemical factory's pollution and the government's lack of response to local residents' complaints about the situation...
April 30, 2007
Chevron Corp. agreed to pay the New Jersey Environmental Protection Department a $1 million settlement for spilling more than 10,000 gallons of crude oil into the Arthur Kill off Perth Amboy on Feb. 13, 2006, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office announced last week. That's getting off cheap...
Uganda's health ministry announced last week that the country would start using DDT in the battle against malaria. Spraying will begin in August in Kabale, according to the malaria control program chief...
April 23, 2007
The Guam EPA is looking further into reports that Lujan's Salvage Yard and Towing Services in the tri-village area of Mongmong-Toto-Maite is continuing to improperly store solid waste despite a recent grassfire and EPA action against the company. A Guam EPA official said the agency fined Lujan's $12,000, adding that cleaning up and bringing the Lujan salvage site into compliance with regulations is one of the Guam EPA's highest priorities
A bankruptcy court judge has set an April 25 hearing to discuss contracts Entergy New Orleans has signed with both the state and an insurer to receive more than $220 million to help the company pay for storm damage it sustained from Hurricane Katrina. Under the state contract, Entergy is to receive a $171 million Community Development Block Grant. The company also has reached a $53 million settlement with Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance, a subsidiary of AIG Inc
Yeah, AIG likes to play cheap in paying on insurance policies it has collected premiums for...
April 16, 2007
The city of Norilsk, Siberia, is home to half the world's palladium industry, but its massive sulfur dioxide emissions could also be making it the world's largest producer of acid rain, BBC reported last week...
In Guam, family members who used to own parts of Urunao -- a site where the U.S. Air Force discarded tons of metallic debris, tires and ordnance in the 1940s -- said they are upset that only the current owner of the site is being compensated for the damage done. The former owners noted that they paid property taxes on the land up until 2001 or 2002, and they say they deserve compensation...
April 9, 2007
In California last week, construction workers closed a 10-inch hole in a main sewer pipe in Carlsbad that had spilled more than 5 million gallons of raw sewage into the freshwater Buena Vista Lagoon. That is, Countrywide Mortgage is not on the only toxic thing in Carlsbad...
Rwanda and Congo-Kinshasa recently reached an agreement to extract methane gas stored under Lake Kivu. The two countries hope the extraction will not only provide fuel for power generation but also mitigate the danger of the 55-billion-cubic-meter deposit. Authorities fear that if the methane gas explodes it will release enough carbon dioxide to kill tens of thousands of people around the lake, much the same way 1,800 people died around Lake Nyos around Cameroon in August 1986 after CO2 escaped from the lake. There is four times as much CO2 as methane under Lake Kivu...
April 2, 2007
In Louisiana, Murphy Oil Co. sent out $60 million in checks last week to more than 6,000 Chalmette residents as part of its settlement for oil spilled from its Meraux refinery during Hurricane Katrina. The checks are the first part of the $330 million settlement agreed to earlier this year.
Shell Nigeria confirmed last week that the Nigerian government has charged the company with the alleged loss of some "radioactive tools" belonging to one of Shell's contractors. Shell denied reports that it was involved in the dumping of toxic waste in Nigeria. We'll see.
March 26, 2007
In Delaware, NRG Energy said last week that it would sue to keep the state Public Service Commission from releasing information about the utility's bid to build a new coal-fired power plant. Delaware, home of transparency...
Total oil company CEO Christophe de Margerie was detained and
by French police over whether the company paid bribes in 1997 to win the contract to develop Iran's South Pars natural gas fields
Manjate, the national coordinator for the Convention on Climate
Change, announced last week that the Mozambican government has
$405,000 ready to prepare its second national communication on
climate change. The document should be completed by the first
quarter of 2009...
March 19, 2007
Energy Department officials acknowledged last week that a small amount of radium-226 is missing from the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion plant in Piketon, Ohio. The material does not pose a security risk and does not threaten the environment, a spokeswoman claimed. How not?
In Sudan, the Chinese-built Merowe dam will wipe several Nile-side communities off the map as raising waters form the dam's reservoir. When the project finishes in six years the dam, which will double Sudan's power capacity, will displace 60,000 people...
March 12, 2007
Qui tam, anyone? A federal judge in Denver said last week that he will rule within a month in the case of a lawsuit brought by a former Interior Department auditor that said Oklahoma-based Kerr-McGee Corp. had cheated the government out of millions in royalties for offshore oil production. A jury ruled last moth that the company cheated the government out of $7.6 million in royalties
In Russia, draft legislation in the Duma would allow state-owned Gazprom and Transneft to set up their own security services with the same powers as the police -- they would be able to stop and search people and vehicles and use firearms outside company sites.
March 5, 2007
In Arizona, aerospace firm Honeywell International Inc. announced last week that it will pay a $500,000 fine for hazardous waste violations committed at its Kingman plant in 2005
Guam EPA and Andersen Air Force Base are beginning a $13 million cleanup operation at Urunao to dispose of unexploded ordnance, lead contamination and other unknown pollution left over from the Air Force's use of the site as a dumping ground in the 1940s...
Nigerian Information Minister Frank Nweke is touring U.S. cities to promote and improve the image of his country in hopes of enticing foreign investment in it's natural resources. Nweke has visited several U.S. cities, including Houston on Tuesday, to encourage investment in his nation that has suffered from deteriorating political stability and continued violence in the oil-rich Niger Delta...
February 26, 2007
This week we're temporarily going highbrow, the recent work of Professor Paul Mohai showing that people of color were living in the areas where hazardous waste facilities decided to locate before the facilities arrived. "What we discovered is that there are demographic changes after the siting but they started before the siting," Mohai says. "Our argument is that what's likely happening is the area is going through a demographic shift, and it lowers the social capital and political clout of the neighborhood so it becomes the path of least resistance." U of M announces that Mohai will present the findings during a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Mohai's talk, "Which Came First, People or Pollution? How Race and Socioeconomic Status Affect Environmental Justice," is one of seven scheduled presentations, Robert Bullard is also hoped for...
February 19, 2007
Beyond petroleum (jelly)? BP told a resident living near the company's Texas City plant that exploded in 2005 that she had no right to sue following the accident, an attorney told a state court last week. Robert Hilliard, who is representing Texas City resident Sealy Davis in a lawsuit against BP, said that the oil company offered his client $2,000 in compensation following the explosion to cover Sheetrock and foundation damage to her home...
Indonsia's state-owned Pertamina announced last week that it will undertake six oil exploration projects in Ecuador this year as part of a strategic alliance agreement signed last year. An executive with the company said that once the projects begin commercial production, they will likely add 20,000 barrels of oil per day to the company's total output. Also in Ecuador, two Japanese tourists were killed while riding on the top of one of the busses called chivas...
February 12, 2007
Oil and corruption: Three oil companies -- Vetco Gray UK Limited, Vetco Gray Controls Inc., and Vetco Gray Controls Limited -- will pay the U.S. government a total of $26 million in fines related to bribing Nigerian customs officials $2.1 million to speed up entrance of people and equipment into the country, the Justice Department announced last week...
Sleaze in Alaska: KeyBank, which acted as a financial adviser and banker to Knik Arm Power Plant developer Marc Marlow, this week sued Marlow for the second time. The lawsuit is an attempt to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees that the bank says it is owed for advising Marlow in the deal. Plans to build the facility recently collapsed....
February 5, 2007
This gun for hire: former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke was paid to say last week that the development of a liquefied natural gas facility in Sparrows Point would be "safe" and does not pose a terror threat. Clarke is a consultant for AES Corp., which is proposing to build the LNG plant in Baltimore County. Giuliani is engaged in similar work, for another LNG project...World Economic Forum attendees will donate $100,000 to support clean energy projects in rural Indonesia, forum Managing Director Andre Schneider said last week. But what even happened with the WEF's too-small pittance to the UN's CERF?
January 29, 2007
In Indiana, a group of Madison County residents suing zoning officials over their decision to allow the construction of a $105 million Broin Companies ethanol plant argued in court this week that the county officials should not have allowed the facility to be built. The residents said one of the families living near it has a special-needs child who is at high risk of breathing in pollutants generated by the development work...
In Azerbaijan, a natural gas consortium led by BP PLC has halted production at a natural gas field in the Caspian Sea off the coast of Azerbaijan. The field shut down for a week shortly after starting operations last month and only restarted again on Jan. 14. The shutdown was prompted by tests on the effectiveness of the repair work done after the first shutdown...
Devon Energy Corp. announced Tuesday that it will sell all its assets in West Africa as a means to reduce its debt and focus on North America, Brazil and China. The properties held by the company in West Africa -- located in Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ivory Coast -- held an estimated proved reserves of amount 90 million barrels of oil equivalent as of the end of last year...
January 22, 2007
In California, the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board has ordered the Marine Corps to pay between $5.5 million and $29.4 million to clean up the Las Pulgas Landfill, which was used by Camp Pendleton to house decades worth of trash. Temporary fixes for the site have already amounted to nearly $3 million...
In Azerbaijan, a Baku district court Sunday sentenced Bakhtiyar Hadjiyev, editor of the political opposition Web site www.susmayaq.biz, to 12 days of jail for allegedly campaigning against increased energy prices after the Azerbaijani government canceled natural gas contracts with Russia. Gasoline prices have risen 50 percent and household electricity prices have gone up 300 percent since the government's decision last week... Click here for a recent BBC piece on Inner City Press' reporting from the United Nations.
January 14, 2007
In California, South Coast Air Quality Management District regulators said last week that they are investigating an incident at the ConocoPhilips oil refinery in Wilmington that sent flames shooting high into the air. The district recently increased the strength of its "anti-flaring" law for refineries, banning open burn-off of excess gases from South Bay refineries except in emergencies or during planned shutdowns, start-ups or other "essential" operations. Violators can face fines of $1,000 -- too low.
In Fiji, the military regime backing last month's coup in Fiji seized the country's only operational gold mine last week. Vatukoula mine operator Emperor Mines is negotiating with the government and military officials, the Australia-based company said...
January 8, 2007
In Ohio, EPA is trying an emergency $1 million hazardous waste cleanup to unearth and remove more than 1,300 drums of paint and solvent buried in a hill overlooking the Little Miami River in Warren County.
Democratic Republic of Congo government officials will review three of the country's biggest mining contracts soon after a World Bank report released recently found that they were approved with "a complete lack of transparency." The three contracts -- representing joint ventures between Gecamines and three mining companies that include Phelps Dodge -- refer to deals approved in 2005 under a power-sharing government, which was seen by many diplomats as deeply corrupt but necessary to put an end to a war in the country central to the region's stability...
Most recent move in a long saga: Ecuadorean Attorney General Jose Maria Borja Gallegos asked the U.S. attorney general Dec. 5 to investigate allegations that Chevron Corp. did not properly clean up toxic waste left over from Texaco Inc.'s oil drilling activities in rainforests...
January 1, 2007
EJ notes. In Wisconsin, "community leaders should not be planning to invest billions of dollars in new freeway construction without first considering that nearly one-third of all African-Americans in Milwaukee do not even have a driver's license."
In Massachusetts, the now planned location of a diesel power plant, Chelsea, "is classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as an Environmental Justice Community of Concern, is considered one of the state's most "environmentally overburdened cities." Such a classification is given to a neighborhood or community composed of predominantly poor or minority residents and that, compared with similar communities, carries a disproportionate level of environmental hazards.
December 25, 2006
In Tennessee, the Energy Department said last week that it finished removing all of the depleted uranium hexafluoride left at the former uranium-enrichment site in Oak Ridge ahead of schedule. DOE transported about 6,000 cylinders filled with the depleted uranium to a storage site in Ohio over the last three years...
Migratory birds traversing Finland on their way south for the winter are confused by the country's exceptionally warm winter this year and are singing and mating as if it were spring, experts said last week. Disconcerting...
December 18, 2006
In West Virginia, DuPont Co. officials said Wednesday that more than 600 pounds of the chemical trimethylamine were released during two leaks at the company's plant in Belle over the weekend. The company previously reported that only 150 pounds had leaked from the plant...
In New Mexico, the Las Cruces Superfund site contains at least 7.2 billion gallons of perchloroethylene-contaminated water, U.S. EPA officials said last week. The agency said the contaminated plume must be treated to bring the water up to agency standards. The city of Las Cruces and Dona Ana County own the land that is contaminated and are responsible for covering the estimated $13.7 million cost of cleanup...
A federal grand jury indicted two oil tanker crewmen with falsifying records to conceal the illegal dumping of waste oil and sludge from their ship, the M/T Captain X Kyriakou, off the California coast from Oct. 27 to Nov. 2. The indictment returned Tuesday charged Artemios Maniatis, the chief engineer, and Dimitrios Georgakoudis, his top assistant in the engine room, on a felony charge of knowingly failing to maintain accurate logs of discharges...
December 11, 2006
In Ohio, the Energy Department is conducting a final review of the Fluor Fernald former uranium processing plant this month to ensure that the company's cleanup work meets the agency's standards. Fluor Fernald announced Oct. 29 that remediation work at the site was complete and signs of life in the wetlands there lend hope to the assumption that 20 years' worth of work to remove soil contaminated by radioactive materials is over...
In Russia, Sakhalin regional prosecutor Yury Chaika said yesterday that Russian environmental and migration authorities detected "over 100 violations of environmental, migration and labor laws" at the Shell-led Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project. Chaika said the operating consortium running the project could face criminal prosecution for the violations. But what about the banks?
December 4, 2006
Tanker engineer James Legg filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas last week accusing ConocoPhillips of retaliatory actions against him for uncovering evidence that the company covered up a midocean oil spill in January 2004...
In Indonesia, an explosion on the Pertamina-owned East Java Gas Pipeline on the island of Java last week caused by a mud slide left hundreds of companies and tens of millions of people suffering power disruptions. At least seven people were killed in the explosion, 16 were injured and four are reported missing...
More than 400 cities in China face water shortages, state media reported last week. Quoting a senior government official, the China Daily newspaper said rapid urbanization combined with pollution is staining the country's water supplies. About 45 billion metric tons of untreated wastewater pump directly into lakes and rivers...
November 27, 2006
The NBA's Utah Jazz has dropped the Delta Center name from its Salt Lake City arena in favor of EnergySolutions Arena. The move honors the arena's new beneficiary, hazardous waste disposal firm EnergySolutions. It is unknown how much the firm paid for the 10-year naming rights. And it's hazardous to even ask...
A report commissioned by Tasmania's Resources Planning and Development Commission found that Gunns Ltd. failed to address concerns about air and water pollution in its plans for a $1.4 billion pulp mill in Tasmania. The report said the company would have to conduct new studies on emissions if it wants to "achieve credibility" as the biggest industrial project in Tasmania's history...
November 20, 2006
North Carolina state officials last week approved EQ Industrial Service's plan to ship hazardous waste from last month's fire at its APEX chemical plant to a landfill in Belleville, Michigan. Great...
Meanwhile, Russian environmentalist group Ekozashchita asked the German government last week to prosecute the uranium-enriching company Urenco of trying to turn Russia into a "nuclear dump." The group said that the company is illegally delivering nuclear waste to Russia...
Last week Inner City Press sat down for an interview with the president of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Arkady Ghoukasyan, and asked him about the fires, about the United Nations and other matters. Click here for the footage, on Google Video.
November 13, 2006
In Pennsylvania, a lawsuit was filed last week against pottery manufacturer CBS Corp. for the costs of cleaning up a hazardous waste site north of Gettysburg. The cleanup of groundwater at Shriver's Corner began in 2002 and will take more than 30 years.
Judge David Hurd of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York approved a consent decree between General Electric and the federal government last week to dredge PCBs from part of the Hudson River.
On the global tip, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a memorandum of understanding with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso yesterday establishing an energy partnership to offset concerns of dependence on Russian energy sources.
And in global Environmental Justice news, a beat we particularly like, The European Court of Human Rights condemned Italy last week for permitting a factory near Brescia in northern Italy to treat toxic industrial waste only 30 meters away from an inhabited house. The court awarded resident Piera Giacomelli 20,598 euros for damages, costs and moral damage due to the factory's operations...
November 6, 2006
In New Jersey, PCB concentrations in the wetlands around the Kin-Buc Landfill Superfund site have risen over the past 10 years. PCB levels rose from 2.1 parts per million in 1996 to 2.7 ppm in 2002...
Missouri- based Bunge North America Inc. will pay the EPA $13.9 million under the terms of a U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois agreement signed last week. Bunge will spend $12 million to reduce harmful emissions at 11 soybean processing plants and a corn dry mill extractions plant in eight states: Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kansas, Iowa, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois..
Polluters on the move: More than 30 multinational companies operating in China -- including Panasonic Battery Co., Pepsi Co. and Foster's Group Ltd. -- violated national water pollution control guidelines recently, according to a Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs report released last week
October 30, 2006
In New Mexico, Clovis-area officials are disturbed by a new report from New Mexico and federal officials that recommends that the $459,000 settlement from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway for environmental damage in Clovis should instead be spent to restore 43 acres of wetland at Bottomless Lakes State Park in Roswell, more than 100 miles away. The railroad had dumped waste water into a playa lake in Clovis for years...
In Delaware, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control ordered Claymont Steel this week to end excessive slag dust releases and said it could possibly release a report on solutions to the facility's emissions problems by March 1, 2007. Four Claymont-area Republican lawmakers also asked this week for a state attorney general's office probe into pollution from the company's facility, citing recent findings of higher-than-reported mercury emissions..
In Peru, indigenous people took over four oil wells last week in protest of contaminated river water, shutting down Pluspetrol's 50,000 barrels per day of output...
October 23, 2006
In Alaska, the EPA has filed a federal lawsuit against the owners of Safety Waste Incineration in Wasilla alleging that the incinerator the company uses exceeds pollution limits and is out of compliance with standards set forth in the Clean Air Act.
In Washington state, ConocoPhilips paid the Department of Ecology a $540,000 fine last week in relation to a 2004 violation in which 1,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Puget Sound
Meanwhile the European Commission took legal action against Hungary and three other members last week for violating the environmental impact assessment mandate on various projects in sensitive areas. The commission also took action against Hungary for submitting its greenhouse gas allocation plan for the 2008-12 phase of the Emissions Trading Scheme late...
October 16, 2006
In Illinois, Toxic chemicals from inside barrels at the Feddeler Landfill in Lowell will likely cost the city between $20 million and $35 million to clean up.
In Texas, workers last week began removing an estimated 200,000 gallons of oily water, leftover fuel, lube oil and grease surrounding the disused mobile offshore-drilling unit Zeus sitting on the edge of the Freeport harbor channel.
From the Sunday Telegraph of Oct. 8: "Spin over substance? 1 HSBC: has reduced its CO2 production from 550,000 tons to 0. Actual cost: $3 million." HSBC was sure given a lot of flattery for this $3 million. Meanwhile they steal that amount very quickly through their subprime ex-Household units...
Also troubling: a South Korean businessman was arrested last week for exporting uranium-enrichment materials to a Middle Eastern country, prosecutors said. He allegedly shipped 15 metric tons of potassium bifluoride to an unidentified country and planned to ship 25 more
October 9, 2006
In Texas, Citgo's Corpus East refinery had two 12-million-gallon oil vats sitting uncovered for at least a dozen years, releasing benzene into the air, according to the Justice Department's August indictment of the company accusing it of knowingly releasing illegal amounts of the toxic chemical in 2001 and 2002. This may also be a global item, given Citgo's ownership by Venezuela...
On the global / bottom of the sea beat, mining investors such as Nautilus Minerals Inc. and Neptune Minerals Plc. raised more than $50 million recently in bids to begin pulling rocks lined with copper and gold worth $300 each off the sea floor a mile beneath Papua New Guinea.
In China last week, the Three Gorges Project Construction Committee raised its estimates of the number of people who will be displaced by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam from 1.13 million to 1.4 million.
In Cote D'Ivoire, a household waste dump near Abidjan will be reopened for a year under the terms of a deal struck last week between Construction and Town Planning Minister Marcel Amon Tanoh and the village of Akouedo... Until next time, for or with more information, contact us.
October 2, 2006
In Illinois, EPA fined the Lehigh Cement Co. $84,378 this week for exceeding federal limits for furan and dioxin emissions from its plant in Mitchell. The agreement, announced Wednesday, does not require the company to admit any wrongdoing. Great...
And we're back: former Treasury Secretary John Snow will serve on the board of directors of Marathon Oil Corp., officials with the company announced last week...
September 25, 2006
On the Gulf Coast, DuPont last week began a new PFOA processing project at its First Chemical plant in Pascagoula, dodging an appeal of the water emissions permit rubber-stamped for First Chemical by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality...
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has fined Southern Union, the parent company of New England Gas, $1,000 per day for failing to submit three soil remediation plans for dumping toxic soil over 50 acres in a neighborhood in North Tiverton.
September 18, 2006
Iran wants to build a second natural gas pipeline to Armenia, Parliament Speaker Gholam-Ali Hadad-Adel said last week while visiting the former Soviet Republic. Armenia is short on energy reserves due to a dispute with energy rich neighbor Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. Hadad-Adel said a new Iranian pipeline would serve primarily to supply Armenia with natural gas, but added that "the possibility of transporting gas to third countries through the [country] is not excluded"
In Maryland, Harford County officials notified 375 households in the Forest Hill neighborhood last week that levels of the gasoline additive MTBE had been rising in the groundwater since the spring. The results of these tests had been in the state's possession for two months, but state officials only told county officials last week, which could constitute a violation of a Maryland law that requires notification within 14 days for such a test."
September 11, 2006 - As UN
Checks Toxins in Abidjan, the Dumper Trafigura Figured in
Oil for Food Scandal, Funded by RBS and BNP Paribas
As UN Checks Toxins in Abidjan, the Dumper Trafigura Figured in Oil for Food Scandal, Funded by RBS and BNP Paribas
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
UNITED NATIONS, September 11 -- While in Ivory Coast the dumping of toxic chemicals by Trafigura Beheer BV has led to a new political crisis, it has emerged that the dumper Trafigura figured in the UN - Iraq Oil for Food scandal, alongside mining operations in Kazakhstan, derivatives and loans from such mega-banks as Royal Bank of Scotland, ING and BNP Paribas. The toxins were dealt out in at least nine places around the port of Abidjan, leaving five dead and over 7000 in need of medical treatment. How far the liability and accountability will spread is not yet known.
Before the UN Environment Program sent investigators to Abidjan, at UN Headquarters on September 7, Inner City Press asked the spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the UN's position and actions to date on the spill. The spokesman responded that
"On this specific issue, the Prime Minister, Charles Konan Banny, spoke to Mr. Guehenno today, to brief him on the dissolution of the Government. He told them the decision was made to ensure that all those who have a hand in what happened in the dump of the toxic waste, take full responsibility and are removed from Government jobs. We obviously acknowledge the decision. I think it is always good when people take responsibility for these sorts of things."
Even cursory research finds the dumper, Trafigura Beheer BV, listed in various reports on the UN's Oil for Food program. Facts on File reports that:
"in May 2001, the Essex tanker, chartered by Dutch oil-trading company Trafigura Beheer BV, had been topped off with an extra 230,000 barrels after inspection at an off-shore Iraqi oil platform. Trafigura had purchased the oil in the shipment from French oil-services company Ibex Energy France. The cargo had been seized in the Caribbean Sea after the captain alerted U.S. and U.N. authorities. Later, according to the Journal, Ibex's general manager, Jean Paul Cayre, in an affidavit filed with Britain's High Court of Justice, had said the two companies performed the same routine with the Essex in 2000, under Trafigura's direction, paying Iraq $5.4 million for the extra oil. At Trafigura's direction, Cayre said, the two companies had shredded records of the deals and replaced them with false ones."
Documents tie French President Jacques Chirac's friend Patrick Maugein to the 25 million barrels allocated to Trafigura Beheer BV, which employed Patrick's brother Philippe as a consultant. Trafigura was accused of evading taxes on oil imports into Thailand; the International Relations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives has taken testimony on Trafigura's involving in the Sudanese oil industry.
Public reporting on Trafigura comes even closer to the current UN. The Financial Times' Claudio Gatti one year ago reported:
"Kojo Annan, son of Kofi Annan, United Nations secretary-general, received more than Dollars 750,000 from several oil trading companies now under investigation for their role in the UN's oil-for-food program (OFFP) for Iraq. The funds were dispatched between 2002 and 2003 to an account Kojo Annan opened under his middle name - Adeyemo - in a Swiss branch of Coutts bank... In 2003, one company - Trafigura Beheer BV, a Dutch-based entity founded by traders who formerly worked for the then fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich - sent $247,500 to Kojo Annan's account at Coutts... The company found records of the payment in question, but explained that it was related to a transaction with PPI, the Nigerian company that employed Mr Annan as a director. 'The request (of payment) was received from a PPI fax and it was assumed that this was a PPI account.' Mr. Annan's lawyer said PPI 'conducted business with Trafigura in 2002 and 2003' clarifying the deals were confined to Nigerian gas oil and petrol. PPI's representative in Geneva is Michael Wilson, a Ghanaian friend of the Annan family, who has attracted scrutiny in the oil-for-food investigation. Mr Wilson and Mr Annan both worked for Cotecna, the Swiss inspection company that in 1998 received a UN contract under the oil-for-food program ultimately worth $60 million. Between spring 2002 and spring 2003, Mr Annan's Coutts account received over $200,000."
Control of Coutts lay with Royal Bank of Scotland. As research into who funds and enables Trafigua continues, earlier this year Euromoney reported "BNP Paribas, ING and Royal Bank of Scotland's $300 million facility for commodity trading group Trafigura Beheer has closed."
On Friday the UN said it is sending the UN Environment Program to investigate the toxic dumping in Abidjan. But the trail is not without self-reference, and leads well beyond the Ivory Coast. Bigger picture, Reuters reports that "countries that report to the Basel Convention, which monitors hazardous waste, produced around 108 million tonnes of the wastes in 2001, according to U.N. statistics. Uzbekistan was top with 26 percent of the total." Developing...
In U.S. dumping news, South Korean shipping company Sun Ace Shipping Co. plead guilty this week to dumping oil residue off the coast of New Jersey and agreed to pay $500,000 in fines, the Justice Department said. New Jersey groups working to protect and restore the Delaware Estuary and its watershed will get $100,000 of the fines, the agency said. Sun Ace vessels will also be banned from U.S. ports and waters for three years, according to the terms of the plea agreement...
September 4, 2006
In Kentucky, Paducah Remediation Services, a contractor at the Energy Department's Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, intends to fix a series of safety and other problems jeopardizing millions of dollars in performance fees, company President Mike Spry said last week.
In Nigeria, the military burned hundreds of homes and shops in Port Harcourt after gunmen kidnapped at least two Italian oil workers and killed their military guard last week, witnesses said...
August 28, 2006
In Vietnam, protesters in Ho Chi Minh City are pressing to close down or force two steel plants to move away that are emitting manganese dust, carbon monoxide and lubricants at a rate five to 20 times higher than permitted...
Montana mystery: a contaminated plume of groundwater in a residential neighborhood southwest of downtown Billings is emitting vapors, according to tests conducted by the U.S. EPA last week. The agency said there is no indication of any imminent health risk to home owners and said that it plans to return to the site in the winter for more tests to see if the risk of breathing in contaminants is higher...
August 21, 2006
In North Carolina, while groundwater tests from around DuPont's Fayetteville Works plant show low levels of ammonium perfluorooctanoate, commonly known as C8, critics continue to attack for the high levels in workers' blood. While the average person might have 5 parts per billion of C8 in his blood, the highest reading in 2005 showed a plant worker with 4,540 ppb, and the average of 64 samples was 504 ppb
In India, Asbestos-lined ocean liner The Blue Lady arrived in India's Alang port on Tuesday to be scrapped, ending months of efforts by environmentalists to send the ship somewhere else. See this week's Global Inner Cities report for information on ship-breaking, particularly in Bangladesh....
August 14, 2006
In Tennessee, the Energy Department said last week that it will meet a federally mandated deadline to remove all of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's uranium-loaded cylinders by 2009. Dennis Hill, a spokesman for Bechtel Jacobs Co. -- which is overseeing the transportation of the cylinders to another facility in Piketon, Ohio -- said that there are 650 drums left to be shipped by the end of the calendar year.
Benin President Boni Yayi asked Nigeria on Saturday if it would keep the price of natural gas deliveries on its pending pipeline stable even if world oil prices fluctuate. The completion date for the pipeline has been pushed back three months to March 2007 because of pricing disagreements, Nigerian Energy Minister Jocelyn Degbe said...
August 7, 2006
Beyond petroleum? BP signed an agreement last week with lenders in Indonesia yesterday, securing $2.6 billion in financing to pay for a liquefied natural gas plant being constructed in human rights-challenged Papua province... In Alaska, the Department of Transportation said last week that it is investigating whistleblower allegations by BP workers that two safety valves were not working at the time of a large oil leak at the Prudhoe Bay oilfield in March...
July 31, 2006
Defensive litigation: in Florida, Lockheed Martin's lawyers have filed a motion in Florida's 12th Circuit Court asking more than 300 Tallevast residents who are suing the defense contractor over damages from a plume of toxic waste under their homes to turn over documents showing proof of ownership of their homes, tests for chemicals on their properties and alleged exposure to toxic substances...
In Russia, Exxon Mobil Corp. admitted last week that it spilled a small amount of oil from its Sakhalin Island project off the Russian coast....
July 24, 2006
In Washington State, Spokane's Wastewater Management Department Director Dale Arnold told the state Department of Ecology this week that at least 53,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled from storm drains in the city into the Spokane River over a three-day period earlier this month. But the actual amount of sewage could be greater because eyewitnesses reported to the city that they saw what appeared to be sewage debris in the river as early as May...
Overseas in Indonesia, Asia Pulp and Paper is desperately deny accusations that it is failing to protect some of Indonesia's most important remaining forests in Riau and Jambi provinces on Sumatra Island where it manages forest concessions .
U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker told Congress earlier this month that Iraq's government-controlled oil industry is hampering the country's ability to govern itself due to "massive corruption" and "a lot of theft." Oil metering, anyone?
July 17, 2006
In Australia, documents leaked last week show that Gunns's proposed $1.2 billion pulp mill will initially rely on native forests for up to 80 percent of its pulp wood resource...
Russia's LUKoil announced on July 11 that it wants to build its first refinery in Turkey. The firm, Russia's biggest oil company, said it would build the $2 billion refinery in the Turkish Black Sea port of Zonguldak...
Concerns are growing in Chad that money given to the government by Exxon Mobil Corp. in exchange for the rights to develop an oil pipeline in the country is not getting to the nation's poor. For most of this year, Chad's oil wealth has been frozen in London bank accounts after a government dispute with the World Bank...
In straight domestic EJ news in Texas, DeBerry community members filed a federal lawsuit last month against the Texas Railroad Commission accusing the state oil and natural gas industry regulator of environmental racism and claiming that the agency failed to enforce oil drilling safety regulations in the town. The U.S. EPA recently found the town's groundwater to be contaminated with pollutants such as arsenic, benzene, lead and mercury from local oilfields...
July 10, 2006
This week, an environmental focus on finance. Advocates note that Wells Fargo has invested millions of dollars in Massey Energy, which they say is destroying Appalachian communities with mountaintop coal removal...
Macquarie Bank and other investors announced yesterday they would buy Pennsylvania-based Duquesne Light Holdings Inc. for $1.59 billion...
July 3, 2006
In Delaware, suit has been filed against M.A. Hanna Plastics Group Inc. of Michigan, the Wilmington Economic Development Corp., and two individuals Wednesday to recover $3.7 million for the cleanup of toxins at the former Electric Hose and Rubber site in Wilmington, for buried lead- and arsenic-contaminated waste at the site...
In Bolivia, Energy Minister Andrez Soliz said last week he would seek criminal charges against former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada and Enron Corp. officials for allegedly cheating the country in a gas pipeline investment deal..
June 26, 2006
The Guam Environmental Protection Agency received a tip this week that a Harmon Co. facility is in possession of illegal refrigerants. The U.S. EPA is working with Guam regulators to investigating the illegal importation of R-22 refrigerants via the Philippines. R-22 is being phased out of production under the Clean Air Act because it contains levels of chlorine.
In Sudan, a small British oil company, White Nile Ltd., is slowing edging French oil giant Total SA out of control of the potential 3 million barrels of oil. White Niles secured large tracts of the land from the Southern Sudan government when the company gave the government a 50 percent stake in the operations, in contrast to Total's 10 percent offering to the Sudan's national government. The company will sink the first of 70 wells by November...
June 19, 2006
In North Carolina, test results from a May lead-poisoning case at the Penrith Townhouses in Durham revealed elevated lead levels in the water of 12 of 51 units sampled, according to Durham County's Environmental Health Director Robert Brown. County and state officials then ordered further tests in homes around the development and found that 11 of the 19 homes sampled had elevated levels of lead in their water...
In Ohio, EPA cited Lanxess Corp. for air contamination at its Addyston plant last week...
According to a report called "Ecomafia," Italy lost up to 400,000 metric tons of hazardous waste last year, mostly to crime organizations that processed it more cheaply...
June 12, 2006
EPA's National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee has a Gulf Coast Hurricanes Work Group, which is now calling for EPA to revise its disaster response procedures to address the needs of "vulnerable populations," which could involve changes to the federal National Response Plan and Superfund National Contingency Plan (NCP). The recommendations, drafted by a work group of the (NEJAC), come as environmentalists are considering lawsuits over the response of EPA and other federal and state agencies to the environmental impacts of the disaster. The full NEJAC panel is scheduled to review the report at its June 20-22 meeting in Washington...
In Saudi Arabia on June 7, Texas-based Halliburton announced that it's been awarded a multimillion-dollar oilfield services contract by Saudi Aramco. The three-year contract would utilize up to 23 rigs to drill more than 300 wells. Saudi Arabia hopes to expand production capacity to 12.5 million barrels per day by 2009.
June 5, 2006
Weapons of mass destruction in Indiana - Army contractor Parsons Technology Inc. resumed work last week destroying VX nerve agent at a facility 30 miles north of Terre Haute after workers discovered degraded seals May 18 in a three-way valve in one of Newport Chemical Depot's two reactors. The discovery prompted the shutdown of both reactors used to destroy the chemicals...
Oops -- the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed fining GeoMechanics Inc. $3,250 for not securing a nuclear gauge with two separate locking devices, which led to its theft from a South Charleston, W Va., parking lot last September
A powerless nation: New Zealand's government says it will dispatch an electrical engineer to the South Pacific nation of Niue to help restore power to the island, which lost power Tuesday night after a fire broke out at the nation's sole power station...
May 29, 2006
In Oregon, Portland General Electric's coal-fired power plant in Boardman is finally back operating after a four-month shutdown for repairs to its turbine and generator rotors. The shutdown cost utility customers an additional $46 million in extra power costs. PGE has asked state regulators to track the costs of the replacement power and, at a later date, bill customers - GrEat...
In Rwanda, regulators will soon begin testing a 5-megawatt power plant next month to determine the technical viability of a proposed gas-to-power generation plant in Lake Kivu. And across the lake is the Democratic Republic of Congo, where despite fighting an election is scheduled for July 31 -- for more, see ICP's Global Inner Cities Reports.
May 22, 2006
On the housing front, in Colorado 300 residents of the Penwood Place Apartments in Denver had to evacuate last week because of asbestos contamination two to 10 times above safe levels in wall plaster discovered after a fire at the apartment..
Mining: BHP Billiton Ltd. agreed last week to sell its Tintaya copper mine in Peru to Anglo-Swiss miner Xstra PLC for $860 million..
In New Mexico, the state Environment Department has accepted Los Alamos National Laboratory's plan to determine the extent of groundwater chromium contamination in Los Alamos County. The Nuclear Security Administration found chromium levels in a monitoring well in December that were more than four times the federal drinking water standard and eight times the state's groundwater standard.
May 15, 2006
In Kentucky, lawsuits have been filed against two industrial plants for their industrial odors and emissions. The suits target Louisville Gas & Electric, the operator of the coal-fired Cane Run power plant, and the Hexion Specialty Chemicals plant.
From Brussels, E.U. officials wrote a letter to the German economy minister last month seeking clarification of the deal between Deutsche Bank, German state bank KfW and Russian energy giant Gazprom for a proposed 1 billion Euro natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. Officials wish to determine whether the deal's details are compatible with E.U. regulations.
In South Africa, the city of uMhlathuze is suffering from high emissions levels caused by industry, vehicles and biomass burning, according to a new report from the city council's environmental planning department. Buffer zones and ambient air quality limits will have to be introduced, it concluded.
May 8, 2006
In Delaware, Oil and tar balls began appearing along the Delaware Bay
of Dover last week, triggering increased spill control efforts in both New Jersey and Delaware. Delaware Department of Natural Resources investigators said the oil might have been spilled or dumped by a ship traveling along the bay's main channel...
Globally, it's toxic politics: Russia has extended last month's ban on Georgian and Moldovan wines to brandy and sparkling wines, which Russian officials said also contained pesticides and heavy metals. Nothing to do with the Russian-backed breakaway regions of Abkhazia and Transdniester, of course...
May 1, 2006
In Colorado last week, EPA officials released proposed penalties for Fremont Paving and Redi-Mix, Inc. for spilling 4,000 gallons of oil into Oak Creek in May 2005. EPA's proposed fines are $37,890 for the complaint and $75,000 for a proposed "supplemental environmental project." Hmm...
In Maryland, Carroll County Health Department and the state Department of the Environment admitted last week that water from a well serving 40 homes in a Finksburg trailer park has tested positive for suspected carcinogen and gasoline additive MTBE. The officials claimed they were unsure of the source of the 20 parts per billion contamination, but they said that it did not come from nearby gas stations or an auto-parts junkyard...
In Alaska, former NFL running back Larry Csonka, who's now a commentator for the Outdoor Life Network was fined $5,000 by the National Forest Service April 19 for conducting commercial work in a national forest without obtaining a special-use permit. Larry, Larry, quite contrary...
April 24, 2006
In Michigan, Muskegon city officials began searching for underground contamination of vinyl chloride at the Beacon Square shopping plaza last week in preparation for the opening of new stores in the shopping center. New stores on vinyl chloride?
Oil dealings in Brussels: European oil refiner Petroplus said last week that it will buy Belgium-based Petroleum Holdings in a deal that would create the continent's largest independent refiner...
April 17, 2006
In Tennessee, the cleanup of the K-770 scrap yard in Oak Ridge, a couple miles west of the former K-25 uranium-enrichment plant, will not finish until sometime around the end of the year, according to cleanup officials. The cleanup, which has already hauled away 30,000 tons of radioactive junk from the scrap yard, was supposed to finish several months ago...
In Missouri, EPA and state Department of Environmental Quality officials began testing chemicals at the former Minton Enterprises facility in Highland last Thursday to determine the extent of contamination at the site. EPA officials estimate the cleanup at the site will cost the government as much as $300,000 and will take months to complete...
April 10, 2006
Last Tuesday the EPA released test results showing that high lead levels contaminate 14 New Orleans neighborhoods, and that a cancer-causing petroleum constituent is present in a city landfill. The announcement of the presence of the contaminants marks the first time since the start of the seven-month environmental investigation that officials have acknowledged contamination problems in neighborhoods outside of St. Bernard Parish, where a million-gallon oil spill took place...
In West Virginia, it has now been shown that Massey Energy did not teach miners how to use fire-safety equipment or conduct fire drills at the Aracoma Alma No. 1 Mine where two miners died in a January 19 fire...
In India, 40 survivors of the deadly 1984 Bhopal methyl isocyanate gas leak from a Union Carbide plant completed a 500-mile walk from Bhopal to New Delhi demanding that the government make amends to survivors and to victims -- Union Carbide's leak killed over 3500 people...
April 3, 2006
In Delaware, from TRI we learn that toxic air pollution rose in 2004, mostly due to the emissions from ERG Energy's Indian River power plant, which accounted for 46 percent of all toxic emissions in the area in 2004...
In Alaska, the EPA announced on March 27 it has fined Anchorage chemical seller Altex Distributing Inc. $134,000 for not having a risk management plan or notifying emergency officials about thousands of pounds of chlorine and sulfur dioxide stored in the company's Ship Creek yard between May 2003 and Sept. 2005.
March 27, 2006
In Louisiana, St. Charles Parish Waterworks Director Robert Brou told the Parish Council last week that its east bank water-treatment plant is in such bad shape it could collapse at any time, shutting off water supplies to residents for months...
In New Mexico it's reported that of 54,029 public comments on El Paso's proposal to drill for coalbed methane in the Valle Vidal watershed, nine have been in support of the plan. Democracy? We'll see.
March 20, 2006
Science, Sh-mience. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe is demanding information from the National Science Foundation about the funding and management of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and its managing body, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and the roles they play in "researching, analyzing, and understanding the science of global climate change."
Inhofe has previously called global warming the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people"...
March 13, 2006
No stick? In New Jersey, testing has found traces of perfluorooctanoic acid in a well owned by Pennsville Township. DuPont Co. has a plant in Deepwater that uses PFOA for making Teflon...
The Energy Department last week cited the University of Chicago, manager of the federal Argonne National Laboratory, for nuclear safety violations going back to 1999. The job of managing the laboratory opened for bidding earlier this year. Time for a new manager?
Click here for Robert Bullard's narrative of events in Dickson, Tennessee...
March 6, 2006
Congressional hype: staff of the U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works Committee have started an investigation of how some EPA regions may be targeting small businesses with their regulations and enforcement. Even Inside EPA notes that the finding of the Small Business Administration's (SBA) ombudsman's office that out of 382 total small business complaints nationwide in FY05, only seven were filed against EPA, compared with 34 against the Internal Revenue Service and 28 against the Food & Drug Administration, according to the office. In FY04, 25 of the 445 complaints filed by small business owners pertained to EPA regulations. And in FY03, out of 412 complaints filed, just 17 were about EPA-related issues.
February 27, 2006
Buck-passing in the Big Easy. The federal Environmental Protection Agency is claiming that assessing public health issues in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is not its job (or problem), that only the Centers for Disease Control can do it. But the EPA and its previous head were just slapped down in a court ruling on their claim they did okay in New York after 9/11/01…
February 20, 2006
In South Carolina, The state Department of Health and Environmental
finally investigate complaints of air, water and ground contamination in Una, Saxon and Arcadia. The state probe stems from conference calls and in-person meetings-- two community meetings have been held. Organizers said more than 50 people attended the last one. The state now will concentrate on the Freeman Gas & Electric Co. property on Sibley Street. The mostly vacant land contains rows and rows of propane tanks.
Meanwhile, The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is seeking candidates to join the Environmental Justice Advisory Board. But note – if justice gets in the way of PA-based companies like Sovereign Bank, the law will be bent or changed (see Inner City Press’ Bank Beat for the specifics on Harrisburg’s fast-passed suck-up-to-Sovereign law).
February 13, 2006
Mercury from Jersey to Nevada: Officials will transfer nearly 3,000 metric tons of mercury in Hillsborough, N.J., to the Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada later this year, it was announced last week.
In California, technicians claim to have cleaned up about 90 percent of the hazardous waste at March Air Reserve Base using carbon filters, furnaces and gasoline-eating microorganisms. And what of the other ten percent?
February 6, 2006
In Florida, officials last week accused one Amoco and one Super Stop gas station in Homestead last week of post-Katrina price gouging after they raised gas prices 64 cents per gallon in one day after the hurricane. The stations face a fine of up to $10,000…
In Indiana, Swiss-based ABB Ltd. claims it will complete demolition of a former electrical components manufacturing plant it owns in Bloomington by the end of this year supposedly cleaning up cancer-causing chemicals at the site.
January 30, 2006
In Florida, it’s been confirmed that the Tallevast toxic plume from the former American Beryllium Co. plant has reached three different aquifer zones. Environmental Science & Technologies Inc. said the plume is moving more rapidly underground than previously believed
In South Dakota, efforts continue to get the state permit for GCC Dacotah's Rapid City cement plant rescinded. The concern is that the plant will be allowed to violate air quality standards because the permit requires it to monitor emissions once every five years…
January 23, 2006Consensus? The Los Angeles City Council last week approved settlement of lawsuits filed against the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Master Plan. The plaintiffs in the lawsuits against the LAX Master Plan will drop their state and federal lawsuits, allowing Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) to begin construction on the LAX South Airfield Improvement Project. The settlement requires LAWA to, among other things, (a) discontinue passenger operations at ten narrow-body gates at the rate of two gates per year starting in 2010. This requirement will be in effect until 2020 unless LAX is serving less than 75 million annual passengers or if, through amendments to the Master Plan, LAX has 153 gates or less; and (b) revisit and potentially replace controversial "yellow light" projects, such as
In the same week as the Alito hearings, and discussions of the Supreme Court’s New London takings clause decision, another novel use is proposed for eminent domain: in Alaska, lawmakers introduced a bill last week to use eminent domain to encourage oil and gas drilling by threatening to take land away from developers that are taking too long to begin work on the North Slope and Point Thomson natural gas projects…
Priorities seemingly backwards: In Utah, Salt Lake City officials will meet with residents to get their input on whether they should use Superfund money to clean up groundwater tainted with PCE. The site is near a culinary well by a reservoir. Officials worry that “the stigma associated with being a Superfund site could affect property values.” So leave it toxic?
January 9, 2006
In Florida, two kinds of fish caught in the Pensacola Bay system tested above federal health safety levels for PCBs, reflecting that sediment near a proposed Army Corps habitat restoration site is contaminated.
In Iowa, an agricultural plant that came under scrutiny last year for producing corrosive hydrochloric acid in Jefferson is in fact one of fully 63 power plants, cement makers and other manufacturers in the state that emit the acid, documents have shown. Most have higher smokestacks that release the acid in stronger winds.
In Massachusetts, courtesy the Cape Cod Times, Army officials are trying to decontaminate soil tainted with explosives and perchlorate at Camp Edwards by covering it with organic microbes and are experimenting with cranberry wastewater provided by Ocean Spray...
Nuclear medicine, anyone? Inner City Press/Community on the Move's Bronx branch has received a letter from Connecticut-based CardinalHealth, projecting a new “radio-pharmacy” at 2425 Waterbury Avenue in The Bronx. Triggering the letter is a required application to the NYS DEC, since the proposed site is in a DEC-defined “Environmental Justice Area,” and ICP has been identified by DEC as a “party likely to be interested in this Plan.” Well, yes. We’ve expressed our interest to Cardinal, but have yet to hear back.
January 3, 2006The EPA and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality claim that post-Katrina there are no long-term health risks from environmental contamination in southeast Louisiana, with the single exception of an oil spill that is now undergoing cleanup. "In general, the sediments located in areas flooded by the hurricanes in Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes are not expected to cause adverse health effects, provided people use common sense and good personal hygiene and safety practices," the agencies’ joint report claims. To reach this conclusion, the EPA for example used more lax state screening standards for arsenic…
December 26, 2005
In Wisconsin, investigations are mounting into the seeming link between donations from utility executives to Gov. Jim Doyle's campaign and the approval of the sale of the Kewaunee nuclear plant. Campaign finance records show Wisconsin Public Service Corp and Alliant Energy contributed more than $43,000 to Doyle when a state body was deciding whether to approve selling the plant to Dominion Resources
Also in Wisconsin, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission this week proposed a $60,000 fine for the operator of the Point Beach nuclear power plant for altering a federal report three years ago. The NRC also said it was proposing a fine for Nuclear Management Co. for not accurately reporting the result of an emergency preparedness drill at the plant…
December 19, 2005
From AP via the Rochester D&C of December 14: “In New York, 63 of the 107 neighborhoods with the highest health risk ratings were in Monroe County, according to AP's data. And when mapped, the neighborhoods form a bulls-eye around Kodak Park, Eastman Kodak's sprawling industrial facility. In fact, Kodak Park was one of the three factories across the nation that created potential health risks for nearby residents in 2000,
according to AP's analysis. (The others were Eramet Marietta Inc. in Marietta, Ohio, and Titan Wheel Corp., in Walcott, Iowa, which closed in 2003).” The Green Bay Press-Gazette, also of December 14, reported in more detail:
Total number of blacks in Wisconsin: 300,245 - Number in 10 percent of the most polluted areas: 140,159 -Percentage: 47
Total Hispanics: 192,921 - Hispanics in polluted areas: 87,585 - Percentage: 45
Total Asians: 87,995 - Asians in polluted areas: 26,153 - Percentage: 30
Total whites: 4,681,630 - Whites in polluted areas: 629,426 - Percentage: 13 percent
-- Source: Environmental Protection Agency and 2000 U.S. Census Bureau statistics.
December 12, 2005
In New Jersey, cleanup workers at Ford Motor Company’s Ringwood site have identified extensive areas where lead solvents, PCBs and other toxics are still present…
In Michigan, CMS Energy Corp. announced last week it will begin accepting bids for its Palisades nuclear plant and hopes to sell it by 2007. CMS said the company plans to enter into a long-term agreement with the buyer to continue to purchase power from the facility. We’ll see.
And in Peru, St. Louis-based Doe Run Co. is responsible for lead poisoning of Peruvian children because of its metallurgical complex, experts said last week. Nearly all of the children tested in La Oroya, had lead poisoning, Doe Run and the Ministry of Health reported last year…
December 5, 2005
In Connecticut, the U.S. EPA has taken over the cleanup of the polluted 7.45-acre Hull Dye property that once contained more than 800 abandoned chemical drums from textile operations. The Derby site has been entangled in investigations of corruption at the state’s Department of Environmental Protection…
In Kentucky, the state recently spent $5,000 to close an abandoned oil well that leaked oily sludge during heavy rains, threatening the Middle Fork of Newcombe Creek in Elliott County. Oil and gas regulators have identified at least 8,000 similar abandoned wells that may need plugging and reclamation…
November 28, 2005
This week, we turn north to Canada, where toxic waste left over from a former Royal Canadian Air Force radar base is polluting Northern Ontario's Polar Bear Provincial Park on Hudson Bay. Up to 10,000 rusted metal drums left over from 40 years ago leak chemicals into the ground, contaminating water, and harming polar bears, caribou and rare species of birds…
Less far north, in upstate New York, General Electric is now planning not to remove the PCBs it put into the Hudson River, but rather to “cap” thousands of cubic yards of the PCBs at the bottom of the river. This according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration memo sent to U.S. EPA in October. GE released 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson during the decades it manufactured capacitors and other components at its Hudson Falls and Fort Edward plants north of Albany. Last month, GE reached a tentative agreement-on-the-cheap with EPA that would require GE to dredge 43 miles of the river, but that plan has yet to be formalized…
November 21, 2005
More Gulf Coast pollution: an oil tank vessel traveling from Houston to Tampa, Fla., last week spilled about 10,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil off the coast of Port Arthur after debris punctured the barge, the Coast Guard has disclosed...
In Nevada, the EPA has asked BP subsidiary Atlantic Richfield Co. to construct fences and provide security around six square miles of old tailings and waste ponds at the former Anaconda copper mine. Arco said the Bureau of Land Management should pay for fencing and security...
November 14, 2005
Slipshod: In Wisconsin, officials at the Point Beach Nuclear Plant shut down and then restarted a reactor last week after workers discovered peeling paint on the inside of the reactor, according to a report filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission...
In Connecticut last week, Pfizer accidentally leaked five gallons of industrial chemicals from its Groton facility...
This week we review a welcome new addition to the still-small bibliography of environmental justice books: anthropologist Melissa Checker’s “Polluted Promises: Environmental Racism and the Search for Justice in a Southern Town” (NYU Press 2005). The “Southern Town” in question is Augusta, Georgia, specifically the Hyde Park / Aragon Park neighborhood. The author went to Augusta in the fall of 1998 to volunteer with the Hyde and Aragon Park Improvement Committee (HAPIC), which was combating pollution by ITT-owned Southern Wood Piedmont, pouring PCBs into Rocky Creek. Chapter Five of the book tells the story of three lawsuits, spanning the early 1990s until at the time of the author’s arrival, “resigning themselves to the fact that their lawsuit might never pan out, HAPIC leaders looked to longer-term solutions to their problems” (135). A computer center is set up and other polluters are identified: Thermal Ceramics and Goldberg Brothers scrap metal yard, whose drums of mercury-contaminated debris are pictured on page 182. After much struggle, the scrap yard is cleaned up, leveled and cleaned out. The author concludes “that progress toward social change might be halting or slow, or sometimes might event take a few steps backward, but there is progress if you look for it.” We’re glad the Ms. Checker looked for it, and filed this report.
November 7, 2005
In Maryland, more than 800 landowners in Carroll County have received letters notifying them that MTBE levels in area wells tested above the state action level. New state laws require officials to notify residents when measuring high levels of the gasoline additive
In New England, Wal-Mart was last week forced agreed to pay a $50,000 fine and equip its trucks with portable generators following an investigation that found the company's trucks idling illegally last year in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
October 31, 2005
In Utah, the International Uranium Corp.'s mill in San Juan Country began receiving truckloads of nuclear waste from Japan last week, raising questions over Utah's ability to regulate foreign nuclear material.
Pennsylvania, Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta says he wants to use
dredged material from rivers in Philadelphia, New York and New
Jersey to fill used mines and promote development in the region.
Others have wisely pointed out that imported dredge could bring
unwanted contaminants into the area. Yep...
October 24, 2005
Garbage time. In New Jersey, litigation has begun asserting that the New York Susquehanna & Western Railway Corp. and several other transportation operators have violated a federal ban on open dumping at waste transfer stations.
Rhode Island, state investigators discovered this week that more
than 80,000 tons of fly ash from a Massachusetts incinerator ended
up in a Johnston, R.I., landfill. The Rhode Island Department of
Environmental Management has said each truckload of solid waste
transported from out of state could carry a three-year jail
sentence and a $5,000 penalty -- mighty cheap, we think...
October 17, 2005
Corporate sleaze in South Carolina: DuPont and contractor Fluor are together seeking a $7.5 billion five-year contract to manage the Energy Department's contaminated Savannah River site...
More sleaze: the proposal to reduce the Toxics Release Inventory reporting requirement to every other year -- moving in the wrong direction. Click here for more.
October 10, 2005
General Electric, while fighting Superfund in court, reached a settlement-on-the-cheap with the EPA last week for its contamination of the Hudson River with polychlorinated biphenyls. The agreement calls on GE to pay the government up to $78 million of the EPA's bill -- which could exceed $700 million. GE dumped an estimated 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the river from its plants in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls. Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch has submitted comments against GE’s proposed expansions in Turkey and the Philippines, click here for ICP’s GE Watch.
Beyond preemption: in
Congress, Senators Inhofe and Vitterer have used Hurricane
Katrina to propose legislation that would give the EPA
administrator authority to waive or change any law under EPA's
jurisdiction or that applies to any activity in the nation carried
out by the agency for up to 18 months....
October 3, 2005
With Katrina and Rita now passed, the two federal agencies
with lead environmental roles, the Environmental Protection Agency
and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have released
lists of “roadblocks,” including dealing with 22 million tons of
debris. None of the wood debris can leave because that might
spread Formosan termites, which have infested New Orleans
since the mid-1960s, eating away at homes, cables, trees and
dock pilings. Open burning is usually against the rules. So is
dumping billions of gallons of untreated, contaminated water into
Lake Pontchartrain. The EPA has already waived such rules. A bill
by Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, chairman of the Senate
environment and public works committee, would let the EPA suspend
its standards for four months during the Katrina cleanup, with
extensions possible for 18 months or more...
September 26, 2005
In Colorado, Standard Mine in the Gunnison National Forest has been added to the list of the state's 22 Superfund sites last week. The site, where mining began in 1874, leaks wastewater saturated with metals into the Elk Creek waterway...
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources disclosed last week that the amount of out-of-state garbage dumped in Wisconsin landfills has increased by 46 percent since last year...
September 19, 2005
In West Virginia, dioxin concentrations in the Nitro community center's day-care result in an additional cancer risk of 91 per 1 million children, just below the already-unrealistically-high level requiring a U.S. EPA cleanup of the site, agency officials said in a report released last week.
Also cheesy -- in California, Hilmar Cheese Co. has agreed to negotiate with state environmental officials about a $4 million fine for illegally flushing milky wastewater onto nearby fields for nearly three years at its Turlock manufacturing facility. Water regulators have accused the cheese plant -- which Hilmar says is the world's largest -- of dumping an average of 700,000 gallons of salty wastewater daily onto Merced County fields.
In (and around) the
Loop: children playing near a H. Kramer and Co. smelter in Pilsen
could suffer from lead poisoning, according to a study released
last week. Illinois EPA records show the plant is the largest
source of airborne lead in Chicagoland... Speaking of Chicago,
book review this week, of Steve Bogira’s “Courtroom 302.”
September 12, 2005
In South Carolina, Duke Energy Corp.'s Oconee nuclear power station is operating again after an outage last month resulted in an inspection by Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials. The faulty unit, one of three in the power station, was operating at 18 percent capacity last week...
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) wrote a letter last week to the state EPA asking why Midwest Generation was not penalized for more than 7,600 documented pollution violations at six coal plants in and around Chicago. See this week’s Inner City Press CRA Report for details on the AG’s father’s motives for passing an anti-foreclosure bill in Illinois’ state legislature...
September 5, 2005
There are, or were,
140 petrochemical plants along the 80 miles of the Mississippi
river between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Post-Katrina, with
rainbows on the river, the damage has yet to be assessed. Beyond hydrocarbons, the run-off of
pesticides and fertilizers starves the water of oxygen and creates
the world's largest "dead zone" off the Louisiana coast. This
year, even prior to Katrina, it expanded to an estimated 8,000
square miles. Going forward, here’s a
contact for advocacy: Louisiana Office of Environmental
Assessment, Regulation, Box 4314, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4314 --
fax (225) 219-3582... And, click here for ICP’s Gulf Coast
August 29, 2005
Right move for the wrong reason -- the Navy asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week to reverse a decision allowing Cove Energy to build a liquefied natural gas terminal in Fall River. The Navy said the project would disrupt the military's torpedo testing in Narragansett Bay...
The dirty cleaners: Cosmed Group Inc., a Rhode Island company that sterilizes medical equipment, will pay a $1.5 million fine for ethylene oxide emissions at five facilities across the nation
Cleanup will begin
early next month at the Starmet Corp. Superfund site in West
Concord, Massachusetts. The state Department of Environmental
Protection hired Utah-based Envirocare to remove more than 3,700
barrels of spent uranium and transport them to a disposal facility
near Salt Lake City -- where Wal-Mart is trying to charter a bank,
for ICP/Fair Finance Watch’s opposition.
for ICP/Fair Finance Watch’s opposition.
August 22, 2005
This, we must link to -- the GAO's report on environmental justice, or the lack thereof. Click here for the whole report in text format; here are some quotes:
"We found that in four phases of drafting three significant clean air rules between fiscal years 2000 and 2004, EPA generally devoted little attention to environmental justice... the economic analyses of the two mobile source rules did not include an analysis of environmental justice.... EPA's capability to identify environmental justice concerns through economic reviews also appears to be limited. More than 10 years have elapsed since the executive order directed federal agencies, to the extent practicable and permitted by law, to identify and address the disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities. However, EPA apparently does not have sufficient data and modeling techniques to be able to distinguish localized adverse impacts for a specific community." Yep...
August 15, 2005
In Alabama, Morgan County residents are criticizing the state Department of Environmental Management for failing to notify them of benzene contamination leaking from underground storage tanks. ADEM said it has a policy of notifying only families who obtain drinking water from a well...
Florida, Lockheed Martin Corp. has completed its own
(self-serving) evaluation of the contamination at the former
American Beryllium Co. site in Tallevast. The report put the plume
of contamination at 131 acres...
August 8, 2005
In New Jersey, there are plans to sue the New York Susquehanna and Western Railway Corp. and several hauling companies over violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which bans "open dumping" of polluting waste into the environment.
Meanwhile, in California and also rail-related, questions are growing about the air quality agreement reached in June between Union Pacific, BNSF [formerly Burlington Northern Santa Fe] and the Air Resources Board -- it was done without public participation. Environmental justice, anyone?
August 1, 2005
General Electric and the EPA continue to delay in dredging PCBs from the Hudson River. Now the beginning of the clean-up is being pushed back to 2007. GE spewed the carcinogenic PCBs into the Hudson for forty years out of its plants in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls. Reportedly, “negotiations between GE and the EPA bogged down last year when the company sought to limit how much sludge it would remove. A plan on which PCB "hot spots" would be dredged, which was due in March 2004, was held up until February.” It has been suggested that the “EPA should do the cleanup work and pursue the company for triple the cost as allowed under federal Superfund legislation governing the toxic waste removal. The EPA does not expect to take this more aggressive approach, Rosales said. ‘The preference of the agency is to reach an enforcement agreement first, then have the polluter pay for the project,’ he said.” Especially when it’s GE, he could have added, but didn’t...
July 25, 2005
In New Jersey, inspectors last week found thousands of pounds of the toxic chemical phosphorus pentasulfide during an inspection of a Meadowlands rail yard. After responding to a report of a spill, inspectors discovered more than 80 containers of the deadly substance. The facility is owned by New York Susquehanna & Western Railroad Corporation...
WMD... in Indiana. Approximately five gallons of wastewater containing remnants of a deadly VX nerve agent leaked at the Newport Chemical Depot last week, though contamination was limited to one room. The Army had been destroying the toxic through a sodium hydroxide reactor when the incident occurred...
July 18, 2005
Hazardous waste in Western New York: in the town of Porter, opposition to the proposed expansion of Chemical Waste Management's hazardous waste landfill is growing. The state DEC held a public hearing in May 2004; still, it seems that CWM plans to expand in Porter. As one local put it, "Just because a piece of land was already contaminated, with waste from the Manhattan Project and the atomic bomb, doesn't mean you just keep piling more and more waste there." Yep...
July 11, 2005
New York State officials last week approved a $451 million plan to clean up Onondaga Lake, calling on Honeywell International to remove pollution from the lake. Honeywell and its predecessor AlliedSignal Inc. are responsible for much of the mercury and other pollution dumped into the lake by the Allied Chemical plant in Solvay...
In power news, last
week the Wisconsin Public Service Corp. and Wisconsin Power and
Light Co. sold the Kewaunee nuclear power plant to Richmond,
Va.-based Dominion Resources Inc. for $191.5 million -- 13 percent
lower than the $220 million expected when the deal was first
announced in November 2003. Also, ex- Bank of America
CFO Jim Hance has moved to the board of directors of Duke Power. Oh, Equator Principles...
July 5, 2005
To be watched, closely: this week lawyers for DuPont are slated to meet with the West Virginia Environmental Quality Board to discuss alternations DuPont wants to make to the industrial waste dump in Wood County, WV...
On July 4, ICP Fair Finance Watch filed filing comments with regulators in Central America on General Electric’s proposal to buy control of BAC International Bank and export its (subprime) consumer finance to six more countries; ICP noted environmental issues at GE as well -- click here to view a summary the comments.
June 27, 2005
In Alabama, the Anniston Army Depot could pay $1,100 in fines after the state Department of Environmental Management found unlabeled hazardous waste during two surprise inspections last spring, ADEM officials said in a notice of violation issued June 6. All we can ask is -- a barely $1000 fine?
In Tennessee, a settlement to reduce pollution was reached Wednesday between Loudon County residents and environmental groups and Tate & Lyle -- the company that wanted to construct an $80 million corn syrup facility there...
In North Carolina,
the state legislature is considering a bill that would transfer a
100-acre DuPont Co. industrial site to the state and then to
Swiss-based Ilford Imaging Group. But who would pick up the $7.2
million tab to clean up arsenic and other pollution there?
Until next time, for or with more information, contact us.
Until next time, for or with more information, contact us.
June 20, 2005
In New Mexico, the state Environmental Department last week fined fertilizer company Helena Chemical Co. $233,777 for failing to comply with state air quality laws and regulations.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission proposes to let a private consortium build a National Enrichment Facility to make fuel for atomic power plants about 200 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. The location is near the town of Eunice, in Lea County, New Mexico....
In Texas, as part of an agreement with the state Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Petrochemicals has committed to reduce emissions of 1,3-butadiene by half. High concentrations of the toxic chemical were found around the company's fences, which border people’s backyards. We’ll see...
June 13, 2005
In Texas, BP is close to settling most of the civil claims brought by workers injured in the March explosion at its Texas City refinery, attorneys for both sides said last week. The March 23 blast killed 15 people and injured more than 170, many of them seriously...
The Associated Press speculated last week that General Electric may consolidate its nuclear power business in North Carolina in the hope that regulators will allow utilities to build a new generation of power plants, company officials said this week. In 2003, GE Nuclear Energy moved its headquarters from San Jose, Calif., to Wilmington, NC...
June 6, 2005
In federal court in Alabama, McWane Inc. is charged with violating the Clean Water Act by misleading federal regulators about dumping pollutants into Avondale Creek.
In Minnesota, arsenic, dioxin and other chemicals need to be removed from about 40 homes near the Cass Lake Superfund site, U.S. EPA officials said last week. The chemicals were left by a former wood treatment plant that closed in 1985...
May 31, 2005
Too little, too late: in Montana, EPA chief Steven Johnson said last week it will take five to six years to clean up asbestos contamination in Libby, the site of a former W.R. Grace & Co. vermiculite mine. Current EPA funding for the remediation project is about $17 million per year...
Outside investors in / controllers of West Virginia:
Denver-based Energy Corp. of America said last week it has inked a
deal with Black Stone Mineral Co. L.P. of Houston to sell about 7
million shares of term royalty interest in the Appalachian Gas
May 23, 2005
In Kentucky, the state will resume paying $12,500 per month for air monitoring of toxic chemicals in Louisville, officials said last week. The University of Louisville has paid for the program since the state stopped payments almost a year ago.
In Utah, the EPA sued U.S. Magnesium last week in federal court, alleging that the company has illegally manufactured and dumped PCBs at its site near the Great Salt Lake. Agency officials, who said they would seek the statutory maximum, have called the company the nation's worst polluter. Oh, there’s others, too...
May 16, 2005
In Colorado, the state Public Utilities Commission and the state Office of Consumer Counsel have proposed a $5.6 million fine for Xcel Energy in response to several power outages last summer.
Right to know? Safety and health records from the Texas City BP refinery that exploded recently will not be made public until the conclusion of a probe by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a federal district court judge ruled last week...
May 9, 2005
Dangerous cargo: More than 10,000 shipments of hazardous materials travel through Columbia, South Carolina each year on the Norfolk Southern railroad, according to company officials. Common chemicals include molten sulfur, anhydrous ammonia and chlorine, all of which could be fatal is spilled in a populated area
Kentucky, the Louisville Metro Air Pollution District filed for an
administrative hearing last week to seek up to $790,000 in fines
from the Louisville Paving plant, which has been cited for 16 air
May 2, 2005
In New Jersey, Exxon Mobil Corp. claimed last week it is waiting for the Army Corps of Engineers to approve its remediation plan before it begins work at an East Greenwich Township site contaminated with PCBs. The company faces fines of $50,000 per day unless it agrees to clean up the site. We’ll see.
In Connecticut, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission is conducting a special inspection of the Millstone Nuclear Power Complex in Waterford after an emergency shutdown and steam release at the plant last week.
April 25, 2005
In California, tests by the state Department of Toxic Substances Control have detected perchlorate at four times the state drinking water standard in an irrigation well near a Wyle Laboratories plant in Norco. Earlier tests found the chemical in groundwater and two septic tanks on at the plant.
In Texas, Asarco, which owns an El Paso copper smelter that has contaminated nearby soil, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week for five subsidiaries in an effort to limit asbestos liability. State and city officials said they are worried that the company will attempt a similar tactic to limit its responsibility for lead and arsenic pollution at the smelter site. Apparently Congress’ supposed crackdown on bankruptcy abuse is only directed at consumers, and not polluters...
April 18, 2005
In California, the J.R. Davis rail yard emitted 25 tons of soot in 2000, equivalent to the amount produced by 90,000 diesel trucks, according to a study by the state Air Resources Board. Since the study, the first of its kind, rail traffic to the facility has increased
While hardly inner city we are compelled to report that a BP pipeline rupture "misted" 200 acres of tundra with crude oil in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska on April 12. State environmental officials said they do not yet know how much oil spilled.
April 11, 2005
In California, Valero agreed last week to pay the EPA a $97,940 fine for alleged hazardous materials violations at its Benicia refinery. A June 2003 site inspection revealed the refinery improperly stored sludge from petroleum processing and lacked necessary permits...
In Delaware, a mechanical problem at Premcor's Delaware City Refinery caused significant emissions on the morning of April 6 of sooty black smoke. State Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary John Hughes said the release was part of a pattern of violations at the plant that could lead to a "chronic violator" review. We’ll see.
April 4, 2005
In El Paso, Texas, the City Council voted unanimously last week to sue Asarco to pay for a cleanup of 600 residential yards contaminated with lead and arsenic released by the company's copper smelter.
In Ohio, industrial facilities released 289 million pounds of toxic emissions last year, compared to 290 million the year before, according to a state Environmental Protection Agency report released last week.
In continued chemical weapons news from Alabama, the
Anniston Chemical Disposal Facility successfully burned 1,026
8-inch artillery projectiles and 1,245 gallons of sarin during a
test held between March 18 and March 23, officials said last
March 28, 2005
In Indiana, pesticide maker Reilly Industries failed to repair two refrigeration units at its Indianapolis plant, releasing excessive amounts of chlorofluorocarbons, according to a U.S. EPA violation notice made public on March 22... In Massachusetts, ChemGenes Corp. failed to conduct inspections of hazardous waste storage areas, label dates and containers, and provide proper training for employees, the U.S. EPA said last week. The agency has proposed fining the company $225,206 for multiple violations of federal and state laws... \
In Texas, even before the explosion at BP, BASF Fina
Petrochemicals LP entered into an Agreed Order on Wednesday with
the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, settling complaints
about flare emissions at the company's Port Arthur steam cracker.
BASF will pay a $1.9 million fine -- hardly enough.
March 21, 2005
In New Jersey, the EPA will expand its investigation of paint sludge and other chemicals near a Ford toxic waste dump in Ringwood. Residents says that the sludge, which contains heavy metals, benzene and PCBs, has made them sick...
In New York, a state Supreme Court justice ordered Yonkers last month to repair aging sewer pipes and hookups that have polluted the Bronx River with raw sewage. The town could be subject to fines of up to $1,000 per day if it does not reduce fecal coliform levels in the river to acceptable levels within 15 months...
In Maryland, Army officials said last week they had neutralized the last 30 gallons of mustard agent at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, which once housed more than 1,600 gallons. Nearby residents said they are still worried about buried munitions at the site, as well as the possibility that chemical residue could leach into groundwater...
March 14, 2005
In New Jersey, Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corp. must remove more than 30,000 drums of waste from a landfill on its Dover Township property or face a state lawsuit, the state DEP commissioner said March 8 in a letter to the company. The site contains waste from Ciba's defunct industrial dye- and resin-making operations...
In Washington State, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should have required an environmental impact statement before allowing a $31 million pier expansion at the BP Cherry Point Refinery, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said last week, affirming the court's earlier finding.
In other enviro-legal news, Houston-based Dynegy Midwest Generation was required last week to install $ 500 million worth of pollution control equipment and other improvements at the former Illinois Power Baldwin generating station and four other plants, along with a $ 9 million fine...
news, Inner City Press’ BofA Watch report
this week is on this irony: while BofA brags about its
environmental commitment, with organizations which (wisely)
denounce fossil fuel pollution, on March 9, 2005, the following
Partners, L.P. to Acquire ETC Oklahoma Pipeline for $190 Million
Atlas Pipeline Partners L.P. (NYSE:APL) (the "Partnership") announces that on March 8, 2005, it entered into an agreement with LG PL, LLC, a Texas limited liability company, and La Grange Acquisition, L.P., a Texas limited partnership, subsidiaries of Energy Transfer Partners L.P. (NYSE:ETP), to acquire all of the outstanding equity interests in ETC Oklahoma Pipeline, Ltd., a Texas limited partnership... ETC Oklahoma Pipeline's principal assets include more than 315 miles of natural gas pipelines located in the Anadarko Basin in western Oklahoma, a natural gas processing facility in Elk City, Oklahoma with total capacity of 130 million cubic feet of gas per day ("mmcf/d") and a 100 mmcf/d gas treatment facility in Prentiss, Oklahoma, collectively referred to as the "Elk City system". Total gas throughput, including approximately 118 mmcf/d processed at the Elk City plant, is currently approximately 262 mmcf/d. Total compression horsepower consists of 21,000 hp at six field stations and 12,000 horsepower within the Elk City facility. The Elk City system gathers and processes gas from more than 300 receipt points representing more than fifty producers and delivers that gas into multiple interstate pipeline systems.
The Partnership has received a commitment from Wachovia Bank, National Association and Fleet National Bank, a Bank of America company, to fully underwrite a new $270 million loan facility. The facility will be comprised of a $225 million 5-year revolving loan and a $45 million 5-year term loan. The loan proceeds will be used to refinance the existing $54 million outstanding on our current $135 million facility and to finance the acquisition of ETC Oklahoma Pipeline.
We’ve highlighted BofA above, because of its bragging (and because this week’s Wachovia Watch Report focuses on ICP’s ongoing FOIA litigation to unseal the list of subprime lenders assisted). BofA’s wider environmental record still needs scrutiny...
March 7, 2005
In Oklahoma at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, which makes 2,000 pound "bunker buster" penetration bombs, halted production Feb. 8 after 17 workers developed anemia caused by TNT exposure. The closure is the second since August...
In the U.K. there’s a proposal in the new Environmental Justice Bill to give a right to communities to order an environmental impact assessment of developments such as new factories, roads or waste incineration plants. The U.K.’s Environment Agency in 2003 prosecuted 266 companies and the courts imposed fines on 11 company directors for polluting. The average fine in 1998 was £2,500. It is now estimated to be only £4,000...
In Massachusetts, EPA data shows that a portion of the polluted Housatonic River now undergoing a $45 million cleanup is in danger of recontamination with PCBs discharged by a General Electric plant.
February 28, 2005
On Memphis, Tennessee’s Presidents Island, Radiological Assistance Consulting and Engineering -- yes, the acronym is “RACE” -- plans to burn low-level radioactive waste from hospitals, research laboratories and nuclear power generators at its plant at 2550 Channel. The four-year-old company very quietly received a construction permit from the local Health Department. The incinerator should be ready to start this summer, brags company president Bob Applebaum. He claims there will be no danger because of the "very, very small" levels of radiation. Then why the stealth permitting process? The Health Department published a small public notice in The Daily News in September 2002. The permit was issued in February 2003; the company later got an extension when the project was delayed. And now, they’re gearing up to burn, in the face of opposition. Environmental justice, anyone?
In colder Alaska, the EPA has fined XTO Energy Inc. $139,000 for Clean Water Act violations at the company's two Cook Inlet oil production platforms and its Nikiski processing plant between January 2000 and June 2004. Discharge from the facilities exceeded pollutant limits for treated sanitary and domestic wastewater on at least 24 occasions...
February 21, 2005
In Houston opposition continues to grow to Allied Waste Industries, with applied last April for a permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to vertically expand the landfill, formerly operated by Browning-Ferris Industries, from 188 to 316 feet, at 5757 Oates Road. Allied Waste spokeswoman Linda Brown refused to comment. "Saturday was the deadline for any filings with the TCEQ, and as of today, we still have not received, although it's a little early yet, the official notification about the contest. So the client is not going to make any comment until such time," Brown said.
In Michigan, U.S. Steel last week was fined $950,000 for emitting small particles of solids into the air at its Ecorse plant on the Detroit River.
In Delaware, the EPA and the Justice Department have sued the heirs of the former Diamond State Salvage yard in Wilmington to recoup cleanup costs. The suit seeks $18 million for the removal of 100,000 tons of contaminated soil and 4,700 tons of debris.
February 14, 2005
In Louisiana, a federal judge ruled last week that Chalmette Refining LLC violated the Clean Air Act more than 34 times between 2001 and 2003. The company could eventually be ordered to pay $27,500 per day for each violation...
Final fall-out: the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority received $23 million last week as reimbursement for the cleanup of PCB-contaminated soil at the Paoli Rail Yard Superfund site. The settlement ended a 19-year-old court fight with American Premier Underwriters Co., the insurance firm formed after the Penn Central railroad went bankrupt...
February 7, 2005
Amidst the Super Bowl hype, environmental justice: in northwest Jacksonville, “homes, schools and parks were built on closed dumps, which contain ash from incinerators that the city used to burn trash during most of the 20th century. Tests have found soil in those areas containing excessive amounts of heavy metals, usually lead and arsenic, and sometimes dioxins and other industrial chemicals. Cleanup plans now pending with the EPA involve neighborhoods near McCoys Creek, Durkeeville, Royal Terrace and Lonnie Miller Park.” Florida Times-Union, January 11, 2005. In the Super Bowl’s aftermath, will any of these issues be resolved?
In Pennsylvania, two tanker cars filled with anhydrous hydrogen fluoride -- a caustic concentrated gas that turns into hydrofluoric acid when mixed with water -- ended up in the Allegheny River last week after a train derailment in East Deer.
Not urban, but reflected of slick oil companies: in Alaska, the state Supreme Court last week upheld a lower court ruling that said Conoco Phillips, Exxon Mobil and Forest Oil are not entitled to a "discovery" rate for drilling in North Slope's Midnight Sun reservoir. The oil companies were trying to get millions of dollars in royalty refunds - and they’ll probably try again...
January 31, 2005
In New Jersey, who’s minding the (environmental) store? The Perth Amboy plant where three workers died in an explosion on January 25 did not submit a required annual list of hazardous chemicals stored at the facility for the last five year, according to the NJ Environmental Protection Department. The last time the company submitted a report was 1999, when its inventory included acetone, nitrogen, acetylene and petroleum oil...
In Delaware, thinking of giving aware the store: Natural Resources and Environmental Control Department Secretary John Hughes is considering whether BP is eligible for a Coastal Zone Act permit to build a 2,000-foot liquefied natural gas delivery dock along the Delaware River...
January 24, 2005
In Michigan, CMS Energy Corp. now claims that it would cost the company more than $45 million to clean up toxics at the Bay Harbor development near Petoskey that are a threat to Lake Michigan and the Little Traverse ecosystem. Bleach-like alkaline drainage from cement kiln dust piles was capped with rock and soil when CMS built the resort in the 1990s. Question: why’d ya build it?
In New Jersey, the State Education Department announced on January 18 that it will open a charter school this fall in Camden with an environment-centered curriculum. The Environment Community Opportunity Charter School will open with about 185 students in kindergarten through second grade and will expand in four years to include third and fourth graders. Great object lesson -- first allow noxious uses that pollute the area, then put in a school on the topic....
January 18, 2005
In Arkansas, but all accounts the EPA should continue monitoring the air quality in El Dorado, where a chemical plant explosion forced the evacuation of 500 residents earlier this month. The Teris LLC warehouse contains magnesium, lithium and other metals...
In New Jersey, officials closed portions of Ringwood State Park last month after finding dangerous levels of lead, arsenic and other toxic chemicals in an area that was supposedly cleaned up a decade ago. The contaminated area used to be the site of a Ford Motor Co. production plant...
January 10, 2005
In Texas, opponents of a planned $1 billion, 750-megawatt, coal-fired plant in San Antonio have requested a hearing with the state Commission on Environmental Quality. There are concerns that the plant will emit unhealthy levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury...
In Florida, residents who live near a shuttered creosote plant in Hull have sued CSX Corp., the owner of the property. Creosote, which was used to prevent the decay of railroad ties, has contaminated the area and caused decreased property values and health problems...
January 3, 2005
The EPA and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services have now reached settlements with 276 parties, including companies and municipalities in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, to resolves their liability at the Beede Waste Oil Superfund Site in Plaistow, N.H. This is the fourth round of settlements at the 40-acre toxic waste site, which was extensively contaminated from the 1920s until the closing of the facility in 1994. The settlement brings the total number of parties who have settled with the EPA to 1,199, and it brings the total amount of money raised in all four settlements to around $17.3 million. In this agreement, the EPA offered to settle with individual small-volume contributors based on the amount of hazardous waste the party contributed to Beede. The settlement includes parties who contributed up to 20,000 gallons of hazardous waste to the site, and individual party settlements ranged between $2,000 and $140,000, the EPA said. With this settlement completed, the EPA plans to begin final negotiations for performance of the cleanup with parties identified by the agency as "major" parties, "transporters," "owners/operators," and other generators who have yet to settle their obligations at the site. The Beede site was a waste oil storage and recycling facility from the 1920s through August 1994. Waste oil seeped out of Beede's storage facilities, including an unlined lagoon, and above and underground storage tanks. The site was listed as a federal Superfund site in 1996.
December 27, 2004
Brenntag Mid-South Inc.'s East Point chemical distribution
warehouse suffered a glacial acetic acid leak last week. In
Michigan, tests results released this month reveal high levels of
dioxin in the Saginaw River, which might delay an Army Corps of
Engineers plan to dredge the river of muck to aid navigation. The
U.S. EPA and environmental groups want the Army Corps to conduct
new assessments and revise its plan. Holiday
spirit speculation: perhaps all the more so, in light of the
recently increased public knowledge of dioxin’s effects, via the
face and other changes in Viktor Yushchenko in Ukraine... More seriously, or practically, per the
Hartford Courant, “a major contributor to the amount of dioxin
found in the environment is polyvinyl chloride plastic, better
known as PVC, or vinyl. You can recognize PVC by looking at the
bottom of certain plastic containers. Any plastic with a triangle
containing the number 3 is a PVC product. In fact, PVC makes up 20
percent of all plastics. Many software companies use it to package
their products. Some shampoos and facial cleansers also come in
PVC bottles. A key ingredient in the production of PVC is chlorine
-- 57 percent, to be exact -- and when we burn chlorine products,
we get dioxin”...
December 20, 2004
Mmm, mmm, good? The EPA is investigating Campbell Soup Co. for violations at the company's tomato-processing plant in Stockton, California, Campbell disclosed last week. EPA alleges that the plant exceeded allowable nitrogen oxide emissions over a five-day period in 2002...
In New York State, environmental spending as a percentage of the budget has dropped from 1.6 percent in 2001 to 1.2 percent now, and falling...
In weapons of mass destruction news, officials at the Pine Bluff Arsenal in Jefferson County, Arkansas are working on a plan to dispose of piles of ash and gallons of brine, following incineration of 3,850 tons of nerve and blister agent weapons in February... Requests are being made to the Department of Homeland Security to ban the production of Compound 1080, a highly toxic poison, a teaspoon of which could kill dozens of humans, that is produced only by Tull Chemical Co. in Oxford, Alabama...
December 13, 2004
officials are now monitoring Houston's air quality following an
explosion and fire last week at the Marcus Oil and Chemical plant,
which manufactures polyethylene wax... In Sparks, Nevada, Clean
Water Act violations at the Kinder Morgan Energy Partners oil
storage plant will the company (a mere) $157,500. The EPA says the
facility failed to conduct 10 required emergency drills and two
oil spill drills over the past five years; the fine assessed,
however, makes it just a cost of doing business.. . A Fond du Lac, Wisconsin judge ruled last
week that ECI Special Waste Services Inc. violated environmental
laws at least 394 times. The violations for the waste treatment
company include inadequate sampling and treatment methods and
underreporting of hazardous loads...
. A Fond du Lac, Wisconsin judge ruled last week that ECI Special Waste Services Inc. violated environmental laws at least 394 times. The violations for the waste treatment company include inadequate sampling and treatment methods and underreporting of hazardous loads...
December 6, 2004
On brownfields, an editorial in the Buffalo News of Nov. 30 noted that “New York State's recently enacted brownfields legislation received opposition from the Western New York delegation for not meeting the needs of former industrial cities such as Buffalo.... New York State is now trying to significantly reduce the availability of those incentives to local projects. It appears that budgetary concerns arising from a massive allocation of tax credits for a single project in Manhattan have forced the state to come up with ways to limit the availability of these incentives.” And that’s not even mentioning the proposed boondoggle of tax benefits to the proposed re-developers of the Bronx Terminal Market...
A sample brownfield, in Maine (as reported in the Bank Beat Report, ICP has challenged a merger application between Maine-based Banknorth and Toronto Dominion, so why not) -- “The Goodall Mill complex on the bank of the Mousam River in Sanford, Maine has sat largely vacant for years. The Maine DEP has been monitoring areas of the mill complex since a sulfuric acid spill in the early 1990s at the former International Woolen Co. Inc.. Testing uncovered oil discharges, discarded fluorescent lighting ballasts containing PCBs, the presence of heavy metals in discharge water and solvents in the ground water. Now attempt are afoot to redevelop it, responsibly. We’ll be watching...
November 29, 2004
In New Jersey, Mickey “Van Dunk, 34, still lives in Upper Ringwood, in the same area where he grew up and sometimes played with other kids on the mounds of industrial junk - the tons of lead-based paints, solvents and other discarded materials Ford Motor Co. regularly dumped very close to his home... Now, 17 surgeries later, with massive infected chunks of Mickey's body removed, Linda Van Dunk cleanses the wounds, tends the scars and soothes the spirit of her husband, whose condition has led to facial disfigurement and loss of function in the most private areas of his body... The EPA's project director Joe Gowers says EPA and Ford agreed to meet again with residents and their attorneys next month about the cleanup.” This outrageous news courtesy of the Thanksgiving Day edition of the Bergen Record...
total of 6m (tenge, over 46,153 dollars) be paid. The court has
ordered the joint-stock company to pay this money for discharging
toxic waste over the limit.”
November 22, 2004
In Georgia, the revolving hazardous waste trust fund “was established by the Legislature 12 years ago to clean up toxic waste sites that pose a direct threat to the environment or public health. It was also intended to reimburse cities and counties that have undertaken such cleanups. But in recent years, as the economy slumped and tax revenues shrank, the governor and state lawmakers have repeatedly raided the trust fund to use the money for other purposes, a practice that has left many financially strapped local communities holding the bag. About 50 hazardous waste sites around the state are slated for immediate cleanup using money from the trust fund. But as a consequence of the budgetary sleight-of-hand, work at eight sites has been stopped and at 26 other projects has been delayed indefinitely. Dozens of cities and counties are waiting for money to help pay for $11 million in cleanups, but only $1.2 million will be reimbursed because the trust fund has mostly been drained. In the past two years, more than $20 million has been diverted from the fund, and there's a $162 million gap between what will be collected in fees and the amount needed to finish work that's already under way. In the meantime, a toxic stew of chemicals endangers water supplies and poisons the soil all over the state. One in every six Georgians lives within two miles of a leaking landfill that is contaminating the groundwater around it.” And guess in which communities this is most frequent...
November 15, 2004
The World Health Organization cited Riverside County, California, as the fourth-worst polluted area in the world for small particulate air pollution behind Indonesia, Thailand and India. Mira Loma, which has been usurped in the last 15 years by warehouses, is arguably the worst in Riverside County. In the early '90s is when there was a rapid increase in Mira Loma in warehousing because the county fast-tracked all the construction of these warehouses without having to go through each issue with regards to the environment," said Mira Loma resident Betty Anderson, who has been combating warehouse developers in the area for more than a decade. Anderson, along with a slew of other residents, blame the warehousing industry and their hundreds of diesel trucks for the deteriorating air quality. She said the devastating effects the pollution has had on the community are irreversible and unforgivable. Look up on the train tracks on that bridge," Anderson said referring to the railroad bridge just north of Van Buren Boulevard on Etiwanda Avenue. The underside of this bridge is completely black from the smoke of the diesel trucks. . . . I'm sure you can get some sort of cleanser to clean that, but clean that out of the lungs of our kids. You can't do that." USC recently finished a 10-year study in the area, tracking about 500 children's respiratory health as they progressed from adolescence to adulthood. Mira Loma is one of the highest reporting areas in the country in violation of the federal and state air quality standards," said Ed Avol, one of the co-investigators of the study and a professor in the Keck School of Medicine at USC. The children do in fact have more symptoms and respiratory problems and slower rates of [lung] growth." Avol said typically lungs fully develop by the late teenage years and early 20s, further mentioning the study concluded that Mira Loma children have stunted lung growth that decreases their capacity to breath and usually leads to respiratory complications. They don't have as healthy life outlooks as their peers who might grow up in cleaner communities," he said. The fact that these children have slower growing lungs raises the question: Do they ever catch up?" Good question...
November 8, 2004
Clean water in the inner city? A court order may somewhat protect the Bronx River from raw sewage from Yonkers, from pipes that were illegally connected to the city's storm-water drainage system. New York State Supreme Court Justice Francis Nicolai ordered the city in a decision made public last week to come up with a plan to stop the discharge. State testing in June 2003 showed fecal coli form bacteria levels at 16 million per 100 milliliters at a flow rate of two gallons per minute. Similar suits against the Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Garden were settled, including for the canoe portage paths now in place. But is the water clean yet? Nope...
November 1, 2004
From the annual meeting in Pittsburgh of the Society of Environmental Journalists, in late October: a Carnegie Mellon professor of architecture, Vivian Loftness, linked issues of great importance to people of color, like urban planning and transportation problems, to environmentalists’ concerns over suburban sprawl. Sprawl, she said, was a "car-centric" form of urban planning that often leaves the poor "without access to modern amenities -- commercial, residential and educational settings."
October 29 at the Center for Architecture in Manhattan,
several long-time planners pointed to the environmental justice
movement as being the hopeful way forward, the successor to
earlier movements around housing and community development. Here’s hoping...
October 25, 2004
Plutonium in upstate New York: in Niagara County, in a landfill owned by Waste Management Inc., the following have recently been found: plutonium-239, plutonium-240, radium-226, thorium-230, strontium-90, actinium-227, uranium 233/234, uranium 235/236 and uranium-238. Both the plutonium and strontium are linked to atomic bomb research conducted at the University of Rochester. Weapons of mass destruction.... According to the Rochester D&C, artifacts of darker UR experiments - some injecting unwitting patients at Strong Memorial Hospital with plutonium - were apparently also buried there. Finding radioactive metals at the UR Burial Area - a site supposedly long ago cleaned up - has sounded a major chord of concern in Niagara County. To the west just more than a mile is the Niagara River, to the north, Lake Ontario. It was a sign to many that the federal government has not adequately investigated radiation at the former military site known as the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works. Part of the old ordnance works site, once 7,500 acres, is still in federal hands. Included is the 191-acre Niagara Falls Storage Site, one of about 20 former U.S. military installations contaminated with bomb-related radioactive waste. Buried there is 22,000 tons of radioactive waste, including one-third of the world's supply of mined uranium. For the record, the UR burial area is on a portion of a 710-acre landfill now owned by the "CWM Chemical Services LLC" subsidiary of Waste Management Inc....
October 18, 2004
In Colorado, a consent decree filed last week in federal court requires New Jersey-based ASARCO Inc. to remediate 100 lead and arsenic-contaminated residential properties near its now shuttered Denver-area smelters. Also in Colorado, officials now say they’ll demolish a former plutonium processing plant near Denver using a manual technique, after officials said last week the facility cannot be cleaned enough to allow for a detonation. The 300,000-square-foot building at Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant was shut down in 1989 and scheduled to be demolished as part of a $7 billion project. Kaiser Hill says it will manually demolish the vault and remove the radioactive waste before dismantling the rest of the building...
Kentucky, polluters including General Electric and LG&E Energy have submitted
letters of complaint about a proposed air pollution control plan
for the Louisville area they say would be too expensive and
and LG&E Energy have submitted
letters of complaint about a proposed air pollution control plan
for the Louisville area they say would be too expensive and
October 11, 2004
In Western New York, opposition continues to grow to the planned sewage treatment plant on Syracuse's South Side. There’s be an event on October 12 at Syracuse University's Hendricks Chapel -- note, however, that Syracuse University recently sold its naming rights and stadium advertising space to Citizens Bank, accused this summer by groups from the East Coast to Cleveland with redlining and involvement in predatory lending, click here for more...
Moving from reporting to advocacy, Inner City Press / Community on the Move’s recent complaint that the draft EIS scope for the proposed give-away of the Bronx Terminal Market to Steven Ross’ Related Companies did not even mention environmental justice has resulted a new Section 22 in the final scope, mailed out October 8: “an analysis will be performed that considers the potential for disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of the project on minority or low-income populations... If disproportionate impacts are identified, discuss appropriate avoidance measures, mitigation measures and enhancements for the affected population.” We’ll see...
October 4, 2004
In Ohio, District Judge Alegon L. Marbley of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio granted class-action status last week to a 2003 lawsuit alleging that Honeywell-Grimes and Siemens Energy and Automation contaminated private wells in Champaign County with cancer-causing PCE and TCE...
September 27, 2004
The Ohio Environmental Council last week released its list of the most mercury polluted waters in the state. At the top of the list is the Grand River in Ashtabula County, where the fish contain five times the safe limit for mercury for women and children
In La-La Land, approval of a 115-acre Long Beach port expansion was based on underestimates of air pollution, South Coast Air Quality Management District officials said last week. The agency had expressed similar concerns in a letter last October, but the Long Beach port commissioners approved the expansion anyway.
September 20, 2004
In Illinois, Governor Rod Blagojevich has asked the operators of the state's 12 remaining medical-waste incinerators five of which are near Chicago, to shut down the facilities. We’ll see...
WMD found -- in Utah, Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal
Facility officials recently disposed of a VX nerve agent spray
tank last weekend, marking the halfway point for the clean up of
13,616 tons of nerve and blister chemicals stored at the site in
September 13, 2004
In California, Pacific Gas & Electric and the state Department of Toxic Substances Control now claim that they will expedite cleanup of chromium 6 groundwater contamination headed toward the Colorado River. Experts opine that low river water levels accelerates the transport of the chemical...
Maryland, Harford County City Council voted last week to enforce a
six-month moratorium on new gas station construction, giving the
county time to consider adopting regulations that would help
combat MTBE groundwater contamination, which has already affected
more than 150 wells in the Upper Crossroads area .
September 6, 2004
In Missouri last week, Sigma-Aldrich Corp. and the EPA reached a slap-on-the-wrist settlement agreement requiring the company to pay only $180,000 in fines for failing to maintain records and equipment, as well as repair industrial refrigeration appliances that use ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons...
In Texas, electricity consumers have filed nearly 35,000 complaints with the Public Utility Commission since deregulation started 31 months ago. Complaints range from unwittingly being switched to different providers to charges that the PUC is to lax penalizing companies for violations. Yep...
August 30, 2004
In Indiana, eight companies, including U.S. Steel and Dupont Co., have agreed to pay $56 million to clean up a stretch of the Grand Calumet River polluted with lead, mercury and PCBs -- too little too late comes to mind...
In Texas, the EPA is investigating possible cleanup solutions at an abandoned tanning plant in Fort Worth. Chromium, Cadmium, naphtha and acetone have been found on the site during previous inspections
EJ machinations: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission published a disingenuous EJ policy statement in the Federal Register on August 24. As if written by the Nuclear Energy Institute, it states that the EJ executive order (E.O. 12898) did not establish new substantive or procedural requirements or create any new right or benefit. Only the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act, said the NRC, not the executive order, obligates the NRC to consider environmental justice-related issues. The goal of the policy statement is to allow the NRC to refuse to consider legal challenges regarding issues of racial discrimination, fairness, and economic equity in its licensing hearings. We'll see...
August 23, 2004
Where do all the tires go? In New York State, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is using money from a dedicated fund to clean up a dump site in West Monroe that is estimated to contain up to 20 million discarded tires... In western New York by Niagara Falls, the DEC is considering an application by NFB Carbon, which says its new recipe for silicon carbide won't produce enough pollutants to need any controls. It has been calculated only on paper so far. NFB Carbon wants the state to consider its proposal so minor that the EJ regulations don't apply. "What they're asking us to do is just transfer the permit," said the DEC's regional engineer Daniel David. Well, no.
Karma goes unmentioned: San Bernardino, California will receive $69 million from state and federal authorities to clean up contamination at Camp Ono, a former weapons- and truck-cleaning facility temporarily used as a prisoner of war camp during World War II. The facility is contaminated with tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene...
August 16, 2004
In Virginia, officials last week found more fish kills of the Atlantic croaker off the Eastern Shore. Scientists still do not know why at least a million of the fish have died off the Delaware, Maryland and Virginia coasts since late July...
In Nebraska, the EPA will solicit public comments until Sept. 15 on its plan to clean lead-contaminated soil near the former Asarco lead refinery in Omaha...In Alabama, the Army may resume removing scrap ordnance from Fort McClellan, the state Department of Environmental Management said last week. The agency had stopped the cleanup in November 2003, when the workers found a vial of chemical agent at the fort's former chemical weapons training site...
In California, Pacoima residents peppered environmental regulators with questions on August 7 about the cleanup of contaminated soil and groundwater at a former Price Pfister faucet plant during a legislative hearing. The Price Pfister property was recently purchased by a national developer with plans to build a Lowe's Home Improvement store on the site.... Improvement?
August 9, 2004
Revolving door: in Connecticut it emerged last week that the chief lawyer for enforcement and compliance at the state Department of Environmental Protection, Paul Balavender, will leave the agency to work for O&G Industries, a construction company he helped to regulate... In Alabama, the Army must halt cleanup of unexploded ordnance at McClellan Air Force Base for allegedly violating hazardous waste rules last month at Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge, the state Department of Environmental Management stated in an administrative order last week.
August 2, 2004
In Indiana, at least 32 residents near a Superfund site in Elkhart were exposed to trichloroethyle in drinking water, and about 24 people were exposed to potentially hazardous levels of carbon tetrachloride, according to a report issued last week by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Officials will solicit public comments on the report at a meeting Aug. 3...
In California, toxic chemical levels at Santa Susana Field Laboratory are worse than previously thought and include higher levels of radioactive tritium and industrial solvent TCE, according to a report issued last month.
July 26, 2004
In Alaska, surprise inspections on Anchorage and Mat-Su construction sites earlier this month resulted in 11 citations against builders for Clean Water Act violations, totaling up to $98,000... Protest is growing in Gary, Indiana, accusing the state Department of Environmental Management of environmental racism for issuing a permit for a medical-waste processing plant in predominantly African-American Gary while moving the agency's regional office to Merrillville...
In Delaware, the EPA is cracking down on a June 29 order for the Lewes sewage treatment plant to meet Clean Water Act requirements. A state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control officials said Tuesday they are asking for a new permit for the plant... Meanwhile, the EPA is shipping two trucks full of unwanted chemicals from the closed Matachem, Delaware, chemical factory near Delaware City to Mexico...
July 19, 2004
In Arizona, the EPA filed a lawsuit this month against Phoenix-area Unidynamics-Phoenix, Inc. and parent company Crane Co. The agency alleges the companies failed to follow federal cleanup orders for a former defense site at the Phoenix-Goodyear Airport and is asking for a $2.8 million Superfund reimbursement and up to an additional $27 million in damages
In Massachusetts, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said last week it would give PG&E National Energy Group Inc. 60 days to revise the company's plan for funding a $85 million cleanup of its Salem Harbor coal and oil burning power plant. The plan likely would require customers to pay...
Oil and human rights, from last week’s Senate hearings: ExxonMobil, Amerada Hess and Marathon Oil contributed to a culture of corruption in Equatorial Guinea. The report cited millions of dollars of payments that the companies made to Brig. Gen. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and his cronies over the years to lease property and fund the education of the children of the ruling elite. In terms of banking and money laundering, Equatorial Guinea was Riggs Bank's largest client, with deposits reaching as much as $700 million, or more than 10% of the bank's assets...
July 12, 2004
EJ eyes are on Massachusetts Senate bill 2418, which authorizes the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs to maintain its environmental justice program... In California, public comments is open through July 22 on a proposed ChevronTexaco cogeneration power plant in San Ramon. A public hearing is scheduled for July 20...
An Inner City Press reader in the Twin Cities alerts us to this man-bites-dog story, in which ExxonMobil is resisting the taking of polluted land it owns and its development as housing, ostensibly from concern for future residents. Hmm... Keep those stories coming.
July 5, 2004
In Tennessee, the state fund for cleanups of underground gasoline storage tanks will have a deficit of $20.6 million in the next fiscal year and of $120 million by 2012, fund officials said last week... In Arizona, the EPA has awarded a $400,000 brownfields program grant to Phoenix for remediation analysis of sites within 100 feet of the city's proposed light-rail lone, city officials announced recently.
June 28, 2004
In California, the bankrupt Keysor-Century Corp. in Santa Clarita agreed last week to pay a $4.3 million penalty for dumping toxins into a nearby river. The plastics company also admitted to lying about worker safety.. In Maryland, officials found exceptionally high levels of MTBE in groundwater near an Exxon gas station in Harford County, the Maryland Department of the Environment confirmed this week. Well testing uncovered concentrations of MTBE 1,300 times the U.S. EPA's acceptable level of 20 parts per billion, making the contamination some of the worst the state has seen
June 21, 2004
In New Mexico, test samples showed PCB contamination in the Rio Grande River, including tributaries in northern New Mexico, according to a study issued last week by the state Environment Department and Los Alamos National Laboratory.
In Halfmoon, NY, the EPA will host a public meeting June 23 to solicit comments on the agency's proposal to designate a PCB dewatering site in the town...
In Alabama, Judge U.W. Clemon of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama approved Monday a payment structure for personal injury compensation checks for Tolbert PCB case plaintiffs.
June 14, 2004
In Grand Island, Nebraska, five 50-gallon barrels of 1,1-dichloroethylene and TCE may have caused a long plume of contamination under Island Utilities director Gary Mader admitted last week...
Good base commander: ChevronTexaco and Australian firm BHP Billiton have proposed separately building a liquefied natural gas terminal on or off the coast near Camp Pendleton -- and Base commander Maj. Gen. W.G. Bowdon said in a letter last month to state officials that he is "unequivocally opposed" to the proposals. The site is the last major undeveloped property along the coastline in the state...
June 7, 2004
Things that should be known: in Texas, the Pantex nuclear weapons plant near Amarillo had an hour-long blackout on May 19. A plant spokesman said last week that causes for the blackout were still unknown .. Also in Texas, the state Commission on Environmental Quality is considering a plan to host a public hearing for a proposed air emissions permit renewal by Asarco copper smelter in El Paso. Asarco is trying to persuade the commission to cancel the hearing. Last week, the El Paso City Council approved a proposal to take no action on Asarco's request on the hearing, a vote that conflicts with Mayor Joe Wardy's stance on the issue.
June 1, 2004
Mistake on the lake? Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District's announcement this month that it dumped 1.5 billion gallons of untreated waste into Lake Michigan was the most raw sewage dumping of all sewer systems along the lake, according to data released last week by the state Department of Natural Resources. The Milwaukee district dumped more than it previously stated, according to the sewer system spokesman last week
In Alabama, Federal prosecutors indicted pipe maker McWane Inc. and four employees on 25 counts last week, including violation of the Clean Water Act and providing false statements to the U.S. EPA. Officials said the company contaminated Avondale Creek near the McWane Cast Iron Pipe plant in North Birmingham
It never ends: in West Virginia, the trial has begun in the lawsuit against Massey Energy's plan to open a $1.3 billion coal mine, which has dried up water from private drinking wells.
May 24, 2004
In West Virginia, Judge Michael Thornsbury of the Mingo County Circuit Court is beginning hearing oral arguments this week in a lawsuit filed by Mingo County residents alleging Massey Energy Co. contaminated drinking water through its coal mining operations ...
In Tennessee, a radioactive spill of strontium-90 contaminated four roads near Oak Ridge last week. DOE said Tuesday it will upgrade its investigation of the spill to Type B, the agency's second highest investigation, and expects to complete the review in June .
May 17, 2004
Surprise, surprise: in Texas, children who live close to the Asarco smelter in El Paso are more likely to have elevated lead levels in their blood, according to a study issued last week by the state Department of Health Study....Who knew, right?
In Indianapolis, a plant owned by Chemcentral Corp. spilled about 15,000 gallons of acetone and toluene on May 10... A federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota indicted owners and employees of Prime Plating on May 11 on charges of illegally dumping untreated wastewater..
May 10, 2004
In Texas, the state Commission on Environmental Quality said last week it will host a public hearing during the next few months on the effects of approving a state permit renewal for the Asarco smelter in El Paso, which emits 13.7 tons of lead annually
In New Hampshire, the EPA plans to remove up to 550,000 gallons of plasticizers and Varsol by Dec. 31 from a Superfund site in Troy, where the chemicals are buried under a former textile mill that produced them, officials said last week...
May 3, 2004
Monsanto is lobbying to receive federal approval for the company's genetically modified alfalfa, which resists the company's herbicide Roundup...
In Delaware, the EPA is quietly soliciting public comments through May 21 on the agency's $9.3 billion proposal to burn up to 1.3 million gallons of chemicals at the former Metachem Products plant near Delaware City ..
April 26, 2004
This week, the midwest (in keeping with the Federal Reserve's April 23 public hearing in Chicago on Bank One - JP Morgan Chase) -- in Indiana, the Gary-Chicago International Airport released an environmental impact study last week on a proposed expansion project. The report raised concerns about hazardous materials and harm to wetlands and threatened species, according to airport administrators... A bit north in Illinois, Waukegan city officials rejected a proposal last week to dump PCB-contaminated dredged material from Waukegan Harbor in the Yeoman Creek landfill... We're on the move and we're watching. Click here for a mixed review of a nice Riverwalk in the Bronx Zoo, ironically sponsored by Mitsubishi, and click here for a question of why environmental campaigns have laid off Citigroup, despite its backsliding, even on the Equator Principles...
April 19, 2004
In substantive (e.g., shut-down) environmental justice news, in Indiana, Wishard Memorial Hospital will close its medical waste incinerator by April 30 because the facility repeatedly violated federal limits for dioxin emissions, hospital officials announced last week
In procedural EJ news, numerous pollutants in the Four Corners community in St. Mary Parish show that the EPA should study pollution in context with community issues rather than studying chemicals individually, according to a report from the Environmental Justice Advisory Council
In Ohio, the NRC has cited FirstEnergy Corp. with three violations of "low to moderate safety significance" at the Perry nuclear power plant and 18 "noncited" violations of failing to comply with federal or plant maintenance rules ...
April 12, 2004
In Delaware, the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control said last week that it has fined four state businesses for air pollution or permit violations, with the largest fine posted to Hardcore Composites LLC. The other companies are Contractor Materials LLC, American Minerals and Coastal Coatings Inc.
In Alabama, Anniston Army Depot's chemical weapons incinerator may continue limited burning of rockets full of GB nerve agent following retests that showed that the facility can remove PCBs from its emissions, U.S. EPA said on April 7
Drugs and toxins: in Riverside, California last week, the EPA began cleanup of a Riverside home that officials said was a major methamphetamine lab and was contaminated with deadly red phosphorus...
April 5, 2004
In Texas, TXU Gas failed to tell the state about known faulty polyethylene pipes for more than 30 years, according to state Railroad Commission records. The commission is scheduled to decide by May 25 whether the utility should be reimbursed for a $130 million removal of the pipes, which caused eight fires and explosions from gas leaks
In Utah, it is reported that Calpine Corp.'s proposed 1,100-megawatt power plant in Provo will emit the most dangerous fine particulates known as PM2.5
In California, GenCorp Inc. has agreed to pay $1.2 million for violations cited during hazardous waste inspections at its Aerojet rocket propulsion facility in Rancho Cordova, according to a statement issued last week by the state Department of Toxic Substances Control.
March 29, 2004
In Westchester County, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation ruled last week that Atlantic Richfield Co. is responsible for a $62.8 million cleanup of PCBs from the Hastings-on-Hudson waterfront. ARCO's predecessor, the Anaconda Cable & Wire Co., made copper wires at the site
In Fall River, Rhode Island last week, a loose seal on a tanker forced a spill of caustic sodium hydroxide, sending a person to the hospital for chemical-burn treatment
Tip of the iceberg news from West Virginia: Monsanto and Pharmacia agreed last week to a new review of dioxin contamination of the Kanawha River
Nuclear Tennessee: The revised design for a uranium storehouse at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge may cost $25 million more than expected, according to an audit released last week by the Energy Department's inspector general...
March 22, 2004
In Texas, tests results of soil samples in South El Paso showed high arsenic levels at three properties and high lead levels at 46 sites, the U.S. EPA has said...
In Kentucky, levels of carcinogenic air pollutant 1,3-butadiene have been increasing about 35 percent annually since June 2000, according to a study released Tuesday by the University of Louisville. The study found that three companies were sources, with American Synthetic Rubber Co. emitting the most...
March 15, 2004
In Delaware, the Army will host two public meetings this month to review a plan to treat waste liquid from VX nerve agent transported from an Army facility in Indiana. A DuPont treatment plant near Deepwater would treat the waste and dispose it in the Delaware River. The nervy proposal would impact New Jersey as well...
In Texas, a Pasadena insecticide warehouse that caught on fire last week may have had more active ingredients than its permit lists. State air quality officials said the chemicals stored at the facility release toxic fumes when burned.
March 8, 2004
In Arizona, workers at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station discovered a boric-acid leak last week. Plant operators claimed that the leak does not pose a health threat. Yeah -- boric acid is great for you...
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is accepting comments about a proposed coal-fired power plant near Waco. The commission is reviewing the operator's application for a state air pollution permit
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit made public on March 3 that would allow GenPower LLC to emit more than 19 million pounds of air pollution annually from its proposed power plant near Morgantown
March 1, 2004
EPA white-wash: an abandoned dump in Houston's Acres Homes neighborhood poses no danger to health or the environment, according to a recent pronouncement by the EPA. The agency didn't address whether residents had been exposed to toxic chemicals in the past...
DEC asphalt cap: the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation is considering "capping" chemically contaminated soil at BASF's 90-acre site in Rensselaer with four inches of asphalt, rather than cleaning it up. Bad example for industry...
Eureka? Not... In Eureka, California, police last week began examining last week how someone might have stolen and leaked to the media confidential e-mails related to a fraud lawsuit against Pacific Lumber. The lawsuit alleges that Pacific Lumber gave false information about landslides and withheld data to secure logging permits. Sound like they're investigation the wrong thing...
February 23, 2004
In Texas, the state issued $1.7 million in fines against Citgo for exceeding pollution limits at two Corpus Christi sulfur recovery plants. The fines are the second largest penalty against an in-state company...
Ah, the revolving door: Colorado Gov. Bill Owens' chief of staff announced last week he will become the top state lobbyist for Xcel Energy Inc. Roy Palmer's move comes as Xcel seeks air pollution permits from the state to build a coal-fired power plant in Pueblo...
February 16, 2004
In New Mexico, local groups have reviewed data from an environmental contractor showing Intel Corp. released air pollutants at its Rio Rancho plant. Intel said it would like to review the Corrales Task Force's allegations -- make that, sweep them under the rug...
In Indiana, workers found 240 barrels of unknown substances, at least some of which are hazardous, at a former barrel and drum company site in Harrison County. On Monday, county commissioners voted to provide $165,000 to hire a contractor to examine the barrels' contents. Also in Indiana (and wacky) State officials said Tuesday they plan to revise a permit identifying wind conditions during which the Army can burn buildings at the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant. The Army plans to burn 327 buildings over the next five years because it would be unsafe for humans to remove the asbestos in the buildings...
February 9, 2004
In California, instead of imposing a $571,000 fine on AKT Development for allowing dirt and chemicals to run off a construction site, state regulators will ask Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) to sue the company's owner, Angelo Tsakopoulos. The fine would have been a record for the Central Valley Regional Water Control Board, which has jurisdiction over runoff from the site Also re AG Lockyer, we're proud to report that his office, in a recent letter to the Federal Reserve, said that Bank of America and its subsidiaries are contributing to predatory lending problems in California by packaging subprime loans for sale on Wall Street. Inner City / Fair Finance Watch has been saying that for while, and will pursue it until it's cleaned up....
In Illinois, complex and fraudulent transactions by Peoples Gas led to record heating bills during the winter of 2000-01. The company sold gas intended for customers to its parent company and Enron Corp. subsidiaries, forcing the purchase of gas for homes on the more expensive spot market...
February 2, 2004
In West Virginia, a spill from a Massey Energy Inc. plant on January 26 in Logan County discolored about 1 1/2 miles of Rum Creek and emptied into the Guyandotte River. The spill is at least the third violation in nine months for Massey...
Fun, fun, fun: in Tennessee, officials suspended four managers at the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant and warned a fifth in an investigation of a hazing ritual in which employees reportedly throw new recruits into an ice-condenser safety system. A T-shirt commemorating the practice is available in the plant's co-op store...
January 26, 2004
In upstate New York, the Rensselaer City Council on Jan. 21 voted to file a suit under the Federal Solid Waste Disposal Act against BASF Corp. for failing to clean up a former facility. State officials estimate the cost of cleaning up the most-polluted 41-acres of the site at $13.2 million...
January 20, 2004
Dirty deal-making: in Delaware: Motiva Enterprises has agreed to sell its Delaware City oil refinery for over $1 billion to Premcor Refining Group Inc. A 2001 accident in the plant killed one man and resulted in almost $40 million in fines and damage settlements...
WMD in New Jersey: many now question a plan by the Army to treat 1,600 tons of the nerve agent VX at a facility in Deepwater and dump the resulting waste into the Delaware River. Army officials said other options are too expensive...
In Alabama, State Department of Environmental Management workers pulled two empty 55-gallon drums of "indeterminate origin" last week from Choccolocco Creek. The cleanup follows last year's discovery of drums, some with hazardous materials labels, in the creek...
January 12, 2004
Fall-out: in Alabama, 17,000 people will get blood tests
to determine who will receive money in the settlement against
Monsanto for polluting parts of the Anniston area
Spot-light on Waukegan, Illinois: during the 1960s, over 30,000 people were employed in Waukegan factories, making products such as drywall, roofing shingles and boat engines. A succession of plant closings, bankruptcies and mergers left that lakefront workforce at just 300. The legacy of many of the shuttered businesses remains in the form of heavily polluted sites and silt lining the harbor bottom-the result of decades of unregulated disposal of solvents, oil and other industrial waste that's suspected of causing cancer, birth defects and other illnesses. City estimates of lakefront clean-up costs range from $62.5 million to $105 million. Major cleanup is needed at a former coke plant and a shuttered Outboard Marine factory. We'll see...
January 5, 2004
This week (and coming year), from the border: In Ciudad Juarez, air pollution generated by trucks that transport goods destined for the United States under NAFTA has contributed to the hospitalization of thousands of children and the deaths of hundreds of others between 1997 and 2001 from respiratory illnesses, according to a recent study by the NAFTA-created Commission for Environmental Cooperation. In Nogales, Ariz., a bi-national waste treatment plant is spewing millions of gallons of contaminated water daily into a wash that feeds into the Santa Cruz River. The plant is unable to adequately treat the overload of industrial and household waste from neighboring Nogales, Mexico, where industry has mushroomed and the population has doubled under NAFTA. Cancer and lupus rates are unusually high in Nogales, Ariz.,
And that's not even mentioning (yet) the abandoned battery recycling plant in Tijuana, Metales y Derivados, nor the NAFTA tribunal's ruling in favor of Delaware-based Metalclad...
December 29, 2003
In Tennessee, workers recently finished defueling the Tower Shielding Reactor II, clearing the way for cleanup of the Cold War-era site. Originally used for experiments with nuclear-powered airplanes, the site ceased operations in 1992... Happy holidays.
December 22, 2003
In Louisiana earlier this month, a jury awarded about
residents $92 million in a lawsuit against Gaylord Chemical Co. for a tank car explosion in 1995. The tank car contained the toxic substance nitrogen tetroxide...
December 15, 2003
In Alabama, the Anniston-Calhoun County Joint Powers Authority will soon choose between two Denver-based contractors for a $48.5 million cleanup of unexploded ordnance at a former military site at Fort McClellan. It is estimated the cleanup will take five years to remove ordinance, munitions and other dangerous materials
In Michigan, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Dow Chemical Co. have filed a complaint alleging the company is delaying the case by seeking background information on the plaintiffs, who number over 300. The suit alleges Dow is responsible for dioxin contamination on the Tittabawassee River
December 8, 2003
In Alabama, attorneys suing Monsanto for PCB contamination held a drive last week in Anniston to sign up more people for a second class action lawsuit against the chemical manufacturer. Monsanto and Solutia, which purchased the property where PCBs were made, settled a previous suit with over 25,000 claimants
In Delaware, Officials at Motiva Enterprises said the company will delay plans for a rezoning review to build a new dredge soil disposal site near Tybouts Corner. A company spokesman said planners needed more time to research storm water management... Also in Delaware, ICP's Constitutional challenge to the Del. Freedom of Information Act's "citizens-only" provision is proceeding, having been assigned to Judge Joseph Farnan, is now described on FirstAmendmentCenter.org (click here to view); a editorial in the Wilmington News-Journal of December 4, 2003, "Our View: Change the State's Open Records Statute So It Applies to All," recounts ICP's "federal lawsuit asserting Delaware's open-records law is unconstitutional because it refuses access to non-residents," then opines that the "exclusion is silly and probably unconstitutional. The General Assembly should attend to this when it returns to session next month." We'll see.
December 1, 2003
On November 20, Delaware governor Ruth Ann Minner announced that Delaware will join a lawsuit against the EPA over changes to the New Source Review provision of the Clean Air Act.... FYI, Inner City Press on Nov. 24 filed suit against Gov. Minner, and the state's Attorney General, for enforcing an unconstitutional provision of Delaware's Freedom of Information Act, limiting the right to documents to residents of the state. Click here for the Wilmington News-Journal's article (also onsite here).
November 24, 2003
Last week in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, state officials let it be known that sites in the Durrs neighborhood are contaminated with arsenic, barium, copper and dioxin. Now what?
In Indiana, the Army announced a suspension of the destruction of VX nerve gas from the Newport Chemical Depot 30 miles north of Terre Hautte. Local residents complained when a subcontractor announced plans to dump treated waste from the project into the sewer system...
In Hawaii, former Gov. Benjamin Cayetano (D), who during his tenure ordered an investigation into accusations of tax fraud by ChevronTexaco, said last week the state should not have selected the law firm Winston & Strong of Chicago because of a conflict of interest. He said he was unaware at the time that the law firm had worked for the predecessors of the company...
November 17, 2003
I n Indiana last week, the Army scheduled a meeting in Newport to modify permits for a chemical weapons disposal project. Officials say they need more time to dispose of VX nerve gas from the Newport Chemical Depot
In California, a lumber company charged with fraud is financing the recall campaign against the county district attorney who filed the charges. Pacific Lumber Co. paid professional signature-gatherers up to $8 per signature to ensure the recall of Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos makes the March 2004 ballot
"There ought to be a law" -- hey, maybe there is: check out this new ICP map, which addresses state laws and efforts to preempt them -- click here to view and use...
November 10, 2003
In Massachusetts, a recent study of soil at Boston playgrounds found 18 of 76 surveyed had traces of arsenic from pressure-treated wood. The study found 10 playgrounds with arsenic concentrations at dangerous levels...
In Connecticut, About 1,500 gallons of an airplane de-icing chemical spilled from a truck Nov. 1 at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks. Officials continued to assess how much propylene glycol entered waterways...
November 3, 2003
In Delaware in late October, the state fined refinery owner Motiva Enterprises $120,000 for a May 4 chemical spill. Officials estimate 25,000 gallons of sulfuric acid and 15,000 gallons of gasoline compounds spilled from a tank in an accident investigators traced to broken equipment and safety lapses
In Rhode Island Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corp. and Organic Dyestuffs Corp. were recently ordered to contribute to a Superfund cleanup by a retirement home...
October 27, 2003
In Connecticut, the state sued the owners of a Manchester plant on October 15, alleging the company illegally built piping to discharge untreated materials into sanitary sewers. The company, Printed Circuits Inc., is a subsidiary of Tyco International. Corporate sleaze -- Tyco before the fall bought a predatory lender, too -- intertwined with environmental degradation, then...
October 20, 2003
In the Dominican Republic, a powder often used as an antiperspirant / deodorant has poisoned four children, according to the Health Department. The government has warned people not to use the powder, called Litargirio, which contains 80 percent lead...
Backtracking: in Tennessee on October 14, a state official claimed he misspoke the previous week when he said half of the state's ground water is contaminated. State Solid Waste Director Mike Apple now says it is "impossible" to tell how many of the state's wells and springs contain pollutants or bacteria because testing has been done on only a small number of wells and springs...
October 13, 2003
"WMD" found -- in Tennessee, the TVA-owned Watts Barr Nuclear Plant will soon become the only commercial nuclear station to produce both civilian energy and tritium, a hydrogen isotope used in thermonuclear weapons.
Note: this week's Inner City Press Bronx Report ruminates on, among other things, environmental justice -- click here to view...
October 6, 2003
Corporate polluters: in Kentucky, state hearing
officer Janet Thompson recommended on September 29 that a Dynergy
gas-fired power plant suspend operations until the state can
accurately determine the amount of air pollution created by the
plant... In New Mexico, the state Environment Department said
Sept. 29 that Intel Corp. failed 10 times to report emissions
during the shut down of anti-pollution equipment at a facility in
Rio Rancho... In Alabama, it just doesn't stop: the Army and
Anniston Water Works and Sewer Board agreed last week to split the
cost of construction of a $3.2 million water treatment system that
would remove trichlorethylene from Coldwater Springs. The Army
used TCE to degrease metal at a nearby depot, and the chemical
September 29, 2003
That's what education's for: two former University of Florida students announced Sept. 22 they intend to sue the school for dumping into a nearby landfill cancer-causing chemicals including benzene and radionucleides.. It just gets worse: last week in Alabama, workers discovered two leaking chemical rockets at the Anniston Army Depot. Depot officials detected a 0.000117 milligrams per cubic meter concentration of nerve agent during a routine check on the chemical weapons
A (Colorado) civil action: former employee of a Redfield Rifle Scopes plant in southeast Denver testified that his boss told him to dump 55-gallon drums of industrial waste on land east of the plant. Albert Losasso's testimony came last week during a trial of a class-action lawsuit filed by 2,000 property owners near the plant...
September 22, 2003
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality sent a violation notice to Kinder Morgan Energy Partners Inc. earlier this month informing the energy company to expect a fine of $25,000 for a pipeline that burst near Tucson on July 30. Officials said the 10,000-gallon spill contaminated air, soil and water in the area, but they have not yet determined the extent of the damage. ICP note: but something they determined the (low-ball) price of the fine...
Connecticut Yankee nuclear power plant officials plan to move 1,019 spent nuclear fuel rods from the plant to an onsite facility containing 43 concrete and steel casks in early 2004. The company started making practice runs of the transfer Aug. 25...
September 15, 2003
In Washington State, opposition is growing to a
proposed pollution permit for a Kimberly-Clark paper mill near
Everett. The new permit would allow the plant to release more
pollutants into Puget Sound... In Louisiana, the five state Public
Service Commissioners met last week to discuss a legislative
auditor's office report that accuses the board of acting as a
"rubber-stamp agency for gas rate requests by power companies" and
operating "under ethical standards that raised questions about
undue corporate influence on its staff and commissioners."
Louisiana, according to editorials n the local press, is the only
state where it is not illegal for state regulators to accept meals
gifts from the companies they are regulating. Following the meeting, The state Public Service Commission claimed it will reform its operations, after a report from the state legislative auditor accused the board of "doing a poor job regulating power companies." Officials said they would consider changing PSC's rules -- but all they've issues is a new policy that would require utility companies to disclose when and how much they have paid for meals for PSC officials....
September 8, 2003
Mustard gas in Maryland: the elimination of the
chemical agent stockpile at Aberdeen Proving Ground is running
about six months behind schedule, project officials told the
facility's environmental oversight panel recently. Project
officials said no mustard
agent has been destroyed since a carbon filter drum overheated and began smoking...
In Delaware, EPA officials have started looking into new ways to clean up contaminated soil at the site of an abandoned chemical plant near Delaware City, after estimates that the effort could cost up to $125 million. Officials are considering a technique that would insert vapors into the ground that would break down the toxic chemicals and would cost between $10 million to $20 million...
September 1, 2003
What can be done, when a cash-strapped city is itself the source of pollution? Consider this:
Reading, Pa. officials are hoping fines for illegal discharges into the Schuylkill River from the city sewage treatment plant on Fritz's Island will be much less than a previous estimate of $ 20 million. "We've been talking in the $ 1 million range among ourselves," said Public Works Director Charles M. Jones. Jones said he believes federal and state officials understand Reading can't handle $ 20 million in fines. "It would break the city," Jones said.
ICP note: But what about the city's residents? "The repeated discharges over several years exceeded the limits for various chemicals and other substances used or produced at the plant"...
August 25, 2003
In North Carolina's Gaston County, officials said Aug. 18 that an area south of Cherryville may have 1,500 wells that contain unsafe arsenic levels. The county will conduct additional tests of the wells to determine specifically which areas have arsenic contamination
In Rhode Island, the EPA could soon release a permit regulating water intake and discharge at the Brayton Point power plant in Somerset. Many say that the plant, which takes in about 1 billion gallons of water from Mount Hope Bay each day, has severely damaged the bay's fish population...
The University of California agreed last week to pay $1 million to a whistleblower at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Laboratory officials fired Glenn Walp, the facility's former head of the Office of Security Inquiries, after he reported several cases of mismanagement, security breaches and fraud...
August 18, 2003
Back to basics: in South Carolina, a Nuclear Regulatory official is visiting the H.B. Robinson nuclear plant near Hartsville to determine how others overlooked radioactive contamination on a container shipped to the Shearon Harris nuclear power plant in North Carolina. Shearon Harris employees discovered a surface radiation exceeding federal standards on a shipping container that arrived at the plant July 29. How, indeed...
In non-blackout energy news, officials at the Houston-based Entergy-Koch said Aug. 12 that the company may have reported inaccurate data on natural gas prices to price index publishers. But company officials claimed they are not aware of intentional efforts by employees to manipulate energy prices. Hmm..
August 11, 2003
In Colorado, tests for plutonium have revealed elevated
levels of lead in the soil near Canon City. Area residents, who
last year asked the state to investigate claims that a nearby
Cotter Uranium Mill burned plutonium, are now blaming the mill
for the high lead levels...
In Louisiana, the state Department of Environmental Quality announced on August 5 that it may consider closer monitoring of three hydrocarbons emitted by the petrochemical industry in the Baton Rouge area. DEQ Secretary Bob Hannah said the department might propose emissions limits on propylene, ethylene and butadiene, all of which might be responsible for localized ozone explosions...
August 4, 2003
At the cusp of corporate fraud and the environment, two Nevada-based electric utilities have asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to backdate the revocation of Enron Corp.'s authority to sell power. The commission revoked Enron's authority to sell power on wholesale markets June 25, but the companies argued the ruling is meaningless unless it is effective in 2000, when Enron allegedly first started defrauding energy customers...
In South Carolina U.S. District Judge Matthew Perry has ordered Gaston Copper Recycling Corp. to pay $2.34 million in fines for polluting a Lexington County waterway. The company's plant, which closed in 1995, discharged mercury, lead, copper and cadmium into Boggy Branch...
July 28, 2003
In Colorado, the U.S. EPA fined 12 construction companies almost $1 million last week for not adequately managing storm water runoff on their construction projects. EPA officials said the agency issued the fines for not eliminating pollution from storm water, not having a proper storm water management plan or not having one at all...
Got the bunny inside? Only if you're alive -- in North Carolina, Federal and state regulators have finalized plans with Duracell to clean up chemical contamination at the company's Lexington battery plant...
Some neat-o news we like: PhillyCarShare, a nonprofit car rental organization, says it will expand its services to Philadelphia's low-income neighborhoods. The organization plans to add 44 cars to its 10-vehicle fleet of hatchbacks and energy-efficient automobiles, under the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program...
July 21, 2003
Guaranteed returns? The South Carolina Public Service Commission gave Duke Power 30 days from July 15 to explain why the regulatory utility was $41 million over its target profit rate during a 12-month period ending March 31. Duke Power earned a 14.25 percent return on what it invested in power plants and equipment -- 2 percentage points higher than the target rate. Both state and Duke Power officials said the higher profits are most likely due to the cold winter pushing up heating bills and the company's electricity sales to other utilities...
Come again? The Alabama state Department of Environmental Management is close to making a decision on whether it will allow the incineration of chemical weapons at the Anniston Army Depot, agency officials said last week. State officials said they have not discovered any problems with the Army's proposal. Yeah, right...
July 14, 2003
In Pennsylvania, the Limerick nuclear power plant will begin taking wastewater from a coal mine in Schuylkill County and limiting the water it relies on from Point Pleasant on the Delaware River, said Delaware Basin Commissioner Cathleen Meyers. (Philadelphia Inquirer, July 7 -- we invited a limerick on this topic).
In Kentucky, OxyVinyls and DuPont Dow Elastomers, two chemical plants in Louisville, submitted to the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District vehement opposition to a recent study showing that concentrations of toxic pollutants in the air around Louisville greatly exceed levels the EPA considers safe. In Nebraska, Lincoln County District Judge Donald Rowlands has ordered Sutherland Ethanol Co. to pay $780,000 for dumping ethanol byproducts on farmland near the plant several dozen times in 2001...
The Dallas Morning News of June 15, 2003, predicted that "this summer, the agency will release results of a massive study of birth defects and childhood leukemia at the Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where TCE and PCE are thought to have leaked into well water for at least 17 years. A preliminary study found a relationship between certain types of fetal deaths and defects, and mothers' exposures to the water while pregnant on base." And now, an alert from a reader: "I noticed that Inner City Press previously carried some articles on the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune. ATSDR's report on the survey they conducted of former residents of these affected housing areas and the adverse affects on their children will be made public on 16 July 2003. My daughter Jane was conceived while we lived in the affected housing, she was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 6 and she succumbed to her disease when she was 9." Words are not adequate...
July 7, 2003
Nice move: we're referring to arguments directed last week to an administrative law judge in Florida, to reverse an agreement signed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Tropicana Products in March 2002. The consent order allows Tropicana to pay a pre-arranged fine of $10,000 every time it fails to meet state and federal water pollution standards....
The Supreme Court punted on the Nike case, which raised the question of when and how court can compare a corporation's claims to its actual practices. Last week ICP's Fair Finance Watch raised a somewhat similar question to the Federal Reserve Board, with regard to a bank, Crédit Agricole ("CA"). CA recently acquired Crédit Lyonnais, which has been a funder of the questioned Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline project. [For community lending issues, see this week's ICP CRA Report.]
June 30, 2003
In Texas on June 25, more than 500 residents of Port Arthur filed a lawsuit against six refineries and chemical plants alleging pollution from the plants led to health problems. The suit names as defendants Premcor Refining, BASF Corp., Atofina Petrochemicals, Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., Huntsman Petrochemicals and Motiva Enterprises....
In Georgia, U.S. District Judge Jack Camp has denied a motion by Georgia Power to dismiss a suit filed by environmental watchdogs that contends the company overstepped federal pollution regulations. This is the same judge who has to date accepted Citigroup's bogus predatory lending settlement-on-the-cheap with the Federal Trade Commission, without either requesting or considering comments from consumers and consumer organizations opposing the cheap settlement, which does not reform CitiFinancial's practices...
June 23, 2003
This week: a link and a thought. We're much taken by a report issued in London last week, regarding both the environmental and human rights harms caused by prawn (shrimp) farming, worldwide. View it here. Then, the thought, such as it is: what falls under the rubric of environmental justice in the United States is the U.S. versions of human rights (civil rights, anti-discrimination) as it relates to the environment and health. Also of interest (at least to us) is the United Nations' "Global Compact" having (separate) "Environment" and "Human Right" principles, and primarily-environment organizations reference from time to time to human rights, most recently as the so-called "social" principles included in "Equator Principles" that ten multinational banks recently (and loudly) signed on to. We're skeptical -- click here, Report of June 23 re Royal Bank of Scotland and its Equator Principles claims -- but always looking for connections...
Okay: in Arizona, the EPA removed 200 drums of toxic waste from Electro Treatment's abandoned industrial site on June 18, including more than 3,000 gallons of acid sludge. EPA officials say they will continue to test the area for further contamination...
June 16, 2003
Citigroup Venture Capital has been exposed as the largest shareholder, with a 75% stake, in Mincorp Acquisition Corp., whose mining operation at Quecreek last year unleashing a torrent of water that trapped miners 245 feet underground. Citigroup (and its various environmental partners) have been very quiet about this one... It's not "project finance" -- it's a direct investment. Developing...
In Wisconsin, the Department of Justice filed
a multimillion-dollar lawsuit earlier this month against the City
of South Milwaukee for environmental violations over the last five
years from its hauled and industrial waste program. The lawsuit
also asks for an injunction to stop from city from taking any more
hauled industrial waste... A bit too easy: in
Philadelphia, Temple University has avoided a $285,000 U.S. EPA
fine by disclosing violations at 10 of its campuses. Schools can
avoid paying millions of dollars in fines by reporting
environmental regulatory violations directly to the U.S. EPA,
agency officials blithely said last week....
June 9, 2003
In New York on June 3, General Electric continued its campaign to buy its way out of the environmental harms it has caused and continues to cause, this time by signing consent order to pay an $850,000 fine toward cleanup of the Mohawk Tire site. This supposedly is a remedy for GE dumping pollutants into the Hudson River for two years -- far too cheap, and far too little nexus, we'd say... In Tennessee, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry claimed last week that uranium released from the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge does not constitute a health risk to nearby residents.... In Delaware, environmental advocates argued June 2 to the state Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board that Sunoco should not receive a state permit to build a $25 million refinery without allowing for public comment; the permit, they say (correctly in our view), would increase pollution in the Coastal Zone..
June 2, 2003
Arriving in New York harbor last week was a ship carrying 290 metric tons of toxic mercury-laden waste an assortment of waste glass contaminated with mercury, effluent sludge, broken thermometers and metallic mercury -- is destined for Hellertown, Pennsylvania where it is expected to be recycled by Bethlehem Apparatus, Co. Under an agreement with the local authorities, the mercury waste was collected from a thermometer factory owned by the UNILEVER subsidiary, Hindustan Lever Limited, located in the town of Kodaikanal, state of Tamil Nadu, India. UNILEVER has already been found guilty of exploiting lax environmental regulations and cheap labor in countries like India," said Richard Gutierrez of the Basel Action Network. "We call on them to rectify their mistake by putting a decisive end to the mercury death spiral." We'll see...
May 26, 2003
Ah, voluntarism in Delaware: Gov.
Ruth Ann Minner asked all state manufacturers on May 20 to
participate in the "Principles of Responsible Industry in
Delaware," a voluntary program that encourages companies to exceed
environmental standards. Those
who participate could enjoy speedier permit reviewing proceedings, as well as "awards from communities recognizing their efforts"...
In Alaska, Unocal Corp. announced May 9 that it would pay $370,000 in fines for Clean Water Act violations at its Cook Inlet operations. Unocal told the U.S. EPA that it had violated acceptable discharge limits "dozens of times" over the last five years...
May 19, 2003
In Massachusetts, Cape Cod Community College President Kathleen Schatzberg turned down a $100,000 grant from Cape Wind Associates that would have allowed the hiring of a director for the school's proposed energy technician program. Schatzberg told the Boston Globe that she declined the offer after listening to a variety of complaints from area activists who opposed the creation of the an offshore wind farm -- to be built by Cape Wind -- in Nantucket Sound. It's good to have principles -- it's smarter, too, at least in the long run...
May 12, 2003
What a way to balance the budget: under legislation proposed in Michigan, the state would start charging fees to permit the release controlled amounts of pollution into the state's water. According to the Detroit Free-Press (5/2), the proposal is an effort by Gov. Granholm to alleviate the state budget crisis
In North Carolina, more than 1,500 fish began dying May 3 from an unknown organic poison dumped in Grape Greek. The EPA has intervened in the case on the request of state Department of Water Quality officials, who have ruled out a natural cause of death. The incident mirrors a similar occurrence April 22 when officials discovered roughly the same number and type of fish dead in nearby Core Creek....
May 5, 2003
Texas-based energy producer Dynegy announced on April 23 that it will pay electricity provider Southern Co. $155 million to terminate three power contracts. Dynegy will collect $96 million in collateral along with the cancellation of $1.7 billion in payments owed to Southern over the next 30 years. Dynegy-related, Citigroup on May 2 disclosed that it is in talks with U.S. securities and bank regulators about a previous transaction with power company Dynegy Inc. Last September, without admitting or denying wrongdoing, Dynegy agreed to pay the government $3 million to settle charges of improper accounting related to "Project Alpha." Citigroup helped create Alpha, which helped Dynegy artificially boost operating cash flow by $300 million. "As part of Citigroup's discussions with the SEC and bank regulators relating to certain of its transactions with Enron, Citigroup is also involved in substantive discussions with the SEC and bank regulators regarding one of its transactions with Dynegy," Citigroup said in its quarterly report filed with the SEC. The "bank regulators," one would think, include the Federal Reserve...
April 28, 2003
In connection with Inner City Press' just-launched GE Watch, we offer this update on GE's longstanding pollution of the Hudson River -- and attempts to get the Superfund law, CERCLA, declared unconstitutional. The EPA has proposed a $460 million project to dredge 2.65 million cubic yards of PCB-poisoned sediment along a 40-mile stretch of the Hudson River, with GE (the polluter) paying. GE sued; on April 1, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates ruled that his court has no jurisdiction to hear GE's complaint because Section 113(h) of CERCLA provides that an accused company cannot obtain pre-enforcement judicial review of EPA orders or response actions with respect to a contaminated site except in five explicitly enumerated circumstances, not applicable here. GE then filed a one-page "notice of intent to appeal" with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. GE representative Joan Gerhardt said that GE thinks "a government agency should not be permitted in nonemergency situations to order environmental-remediation projects of unlimited scope and duration without the opportunity to get timely review by an impartial court." See also this report, regarding GE's continuing involvement with the controversial (human rights violation-tarnished) Dabhol power project in Maharashtra state, India.
April 21, 2003
Speaking of weapons of mass destruction, the Cleveland Plain Dealer of April 15 reported on requests to Army officials to work with Ohio residents in order to mitigate concerns about its plan to begin disposing of hydrolysate, a chemical nerve agent, in Jefferson Township. The agent, currently stored in Newport, Ind., must be destroyed by 2007 under a chemical weapons treaty...
More detailed, including on EJ: The hydrolysate will be shipped by truck to Perma-Fix, which will use a biodegrading process to further clean the product before it is released to the city of Dayton waste treatment plant and finally into the Great Miami River. The company plans to start receiving the hydrolysate in July. While Newport, Ind., has a poverty level of 9 percent and few to no black residents, Drexel has a 33 percent poverty level and is 35 percent black. An administrative complaint has been filed...
April 14, 2003
Because it seems timely, we're on the (U.S.) energy
beat this week. In Nevada, a state investigation of gas prices
earlier this month found "no evidence of illegal manipulation of
energy markets," according to state Attorney General Brian
Sandoval said last week,, adding that all 13 oil companies the
state asked to justify high prices gave "satisfactory responses."
Satisfactory to whom?
In Colorado, a state Senate committee is considering a bill that would require Xcel Energy to generate about 7 percent of its power from renewable energy by 2005. Two similar bills in the past year have failed...
And in Minnesota, even if officials shut down the Prairie Island nuclear plant in Red Wing, they would not finish removing the site's radioactive waste -- stored in casks and an indoor pool -- until 2038 at the earliest and possibly not until 2062, according to documents from federal regulators and, yes, Xcel Energy, the plant's owner. The state Legislature has been debating whether to allow additional storage of nuclear waste at the site or shut it down in 2007....
April 7, 2003
Getting off easy: U.S. Steel announced March 31 that it would settle for "substantially less" than $50 million a $250 million asbestos verdict a jury made last week in the suit of a 70-year-old man who worked at the company's Gary plant for 31 years. Neither the victim's attorney nor the company would disclose the exact size of the settlement...
The Syracuse Post-Standard of April 1, editorializing on the NYS DEC's new environmental justice policy, notes that it "might come too late to help residents of Syracuse's South Side, who have been fighting plans to build a regional sewage treatment plant at Midland Avenue and Oxford and Blaine streets. Many residents said they were not informed of plans for the plant until they were already under review."
March 31, 2003
Middle-of-the-road EJ reg: New York regulators have finalized new guidelines to, in their words, require an extra environmental review for projects planned for low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. "We're trying to promote greater involvement of minority and low-income communities," said DEC Commissioner Erin Crotty. We'll see...
March 24, 2003
New York State's environmental commissioner announced on March 18 that 26,000 acres in the Finger Lakes region would be available for oil and gas development leases. The land, which is near the recently discovered Trenton-Black River gas formation, includes 18 reforestation areas, two multiple use areas and a wildlife management area...
Cross-border cooperation? Last week, the Canadian government rejected a U.S. EPA request that it take sediment samples to test for heavy metals upstream of a Canadian smelter across the Washington border. EPA officials said they had hoped to compare the data with downstream tests for a possible Superfund cleanup of Lake Roosevelt. A Jan. 17 letter from a Canadian official rejected the request as outside the normal range of cooperation and at risk of leading to the country taking liability for cleanup costs...
March 17, 2003
In Texas, legislation was introduced on March 12 that would require air monitors on schools within two miles of large industrial facilities. The proposal responds to a study which found that two-thirds of the state's chemical and refining industry emits toxic pollution within two miles of a school..
An Indiana study finds that the blood of mothers and their newborn babies often contains levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), a persistent organic pollutant. The study found Indiana women to test 20 times higher for PDBEs -- a common chemical flame retardant -- than women tested in Sweden and Norway...
March 10, 2003
Delaware on the cheap, one in a series: Motiva Enterprises and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reached a settlement for safety violations in the July 2001 explosion and fire at the Delaware City refinery, OSHA said Monday. Motiva agreed to pay $175,000-- about one third of the original fines levied -- and promised to properly maintain and inspect its above-ground storage tanks... In Louisiana, the EPA has classified Baton Rogue's air quality as "severe," a step up from its previous "serious" classification in a settlement filed in late February in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals...
March 3, 2003
In Oklahoma, Gov. Brad Henry on Feb. 24
announced that he is "seriously
considering" suing the federal government if Congress does not take action in the next six months toward the cleanup of mining waste at the Tar Creek Superfund site. He said that after 25 years of study, it is time for the federal government to declare the site is its responsibility and begin cleanup...
February 24, 2003
In Michigan, Ford Motor Co. agreed last week to pay a (cheap) $244,000 fine to settle a U.S. EPA hazardous waste complaint. The complaint, which included citations against the company for not monitoring leaks from its vehicle-painting equipment, targeted 14 plants...
In South Carolina, state House budget subcommittee proposal would cut funding for cleanup of a Sumter County hazardous waste landfill....
In North Carolina last week, FBI agents met with four state Utilities Commission officials last week as part of a grand jury investigation into accounting practices at Duke Power. Duke Energy Corp. said earlier this week that the jury had subpoenaed documents about its 1998-2000 accounting practices. Developing...
ICP' is "on the road" -- see our Global Inner Cities report for comments we've just filed in a dozen African nations, opposing HSBC's proposals there, including the "export" of Household's practices, and an acquisition of 40% of the shares of Equator Bank; this is not unrelated to environmental issues, as you might imagine...
February 17, 2003
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources has designated 25 square miles of the Delaware River as "chronically toxic" in the latest edition of a report required every two years. The designation, based on laboratory studies that found pollution levels high enough to kill or harm wildlife, could precipitate tougher federal restrictions and cleanup plans
Also in Delaware, Motiva Enterprises has asked the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control for a three to six month delay for starting its new sulfur dioxide "scrubbers" at its Delaware City refinery. The company said it needs permit approvals by July 31...
February 10, 2003
In Indiana, the state legislature is considering a
bill to give state regulators the authority to oversee mergers by
utility companies, allowing them to levy fines of up to
$15,000 if companies fail to comply with state laws and regulations. Most consumer groups oppose the bill, saying it would let the electric and gas utilities automatically raise rates to pay for required environmental improvements...
In straight-EJ news, a Connecticut house committee held a public hearing on Feb. 4 to discuss a bill that would require several state entities to develop an "environmental justice" action plan to identify and address the health and environmental effects of programs on minority and low-income populations. Witnesses at the hearing said the state's pollution sources are disproportionately high in communities of color...
February 3, 2003
This week: El Paso (the place and company), and documents: the El Paso Times sued the U.S. EPA last week in an effort to get more details and specific locations from soil contamination tests the agency conducted in west-central El Paso. The agency has released some information from the tests but has not provided any information linking the results to specific addresses, saying it would be an invasion of privacy. The newspaper was denied a Freedom of Information Act request for the information
El Paso Corp. executives and state officials investigating California's 2000-01 energy crisis reached an agreement regarding El Paso documents in an out-of-court settlement. California had subpoenaed documents from El Paso. In the settlement, the state withdrew its subpoena in exchange for El Paso's voluntary agreement to hand over some company documents...
January 27, 2003
In Delaware, the Motiva Enterprises refinery plan to convert air pollution into wastewater has given rise to requests to Governor Minner to release all public records on the issue. Many say that Motiva's design would violate an earlier agreement to recycle the scrubbing chemicals; a Motiva spokesman claim the revised approach would produce cleaner air... Also in Delaware, two bills to be introduced this month in the General Assembly would somewhat fortify the government's ability to punish polluters. Under the proposed legislation, chronic violators of clean air and water laws would have to submit their environmental practices to annual audits, and the companies' highest in-state executives would have to sign off that the company was complying with environmental regulations. The legislation would also allow the Department of Natural Resources to triple fines on repeat environmental offenders...
In Washington State, Olympic Pipe Line and Shell Pipeline agreed to increase pipeline inspections in a federal consent the companies filed Jan. 17 in U.S. District Court in Seattle. The agreement comes out of a criminal plea deal and settlement reached last month among the two companies, the state, federal prosecutors and the U.S. EPA involving a fatal pipeline explosion in Bellingham in June 1999...
January 21, 2003
We'll devote this week's Report to, of all things, a book review. Island Press has recently published a tome subtitled "Blueprint for a New Environmentalism," by NRDC's Allen Hershkowitz. Holding our noses we sought it out, and here is our review. But first, some background: many residents of the South Bronx remember the haughty promises with which a paper mill was proposed for the Harlem River Yards in the early 1990s. When the developers tried to hide behind their community sponsor -- which many here knew, even then, was corrupt -- it did not bode well. When grassroots environmental groups questioned truck traffic and other nitty-gritty issues, NRDC responded with a trump card. It had all been planned by one Allen Hershkowitz: that was supposed to resolve the matter. He'd been in the New York Times, for God's sake. He must be an expert.
Well, the paper mill was never built. A state investigation of NRDC's "community partner" has resulted in the ouster of its management. And now -- the book! We generally eschew ad hominem arguments -- but what would a book review be without them? The same arrogance noted in Mr. Hershkowitz during his days in The Bronx (his nights, unsurprisingly, were spent far far away) can be found in the acid-free recycled pages of this book. One might wonder how 268 such pages could be devoted to a project that was never built. The answer, you'd think, would be to analyze why the plan failed. But as to Bronx issues -- and that word is half of the title -- the book is not only inaccurate, it's positively insulting. Mr. Hershokowitz ignores the recent history of the Harlem River Yards, which just prior to Hershkowitz's discovery of The Bronx had been leased to the politically-connected Galesi Group for 99 years. Many in the South Bronx saw the paper mill plan as simply a green-wash for the Galesi lease. Yet in Mr. Hershkowitz' book, Galesi and his Group are mentioned only once.
Rather, Hershkowitz' focus is on accusing all local detractors of extortion. He uses a fancy word for it -- baksheesh, see page 171, in a chapter grandly titled "Clearing the Social Market." In a plea for street cred, Hershkowitz allows that "I myself have experienced physical intimidation, ethnic slurs, requests for payment, and abusive language." Sounds like a Tijuana day-trip Tijuana gone wrong. Hershkowitz writes -- and footnotes! -- that:
"One person who claimed to head a local group, and whose request for seventy thousand dollars from me -- to 'take care of the problems' her group was planning to cause our project -- was rejected, wound up turning from a project supporter to claiming at a public hearing that building the BCPC would 'violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Genocide [sic]."
Thereupon, Hershkowitz cuts to a footnote, correcting the name of the Convention, mentioning his ancestors' Holocaust pedigree, and concluding: "I refrain from providing the date, place, and nature of the hearing where this remark was made to assure that this person cannot be identified." We'll refrain from insert a "sic" after the word "assure" -- even in The Bronx, it's "ensure" -- but note that these hearings were transcribed, even in Tijuana / The Bronx.
A similarly inept veiling occurs on page 237, where Hershkowitz says he "simply asked an official at a philanthropic foundation that had supported the CDC for a few years what she thought. But the management of Banana Kelly had recently changed, and the foundation official didn't understand how unreliable a manager the CDC's new executive director would turn out to be. None of us did. And, of course, at the time I had no idea that the project I was launching would become as large as it did."
But just how large did it become? (The anonymous "foundation executive," by the way, is Anita Miller). How large did it become? Well, large enough, despite the fact that nothing was ever built, to justify this acid-free book. And that's plenty large enough for Mr. Hershkowitz.
More broadly, Hershkowitz largely praises the good will of the investment banking "community," while portraying the people who live in the area he deigned to try to help as malaproping extortionists. There is a need for partnership -- but when only the suit-and-tie side the equation can turn from the failed relationship and write a self-serving book about it, that ain't no partnership at all.
January 6, 2003
In Montana, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ruled on Dec. 19 that the U.S. EPA made the correct decision to begin cleaning up the asbestos contamination in Libby near a former W.R. Grace and Co. vermiculite mine that is blamed for hundreds of deaths. Grace had said the cleanup was unjustified. Great company, that...
But here's some better news: Antioch New England Graduate School is now offering a degree program in "Environmental Advocacy and Organizing. The inaugural class has ten students, including Simeon Afouda, a 46-year-old Fulbright scholar from Benin. Afouda says the 200 organizations in Benin are all focused on preserving the environment. "What is lacking is to put pressure on decision-makers to make the right laws. So I will go back to Benin to help groups organize better and achieve their goals," he says. Hats off...
December 30, 2002
In this holiday-week report, we'll limit ourselves to pointing to news of the state of Indiana's attempted implementation of environmental justice -- click here for the Indianapolis Star's article, and here for the Associated Press' view, via WISH television.
Okay, we can't resist: the bank HSBC, in a response submitted to federal and state regulators on Dec. 23, HSBC acknowledges providing funding for the Three Gorges Dam, a project from which numerous other institutions have stepped back, due to environmental and social concerns. HSBC does not even attempt to explain how its decision to go forward is not inconsistent with the environmental and ethical standards (from 1998) that it claims; apparently its desire to "assist long-standing corporate customers of the Group" -- like Sani Abacha -- trumps any and all of the environmental and ethical standards it claims.
December 23, 2002
In Connecticut, Millstone Nuclear Power Complex officials told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last week that the Waterford plant expects to begin storing spent fuel on site by 2004 until the Yucca Mountain storage facility is open. Yucca Mountain is expected to open by 2010 at the earliest, federal officials have said ..
In Idaho, the state Department of Water Resources decided last week not to ban new water permits from the Rathdrum-Spokane Aquifer along the Idaho-Washington border. Instead, the DWR will create a "groundwater management area" over the Idaho portion of the aquifer. Washington has not issued new permits from the aquifer since 1994, and no one knows how much water the aquifer holds Regaring more Idaho hijinks, click here. Happy holidays.
December 16, 2002
In Maryland, residents of a neighborhood near Erachem Comilog Inc., which has disposed its treated wastewater into waterways for more than 30 years, want the state Department of the Environment to block renewal of the company's permit...
A Labor Department panel ruled on Nov. 13 that the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico retaliated against whistleblower Joe Gutierrez. Gutierrez, an auditor, filed a complaint against the lab in 1997 after he publicized documents showing the lab lied about airborne radioactive materials...
In new-school motivational technique,
the Iowa State Department of Natural Resources director Jeff Vonk
encouraged employees to participate in the "Step Outside"
program, which allows workers to watch birds, shoot guns and hike during work hours to boost morale and raise awareness of residents' concerns. Hmm.
December 9, 2002
In South Carolina, the federal cleanup of the 45-acre Tin Products site in Lexington County is almost complete, three years after a chemical spill killed thousands of fish and ruined the water supply. But cleanup projects at two other South Carolina sites are moving slower. The cleanup of the 21-acre Cardinal Cos. former chemical plant could be completed by spring, and state officials are still trying to determine what biological compounds can be used to clean up contaminated Red Bank drinking water wells
In other things-which-need-to-be-cleaned-up news, in California, Pacific Gas & Electric contributed $800,000 to the No on Proposition D campaign that was not disclosed until after the election, city records have shown. The campaign, funded nearly exclusively by PG&E, raised $2.7 million to defeat a measure that would have allowed the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to take responsibility for securing electricity supplies for the city...
December 2, 2002
In Michigan, residents near the Lange and Revere Street canals in St. Clair Shores want the U.S. EPA to dredge PCB-contaminated sediment up to Lake St. Clair, saying PCB levels as high as 9.9 parts per million could remain once the original dredging is completed.
In California, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority passed a resolution last week that requires the Municipal Railway to buy 80 new alternative-fuel buses and bans spending on conventional diesel buses
In Texas, the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority board
voted last week to switch the agency's 1,400 buses to the
cleaner-burning ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel. The transit
authority also voted to equip 543 of the buses with a kit that
recirculates exhaust gases through the engine.
An EJ-related film you may want to see: "Green," by Austin, Texas-based Two Birds Films, regarding Louisiana's Cancer Alley running from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.
November 25, 2002
Back on the beat: in New Mexico, the FBI and the Department of Energy are investigating whether millions of dollars worth of equipment is missing or stolen from the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The investigation stems from a leaked memo from the lab's financial officer saying neither the lab nor the DOE can accept $1.3 million in unaccounted property...
In Ohio, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and FirstEnergy Corp. face a barrage of criticism for their failure to uncover problems leading to the rust hole in the lid of the Davis-Besse nuclear reactor...
November 18, 2002
This is an experiment in a "themed" issue: we will return to broader coverage in the coming weeks. But on November 14, the London-based banking giant HSBC, chaired by "Sir" John Bond, announced it wants to buy the scandal-plagued predatory lender Household International, for $14.2 billion. Household charges interest rates over 20% on home equity loans, and nearly as high on first mortgage loans. Household mails out misleading "live checks" offering high-rate consumer loans, which it then seeks to convert into liens against the unsuspecting borrowers' homes. For these reasons, ICP is opposing, here, there and everywhere, HSBC's proposal. See, e.g., the Wall Street Journal of Nov. 15, 2002: this "consumer advocate already has issued a warning to Sir John... Inner City Press/Community on the Move and the Fair Finance Watch, a consumer organization based in the Bronx, N.Y., said the group intends to protest the deal." They got that right...
ICP has today filed comments all over -- New York Banking Department, other states, federal regulators, and even overseas. Among the issues raised: lack of environmental and social standards. For (environmental) example, the Independent (London) of Feb. 22, 2002, reported that HSBC "is co-financing Alstom in its production of turbines for the Yangtze dam, a project that will inflict appalling ecological damage on one of the rivers the money is meant to be targeting." Click here for more information and updates. Until next time, for or with more information, contact us.
November 11, 2002
In California, the Shell refinery in Martinez will pay the Bay Area Air Quality Management District $510,000 for the release of chemicals on three occasions in October and December 2001. A catalytic cracking unit caused the releases of oily soot, according to a Shell spokeswoman said...
In Oregon, previous operators and current owners of the former View-Master toy manufacturing plant site in Beaverton will help fund a $3.5 million groundwater cleanup. A 1998 investigation revealed dangerously high levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) in the well supplying drinking water to the plant. The plant's operators, including former operator Mattel, began dumping waste containing TCE on the ground in 1951 when the plant began operating ...
In the District of Columbia, a contractor found elevated levels of airborne asbestos in a mechanical room and the cafeteria of the Department of Interior on November 1, causing officials to send 2,300 employees home...
November 4, 2002
The NYC Department of Environmental Conservation said last week that developers of a planned $2.2 billion "entertainment center" in Central New York may need to clean up contaminated soil on the proposed site before beginning construction. Pyramid Cos.'s Destiny USA plans center around expanding the current Syracuse-area Carousel Center mall to encompass 3 million square feet. But state officials say Pyramid must remove or avoid building around soil contaminated with toxic solvents that is currently sealed in a 1-acre tomb under part of the parking lot. Pyramid buried the toxic soil with state approval in 1990. The contamination stems from solvents used in the dry-cleaning industry including trichloroethylene, toluene, acetone and vinyl chloride.
In Connecticut, the soil of at least 19 commercial properties in Stratford have a combination of lead, asbestos and either PCBs or copper, according to a U.S. EPA report released last week. The report is part of a $108 million Superfund cleanup to rid the town of contaminated soil from a former Raymark plant.
October 28, 2002
In California, Shell Oil was hit last week with $405,000 in fines and $270,000 to improve air quality in Martinez and Central County. Shell "apologized" for releasing oily soot over Martinez on two occasions in October 2001...
Bigger picture: from last week's "Air of Injustice" report by the EJCC: "Stop Exploration for Fossil Fuels -- presently known fossil fuel reserves will last far into the future. Fossil fuel exploration destroys unique cultures and valuable ecosystems. Exploration should be halted, as it is no longer worth the cost. We should instead invest in renewable energy sources."
October 14, 2002
In Arizona, residents of a neighborhood near downtown Phoenix voiced their concern on last week about an upcoming Maricopa County decision that would allow Innovative Waste Utilization to process more than 10 times its current levels of hazardous waste. The county will decide on Oct. 17 whether to issue the permit for the increase...
In Delaware, the state government and the DuPont Co. agreed to clean up about 15 acres of contaminated byproducts along the Delaware River near DuPont's Edge Moor pigments plant. Until last year, the company had hoped to sell the soil-like byproducts as a soil substitute called, in an Orwellian touch, "Iron Rich" -- but its plans were sidetracked once the U.S. EPA found the byproducts to contain unsafe levels of dioxin...
In Utah, EG&G Defense Materials relaxed safety procedures at the Deseret Chemical Depot in July before two workers were exposed to the nerve agent GB, according a report by the Army. The report also charges the Maryland-based company with committing a series of mistakes and safety violations that left the men exposed to the chemical after the incident...
October 7, 2002
Brownfield action: in Nevada, the cleanup of more than 2,000 acres of contaminated land overlooking the Las Vegas Wash could take up to 10 years, the project manager said last week. LandWell Co. wants to eventually build houses on the land, but it first has to help clean up waste left over from 45 years of chemical manufacturing in the area...
In Alaska, the state Department of Environmental Conservation recently released a computer-generated map that shows polluted spots along the Kenai River, one of the first tangible results of a four-month review of the state's treatment of environmental problems near the river. Many have criticized the DEP for taking too long to address the river's problems...
September 30, 2002
In California, a federal judge ruled last week that ExxonMobil must pay $4.7 million in fines to state and federal governments for an oil spill in the Santa Clara River...
In Connecticut, levels of mercury remain high in Danbury, despite a half-century old ban on its use in hatmaking. Wesleyan University scientists have found mercury levels as high as 67,000 parts per billion at the site of a former hat factory -- more than three times the state standard for cleanup in residential areas. Danbury wants state money to clean up soil around former hat factories, which dumped mercury into the Housatonic River for more than 150 years...
August 26, 2002
In Colorado, the EPA continues to express concerns about high solvent levels and seepage outside the contained area at the Lowry Landfill Superfund site in Denver. In a draft progress report released on August 19, the EPA said it found solvents at levels thousands of times above health limits migrating outside the 480-acre site...
In Louisiana, New Sarpy's Orion Refining Corp. released more than 500 pounds of sulfur dioxide 82 times during a two-year span, behavior the EPA said was "excessive" in a July 23 letter to the company. But the EPA has not issued a penalty...
August 5, 2002
In Missouri, the U.S. Energy Department last week finished disposing of hazardous material at an old Army ordnance plant 30 miles west of St. Louis. . After 16 years and $352 million, the DOE relocated the waste from the Weldon Spring plant to a seven-story high mound of rock, clay, soil and liners to prevent contamination... Meanwhile, ABC News Nightline last week profiled the "campus" in McAlester, Oklahoma where virtually all non-nuclear bombs used by the Defense Department are made. The bombs are stored in what are called igloos; the names of the line workers weren't used, but still...
At last week's meeting of the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies in New Orleans, Beverly Wright of Xavier University stated, among other things, that "the struggle for environmental justice is global. The scenes are the same around the world... .Environmental racism is a human rights violation."
July 22, 2002
In a recent report, the
General Accounting Office (GAO) looks at 15 facilities -- nine
nonhazardous waste-related sites, three hazardous waste disposal
sites, two chemical plants and one
concrete plant -- in nine locations and asked them to provide information on jobs and other contributions they had provided to their surrounding communities. The number of full-time jobs ranged from four to 103 per facility, with nine sites having 25 jobs or less. Salaries ranged from about $15,000 to $80,000 per year, the GAO said. For fully four of the facilities, officials had overestimated job creation. For instance, Michigan's Genesee Power Station early on had predicted creation of 30 jobs, but only 25 were provided; ExxonMobil estimated it would provide 50 jobs in Louisiana but only ended up with 40; Natural Resources Recovery estimated between 15 and 40, also in Louisiana, but only came through with six; and Safety-Kleen Inc. estimated 55 jobs in California but only provided 22, according to the GAO. Moreover, the agency found, jobs at some of the facilities dwindled over time. A New York fertilizer facility had 80
jobs in 1993 but just 39 in 2002...
The GAO Report (02-479) is called "Community Investment: Report of Selected Facilities" and is available (in PDF format) here. Its implications in one community, in terms of "contributions," is reviewed in this week's Inner City Press Bronx Report.
July 1, 2002
In Connecticut, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on June 25 fined the owner of the Millstone nuclear plant for violating regulations and losing two fuel rods at the plant. The NRC fined Dominion Resources $288,000 for losing the two rods, which were once feared stolen but now believed to have been disposed of with other radioactive waste...
In Ohio The Cuyahoga River still has dangerous levels of E. coli and salmonella, according to ongoing research by the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service. The agencies are conducting DNA testing of water quality and blame sewage from overflowing Akron sewers for the pollution...
June 24, 2002
In Knoxville, Tennessee, criminal and regulatory investigations are looming for the city over its demolition of the Coster Shop and the alleged dispersal of contaminated soil into the Phillip Reagan sinkhole. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Division of Superfund has found the same black soil and oily smell from the Coster Shop at several sites, including the sinkhole. The soil is contaminated with lead, arsenic and PCBs and, under the signed contract between the city and Burnett Demolition & Salvage Co., was not supposed to be removed from the Coster site...
Just outside Chicago, the Illinois EPA told Commonwealth Edison and Oak Park officials on June 19 that they had 60 days to formalize a plan to complete the cleanup of Barrie Park, a former manufactured gas plant in Oak Park. Illinois EPA spokeswoman Maggie Carson said if the groups have not reached an agreement by August, the case may go before the state attorney general to decide whether Com Ed is violating state law...
June 3, 2002
In California, San Diego-based Sempra Energy last week sued the state Department of Water Resources to prevent it from canceling the utility's $6.6 billion power-supply contract. DWR said in April that it may cancel Sempra's contract after it discovered the utility planned to buy electricity from plants other than the Bakersfield plant specified in the contract ... If Sempra had decided to build its new natural gas-fired power plant in southern California, state and local authorities would have required the company to comply with stringent air quality regulations. Company officials would also have had to complete detailed environmental impact statements. So Sempra decided to build the plant just over the border in Mexico instead. The new plant, Termoeléctrica de Mexicali, is but a small part of the company's plan to dominate natural gas distribution and electricity generation throughout Southern California and Northern Mexico. In this excerpt from Greenpeace report "Terra Sempra" (via the excellent CorpWatch), J.P. Ross takes a look at how Sempra is dodging US environmental laws by building power plants in Mexico and shipping the electricity back to California.
In Tennessee, high levels of diesel fuel have contaminated a South Knoxville sinkhole and nearby stream according to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Ten soil samples in the sinkhole registered petroleum levels up to 18 times the allowable amount. The TDEC's Superfund Division is investigating reports that soil from the city's contaminated Coster Shop may have been dumped in the sinkhole...
May 20, 2002
In Alabama, employees at the Anniston Army Depot found two rockets leaking deadly nerve agent last week, bringing the total number of leaking rockets to 733. The Army is continuing to study groundwater contamination surrounding the depot to determine if tricholorethylene in Coldwater Springs is coming from the depot's groundwater pollution... In Memphis, environmental activist Rita Harris is assisting neighbors of North Memphis chemical plants to conduct their own testing. Enenco Inc., at 3018 Bell Ave., had the highest toxic air emissions in the North Memphis area, discharging 320,580 pounds in 1999. The next-highest releases came from Southern Cotton Oil, 2782 Chelsea, which reported air emissions of 280,000 pounds....
April 29, 2002
In New Jersey, a retired DuPont employee testified at a civil trial on April 23 that he helped bury more than 200 55-gallon drums containing toxic material at the company's plant in Pompton Lakes. Approximately 1,600 residents are suing DuPont for contaminating the water, air and soil during its nine-decade tenure in New Jersey. DuPont moved its operations to Mexico in 1994...
In Knoxville, Tennessee, contaminated fill dirt that a demolition company dumped into a sinkhole has ruined the water supply for some 50 homes. The Tennessee attorney general's office and the state Department of Environment and Conservation are investigating the contamination...
In Minnesota, the state attorney general's office on April 22 charged an Anoka scrap dealer with illegally disposing of PCBs in a Wright County landfill. The criminal complaint charges Schwartzman Co. Inc. with two felony counts of knowingly sending several hundred tons of shredded material contaminated with PCBs to the landfill...
In Michigan, Macomb County Circuit Judge Deborah A. Servitto slapped a $36 million fine -- the largest environmental fine imposed to date in Michigan -- on two Detroit contractors and four family members who run 10 companies for illegally dumping construction waste in Macomb, Wayne and Barry counties...
April 22, 2002
In Rhode Island last week, the EPA confirmed studies done last year by the state Health Department that 17 private wells in Coventry are contaminated with beryllium. Because the pollution's source is still "unknown," the EPA is preparing to analyze samples from the Global Waste Recycling site to determine if it is responsible...
In Michigan, two unrelated oil spills in the last week contaminated 27 miles of the Rogue River from Detroit to Downriver, dumping an excess of 10,000 gallons of oil and spurring a criminal investigation. Crews expect to have the majority of the cleanup complete by Friday and are sampling the oil...
March 25, 2002
In Chicago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to test a former Nike missile site on Chicago's south lakefront to see if underground tanks left from the Cold War are leaking fuel. Crews will begin digging next month at Promontory Point and may begin work at two other sites this year.
In Connecticut, U.S. District Court Judge Alan Nevas last week blocked local challenges to a fuel storage agreement for the Connecticut Yankee nuclear power plant Monday, preventing Haddam residents from challenging the location of the complex. The company wants to move spent fuel rods from a storage pool into large, steel-reinforced concrete canisters stored on a concrete pad
March 4, 2002
Colorado as dumping ground: a
New Jersey Superfund site will send more than 450,000 tons of
thorium-contaminated soil to a Fremont County, Colorado uranium
Cotter Corp. also hopes to receive up to 47,000 tons of radioactive tungsten tailings from a Long Island Superfund site. Local residents opposed a similar plan two years ago, and are expected to protest this plan as well
In Texas, criticism is growing of BNP Petroleum Corp.'s federal permit to drill on Padre Island National Seashore. The permit allows extensive drilling over the next several years.
In Delaware, Delaware warned people not to eat fish from Shellpot Creek after the state detected high levels of PCBs in the waterway. Fish tissue samples from the creek had 284 to 1,470 parts per billion of PCBs. The creek joins 20 other waterways or ponds in the state with fish consumption warnings...
February 25, 2002
According to the Charlotte Observer of February 21, a recent study that looks 20 years ahead shows Charlotte-Mecklenberg can meet federal clean-air standards, allowing the area to qualify for federal highway funds. State officials and federal regulators will make a final determination this spring, but a late filing means the area's transportation funding could be delayed for a few weeks We at Inner City Press doubt it - click here for ICP's recent travelogue to Charlotte...
In Delaware, the EPA is taking control of Metachem Products' $17 million Superfund project, writing the company last week saying the agency could not justify further cleanup delays. Over 6.7 million pounds of toxic chlorinated benzene chemicals were released at the 46-acre site. Much of this pollution still remains. (Click here for ICP's intermittent Delaware community reinvestment coverage).
Not urban, but corporate: in Missouri, Cargill Pork Inc. will pay a $1 million fine for costs associated with its illegal dumping of hog waste near Martinsburg that contaminated part of the Loutre River and killed 53,000 fish, officials said Tuesday. A federal grand jury indicted Duane Connor, a former manager of the hog farm, for violating the Clean Water Act and making false statements, the U.S. attorney's office said
February 11, 2002
In New Jersey, the state Department of Environmental Protection has released a vague environmental justice rule, which directs businesses applying for an operating permit to have their plans evaluated by a computer model that correlates census figures and pollution data. There are few standards, however. The requirement is that if the analysis shows a potential environmental-equity issue, the business should participate in a community-outreach program that gives residents an opportunity for input. The DEP says it would make a final decision to approve the permit based on whether the business had made a "good faith" effort to engage the residents in the process. Note: this is like the Community Reinvestment Act pre-1994: pure process, with no substantive standards.
In Indiana, U.S. Steel's Gary Works claims it will correct its ongoing pollution problem by adding bacteria to the 30 million gallons of water it releases daily. The added bacteria, it says, will combat the Carbonaceous Biological Oxygen Demand, or CBOD, that was consuming oxygen in the Grand Calumet River when Gary Works discharges water...
Frightening report from Knoxville, TN: Prosecutors are still deciding whether or not to charge Dr. Edward Tyczkowski, owner of the Flura Company, for the chemical contamination at his chemical research property adjacent to the French Broad River. EPA officials have discovered "compounds relating to warfare agents and weapons of mass destruction" and unmarked cylinders at the Superfund site. Various chemical companies have owned the site in its 43-year history...
In Michigan, engineering consultants have identified two high concentrations of sodium chloride in underground soil around an abandoned truck stop near Hartland Township's waste water treatment plant that may be contributing to elevated sodium chloride levels. The high levels have prevented the township from expanding the plant's capacity. An old, private lagoon waste water treatment facility run by the owners of the former truck stop had a history of high sodium chloride levels...
February 4, 2002
In Connecticut, the state Department of Environmental Protection last week fined construction company O&G Industries Inc. $475,000 for widespread environmental violations at its plants in five Connecticut communities. DEP staff found violations of water and air quality laws and wetlands regulations, including the formation of cement on storm water basins.
In the run-up to the EPA's Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force meeting in St. Louis Feb. 7-8, Louisiana officials are pressing for action on the oxygen-depleted dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Last year, the dead zone off the Louisiana coast averaged 8,000 square miles -- about the size of Massachusetts...
In Indiana, Alcoa Inc. agreed last week to pay $550,000 to settle a federal lawsuit, avoiding a trial over a 1999 complaint alleging the aluminum manufacturer's aerospace products plant violated water pollution standards. The EPA alleged that the Lafayette plant contaminated Elliott Ditch by releasing wastewater that violated regulatory limits on polychlorinated biphenyls and other pollutants...
January 7, 2002
In Utah, Texaco will pay nearly $300,000 to settle charges claiming it violated the Clean Air Act and federal community right-to-know statutes at a gas plant on the Navajo Reservation. The EPA says Texaco failed to monitor or file reports on equipment leaks and didn't properly operate a gas flare near Aneth, Utah.
In Colorado, the Denver Post of Jan. 2 editorialized that "[t]he proposed Shattuck settlement lets the property owner, a Citigroup unit, off the hook too lightly... The public has until mid-January to comment on the settlement... If enriched uranium or other highly radioactive materials are found at the site, the settlement says Shattuck will pay more of the clean-up's costs... These provisions must be iron-clad; taxpayers must not suffer if Shattuck was wrong about what's at the site."
In upstate New York, 1 43-car CSX freight train carrying the hazardous chemicals acetone and methylene chloride derailed on Dec. 23 in Charlotte, NY... Also, the state's Environmental Justice Advisory Group, formed in 1998, has finally issued a report and recommendations. The NYS DEC will be accepting comments until February 22, 2002 -- click here to access the report, regarding which we may report in more detail in coming weeks.
December 31, 2001
We turn, for now, from Camden, N.J. to Mount Vernon, N.Y. This town, just north of The Bronx, is proposed to be the terminus of Columbia Gas' so-called Millennium Pipeline, with the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency approved on December 19. The pipeline is slated to end in Mount Vernon, at a connection with the Consolidated Edison distribution system. Local officials says that the line is far too close to an elementary school, two firehouses, residential housing, a community center and a hospital. Members of the Mount Vernon City Council, have called the placement of the pipeline environmental racism, because more than half of the city's residents are members of minority groups, according to United States census figures. Mount Vernon is the most densely populated city in Westchester County, with more than 70,000 people within 2.4 square miles. FERC has given the city of Mount Vernon and Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation 60 days to work together to find an alternative route for the final two miles of the pipeline into Mount Vernon. But local residents have vowed to continue to oppose the overall plan...
December 24, 2001
In some year-end bad EJ news, the Third Circuit on December 17 ruled against South Camden Citizens in Action, holding that Section 1983 cannot be used to enforce a federal regulation "unless the interest already is implicit in the statute authorizing the regulation." South Camden Citizens in Action v. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, No. 01-2639. And so, let the cement dust flow, in this community of color that already suffers from the effects of a sewage treatment plant, a trash-to-steam plant and numerous toxic waste sites. From that concrete to this arcane: a three-judge panel has ruled that Judge Orlofsky erred by relying on a 3rd Circuit decision, Powell v. Ridge, that was overruled by Sandoval. But a dissenting judge said the majority was engaging in "analytical alchemy" and that its decision would effectively overturn controlling 3rd Circuit precedent - something only the court sitting en banc is allowed to do.
U.S. Circuit Judge Theodore A. McKee said Sandoval had overruled only a portion of Powell and that he would have upheld Orlofsky because his decision was correctly based on the holding in Powell that survived. The Powell majority stated: "Once a plaintiff has identified a federal right that has allegedly been violated, there arises a 'rebuttable presumption that the right is enforceable under Section 1983." Just for the record, the following submitted amicus briefs supporting the defendants: the Chamber of Commerce of the United States; the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the South Jersey Port Corp.; the National Association of Manufacturers; the American Chemistry Council; the Chemistry Industry Council of New Jersey; the Washington Legal Foundation; the National Black Chamber of Commerce; the Allied Educational Foundation; and the American Road & Transportation Builders Association. We'll be back in 2000. Happy holidays.
November 26, 2001
Good news for clean air: on November 20, the New York State Court of Appeals let stand a decision requiring the state Power Authority to test its new electricity generators, including four in the South Bronx, for emissions of "fine particulate matter." The test must be completed by January 31, 2002. The Power Authority had sought to evade environmental review, by keeping the capacity of each site just below the 80-megawatt threshold that triggers review. And now that review has been ordered, the NYPA has apparently already engaged in pre-judgment. Agency spokesman Mike Petralia proclaimed, "We believe the review will demonstrate that these plants... operated without any adverse environmental impacts, and will continue to do so." We'll see...
Inner city North Dakota: the EPA has informed the N.D. Health Department that the federal agency will take over the cleanup efforts at the contaminated site of the former Camelot Cleaners dry-cleaning business in West Fargo. The state has said it has no money for the cleanup...
Remember Buffalo Creek? The West Virginia Surface Mine Board last week upheld a $45,000 fine against Massey Energy for an "illegal impoundment" in a Boone County creek. The company was cited for putting refuse in the impoundment without building proper drainage control systems on the Jake Gore Creek near Van, West VA. Also in West Virginia, Dupont, after being sued, has agreed to halve emissions of ammonium perfluorooctanoate (C8) -- an unregulated toxic chemical -- that has polluted water near its Wood County plant....
Scalia fall-out in Louisiana: A federal district court has dismissed a lawsuit against the town of Folsom, Louisiana, ruling that the plaintiffs who charge that a sewer plant is ruining their property have no legal standing because the state already has fined the town over the issue. This is cold comfort to Beryl and Fred Lockett, who say that untreated sewage from the plant flows through a ravine and crosses their property on its way to a local river. If this is not direct harm, what is?
November 5, 2001
More S11 fallout: the state of Illinois announced on October 30 that it will place a hold on all applications for new and renewal permits for hauling hazardous materials while federal officials draft a plan for enforcing a new anti-terrorism law. Although the state will continue to send permit applications to the federal government for background checks, none will be granted until Department of Justice officials give their approval. On September 19, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announced that the EPA will work with the FBI and the largest water utilities in the country to cross-check employee records and the terrorist watch list...
In EJ news: an environmental justice complaint has been filed regarding disparities in waterway clean ups in Indianapolis. (Indianapolis Star, October 31, 2001).
In Maine, the state Department of Environmental Protection has fined Biddeford-based Sermatech International Inc. $42,000 for dumping hazardous waste. Inspections found chromium-contaminated waste in four locations...
October 29, 2001
Even the playgrounds: in western New York, the Pittsford Central School District last week closed two playgrounds which have been contaminated with high levels of arsenic. The arsenic is suspected of having leaked from pressure-treated wooden playground equipment treated with chromated copper arsenic...
Annals of "justice" -- Libby, Montana, residents sickened by exposure to asbestos from a W.R. Grace vermiculite mine now stand to receive as little as $400 through the company's bankruptcy proceedings....
"More acidic than orange juice:" a report issued last week shows that pollution from a coal-burning plant in Bow, New Hampshire, may have caused acid rain to fall on nearby waterways.
Gone fishin' -- in the Mississippi Delta, hundreds of signs will now be posted at boat ramps and fishing locations to warn of DDT and Toxaphene contamination.
October 22, 2001
On October 18, the UCLA Institute of the Environment issued a report documenting that while Latinos are 44% of Los Angeles County's population, they make up 60% of the residents within a half-mile of the top 100 sources of toxic air contaminants in the county. The study attributed this to income disparities...
In Augusta, Georgia, the state Environmental Protection Division has found that four dry cleaners leaked PCE into the ground, contaminating six drinking water wells. PCE, or tetrachloroethlene, was detected in the wells in Nov. 1999 at levels as high as 9.8 parts per billion, well above the federal standard of 5 parts per billion...
The next law school clinic on industry's hit-list for funding reduction is the University of Pittsburgh's Environmental Law Clinic, under fire for representing opponents of the Mon-Fayette Expressway and logging in the Allegheny National Forest. The message apparently is: we want you to learn the law, but not to use it for a better environment...
October 15, 2001
In Connecticut, the state Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA) has sued former Hartford health director Mark Mitchell, saying he violated a contract by publicly saying the Hartford landfill posed health risks for residents. At a public hearing held by the state Department of Environmental Protection last year, Mitchell testified that the landfill posed a health risk to residents, which contradicted what he had concluded in a 1997 study that CRRA had paid him to do. At the hearing, Mitchell said that, given the reconfiguration of the ash section at the landfill, toxins in the ash could be hazardous to people living and working nearby. (Hartford Courant, 10/11/01).
The question: can an agency buy a permanent positive opinion? Can it sue an expert it had previous paid to front for it, or force the expert to remain quiet? CRRA's recourse was that other agencies would be less likely to hire Mitchell. This suit raises questions about CRRA's commitment to public heath, to say nothing of public participation. EPA, take note...
Also, in Texas, intentionally-incorrect test results supplied by a Richardson-based laboratory threatened thousands of toxic cleanup projects around the country, federal investigators say. Prosecutors against Intertek Testing Services Environmental Laboratories say a "lust for profits" led eight lab managers and chemists to falsify test results in order to complete lucrative government contracts more quickly...
In Tacoma, the EPA's proposal to leave a pile of hazardous waste buried beneath Tacoma's Middle Waterway is being protested. Over 10,000 cubic yards of sediment contaminated primarily by potentially cancerous polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons lie a few feet under the waterway...
In Ohio, Cleveland has ordered a contractor to remove crushed slag installed as a base for the 9,000-foot runway being constructed at Hopkins International Airport. The city and state environmental agencies are convinced the slag is the source of a milky white, sulfuric runoff that has threatened the Abram Creek and Rocky River...
September 24, 2001
On September 25, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear oral argument in South Camden Citizens in Action v. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, 145 F. Supp. 2d 446, sup. opin. 145 F. Supp. 2d 505 (D.N.J. 2001). The Third Circuit already vacated the injunction issued by District Judge Stephen Orlofsky, pending appeal. After the U.S. Supreme Court found in Alexander v. Sandoval, 121 S.Ct. 1511, 149 L.Ed.2d 527 (2001), that there was no private cause of action under Title VI, Judge Orlofsky held that the EPA's disparate-impact regulations could be enforced pursuant to §1983 of the Civil Rights Act. The threshold question for the Third Circuit will be to determine whether the plaintiffs' action may be grounded on §1983. If it so finds, the court will then need to address whether the DEP complied with the EPA's disparate-impact regulations in its permitting decision. Here's hoping...
Bronx, N.Y.-based Parker Environmental Management Group was indicted last week on 19 counts of violating the Clean Air Act, Superfund, and other federal laws, primarily for illegal asbestos removal and dumping. For ongoing Bronx-based reports on the aftermath of the September 11 plane-bombing of the World Trade Center, click here.
September 17, 2001
Following the September 11 plane-bombing of the World Trade Center and the U.S. Pentagon, it is likely (and to some degree understandable) that issues of environmental justice and civil rights within the United States will take a back seat for the foreseeable future. Most countries in the world have suffered the bombing of cities and civilian casualties -- but this has, gratefully, been rare in the United States. President Bush has said that responding to the attacks will become the focus of his administration. And today's reopening of the stock markets (and of professional baseball, et al.) exemplify the efforts that will be made to show that life in the U.S. goes on. This is understandable, appropriate, laudable.
Environmental justice advocates have shown, and will undoubtedly show, restraint. Environmental-per-se organizations may be going too far. Counter Punch has obtained, and sharply criticizes, an internal Sierra Club memo stating that "we are taking other steps to prevent the Sierra Club from being perceived as controversial during this crisis. For now we are going to stop aggressively pushing our agenda...". Counter Punch concludes: " What nonsense! Principles are never more important than when it is inconvenient or dangerous to stand up for them."
Of some relevance, if only by analogy, to the environmental justice crossroads we are at, in Europe the economic justice network Attac issued a press release condemning the plane- bombings "in the firmest possible terms, particularly because terrorism has always been used to suppress and suspend democratic freedoms. This crime... confus[es] a people with a state, and massacring thousands of innocent people." Later in the week, ATTAC confirmed that it would not cancel its next planned protest, stating that "we understand the shock in the U.S.... But, in Europe and the rest of the world, we are not in a state of shock. Life goes on -- and we see no reason to change our analysis or our actions."
In the low-income communities of color in the United States, is there a reason to change analysis or actions? Fundamentally, no. But there is a wider picture, there is work to be done, assistance to be rendered, perspectives to be articulated. Here's one: the United States has an unprecedented level of personal and political freedom. The right to petition the government for redress of grievances. The First Amendment. Freedom of the press. There's a need for moral leadership, at the national, regional and neighborhood level. In light of the loss of life, the pervasive and reinforced sense of powerlessness and frailty, the urge to retaliate -- to defend -- is widely shared. But if the response includes killing uninvolved civilians, how would it be qualitatively different than the September 11 plane bombing?
We'll close with this report from the South Bronx, ten miles from the World Trade Center: over the weekend of September 15-16, there was a police presence maintained in front of a mosque on 189th Street and Belmont Avenue in The Bronx. Members of this mosque visited Christian churches in the neighborhood, to explain that their theology did and does not justify or support acts like the plane-bombing of the World Trade Center. A candlelight vigil through the neighborhood was held on September 14; the candle were left burning in D'Aurea Murphy park at 184th Street and Arthur Avenue.
Environmental justice groups, neighborhood-based organizations generally, are (micro-) social institutions, with a form of soap box. There's a need for moral leadership, including at the neighborhood level. Let us try to rise to the challenge, while remaining vigilant on the issues we have been, and will continue, working on...
September 10, 2001
In New York City, a Staten Island trash hauler has been indicted for allegedly illegally dumping construction and demolition debris. Charges against Robert Grillo and his 20 Station Avenue Corp. include three counts of disposing of more than 10 cubic yards of solid waste at an unpermitted facility. The state said the company illegally dumped garbage in vacant lots on at least three occasions.
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is ordering the cleanup of 200,000 whole tires and 100,000 shredded tires from northeast Philadelphia. The state said All State Tire Recycling must clear the tires it allegedly abandoned by Oct. 31 under a judge's order.
In East St. Louis, the EPA announced last week that it will clean up about 100 lead-contaminated properties. More homes and businesses could be added to the list after additional testing. The lead came from old factories and industrial facilities in the area.
September 4, 2001
The federal Environmental Protection Agency now views itself as "the only game in town" for environmental justice, following the Supreme Court's April 2001 decision in Alexander v. Sandoval. This according to EPA attorney Gail Ginsberg, who has been appointed to head the EPA's new EJ task force. As of August 10, 2001, the EPA had 64 environmental justice complaints pending. Twenty-two of those have been accepted for investigation and 42 are under review for possible investigation. Ms. Ginsberg has been quoted that after the Sandoval decision the EPA "expected we'd see a lot more complaints, and maybe we will, but so far that hasn't happened." But the EPA has issued only one substantive EJ decision in the past eight years, dismissing a complaint from Michigan and allowing a steel recycling plant to go forward. If this process is "the only game in town," it's a company town...
Here's a recent EJ complaint to the EPA: residents of Missouri's Washington County have challenged the Missouri Division of Geology and Land Survey permitting of a 170-acre landfill to be built by WaCo Landholding Inc. Residents claim that leakage from the site would seep through porous rock beneath the landfill and eventually poison an aquifer that supplies nearby residents with well water. The regional EPA's Althea Moses states that "one of the things we'll be looking at are the demographics of the area to find out if there is a disparity of environmental impact that might be a violation of environmental justice." We'll see...
August 20, 2001
What goes around, comes around: earlier this month, Magnesium Corporation of America filed for bankruptcy in New York. The company, a unit of New York-based Renco Metals Inc., has been one of the nation's worst polluters and is reportedly the target of a federal investigation...
If they don't vote right, fire 'em: in California, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District's governing board voted to fire two board members in closed session meetings, a violation of state law. The dismissal came just before the board considered two controversial cases in which the two members had sided with environmentalists...
August 13, 2001
In Washington, D.C., a BP Amoco station in the Southeast neighborhood of Fort Dupont leaked 1,400 gallons of gasoline between April and June, 2001. Fourteen families have been evacuated from their homes, and have been stayed in a hotel for the past seven weeks. Last week, Mayor Anthony Williams finally met with the families, and declaimed that "if the spill had happened in an affluent neighborhood, BP Amoco would have treated the residents better. 'It's clear this is a case of environmental justice,' Williams said." While we agree, we note that if the evacuated families had been from another section of the District -- say, Georgetown or Woodley Park -- Mayor Williams would have met with them sooner than seven weeks after they were driven from their homes. Developing...
In Seattle, the EPA has fined Philip Services Corp. (a/k/a Burlington Environmental Inc.) more than $1 million for allegedly violating environmental rules at its four toxic waste storage facilities, and for failing to properly monitor ground-water contamination in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood....
August 6, 2001
In Connecticut, legislators will try again to impose stricter pollution standards on the state's aging power plants. Their last attempt was vetoed by Governor John Rowland, and too view legislators stuck around to even hold a vote on overriding Gov. Rowland's veto...
Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn has rejected Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman's demand for cities to have a say in air quality regulation in southern Nevada. Guinn recently upheld his decision to transfer regulatory authority to the Clark County Commission..
In Ohio, environmental enforcement actions by the state Attorney General's office have declined precipitously. The AG's office collected only $3 million in fines from polluters last year, the lowest amount in seven years. Efforts were hampered by a lack of attorneys in the office. There were 17 vacancies in the environmental enforcement division. It's all about priorities...
July 23, 2001
First some news, then some spin. In Chelmsford, Massachusetts, the EPA is seeking $3.5 million from nine companies and three individuals to clean up an illegal toxic waste dump contains cancer-causing chemicals used as paint solvents in the manufacture of plastics. The dumping went on so long that cleanup costs could exceed $30 million...
In "legal" toxic waste dumping news, a recent report on the proposal to bury nuclear waste under Yucca Mountain in Nevada estimates that Clark County, NV (which includes Las Vegas) would have to spend more then $1 billion on emergency preparedness training, if the plan goes forward. We speculate about a nuclear waste tax on the gaming industry, or a new casino being built on the Nevada Test Site (which the U.S. apparently pays Wackenhut, a company active in the private prison industry, to guard...).
In Alaska oil news, an investigation has begun into allegations that fire suppression systems and certain valves at a BP Prudhoe Bay oil field have not been inspected -- this would violate BP's criminal probation for illegal dumping of toxic waste at the Endicott oil field in the 1990s... Also, in a project funded by the long-named "Exxon Valdez Oil Spill State/Federal Trustee Council," surveys have been conducted of beaches around Prince William Sound for oil from the Exxon Valdez spill. To date, the survey has found oil seven to eight times more often than expected, scientists said. About 450 of 4,428 pits dug contained surface or subsurface oil...
The spin: In Massachusetts, lobbying has begun against the state Office of Environmental Affairs' new environmental justice policy (the announcement of which was covered in previous Reports, below). The Worcester Telegram & Gazette editorialized against the EJ policy on July 17, and quoted the president of the local Chamber of Commerce that "the current level of environmental monitoring and review, by municipalities and the state, is already extensive." The same editorial reports that Worcester has more than 200 contaminated sites that make up about a quarter of the city's 2,000 acres of industrially zoned property. That was some extensive review process, no?
July 16, 2001
First the news, then the spin: in New York State, the Pataki administration last week finally released a long-withheld report, which discloses three additional state Superfund sites and 17 other PCB-contaminated areas in the Upper Hudson River Valley. The report was released immediately before residents of Glen Falls held a press conference, on the way their community has been polluted by General Electric, and capacitator GE left in their neighborhood... In neighboring New Jersey, requests have been made to Christie Whitman's fill-in, Gov. Donald DiFrancesco, not to sign a bill approved by the state legislature which would put a four-year limit on New Jersey's ability to seek compensation from polluters. Note: under such a law, GE (at least as to Glen Falls, N.Y.) would be scot free...
In enforcement news, the EPA last week sued AK Steel for a pattern of Clean Air and Clean Water Act violations at its Middletown, Ohio plant. The company has responded that it would rather lay off 2,000 workers at the plant than install the required pollution-control equipment... In Pennsylvania, the EPA EPA has cited S.H. Bell Co. for operating an iron ore and minerals handling facility on the Ohio River without obtaining 21 operating and four installation permits despite being considered a major source of airborne particle pollution...
Now, the spin: at a conference last week at George Washington University Law School, a panel discussed the prospects for environmental justice litigation following the Supreme Court's decision earlier this year in Alexander v. Sandoval, which problematized (to put it mildly) private causes of action for disparate impact discrimination. Participants emphasized that actions under Section 1983 are still possible, citing the ongoing Camden case for that proposition. One advocate opined that "Sandoval is only a bump in the road." But an obstacle only becomes, in retrospect, a "bump" -- if one keeps pressing forward...
July 9, 2001
Wise use? In Bronx County, New York, an 18-hole golf course is being built, on top of the Ferry Point landfill. The state Department of Environmental Protection has detected elevated levels of methane gas, and has now installed a trench of gravel around the perimeter, for "ventilation." Otherwise, apparently, a golfer who lights a cigarette (or cigar) -- might burst into methane-fueled flame. There's talk of expanding the course from 18 holes to 27, and of taking over current parkland to do so. We ask again: wise use?
Also in New York, the DEP disclosed that it will be years before the Hoosick River recovers from the 2,000 gallon acidic copper sulfate spill that emanated from the Oak-Mitsui plant in Hoosick Falls last week... In Calhoun County, Alabama, residents who live near the Army's $1 billion chemical weapons incinerator say they are "profoundly" worried about the federal government's preparedness for a possible accident at the facility, which is scheduled to open next year... In Louisiana, the state has put the cleanup of three abandoned oilfield waste pits on hold because the chief investigator has taken a new job. Thomas Neumeier, the state environmental impact specialist handling the project, has taken a job with -- guess who -- Halliburton Co.... In South Texas, a leak in an Army landfill could threaten the drinking water supply of about 1.5 million people. Hundreds of gallons of trichloroethene leaked at the Camp Bullis reservation, and could make their way into the Edwards Aquifer...
July 2, 2001
Our focus this week: Pennsylvania. In Allegheny County, an ordinance that would prevent companies from building new plants if they have violated air pollution permits within one year has bipartisan support, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (6/25). Statewide, the PA Department of Environmental Protection has accepted recommendations from the Environmental Justice Work Group it established in 1999. The recommendations, almost entirely procedural, include: putting official documents like public notices and permit information in a language understood by the community to be affected; including a 10-step procedure in DEP's permitting process for certain activities in minority and low-income communities, like enhanced public participation; and, somewhat more substantively, ensuring minority and low-income communities receive the same frequency of inspections and assessment of fines as other communities...
Residents of South Denver are protesting the EPA's closed-door negotiations with Citigroup, which owns the Shattuck Superfund site. As reported in the Denver Post (6/28), "they don't like the idea of Shattuck and Citigroup being released from all future liability without getting a say in the decision. Citigroup was one of the top campaign contributors to President Bush (and Democratic candidate Al Gore). And EPA chief Whitman has family financial ties to the company" (reported on in earlier this year, in ICP's CitiWatch Report).
Three other notes: in New York, a report was released on June 21 showing that General Electric's contamination of the Hudson River with PCBs damaged commercial and recreational fishing for decades. The study could force GE to pay even more than the estimated $460 million price tag the EPA says is necessary to dredge the river, according to the Albany Times-Union (6/22). Also in New York (and Pennsylvania), in corporate crime news: a truck illegally filled with medical waste, originating from a Bronx transfer station run by Waste Management, was stopped and impounded by Pennsylvania officials. (Click here to view the PA Department of Environmental Protection's press release). What will the ramifications for Waste Management be? In Delaware, the state House has passed a bill that would require the state to notify the public about environmental spills and chronic polluters. The bill has already been approved by the state Senate...
June 25, 2001
In Camden, N.J. last week, the St. Lawrence Cement Company began grinding a 112,000 ton mountain of slag into powder for cement. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the injunction that had been entered in April by District Judge Stephen Orlofsky. At some point, the Third Circuit will rule on the underlying case. But the harm, in a neighborhood already home to two Superfund sites, has begun...
In Southern California, plans for a power plant on land previously set aside as a state park have been cancelled. La Jolla Energy Development Inc. informed the state Energy Commission on June 21 that it is withdrawing its application for fast-track approval of the 53-megawatt plant and "will not pursue the Baldwin [Hills] facility in the future." Over 1,000 people had shown up at a public hearing on June 18, opposing the plan. The neighborhood is over three-quarters African-American...
June 11, 2001
While the Camden, N.J. case has become ground-zero, legally, for environmental justice claims, local residents in southeast Phoenix have pushed forward, documenting the concentration of toxic uses in their neighborhoods, and filing a lawsuit against the city of Phoenix, accusing officials of environmental racism by using zoning decisions and tax credits to turn their community into a "toxic dumping ground."
In California, notice of intent to sue the contractors hired by the Navy to clean up Hunters Point Naval Shipyard has been filed: the contractors failed to notify residents and workers of the discovery of a radioactive sandblast grit in an excavation pit, in violation of Proposition 65...
The EPA, in one recent positive move, has fined Wal-Mart $1 million, settling allegations that Wal-Mart violated the Clean Water Act with dirt discharges while building 17 stores in Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas... To Wal-Mart, this is just a cost of doing business...
June 4, 2001
Another dubious "first" for the South Bronx: of the ten new electricity-generating turbines being fast-tracked by the New York State Power Authority, the first was opened on June 1: in Port Morris in the South Bronx. As previously reported, the NYPA designed the turbines just below the capacity that would trigger environmental review. Once again, sadly, the South Bronx is the place where a questionable use can most quickly be sited and built...
In more positive news: in Massachusetts, an innovative proposal's been made to add low- and moderate-income communities of color to a 1975 law's definition of (and protections for) "critical environmental areas" requiring special review. The proposal would amend the 1975 statute requiring state environmental agencies to give special protection to areas considered critical because of a wetland, an aquifer, or a habitat of an endangered species. Massachusetts' Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and the state Department of Public Health would have 120 days to draft regulations similar to those in place for the areas of "critical environmental concern." Neat...
In Los Angeles, a community coalition in the Figeroa Corridor area has reached an agreement with the proposed developers of two hotels next to the Staples Center. The agreement provides for, among other things, more than $1 million for the creation or improvement of parks within a mile of the project, with community input; inclusion of a one-acre public plaza and other public open space; and at least 70 percent of the estimated 5,500 permanent jobs to be created by the project, including those offered by tenants, would pay a living wage or better. Those are defined as paying $7.72 an hour with benefits or $8.97 without, or covered by collective bargaining agreement. The deal also calls on the developer to notify the coalition 45 days before signing tenant lease agreements. To conclude, as we began, with the South Bronx: here, a mall financed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has signed a lease with Rent-A-Center, the high-cost furniture and appliance business. See Inner City Press Bronx Reports throughout April and May. Forty-five days notice sure would have been nice... So, hat's off, L.A. and Massachusetts...
May 29, 2001
On May 22, the EPA formally delayed until at least February 2002 a new standard for arsenic in drinking water, and a system for reporting the presence of arsenic in water to affected communities. Congress had mandated a final arsenic rule by June 22, 2001; EPA cites to its supposedly exclusive authority to establish effective dates. The confidence of environmentalists -- urban, rural and otherwise -- in the EPA continues to decline...
In California, a recent poll reveals that 70% of respondent voters, and 86% of Latino voters, agree with the statement that "Government officials are more likely to allow companies that cause pollution to operate in low-income and minority neighborhoods than in high-income and predominantly white neighborhoods." Senor Bush! Estas perdiendo votos!
May 21, 2001
This week: Detroit, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.
A study reported in the Detroit News of May 17, based on blood screening in 1998, has found that "17.5 percent of the children tested by [Detroit's] Health Department had elevated lead levels. Half of those children identified live in 37 percent of the city's ZIP codes." The rate in all Detroit zip codes was higher than the national average; in some Detroit neighborhoods, it's ten times the national average. The response to date has been less, rather than more, interest on the part of government agencies: "In Detroit, the number of children under the age of 6 tested for lead poisoning dropped from 26,790 in 1998 to 24,417 last year." ICP is pursuing a full copy of the study (which included review of Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Mobile, Ala., Baltimore, Boston and St. Louis); we will have more on this.
In South Africa, the Anti- Incineration Alliance, a coalition of environmental groups in Western Cape province, are calling for a moratorium on the permitting of new incinerators. The Denel Corporation, South Africa's largest private arms manufacturer, has applied to build a waste incinerator between two low-income communities: "Mitchells Plein, a mixed race or so-called colored community, and Khayelitsha, a black community that is home to about 600,000 people." The government of Western Cape province has not announced whether it will approve the permit. The movement on these issues, as on the other issues in which Inner City Press is involved, is global: "In the United States, more than 280 incinerator proposals have been defeated or abandoned since 1985 because of public opposition. In France, authorities have closed down three municipal waste incinerators in Lille because high concentrations of dioxins were found in locally produced cow's milk. Turkey's environment minister decreed in 1999 that all waste incinerators would be phased out."
Friends of the Earth Scotland reports, in a May 17 release, that "research in England demonstrates that 82 percent of carcinogen emissions are in the most deprived 20 percent of wards, and families with household income below 5000 pounds annually are twice as likely to live near to a polluting factory than those with an income above 60,000 pounds," then notes that a similar study has yet to be done in Scotland...Until next time, for or with more information, contact us.
May 14, 2001
This week: litigation news, from Anniston, Alabama: Monsanto recently settled claims that PCB contamination for which it was responsible had increased the cancer risks of residents of a predominantly African American neighborhood in Anniston. What brought the case, Owens v. Monsanto Co., CV96-J-0440-E, to the attention of the national (legal) press was that Monsanto has rejected a mediator's suggestion of $40 million, which was the precise sum it later settled for. This is from the National Law Journal: "Because it declined to settle during mediation, Monsanto will have to pay an additional $ 2.7 million to the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs, 1,596 former and current residents of Anniston, Ala., sued Monsanto in 1996, claiming that PCBs deposited by the company from 1935 until 1972 had polluted their neighborhood, causing permanent property damage and personal injuries. PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, manufactured at Monsanto's Anniston plant used to be components in insulation. The plaintiffs claimed that PCB exposure had caused a variety of illnesses, including skin rash, cancer, liver damage, nervous system damage, hyperactivity and attention deficit disorders in children. During the Easter trial recess, on April 13, Monsanto informed plaintiffs' counsel it wished to reopen settlement talks. An agreement was reached the next day and approved the following Saturday, April 21, by plaintiffs at a meeting in Anniston's Bethel Missionary Baptist Church." There is a need for more of this type of aggressive, grassroots litigation, in (polluted) communities around the country...
May 7, 2001
We've received a number of requests this week to explain more fully what the Supreme Court's decision in Alexander v. Sandoval, 99-1908, may mean for disparate impact environmental justice cases. Rather than go through, for now, the whole legal exegesis, the reaction of the U.S. District Court judge in the current E.J. case, South Camden Citizens in Action v. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, is telling. Mere hours after the Alexander v. Sandoval decision was handed down on April 24, District Judge Stephen Orlofsky called the lawyers in South Camden, and asked for brief on whether the injunctions he'd used five days before should continue, in light of the new Supreme Court precedent. The plaintiffs are arguing that the stay be continued, under the five-prong test of says the case for intent is a strong one based on a five-factor test of Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp., 429 U.S. 252 (1977) (whether a proposal bears more heavily on one race than another; historical background of the government action at issue; sequences of events that resulted in the challenged proposal; procedural and substantive departures in making a decision; and the legislative or administrative history of the action). We'll be continuing to follow this one...
In more positive news, the University of California at Santa Cruz has issued a detailed study, rebutting the argument that toxic uses weren't directed at communities of color, but rather that property values (and demographics) changed after toxic uses moved in. The study, "Racial/Ethnic Inequality in Environmental Hazard Exposure in Metropolitan Los Angeles," tracks the arrival of all high-capacity toxic storage and disposal facilities (TSDFs) in Los Angeles County against changing neighborhood demographics over the 1970, 1980, and 1990 census surveys. The study's statistical analysis confirms that the racial/ethnic makeup of a neighborhood mattered in the timing of a TSDF siting. The study concludes with a call for greater enforcement of the spirit (and laws, such as they are) of environmental justice. Good work!
April 30, 2001
The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision last week in Alexander v. Sandoval, upholding Alabama's English-Only requirement for drivers' licenses, will make environmental justice suits using Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 more difficult, particularly against non-governmental actors who have received federal funds. The chief counsel of the Washington Legal Foundation crowed that the ruling "basically strikes down the entire environmental justice movement." (Legal Intelligencer, April 25). The government agencies which grant the permits and other approvals can still be sued, for systemic discrimination, under the Civil Rights Act of 1871. But suits against "private," federally funded entities, using the disparate impact theory, will be more difficult, to say the least. Brainstorming, and new strategies, are needed...
On April 25, environmental advocates rallied in front of the Swiss Consulate in midtown Manhattan, protesting the plans of St. Lawrence Cement, a Canadian subsidiary of Zurich-based Holderbank, to build a facility near the Hudson River in Greenport, N.Y. on the border of the city of Hudson. "The plant would have a smokestack forty stories tall, and a two-mile conveyer belt system leading to the river where 800-foot barges would be loaded for trips down to New York City. The plant's main fuel would be coal, a fuel that is illegal in environmentally conscious Switzerland." The current administration, of course, says that environmental regulations are "too expensive" for the U.S. economy...
April 23, 2001
From Portland, Oregon, there's positive environmental and "convergence" news this week: a joint lawsuit by environmental groups and a labor union, against Oregon Steel Mills for 55 violations of the Clean Air Act in the last five years. The plaintiffs include the United Steelworkers of America (which has been striking Oregon Steel's Pueblo, Colorado plant for three years), the Environmental Justice Action Group and the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment, one of the first, and most cutting-edge, "Teamsters and Turtles" coalitions around. Oregon Steel, predictably, denounced the plaintiffs -- but doesn't seem to dispute that it's been violating the Clean Air Act. Developing...
Meanwhile, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman last week announced various Earth Day awards. She didn't comment on the brewing conflict of interest scandals surrounding the environmental record of her husband's employer, Citigroup. As the Denver Post's Mike Soraghan reported last month, when "Whitman makes decisions on Denver's most notorious Superfund site, the Shattuck Chemical Co., her choices might also affect her family finances. Her husband, John Whitman, is managing partner of a venture capital firm spun off and backed by Citigroup, the banking giant that owns Shattuck. The company's south Denver location is a Superfund site where EPA officials are deciding how they should remove tons of radioactive waste encased in concrete... John Whitman worked for Citigroup from 1972 to 1987, and still has as much as $ 250,000 in stock in the company... John Whitman is now a managing partner of Sycamore Ventures. Last year, John Whitman got a bonus of unspecified size from Citigroup for past work. The EPA says it's not a conflict, because Christine Whitman doesn't have a direct hand in local Superfund decisions."
But it's not that simple. Earlier this month, EPA investigator Hugh Kaufman filed a 'whistle-blower' complaint with the Department of Labor, stating that Whitman "has bad-mouthed him to key members of Congress" and that "her decisions may have been influenced by her husband's close corporate ties to Citigroup, owner of the Shattuck Chemical Co. site in south Denver where a toxic-waste cleanup is planned."
April 9, 2001
In Corpus Christi, Texas, state environmental agencies have declared two long-closed landfills safe. Local residents disagree, noting that the agencies failed to conduct ground water testing, and did not bore 25 feet below the surface. Bill Rhotenberry, Superfund site assessment manager for the Texas EPA, said: "Four agencies investigated this matter -- the Texas Department of Health, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, and the state EPA, as well as an independent contractor -- and no cause for concern was found, either last year or during the many historical tests conducted through the decades." But more than 300 people in the neighborhood have suffered illnesses ranging from various forms of cancer to leukemia to multiple miscarriages and hysterectomies for women in their early 20s, at as much as twice the expected incident rate. Residents want the sites put on the Superfund National Priority List for remediation funding.
In Savannah, Georgia, residents are calling on Southern Co., the parent of Savannah Electric and Georgia Power, to clean up its act. Recent Toxic Release Inventory data shows Southern's plants emitted 87 million pounds of pollution into the air in 1998. Additionally, mercury emitted by the power plants has entered the water and ends up in fish. There are 45 Georgia-wide advisories urging people to limit their intake of certain kinds of fish because of mercury poisoning. A campaign is beginning...
April 2, 2001
We turn global this week -- but find, not surprisingly, toxic waste from the United States and the United Kingdom.
From 1978 to 1996, Britain's Thor Chemical operated a mercury "reprocessing" plant, on Cato Ridge in South Africa's Kwazulu-Natal province. Thor's plant took in tons of toxic waste from American and European companies, including American Cyanamid and Borden Chemicals. In 1996, the Mandela regime closed the plant down: at least two workers had died of mercury poisoning, and mercury had been found in the Umgeni River -- as early as 1988. The families of the dead workers sued in British courts in 1998, and eventually won $2 million. More recently, twenty alive-but-poisoned workers have sued, and won a mere $400,000, to be split twenty ways. Thor Chemical has taken on a new name, in South Africa: "Geurnica Chemicals." (Isn't that, you ask, the name of the Spanish town bombed by Franco, memorialized in Picasso's painting? Yes...).
The call, now, is for the companies that sent the toxic waste to South Africa to take it back. Borden Chemicals' response? "It is really something best addressed by Thor Chemicals or the South African government." (Credit: Danielle Knight of Inter-Press Service).
Less dramatic, but scarcely more democratic, Sunlaw Energy Partners, the proposer of the massive electrical plant in South Gate, California (see last week's Report, below) have not, despite losing the referendum, withdrawn their application. Sunlaw's flacks, at Hill and Knowlton (famous of late for their "intelligence work" on and against the anti-corporate globalization movement) say that the company is keeping the application pending only in order to "keep its options open." Local activists suspect that the company is simply waiting for the boiling pot of "energy crisis" to get a bit hotter, to revive the application...
March 26, 2001
Residents of South Gate, by Los Angeles' Interstate 710, voted down a proposal for a power plant in their community earlier this month. This despite the power plant's proposed owners' campaign to procure a positive vote: the company spent an estimated $150,000 on a Christmas parade float for the town, a Cinco de Mayo festival and a mailing of candles to all city residents (implying that without this plant, they'd have no electricity). But even the South Coast Air Quality Management Board, which had approved the plan, estimated that the plant would emit 56 tons of oxides of nitrogen, 17 tons of carbon monoxide, 24 tons of volatile organic compounds and 287 tons of particulate matter -- each year...
March 12, 2001
Focus on brownfields -- momentum builds, while lobbyists hover. Earlier this month, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee took testimony on the brownfields bill introduced by Senate Superfund subcommittee Chairman Lincoln Chafee (R-RI). At that time, the bill already had 34 sponsors from both parties. The House is working on a similar bill introduced this month by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY). Among other things, the bills provide that prospective purchasers and contiguous property owners are not responsible for paying cleanup costs. It would preclude the EPA from taking an action on a site being addressed by a state cleanup program unless there is an "imminent and substantial endangerment" to public health or the environment. The bill would authorize $150 million annually for state and local governments to assess and clean up sites and give an addition $50 million per year to state brownfield programs. One of the fights taking place is around the definition of "imminent and substantial endangerment" (see above).
Also last week, Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening announced that his administration will create a "Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities." In an interview, Glendening said: "All across the country there are certain communities that have . . . health-threatening impacts" and that "can't go out and hire $ 100,000-a-year lawyers to defend them. We've got to give them a voice." Glendening referred to Prince George's County's plan to put a trash transfer station near historically black Bowie State University (reported below) as the type of project the proposed Commission would review...
March 5, 2001
On February 12, 2001, residents of Camden, New Jersey filed suit in federal District Court, seeking review of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's grant of permits for the $60 million St. Lawrence Cement Company plant in Camden's Waterfront South section. The complaint states that the census tract that the plaintiffs live in has a population that is 81 percent African American and 12 percent Latino. It's explicitly an environmental justice case, asserting violations of Title VI of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, of the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause, of 42 U.S.C. 1983 and of the Fair Housing Act. The complaint also cites EPA's Title VI regulations, 40 CFR 7.90, requiring a recipient of federal funds to provide a procedure for hearing grievances arising from violations of the regulations. In October 2000, the plaintiffs requested a grievance hearing with the DEP pursuant to the Title VI regulations; the DEP never responded.
February 26, 2001
In Prince George's County, Maryland, students at Bowie State University, a historically black college, are protesting a planned waste transfer station a quarter-mile from their campus. The proposed transfer station would compress up to 1,400 tons of trash each day, then load it onto 23 to 72 trailers for transport to a landfill in Virginia. The permit application was filed with the Maryland Department of the Environment in July 2000, but the student say they only learned of the plan, and its impact, in November 2000...
In California, a new plan that auto makers begin selling electric cars is being criticized as having been formulated without input from low-income communities of color, as required by the state's environmental justice law, signed by the governor two years ago. Alan Lloyd, chairman of the state Air Resources Board, quickly denied that the agency had violated the state's EJ law. "We take that requirement seriously," he said, adding: "I would be the first to admit that it's not enough if local communities don't know what we're doing and don't get the opportunity to participate."
February 12, 2001
Dayton, Ohio: The EPA held a public meeting on February 7, at Stebbins High School in Old North Dayton, on its proposal to stop removing the hazardous waste that's been found in the Valleycrest Landfill. The area was used as a dump from the 1940s into the mid-1980s, by companies including Cargill. Environmental investigations that began in the early 1990s revealed a number of industrial chemicals that are leaking into the ground water below the site and to neighboring properties. The landfill sits between two of Dayton's well fields, which supply drinking water to nearly 400,000 people in the area.
Companies that sent waste to the landfill, which is not classified to accept hazardous waste, include GM, NCR, Peerless Transport, Cargill, Dayton Walther, Standard Register and Duriron. In 1995 those companies formed the Valleycrest Landfill Removal Action Coalition. In 1998 that group reached an agreement with the EPA to pay for any cleanup of the landfill. The U.S. EPA began removing drums of hazardous waste from the 102-acre property. They have removed nearly 23,000 drums to date. Two months ago the Valleycrest Landfill Removal Action Coalition. asked to amend the agreement. Now, the EPA proposes to stop removing any further waste. Steve Renninger of the EPA said the agency is proposing that it not continue with removal in other areas of the landfill. Future drums found will be buried on site until future cleanup can occur, a process that could be three to seven years. Great planning, no?
February 5, 2001
Focus on Vieques: Residents of this island, part of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, are raising concerns about the U.S. military's use of depleted uranium ("DU") ammunition in a firing range located next to a civilian area. The U.S. Navy admitted that it had used DU ammunition in Vieques in a May 10, 1999, response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Military Toxics Project. stating that it fired DU rounds in Vieques in February 1999-- "only," the Navy claims "263 airplane-fired, low-caliber rounds." Military scientist Doug Rokke, during a recent visit to Vieques, said 263 rounds is "not even a burst of automatic gunfire. The A-10 Warthog attack plane, which fires DU ammunition, can fire three to four thousand rounds per minute." According to a study by the Puerto Rico Health Department, the cancer rate in Vieques is 26.9 percent above Puerto Rico's average. DU consists mostly of uranium 238 (U238), a by-product of uranium enrichment, the process through which uranium 235 (U235) is separated from the uranium ore. Both isotopes are radioactive, but unlike U235, U238 is useless for nuclear bombs or nuclear power. It is simply radioactive waste and it will remain radioactive for 4.5 billion years. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimated in 1991 that there must be one million pounds of this material in the United States.
The U.S. government has decided to dispose of this radioactive waste by selling it as ammunition. DU is an "ideal" material for bullets, since it is 70 percent more dense than lead, and is extremely susceptible to friction. Violent impacts can make it reach temperatures in the thousands of degrees Fahrenheit in a fraction of a second. For these reasons, a DU bullet can pierce a tank's armor. "These bullets are not coated or tipped with this material. They are pure, solid DU," says Rokke, who calls the use of DU ammunition "a crime against God and humanity." Rokke, who once directed the Pentagon's Depleted Uranium Project, now sees a pattern of environmental racism in the Pentagon's decision to test DU in Vieques and in the Japanese island of Okinawa. "The U.S. Defense Department's policy is racist and discriminatory, contrary to the principle of environmental justice. We have the cases of Vieques and Okinawa, where DU ammunition has been experimented with. These are not isolated events, or errors or chance. These are planned actions to test and later use this highly polluting ammunition in Kosovo and the Persian Gulf." According to Physicians for Social Responsibility, in the 1999 NATO war against Yugoslavia, U.S. tanks fired 14,000 high-caliber DU rounds, while planes fired 940,000 smaller caliber DU bullets. U.S. armed forces are not the only ones to use DU ammunition. Authorized arms dealers sell them to 16 countries, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Taiwan..
January 29, 2001
Atlanta: environmental justice issues are being raised, in opposition to the Federal Aviation Administration's review of a planned new runway at Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport. A new study has found a 9,000-foot fifth runway would add noise, ground-level traffic and pollution. James Fason of the county's environmental and community development department, said the group is considering a class-action lawsuit. Fason said the county's 18-month study predicts traffic jams caused by construction and increased noise once the runway is open, lowering property values. The report also suggests the noise pollution would be disproportionately felt in minority communities, creating environmental justice arguments that could be considered by the FAA. The FAA is planning to hold a public hearing on its draft Environmental Impact Statement Jan. 30 in College Park.
In corporate (connection) news, Allied Waste Industries Inc., the No. 2 U.S. trash hauler, recently added UBS Warburg to the group that sold $600 million of its junk bonds, replacing Credit Suisse. While CSFB was the lead arranger for the Scottsdale, Arizona- based company, it shared the work with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Salomon Smith Barney Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG. Chase, Salomon and DLJ were lead managers in Allied Waste bond issues in January 2000 and February 1999; Deutsche Bank was not. "A company like Allied Waste has many investment banking relationships and only select opportunities to finance and pay their bankers back with business," said Chris Towle, who owns Allied Waste bonds among the $10 billion of assets he helps manage at Lord Abbett & Co. ..
January 16, 2001
A just-released study of environmental risks in Massachusetts communities provides new statistical evidence that pollution and toxins are disproportionately steered to low income communities of color. The Northeastern University report assigns points for various uses: 25 for a Superfund site and five for a piles of used tires, for example. It concludes, among other things, that for people who live in a community that is at least 25 percent minority, there are five times as many pounds of chemical emissions from industrial facilities than communities with less than five percent minorities. One of the articles reviewing the new study cites a 1984 report by Cerrell Associates for the California Waste Management Board, which "openly recommended that polluting industries locate hazardous waste facilities in 'lower socio-economic neighborhoods' because the communities had a much lower likelihood to offer political resistance. (We're still looking for a copy of that 1984 report, by the way). This type of analysis has since gone "underground," but it's still be practiced, in communities around the country and around the world.
For example -- in New York, the state DEC has rubber stamped the ten planned waterfront power generators, two of which are slated for the South Bronx, two for Williamsburgh, Brooklyn, and NONE for Manhattan. New York Power Authority Chairman Clarence Rappleyea said proudly: "This is a two-year process, and we're squeezing it into a couple of months." Any power plant generating over 80 megawatts requires a full environmental review. These planned generators will generate -- you guess it -- 79.9 megawatts. While other elected officials prepare to sue, the Bronx Borough President, as usual, hints at how he can be satisfied (using precisely that word): "I want to see some proof on those emissions, I want to see reports from other municipalities where these generators have been tested, and then I'll be satisfied." Then again, it's not only elected officials, but also affected residents, who can sue...
In West Dallas, the lead smelter smokestack on the southeast corner of Westmoreland Road and Singleton Boulevard is now, finally, being demolished. The work will take weeks. The Dallas Morning News was appropriately poetic, reporting that "Workers on a floating scaffold - a movable rig now positioned at the top, 300 feet above the ground - will assault the structure with jackhammers and torches, taking it down section by section." And the beat goes on...
January 1, 2001
What will be the approach of the administration taking power in Washington to environmental issues? One predictor is a "briefing" meeting that Bush received, in May 1999, from a group of conservative, "free-market" think tanks, including the Reason Public Policy Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Political Economy Research Center. These groups pitched him on the (discredited) idea that market forces, by themselves, can protect the environment more effectively than government regulation. The ideas discussed included allowing ranchers to sell their federal grazing permits to environmentalists who want to retire public land from grazing; and letting environmentalists bid on federal timber sales to protect trees from logging. "Let those who care about the environment pay for it," is the slogan. But how would this play out in lower-income neighborhoods? Is it reasonable to expect, for example, the residents of the South Bronx to have bought the land on which Bronx Lebanon Hospital built a medical waste incinerator, five blocks from a housing project? The $1 dollar a year lease the Francesco Galesi received, from the Pataki administration, for the Bronx' Harlem River Yards -- that, we could afford. But the price was low due to political influence, which is sadly lacking in communities like the South Bronx.
Christie Whitman now moves from New Jersey to Washington, to head up the EPA. She claims, despite having dramatically reduced fines to polluters, to have improved the Garden State's environment. Her approach to environmental justice, including pending and to-be-filed complaints under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, will become known, early in 2001. And we'll be watching, and reporting in this space... For or with more information, contact us.
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