Posts tagged: Health and Toxics

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Health and Toxics


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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

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View Debra Mayfield's blog posts
08 March 2013, 2:36 PM
University has a historic coal ash contamination problem
“Simply moving dangerous coal ash from one site to another contaminated site on campus is not being ‘Spartan Green.'"

My favorite aunt became a dean at Michigan State back in the early 1980’s. She was a role model for us all, assuming a level of power and influence that most women—especially African American women—had not been able access at that time. She, like many other students and faculty at the time, enjoyed the campus and resources it provided. But what she didn’t know was that the water that she drank, bathed in and used for cooking and cleaning and cleaning, may have been poisoned by toxic coal ash.

Last month, members of the Clean Energy Now Coalition, an alliance of nearly 50 environmental groups in Michigan aimed at educating citizens about the benefits of using clean, renewable energy, exposed the historical use of coal ash at Michigan State University and the dangers it poses to the health of students, faculty, and neighboring communities.

View Debra Mayfield's blog posts
08 March 2013, 10:32 AM
Tons of toxic, mostly unregulated coal ash, threaten state's lifeblood
Coal ash landfill at Florida's Stanton Energy Center, February 2012. (Angelique Giraud / CWA)

Though dubbed the Sunshine State, Florida’s lifeblood is water. With its wetlands, high water table, extremely porous soil and intricate ecosystem, the state's laws are intended to keep its water safe and clean, which is necessary for the state’s very survival.

Unfortunately, the state’s regulations are simply not good enough—especially when it comes to coal ash. Florida produces more than 8 million tons of coal ash each year, yet has one of the worst records in the nation for regulating it. There are no requirements in Florida for liners, siting design, maintenance, or groundwater monitoring for coal ash ponds; the permitting process for constructing coal ash landfills is almost non-existent. In fact, Florida is one of only two states that relaxed portions of its coal ash standards between 1988 and 2005. Something must be done, and Clean Water Action is doing it.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
27 February 2013, 2:57 PM
Concern grows over methane leaks from oil and gas wells

With the fracking boom building, natural gas is touted as a clean energy source. But the hard truth is that the gas drilling sector—which includes the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing or fracking—has worsened air quality in many areas. In some parts of the country undergoing such a boom, air quality has fallen below levels the EPA determined to be safe.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
26 February 2013, 10:23 AM
Not enough change since historic disaster
The Buffalo Creek disaster destroyed 4,000 homes in 16 towns.  (WV Div. of Culture & History)

Forty-one years ago, today, a dam holding 132 million gallons of toxic liquid coal waste ruptured high up in the mountains of West Virginia, loosing a tsunami-like death wave of coal waste and chemical sludge that destroyed 4,000 homes in 16 towns, injured more than 1,000 people, and killed 125. Seven bodies were never found. This remarkable Charleston Gazette series shares the stories of the people who were affected by this horrific tragedy.

The Buffalo Creek disaster was one of the deadliest floods in American history, but unlike natural floods, it was a man-made disaster caused by corporate negligence, regulatory agency corruption and failure, and an ill-begotten idea of industrial waste disposal. Today, many of the circumstances that led to that disaster still persist, but sludge dams are several times larger. 

View David Guest's blog posts
14 February 2013, 3:39 PM
Don't let agricultural pollutants kill magic waterways, they say
Algae outbreak on the Santa Fe River in May of 2012. (John Moran)

In a fantastic show of grassroots support for clean water, Floridians packed a Environmental Protection Agency meeting in Tampa on Jan. 16, saying they are fed up with repeated slimy algae outbreaks on the state’s beaches, rivers, spring and streams

More than 150 protested, and they wore fluorescent green T-shirts saying, “Ask me about slime.” They asked the EPA to stay strong and enforce pollution limits for sewage, manure and fertilizer—three culprits which are fueling algae outbreaks all over the state.

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View Angela Garrone's blog posts
12 February 2013, 12:30 PM
Equips communities on how to take on coal burning

Note from Lisa Evans: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) last week released the "Coal Blooded Action Toolkit," which is a companion to its report, Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People, published jointly by the NAACP and Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and the Indigenous Environmental Network last November.

The 2012 report found low-income communities and communities of color are more likely to suffer the damaging effects caused by coal plant operations, including the disposal of toxic coal ash. Expressly designed for grassroots communities, the Coal Blooded Action Toolkit is a step-by-step guide on how to take action to address pollution from coal fired power plants, covering investigation, raising community awareness, litigation, direct action and much more. It is essential reading for those who care about protecting communities from toxic pollution and defending civil and human rights violated by the burning of coal.

The following Tr-Ash Talk guest post is written by Angela Garrone, Southeast Energy Research Attorney for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy:

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), in conjunction with Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and the Indigenous Environmental Network, released a report analyzing sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in conjunction with demographic factors, including race, income and population density. The report, entitled “Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People,” demonstrates the urgent need for community action focused on shutting down coal plants located in low-income communities and communities of color.

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
01 February 2013, 8:36 AM
Utility floats dangerous plan to barge toxic coal ash
Mississippi River at Vicksburg closed after barge hit railroad bridge and began leaking oil. (Photo: WLBT)

Utility giant FirstEnergy Corp unveiled plans last week to barge 3 million tons of coal ash annually nearly 100 miles on the Monongahela and Ohio rivers for disposal in an unlined pit in LaBelle, PA. The ash comes from its Bruce Mansfield Power Station—one of the largest coal burning power plants in the U.S.

There's not a thing right about this scheme, according to residents who take their drinking water from the river. Also unhappy are citizens of LaBelle, PA, whose water and air are already poisoned by nearly 15 years of coal ash dumping.

View John McManus's blog posts
31 January 2013, 11:17 AM
Manufacturer refused to comply with measures protecting children, wildlife

There’s a dangerous type of mouse and rat poison on the market that when eaten by the rodents, causes them to bleed to death internally. Problems arise when the poison sometimes finds its way into the hands of kids or pets or moves up the food chain from rats and mice to foxes, bobcats, owls and the like that pounce on sickly rodents.

Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie sent a letter to the State of California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation in December asking the state to order the stuff off the market. The state has yet to respond but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now says it will start the process to ban forms of the poison used in the home that lack tamper-resistant packaging. While EPA is taking a significant step in the right direction, more needs to be done to protect children and wildlife.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
24 January 2013, 1:02 PM
Plus: Lead-poisoned parrots and climate change fairy dust
The City of Bath. (Photo courtesy of Daz Smith, Flickr)

Fracking may ruin spa time in UK’s historic City of Bath
People have taken part in the restorative waters in the city of Bath for thousands of years, but this centuries-old tradition may no longer be available if fracking companies are allowed to drill near the Mendip Hills, where the Bath water originates, reports the UK Express. Members of the Bath community are concerned that, if allowed, hydraulic fracturing or fracking, which involves drilling deep into the ground using a mixture of water, sand and chemicals to force gas to the surface, may contaminate the area’s pristine waters, or at the very least ruin the pristine image of the city. Up until now, the controversial drilling practice was banned by the government after it was linked to two earthquakes in Lancashire, a popular seaside resort in Britain. But recently government officials were enticed to lift the ban, most likely because fracking offers a new revenue stream that might boost the weak economy. Unfortunately for the fracking industry, the British are just as freaked out by fracking as many Americans, perhaps even more so because the UK lacks the wide-open spaces where U.S.-based fracking operations often take place. Of course, now that fracking is beginning to show its ugly head in iconic, popular tourist attractions like Cooperstown, NY, Americans and Britons now have one more thing in common besides the English language and our love of pubs.

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View Daniel Hubbell's blog posts
23 January 2013, 1:36 PM
Strikes EPA rule that allowed for more soot pollution
Soot blackens the walls of a Pennsylvania residence neighboring a coal-fired power plant.
(Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

The mention of soot conjures images of black clouds pouring out of unfiltered cars, or of cities lost in dark fog. At times in our history, soot pollution has helped stain entire ecosystems black, famously causing moths in Britain to change color from white to black to better hide in their environment. These images are well-deserved: soot is dangerous to both humans and the environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency blames soot for tens of thousands of premature deaths and hospitalizations every year in the United States; and according to a new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, a soot component—black carbon—is the second largest contributor to climate change, coming in just behind carbon dioxide.

Given how dangerous this soot pollution is, we are very pleased with a recent ruling by the U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.