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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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
12 August 2009, 12:21 PM
Although public favors bill, Senate is consumed with health care

If the latest Zogby poll is right, Americans have taken a green flip-flop in favor of Congress acting on climate change. The poll says 65 percent of us feel that way, and even believe that jobs growth is tied to clean energy investment.

Most politicians guide their votes on the basis of public opinion, so this would seem a good omen for the climate legislation passed earlier by the House into Senate hands. The "American Clean Energy and Security Act" is in part based on the premise of creating economic growth by fighting global warming.

Trouble is, the Senate is too fixated on health care reform right now to feel any wind shift on climate change. Nor is the Obama administration able to take quality time off from that ruckus to rouse action on ACES. It's supposed to be taken up early next month, but most political wags think it is on a slow, slow track. The hoped-for December deadline for a full Senate vote is in jeopardy.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
30 July 2009, 1:27 PM
They knew about the threat for 20 years, but did nothing
Tennessee coal ash spill site

It’s been seven months since a billion gallons of coal ash burst through a failed construction dike in Harriman, Tennessee, covering 300 acres, destroying homes, flooding properties and poisoning rivers and wells. According to a recently released report, it was a disaster waiting to happen.

The Inspector General for the Tennessee Valley Authority, which owns the Kingston Fossil Plant and its accompanying coal ash impoundment, reported this week that TVA “has failed for more than 20 years to heed warnings” that might have prevented this spill from happening. This revelation, revealed at the third congressional hearing since the spill, shows that TVA ignored repeated warnings from its own workers in 1985 and again in 2004 that the coal ash site was a public health hazard.

And there’s more:

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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
28 July 2009, 1:19 PM
Imagine how drilling will alter the landscape of this special patch of earth
Photo: USGS New York Water Science Center

This piece from New York Times editorial writer Verlyn Klinkenborg on proposed gas drilling in the Catskill mountains of New York pulled at my heartstrings. To date, much of the criticism of the drilling proposals has centered on the risk to drinking water. And rightly so: while drilling for gas, companies inject millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the underground rock deposits to force the gas to the surface. The technique, known as hydraulic fracturing (or hydrofracking), can poison drinking water supplies as well as put a strain on water resources.

But Klinkenborg takes some time out to walk the riverbanks of the East Branch of the Delaware River and imagine how drilling will alter the landscape of this special patch of earth. How it will turn a small clearing in the woods into an industrial landing pad for drilling equipment. Or a simple gravel fishing path into a byway for heavy machinery.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
23 July 2009, 10:51 AM
EPA says it will consider impact of Bush rule on low-income communities

Twenty-one citizens and experts testified June 30 at an Environmental Protection Agency public hearing about the impacts of living near hazardous waste sites. Among them was Sheila Holt-Orsted, a cancer survivor who's seen her mother, father, sister, cousins, aunts and uncles suffer from cancer and other illnesses believed to be caused by contamination from a Dixon County, Tennessee landfill.

Her father died in January 2007, stricken by prostrate and bone cancer, diabetes and hypertension. In 2003, Holt-Orsted was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. After several surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, she began looking for answers and didn't have to look far. Her family's farm was adjacent to the town landfill where toxic chemicals were dumped for years. Among the chemicals was trichloroethylene—a cancer-causing chemical and one of the most toxic agents known to man.

"No other community should have to experience a toxic legacy that has plagued my community," Holt-Orsted testified. "I urge EPA to protect the public's health and environment as RCRA intended it and to say no to this new rule. Get it right this time."

View Bill Walker's blog posts
21 July 2009, 10:00 AM
Retail giant is showing leadership with its green initiatives

When it comes to the environment and sustainability, Wal-Mart has a lot to answer for. The chain sells a lot of plastic and stuff that comes in too much packaging. The stores are full of items that carry a large carbon footprint from being shipped halfway around the world. In many small towns, its big-box stores have forced local shops out of business.

But you have to give the world's biggest retailer credit for its green initiatives. Wal-Mart has been working to make its stores more energy-efficient, and recently anounced a major solar power initiative. When consumer concern rose about the health risks of BPA, a plastics softener found in baby bottles and formula packaging, Wal-Mart pulled all BPA-tainted products from the shelves. And now the company has announced plans to create a product labelling system that will give customers about the environmental and social impact of every item it sells. The New York Times reports:

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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
15 July 2009, 1:42 PM
EPA reveals locations—now it must actually regulate coal ash
A house destroyed by coal ash that spilled in December 2008 from the TVA containment pond.

It appears the old maxim "ask and you shall receive" is alive and well.

On June 18, a coalition of environmental groups, including Earthjustice, filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking the Environmental Protection Agency to make public a list of "high hazard" coal ash disposal sites across the country.

Eleven days later, we had the information in hand. The 44 sites were spread across 10 states as follows:

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View David Guest's blog posts
17 June 2009, 3:26 AM
 

A disappointing decision by the federal appeals court in Atlanta will legalize pollution in many American drinking water supplies, and we have the former Bush administration to thank for it.

The case goes back to 2002, when we sued, on behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation, to get the South Florida Water Management District to stop pumping contaminated drainage canal water into Lake Okeechobee, one of the biggest drinking water sources in Florida, and the second biggest lake in the United States. For years, the district has been disposing of contaminated runoff from urban areas and industrial-scale sugar and vegetable farms by "backpumping" its untreated waters from drainage canals into Lake Okeechobee.

Since the Clean Water Act doesn't allow anyone to add pollutants to lakes and rivers without a permit that limits pollutants to safe levels, we argued that the Water District needed a federal permit to pump filthy water into the public lake.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
05 June 2009, 10:39 AM
 

When the U.S. EPA proposed to cut mercury, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid and other toxic air pollutants from cement kilns, we cheered. When they announced plans to hold public hearings in Los Angeles, Dallas and Washington DC to hear from the public about why clean air is important, we got to work.

View Sarah Burt's blog posts
04 June 2009, 3:35 PM
 

Canada's vast boreal forest (named for Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind) covers more than a third of the country's total landmass and is a larger ecosystem than the Amazon. In addition to providing habitat for a diverse range of species including moose, lynx, grizzly bears and over 3 billion birds, the peat bogs and wetlands of the boreal forest are among the planet's most effective carbon sinks.

But a persistent thirst for dirty fuels threatens to irrevocably harm the boreal forest and chain us further to an unsustainable energy future.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
26 May 2009, 3:51 PM
 

Have you been following our Name That Fish contest? As part of our Cleaning Up Mercury, Protecting Our Health campaign, we just rechristened the Bluefin Tuna as “Blue Infection Tuna.” The timing couldn't be more perfect... a new Federal study was just released this month on the alarming mercury levels in tuna and other fish in the Pacific ocean.

YubaNet.com reports:

A landmark study by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and universities in the U.S. and Australia has, for the first time, documented how escalating mercury-laden air emissions, chiefly from coal-fired electrical power plants in Asia, are being transformed into methylmercury, a potent neurotoxin that is increasingly polluting the North Pacific Ocean and contaminating tuna, swordfish and other popular seafood.

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