Posts tagged: mercury

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

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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 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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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
08 May 2009, 8:58 AM
 

People around the Web and across the country are talking about our Cleaning Up Mercury, Protecting Our Health campaign to raise awareness about the serious health risks of mercury poisoning and to support the recent EPA proposal for cutting mercury pollution.

Here are some of the comments making the rounds:

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
01 May 2009, 12:59 PM
 

We've told you about the dangers of eating mercury-contaminated fish. Today, the US Geological Survey released a comprehensive study linking the mercury emissions from smokestacks here in the US and abroad, and the contamination of fish like tuna and other marine life in the Pacific Ocean. According to the NY Times and Greenwire:

The study documents the formation in the North Pacific of methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury that rapidly accumulates in the food chain to levels that can cause serious health concerns for people who consume seafood. Scientists have known for some time that mercury deposited from the atmosphere can be transformed into methylmercury, but the study focuses on how that transformation occurs.

USGS showed that methylmercury is produced in mid-depth ocean waters by processes linked to "ocean rain." Algae, which are produced in sunlit waters near the surface, die quickly and rain downward to greater water depths. The settling algae are decomposed by bacteria and the interaction of this decomposition process in the presence of mercury results in the formation of methylmercury.

Many steps up the food chain later, predators like tuna receive methylmercury from the fish they consume, the study shows.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said, "This study gives us a better understanding of how dangerous levels of mercury move into our air, our water, and the food we eat, and shines new light on a major health threat to Americans and people all across the world."

Just last week, the EPA proposed significant cuts in cement kiln mercury emissions (up to 16,000 pounds a year), and we’re hopeful they will continue this leadership when they work to cut mercury from coal-fired power plants sometime in the future.

Mercury is a neurotoxin especially dangerous to young and unborn children, and women of childbearing age are often warned to limit their consumption of contaminated fish (like tuna, shark, walleye, or wild striped bass).

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
29 April 2009, 12:45 PM
 

We've been seeing some great coverage of the EPA's plan to cut mercury from cement kilns. Lots of bloggers have taken notice. Here are a few posts about our mercury campaign from around the blogosphere:

Treehugger wrote:

I doubt if any other nation regulates mercury emissions from cement kilns the way USA is about to. USEPA's just-announced progress on this front took a decade of work, several lawsuits by activists, a new EPA Administrator willing to obey the law, and a new Congress that doesn't (yet) bow to lobbyists and interfere with EPA. With all that build-up, the new, final USEPA cement kiln mercury control regulation is indeed a "sea change."

The New York Times Green Inc. Blog said:

James Pew, a lawyer with Earthjustice, an environmental law firm that had sued the E.P.A. on behalf of the Sierra Club after the agency missed a 1997 deadline to issue new emissions rules for the cement industry, said, "It's a very toothy law that will force all cement plants to meet the highest standards of pollution control."

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
22 April 2009, 10:28 AM
 

The first Earth Day, 39 years ago today, was a godsend for a country mired in war and riven by racial, political and cultural issues. Arriving suddenly—as a gift whose time had come—it offered folks something to unite around: the idea of an entire planet, our home, in peril.

It was a time when industrial pollutants made rivers burn and were killing the Great Lakes; smog and soot choked our cities; DDT—thanks to Rachel Carson—had become the national poster child for the abundant horrors of unregulated pesticide usage; old growth forests were devoured unchecked.

Images of environmental catastrophes—such as sea birds tarred by the 1969 Santa Barbara channel oil well blowout—helped drive home the point, and 20 million people rose as one on April 22, 1970 to seek change.

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
22 April 2009, 5:00 AM
 

One of the many dirty little secrets about oil shale is that it will take huge amounts of energy to turn rock into a product we can put in our cars and trucks.  That's because the currently proposed technology for producing oil shale involves using what amounts to glorified curling irons underground, heating them up to hundreds of degrees and melting the "kerogen" into something that can be sucked out of the ground and could be refined into a useable product.

To heat all those curling irons could require 10 or more new coal-fired power plants, making oil shale one of the dirtiest source of energy per unit in terms of greenhouse gases.  This production process would also be incredibly thirsty - producing one barrel of fuel from shale may require 3 or more barrels of water.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
21 April 2009, 10:32 AM
 

The EPA just proposed to cut mercury from cement kilns! I've been talking to you about cement kiln pollution since we started this blog, and Earthjustice has been focused on this issue for nearly a decade. Check out our updated campaign page to find out how you can help.

The EPA is asking for public comments, so we need to tell Administrator Lisa Jackson to stand strong and clean up this mercury mess. She's been doing a fantastic job, and we definitely want her to keep up the good work!

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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
23 February 2009, 3:12 PM
 

The U.S. Supreme Court ended years of legal battles today by declining to hear industry's appeal of a 2008 Earthjustice victory. In that case Earthjustice, joined by more than a dozen public health and environmental groups and 14 states, challenged a plan by the Bush administration that would have created mercury "hot spots" across the country. The lower court compared the logic to that of the dangerously irrational Queen of Hearts character in Alice in Wonderland.

Two weeks ago, the Obama administration withdrew government support of the appeal, but that didn't stop utility companies from pushing forward. Today's announcement denying the polluter's appeal hopefully clears the way for meaningful regulations that limit mercury from power plants and start cleaning up this toxic metal from our air and waters.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
31 July 2008, 4:06 PM
 

What do San Francisco Bay, Puget Sound, and Chesapeake Bay have in common? They provide a distinctive signature to some of America's greatest cities, of course. Residents and visitors to San Francisco, Seattle, Baltimore and Washington love to walk along, play beside, and boat across these waters. All three have storied histories and strong citizens' organizations fighting to protect and restore them.

But they have another, shameful thing in common. These waters all bear warnings about eating fish, because polluted waters have contaminated the fish. Extra restrictions are in effect for children and women of child-bearing age.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
21 July 2008, 3:06 AM
 

A few months ago, we told you about the Lafarge cement kiln in Ravena, NY giving itself an environmental award, despite being the largest mercury polluter in the state. Well, it looks like Lafarge may actually reduce mercury emissions according to new plans to update their plant. Construction, however, won't even start until 2013.

Unfortunately, Lafarge doesn't seem to be doing this to be a good neighbor; they claim the decision came from "a broad set of business considerations." We definitely encourage cleaning up this plant, but the proof is in the pudding. As our attorney Keri Powell said, we'll continue to "make sure the pollution controls they install will be sufficiently protective."

Stay tuned for more updates on this kiln and our work to clean up mercury pollution across the nation.