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Friday Finds: Oil Spill Sand Berm FAIL

Oil spill sand berms saturated in failure

Oil spill sand berms saturated in failure
Miles of sand berms built to protect the coastline during the Gulf oil spill that cost millions of dollars were a huge waste of money, according to a presidential oil spill commission. During the spill, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal strongly insisted on having the berms, despite scientists and federal agencies raising concerns over the berms' potential effectiveness. Yet, as the Associated Press quoted coastal scientist Rob Young as saying, the berm effort has so far done little more than draw "a pencil line of sand." Ouch.

EPA sluggish on coal ash regulations
Two years after the Tennessee coal ash spill released more than 1 billion gallons of toxic coal slurry that destroyed homes and the area's livelihood, the EPA is still "sitting on its ash," reports Mother Jones. Despite EPA administrator Lisa Jackson's pledge early on to investigate coal ash sites, there is still no regulation of coal ash dumps, an unsettling fact that has prompted Earthjustice and others to call on the EPA to finally protect the public from the dangers of coal ash.

Smithfield sow abuse is no Christmas ham
The Humane Society of the United States recently released a shocking video on sow abuse at a factory farm run by Smithfield, the largest pork producer in the world. The focus of the video is on gestation crates, a housing method for pregnant pigs that's so inhumane seven states and all 27 members of the EU have banned the practice. The practice is so detrimental to the animals' health that it's no wonder then that Big Meat uses millions of pounds of antibiotics each year just to keep the animals alive, as Grist reporter Tom Philpott points out, a practice that helps breed antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Sand blasted jeans blasted for ill health effects
Sand-blasted jeans may be popular among celebrities like Justin Bieber, yet getting that well-worn look by blasting denim with high-pressured sand is no picnic for garment workers. According to the Clean Clothes Campaign, sandblasting is associated with a lung disease known as silicosis, which causes shortness of breath and chronic coughing. So far clothing megastores Levi's and H&M have announced that they will no longer sell sandblasted products, yet some workers are skeptical that the decision would protect them. In the meantime, if you want that well-worn look, might we suggest simply wearing your jeans more before throwing them out?

Piles of bad eggs, meat and produce prompt passage of food safety bill
Thanks to a flurry out food illness outbreaks over the last few years, the House of Representatives has agreed to pass a bill that would finally update the nation's food safety laws, reports the New York Times. The bill calls for such long overdue measures as requiring food manufacturers to identify potential contamination issues and giving the FDA the power to order food recalls. The new legislation was not only supported by food safety advocates but also major industry groups, who have seen firsthand that deadly food recalls, not surprisingly, cause a dent in sales.