Our Stolen Futurea book by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers
 
 

 

 

5 December 2001. The New York Times and Washington Post both report that EPA's Christie Todd Whitman has decided to reject GE's efforts to avoid its cleanup responsibilities in the Hudson River. Whitman had announced in early August that GE's PCB spills in the Hudson River would be dredged, and that GE would be required to pay almost $500M for the cleanup. That decision was followed by fierce, inside lobbying by GE to either reverse the decision or weaken it by requiring unattainable performance standards that could then be used to halt dredging. The final decision calls for removing 2.65 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment 40 miles of the Hudson.

15 August 2001. In Tokyo, The Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reports that research by three separate scientific institutions studying three different species have discovered feminization of fish living in marine waters around Japan. This surprised the scientists because they had expected the dilution effection of marine waters to be sufficient to negate any inputs of endocrine disrupting compounds. The fact that at least three species are involved means it is likely to be widespread. The research indicates that "the prevalence of the feminized fish is greater in waters near urban areas that produce large amounts of industrial and household waste water." Research in Japan has not clarified which contaminants are responsible for the feminization.
More on fish feminization...

15 August 2001. Legal star Johnny Cochrane visited Anniston, Alabama, yesterday to meet with residents about legal options in their fight against decades of massive PCB, mercury and lead pollution by Monsanto and other companies. As described in a story in the Anniston Star by reporter Elizabeth Bluemink, over 5000 people came to hear Cochrane speak to the community, and "more than 13,000 Anniston residents have already filled out health surveys that are under review by Cochran's legal team." According to observers of the meeting, "At one point Cochran likened the community's struggle to the civil rights movement, and called upon everyone present to summon the same kind of courage and fortitude that characterized Rosa Parks' stand against discrimination decades ago."
More about Monsanto's contamination of Anniston
in the Chemical Industry Archives...

5 August 2001. The Anchorage Daily News reports that contamination levels of a killer whale that died in Prince William Sound were extremely high. The whale, which died in July 2000 and whose tissue was assayed by National Marine Fisheries Service's contaminants lab in Seattle, carried PCB concentrations of 370 parts per million and about 470 parts per million DDT. The group to which the Orca belonged has decreased by over 50% in the last 12 years.The contamination is likely to have contributed to the animal's death but this is not known for certain. More on Orca contamination...

4 August 2001. Describing new research sponsored by the Japanese Environment Agency, the Japan Times reports that nonylphenol induces formation of eggs in the testes of fish exposed to very low levels of nonylphenol. Nonylphenol was detected in over one-third of Japanese rivers and streams surveyed by the Ministry, and at 71 of the 1574 sites surveyed the concentrations exceeded levels sufficient to disrupt sexual development based on this new research. The Ministry is in consultation with industry about possible substitutes for nonylphenol to reduce environmental burdens. According to the Japan Times, Japan's leading researcher on endocrine disruption, Dr. Taisen Iguchi, called for swift movement to eliminate nonylphenol discharges into the environment. More...

2 August 2001. The New York Times editorializes that EPA Administrator Whitman deserves credit for saving the Bush Administration from another "catastrophe on the environment" with her decision to force GE to pay for cleaning up the Hudson River. The Times urges GE to accept the decision and become a destructive player in river clean-up.

1 August 2001. The New York Times reports that US EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman has decided to approve the Clinton Administration's plan to force GE to pay to clean up PCB contamination in the Hudson River. The total cost to GE will be almost $500 million. The clean up will take place in stages, with testing undertaken during the process to ensure that contamination does not spread. GE shareholders should voice their support for this decision and encourage the incoming Chairman Jeffrey Immelt to put Jack Welch's legacy behind them and support the EPA ruling. GE's reputation can only be tarnished and shareholder value decreased by further stonewalling. Washington Post coverage

28 July 2001. The Japan Times reports that a Japanese health ministry panel has decided to restrict the use of certain phthalates in pacifiers and other plastic objects that infants might put in their mouths. According to the Times, the Pharmaceutical Affairs and Food Sanitation Council "recommends that restrictions be placed on two kinds of phthalate ester -- diisononyl phthalate and diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). The panel also recommended a ban on the use of DEHP in the manufacture of plastic gloves and plastic wrap used in the processing, cooking and preservation of food with oil and fat. Large amounts of DEHP had been found in Japan last year in store boxed lunches; the source was thought to be contact with plastic gloves during food preparation.

28 July 2001. According to the New York Times, Governor George Pataki has voiced support for the EPA's plan to require GE to pay for dredging PCB wastes it dumped into the Hudson River. Quoted in the Times, Pataki said "science supports what the E.P.A. and the state's own Department of Environmental Conservation have already determined." Pataki's position is crucial because he is a moderate Republican and because of George W. Bush's professed wish to delegate responsibilities for environmental protection back to the states. If Bush is going to be consistent in his policies, then Pataki's position should trump GE's campaign contributions to Bush. Bush's earlier statements about PCBs and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants would also be consistent with dredging. But since win did policy consistency trump campaign contributions? More...

27 July 2001. The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times both carried prominent stories on the efforts by GE to fight EPA's draft decision that would require GE to pay for dredging the Hudson River of PCBs it dumped there prior to 1977. Gov. George Pataki and both New York Senators, Schumer and Clinton, are strong and vocal supporters of the EPA draft plan. Why is GE fighting this when the costs would be about 5 days of its annual profits? It probably has to do with the fact that GE is simultaneously involved in negotiations at 87 Superfund sites around the country. The precedent set in the Hudson will have huge national ramfications. GE may ultimately suffer the consequences for having been one of the largest polluters in the world for the last 4 decades.

26 July 2001. A New York Times editorial argues that EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman should not retreat from EPA's decision to force GE to clean up its PCB mess in the Hudson River:. "As President Bush's chief environmental officer, Christie Whitman has absorbed plenty of abuse for the administration's generally deplorable environmental record. Some of this criticism has been unfair, and in many cases she has taken the fall for policies dictated by others. But Mrs. Whitman will have only herself to blame if she chooses to scale back the Clinton administration's plan that would require General Electric to spend a half-billion dollars to begin the long-overdue task of cleaning the upper Hudson River of toxic chemicals known as PCB's."

22 July 2001. India's national newspaper, The Hindu reports on a scandal in the Indian state of Kerala: "the cashew plantations in Kasargod district, Kerala, have been devastated by an unusually large number of cancer deaths, neurological disorders and different kinds of physical and mental impairment. Recent reports in the media and studies done in the area indicate a strong link between the spraying of a pesticide called endosulfan and the deteriorating health of the local people. The State administration appears to be oblivious to the situation." A local physician first attempted to bring this to the attention of medical authorities in 1997, reporting an unusually large number of people suffering from diseases of the central nervous system and soliciting the intervention of medical researchers in the baffling problem. The Hindu Times reports that n a local random survey, he recorded 202 cases of people from about 400 houses in an area of four square kilometres with psychiatric problems, mental retardation, epilepsy, congenital anomalies, cancer deaths, suicides as well as those currently suffering from cancer. In a second story, The Hindu wrote about "a people's movement in Kasargod district to end the spraying." A local NGO, the Thanal Conservation Action and Information Network, played an important role in drawing attention to the poisonings.

19 July 2001. In an op-ed in the New York Times, former US EPA General Counsel Gary Guzy summarizes why the Bush Administration should support EPA's decision to clean up the Hudson River with a $500M dredging program paid for by GE, the river's polluter.

19 July 2001. The Washington Post reports on a new study in Nature, documenting a rising burden of Teflon-related chemicals in the environment. The breakdown products of Teflon are extremely persistent and bioaccumulative.

17 July. The Las Vegas Sun editorializes against using human guinea pigs to test the toxicity of perchlorate, a rocket fuel contaminating the water of millions of people in the US west and a known thyroid disrupting chemical. The tests, sponsored by Lockheed Martin, would be used to justify avoiding clean-up costs. The Sun correctly concludes these tests are unethical. The editorial misses the reality, however, that the tests are also scientifically useless because the results they would produce would reveal nothing about the most vulnerable sector of the population to perchlorate, the developing fetus and young children.

14 July 2001. The Sacramento Bee reports on a new study by the Environmental Working Group, analyzing drinking water contamination by perchlorate, a thyroid disrupting chemical used in rocket fuel. "EPA officials say the bulk of the estimated 20 million people affected by the chemical live in Los Angeles, San Diego and other Southern California cities that take some of their water from the Colorado River." Read EWG's report...

5 July 2001. Charlie Cray writes in Multinational Monitor about the history of GE's contamination of the Hudson River Valley with PCBs, and the corporation's ongoing efforts to avoid payment for clean-up. "Attention to GE’s Hudson PCB mess could also bring out some additional skeletons in GE’s closet."

4 July 2001. The New York Times opines in an editorial that Jack Welch and GE should stop fighting against EPA's recommendation to dredge the Hudson River and clean it of PCBs. "Mr. Welch, however, does have a fine chance to burnish his legacy of decisive action. He can end his company's long legal battle against paying to dredge the Hudson River to remove polychlorinated biphenyls, cancer-causing chemicals known as PCB's."

2 July 2001. Scientists identify new male infertility syndrome. Reuters. "Genetics or environmental factors, or both, could be causing a new syndrome whose symptoms include male infertility and rising rates of testicular cancer, Danish researchers said yesterday."

28 June 2001. Canada's Supreme Court allows lawn-pesticide ban Reuters. Canada's Supreme Court ruled that municipalities have the right to outlaw use of pesticides on lawns. The decision was over a challenge by lawn-care companies in Quebec, who claimed that a 1991 law implemented by Hudson, Quebec (a suburb of Montreal) was wrong to block use of chemicals that had been approved by federal and provincial authorities. . Editorial by Dr. David Suzuki.

4 June 2001. Whitman at center of toxins dispute. New Jersey Star Ledger. "Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman will soon decide the fate of a plan to remove 50 tons of toxic chemicals from the bottom of the Hudson River and settle a high-stakes battle between one of the world's largest conglomerates and officials from New York and New Jersey."

23 May 2001. Nations adopt treaty to ban toxic chemicals. Reuters. "Almost 130 nations formally agreed a U.N. treaty yesterday to ban or minimise use of a "dirty dozen" toxic chemicals blamed for causing cancers and birth defects in people and animals."

22 May 2001. STOCKHOLM, Sweden –- CNN reports that "the use of 12 highly toxic chemicals is to be banned or limited after more than 100 nations agreed to adopt a U.N. treaty," the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

26 March. Jack Cushman writes in the New York Times that after decades of PR efforts by the chemical industry to persuade the American public of its safety, "now the industry's practices over the decades are facing unusual and unwanted exposure, as its documents, turned up by trial lawyers in lawsuits against the industry, are being published by environmental advocates on the Web and explored in a PBS documentary on Monday."

20 April 2001. The New York Times reports that George W. Bush will support ratification of the UN Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

14 March. According to a story in the Japan Times, the Japanese Environment Ministry has added four substances to their priority list of chemicals under study as endocrine disruptors. The new compounds are butyl benzyl phthalate, diethyl phthalate, diethylexyl phthalate and triphenyl tin.

3 March and 20 February 2001. In two articles examining the rate of sexual development in American girls, the New York Times's Gina Kolata reports that doubts exist in medical community about whether, indeed, girls are maturing earlier and if so, what to do about it. More...

1 March 2001. Francesca Lyman wites on MSNBC about early puberty in American girls. While some skeptics doubt that the age of puberty is occurring earlier, data indicate that about 15% of white American girls have reached puberty by age 8. The causes of this advance in the age of sexual development are debated, but include obesity and contamination.

 

1 March 2001. According to the London Independent, Environment Minister Michael Meacher said "he would press his European Union counterparts to take international action on chemicals with dangerous side-effects, which include commonly used pesticides, solvents and flame retardants." According to the Independent, "the chemicals under review include flame retardants used in sofa fabrics that contain hormone-disrupting chemicals and phthalates, which are used as a solvent in many cosmetics and could affect humans. Alkyltin, an antibacterial agent used in shoe insoles, can be absorbed through the skin and has been shown to be a powerful hormone disrupter in wildlife – it has made female dog whelks grow penises."

16 February 2001. In a story in the Los Angeles Times, Marla Cone describes the contamination plight of Orcas (killer whales) living in the Puget Sound off the coast of Washington and British Columbia. Interviewed in the Times, marine mammal contamination expert Peter Ross reports these are worst PCB levels ever seen in still-living marine mammals. Comparable PCB contamination in other marine mammals, including seals and dolphins, has led to severe suppression of the immune system, making them vulnerable to viruses and other diseases. Ross's research "has shown that male killer whales contain as much as 15 times more contamination than the seals that suffered suppressed immunity." LA Times reporter Cone cites Ross as saying that disruption of the whales' immune systems and reproduction is likely, since there is no reason to believe that PCBs' effects on whales are different from effects on seals. And the Puget Sound Orcas the death rate of these Orca has been climbing over the past 5 years.
More on immune suppression...
More on Orca contamination in Puget Sound...

14 February 2001. As reported by Reuters and ENN, scientists have identified several factors that may be contribuing to why girls in the United States and elsewhere appear to be reaching puberty earlier in life. While there are as yet no certain answers, evidence points to obesity, social factors and contamination all playing potential roles. A complex pattern may emerge as ongoing research continues, with there not be a single cause nor a single trend, but instead patterns that vary geographically and among different groups of people. In some, obesity may be the driving force, in others contamination, and in still others, social factors. More on early puberty...

13 February 2001. Reuters reports that the European Union is preparing to require that more safety information be obtained about chemicals in the environment. Without proof of the chemical's safety, they will be banned from use. For substances thought to be particularly harmful, data would have to be submitted within five years. Data for the entire list of high volume chemicals (roughly 30,000 used in the EU) studies would have to be complete by 2018.

3 January 2001. According to the BBC scientists in Britain "are calling for urgent research to be carried out into the safety of farmed salmon after research showed that some fish contain worrying levels of potentially dangerous chemicals." PCBs, the chemicals discovered in the salmon, are thought to be coming from fish harvested in open ocean trawling that is then ground into pellets to manufacture salmon food. "Concentrating the nutritional value of these fish into pellets to produce a high-protein diet for farmed salmon multiplies the minute traces of toxins present in each individual fish to a more significant level. " In otherwords, fishing for salmon food has created a human variation on bioaccumulation in the food chain, thereby contributing to human health risks. PCBs have been implicated in a variety of human and wildlife health problems, including neurodevelopmental impairment, immune system errors and cancer. Go to the BBC.

 
   
   

 

 

 

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