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Ohioans want hydro-fracking stopped until more study is done

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A new poll of Ohioans shows that more than seven in 10 want the controversial practice of hydro-fracking stopped until the issue is studied further. Read more

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What the Chemical Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know!

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The American people will panic if they find out there is dangerous levels of dioxin in their food. That’s the argument the chemical and food industries are using to stop the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) scientific report on dioxin.   Really. . . do they really think people will panic rather than take steps to protect their families?  The American people didn’t panic and not place their children in vehicles when they learned that more kids are injured in auto collisions than in any other type of accident. Parents installed safety seats.

The EPA’s dioxin report has been meticulously peer reviewed and is scientifically sound.  Yet, the power of the corporations that are responsible for dioxin in our environment and food has kept this critical scientific information (over 20 years of study) from reaching the public.  Consequently, the public is unable to make personal decisions about what foods they’ll eat and how best to reduce their families’ risks.

Dioxin, a known cancer causing and endocrine-disruptor chemical, is a byproduct of combustion and various industrial processes and is found everywhere in the environment. Chlorinated dioxins are released into the air and travel great distances landing on fields, pastures and waterways from waste incineration, burning household waste and a variety of industrial processes, including smelting, chlorine paper bleaching, PVC plastics and pesticide manufacturing. When animals graze in the pastures or eat feed that has animal byproducts, they ingest dioxin which is then stored in their fat.  So when little Joey drinks his whole milk, he also ingests dioxin contained in the milk’s fat.

Ninety percent of the public’s body burden of dioxin comes primarily from animal fat in the food supply.  The Environmental Working Group has found that the amount of dioxin a nursing infant ingests daily is up to 77 times higher than the level EPA has proposed to protect the endocrine and immune systems. The fact that both breast milk and infant formula are contaminated with dioxin highlights the urgent need for EPA to release its report.  For cancer risk, the situation is also concerning because the general public is exposed to up to 1,200 times more dioxin than regulatory agencies typically consider safe.

Parents place bike helmets on their children, fasten their seat belts, and take their babies for regular checkups because they understand the risks of not taking these steps.  However, everyone is being kept in the dark when it comes to dioxin in our food.  For example, breast milk contains fairly high levels of dioxin.  Nevertheless breast milk is still the healthiest food for baby.  EPA must release this information to new mothers so they know that nursing is the healthiest option.

Whose protection is our public agencies’ priority?

Recently, there has been an increased lobbying effort by various industries to stop the release of the EPA’s dioxin report. The International Dairy Foods Association, for example, wrote EPA a letter stating, “Animal products, such as milk and dairy foods, have the highest concentrations of dioxins, albeit at levels that are only in the parts-per-million and clearly below levels that have been determined to be unsafe. However, EPA’s proposed values for evaluating dioxin, if translated publicly to a “reference dose,” would scare consumers away from our products, and this would be contrary to the government’s own dietary guidance to consume three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy each day in order to get essential nutrients found in milk and dairy.”

Releasing the EPA’s dioxin report will help consumers make choices in food products that are low in fat content (as recommended by government’s dietary guidance) and could educate the dairy lobbyists as well since they got it wrong in their letter. Low fat and fat free products are not the big problem, because dioxin is carried into food products through the fat content.

Consumers should call their federal representatives and urge them to support the release of the EPA’s dioxin report so they can make their own decisions about what is safe.  It is time to stop assuming the American people will not understand and give them the scientific information.

60 % of Brine From Fracking is Injected into Ohio Disposal

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Ohio State records show that nearly 60 percent of the brine that’s injected into Ohio disposal wells these days doesn’t come from Ohio. It’s trucked in from shale gas wells drilled in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Read more . .

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After earthquakes, Ohio city questions future fracking wells

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Teresa Mills of CHEJ an organizer of an anti-fracking protest at the state capital in Columbus this week — said there should be more studies on fracking’s effects on the environment.

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Toxic Vapor Health Problems

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A new study links congenital heart problems, low birth weight and other birth defects to soil toxic vapors from industrial contaminants that have lurked in the groundwater beneath Endicott in upstate New York. The NYS State Department of Health found infants born to mothers living in a 70-block area, south of the former IBM manufacturing facility, had health problems at higher rates than those born in the rest of the state.

The area is contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE), two industrial solvents that have been connected to health problems, including cancer. Although the dangers of TCE and PCE have been relatively well-documented, most research has focused on exposure through drinking water — which is not believed to be a problem in Endicott. “This is the first that we know of that involves the soil vapor intrusion pathway,” said Department of Health research scientist Steven Forand, who co-authored the study looking at people impacted by the Endicott plume between 1978 and 2002.  For more information, contact NYS DOH at 518-474-4394. 


Chemical Industry Wants Dioxin Delay

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The American Chemistry Council, a chemical industry group, is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to change course on its assessment of the most potent form of dioxin. Such a move could further prolong completion of the assessment, which has been under way for more than 20 years.

In a Dec. 20, 2011, letter, ACC asked EPA to delay the release of its hazard assessment for 2,3,7,8-tetrachloro­dibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). This pollutant causes cancer and is linked to reproductive problems. The assessment will affect the extent of cleanups of chlorinated and brominated dioxins and furans and polychlorinated biphenyls, as well as the costs borne by polluters.

Before EPA issues the assessment, ACC says, the agency should explain how the TCDD document hews to recent recommendations by the National Research Council.

NRC offered suggestions to improve EPA’s chemical assessments as part of a report criticizing the agency’s draft document on formaldehyde’s hazards (C&EN, April 18, 2011, page 10). EPA began implementing NRC’s recommendations last year (C&EN, July 18, 2011, page 9).

ACC is using language in a new appropriations bill to justify its request for a delay. Enacted in late December 2011, that legislation instructs EPA to document how it has implemented the NRC recommendations for each draft chemical assessment it releases in 2012.

In light of the new law, the letter from ACC President and CEO Calvin M. Dooley asks agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson to reverse course on an EPA strategy to finish the long-pending document by splitting it into two parts (C&EN, Sept. 5, 2011, page 15). The agency plans to issue later this month a section on adverse noncancer health effects, such as reproductive problems, from exposure to TCDD. A second, more scientifically complicated part of the assessment will examine the cancer hazards of TCDD exposure and will be released later.

This bifurcated approach is counter to NRC’s recommendation that the agency’s chemical assessments evaluate all relevant health end points, Dooley argues.

The Center for Progressive Reform, a left-leaning think tank, says the law applies only to draft assessments, not the final TCDD document.

EPA says it is reviewing ACC’s request.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2012 American Chemical Society

SABOTAGE: They Cut Our Phone/Internet Lines But Not Our Dedication & Commitment

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In case you missed my earlier communications, CHEJ was targeted by someone who wanted to do harm to our organization.  They broke into our office building around midnight and deliberately cut our phone and internet trunk cable during the last few days of the year, when our donors make their end of year contributions.  The police were called and the investigators agreed that someone had committed a crime.

This is not the first time CHEJ was a target.  You may have read the story about Greenpeace’s lawsuit filed this past October against two major chemical companies, their PR firms and several individuals for activities that amount to corporate espionage. Chemical companies Dow Chemical and Sasol (formerly CONDEA Vista), through the PR firms Dezenhall Resources (Nichols Dezenhall at the time) and Ketchum, hired private investigators from the firm Beckett Brown International (BBI) to spy on Greenpeace.

Within the documents Greenpeace found were photographs of my house and notes about my activities. It is very unnerving to know that someone is spying on you at home.  The Greenpeace suit charges the defendants stole thousands of documents, intercepted phone call detail records (CDRs), trespassed and conducted unlawful surveillance and theft of confidential information related to their public interest work.  The complaint charges that the chemical companies, PR firms and individuals “conspired to and did surveil, infiltrate and steal confidential information with the intention of preempting, blunting or thwarting” Greenpeace’s environmental campaigns.

CHEJ is not part of this lawsuit but clearly someone is trying to thwart our efforts.  The question is who?  Is it the toy/baby product manufacturers because we let consumers know about the poisons leaking from their toxic toys, baby bottles and other toxic baby merchandise?

Maybe it is the industries that are responsible for dioxin pollution as the scientific findings are scheduled to be posted later this month by EPA.  The industry has fought successfully for 25 years to keep adverse health findings from dioxin exposures of birth defects, immune suppression, infertility and diabetes from being finalized and public.  It could also be the companies who brought us PCB’s as CHEJ launches its campaign to get PCB’s out of school (built before 1979)  lighting fixtures.

What about the fracking industry they aren’t supporters of our work either.  Just a few days ago a well that took fracking wastes was closed in Ohio.  Activist believe if we close the injection wells in Ohio, then the fracking industry will have few places to go with their wastes significantly impacting their business.

CHEJ has many industries who would like to see us go away.  It’s not clear yet how many contributions we lost it might be as much as $20,000 however, some people said when they heard about the incidence they made a donation.  That’s a lot of money but it’s not enough to stop us from standing up and speaking out.  It’s not enough to deter us from helping others in the field to fight back against poisoning America’s families, homes, schools and communities.  CHEJ is back on line, back in the streets and holding polluters accountable.

Question for you is who do you think wants CHEJ gone?    Have  you had similar experiences?

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Superfund Saved Butte, MT?

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Strange but true according to the locals.

“I think Butte would be a ghost town if not for those hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Donald Stierle a local resident and scientist.  Read more . . .

Butte, Montana toxic waste site-turned tourist attraction yielding compounds that may be medically, environmentally useful.

Written by Jason Zasky   Filed under Science & Technology

“To go to Berkeley Pit Lake, you have to complete a forty-hour Hazmat program—and that’s just to stand next to the water,” advises Andrea Stierle, a research professor at the University of Montana-Missoula, who began studying samples from the Pit sixteen years ago. And when employees of the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology venture out onto the lake, they do so in a boat that’s made of fiberglass (as opposed to aluminum), “because they don’t want it to dissolve before they get back to shore,” she continues. It’s probably best that the privately-owned Berkeley Pit—a mile by a mile-and-a-half across, and encircled by a barbed-wire fence—is off-limits to all but a select few. After all, it’s an abandoned open pit copper mine filled with an estimated forty billion gallons of acidic, metal-contaminated water—part of the largest Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund site in the United States, and an ongoing liability for its “responsible parties,” the Atlantic Richfield Company (which merged into British Petroleum) and Montana Resources.

Though it might seem an irredeemable place, it turns out that the Pit—located in the mining town of Butte, Montana, and operational between 1955 and 1982—is proving to be a rich source of unusual extremophilic microorganisms, which have produced novel and compelling bioactive metabolites. In other words, the water is filled with a hardy assortment of fungi, algae, protozoans, and bacteria, many of which have shown great promise as producers of potential anti-cancer agents and anti-inflammatories. Yet as late as 1995, local microbiologists assumed that the environment was too toxic for much of anything to survive, much less thrive. That is, until that same year, when Andrea and her husband Donald (also now a research professor in the department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UM-Missoula) were provided water samples by a Bureau of Mines and Geology hydrogeologist and found some “fascinating compounds,” including one that has the potential to prevent migraine headaches.

Despite a lack of funding, the Stierles (at the time full-time residents of Butte) decided to take a chance and continue “bioprospecting.” If nothing else, the Pit was conveniently located, and there was zero competition from fellow scientists. “No one was going to arm wrestle us to go look in the Berkeley Pit for microbes that produce anti-cancer compounds,” notes Andrea, who describes herself and her husband as marine natural products chemists with a bent toward drug discovery. (“We are taking what the natural world offers, and giving it the western science flair,” she elaborates.) Yet it wasn’t long before they made their first remarkable find, one which occurred in the wake of a tragic incident that took place within the confines of the Pit.

The Birds
November 5, 1995, is a well-remembered day in Butte, not so much for the blizzard-like weather conditions, but for the hundreds of snow geese that arrived with the storm. Though the geese likely viewed the Pit lake as an oasis—a place to stop and eat, drink, and rest during their migration south—it turned out to be their graveyard. After the storm subsided, observers found 342 bird carcasses, most floating in the Pit, their gullets and gastrointestinal tracts eroded. The incident provided tangible evidence of how dangerous it could be to drink Pit water, which is not only acidic (pH 2.5, about the same as Cola), but contaminated with high concentrations of metal sulfates, including iron, copper, aluminum, and zinc.

Notably, however, when the Stierles were provided a fresh set of water samples by the Bureau the following spring, they found completely different microbes than they had discovered in their initial examination the year before. Specifically, they found an uncommon yeast—an especially shocking discovery considering that yeast shouldn’t grow in that pH. “We checked the genus of the species and it had been identified before,” begins Andrea, “but the only place it had ever been seen was in the rectal swabs of geese. We think that the birds inoculated the Pit, and that the yeast was able to over-winter,” she continues.

As it turns out, the birds that perished during that fateful storm may not have died in vain. “The yeast—when you grow it in Pit water—actually sorbs about eighty-seven percent of the metals in the water,” explains Andrea. “We were able to patent it, and we have a partner who is looking at this organism, to see if it can be used for secondary ore recovery or toxic waste cleanup. So we’re very grateful to the snow geese,” she concludes.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the mass die-off, the two responsible parties under federal Superfund law agreed to implement a waterfowl mitigation program, which is aimed at locating birds in the area and encouraging them to fly away. Though the 2002 Consent Decree between the EPA and BP-Arco/Montana Resources (MR) states that “birds exposed to Berkeley Pit water for less than 4-6 hours should not be at substantial risk,” the plan calls for MR personnel to make hourly observations for birds during spring and fall migrations (reduced to 5-6 per day during non-migratory seasons) and to use rifles and shotguns to scare birds into the air. In addition, staffers also have three Phoenix Wailers (high-tech devices that emit predator and electronic sounds) at their disposal, not to mention a collection of heavy metal music. And if all other hazing activities fail, personnel can and will take their boat onto the lake to displace birds that don’t elicit the predictable response to noise, or those—like grebes and loons—that tend to dive underwater when alarmed. Even so, mitigation efforts aren’t always successful, as was the case in October 2007, when thirty-seven birds—seventeen snow geese, nineteen ducks, and a swan—were found dead at the Pit after a weekend of dense fog.

The Fog
“It usually happens when it’s cold—when the temperature drops real fast,” says Donald about the sinister fog that periodically forms on Berkeley Pit Lake, then rolls into downtown Butte, just a few blocks away. Though unnerving, it appears that so-called Pit Fog isn’t dangerous. “Water is the predominant liquid in the Pit, and at different temperatures and atmospheric pressures, that water is going to boil off and create condensation,” he explains. In other words, it’s just pure water evaporating from the Pit, much like any other fog.

In fact, a chemist at Montana Tech once explored the idea of increasing the evaporative rate of the water in the Pit as part of a cleanup strategy. “He thought it would be cool to get a bunch of big mirrors and train the sun on the Pit and evaporate the water,” begins Andrea. “The volume of the water would become less and less and there would be more and more of a pure sludge, at which point you could do secondary ore recovery. There was a cost-benefit analysis and [even if the evaporative rate could be increased sufficiently] the cost of making the mirrors was prohibitive. So it wasn’t going to work, but it was a great idea,” she concludes.

So, for the moment at least, the primary focus of all responsible parties is on containment, no small concern considering that the volume of water in the 1,780-foot-deep Pit has been increasing for the better part of the last thirty years. (On Earth Day 1982 Arco announced it was suspending operations in Butte and shutting down the pumps in the [Kelley] mine, which had been preventing the vertical shafts, horizontal work ways, and the Pit itself from filling with acidic water.) Fortunately, at current levels the water—now rising at a mere six to eight inches per month—is essentially contained in its own steep-walled repository. But if the water level were to rise above the 5,410-foot mark—well below the lowest point on the rim at 5,509 feet above sea level, and not terribly far above the May 2011 water level of 5,296 feet—the Pit would no longer function like a big sink drawing water towards a drain. At that point water would begin migrating out into the surrounding aquifers and surface waters, a frightening prospect for the residents of Butte (not to mention BP-Arco and MR, which would be subject to staggering fines).

With this in mind, in 2002-03 BP-Arco and MR constructed an $18 million water treatment plant about 600 feet east of the Pit, which is designed to treat up to seven million gallons of water a day. Visible from the Berkeley Pit viewing stand, which overlooks the water and is open to the public (admission fee: $2 per person), the Horseshoe Bend Water Treatment Plant currently treats some of the water that goes into the Pit, effectively slowing the rate of fill. Ultimately, though, as the water nears the critical 5,410-foot mark circa 2023, the plant will begin treating Pit water itself, ostensibly meeting all EPA discharge standards for contaminants of concern, then sending the treated water into nearby Silver Bow Creek and the Clark Fork River.

Meanwhile, MR is mining copper from the waters in the Pit, recovering approximately 200,000 pounds per month, which has helped the company offset water treatment costs. Naturally, ore recovery activities have also changed the water chemistry of the Pit, which now features much less copper and much more iron than in the past, a potentially advantageous change in terms of future cleanup efforts, as copper is considerably more toxic than iron.

The Deep
Between the copper mining, the introduction of new microbes, and the occasional slope failure (in October 1998, part of the Pit wall collapsed, causing a tidal wave that washed out the boat and dock and initiated “lake mixing”), the ecosystem in the Pit is constantly evolving. In the course of their ongoing investigation, the Stierles are always finding new, and oftentimes unique, organisms in the water. They are also discovering different microbes in samples collected at different depths, so that some of the extremophiles they’ve identified might also be classified as piezophiles (capable of living at extreme pressure), acidophiles (able to survive at pH 3 or lower), or metallotolerants (capable of tolerating high levels of dissolved heavy metals).

Of course, what is really important to the Stierles is the activity demonstrated by the microbes. “Most of our research in the past few years has been focused on selective anti-cancer agents,” says Donald. “Once we finish with a compound we send it off to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and they test it against their cell lines. What we have found is that some of the compounds have selective anti-cancer activity associated with them,” he continues. For instance, a novel spiroketal they discovered, Berkelic acid, has been shown to be very potent against OVCAR-3, an ovarian cancer cell line in the NCI cell line screen.

“Some of the microbes we’ve found have been isolated from other places and some of them haven’t,” elaborates Donald, the aforementioned goose yeast being a prime example of the former. If the organism has been isolated previously, that allows the Stierles to look at how the environment in the Pit is influencing its biochemistry. “If we find an organism that has a genus and a species that is known, we buy that organism from American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) and grow it side by side, under the same conditions, and examine the chemistry and find that our Pit-derived organism is producing very different secondary metabolites,” begins Andrea. “So even if you are looking at the same organism, it still seems to be unique. With the Berkeley Pit we have found more unique secondary metabolites per workday that we have in any other environment we’ve looked at,” she concludes.

Of course, just because the Stierles find a promising anti-cancer agent, that doesn’t ensure it will become clinically relevant. “There are so many leads that come out of small labs like ours, and 99.99 percent of them are not going to go anywhere,” explains Andrea. To be sure, there are countless possible barriers: It might not be a compound that is relevant to what a particular pharmaceutical company is looking for. “Or they might find that there is activity, but it’s cytotoxic as hell, so before it could be therapeutically relevant it would kill the patient,” says Andrea, naming just two potential stumbling blocks.

On the other hand, the Stierles have already found upwards of 70 compounds that might be medically useful. “If a fungus or bacteria is going to make these compounds they probably have a use. It’s our job to find out what is therapeutic about them,” begins Andrea. “We may never know. But if somebody can find the right biological assay system and pipeline it to find the clinical relevance, they all have some beneficial potential,” she concludes.

Most notably, one of the enzymes the Stierles work with turns out to be a key component of inflammation. Coincidentally, and perhaps fortuitously, Dr. Andrij Holian’s research lab at the University of Montana is working on a conglomeration of proteins called the inflammasome. “One of the post-docs in the lab, Dr. Teri Girtsman, can induce inflammasome production in certain cells. The inflammasome binds and activates an enzyme called caspase-1, which then releases inflammatory chemicals. We can now study compounds that inhibit this enzyme,” says Andrea. “If we can find compounds that knock back inflammation, we may be able to prevent the onset and proliferation of certain cancers, as well as rheumatoid arthritis, Huntington’s disease, and ALS [Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis]. Many diseases seem to have their inception in chronic inflammation,” she notes.

So even if the Stierles are never directly involved in the development of a drug, it’s very possible that something they discover will have a ripple effect and inspire a compound. If nothing else, “we can use these molecules as tools to study particular systems,” emphasizes Donald. “Now we can study the cellular processes that happen under normal cellular conditions and under disease cellular conditions. As we know more about that process, we have a better idea how to change it—how we can take a disease state and return it to a normal state,” he says.

Meanwhile, the Stierles have high hopes for the potential of their goose yeast to contribute to the cleanup of the Pit water, which in a jar doesn’t look as ominous as its reputation might suggest. In fact, it looks a little like Bud Light, except for its orange-yellow tinge (which comes from the oxidized iron that’s present), and the funky black bits that settle at the bottom. “There is nothing intrinsically—I’ll use the word—poisonous about the water,” says Andrea. “Once I spilled some on my hand and the skin got red and inflamed and it burned but it wasn’t like I ended up in the hospital,” she continues.

But cleaning up the water in the Pit presents a daunting challenge, in part because of the acidity, and in part because the particles in the water will rapidly clog any filtration system. That’s where the slime from the yeast comes in. “It takes those [bits] and drops them out of solution and completely encapsulates them; the term I use is flocculation,” says Donald. Then you can decant the water and you have gotten rid of eighty percent of the iron hydroxide fines in about thirty seconds. If you let the organism continue to grow, over the course of a week it will start absorbing about eighty percent of the other metals,” hinting at the method’s promise as a cleanup agent.

Butte: Then and Now
It was nine decades ago that Butte was producing fifteen percent of the world’s copper. Yet the longtime mining mecca continued to thrive until the mid-1970s, when most of the underground mines were closed and workers were laid off en masse. By then Butte’s environmental legacy was well-established, and the town’s future seemed as bleak as its then-treeless landscape.

So it’s ironic that the damage done by mining is now playing a key role in terms of safeguarding the town’s financial future. “There’s a lot of money in toxic waste,” says Donald, noting that in recent years BP-Arco has poured $800 million into the cleanup of Butte and the Clark Fork River. “I think Butte would be a ghost town if not for those hundreds of millions of dollars,” he says.

And while a dozen or so tall, steel headframes still dot Butte’s landscape, historical remnants of days gone by, the land is visibly healthier than it was in 1976, when the once-mighty Anaconda Company—which owned or controlled most of Butte for the better part of a century—was sold to Arco. “The Superfund law [the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, which facilities the cleanup of toxic sites], in a very real sense saved Butte, because they have removed and capped some of the toxic overburden,” says Andrea, emphasizing that there are now trees and wildflowers in town, which wasn’t the case thirty years ago.

Perhaps even more unlikely, the region’s mining industry is experiencing a minor resurgence, thanks to a sharp rise in the price of copper and gold. For one, Barrick Gold Corporation recently invested millions of dollars in its Golden Sunlight mine and mill in nearby Whitehall, which has already outlived several projected closing dates thanks to the returns it is generating.

Of course, Butte will never be the same as it was in the 1940s and ’50s, when the air was so thick with smelter fumes that they kept the streetlights on 24/7. “About thirty percent of the copper that went into electrifying our nation came from Butte,” notes Andrea, attempting to counterbalance the town’s legacy of toxic waste, and the fact that hundreds of miners died over the years while working to enrich copper barons like Marcus Daly and William A. Clark. In fact, the worst hard-rock mining disaster in American history occurred in Butte in June 1917, when one hundred and sixty-three men died in a fire in the North Butte Mining Company’s Granite Mountain shaft.

Today, it’s probably safe to say that most area visitors come for the hunting, fishing, and boating, or are perhaps interested in Butte’s most famous son, daredevil Robert Craig “Evel” Knievel, who is buried in the town’s Mountain View Cemetery (and inspired the three-day Evel Knievel Days festival that takes place each July). But it’s undeniable that a large percentage of tourists are only too happy to fork over two dollars to spend a few minutes on the Berkeley Pit viewing stand, testament to the Pit’s strangely compelling scenery. “It’s like a Martian environment,” concludes Andrea, “if Mars could have water.”

Video: The View from the Berkeley Pit Viewing Stand

071111 Fracking

Fracking Jobs Overestimated

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The huge discoveries of natural gas and oil just starting to be tapped in eastern Ohio are expected to generate jobs — but only a fraction of the number that the industry forecasts, according to a report led by an Ohio State University professor.

The study predicts that the boom in drilling will lead to 20,000 new jobs over the next several years, far fewer than the 200,000 that the industry has predicted will come from drilling in shale formations for oil and gas. The 20,000 jobs would be those created both directly and indirectly from drilling.

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All I Want for Christmas is Chemical Policy Reform

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Another company, Hasbro has agreed to eliminate PVC .  A victory YES, but this piecemeal approach is crazy — going company by company to get them to change.  CHEJ, consumers, the Investor Environmental Health Network and other made this victory a reality but creating change company by company, product by product is a difficult and nearly  impossible approach to protecting human health especially children from environmental chemicals.

For the past thirty year I’ve been involved in reducing lead exposures, getting asbestos out of schools, recognizing solvents in the environment are dangerous and air pollution from dioxin, diesel and on and on are serious public health threats.  Each and every one of these issue have received some action but where is America’s overarching policies.

America was once the world leader is science and human health impacts and protections.  Other country’s often followed in our footsteps but today we haven’t only fallen behind, America isn’t even close to the top. Today, corporate lobbyists are interfering with both our scientific reviews that will most likely lead to policy reform.

Dioxin for example has been held up for over 25 years.  Just as the several thousand page scientific review is about to be finalized, lobbyist from companies that would be impacted b any change in policy work to stop the release by raising a red herring.  Trichloroethylene (TCE) a common solvent took 20 years due to the chemical industry’s continue efforts against independent and government science to block or discredit all avenues of information that might disclose and document the harm to public health and the environment posed by toxic chemicals.

Every American should ask your elected representative to give American the gift of life and justice this coming year by passing chemical policy reform which has at its center the health of children since they are the most vulnerable among us.

Note: Hasbro’s decision is also apparently a ripple effect of our retailer work.  CHEJ convinced Wal-Mart to phase out PVC in private label packaging.   Hasbro was apparently influenced by Wal-Mart who’s been pressing suppliers to phase out PVC packaging.  Wal-Mart’s role is mentioned here: http://www.plasticsnews.com/headlines2.html?id=23919&channel=349

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/flem007_uk/