Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Is Obama the new Mr. Clean?

Good news on the Clean Air Act front! The Wall Street Journal is reporting the U.S. subsidiaries of two French companies agreed to install new pollution controlling technologies in 28 plants! Though the total cost to the companies, combined, will be somewhere around $282 million, the result would be the decrease of 41,000 tons of pollutants that cause respiratory problems as well as a variety of environmental damage. I hope other corporations will see this as a cue to change their procedures as well.

Under Obama’s administration, the E.P.A. has taken more aggressive measures than the Bush Administration when it comes to enforcing the policies of the Clean Air Act. This month the E.P.A. announced it would be making the standard for ground-level ozone (aka smog) more strict and new rules on the elements that cause haze in polluted cities could also be announced in the near future.

While you and I are certainly thrilled with the direction Obama is taking, the administration has its opposition. For instance, a newspaper out of Dallas, TX mentions that many officials in the state including Gov. Rick Perry are fighting the changes. It is certainly an uphill battle faced by Obama so be sure to contact President Obama and tell him you support the E.P.A.’s stricter measures. Its reaching out to elected officials like this that leads to great initiatives like the Clean Air Act!


I just got a web cam, woohoo! It is a very strange thing to talk to a camera alone in your room. I got so nervous I almost forgot my own friends' names and had to write them down! :-/

Also, special thanks to Eugene at, and Gary my cameraman :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Gotta Love that New Car Smell

I have never owned a new car, nor have a ever been inside one to experience first hand that "new car smell," but maybe you have. Tell me, did you feel sick afterward? Because I just read the following on AOL Autos and I'm for once thrilled to drive a beat up used truck from 1991:

"...the plastics and textiles used in vehicle interiors contain a number of harmful chemicals, including antimony, bromine, chlorine, and lead. Repeated and concentrated exposure to any of these chemicals may contribute to a variety of acute and long-term health issues such as birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, and cancer."

Are we safe from anything??

Source: Kirk Seaman @ AOL Autos

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is There a Deadly Intruder in My Home?

That’s the question residents of Elmira, NY are asking themselves lately as many families have discovered that their homes, near Facet Enterprises Superfund manufacturing plant, have been under a vaporous intrusion of a potentially deadly chemical. According to the E.P.A., elevated levels of the chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) have been found in at least 27 out of 103 homes tested. TCE, is a chemical whose emissions can rise above the soil and affect air quality in your home.

What’s worse than this? How about the fact that TCE is a probable human carcinogen – meaning it can be CANCER CAUSING – and it is a COMMONLY used industrial solvent! In a press release issued yesterday, an E.P.A. rep strongly encouraged Elmira residents to permit E.P.A. officials to sample the air quality in their homes with a warning, “Long-term exposure to these vapors can have serious health implications.” The E.P.A. goes on to say that they have systems that are effective at venting the air and making it safe for residents.

However, the reality is that cleanup methods have not always worked in the past and I worry about how well they will work in the future.

Alternatives to TCE exist and, in fact, have been implemented by many facilities. This site has info on how to make this change. If you or your friends and family live in Elmira, NY you can contact Congressman Eric Massa to demand Facet Enterprises Superfund and facilities like it switch to the safer solvents. It’s safe to bet facilities near all of us, anywhere in the country, are using toxic chemicals like TCE regularly. Contact your local official and tell them you don’t want an unseen, unheard, and deadly intruder in your home!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bayer: Expect Wonders ... As in Wonder Why They Are Putting Us at Risk!

According to state inspectors this weekend in West Virginia, Bayer CropScience - yes, the Bayer company that makes your aspirin - has been cited with not one but FOUR citations for improperly maintaining a storage tank which stores about 200,000 pounds of methyl isocyanate (MIC). That is the same chemical that killed more than 15,000 people in Bhopal!! The citations are based on the discovery that the contractors who installed a protection system on the MIC storage tank were NOT certified for that kind of work and the fact that uncertified workers are also performing the periodic tests on these storage tanks!

Back in August 2008, this Bayer CropScience facility had an explosion that killed two people when methomyl, a chemical used in pesticides, along with several other potentially threatening chemicals leaked and caught fire. Will it take another Bhopal these plants to get it together???

If you live near Institute, WV you might be wise to contact your reps and town officials to let them know how concerned you are about this! Send them a letter!

Photo Credit: Conanil

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Me at DP Chemicals

Hey Blog Readers - Jenny and I shot this video a couple weeks ago outside of DP Chemicals. They wouldn't let us into the plant with a camera, but we were able sneak past security to as close as possible.

Check it out and PLEASE join me in demanding increased security measures at chemical plants, like DP. Our town is too close to this facility to risk it. You can send a letter here.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Price of Clean Air

I’m sure I’ve posted about this before, but The New York Times has been running a really fantastic series this year called “Toxic Waters” where they have exposed some of the worst chemical polluters in America. I’ve been following it religiously, and found myself skimming through the old stories today. Their last story was published in December and I’m obviously going crazy waiting for more! So, to make my wait less difficult, I just had to mention something about their October piece, “Cleansing the Air at the Expense of Waterways.”

The reporter relates the story of Allegheny Energy, a plant located in Pennsylvania. They were found to be emitting exorbitant levels of mercury into the air, which in turn is rained down into the waterways, into the fish, and into our bellies. Per the Clean Air Act, they began to reduce emissions by “scrubbing” their smoke-stacks with water and chemical sprays. The effort was successful in lowering toxic levels of mercury emissions, but the chemicals used to “scrub” have run into the Monongahela River. The article says this river provides drinking water to 350,000 people! While reducing toxic mercury emissions from the air is certainly something to applaud, doing so by essentially re-routing the poison is just  irresponsible in my eyes.

Apparently, the federal government is still not coming down very hard on these plants. The article says there are “no federal regulations specifically governing the disposal of power plant discharges into waterways or landfills.” How can this still be the case when the E.P.A. reported in 2007 that people living close to power plants were at a 2,000 times greater risk of getting cancer. AND we have proof that mercury poisoning causes neurological damages in fetuses and small children!

In addition, I’ve spoken about this time and again, but fines for plants in violation of regulations that do exist are still not substantial enough to dissuade them from polluting in the future! How is the government supposed to stop these plants from poisoning the public if they enforce no penalties?

Until the federal government steps up and insists on their regulations being followed, your next glass of H20 may have toxic waste pollution.

Article: N.Y.Times
Image: Matt and Kim Rudge

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Trapped in a Toxic Cloud

Forgot to mention, but over Christmas, I found an article from 2005 in my parents' massive Reader's Digest pile in the den. The story is about a small town outside of San Antonia, TX, and what happened when a derailment caused a ruptured tank car. It's a real horror story.

Read it and pass it on. It's a great example of what can happen, even out here in Ogden Marsh...

Link to story

Indian Corporation Unveils Product to Provide Millions with Clean Water

Okay - I know I've been radio silent the last few weeks but with the holidays and some additional protesting (pics and video coming soon!) I have had a chance to site down and write.

As you know,  the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster was last month. So I thought it would be appropriate to kick off 2010 with my latest find, the release of an affordable water filtration system in India. The device was introduced early in December, and is said to meet EPA guidelines. The company, based in India, released this new system in an effort to provide millions of at risk Indian citizens with clean drinking water. Best of all, the system is supposed to be priced so that most Indian families will be able to purchase one for their homes.

It’s great to see a company in India catering to the masses and making a much more affordable product! AP Business Writer Erika Kinetz quotes a senior executive for the company, who claims safe water is a “right public policy has sought to fulfill, not very successfully so far. We'd like to make a small contribution to offering that.”

I’m glad to see a company in India taking responsibility for its citizens and stepping up where the government hasn’t. Maybe I’ll order myself one of these new systems and add it to my collection. You can never be too careful when it comes to clean water!

Photo credit: mckaysavage