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Posts Tagged ‘EPA

28 years have passed since the EPA’s last chemical risk review

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Tens of thousands of chemicals have not been reviewed by the EPA, and people are starting to ask questions

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hit a major milestone that some people, including leaders at the agency itself, think shouldn’t be celebrated.

On Wednesday, the agency released a final risk assessment for trichloroethylene (TCE), an industrial solvent used by artists, car mechanics, dry cleaners and others. The EPA’s in-depth report, released after a two-year analysis, shows that long-term exposure to TCE can cause cancer and other health issues, and recommends that workers take serious precautions if they must use TCE.

But in its press release, the EPA acknowledged there was something wrong — not with the risk assessment itself — but with its timeline: It was the first final risk assessment for a chemical issued by the EPA since 1986.

“The American public shouldn’t have to wait 28 years between … chemical risk assessments,” wrote Jim Jones, EPA assistant administrator of chemical safety….. read full article here

Does an Old EPA Fracking Study Provide Proof of Contamination?

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by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica   Aug 5, 2011      Thewashingtoncurrent.com  

This post has been updated with the industry’s response.

For years the drilling industry has steadfastly insisted that there has never been a proven case in which fracking has led to contamination of drinking water.

Now Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization engaged in the debate over the safety of fracking, has unearthed a 24-year-old case study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that unequivocally says such contamination has occurred. The New York Times reported on EWG’s year-long research effort and the EPA’s paper Wednesday.

The 1987 EPA report, which describes a dark, mysterious gel found in a water well in Jackson County, W.Va., states that gels were also used to hydraulically fracture a nearby natural gas well and that “the residual fracturing fluid migrated into (the resident’s) water well.”

The circumstances of this particular well are not unique. There are several other cases across the country where evidence suggests similar contamination has occurred and many more where the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing have contaminated water supplies on the surface. ProPublica has written about many of them in the course of a three-year investigation into the safety of drilling for natural gas.

But the language found in the EPA report made public Wednesday is the strongest articulation yet by federal officials that there is a direct causal connection between man-made fissures thousands of feet underground and contaminants found in well water gone bad. The explanation, presented in the EPA’s own words , stands in stark contrast to recent statements made by EPA officials that they could not document a proven case of contamination and a 2004 EPA report that concluded that fracturing was safe.

“This is our leading regulatory agency coming to the conclusion that hydraulic fracturing can and did contaminate underground sources of drinking water, which contradicts what industry has been saying for years,” said Dusty Horwitt, EWG’s senior counsel and the lead researcher on the report.

A spokesperson for the EPA would not directly address the apparent contradiction but said in an email that the agency is now reviewing the 1987 report and that “the agency has identified several circumstances where contamination of wells is alleged to have occurred and is reviewing those cases in depth.”

The contamination debate has intensified as tens of thousands more wells are being drilled in newly discovered shale gas deposits across the country. The EPA and some scientists have long warned that when rock is hydraulically fractured, there is an increased risk of contaminants traveling through underground cracks until they reach drinking water. Many geologists have countered, however, that migration over thousands of feet is virtually impossible.

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U.S. should follow Europe and put the brakes on nanotech food and other products

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Nanoparticles are already used in many sunscreens.

(Photo: Alex Parlini, Proj. on Emerging Nanotechnologies)

by Jaydee Hanson 29 Jun 201     Grist.org

One month ago, the Committee on Environment, Health and Consumer Protection of the European Parliament voted in favor of excluding nanotechnology from the EU list of novel foods allowed on the market. This committee vote represents one of the first times ever that a legislative body has weighed in on the issue of nanotech particles in food. (Nanotechnology refers to materials or devices developed on an atomic or molecular scale, sized between 1 to 100 nanometers — basically, really, really, really tiny novel particles that our skin and other organs have never before encountered at this scale.)

For those of us watching how government views nanotechnology, this was welcome news.

Whether we are focusing on food or other consumer goods, so far more than a thousand products containing nanoparticles are currently available in the U.S. These nano-enabled products have been put on the market without testing their possible impacts on human health or the environment. And, without stringent government review and without regulation, these products are foisted on an unsuspecting public. People are using nanotechnology, such as sunscreen containing nanoparticles of zinc oxide, on a daily basis, almost completely unaware of what they’re putting on their bodies.

In some cases, nanotechnology has proven benefits, but without a clear understanding of the health and environmental impacts, how can the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the public assess whether or not use of nanotech products is worth the risks? Nanotechnology practically cries out for regulation.

It is a clear, prudent recognition of the overwhelming need for testing in the name of public safety.

That’s what’s encouraging about the European Parliament committee’s action, which also included a declaration that food produced from nanotechnology processes must undergo risk assessment before being approved for use and must be labeled on packaging. The decision was approved by the influential committee almost unanimously, with 42 votes in favor, two against, and three abstentions. While the final plenary vote on the issue is expected to take place in the European Parliament in July, the lopsided committee vote speaks to the absolute logic of such a move. It is a clear, prudent recognition of the overwhelming need for testing in the name of public safety.

It now looks as though U.S. regulatory agencies may be coming around to the point of view that testing should not be considered a burden, but rather an urgent need. The EPA is promising that it will release proposed regulations on nano pesticides soon. We hope the regulations will require companies to report the presence of nano-silver and other nanomaterials in hundreds of consumer products ranging from children’s pacifiers to athletic clothing.

EPA has broad authority under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) over all substances intended to kill pests, including germ killers, but has not addressed until now the growing nano-silver market (primarily as an anti-microbial agent in food packaging), or the market for most other nanochemicals. The proposed rules would be a response to a legal petition filed with the EPA by the International Center for Technology Assessment and the Center for Food Safety in May of 2008, on behalf of a coalition of 12 other public interest organizations, calling on EPA to regulate nano-silver products as pesticides.

The nanotechnology industry often touts the benefits to humanity that their discoveries and applications have created. Lawmakers and regulators should carefully review those real advances, but with balance and logic. We shouldn’t rush to include technology in foods and other products without a clear understanding of the long-term risks these products may pose. The European Commission should follow the directive of the Parliament and to put strong policies in place that will adequately protect human health and the environment from the potential hazards of these novel products. And in the U.S., the EPA and the FDA should do likewise.

BP: Wanton toxicity and destruction, big PR

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BP is blocking access to rescuing turtles and is incinerating turtles in the oil.
Video COPYRIGHT by Catherine Craig. You have full permission to reproduce this video in its entirety with full credits and no changes.

PRWatch.org

* Toxic Dispersant Maker Hires Top Lobbyists: Nalco, the maker of the toxic dispersant Corexit that BP is using, has a plan to deal with the toxicity of its product and all of the marine life poisoned in the Gulf … lobbying! Surely, that will fix the problem. Or, at least, cover it up and get Nalco off the hook.

* EPA Covers Up Toxicity of the Oil Spill: Oh yeah, it’s totally safe for all of the cleanup workers says BP… and the EPA. Why is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency covering up for BP, the biggest environmental criminal of the entire millennium? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is saying it’s safe, too.

Farmers Encouraged To Spread Toxic Coal Ash On Fields

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Beth Buczynski Care2

Despite what coal industry executives and opponents of renewable energy research would have you believe, America is running out of this filthy, costly, fossil fuel- and not a moment too soon.

Businessweek Magazine recently reported that “the federal government is encouraging farmers to spread a chalky waste from coal-fired power plants on their fields to loosen and fertilize soil even as it considers regulating coal wastes for the first time.”

Just over a year ago, an enormous coal ash spill took place at Tennessee’s Kingston TVA Coal Plant, spewing 525 million to 1 billion gallons of coal ash sludge (enough to cover 400 acres in coal ash about 6 feet deep) into the Emory River, potentially contaminating the water supply for Chattanooga, Tennessee as well as millions of people living downstream in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

With clean up efforts STILL underway for the TVA spill, which the EPA called “one of the worst environmental disasters of its kind in history,” both the EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture are now brazenly promoting what they call the wastes’ “beneficial uses” in an effort to deal with the excessive ash piling up around the nation’s coal-fired plants.

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