tagged w/ Toxic Waste
Washington, DC, April 28, 2009 – The U.S. Congress’s Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission heard testimony today about the negative environmental impacts of oil operations in the Niger Delta, including those of multinational oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell in the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta. The hearing, Ecuador, Nigeria, West Papua: Indigenous Communities, Environmental Degradation, and International Human Rights Standards, comes four weeks to the day before the opening of a landmark human rights trial during which evidence will demonstrate that Shell was complicit in egregious human rights abuses in Ogoni, including the execution of nine leaders of a nonviolent movement that opposed Shell’s devastating environmental and human rights practices in the region.
At the hearing, Steve Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International, testified about environmental and human rights issues in Nigeria. “Shell claims that they completely pulled out of the Ogoni region in 1993 . . . . However, Shell continues to ship oil across Ogoni through the Trans-Niger Pipeline,” he stated. “More than a decade after Shell supposedly pulled out, the Ogoni are still suffering ongoing pollution from oil spills and fires on their land.” Congressman James McGovern (D-MA), co-chair of the Commission, inquired into the ways that the U.S. Government can ensure that international environmental and human rights standards are respected by corporations operating abroad, and stated that “environmental contamination is a basic human rights issue.”
Shell began oil production in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria in 1958, and in 2006, an independent team of scientists characterized the Niger Delta as “one of the world’s most severely petroleum-impacted ecosystems.” Of the nearly 27 million people living in the Niger Delta, an estimated 75 percent rely on the environment for their livelihood. Shell’s operations in the Delta led to the deep impoverishment of the Ogoni people and surrounding communities, and prompted the development of a powerful nonviolent movement – the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, or MOSOP – that pressed Shell to clean up its operations in Ogoni, and advocated for benefits for the Ogoni people from oil production in the area.
From 1990-1995, Nigerian soldiers, at Shell’s request and with Shell’s assistance and financing, used deadly force and conducted massive, brutal raids against the Ogoni people to repress the growing movement in protest of Shell. On November 10, 1995, nine Ogoni leaders were executed by the Nigerian government after being falsely accused of murder and tried by a specially-created military tribunal. The Center for Constitutional Rights, EarthRights International, and other human rights attorneys sued Shell for human rights violations against the Ogoni. The case will go to trial on May 26, 2009, in federal court in New York City.
“Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders died because they opposed Shell’s devastating practices in Ogoni lands,” said Jennie Green, attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “We commend Congressman McGovern and other Members of Congress for their interest in the vital issue of environmental degradation and the impact of resource exploitation on the lands and livelihoods of indigenous communities like the Ogoni, and for seeking new ways of ensuring that companies abide by international law.”
For more information about the case, including the environmental impacts of Shell’s practices in Nigeria, see www.wiwavshell.org.Washington, DC, April 28, 2009 – The U.S. Congress’s Tom Lantos Human... more
Join us at 6:30 PM on April 29th for the San Francisco Film Festival screening of Joe Berlinger's film "Crude", a hard-hitting documentary about the environmental case against Chevron in Ecuador.
The film will be shown at the Kabuki Sundance Theater, 1881 Post St. (at Filmore), followed by a no-host bar reception with Amazon Watch and special guests.
Tickets are available for $12.50 at the San Francisco International Film Festival website under Buy Tickets Now, or you can order by phone at 925-866-9559, Mon - Fri, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm.
SPACE IS LIMITED. To confirm your attendance at the after-party, please RSVP to: Elisa Bravo at rsvp[at]amazonwatch.org
Just a suggestion: It would be great to see someone from Current TV covering this. I wish I could go.Join us at 6:30 PM on April 29th for the San Francisco Film Festival screening of Joe... more
(CBS 5/Anna Warner) It's California's dirty little secret. The state boasts it has the most advanced program for recycling toxic television and computer monitors. But if that's true, then why did CBS 5 Investigates find a mountain of glass from those TVs and monitors in the desert of a neighboring state?
What's going wrong? One problem is that when the state set up the program in 2005, the chief goal was to recycle TVs and monitors. Why? Because each one contains a glass tube called a cathode ray tube, or CRT. Each CRT holds 7 to 8 pounds of toxic lead.
But they're considered so toxic, the state told recyclers they can only break them down so far.
At recycler Jim Taggart's facility, ECS Refining in Santa Clara, cathode ray tubes go up a conveyor belt, are dropped down a chute to break up the tube and the remaining broken glass is deposited into a large box. "As far as the glass goes this is the end of the line for us," said Taggart.
To do anything further, recyclers would need a hazardous waste permit, according to Carol Northrup of the California State Department of Toxic Substance Control, or DTSC. But, said Northrup, "It's not easy to get a permit in California at all." In fact, CIWMB's Hunts admits getting a permit isn't "prohibited, it's just prohibitively expensive".
The result, Taggart said, is that CRT glass, a big part of California's e-waste, isn't really being recycled here at all and is being sent out of state. "We have not created a full complete system for the recycling of it, so we are exporting it", said Taggart. ECS Refining sends most of its glass to a lead smelter to be melted down.
But CBS 5 Investigates found other recyclers sending the glass to places like Yuma, Arizona. In a location that looks like a mountain, is actually a giant heap of CRT glass. The facility is run by a glass recycling company called Dlubak Glass, and on the day CBS 5 Investigates visited, plant manager Hector Castillo readily admitted most of the glass is coming from California.
And California state data shows California recyclers sent 41 million pounds of CRT glass to Dlubak's facility in Yuma in 2007. Both Castillo and company owner Dave Dlubak told CBS 5 Investigates the plant meets Arizona state and federal regulations. "We're complying with the federal regulations", Castillo said.
But when CBS 5 showed videotape of the facility and the pile of CRT glass to Jim Polek of the US Environmental Protection Agency, he said the pictures did not reflect what he had expected to see.
"My understanding was that things had changed", Polek said. He says the facility has "violations they need to correct."
"They need to inspect and…make sure the facility is cleaned up", he said.
Would a mountain of broken glass full of toxic lead ever be okay with California regulators?...
[Complete article in link and video](CBS 5/Anna Warner) It's California's dirty little secret. The state boasts... more
On The Hook: Commercial Fishing Reaps Billions
Already over-exploited fishstocks continue to be depleted. The Us taxpayers provide commercial fishing subsidies that contribute to overfishing, environmental pollution and climate change,.
U.S. taxpayers doled out more than $6.4 billion in subsidies to the commercial fishing industry between 1996 - 2004, possibly accelerating the ongoing collapse of fish stocks worldwide and adding to the devastation of large ocean fish species.
U.S. subsidies, calculated for the first time by Renee Sharp, director of Environmental Working Group's California Office and renowned fisheries economist Ussif Rahid Sumaila, director of the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia, amounted to 21% of the $31 billion U.S. commercial fish harvest between 1996 - 2004.
Some kinds of subsidies can be good, if they encourage conservation and careful management of fishery stocks etc. But, there is general international consensus that some other kinds of subsidies can contribute significantly to the depletion of ocean fish.
The Sharp-Sumaila study published in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management and supported by the Lenfest Ocean Program has determined that direct federal and state subsidies to commercial fishing operations totaled $6.4 billion and averaged $713 million annually between 1996 - 2004.
50% more boats than needed to bring in the fish...
There is ample evidence that the U.S. commercial fishing fleet has over-exploited marine fish stocks, in some cases to the danger point. An April 2008 report entitled “Excess Harvesting Capacity in U.S. Fisheries” and published by the National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS) found that 12 of 25 U.S. commercial fishing operations it examined had 50% more boats than needed to bring in each operation’s total fish catch for the year. Having too many boats is one component of overcapacity.
The logical result of overcapacity is overfishing, meaning, that more fish are harvested than can be naturally replaced. Reports on the current status of U.S. fish stocks are bleak. According to NMFS data, in 1997, 32% of the nation’s 269 monitored fish stocks were considered over-fished, meaning seriously depleted. In 2007, a decade later, 24% of 190 monitored fish stocks were still categorized as over-fished, and another 17% were deemed subject to overfishing.
The global situation is similar: In 2004, the last year for which subsidy data were available, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that the proportion of over-exploited and depleted world fishery stocks approached 25%, up from 10% in the mid-1970s.
44% of Federal & State subsidies support fuel costs.
Although fishery management failures have long been recognized to play a key role in the growing problem of overfishing and overcapacity, more recently a consensus has emerged that government subsidies to the fishing industry are also an important contributor
Fishing subsidies also have significant environmental impacts that stretch beyond the sea. EWG’s calculations showed that fully 44 percent of federal and state subsidies between 1996 and 2004 went for fuel for fishing fleets.
Supporting fuel costs has may not have only helped promote the needless expansion of commercial fishing operations, it has also likely caused wasteful fuel consumption, air and water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate global warming.On The Hook: Commercial Fishing Reaps Billions
Already over-exploited fishstocks... more
Environmental Protections Rolled Back as Western Drilling Surges |
Unlike other industries, BIG OIL & GAS enjoy waivers under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Resource & Conservation & Recovery Act, the Superfund Act, the Emergency Planning & Community Right to Know Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Oil and natural gas companies have drilled almost 120,000 wells in the West since 2000, mostly for natural gas, and nearly 270,000 since 1980, according to industry records analyzed by Environmental Working Group. Yet drilling companies enjoy exemptions under most major federal environmental laws.
Oil and natural gas operations have industrialized the Western landscape, punching thousands of wells on pristine lands, injecting toxic chemicals, consuming millions of gallons of water, clawing out pits for their hazardous waste and slashing the ground for sprawling road networks. Every well carries with it the potential for serious environmental degradation.Environmental Protections Rolled Back as Western Drilling Surges |
Unlike other... more
More than three decades after the Clean Water Act, iconic American waterways like the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound are in perilous condition and facing new sources of contamination.
With polluted runoff still flowing in from industry, agriculture and massive suburban development, scientists note that many new pollutants and toxins from modern everyday life are already being found in the drinking water of millions of people across the country and pose a threat to fish, wildlife and, potentially, human health.
In FRONTLINE’s Poisoned Waters, airing Tuesday, April 21, 2009, from 9 to 11 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings), Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith examines the growing hazards to human health and the ecosystem.
“The ’70s were a lot about, ‘We’re the good guys; we’re the environmentalists; we’re going to go after the polluters,’ and it’s not really about that anymore,” Jay Manning, director of ecology for Washington state, tells FRONTLINE. “It’s about the way we all live. And unfortunately, we are all polluters. I am; you are; all of us are.”
Through interviews with scientists, environmental activists, corporate executives and average citizens impacted by the burgeoning pollution problem, Smith reveals startling new evidence that today’s growing environmental threat comes not from the giant industrial polluters of old, but from chemicals in consumers’ face creams, deodorants, prescription medicines and household cleaners that find their way into sewers, storm drains, and eventually into America’s waterways and drinking water.
“The environment has slipped off our radar screen because it’s not a hot crisis like the financial meltdown, war or terrorism,” Smith says. “But pollution is a ticking time bomb. It’s a chronic cancer that is slowly eating away the natural resources that are vital to our very lives.”
In Poisoned Waters, Smith speaks with researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), who report finding genetically mutated marine life in the Potomac River. In addition to finding frogs with six legs and other mutations, the researchers have found male amphibians with ovaries and female frogs with male genitalia. Scientists tell FRONTLINE that the mutations are likely caused by exposure to “endocrine disruptors,” chemical compounds that mimic the body’s natural hormones.
The USGS research on the Potomac River poses some troubling questions for the 2 million people who rely on the Washington Aqueduct for their drinking water.
“The endocrine system of fish is very similar to the endocrine system of humans,” USGS fish pathologist Vicki Blazer says. “They pretty much have all the same hormone systems as humans, which is why we use them as sort of indicator species. ... We can’t help but make that jump to ask the question, ‘How are these things influencing people?’”
“The long-term, slow-motion risk is already being spelled out in epidemiologic data, studies—large population studies,” says Dr. Robert Lawrence of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. “There are 5 million people being exposed to endocrine disruptors just in the Mid-Atlantic region, and yet we don’t know precisely how many of them are going to develop premature breast cancer, going to have problems with reproduction, going to have all kinds of congenital anomalies of the male genitalia, things that are happening at a broad low level so that they don’t raise the alarm in the general public.”
Tuesday, April 21, 2009, from 9 to 11 P.M. ET on PBS
More at the link where you can also view the trailer. A very important program about our nation's waterways that don't get nearly enough exposure on TV.More than three decades after the Clean Water Act, iconic American waterways like the... more
Mercury Levels in Seals Rising - Reverse the Trend
Target: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
Sponsored by: Care2
Global warming is changing the ecology of the Arctic Ocean - and the effects on the inhabitants of the Arctic are just starting to come to light. A just-released research report links vanishing sea ice to a shocking rise in mercury levels in ringed seals.
Cod are a very mercury-contaminated species - and a favorite of ringed seals during the ice-free season. Because the ice-free season is becoming longer and longer due to global warming, researchers say, the feeding season for ringed seals is also becoming longer - and as a consequence, the seals are taking in too much mercury.
The mercury contamination will only get worse for the Arctic ringed seal unless we start to seriously address global warming! More research is needed to see just how the transfer of mercury in the food web is being affected by global warming. Urge Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to ensure his department puts resources behind investigating the impact of global warming on seals and other marine life.Mercury Levels in Seals Rising - Reverse the Trend
Target: Interior Secretary Ken... more
Lawyers in opening statements this morning told a Jefferson County jury they will show how the old Monsanto Co. contaminated the water and food supply in Anniston with PCBs and tried to cover it up, as well as present evidence that their clients developed arthritis and diabetes as a result of exposure to the now-banned chemical.
Defense attorneys for Pharmacia Corp., formerly known as Monsanto, countered that no medical or scientific studies exist proving that PCBs cause diabetes or arthritis. And without proof that PCBs caused their illnesses, the plaintiffs have no case, said Kevin Clark, with Lightfoot, Franklin & White.
He also took aim at the lawyers on the other side, arguing that evidence will show they are "overreaching" with their claims.
A few thousand plaintiffs have filed a combined 47 personal injury lawsuits in Jefferson County Circuit Court, and these are the first five cases to come to trial. Litigants claim they developed various illnesses because of exposure to PCBs from the old Monsanto's Anniston plant. The company manufactured PCBs there from the 1930s to 1971Lawyers in opening statements this morning told a Jefferson County jury they will show... more
I was a bit bothered by how Obama shot down and made fun of the question of legalization of marijuana during the online town forum. Obama responded to the most popular question, "No..." without going into the argument and without explaining his stance.
It was a great opportunity for online citizens to signal to the rest of the nation that we, the people, see great possibilities in economic (and healthcare) recovery if we take a deeper look at the benefits of legalizing marijuana.
Let us count the ways:
1) Medicinal - Good for healthcare business.
2) Paper - Good for print industry (and planet).
3) Fabric - Good for garment industry.
4) Rope - Good for rodeo and porn industry.
5) Human Rights - Good for crime reform.
I'm sure there's more. I wonder why Obama would sidestep the whole issue and ridicule it with a sarcastic tone? Everyone in the town hall audience snickered like snobs.I was a bit bothered by how Obama shot down and made fun of the question of... more
The Amazon Defense Coalition reports that oil is still visible to the naked eye in places where Chevron claimed it was remediated. Their plea to delay the trial was denied. I can only hope the next step is to see them pay, although no amount of money can make up for the environmental devastation they have caused and the lives they have ruined. However, this is good news to go forward with.The Amazon Defense Coalition reports that oil is still visible to the naked eye in... more
Trying to make good on its promise of a “lifetime of litigation” for indigenous groups in the Amazon, Chevron is using fraudulent tactics to delay an Ecuadorian trial court from reaching a decision on a record $27 billion in environmental damages, lawyers for local residents say.
“Facing overwhelming evidence of that they caused a massive human rights violation, Chevron is engaged in an absolute judicial fraud in Ecuador to keep the trial going to avoid paying a judgment,” said Pablo Fajardo, the lawyer for 30,000 Amazonian residents filed the case in 1993. “The company has gone rogue and thousands of innocent people are the victims.”
“Chevron does not respect the law and refuses to accept the legitimacy of the legal system because it knows it is about to lose the very trial that it fought to have in Ecuador,” said Fajardo, referring to the fact Chevron fought for nine years in U.S. federal court to have the case shifted to Ecuador over the objections of the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit seeks damages for the dumping of more than 18 billion gallons of toxic waste into Amazon waterways over a 26-year period when Texaco operated an oil consortium. Five indigenous groups have had their traditional lifestyles decimated and cancer rates in the area have skyrocketed, according to plaintiffs and an independent, court-appointed expert.
The court expert, Professor Richard Cabrera, worked with a team of 14 independent technical experts. They concluded it would take at least $27 billion to remediate the rainforest to safe levels and compensate people for health problems caused by the contamination. The amount would wipe out more than a year of the company’s profits.
Saying that Chevron’s knows the “game is up” and that if faces a multi-billion dollar judgment, lawyers for the rainforest residents are asking that the trial judge rule based on more than 250,000 pages of evidence and close to 80,000 chemical sampling results generated in the lawsuit. Chevron’s top lawyer, Charles James, said recently that the company expects a “significant adverse judgment” in Ecuador.
“Chevron in this case has been granted more due process rights than probably any defendant in the history of civil justice,” said Julio Prieto, a lawyer who works with Fajardo. “They have had 15 years to litigate, and they are still looking for new courts that will accept their theories of junk science that posit that known human carcinogens cannot cause harm to people if ingested. Once one court rules against them, they look for another court to start the process all over again.
“The reality is that Chevron will never accept any adverse ruling from an independent court,” added Prieto.Trying to make good on its promise of a “lifetime of litigation” for... more
And hopefully lives will be saved because of it. Will more coal companies start to see the writing on the wall this year? We can only hope.And hopefully lives will be saved because of it. Will more coal companies start to see... more
Landowners in Tennessee have filed a $165 million lawsuit against the Tennessee Valley Authority in the wake of last week’s massive spill of over one billion gallons of toxic coal ash next to a coal-burning steam plant. The sludge spilled out of a coal plant retention pond, burying homes and roads. It is believed to be the largest coal ash disaster in US history. The amount of ash released would fill 450,000 standard dump trucks.
Amy Goodman interviews Matt Landon of United Mountain Defense.
BTW, is anyone seeing coverage of this on their news? I'm not.Landowners in Tennessee have filed a $165 million lawsuit against the Tennessee Valley... more
After a decade of nothing being done to address this serious environmental problem, let's see what Lisa Jackson does under the Obama administration. She will have to coordinate her efforts with Tom Vilsack of the USDA, and that may prove to be a sticky situation if he has to put pressure on Monsanto and other agribusiness companies (factory farms) whose phosphate herbicides and fertilizers are contributing in great part to this problem. Monsanto knowingly poisoned an entire town in Alabama with PCBs. Now their chemicals along with other toxic runoff and fertilizers poison our waterways. It has to end.After a decade of nothing being done to address this serious environmental problem,... more
The message of the exhibit, sponsored by the largest garbage company, is that we needn't radically change our lifestyle or our way of thinking.
Since opening in 1982, Epcot has celebrated human achievement, particularly in the technological sphere, and projected hope for the world's future. The goals sound high-minded, though most of Epcot's offerings are no more than rides or games with the thinnest of educational veneers. For example, Epcot visitors -- or "guests," in Disney parlance -- learn how to prevent house fires by playing an interactive game sponsored by Liberty Mutual, how engineers design safe cars by screaming around a test track sponsored by General Motors, and how biotechnologists "feed a growing population" on a boat ride sponsored by Nestlé. Elsewhere, we are shown how Siemens refrigerators coated with special powders will prevent the growth of microbes in homes of the future. Might the powders lead to powder-resistant bacteria, the way our profligate use of antibacterials has given rise to bugs that resist all antibiotics? That's a possibility our Disney "cast member" doesn't address.
I wanted to see what Waste Management, the country's largest garbage company, was up to, and not only because it has such a long way to go in the public relations department. (It was rocked by an accounting scandal in the late 1990s and has paid many millions of dollars in fines for environmental violations, including burying waste illegally, spilling hazardous waste, and violating the federal Superfund law.) I was also curious about its new slogan, "Think Green," which seems the pinnacle of doublespeak. After all, the company's success -- it posted record-breaking earnings in February 2008, when this exhibit opened -- depends on a steady, if not rising, stream of waste. It stands to reason that consuming and wasting less stuff, one of the best things an individual can do for the health of the planet, is antipodal to corporate goals.
The line for "don't waste it," billed as an "interactive playground" and lit like a casino, is mercifully short. A cast member in a green shirt ushers two family groups and me inside to a computer kiosk. "Has anyone eaten today?" she asks over the dinging of computer consoles and the crash of glass from a nearby Underwriters Lab exhibit, where videos of smashed television screens and falling safes endlessly loop. Heads nod. "Has anyone bought anything?" More nods. "Then you've made garbage!"The message of the exhibit, sponsored by the largest garbage company, is that we... more
4 years ago
A coalition of North American environmental groups says the development of Canada-s oil sands region threatens to kill as many as 166 million birds over the next five decades and is calling for a moratorium on new projects in the region.
The coalition-s groups, which include the Natural Resources Defence Council, the Boreal Songbirds Initiative and the Pembina Institute, say petroleum-extraction projects in the oil-rich region of northern Alberta are a threat to migratory birds and the boreal forest they rely on.
Their study concluded that development of the oil sands, would be fatal for 6 million to 166 million birds because of habitat loss, shrinking wetlands, accumulation of toxins and other causes.
The solution, the groups say, is to halt new projects in the oil sands and to clean up existing facilities. They are also calling for strengthened regulations to protect Canada-s vast boreal, or northern, forest and for Alberta, whose government has backed oil sands developments, to prove the resource can be exploited without serious environmental harm.
People need to take a hard look at whether this can be mitigated or if tar sands development is just incompatible with conservation of bird habitat said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defence Council.
The report estimates about half of North America-s migratory birds nest in the boreal forest and between 22 million and 170 million birds breed in areas that could be subject to oil sands development.
The oil sands contain the biggest oil reserves outside the Middle East but the crude is expensive and difficult to extract. Mining projects strip large areas of land to access the oil-laden soils below the surface.
While the report has not yet been made public, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, which represents the country-s big oil firms, said the oil sands industry complies with environmental regulations and dismissed calls for a moratorium.
We need a balanced conversation, supported like a stool with three legs, environment, economy and energy, David Collyer, the association-s president, said in a statement. Calls for a moratorium that consider only one leg of the stool, in a vacuum, are not constructive.
Developments in the region have been criticized for pumping large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, using too much water and being harmful to wildlife.
Indeed, the death of about 500 ducks earlier this year after they landed on a toxic tailings pond operated by Syncrude Canada Ltd, the biggest oil sands producer, brought international attention to the region.
The environmental groups' forecast is based on a big expansion of oil production from the region. The oil sands currently produce more than 1 million barrels a day, but the report is based on an eventual output of 5 million barrels a day, in line with industry forecasts of production in two decades or more.A coalition of North American environmental groups says the development of Canada-s... more