Rachel's Precaution Reporter #98

"Foresight and Precaution, in the News and in the World"

Wednesday, July 11, 2007.............Printer-friendly version
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Table of Contents...

The Responsibility Gap
  U.S. chemicals policy has failed to protect the public from
  continuous exposure to an array of toxicants that, singly or in
  combination, can cause a host of chronic diseases -- many of which are
  increasing in the general population. Here toxicologist Steven Gilbert
  argues that solving this problem will require a new approach.
Bush Angles for Alaska
  "It would also mean that despite individual state bans on fin fish
  farming in Alaska, Oregon and California, the entire west coast
  covering Canada and the U.S. could soon be speckled with fish farms."
Call for Ban on Genetically Modified Trees
  World Rainforest Movement's Ana Filippini said, "Countries are
  dangerously ignoring the precautionary approach as research in
  genetically modified trees is currently being carried out in at least
  the following countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China,
  Finland, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Sweden,
  United Kingdom and U.S."
Parents Lead Fight Against Power Line
  Because scientific studies relating power lines to leukemia
  are contradictory, Mr. Morgan has proposed a policy called "prudent
  avoidance," suggesting power companies limit exposure whenever
  possible through modest investments of money and effort.
Garbage Incinerators Are Staging a Comeback in North Carolina
  Burning garbage destroys resources that must be replaced, and
  produces an astonishing array of toxic byproducts that escape from the
  smoke stack or are buried in the ground somewhere in the form of toxic
  ash. However, an incinerator can move hundreds of millions of dollars
  of public funds into private pockets, funds that later can get kicked
  back into political campaigns. So this expensive, resource-destroying
  technology keeps resurfacing.
Report Warns of Health Risks of Google/Earthlink Wifi Network
  Some studies show that radio waves and other electromagnetic fields
  are linked to leukemia and other diseases. Other studies have failed
  to find an association. Citizens in San Francisco are urging the city
  to take a precautionary approach to the deployment of wi-fi technology
More Heat Than Light
  Here is a recent attack on the precautionary principle that
  appeared in the New York Times. The author says applying the
  precautionary principle to global warming might result in a reduced
  rate of economic growth. Therefore, he says, instead of taxing carbon
  to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we might be better off
  spending our money designing new crops that can withstand hotter
  temperatures, and creating "new water supplies," though he does not
  say where "new water supplies" might come from.


From: Rachel's Democracy & Health News #913, Jun. 28, 2007
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By Steven G. Gilbert

From his uncle Ben, Spiderman learned that "With great power comes
great responsibility". Humans now have incredible power to reshape the
environment and affect human health, but we have yet to fully
acknowledge the responsibility that this implies. One area in which we
need to take more responsibility is around the manufacture, use, and
disposal of chemicals.

It is estimated that there are more than 80,000 chemicals in commerce
and 2,000 new chemicals are added each year. Unfortunately, we know
very little about the specific health effects of these chemicals
because industry has not generated or made available the data. We do
know, however, that children are more vulnerable to the effects of
these chemicals and that annual costs of childhood related disease due
to environmental contaminates is in the range of $55 billion.[1]

Children and adults are exposed to a wide range of chemicals at home,
school, workplace and from the products we use. Exposure to some of
these chemicals can cause significant adverse health effects such as
cancer, Parkinson's disease, immunological disorders and
neurobehavioral deficits, resulting in a needless loss of potential
for both the individual and society.

A significant report on chemical policy was developed by Mike Wilson
and others that both defined the problem and suggested a more rational
approach.[2] Their report identified three gaps that contribute to the
current failed chemical policy: a data gap, a safety gap and a
technology gap. The data gap addresses the need to have health effects
information on chemicals and the public's right to know this
information. The safety gap results from the government's inability to
prioritize hazardous chemicals and its inability to obtain the needed
information. The technology gap reflects the failure by either
industry or government to invest in the development of more
sustainable chemical processes such as green chemistry. To these three
identified gaps, I suggest adding a fourth: the responsibility gap.

Responsibility -- An Overview

Humans have amassed an enormous amount of power to change the physical
environment as well as affect human and environmental health. Aldo
Leopold, America's first bioethicist, summarized our ethical
responsibilities in a simple statement in 1949: "A thing is right when
it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the
biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."[3] When we
expose our children to lead, mercury, or alcohol we are robbing them
of their integrity, stability, and beauty. In essence we robbing them
of their potential, reducing their ability to do well in school and to
contribute to society.[4] We have the knowledge and must accept the
responsibility to preserve the biotic community, which will preserve
us and future generations. Key institutions in our society, as well as
individuals, must address different aspects of a shared responsibility
to ensure a sustainable biotic community.

Precautionary Principle and Responsibility

The precautionary principle is defined in the Wingspread Statement as:
"When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the
environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause
and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically." It
both acknowledges our power and implies responsibility.[5,6]

One of the central elements of the precautionary principle is that
proponents of an activity or product must take responsibility to
demonstrate its safety. This concept is applied to the development of
new drugs. The Food and Drug Administration requires the
pharmaceutical or biotech corporations to demonstrate both efficacy
and safety of their products before they are approved for use by the
public. This precautionary approach was adapted after several high
profile disasters with drugs, such as thalidomide. The same concept
and responsibility could be required of chemical manufactures, which
would result in data-driven decisions on health and would drive a
shift toward sustainable and safer chemicals.

Corporate responsibility

Under current corporate rules and regulations the primary
responsibility of a corporation is to make money for its shareholders.
Corporate management's primary responsibility is to increase the value
of the corporation for its shareholders, which is accomplished by
increasing revenue or product sales and by reducing or externalizing

In 1994 an array of suited white male tobacco executives stood before
the U.S. Congress Subcommittee on Health and the Environment and swore
that nicotine was not addictive. This was clearly false, but they were
protecting the interest of their corporations and shareholders to
profit at the expense of people's health. The health effects of
tobacco are borne by the individual and collectively through taxes and
health care costs.

The tobacco companies have a long history of externalizing the health
costs of their product onto tax payers while reaping profits for the
executives and shareholders. Other corporations have also externalized
or not accounted for the costs of dumping chemicals into the air,
water or land, which results disease and environmental damage. For
example, the Asarco smelter in Tacoma, Washington spewed lead and
arsenic across a wide area. Devra Davis brilliantly documented how
industry poisoned the air and environment, which sickened the people
of Donora, Pennsylvania. While the U.S. has tightened pollution laws,
Doe Run Peru, an affiliate of the St. Louis-based Doe Run Resources
Corp., continues the practice of externalizing costs by spewing lead
from their smelters which sickens children, depriving them of their
innate abilities. Our government, through the Departments of Defense
and Energy, has created some of the most contaminated sites in the
world, such as Hanford, Washington.

Corporations contaminate the environment because it is cost effective
and our laws shield executives from personal responsibility. In other
words, they operate this way because they can make larger profits by
not investing in pollution control or adapting sustainable practices
and they can get away with it. Of course not all corporations operate
irresponsibly, but enough do, which creates problems for everyone. A
new form of capitalism is needed that motivates corporate
responsibility to the biotic community and greater social good. Peter
Barnes explores some of these ideas in his recent book Capitalism 3.0:
A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons.[7] The thrust of the book is the
idea to create public trusts that are responsible for and account for
the value of the common wealth such as that in the land, air, and
water. Capitalism must change to account for using this wealth.

Government responsibility

The primary responsibility of the government is to protect and
preserve the common wealth for the greater good of the people.

Government has a duty and responsibility to ensure the "integrity,
stability, and beauty of the biotic community". In essence government
must ensure that future generations have an environment in which they
can reach and maintain their full genetic potential. The U.S.
Government has made various attempts to control chemicals while the
governments of many developing countries such as China are just
beginning to consider the problems of uncontrolled corporate
exploitation of the environment and people.

A failed effort by U.S. Congress was the passage of Toxic Substances
Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). This law was meant to empower the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to control the introduction of
new chemicals into the environment. Unfortunately, corporations are
not required to generate or make available health effects data (thus
the data gap), which impedes the government or the public from making
informed decisions on safety of products (thus the safety gap). Our
representatives in the government must take seriously their
responsibility to protect common wealth for the greater good of all. A
first step would be to fix TSCA by requiring greater chemical testing
and disclosure of this information. Our legislatures can take
responsibility by supporting the Kids Safe Chemicals Act.[8]

Media Responsibility

The primary responsibility of the media is to create an informed and
engaged public not just inform the educated public. The media has an
obligation to produce socially responsible material that is fair,
objective, and balanced. This does not mean giving equal time to
clearly very minority views as was the case with global warming. Most
importantly the media has a responsibility to be open and transparent
about sources of information and acknowledge any potential conflicts
of interest. The burden and obligation of the media to be responsible
must also be shared with the listeners, viewers, and readers. The
media has great power to inform and influence people, and with that
comes a grave responsibility.

Academic Responsibility

The academic community, particularly those engaged in issues related
to public health, have a responsibility to be thoughtful public health
advocates and share their knowledge beyond narrow academic journals
and conferences. Being a scientist includes the obligation to seek the
truth and question the facts, there is also an obligation and
responsibility to speak out on public health issues. Scientists and
educators have tremendous amounts of knowledge that can be shared with
K-12 students, media, legislators, and the general public. Educators
and researchers have a responsibility to help create an informed
public by sharing their knowledge and being thoughtful public health

Individual responsibility

Individuals have the greatest burden of responsibility because we must
take into account not only the above responsibilities of our
professional lives, but we must also address the responsibilities of
our personal lives. We must confront individually and collectively
that we have the power, and the means to reshape or even destroy the
world. Individually it may seem as if we have little control over
global warming, nuclear weapons, or the food imported from other
countries. We have a responsibility to consider how our individual
actions combine to collectively shape the world and society around us.
This extends from who we elect for office to what we buy in the store,
to the temperature in our homes, and the pesticides on our farms and
lawns. We also have a responsibility to stay informed and demand that
the media inform us. Democracy is a participatory sport and we must be
well informed to participate. Our corporations run on and will respond
to what we purchase. Our government and corporations will respond to
our opinions and demands for a fair, just, and sustainable society. We
must translate responsibility into action to create a just and
sustainable world.


[1] P.J. Landrigan, C.B. Schechter, J.M. Lipton and others,
Environmental Health Perspectives Vol. 110, No. 7 (2002), pg. 721 and
following pages..

[2] Michael P. Wilson and others. Green Chemistry in California: A
Framework for Leadership in Chemicals Policy and Innovation.
Berkeley, Calif.: California Policy Research Center, University of
California, 2006.

[3] Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1949.

[4] Steven G. Gilbert, "Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues: Our
Children's Future," Neurotoxicology Vol. 26 (2005), pgs. 521-530.

[5] Peter Montague, The Precautionary Principle In A Nutshell.
New Brunswick, N.J.: Environmental Research Foundation, 2005.

[6] Steven G. Gilbert, "Public Health and the Precautionary
Principle," Northwest Public Health (Spring/Summer, 2005), pg. 4.

[7] Peter Barnes. Capitalism 3.0 -- A Guide to Reclaiming the
San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2006, pg. 195.

[8] Kids Safe Chemical Act. Senate Bill 1391, 109th Congress.
Introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg. See discussion here and get
the text of the bill here. Reportedly, the bill is presently
undergoing significant revisions with input from a broad range of

Steven G. Gilbert, Ph.D., DABT, directs the Institute of
Neurotoxicology & Neurological Disorders (INND)
(8232 14th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115); phone: 206.527.0926; fax:
206.525.5102; E-mail: sgilbert@innd.org.

Web: www.asmalldoseof.org ("A Small Dose of Toxicology")
Web: www.toxipedia.org -- connecting science and people

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From: Vancouver 24 Hours (Vancouver, B.C.), Jul. 5, 2007
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Deep-sea fish farms may scuttle northern state's moratorium

By Robyn Stubbs

A recently proposed U.S. bill to open federal waters to offshore fish
farming is sending shivers through Alaskan fishermen.

The Bush administration-led bill would effectively open the door to
big businesses wanting to set up open-pen fish farms in federal
waters, three to 200 miles offshore.

It would also mean that despite individual state bans on fin fish
farming in Alaska, Oregon and California, the entire west coast
covering Canada and the U.S. could soon be speckled with fish farms.
Offshore farms are typically open-net pens that are either submerged
or float on the surface in the open ocean.

There are currently no offshore fish farms in B.C., and there's not
enough research on them for environmental watchdogs to support the
idea, says Craig Orr of B.C.'s Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

"It's just a big unknown. The idea of moving them out of really close
proximity to migration routes is good, but we still don't have enough
science to know what impact this will have on wild salmon," he says.

Alaskan fishermen and environmental groups also have grave concerns
about the proposed U.S. legislation, and what it could mean for their
thriving local fisheries.

Alaskan politicians looked to B.C.'s developing commercial aquaculture
industry and decided not to follow suit after investigating escapement
and pollution concerns.

Now it seems the federal government is undermining that ban and
putting their wild fishery at risk, says Paula Terrel, an Alaskan
fisherman and fish-farming issues coordinator for the Alaska Marine
Conservation Council.

"Some of the same problems that exist for near-shore farming
[potentially] exist for offshore farming: Pollution, use of chemicals,
concerns about huge multi-national corporations taking over our
oceans, the impact on coastal communities... the whole precautionary
principle is: First do no harm." Terrel says. "If we supplant our wild
fisheries with fish farming offshore, we've traded one flourishing
industry for another."

But it's not just the environmental effects of offshore aquaculture
that need to be considered. The social and economic impacts of coastal
communities -- similar to those in B.C. that rely on a strong fish
return for livelihood -- could be impacted.

Alaskan-born graduate student Becky Clausen is studying just that, and
is touring coastal communities in the Broughton Archipelago to
determine the impact of big industry aquaculture.

"Often the statistics of employment -- jobs being created or lost --
recorded, but what gets left out is the actual change in the labour
process," says the University of Oregon student.

For example, "is a job being an independent fisherman on a boat
equivalent to a job at an aquaculture site or processing plant?"

The regulatory structure of U.S. fisheries is eerily similar to
Canada's setup, where the agency responsible for protecting the ocean
also oversees aquaculture.

And according to Terrel, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Association (DFO's American equivalent) is pushing the offshore
aquaculture bill as one of their top priorities.

"If it were on a really fast track, they could pass it before this
time next year," she says.

The first committee hearing happens in Washington, D.C. on July 12.

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From: Checkbiotech.org, Jul. 6, 2007
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New Zealand's experiments with GE [genetically engineered] trees are
under international scrutiny as a threat to our trading-reputation as
well as the environment.

Over 50 Indigenous Peoples Organizations and Non-Governmental
Organizations involved in meetings surrounding the Convention on
Biological Diversity in Paris, have called for a ban on Genetically
Modified trees and warn the current biofuels boom and the rush for so-
called second generation biofuels will lead to dangerous experiments
with these trees.

In an open letter to delegates at the conference, the groups called
for compliance by all countries with the precautionary approach in
regard to GM trees, as agreed upon at the CBD's 8th Conference of the
Parties last year in Curitiba, Brazil.

New Zealand has already been widely criticised for supporting
'Terminator' technology which has been approved as part of the GE tree
experiments here.

"It is vital to New Zealand's Brand image that we are not contaminated
by GE trees and instead invest in sustainable forestry projects that
can meet ethical and environmental standards," says Jon Carapiet from
GE Free NZ in food and environment.

"We need to meet standards like those set by the Forest Stewardship
Council, as away of ensuring New Zealand's forestry industry benefits
from a move to sustainability," he says.

World Rainforest Movement's Ana Filippini said, "Countries are
dangerously ignoring the precautionary approach as research in GM
trees is currently being carried out in at least the following
countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Finland, France,
Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom &

"Last week in the U.S., APHIS (the Animal Plant Health Inspection
Service), a subsidiary body of the US Department of Agriculture,
approved a request by GM tree corporation ArborGen to allow their
field trial of genetically modified eucalyptus trees in Alabama to
flower and produce seeds," said Anne Petermann of Global Justice
Ecology Project.

Trees are being engineered with unnatural traits such as the ability
to kill insects, or have reduced lignin. Ironically, though GE trees
threaten to worsen global warming by damaging the ability of natural
forests to store carbon, companies propose to develop GE tree
plantations as a source for biofuels.

Source: Scoop

Copyright Checkbiotech 2007

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From: Pittsburgh (Pa.) Post-Gazette, Jun. 24, 2007
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By Janice Crompton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Plans for a high-voltage power line through Washington and Greene
counties have met with heavy opposition from property owners, creating
what has been estimated by local officials to be the loudest citizens
outcry in a generation.

But one group of residents in particular has mobilized to fight the
plan like no other. Parents.

April Ricci, of Jefferson, Greene County, is determined to stop plans
by Allegheny Power to construct a 37-mile, 500-kilovolt power line
near the home she shares with husband, Albert Ricci III, and their
three children, ages 11, 8 and 5. The line would also pass within 1.5
miles of the Jefferson-Morgan Elementary School.

Ms. Ricci has distributed petitions door-to-door, attended numerous
meetings and gatherings, and organized opposition forces.

Although the line will not run through her property, Ms. Ricci's
resistance is perhaps fiercer than that of her neighbors due to the
death of her infant daughter 13 years ago.

The couple's first daughter, Sarah, was born with a rare tumor in her
heart and lived only one day. Doctors were baffled, Ms. Ricci said,
telling her that the odds of such a mass were about 10 million to one.
They could not determine the cause, and ran tests to rule out genetic

She granted doctors' requests to keep her daughter's heart for further

"When I was pregnant, I never drank, smoked, or even took a Tylenol,"
she remembers.

Living in Georgia at the time, the couple, who were from southwestern
Pennsylvania, returned home confused and heartbroken.

"I just thought, 'Why did this happen to me? I'm being punished for
something.' "

The couple went on to have three healthy children at their home in
Greene County with memories of little Sarah and still no clue what
killed her.

It wasn't until Allegheny Power began unveiling its plans for the
power line that would be strung on 120-foot to 140-foot towers, that
the Riccis began thinking about the possible correlation between
Sarah's death and similar towers near their home in Georgia.

The couple lived and worked near high-voltage towers, and Ms. Ricci
said she recalled a time when she was pregnant when she and her
husband and some friends rode all-terrain vehicles beneath the power

"I heard them crackling," she said of the overhead lines. "It
literally gives me the chills now. I think, 'Oh my God, I was so
stupid,' I knew nothing."

Protecting their children

The loud crackling and humming of power lines makes property owner
Juliann Cernuska wary. She said a sympathetic power company field
technician she encountered in the local post office warned her that
she "wouldn't believe how loud," the power line would be.

"He said he'd never experienced anything like it," she said.

Allegheny Power purchased an easement in 1976 on the 24-acre property
that Ms. Cernuska and her husband Steve bought and built a home on 10
years ago. She estimates the power line right of way will be about a
football field away from her home, which fronts on Route 188 in

The Cernuskas are considering moving if the project is approved. Their
son Cameron, who turned 7 on Wednesday, suffers from asthma, and Ms.
Cernuska questions her parenting abilities if she stays. She has seen
health studies and reports that indicate a possible link between
childhood leukemia and power lines.

"Do you knowingly drink water that's poisoned? Do you knowingly live
in a house with asbestos?" she said. "How can I stay and be a good

Those feelings of guilt and concern have racked parents all along the
power line route, from North Strabane in Washington County, where a
new power station is planned, to Dunkard in southern Greene County,
where the power line is expected to connect with a junction and
continue east 240 miles into Virginia.

The Pennsylvania portion of the line is meant to serve growing energy
needs in northern Washington County, according to the power company,
while the eastward line will supply northern Virginia, which is in
critical need of new energy.

The state Public Utility Commission is expected to take up Allegheny
Power's application for the Pennsylvania line this summer with several
public hearings.

The U.S. Department of Energy held a hearing earlier this month to
gather input on a plan to designate much of the northeastern U.S. as a
national interest electric transmission corridor -- or NIETC -- which
would give the federal government authority to overrule state
decisions involving electric transmission lines under certain

Ms. Ricci spoke at the hearing, recounting Sarah's story for two DOE
panelists and passing out her daughter's photo in the hope of
influencing their decision.

If a state denies a permit, makes no decision within one year, or
places too many conditions on a power company permit, the Energy Act
of 2005 gives the federal government backstop authority to grant
construction permits, superseding state and local regulations.

Health risks questioned

Organized opposition, in the form of local officials and a citizens
group, Stop The Towers, has discouraged residents from harping on
health and safety issues because effects can't be proven and won't be
taken under consideration by state or federal authorities.

Despite years of testing and studies, there still isn't enough science
to determine the health effects of power lines, according to M.
Granger Morgan, an electricity expert who has studied the issue for
about a decade.

People are routinely exposed to electromagnetic energy through
household appliances, but "because power lines are big and highly
visible, they tend to get more attention," said Mr. Morgan, head of
the Department of Engineering and Public Policy and professor of
electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

Mr. Morgan serves as chair of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Science Advisory Board, the Electric Power Research Institute Advisory
Council and the Scientific and Technical Council for the International
Risk Governance Council of Geneva, Switzerland. He is a fellow of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute for
Electric and Electrical Engineers, and the Society for Risk Analysis.

Exposure to electromagnetic fields -- or EMF -- drops off rapidly with
distance in the vicinity of high-voltage power lines, Mr. Morgan said.

There are studies that have indicated a possible link between EMF,
childhood leukemia and other forms of cancer. Because childhood
leukemia is fairly rare, affecting about one in 14,000 children,
according to Mr. Morgan, it has been difficult to study, and there is
not a clear connection with EMF.

Still, specific findings involving power lines have included
biological changes in animals, such as effects on melatonin and other
hormone levels, and changes in molecules and cells in the body.

Prudent avoidance

Because of the findings and lack of concrete evidence so far, Mr.
Morgan has proposed a policy called "prudent avoidance," suggesting
power companies limit exposure whenever possible through modest
investments of money and effort. Meant to be a common sense approach,
it argues against drastic action or inaction until science provides a
clearer picture of risk.

Some property owners have complained about the size of the 200-foot
right of ways used for the towers, but the company says cutting such a
large swath not only protects against falling lines, it lessens the
effects of EMF as well.

"If you're standing at the edge of our right of way, you're not
getting any more exposure than if you were standing in front of an
appliance in your home," said company spokesman David Neurohr.

"Common sense is why you have a right of way and a buffer zone," he

April Ricci and other parents have said they want to see power
companies further study the effects of EMF and power lines. They are
also promoting the possibility that power lines near Jefferson-Morgan
Elementary be buried, perhaps in the abundant mining shafts that have
been abandoned over the years.

Unless they can prove it's not technologically feasible, electric
utilities in Connecticut now are required to bury power lines near
schools, playgrounds, and day care facilities, thanks to a law that
was designed to be a precautionary measure against possible EMF
exposure. The cost to bury utility lines is significantly higher than
above-ground construction.

"Why would they pass a law if there was nothing to it?" said Ms.
Ricci. "How much money can you put on a person's life? How many people
have to die?"

(Janice Crompton can be reached at jcrompton@post-gazette.com or

Copyright 1997-2007 PG Publishing Co., Inc.

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From: Durhamregion.com, Jul. 2, 2007
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By Erin Hatfield

DURHAM -- People pouring out to public meetings continue to push for
details on energy-from-waste (EFW) and the impact it will have on
health and the environment.

At the most recent round of EFW public information sessions, held
between June 18 and 28, consultants contracted by the Region of Durham
insisted all the details residents are after will only be known after
the technology and site are selected.

"A detailed, site-specific assessment must be done before any facility
could open," said Dr. Chris Ollson, a consultant with Jacques
Whitford, at the session held on June 28 in Newcastle. Meetings were
also held in Courtice and Bowmanville.

The final meeting, attended by approximately 60 residents, presented
the consultant's conclusions from the Generic Human Health and
Ecological Risk Assessment Study.

Using a theoretical facility, Jacques Whitford consultants
investigated the omission of chemicals and the impact on people's
health and the environment. They estimated exhaust stack air emissions
based largely on values obtained from stack testing of a facility in
Brampton and concluded an EFW facility presents an acceptable risk.

The findings, consultants said, do represent the worst-case scenario.
Consultant Dave Merriman said all vendors that would qualify to build
and operate an EFW facility would be better than the theoretical
facility used in the study.

But, Wendy Bracken, a Newcastle resident who has been vocal in her
opposition to incineration, said dioxins and furans are created in the
stacks of EFW facilities and no level is acceptable.

"The risk assessment was based almost entirely on Ontario
Regulations," she said. "Many, including doctorates, say these
regulations have not served us well."

She cited increasing rates of cancer and asked that a precautionary
approach be taken.

"There are other technologies available; there are other things we can
do," Ms. Bracken said. "The precautionary principal to me means avoid
it if you know it is toxic."

Bowmanville resident John Traill agreed that energy from waste should
be taken off the table.

"If this process is such a wonderful one then why doesn't every
community have one and why doesn't every community want one," Mr.
Trail said. "I propose we start by burning the garbage we heard in the
first hour and a half (from consultants). This was a totally one-sided
snow job."

Durham and York began work on an environmental assessment (EA) of
energy from waste after identifying thermal technology as the
preferred method of dealing with garbage. The findings of this latest
study will be used to assist in the preferred site selection.

As the Region continues down the EA road there are more site studies
and more public meetings to come.

"We are able to do a very detailed site evaluation, so if you live
near these areas you will probably see people out in the next couple
of weeks," said consultant Jim McKay.

There are four potential sites remaining on the Region's short list.
One site in East Gwillimbury and three are in Clarington, located at
Courtice Road and Osbourne Road, south of Hwy. 401 between Bennett
Road and South Service Road and south of Hwy. 401 between Courtice
Road and Osbourne Road.

The preferred site, as identified by consultants, will be announced in
September, after which site-specific studies are planned. Upon
provincial approval of the EA, Durham senior staff say they could
start building a facility in 2009 and have it operational by the time
Michigan, where Durham's trash is currently shipped, closes its border
to Ontario trash in 2010.

Residents will also have to wait until a vendor is selected to find
out an estimate of the tax impact of an EFW facility.

Copyright 1995-2007 Metroland Media Group Ltd.

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From: Emfacts.com, Jul. 9, 2007
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A report filed by the San Francisco Neighborhood Antenna-Free Union
(SNAFU) with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors warns of
potential adverse health and environmental impacts that could result
from a proposed Google/Earthlink WiFi network.

Dr. Magda Havas, an environmental scientist at Trent University in
Ontario, Canada, prepared the scientific analysis of the project,
which SNAFU submitted in support of its appeal challenging Mayor Gavin
Newsom's citywide WiFi proposal. The Board of Supervisors will hear
SNAFU's appeal on July 10, 2007 at 4:30 p.m. in City Hall.

"SNAFU is requesting that the proposed Google/Earthlink WiFi network
undergo environmental review before it is approved due to our concern
about adverse health and environmental impacts," said Doug Loranger, a
SNAFU spokesperson.

Dr. Havas, who specializes in electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure
health effects, writes that while there have been no studies to date
on the effects of exposure to WiFi, the potential for harm can best be
seen by examining the scientific evidence emerging from studies in
Europe, Asia and elsewhere on people living near cell phone antennas.
These studies report adverse biological and health effects at
radiofrequency radiation (RFR) exposures well below levels the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) says are safe.

Havas' report discusses a number of health effects that have been
documented at levels below the FCC exposure limit, including
headaches, insomnia, memory loss, slowed reaction time, impaired motor
function, DNA breakage and childhood leukemia. These effects occur at
levels constituting a small percentage of the safety threshold set by
the FCC under its RFR exposure guidelines. Havas also points out that
the FCC guidelines are based on short-term exposures (30 minutes) and
do not take into consideration the long-term exposures characteristic
of a citywide WiFi network.

A study prepared by certified engineer Mitch Maifeld of Zenzic
Research also submitted with SNAFU's appeal calculates the potential
RFR exposure levels of the WiFi antennas proposed by Google/Earthlink.
Maifeld prepared calculations based on exposures to residents living
in close proximity to the antennas, which would be mounted on light
and utility poles in neighborhoods throughout San Francisco. According
to Havas, these calculations reveal that residents may be exposed to
radiation levels high enough to potentially induce adverse health

In scientific terms, the Google/Earthlink antennas could expose
residents to RFR levels more than 50 times higher than levels
associated with a significant increase in headaches, sleep
disturbances and dizziness detected in a study conducted in Spain.
According to Maifeld's calculations, wireless laptop users could
expect exposure levels from a combination of antennas and laptop more
than 350 times greater than the levels in the aforementioned Spanish

Havas' findings reveal a major lapse in public health protection
offered by the FCC RFR exposure guidelines. Her report shows that
health effects in the scientific literature appear at levels almost
10,000 times lower than those permitted by the FCC. Havas' opinions
are shared by scientists worldwide who have signed the Benevento
Resolution, which recommends "proposals for city-wide wireless access
systems (e.g. WiFi or equivalent technologies) should require public
review of potential EMF exposure." (See www.icems.eu)

"Because the City and County of San Francisco is acting as a
proprietor and party to a contract with Google/Earthlink and not in
its regulatory capacity, it is not preempted by the Telecommunications
Act of 1996 from fully considering the health issues as it is when
cell phone carriers seek to place antennas in the City," Loranger

Nancy Evans, a health science consultant with the Breast Cancer Fund,
said, "We are calling upon the Board of Supervisors to apply the
Precautionary Principle, which is a City ordinance, in addressing our
concerns by conducting an environmental study before any decisions are

Copies of the Havas and Maifeld reports, along with SNAFU's appeal,
may be found at the Council on Wireless Technology Impacts (CWTI)
website at www.energyfields.org.

For additional information, visit SNAFU's website at

Return to Table of Contents


From: New York Times Magazine, Jul. 8, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]


By Gary Rosen

If you happened to be in suburban New Jersey this past Jan. 6, you may
recall that it was hot -- 72 degrees, to be exact, a record-breaking
high. I remember that winter Saturday because, amazingly, I got to
spend it in shorts and a T-shirt, playing a sweaty game of Wiffle ball
with my sons in our backyard. A more recent Saturday, June 23, was
also unusual, but for its unseasonable coolness, not its heat. The
temperature that night dropped into the mid-50s, leaving us to shiver
under our cotton blankets.

But the big difference between these two weather events wasn't the
direction the thermometer jumped. It was how people reacted to them.
In my corner of blue-state America, that balmy day in January elicited
lots of muttering about evil Republicans and their indifference to
greenhouse gases. In June, by contrast, I didn't hear a word about the
evidentiary significance of our cold spell. Didn't goose bumps in
summer mean that Al Gore is wrong? Well, no; but why the different
standard for unexpected heat in January?

I have to confess to a serious case of global-warming fatigue. I know
that the planet is heating up and that fossil fuels are the likely
culprit. But I'm tired of the sanctimony and the alarmism that
surround the subject. Every temperature spike is not a portent of the
apocalypse, and the need to see it that way keeps us from dealing
rationally with the problem itself. The issue is climate change, after
all, not weather change. What scientists worry about isn't the
occasional winter scorcher but the long-term shift in average

Actual global warming over the past century amounts to just over 1
degree Fahrenheit. The United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change predicts that the continued buildup of
atmospheric CO2 could make the Earth 3.5 to 8 degrees warmer by 2100,
with potentially severe consequences for agriculture, water supplies
and sea levels. The trouble is, there is virtually no chance that
we'll reverse that trajectory. Even the most ambitious proposals for
carbon taxes and "cap and trade" emission limits would only slow the
rate of increase. And they won't alter the basic fact that, for the
foreseeable future, modern economies will still depend overwhelmingly
on fossil fuels.

Such realities may sound like defeatism, or apologetics for Big Oil,
but should they fill us with despair? It all depends on how you frame
the issue. If your starting point is what environmentalists call the
"precautionary principle" -- the idea that we must act to avert
ecological disaster even when we lack scientific certainty about the
extent of the threat -- then our prospects are dim. A radical shift to
clean energy, with the aim of ending greenhouse gas emissions, isn't
on any government's agenda.

And that may help to explain our peculiar anxieties about the problem.
Though we often speak of global warming in terms of crisis, when it
comes to policy choices we tend to hedge, as if not quite believing
our own rhetoric. One reason for this cognitive dissonance is that
distant threats are easy to discount. More fundamentally, I suspect,
we are simply not ready to sacrifice the many benefits we derive from
our profligate energy habits. As Cass R. Sunstein of the University of
Chicago argues in his book "Laws of Fear," a critique of the
precautionary principle, a single-minded focus on particular
environmental dangers excludes too much. "A better approach," he
writes, "would acknowledge that a wide variety of adverse effects may
come from inaction, regulation and everything between."

If "precaution" is to make sense, it must be tempered by the logic of
cost-benefit analysis, with its trade-offs and estimates of relative
risk. Taxing carbon consumption is a fine idea -- it would create
incentives for new energy technologies -- but if pushed too far it
could depress economic growth. Resources might be better invested in
adaptation -- that is, in developing new crops and water supplies for
a hotter world. Nor can we let climate change divert attention from
more pressing human needs. The social scientist Bjorn Lomborg
persuasively argues that the Third World suffers more from
malnutrition and H.I.V./AIDS than it is likely to suffer from global

Such a balance sheet will not satisfy those who see the campaign
against global warming as an evangelical cause, a way to atone for
central air conditioning, S.U.V.'s and other sins against nature. But
the current debate would benefit from less emotion and more
calculation. Maybe we can still manage to enjoy a perfect 72-degree
day, even when it arrives in January.

Gary Rosen is the managing editor of Commentary.

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