America Recycles Day Celebrated NationwideWASHINGTON, DC,
November 15, 2002 (ENS) - In honor of America Recycles Day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting used electronics for recycling in Washington DC.
The electronics collection is one of dozens of recycling events across the country today and in the coming week to celebrate the sixth annual America Recycles Day, proclaimed officially today by President George W. Bush.
"Government, businesses, community organizations, and every citizen must work together to serve as good stewards of all of our natural resources," Bush said. "On America Recycles Day, we renew our commitment to preserving our resources by recycling and using products made with recycled materials."
At the official America Recycles Day website (http://www.americarecyclesday.org/), visitors have until the end of the day to pledge to increase their own recycling efforts, and enter a contest to win a Trek mountain bike or a Staples gift certificate. In recent weeks, almost 1,000,000 pledges to recycle and buy recycled products have been entered for these national awards, both electronically and on pledge cards.
In Washington DC, used computer parts, televisions, cell phones and other electronics will be collected again tomorrow at the base of the Washington Monument. UNICOR Federal Prison Industries, a government corporation, will recycle the items and provide tax donation forms between 9 am and 3 pm.
"This recycling effort is an excellent example of a public private partnership to provide safe disposal of unusable and obsolete electronics equipment and protect the environment," said Interior Secretary Gale Norton. "Today and again tomorrow, the public and private members of this practical partnership will be here gathering unusable electronics, not for disposal and waste, but for reuse and recycling into new electronics."
Around the country, communities observed America Recycles Day in a variety of ways. In Connecticut, 1,800 "Rewards for Recycling" bags, filled with recycled products, were distributed in 13 towns around the state as a reward for people who recycled correctly.
Indiana held a statewide poster contest for schoolchildren with a prize raffle for all students, The Deerfield Beach Blast, Florida held a design contest for students to imagine houses made from recyclable and recycled materials.
Palo Alto, California residents kicked off their shoes at the first "Palo Alto Just Do It" event which encouraged residents to recycle their shoes. In conjunction with the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program, hundreds of people tossed in their shoes, which were then separated, ground and made into court padding and flooring products.
"Where we cannot prevent waste or reduce it, we can and should find ways to recycle. And when we go to the store, we can and should seek environmentally preferable products, including those with recycled content," said John Howard, chair of the White House Task Force on Waste Prevention. "Today's events and the participants show that many are ready and willing to meet this challenge. By working together in communities across the country, like we are in our nation's capital today, we can make sure these products are increasingly handled as valuable resources and not waste."
Many communities have planned additional recycling events over the weekend and throughout the month. For information about event in your area, visit: http://www.americarecyclesday.org/
Symposium Examines Toxic Side of ElectronicsSAN JOSE, California,
November 15, 2002 (ENS) - Delegates representing more than 20 organizations from 10 countries arrived in San Jose this week to bring international attention to the health and environmental impacts of the high tech electronics industry.
The delegates in San Jose for the first Global Symposium for a Sustainable High-Tech Industry include former semiconductor workers suffering from cancer, health care professionals specializing in the illnesses of technology workers and their children, environmental, labor and health and safety organizations.
"High tech manufacturing requires the use of thousands of toxics chemicals. We've known for more than three decades that the manufacturing of computer chips requires many toxic chemicals and that workers have been getting sick from exposure to those chemicals," said Ted Smith, executive director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. "We invited the Semiconductor Industry Association to meet with us and explain to us what they are they were doing to protect workers' health. They declined our invitation, so we are coming to meet with them."
Jim McCourt of PHASE II, a health and safety organization in Scotland that is working with Scottish employees of National Semiconductor who are suffering from cancer, said "it is time for the high-tech industry to demonstrate corporate responsibility."
"We were able to get a health study done in Scotland, and it proved that there are high cancer rates. If we can do it, I don't see why the industry can't make it a priority to undertake a similar study," McCourt added. "The semiconductor industry must face up to the fact that their workers are dying. By not being forthcoming, they are further tarnishing the industry's reputation. We implore the regulators in the US to undertake a comprehensive, definitive health study of exposed workers."
McCourt referred to an announcement last year by health officials in the United Kingdom who found higher than expected rates of several types of cancer in workers at a National Semiconductor plant in Greenock, Scotland. The plant was investigated after myriad health complaints began to surface there.
Sam Lin, a Taiwanese environmentalist, highlighted the case RCA in Taiwan. RCA had manufacturing operations in Taiwan from the 1970's until the mid-1980s.
"RCA left Taiwan, but left severely contaminated groundwater, and more than hundreds of workers suffering from cancer," Lin said. "More than 200 have died and more than 100 hundred have various tumors. RCA left severely contaminated groundwater and soil. This site contamination is considered among the worst in history."
Dr. Orapun Metadilogkul a pioneer in occupational health and safety spoke out on behalf of workers in Thailand. She says a company has retaliated against her because of her advocacy, and she lost her job.
"Cancer's timetable won't wait," said Mandy Hawes, a San Jose attorney who represents hundreds of electronics workers and their families who are suffering from cancer, birth defects and other serious illnesses.
"People who have been exposed to cancer causing chemicals can't wait forever for the problems to be corrected. More and more workers are dying and many others are developing new cancers and we need dramatic action to save lives now, not several more years from now," Hawes said.
Among those attending the symposium are delegates from organizations and institutions in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, Scotland, England, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and Hong Kong. The International Campaign For Responsible Technology (ICRT), a project of the Silicon Valley Toxic Coalition, organized the symposium.
For more information about the conference, visit: http://www.svtc.org/svtc/
Congress Passes Pipeline Safety BillWASHINGTON, DC,
November 15, 2002 (ENS) - Congress has passed a pipeline safety bill that will strengthen pipeline safety laws and reauthorize existing programs.
The House passed the Pipeline Infrastructure Protection to Enhance Security and Safety Act (HR 3609) early Friday morning, after the Senate passed the bill late Wednesday. The bill now heads to the White House, where President George W. Bush is expected to sign the measure.
The pipeline safety bill will "improve pipelines operational efficiency, provide better protections and training for pipeline workers and increase safety for residents who live near our pipelines," said Representative Don Young, the Alaska Republican who sponsored the House version of the legislation.
The push for new pipeline safety legislation began in 1999, after a pipeline explosion killed three people in Bellingham, Washington, and destroyed miles of stream and forest habitat. Momentum for the bill picked up after an August 2000 explosion killed 12 people camping along a river in Carlsbad, New Mexico.
"Today, families in Washington state and across the country can breathe easier knowing that the pipelines near their schools, offices and homes will now be subject to tough, new safety standards," said Senator Patty Murray, the Washington Democrat who crafted the Senate version of the bill. "After three long years of work in the Senate, we have finally enacted legislation that will protect our communities from senseless tragedy."
The final version of the bill requires inspections of every mile of every pipeline pipeline in the U.S. at least once over the next decade, and then at least once every seven years. Pipelines near large urban centers will be required to be inspected more frequently.
The measure also raises the maximum penalty for pipeline safety violations from $100,000 to $1 million. The bill increases state oversight of pipeline safety matters, expands requirements for the public disclosure of pipeline hazards, and initiates environmental reviews that could lead to quicker pipeline repairs.
The House and Senate negotiated a compromise between earlier versions of the bill this fall, and the measure was included in an omnibus energy bill that included many of the Bush administration's more controversial energy proposals, including opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration.
When it became apparent earlier this week that the energy bill would not pass this year, the pipeline measure was reintroduced as a separate bill, and quickly passed by both branches of Congress.
Allied Waste Fined for Refrigerant ViolationsBOSTON, Massachusetts,
November 15, 2002 (ENS) - Allied Waste Systems, Inc. has agreed to pay a $782,550 civil penalty and spend $2.3 million on an environmental project to settle charges that it improperly disposed of ozone damaging refrigerants.
The settlement stems from violations of provisions of the Clean Air Act that are intended to protect the stratospheric ozone layer from the harmful effects of certain chemicals, known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These chemicals, found in coolants, are known to cause the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer, which protects the earth's surface from harmful ultraviolet radiation.
Under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, waste haulers who dispose of household appliances which may contain CFCs or HCFCs, including refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners, must take steps to ensure that these chemicals are not released to the atmosphere.
The settlement "is indicative of EPA's strong commitment to improve environmental conditions in urban areas, especially communities such as Roxbury which has among the highest asthma rates in the state," said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office.
A civil complaint filed with the consent decree charges that between July 1997 and August 1998, Allied compacted or crushed discarded appliances collected under a trash pick up contract with the city of Boston, without either recovering any remaining refrigerant from the appliances, or verifying that the refrigerant was already removed from the appliances. Upon learning of EPA's inspections, Allied, the nation's second largest waste hauler, corrected the improper disposal practice.
"My office will continue aggressively to enforce the federal statutes that protect our environment," said U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan. "The Earth's ozone layer protects us all from harmful solar rays that can cause skin cancer, and the Clean Air Act is an essential tool in protecting the ozone layer. Waste haulers across the country must strictly comply with the federal ozone protection requirements."
The consent decree requires Allied to spend at least $2.3 million on a supplemental environmental project involving the construction of a new building at Allied's Roxbury transfer station and installing state of the art emissions control technology capable of reducing dust, odors and volatile organic compounds. This will improve aesthetics and provide for more efficient waste transfer operations.
Allied must also conduct appropriate training of employees who are engaged in activities concerning the collection and disposal of appliances, and implement a tracking system for all appliances picked up by Allied in the city of Boston in order to ensure future compliance with the regulatory requirements.
Recovery Plan Drafted for Bull TroutWASHINGTON, DC,
November 15, 2002 (ENS) - After almost three years of research and public input, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has proposed designating critical habitat for the bull trout along 18,468 miles of streams, and 537,722 acres of lakes and reservoirs,in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.
The agency issued a draft recovery plan for three distinct populations of threatened bull trout in the Columbia River Basin, the Klamath River Basin and the St. Mary-Belly River Basin. Critical habitat is being proposed only in the Columbia and Klamath river basins at this time.
In January 2002, the USFWS and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild Swan reached a court settlement establishing a schedule for the proposal of critical habitat for bull trout. The two environmental groups sued the USFWS for not designating critical habitat after listing bull trout in 1998 and 1999 as threatened throughout its range in the lower 48 states. The agency said budget constraints prevented it from completing critical habitat determinations at that time.
"We are grateful to the states, tribes, watershed councils, private landowners and representatives of industry and conservation groups who spent so much time working with our biologists to determine what it will take to protect and recover this wide-ranging but declining species," said Anne Badgley, USFWS Pacific regional director.
The bull trout is threatened by habitat degradation and fragmentation, blockage of migratory corridors, poor water quality, past fisheries management, and the introduction of non-native species such as brown, lake and brook trout. While bull trout occur over a large area, many of the populations are small and isolated from each other, making them more susceptible to local extinctions.
Many landowners continue to take actions that may harm bull trout, emphasizing the need for a master recovery plan and critical habitat designation. On Thursday, a federal judge ordered an Idaho rancher to stop using a decades old irrigation diversion that poses harm to bull trout.
U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued a permanent injunction that bars rancher Verl Jones from taking water out of Otter Creek, a tributary to Panther Creek in the Salmon River Basin of central Idaho. Jones uses the water for his livestock operation near Challis, Idaho.
The decision, issued Thursday in favor of plaintiffs Western Watersheds Project (WWP) and the Committee for the High Desert, marks one of the few times a court has halted a water diversion to prevent harm to fish listed under the Endangered Species Act.
"This decision affirms that farmers and ranchers cannot violate the Endangered Species Act," said WWP executive director Jon Marvel. "If listed fish continue to be harmed by irrigators, they either have to change their ways or risk losing use of their diversions."
The USFWS will collect public comments on the critical habitat proposal and the draft recovery plan over the next few months. For more information or to submit comments, visit: http://species.fws.gov/bulltrout
International Peace Park Faces Multiple ThreatsFORT COLLINS, Colorado,
November 15, 2002 (ENS) - Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, which straddles the Montana-Alberta border, is at risk from global pollution, inadequate funding, and haphazard development, warns a new report from the the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA).
The park includes more than a million acres of mountain and forest wilderness straddling the Continental Divide.
"Waterton-Glacier remains largely unchanged since it was designated the world's first peace park by the U.S. and Canadian governments in 1932," said Mark Peterson, director of the NPCA State of the Parks program, which conducted the study.
"It is the heart of one of the continent's most pristine wild areas and includes naturally occurring populations of all native large predators," Peterson continued. "But our study found that park wildlife and the wild lands on which these species depend are jeopardized by threats that could seriously degrade the park."
The peace park is composed of America's Glacier National Park and Canada's Waterton Lakes National Park. Such multi-national parks are created to facilitate cooperation among nations in protecting wildlife and wild places that span international boundaries.
The NPCA study, the first to examine the conditions and resource trends for both sides of the peace park, uncovered threats to natural resources that include:
The most critical issue facing the peace park is lack of sufficient funding and of personnel to reduce park threats, the report says. Glacier National Park, which covers one million of the peace park's 1.1 million acres, lacks adequate operating funds for needed projects and is burdened by $400 million in delayed maintenance needs.
Other threats include a plan for an open pit coalmine in the unsettled Canadian Flathead River region and highway expansions and other land development that will bring more traffic into areas traversed by wildlife such as wolves and threatened grizzly bears. Nonnative fish that migrated into the park from Flathead Lake are crowding out dwindling native bull trout, and nonnative plants have been introduced by unauthorized livestock grazing along park borders.
And under current warming trends, the park's namesake glaciers will vanish by 2030. The report's 10 year forecast for native biodiversity and freshwater systems is "likely to deteriorate."
The full report, "Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park: A Resource Assessment," is available at: http://www.eparks.org/glacier
Telerobots Aid in Hazwaste CleanupOAK RIDGE, Tennessee,
November 15, 2002 (ENS) - Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are developing robotics technology that can aid in the cleanup of hazardous waste sites.
The telerobotic manipulation system enables cleanup efforts to be conducted remotely from a distant location, performing chores that would have to otherwise be done on site by humans.
Developed by the Department of Energy's (DOE) Robotics Crosscutting program, the system may be used in the future to clean up hazardous waste sites under DOE jurisdiction, and may have additional future uses for various cleanup tasks.
The compact remote control console, which is the front end of the system, provides the operator with the ability to manipulate the telerobot that performs the actual cleanup work.
It includes four monitors for remote task viewing, two touch screen based graphical user interface computers, a telerobotic control computer and hand controllers to command the robot manipulator to complete cleanup tasks.
The compact console was developed by DOE to control the costs of deploying remote systems while maintaining a high level of control. Several compact consoles have been used around the United States for various cleanup tasks.
The compact console component of the telerobotic manipulation system is now available commercially from Agile Engineering of Knoxville.
The telerobotics part of the system combines human input and robotics automation to complete cleanup tasks. The current focus is plasma arc cutting of metal structures to dismantle contaminated equipment.
The testing of the equipment comes during a time when there is an increasing need for remote systems and robotics for cleanup of DOE facilities. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a multiprogram science and technology laboratory managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.
Clean Air Campaign Targets Minnesota School BusesST. PAUL, Minnesota,
November 15, 2002 (ENS) - The Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance (OEA) and the Sierra Club have launched a Cleaner Bus School outreach campaign to protect school children in every school district in Minnesota from toxic school bus diesel fumes.
The Cleaner Bus School campaign's tools - including camera ready "Clean Air Zone" and "No Idling" signs, model notices to bus drivers and parents, and a brochure listing grants to help schools protect students from diesel fumes - will help Minnesota schools implement a new law adopted in Minnesota to reduce children's exposure to school bus diesel pollution.
The 2002 law requires schools to minimize school bus idling and ensure that diesel emissions are not pulled into classrooms through air intake vents.
"Our office is committed to helping schools reduce diesel bus fumes that put children at risk and harm Minnesota's environment," explained Sherry Enzler, director of the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance.
"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that diesel fumes contain 40 toxic chemicals, including 15 carcinogens," Enzler continued. "We are taking the unprecedented step of reaching out to every school in the state to support superintendents and principals. We must work together to implement the new no idling law and cut down on diesel emissions."
The Sierra Club is offering schools a chance to enroll online or by mail as a "Cleaner Bus School." In addition to receiving model "no idling" letters and camera ready art for signs and posters, Cleaner Bus Schools will receive information on federal, state, and private sources of funds for alternative fuels, such as biodiesel, cleaner bus technology and parking redesign.
At the end of the year, the Sierra Club and other nonprofit organizations supporting the Cleaner Bus School outreach campaign will recognize schools for their efforts in reducing students' exposure to school bus fumes.
"Recent research published by Yale University found that children in school buses are exposed to five to 15 times the level of asthma and cancer causing particles inside the school bus as on nearby streets," said Paula Maccabee, program coordinator of Sierra Club's Minnesota Air Toxics Campaign. "Schools can take simple steps to reduce exposure such as eliminate idling and park buses on a diagonal and away from air intake vents. In the long run, cleaner fuels and technologies will reduce the risk that our children will suffer asthma today or cancer over their lifetimes."
Other organizations supporting the Cleaner Bus Schools outreach campaign include the American Lung Association of Minnesota, the Minnesota Children's Health Environmental Coalition, and the Women's Cancer Resource Center.
"Asthma rates in school children are increasing," said Tim Gerlach, outdoor air program director of the American Lung Association of Minnesota. "This collaborative campaign to reduce idling and clean up school buses gives Minnesota a chance, with very minimal cost, to reduce one of the known triggers of asthma and upper respiratory disease in children."
For more information, visit: http://www.northstar.sierraclub.org/studentzone.htm
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