DuPont Agrees to Keep Teflon Chemical Out of Water
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, November 21, 2006 (ENS) - E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. has signed an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) setting a lowered interim screening level for perfluorooctanoic acid in drinking water sources around the DuPont Washington Works in West Virginia.
The EPA is establishing a much lower permissible level of of 0.50 parts per billion, ppb, for perfluorooctanoic acid – also known as PFOA or C8 - used in the manufacture of Teflon non-stick cookware and all-weather clothing.
This level replaces the 150 ppb threshold set in 2002 as a temporary measure to reduce levels of PFOA exposure for residents while the EPA completes research required for a risk assessment.
Under the EPA order, the company will offer alternative drinking water or treatment to people living near DuPont's Washington Works facility if the level of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, detected in drinking water is equal to or greater than 0.50 ppb.
A synthetic chemical not currently regulated under federal law, PFOA is persistent in the environment and is found at low levels both in the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population, the EPA warns. Studies indicate that PFOA can cause developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals.
The EPA has not ruled out lowering the PFOA threshold even more, after assessing the amount of PFOA that people can be exposed to without experiencing adverse health effects.
A preliminary EPA risk assessment released in 2003 found that PFOA at levels close to those currently found in women’s blood might pose a developmental risk to children.
“By agreeing to a stricter PFOA action level now in the vicinity of the facility, EPA and DuPont are taking additional steps to protect local public health while EPA completes a risk assessment for PFOA,” said Donald Welsh, regional administrator for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region.
"We agree with the EPA that exposures should be reduced among residents in the local West Virginia and Ohio communities through the establishment of this precautionary level for drinking water," said Bill Hopkins, plant manager, Washington Works.
"We are well underway in implementing the measures set forth in this agreement by offering alternative water supplies to community residents, and have made significant progress in applying granular activated carbon treatment technology to successfully remove PFOA in three area water districts," Hopkins said.
In 2004, DuPont disputed a study finding that exposure to PFOA causes an increased risk of cancer. The study found plant workers and neighbors whose drinking water contains the perfluorinated compound have cancer rates several times higher than those of the general population.
The study was conducted by James Dahlgren, a toxicologist at the University of California - Los Angeles, on behalf of plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit filed against DuPont. The 2001 suit alleges that DuPont knowingly contaminated local water systems with PFOA and that the chemical causes adverse health effects.
Dalgren found that plant neighbors and DuPont workers have similar kinds of cancer, with elevated rates for prostate cancer in young men and cervical and uterine cancer in women. They also found higher rates of uncommon cancers, such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple myeloma.
DuPont’s Washington Works plant, located on the Ohio River, has used PFOA for more than 50 years. For most of that time, DuPont released PFOA into the air, local landfills, and the adjacent Ohio River.
Now, Dupont says the company has reduced PFOA emissions from U.S. facilities by 97 percent since 2000 as part of a voluntary commitment to the under the EPA 2010/15 PFOA Stewardship Program.
Companies that use PFOA have committed to reduce the chemical from emissions and product content by 95 percent by 2010, and to work toward eliminating PFOA emissions and content by 2015.
For more information on PFOA and the stewardship program, visit www.epa.gov/oppt/pfoa/
The text of the consent agreement is here, and a fact sheet with more details on the order is here.
Groups Petition New Mexico Over Roadless Forest Streams
SANTA FE, New Mexico, November 21, 2006 (ENS) - A coalition of conservation and wildlife groups has asked the state of New Mexico to protect some of the cleanest waters that flow from its roadless national forests.
The groups filed a formal petition with the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission to name the waters inside of the Inventoried Roadless Areas on the Santa Fe National Forests above the cities of Pecos and Las Vegas as Outstanding National Resource Waters, ONRWs, a Clean Water Act designation.
In total, the nomination calls for the protection of more than 100 miles of waterways.
Among the streams nominated for protection are the Pecos and Gallinas rivers and many of their tributaries, which provide abundant habitat for fish and wildlife and recreational opportunities. The rivers provide municipal drinking water and water for traditional agriculture downstream.
The groups filing the petition are Forest Guardians, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, and the Sierra Club.
"This is our legacy for future generations - a secure source of clean and abundant water," said Bryan Bird, Forest Program director for Forest Guardians.
"Worth $42 million annually, we want to be certain the clean, abundant waters of these forests are passed on to our children as well as the wildlife that depend upon functional ecosystems," said Bird.
The New Mexico state fish, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, occupies a number of these waters.
The petition is a part of a strategy that responds to the Bush administration’s repeal of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule of 2001.
Although a California judge ruled last month that President George W. Bush’s roadless area policy violates the National Environmental Policy Act, the Bush administration has made it clear that it does not intend to reinstate the Roadless Area Conservation Rule established by President Bill Clinton.
This leaves 58.5 million acres of roadless areas across the country and 1.6 million in New Mexico unprotected from logging, mining, and oil and gas development.
"The quality of the water in our streams and rivers is dangerously degraded and likewise the quantity has diminished," said Luis Torres, a lifetime resident of northern New Mexico. "This trend must be stopped and then reversed if coming generations are to inherit an inhabitable world from us."
If designated as ONRWs by the Commission, the quality of the waters in these roadless forests can never be polluted beyond their current condition.
Broad water protections are not unprecedented. States such as Montana and Wyoming have named all surface waters in national parks, national wilderness or primitive areas as Outstanding National Resource Waters.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has just announced his Year of Water agenda, a $100 million package including funding for conservation and environmental restoration. The petitioners say their action complements and supports the governor’s water agenda.
Arizona's Tough Mercury Power Plant Cuts Get Green LightPHOENIX, Arizona, November 21, 2006 (ENS) - Regulations developed by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, ADEQ, to cut toxic mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants have been unanimously approved by the Governor's Regulatory Review Council, the state body required to review regulations of state agencies before they can become law.
The ADEQ's mercury rule requires coal-burning power plants in Arizona to cut their mercury emissions by 90 percent by December 31, 2013.
The rule also requires consideration of new, less-polluting technologies on plants built in Arizona in the future.
"Mercury contamination caused by emissions from coal-burning power plants is a serious, growing problem for Arizona and across the country," said ADEQ Director Steve Owens. "This rule will help protect children and families in Arizona from exposure to harmful mercury contamination."
Mercury is a toxic substance that can be rapidly absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, leading to serious health effects including cardiovascular impacts, immune system and reproductive problems, adverse effects on the central nervous system, kidneys and liver, and death.
Infants, children and pregnant women are at increased risk for mercury toxicity. Mercury can cause IQ deficits and other neurological disorders in children as a result of fetal exposures.
Coal-burning power plants are the largest human source of mercury emissions to the air in the United States, accounting for over 40 percent of all domestic human-caused mercury emissions.
Mercury emissions have contaminated a number of water bodies in Arizona. The ADEQ has issued fish consumption advisories at 10 lakes in Arizona because of mercury contamination, including Parker Canyon, Pena Blanca and Arivaca in southern Arizona; Alamo Lake, Upper and Lower Lake Mary, Soldier Lake, Soldier Annex, Long Lake in and Lyman Lake in northern Arizona.
Twenty-two states have adopted or are pursuing mercury regulations more stringent than the federal Clean Air Mercury Rule, adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in March 2005. The federal rule opens the way for a mercury emissions trading market.
California Cuts Volatile Organic Compounds in Common ProductsSAN FRANCISCO, California, November 21, 2006 (ENS) - The California Air Resources Board, the state agency responsible for cleaning California's air, Friday adopted regulations that will diminish the amount of volatile organic compounds, VOCs, in consumer products.
"Technology is developing which allows the refinement of these products so that they are less environmentally damaging," said Air Resources Board Chairman Dr. Robert Sawyer.
"This regulation is the result of a cooperative effort with industry," said Sawyer. "It provides California with more environmentally sound products while maintaining a level playing field for businesses."
This regulation is part of a series which, by 2010, will reduce consumer product VOC emissions in California by 40 percent.
Exposure to VOCs can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea, damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"Some organics can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans," the federal agency says on its website.
VOCs are found in consumer products such as detergents, cleaning compounds, polishes, floor finishes, cosmetics, antiperspirants, hairsprays, disinfectants, sanitizers, automotive specialty products, and aerosol paints as well as home, lawn and garden products.
Research has shown that, in total, these products expel 240 tons per day, or about 11 percent of the state's total VOC emissions. The new regulations will reduce emissions in California by nearly 12 tons per day by 2012.
Most products will need to comply by December 31, 2008, while the others will have until December 31, 2010.
ARB staff has determined that the total cost for the regulation will come to $20 million per year, or about $2.35 per pound of VOC reduced. Consumers may see a price increase of about six cents per unit.
Court Gives Florida Realtor Go-Ahead if Wetlands ProtectedJACKSONVILLE, Florida, November 21, 2006 (ENS) - A U.S. District Court in Jacksonville has upheld a Regional General Permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the St. Joe Company to implement environmental and development planning for 48,150 acres in Florida's Walton and Bay Counties.
The court rejected a legal challenge brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Florida Sierra Club against the Corps that sought to stop implementation of this watershed level approach to environmental permitting.
In rejecting the legal challenge, the court vacated its previously granted injunction halting further implementation of the Regional General Permit, RGP, issued in 2004.
“We believe that the court made the wise and correct decision today in vacating the preliminary injunction, rejecting the legal challenge and allowing the RGP to proceed as planned,”said Peter Rummell, chairman and CEO of JOE, a publicly held Jacksonville firm and one of Florida's largest real estate companies.
More than 70 percent of the land covered by the RGP, approximately 33,000 acres that includes high quality wetlands, will be permanently protected. Development is allowed on 30 percent of the land, or about 15,000 acres.
The RGP is the result of an interagency comprehensive regional planning effort in which the Corps, the state of Florida, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and JOE participated.
“Protection of water resources is critical to ensure the high-quality of the surface water for the residents of the region,” said Rummell. “The plan implemented by this RGP also creates a wildlife corridor extending from Choctawhatchee Bay to St. Andrews Bay to protect and preserve forever the ecological integrity and biological diversity of one of Northwest Florida’s most important watersheds.”
After over three years of discussions and meetings with state and federal agencies, on August 15, 2003, The St. Joe Company requested that the Department enter into a binding Ecosystem Management Agreement, EMA, for dredge/fill, stormwater and wetland mitigation banking activities within a designated EMA area in Western Bay and Eastern Walton counties.
Implementation of the EMA meets all applicable standards and criteria, and includes commitments by the St. Joe Company to operational, mitigation and conservation conditions that exceed current applicable regulatory requirements.
The Ecosystem Management Agreement is the winner of The 2005 Sustainable Florida Governmental Award.
Green Day Rocks With Natural Resources Defense CouncilNEW YORK, New York, November 21, 2006 (ENS) - Rock band Green Day and the Natural Resources Defense Council today announced the Move America Beyond Oil campaign to mobilize and empower music fans to demand clean, renewable energy solutions that break America's dependence on oil.
"This campaign is about channeling the power of millions into something positive and powerful. People are sick of our oil addiction and feel like nobody is doing anything about it," said Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day's lead singer and guitarist.
s "The solutions are there, the support is there, but the leadership is not," Armstrong said. "Our message is that it's okay, and very rebellious, to take on that responsibility."
Find Move America Beyond Oil campaign online at: www.greendaynrdc.com, where visitors can see exclusive video messages from the band and send personal messages directly to political leaders straight from the site with a few keystrokes.
NRDC has used similar online tools to send millions of messages to lawmakers and corporate leaders in a variety of successful campaigns. With Green Day, they are reaching a whole new generation of online activists.
Visitors will also have access to a brand new tool that allows them to send text messages directly from their cell phones to lawmakers and corporate leaders, no matter where they are, simply by sending "GD" to 30644.
The campaign kicks off with a message to President George W. Bush calling for better fuel economy performance standards in our cars, more support for biofuels, and sensible global warming pollution limits like those recently adopted in California and other states.
"Oil and auto industry lobbyists have kept good options off the table for too long," said NRDC President Frances Beinecke. "Reliable, renewable solutions like wind and solar energy, or hybrid technology in our cars and trucks are ready to go right now. They save energy, cut emissions and create jobs. So what is Washington waiting for?"