Farm Workers Back in Court to Fight Pesticide

Environmental groups are back in
court to challenge the use of the main pesticide
used in growing cherries and apples. Bob Allen
reports the environmentalists had set aside their
lawsuit while waiting for EPA to issue new rules
for applying the chemical during a phase-out period:

Transcript

Environmental groups are back in
court to challenge the use of the main pesticide
used in growing cherries and apples. Bob Allen
reports the environmentalists had set aside their
lawsuit while waiting for EPA to issue new rules
for applying the chemical during a phase-out period:


Azinphos-Methyl or AZM is a highly toxic chemical that
affects the nervous system. Last November, EPA released
stricter rules for applying it and they gave apple and
cherry growers another six years to phase it out.


Environmental groups say that’s much too long, and they’ve
taken up their suit again.


Shelley Davis is with Farmworker Justice. She says EPA was
supposed to weigh the cost to growers against the health
risks to workers and their families.


“The problem here is that EPA didn’t do that. All it did
was total up the financial benefit to the growers. And
that’s what we said to the court is not a fair deal.”


Regulators say growers need more time to learn to use
alternative pesticides.


For the Environment Report, I’m Bob Allen.

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Epa to Loosen Aluminum Rules?

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a new rule
on aluminum production that could trade one kind of
pollution for another. Dustin Dwyer reports that some are
skeptical of the plan:

Transcript

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a new rule
on aluminum production that could trade one kind of
pollution for another. Dustin Dwyer reports that some are
skeptical of the plan:


When you make aluminum for vehicles, there’s a leftover
sludge that can include some toxic chemicals. The EPA wants
to loosen regulations on that sludge.


It says that could encourage more auto manufacturers to use
aluminum instead of steel in vehicle bodies, and since
aluminum is lighter than steel, those vehicles would burn
less gas. Don McKenzie of the Union of Concerned Scientists
says he’s not sure it’s a good idea:


“Aluminum can help to get us more efficient vehicles. But we
shouldn’t need to be changing the rules around aluminum
production to get aluminum into vehicles.”


McKenzie says if the government imposed stricter fuel
economy standards, and kept the rules on aluminum sludge in
place, more automakers would be forced to use aluminum
anyway.


For the Environment Report, I’m Dustin Dwyer.

The fish and wildlife agency already has announced plans to
cut more than 250 jobs over the next three years. Further
cuts are expected soon.


The agency blames a flat budget and rising operational and
personnel costs, but Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for
Environmental Responsibility says visitors to the affected
refuges will find a less enjoyable experience at no real
savings in tax dollars:


“All the cutbacks in the refuge system are less than what
we’re spending in Iraq in a day. I mean to put it in some
perspective, we’re talking about literally millions of
dollars versus billions of dollars that are being
hemorrhaged out of other government operations.”


Democratic Congressman Ron Kind co-chairs a caucus on
wildlife refuges. He says he’ll try to address the job cuts
in the next federal budget.


For the Environment Report, I’m Chuck Quirmbach

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Defense Dept. To Clean Up Military Mess?

The Defense Department will be paying for a study to find ways to remove ammunition barrels the military dumped into Lake Superior during the Cold War. For 30 years, environmentalists have been asking the government to clean up the mess. Mike Simonson reports that the federal government is now paying for a study to find ways to remove the barrels:

Transcript

The Defense Department will be paying for a study to find ways to remove ammunition
barrels the military dumped into Lake Superior during the Cold War. For 30 years,
environmentalists have been asking the government to clean up the mess. Mike
Simonson reports that the federal government is now paying for a study to find ways to
remove the barrels:


The Red Cliff band of Lake Superior Chippewa will study ways
to remove the barrels of munitions. Documents show that between 1959
and 1962, the Department of Defense had 1,437 drums dumped into Lake
Superior. It amounts to about 400 tons of munitions containing toxic chemicals such as
PCBs, mercury, lead, chromium, benzene and even uranium.


Patricia DePerry is the Red Cliff Tribal Chairwoman. She says the barrels must be
removed:


“Not only the time is of essence, it’s the not knowing what the contaminants have been
doing at the bottom of the lake.”


DePerry says not only is the ecology of the lake at risk, but the barrels of munitions lie
within a quarter mile of Duluth, Minnesota’s drinking water intake.


For the Environment Report, I’m Mike Simonson.

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Dupont Agrees to Gradually Eliminate C-8

DuPont has agreed to take part in a new E-P-A program aimed at eliminating the use of a potentially toxic chemical. The chemical is known as C-8. And it’s used to make Teflon and other nonstick and stain-resistant products. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Fred Kight has the story:

Transcript

DuPont has agreed to take part in a new program aimed at eliminating
the use of a potentially toxic chemical. The chemical is known as C-8,
and it’s used to make Teflon and other nonstick and stain-resistant
products. The voluntary program was proposed by the EPA. The Great
Lakes Radio Consortium’s Fred Kight has the story:


The EPA wants DuPont and seven other chemical companies to
completely eliminate C-8 in the next nine years.


The effort is drawing praise from environmentalists. Timothy Kropp is a
senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group. He says finding
a substitute for C-8 can decrease pollution and damage to human health…


“This chemical is ubiquitous in people’s blood, and it’s persistent and
everywhere throughout the environment. It is such a wide ranging
chemical with so many concerns that it’s high time that someone took
care of this.”


One EPA official says this is a great opportunity for the industry to get
ahead of the curve and demonstrate leadership in protecting the
environment.


For the GLRC, I’m Fred Kight.

Related Links

Algae: The Missing PCB Link?

Toxic chemicals known as P-C-B’s haven’t been used in the U.S. for morethan two decades. But dangerous levels of P-C-B’s remain in the naturalenvironment and pose a threat to human health. To address this problem,scientists are trying to understand how these chemicals get into thefood chain. Now, a scientist at Northwestern University has found alikely answer. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Steve Frenkelreports:

Drinking Water Linked to Miscarriages

A new government-sponsored study of three California towns has turned up a potentially serious finding: that some tap water could be dangerous for pregnant women. The study is the first to find that high levels of chemicals used to disinfect water could increase the risk of miscarriage. That’s raised a red flag at the Environmental Protection Agency. And now the EPA’s moving quickly to see if the California findings hold true elsewhere. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Julie Edelson Halpert reports: