Tag Archive for EPA

Testament–Why I Am Testifying At The EPA Coal Ash Hearings

Several weeks ago, I signed up to testify at an environmental hearing, something that I’ve never done before.  Why?  Not because of any special expertise, although I’ve been involved and concerned about environmental issues all of my life, and written about this issue multiple times on my blog and elsewhere.

Rather, it is because I am a citizen of this country who lives in an area that is deeply and detrimentally impacted by the poor regulation of the coal industry and the toxic impact it has on our environment. The Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of holding hearings throughout the country regarding proposed plans to regulate  coal ash ponds like the one that was breached in Tennessee in 2008, causing horrific damage. This week there will be a hearing in Louisville, KY where I live.

Currently, these ponds are virtually unregulated.  But despite being a news reading junkie, until the Tennessee disaster, I had no idea these things even existed, let alone that their owners were apparently on the honor system in regard to their safety.

This map, via the Sierra Club, gives a great graphic understanding of how many of these disposal sites there are in the U.S. (see here as well for an excellent list of resources to learn more about this horrific problem).

So call it an act of patriotism, or just a variation on the subject matter of my usual ranting and raving, but I decided to participate and to tell the Environmental Protection Agency that as a citizen, I expect them to do what their name implies.  Here is my testimony:

Testimony for the EPA Coal Ash Residuals Public Hearing
Louisville, KY Sept. 28, 2010

My name is Lucinda Marshall and I’ve lived in Louisville, KY for more than 20 years and I’m appalled that it wasn’t until after the Tennessee coal ash disaster that I became aware that we have toxic coal ash ponds right here in metropolitan Louisville.

According to the Sierra Club, in the state of Kentucky alone we have 44 ponds at 17 plants, 7 of which are rated as high hazards, and 5 as significant hazards.  This is unacceptable.

After the incredible damage caused by the Tennessee pond breach, I am particularly horrified that these things are located in the middle of a large population center such as Louisville.  If such a disaster happened here, the damage it would cause would be unimaginable and far worse than the Tennessee disaster.

Given that, I absolutely can’t understand how the EPA can consider anything but the most stringent guidelines for these facilities with the ultimate goal of making them illegal.  It is beyond belief that these wastes are still considered exempt from such regulation.

There has been report after report documenting the highly negative impact that coal has on our environment as well as on human health.  I am particularly concerned about the impact on pregnant women and children.

And all that talk about how coal is good for the economy?  That sure hasn’t worked out so well in Kentucky which remains one of the poorest, least educated and least healthy states in the nation and no amount of building golf courses where amputated mountaintops used to stand will change that.

The people of Kentucky, the southeast and the entire nation deserve the right to a clean environment that is not being poisoned because of corporate malfeasance and greed and it is incumbent on the Environmental Protection Agency to do what its name implies and stringently regulate coal ash disposal.

Thank you.


(Note:  There is a three minute time limit on on testimony that is presented publicly, thus the brevity of my statement, much more can and should be said.)

Eat Your Heart Out Purell

A few days ago, I saw an ad on television proclaiming that using Lysol will keep your countertops safe from H1N1 germs. This sounded hugely useful to me in case someone with the flu starts hacking and wiping snot all over your kitchen and bathroom because you certainly can’t inoculate a countertop and you wouldn’t want the poor thing to get sick. It also occurred to me that if there is a shortage of vaccine (although from news reports in recent days, it sounds like exactly the opposite is true and there is glut of the vaccine because apparently enough people aren’t properly scared), maybe we could all just spray ourselves with Lysol.

We don’t use commercial store-bought cleaners in our house because of asthma and chemical sensitivity issues.  That said, the house is clean and we  rarely get the flu not to mention we save a fortune every year by using such dirt cheap substitutes as baking soda, vinegar and wait for it…soap.

So being a tad cynical about these things (which you may have already gathered), I decided to take a little look-see at Lysol’s site which, after providing us with the facts about H1N1 (not that they want us to be scared or anything),  helpfully tells us which of their products will kill it:

  • LYSOL® Disinfectant Spray
  • LYSOL® Disinfecting Wipes
  • LYSOL® All Purpose Cleaners (both pourable and trigger products)

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Household Products Database, there are multiple versions of these products.  For Lysol Brand All Purpose Cleaner With Bleach (trigger bottle), the database provides the following information:

PRECAUTIONARY STATEMENT: Hazard to Humans and Domestic Animals. Warning: Causes eye and skin irritation. Do not get in eyes, on skin or clothing. Remove contaminated clothing and wash clothing before reuse. For sensitive skin or prolonged use, wear gloves. Odors may irritate. Use in well ventilated area. Avoid breathing of vapors. Not recommended for use by persons with heart or chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma, emphysema or obstructive lung disease. Harmful if swallowed.

Last I heard, the flu definitely qualifies as a respiratory disease, so why would you use this product to fight it?  I decided to look a tad further and what I found next just floored me–the Center for Disease Control specifically recommends Lysol by brand name! According to the Center For Disease Control’s “Ounce of Prevention Campaign:

Arming health educators and consumers with information as well as practical and useful tips on preventing infectious diseases, the Ounce of Prevention campaign was created by the National Center for Infectious Diseases, Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in partnership with Reckitt Benckiser, Inc., the makers of LYSOL® Brand Products.

Talk about a marketing coup!  Why Lysol instead of say Purell, whose dispensers have been popping up faster than dandelions in spring.  According to the EPA, there are a whopping 500 products that will kill Influenza A on hard non-porous surfaces.  Um wait a minute, weren’t we talking about H1N1?  Not to worry,

EPA believes, based on available scientific information, that the currently registered influenza A virus products will be effective against the 2009-H1N1 flu strain and other influenza A virus strains on hard, non-porous surfaces.

Guess we’ll have to take that on faith.  But many of these products, like Lysol are contraindicated for anyone with respiratory issues.  In addition, with mounting concerns about the overuse of antibiotics, both in people and in our food supply and cases of drug-resistant TB being reported there is also the concern that we are buying a huge risk with the over-use of these products.

But the big question remains, how did Lysol get the very cushy real estate on the CDC site which is tantamount to recommending it over other products.  You don’t have to look very far to find out just how incestuous the relationship is between the governmental bodies that oversee our health policies and corporate America.  Just recently, former CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding took a position with Merck & Co. in their vaccine division:

“I am very excited to be joining Merck where I can help to expand access to vaccines around the world,” added Gerberding, who will head up the company’s $5 billion global vaccine business that includes shots to prevent chickenpox, cervical cancer and  pneumonia.

The CDC under Gerberding has strongly recommended Merck’s Gardisil vaccine to protect against HPV and cervical cancer for all young girls, despite significant doubts as to whether this is good medical practice.  The vaccine  costs approximately $375 according to the CDC, which needless to say has enriched Merck’s coffers substantially.

The CDC has also strongly recommended the use of Tamiflu to fight the flu, but it’s effectiveness has also come under scrutiny:

Nick Fremantle and Melanie Calvert from the University of Birmingham reviewed additional studies and concluded the drug may reduce the risk of pneumonia in otherwise healthy people who get the flu, but the benefit is probably very small and needs to be weighed against potential side effects.

Stay tuned to find out which lucky CDC official will be jumping ship to go work for Lysol.  Eat your heart out Purell.