Tag: Pollution

This is Completely Unsurprising

It turns out that former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder knew about the dangerous toxicity of the City of Flint’s new water supply months before he admitted it.

In fact, he knew before there were any adverse health consequences, and he knew tht there WOULD be adverse health consequences, which makes him a murderer.

Here is hoping that he goes to jail for a very long time:

During the inauguration of his successor, outgoing Michigan Governor Rick Snyder needed a favor.

At the January 2019 event, Snyder approached Karen Weaver, who was then the mayor of Flint, a city of nearly 100,000 people that was still reeling from financial decay and a toxic-water crisis. He asked whether she could meet with Congressman Elijah Cummings.

“You have a lot of influence with him,” Weaver remembered a worried Snyder saying to her about Cummings. At the time, Cummings was the incoming chairman of the powerful U.S. House Oversight Committee.

Throughout the water crisis, Cummings led the charge as Congress demanded Snyder and his administration provide more information about what he knew about the poisonous water that ravaged the impoverished majority-minority Rust Belt city after it switched water sources to the corrosive Flint River in 2014, and when he knew it. More specifically, Cummings pushed for more information on when Snyder first learned of the lethal Legionella pneumophila bacterial outbreak in Flint. Snyder testified to Congress that he first became aware of Legionella in January 2016 and held a press conference the next day. Flint residents didn’t believe the governor; their doubt intensified after Harvey Hollins, the director of the state’s Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives office, contradicted the governor, testifying to Congress that he informed Snyder about Flint’s Legionella outbreak in December 2015.

Back at the inauguration, Weaver said, Snyder asked her to get Cummings to “back off” from investigating him, emphasizing that he wanted to move on with his life as a private citizen. He said “it would go a long way” if the request to the congressman came from her, Weaver recalled to VICE. Weaver’s former spokesperson, Candice Mushatt, as well as two other sources, confirmed that she had described the governor’s request to them after it occurred. (Snyder did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story).


After a VICE investigation spanning a year and a half across the state of Michigan, overwhelming evidence indicates Snyder had good reason to worry.

Hundreds of confidential pages of documents obtained by VICE, along with emails and interviews, reveal a coordinated, five-year cover-up overseen by Snyder and his top officials to prevent news of Flint’s deadly water from going public—while there was still time to save lives—and then limit the damage after the crisis made global headlines.

All told, the waterborne bacterial disease may have killed at least 115 people in 2014 and 2015, and potentially more whose pneumonia wasn’t officially considered Legionnaires’ disease, the illness caused by Legionella. In addition to the outbreak, Flint’s water supply was contaminated with lead and other heavy metals, harmful bacteria, carcinogens, and other toxic components. This wreaked havoc on Flint residents, leaving them with a laundry list of illnesses, including kidney and liver problems, severe bone and muscle pain, gastrointestinal problems, loss of teeth, autoimmune diseases, neurological deficiencies, miscarriages, Parkinson’s disease, severe fatigue, seizures, and volatile mood disorders.


VICE has learned that prosecutors leading the criminal investigation secretly subpoenaed key members of Snyder’s inner circle, including chief of staff Dennis Muchmore, Snyder’s “fixer” and top adviser Rich Baird, and state treasurer Andy Dillon, as they built a case against the governor. Documents reveal the governor’s chief legal counsel, Beth Clement, knew Snyder’s top officials were subpoenaed by prosecutors, suggesting Snyder knew as well (a spokesperson for Clement, now a judge, said she couldn’t comment on a case pending in any court). The aggressive investigation into Snyder may explain why the governor’s office’s legal fees, paid for by state taxpayers, came to at least $8.5 million in the years after the water crisis made national headlines.

Snyder and his administration were investigated by a team led by special prosecutor Todd Flood from 2016 to 2019. The team concluded that the administration had “committed conspiracies of ongoing crimes, like an organized crime unit,” a source with knowledge of the probe told VICE.

But before a case against Snyder could develop, the state’s newly appointed attorney general, Dana Nessel, fired top prosecutors and investigators pursuing the case.

Investigative subpoena documents obtained by VICE, along with details from sources with knowledge of the Flint water criminal prosecution, reveal that:

  • Snyder was warned about the dangers of using the Flint River as a water source a year before the water switch even occurred.
  • Snyder had knowledge of the Legionella outbreak in Flint as early as October 2014, six months after the water switch—and 16 months earlier than he claimed to have learned of the deadly outbreak in testimony under oath before Congress.
  • communication among Snyder, his top officials, and the state health department spiked in October 2014 around the same time state environmental and health officials traded emails and calls about the Legionella outbreak in Flint.

According to sources familiar with the criminal investigation, as well as Flint residents VICE spoke to, during those 16 months, Snyder’s top advisor, Baird, attempted to pay off sick Flint residents to keep quiet and silenced a whistleblower sounding alarms over the city using the Flint River while there was still time to save lives. And Snyder himself “punished” Weaver, Flint’s mayor, she said, after she repeatedly refused his administration’s requests for her to declare the water safe in Flint to residents.

What follows is the full, never-before-told story behind the cover-up of a government poisoning tens of thousands of innocent people—and the ongoing, six-year-old crisis.

But that latter proposal wasn’t free of flaws either. Genesee County, which Flint is part of, was the majority owner of the proposed KWA; oddly, the county’s elected drain commissioner, Jeff Wright, doubled as KWA CEO. Wright had a checkered past: In 2005, he was accused of laundering funds during his 2000 drain commissioner campaign; he ultimately wasn’t charged and denied the allegations, but the FBI did seize his campaign records. Years later, Wright became an FBI informant.

In March 2013, more than a year before the Flint River switch, Stephen Busch, a supervisor with MDEQ’s drinking water division, emailed other environmental officials in preparation for a call about Flint’s water options with state treasurer Dillon, Busch, and MDEQ director Dan Wyant. Busch warned that continuous use of the Flint River would pose “an increased microbial risk to public health” along with an “increased risk of disinfection by-product (carcinogen)” to Flint residents.

In the investigative subpoena interview between treasurer Dillon and special prosecutor Flood obtained by VICE, Dillon didn’t deny that Busch repeated his email’s warnings on the call they had the same day. Soon after the call, a source familiar with the details of the Flint water criminal investigation told VICE that Dillon and MDEQ director Dan Wyant—whom, VICE learned, prosecutors interviewed—briefed Governor Snyder in person on Busch’s warning about the hazards of the Flint River.

By the time Snyder received Busch’s October 2014 memo about the potential for a dangerous bacteria to be in the water, Flint residents had already been poisoned for six months.

“The source of the outbreak may be the Flint municipal water,” state epidemiologist Shannon Johnson wrote in an email to colleagues on October 13, 2014. This was the same day General Motors announced it would discontinue using the Flint River because high levels of chloride in the river water corroded its parts. A state health spokesperson told VICE that Johnson couldn’t answer questions “due to the ongoing criminal investigation.”

“He’s a fixer, he’s an old-fashioned fixer,” a source familiar with the criminal investigation told VICE. Baird’s M.O. was “by any means possible: threaten, coerce, whatever, to fix these things for Snyder.”

Baird’s “fixing” for Snyder expanded as the water crisis unfolded, allegedly descending into identifying Flint residents who could damage Snyder—and trying to pay them off.

By 2017, Flint resident Adam Murphy had become ill with seizures, memory loss, and double vision. Things grew so bad he could no longer work as a millwright welder. His then-wife Christina developed severe skeletal and muscle pain. Their newborn son Declan’s umbilical cord blood tested positive for lead in 2016 (the CDC cites no safe lead level for children).

Angry and desperate for help, Adam unleashed his rage at a water-crisis town hall in January 2017. A police officer removed him from the event and said she’d connect him with a top state official who could help his family, Christina recalled to VICE. Adam’s outburst received attention in the Flint Journal and the Detroit News.

Weeks later, Baird, an imposing man with broad shoulders and white-grey hair, stood in the Murphys’ living room, bizarrely flanked by former Army National Guard colonel Scott W. Hiipakka, a state trooper, and Sheryl Thompson, an official from the state health department, according to Christina. Baird was there representing Snyder, or as he told them, his “best friend.” He told the Murphys that the Snyder administration would fully pay for a medical treatment for Adam called chelation therapy, which injects agents into the body to bind to heavy metals like lead and extract them.

The Murphys weren’t the only Flint family Baird allegedly tried to silence, according to sources familiar with the details of the criminal investigation.

According to Mays, Baird approached her in May 2018, not-so-subtly trying to pay her off.

“Rick and I are out at the end of the year, so we have nothing to lose,” Mays recalled Baird saying. Baird allegedly said he was so tired of Flint residents’ complaining and lacking appreciation for all Snyder had done for them that he unilaterally, without the governor knowing, decided to end free water-bottle sites throughout Flint.

Mays told VICE she offered Baird to shower in her home as a demonstration of how unsafe the water still was. She also emphasized the need for transparent, non-state or EPA-funded water testing.

Baird’s response wasn’t subtle, according to Mays. “How about I do this: If I come in and replace your interior plumbing, your fixtures, the water heater, and your service line, would that make you happy and would that make you quiet?”

She didn’t flinch: “I just looked at him and said ‘If you do that for everybody,’” she remembered. “He turned beet red.”

Unfortunately, it does appear that the Snyder coverup will work, because the statute of limitations will expire in just a few months.

Look Out Below

Interesting charts from Morgan Stanley. Recent drop of air pollution in 4 major Chinese cities. 2 conclusions. #Corona does 10 x more than EU Green Deal to environment. The drop in Chinese manufacturing is unseen in history and should bring Q1 GDP of China in negative territory pic.twitter.com/DRfh2wl6J9

— Gino Landuyt (@GinoLanduyt) February 14, 2020

If the Chinese economy is headed for an actual recession, we are headed for profoundly interesting times.

Not Only Choking the World, Making the World Glow in the Dark.

I am referring, of course, to the the oil and gas industry, which has taken to spreading highly radioactive well waste water on roads, and selling it as a deicer.

Seriously, energy companies exceed my imagination for rat-f%$#ery:


One day in 2017, Peter pulled up to an injection well in Cambridge, Ohio. A worker walked around his truck with a hand-held radiation detector, he says, and told him he was carrying one of the “hottest loads” he’d ever seen. It was the first time Peter had heard any mention of the brine being radioactive.

The Earth’s crust is in fact peppered with radioactive elements that concentrate deep underground in oil-and-gas-bearing layers. This radioactivity is often pulled to the surface when oil and gas is extracted — carried largely in the brine.………

Through a grassroots network of Ohio activists, Peter was able to transfer 11 samples of brine to the Center for Environmental Research and Education at Duquesne University, which had them tested in a lab at the University of Pittsburgh. The results were striking.

Radium, typically the most abundant radionuclide in brine, is often measured in picocuries per liter of substance and is so dangerous it’s subject to tight restrictions even at hazardous-waste sites. The most common isotopes are radium-226 and radium-228, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires industrial discharges to remain below 60 for each. Four of Peter’s samples registered combined radium levels above 3,500, and one was more than 8,500.


Peter’s samples are just a drop in the bucket. Oil fields across the country — from the Bakken in North Dakota to the Permian in Texas — have been found to produce brine that is highly radioactive. “All oil-field workers,” says Fairlie, “are radiation workers.” But they don’t necessarily know it.


Tanks, filters, pumps, pipes, hoses, and trucks that brine touches can all become contaminated, with the radium building up into hardened “scale,” concentrating to as high as 400,000 picocuries per gram. With fracking — which involves sending pressurized fluid deep underground to break up layers of shale — there is dirt and shattered rock, called drill cuttings, that can also be radioactive. But brine can be radioactive whether it comes from a fracked or conventional well; the levels vary depending on the geological formation, not drilling method. Colorado and Wyoming seem to have lower radioactive signatures, while the Marcellus shale, underlying Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York, has tested the highest. Radium in its brine can average around 9,300 picocuries per liter, but has been recorded as high as 28,500. “If I had a beaker of that on my desk and accidentally dropped it on the floor, they would shut the place down,” says Yuri Gorby, a microbiologist who spent 15 years studying radioactivity with the Department of Energy. “And if I dumped it down the sink, I could go to jail.”


In an investigation involving hundreds of interviews with scientists, environmentalists, regulators, and workers, Rolling Stone found a sweeping arc of contamination — oil-and-gas waste spilled, spread, and dumped across America, posing under-studied risks to the environment, the public, and especially the industry’s own employees. There is little public awareness of this enormous waste stream, the disposal of which could present dangers at every step — from being transported along America’s highways in unmarked trucks; handled by workers who are often misinformed and underprotected; leaked into waterways; and stored in dumps that are not equipped to contain the toxicity. Brine has even been used in commercial products sold at hardware stores and is spread on local roads as a de-icer.


he levels of radium in Louisiana oil pipes had registered as much as 20,000 times the limits set by the EPA for topsoil at uranium-mill waste sites. Templet found that workers who were cleaning oil-field piping were being coated in radioactive dust and breathing it in. One man they tested had radioactivity all over his clothes, his car, his front steps, and even on his newborn baby. The industry was also spewing waste into coastal waterways, and radioactivity was shown to accumulate in oysters. Pipes still laden with radioactivity were donated by the industry and reused to build community playgrounds. Templet sent inspectors with Geiger counters across southern Louisiana. One witnessed a kid sitting on a fence made from piping so radioactive they were set to receive a full year’s radiation dose in an hour. “People thought getting these pipes for free from the oil industry was such a great deal,” says Templet, “but essentially the oil companies were just getting rid of their waste.”

Oh, yeah, the oil companies are literally disposing of radioactive waste on playgrounds.

This is a complete mind f%$#.

Radioactive oil-and-gas waste is purposely spread on roadways around the country. The industry pawns off brine — offering it for free — on rural townships that use the salty solution as a winter de-icer and, in the summertime, as a dust tamper on unpaved roads.


“There is nothing to remediate it with,” says Avner Vengosh, a Duke University geochemist. “The high radioactivity in the soil at some of these sites will stay forever.” Radium-226 has a half-life of 1,600 years. The level of uptake into agricultural crops grown in contaminated soil is unknown because it hasn’t been adequately studied.


But the new buzzword in the oil-and-gas industry is “beneficial use” — transforming oil-and-gas waste into commercial products, like pool salts and home de-icers. In June 2017, an official with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources entered a Lowe’s Home Center in Akron and purchased a turquoise jug of a liquid de-icer called AquaSalina, which is made with brine from conventional wells. Used for home patios, sidewalks, and driveways — “Safe for Environment & Pets,” the label touts — AquaSalina was found by a state lab to contain radium at levels as high as 2,491 picocuries per liter. Stolz, the Duquesne scientist, also had the product tested and found radium levels registered about 1,140 picocuries per liter.


Mansbery said that he tested for heavy metals and saw “no red flags.” Asked if he tested for radioactive elements, he stated, “We test as required by the state law and regulatory agencies.”

Mr. Mansbery needs to be in jail, so do a lot of other people who are a part of this atrocity.

Looks Like FCC and SpaceX are in for a World of Hurt

It appears that the FCC’s approval of the SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation may have made a complete dog’s breakfast out of their review and approval process:

A battle for the sky is raging, and the heavens are losing. Upcoming mega constellations of satellites, designed to blanket Earth orbit in spacecraft beaming high-speed Internet around the world, risk filling the firmament with tens of thousands of moving points of light, forever changing our view of the cosmos. Astronomers who rely on unsullied skies for their profession and members of the general public who enjoy the natural beauty of what lies above stand to lose out. The arrival of such a large number of satellites “has the potential to change our relationship, and our connection, with the universe,” says Ruskin Hartley, executive director of the nonprofit International Dark-Sky Association. But with no binding international laws or regulations in place to protect the night sky, anyone opposing the advancement of mega constellations is surely fighting a losing battle. Right?


A new paper to be published later this year in the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law argues that the Federal Communications Commission—the agency responsible for licensing the operation of these constellations in the U.S.—should have considered the impact these satellites would have on the night sky. In ignoring a key piece of federal environmental legislation, the FCC could be sued in a court of law—and lose—potentially halting further launches of mega constellations until a proper review is carried out.

“Astronomers are having these issues [and think] there’s nothing they can do legally,” says the paper’s author Ramon Ryan, a second-year law student at Vanderbilt University. “[But] there is this law, the National Environmental Policy Act [NEPA, pronounced ‘Nee-pah’], which requires federal agencies to take a hard look at their actions. The FCC’s lack of review of these commercial satellite projects violates [NEPA], so in the most basic sense, it would be unlawful.”

Enacted in 1970, NEPA obligates all federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of any projects they approve. Such impacts cover a variety of issues, from the effects of casino barges on rivers to any project’s contributions to climate change—the latter has been a recent target of the Trump administration’s regulatory rollbacks. The reviews can take multiple years, producing anywhere from hundreds to thousands of pages of paperwork. Federal agencies can circumvent NEPA, however, if they are granted a “categorical exclusion” for some or all of their activities—usually by arguing that such activities do not impact the environment and thus do not require review. The FCC has had a sweeping categorical exclusion since 1986 across almost all of its activities—including its approval of space projects—despite other agencies involved in space—most notably NASA—being required to conduct NEPA reviews.

“There are other agencies that use categorical exclusions, but I don’t think there is one that’s as broad as this,” says Kevin Bell, staff counsel at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a nonprofit organization that works with government whistle-blowers on environmental issues. “It is a policy that was designed for another time, before large scale space exploration.”

In light of the concerns about the impacts of satellites on the night sky, Ryan says, this categorical exclusion would be unlikely to stand up in a court of law. SpaceX alone has been licensed by the FCC to launch 12,000 satellites in its Starlink constellation in the coming years, dwarfing the current number of approximately 1,500 active satellites in orbit—and the company has plans for 30,000 more. It has already launched about 180 Starlink satellites, with another 1,500 scheduled for 2020. Following the first launch of 60 satellites in May 2019, many observers were surprised by their brightness at dawn and dusk—popular times for both astronomy and simple stargazing. “That’s the time that most people enjoy the sky,” Hartley says. “These new satellites are brighter than 99 percent of [those] in orbit at the moment. And really, that’s the root of this concern.”

In its reasoning for its categorical exclusion, the FCC states that its actions “have no significant effect on the quality of the human environment and are categorically excluded from environmental processing.” Ryan says that the FCC may have been wrong in this assessment, however. “The FCC has never performed a study showing why commercial satellites deserved to be classified as categorically excluded from review,” he says. “And the evidence shows that these satellites are having an environmental impact. If the FCC were sued over its noncompliance with NEPA, it would likely lose.”


A key question is whether the night sky could be argued to fall under NEPA in a federal court. According to Section 1508 of the policy, there are both direct and indirect effects that can warrant NEPA review, with the latter including “aesthetic, historic, [and] cultural” ones. Ryan says that these factors could, in a court of law, be argued to apply to the night sky. “I definitely think that the night sky would fall under [that],” he says.

Considering Elon Musk’s record of “regulatory arbatrage”, and general lack of concern for the consequences of his actions, the creation of PayPal was an exercise in evading banking regulations, the FCC should have gone over his application with a fine toothed comb.

And Yet Hickenlooper Literally Drank Fracking Fluid

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has released a long delayed study on the health impacts of fracking, and it’s pretty much as bad as anti-fracking activists have claimed:

A long-delayed public health study commissioned by Colorado regulators found that oil and gas drilling poses health risks at distances greater than current minimum “setback” distances, a development that is poised to send shockwaves through a regulatory environment already in a state of transition and uncertainty.

“Exposure to chemicals used in oil and gas development, such as benzene, may cause short-term negative health impacts…during ‘worst-case’ conditions,” the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in a press release. “The study found that there is a possibility of negative health impacts at distances from 300 feet out to 2,000 feet.


State toxicologist Kristy Richardson said in a press conference Thursday afternoon that the results of the study are consistent with the health impacts that have been reported by Colorado residents near oil and gas sites in recent years.

I wonder how former Colorado Governor, and current Senate candidate, John Hickenlooper will justify poisoning his own constituents.

That Gonna Change the World Thing………

We know that MIT Media Lab, and the entire senior management of MIT, conspired to keep donations from Jeffrey Epstein.

In the ensuing furor, one has to wonder what they could possibly do to make themselves even more toxic.

I mean, it would have to be something really bad, like illegally dumping toxic waste down the public sewers, which they also did:

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab have dumped wastewater underground in apparent violation of a state environmental regulation, according to documents and interviews, potentially endangering local waterways in and near the town of Middleton.

Nitrogen levels from the lab’s wastewater registered more than 20 times above the legal limit, according to documents provided by a former Media Lab employee. When water contains large amounts of nitrogen, it can kill fish and deprive infants of oxygen.

Nine months ago, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection began asking questions, but MIT’s health and safety office failed to provide the required water quality reports, according to documents obtained by ProPublica and WBUR. This triggered an ongoing state investigation.

After ProPublica and WBUR contacted MIT for comment, an institute official said the lab in question was pausing its operations while the university and regulators worked on a solution. Tony Sharon, an MIT deputy vice president who oversees the health and safety office, didn’t comment on the specific events described in the documents.


The lab responsible for the dumping is the Open Agriculture Initiative, one of many research projects at the Media Lab. Led by principal research scientist Caleb Harper, who was trained as an architect, the initiative has been under fire for overhyping its “food computers”: boxes that could supposedly be programmed to grow crops, but allegedly didn’t work as promised.

Throughout early 2018, the lab’s research site in Middleton, about 20 miles north of the main MIT campus in Cambridge, routinely drained hundreds of gallons of water with nitrogen into an underground disposal well, at concentrations much higher than the lab’s permit allowed, according to documents and interviews. The nitrogen came from a fertilizer mix used to grow plants hydroponically.

This is what happens when you create an institution, like Media Lab, where the principals believe that they are a priori virtuous people who are saving the world.

Also:  What the f%$# does hydroponics have to do with media?

Of Course He’s Poisoning Us

The Trump administration is looking to eliminate California’s auto emissions waiver, which allows them to enforce stricter air standards.

I am not sure how they can do this, this waiver is written into the Clean Air Act, but when has the law ever stopped Trump and Evil Minions:

The New York Times reports that the Trump administration will use a meeting at the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday to announce the revocation of California’s ability to set its own air pollution standards. The state’s authority was granted by a waiver that allows it to set pollution limits that are stricter than the federal government’s, which is now threatening the administration’s ability to roll back Obama-era standards for automobile fuel economy. This move has been rumored to be under consideration for months and sets up a legal showdown that will pit the federal government against California and the 13 states that plan to follow its lead.


During the initial implementation of the Clean Air Act, the Golden State was suffering from extensive smog problems and was granted a waiver that allowed it to set stricter pollution standards than those under the Clean Air Act. The waiver has since given the state significant leverage in negotiations regarding national automotive pollution controls, a position enhanced by the decision of a number of states to adopt whatever standards California sets. Due to the vast size of these states’ collective economies, car companies are compelled to meet its pollution standards or generate two different products: one for California and one for the rest of the country. Most have found it easier to simply involve California in negotiations from the start.


All of which would explain why the Trump administration would be interested in revoking the state’s waiver and why it’s already laid out arguments to justify doing so. The Times reports that this isn’t an indication that the EPA has decided what the new standards should be yet, simply that the agency is clearing the way to impose the standards when they’re ready.

But the Clean Air Act waiver mechanics are set up so that the EPA administrator must grant a waiver to any state wanting stricter standards unless the state is acting in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner or its standards don’t address “compelling and extraordinary conditions.” California would certainly have compelling arguments that climate change represents a compelling and extraordinary condition. And it’s near certain that the state would be willing to test those arguments in court.

Unfortunately, it will be a very close thing in the Supreme Court, because there are now a majority of right wing hypocrite hacks on the bench there.

Parody is Dead.

Not the Onion

Reality has so far outstripped parody that the latter has become irrelevant.

Case in point, following an EPA proposal to re-legalize asbestos, a Russian asbestos manufacturer has put Donald Trump’s on their packaging:

On 25 June 2018, a Russian mining company named Uralasbest, which is one of the world’s largest producers of asbestos, posted a message of support for President Trump on their official Facebook and VK (a Russian version of Facebook) pages. The post included photographs of packed asbestos material adorned with the face of Trump and the text “Approved by Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States.”

Asbestos is a mineral that was once widely used in construction projects for its fire resistant properties, but research has since linked it to a variety of cancers, most notably lung cancer and mesothelioma.


In June, when Uralasbest posted their message of support, then-Administrator of the EPA Scott Pruitt had recently announced new interpretations of the Toxic Substances Control Act that could allow for “new uses” of asbestos to be approved in the United States. While this move would not allow for previously banned uses to be considered, it was a reversal of Obama-era rules that barred the EPA from considering any new uses for asbestos.

While I’ve always thought that the Donald Trump was toxic, I had no idea that they were taking this concept so literally.

Support Your Fighting Men

The Trump administration feared it would be a “public relations nightmare”: a major federal study that concluded contaminated groundwater across the country, especially near military bases, was more toxic than the government realized. Political aides to President Donald Trump and Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt pressured the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry against releasing the results.

“The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge,” an unidentified White House aide wrote, according to Politico. “The impact to EPA and [the Defense Department] is going to be extremely painful. We cannot seem to get ATSDR to realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be.” The study was not released.

That is, until Wednesday. Amid a media firestorm about the administration’s immigration policy, the ATSDR—a division of the Department of Health and Human Services—quietly published its 852-page review of perfluoroalkyls, or PFAS, which are “used in everything from carpets and frying pan coatings to military firefighting foams,” according to ProPublica. “All told, the report offers the most comprehensive gathering of information on the effects of these chemicals today, and suggests they’re far more dangerous than previously thought.”

These chemical compounds pose health risks to millions of Americans. They’re in roughly 1 percent of the nation’s public water supply, according to the EPA; in roughly 1,500 drinking water systems across the country, according to the Environmental Working Group. People who drink from these systems, even if their exposure to PFAS is low, now have a potentially increased risk of cancer; of disruptions in hormones and the immune system; and of complications with fetal development during pregnancy.

But military personnel and veterans are particularly at risk, because PFAS compounds are in firefighting foams, which have been used in training exercises at military bases across America since the 1970s. Those foams have leached into the groundwater at the military facilities, and often the drinking water supply. Nearly three million Americans get their drinking water from Department of Defense systems.

The DOD has reported widespread contamination at its bases and posts, as well as their surrounding areas. In a March report to the House Armed Services Committee, the department provided a list of 126 military facilities where nearby water supplies contained PFAS levels above the EPA’s standard, and 36 bases with drinking water contamination on site. “In all, 25 Army bases; 50 Air Force bases, 49 Navy or Marine Corps bases and two Defense Logistics Agency sites have tested at higher than acceptable levels for the compounds in either their drinking water or groundwater sources,” the Military Times reported.

This is amazingly f%$#ed up.

And Now We Have Dope Fiend Mollusks

Mussels in Puget Sound have tested positive for opioids, which raises the obvious question, how the hell do you get them to pee into a cup?

Scientists at the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife have found that mussels in Seattle’s waters are testing positive for opioids.

The finding suggests “a lot of people” are taking oxycodone in the Puget Sound, researchers say.

Scientists used mussels as a way to test pollution in Seattle’s waters and discovered high enough oxycodone levels for the shellfish to test positive.

Mussels do not metabolise opioids, but some fish can become addicted.

Mussels are filter-feeders, which means they filter water for nutrients to nourish themselves. In the process, they end up storing pollutants in their tissues, which makes them a prime indicator species.

State researchers distributed clean mussels around the Puget Sound and extracted them months later to test the waters.

Of the 18 locations scientists used, three showed traces of oxycodone. The drug traces were not enough to get any humans high from consumption, but enough to indicate a problem, officials said.

There is a stand-up comedy routine in this story.


A federal court has ruled that the air quality rules for raising livestock are too lenient:

……… Most livestock farming in industrialized countries takes place on large enclosed farms, known in the United States as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), that house hundreds or thousands of animals. Many environmental and public health groups say CAFOs are major air and water polluters and should be regulated more stringently. Farmers and trade organizations typically respond that CAFOS already are adequately regulated and do not threaten nearby communities or the environment.

On April 11, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down a rule, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2008, that exempted livestock farms from reporting hazardous air emissions from animal waste. Unless EPA appeals to the Supreme Court, these farms will have to report releases of substances such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide starting later this year.

Agriculture, particularly Big Ag, has been skating for way too long on environmental regulations.

Least Surprising News of the Day

A study has concluded that poisoning the largely black population of Flint, Michigan was an artifact of systemic racism:

A government-appointed civil rights commission in Michigan says systemic racism helped to cause the Flint water crisis, according to a report released Friday.

The 129-page report does not claim there were any specific violations of state civil rights laws, but says “historical, structural and systemic racism combined with implicit bias” played a role in the problems, which still linger in the city’s drinking water almost three years later. 

“The presence of racial bias in the Flint water crisis isn’t much of a surprise to those of us who live here, but the Michigan Civil Rights Commission’s affirmation that the emergency manager law disproportionately hurts communities of color is an important reminder of just how bad the policy is,” state Sen. Jim Ananich, a Democrat from Flint, said. 

It was an emergency manager, appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, who had the cash-strapped city’s water supply changed from Lake Huron to the Flint River in 2014 — a decision reversed more than a year later amid reports of corroded pipes and elevated blood lead levels.

The report, which was released after a year-long investigation that followed three public hearings and took testimony from more than 150 residents and officials, says: “The people of Flint have been subjected to unprecedented harm and hardship, much of it caused by structural and systemic discrimination and racism that have corroded your city, your institutions, and your water pipes, for generations.”

In related news water is wet ……… Well most places anyway.

In Flint, the water is brown and lumpy.