CONTACT: Maya Nye, Executive Director, 304-389-6859 or email@example.com
Roadmap to Chemical Release Prevention in Kanawha Valley
Join us for our May 15th Public Meeting!
WHO? The Chemical Release Prevention Project sponsored by People Concerned About Chemical Safety, a local non-profit organization dedicated to preventing chemical disasters. Presentations by Maya Nye, Chemical Release Prevention Project coordinator, and Rick Engler, board member, U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.
WHEN? Friday, May 15, 5:30-7:30pm (arrive by 5pm for the optional facility tour)
WHERE? BridgeValley Community and Technical College, The Advanced Technology Center (Room 132), 201 Science Park Drive, South Charleston, WV
WHY? Since October, People Concerned About Chemical Safety has been working with representatives from public health, environmental and emergency response agencies along with citizens, labor and chemical process experts to develop a roadmap for implementing the outstanding U.S. Chemical Safety Board recommendations. Join us as we present our draft roadmap and hear from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board on updates to their recommendation. As enacted under SB373, the Aboveground Storage Tank bill, the Public Water Supply Service Study Commission will review the outcomes of this roadmap in consideration of their final recommendations to the legislature in June 2015. This event is open to the public. Public comments accepted. Details at cc/WVChemSafety.
Charleston, WV — People Concerned About Chemical Safety (PCACS) is urging West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to prevent cutting corners on cleanup at the Freedom Industries site. They are also calling on lawmakers to fix federal laws that prevent DEP and public health officials from having the toxicological information they need to characterize risk and expedite cleanup.
Since the January 9, 2014 Elk River chemical spill, people have been pushing for testing to determine the long-term health effects of exposure to the crude-MCHM chemical compound. However, according to an April 26, 2014 Sunday Gazette-Mail article, “Freedom Industries seeks quick OK of leak site cleanup plan,” by Ken Ward, Jr., Freedom Industries officials are pressuring DEP to expedite the cleanup to “consummate a bankruptcy liquidation plan by mid-June.” Recent tests, however, performed by U.S. Geological Survey, Virginia Tech and University of Memphis leave more questions on the toxicity of the spilled material.
Past studies assume the spilled material to have the same fate properties regardless of temperature. However, a recent report from Virginia Tech and University of Memphis indicates differing fate properties proving the previous hypothesis false. This indicates the potential for exposure concentrations to vary.
The U.S. Geological Survey recently determined that a form of methyl 4-methylcyclohexanecarboxylate (or MMCHC), was identified as another component of the spilled material and that it “likely contributed to the tap water odor complaints of Charleston residents.” No toxicological data is available for this chemical and the CDC has never established a screening level for this chemical.
What is clear from these recent findings is that the data does not yet exist to properly determine the risk at the Freedom cleanup site. In light of these findings, PCACS is urging DEP to ensure additional tests are performed to properly characterize site risk. To fund this process, DEP is eligible to seek restitution from the criminal case.
“The Freedom cleanup should not be driven by the bankruptcy settlement,” says Maya Nye, PCACS Executive Director. “We want to make sure that the cleanup is based on science so that years down the road we don’t find ourselves with another water contamination issue from this site. There is no reason why the criminals in this matter should get to walk away leaving taxpayers with the bill or a partially cleaned up site. They caused this mess and they should be responsible for ensuring that it is properly cleaned up, and that is going to require further toxicity testing,” says Nye.
Recent efforts co-sponsored by Senators Capito and Manchin to reform the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act still would not require that chemicals like MCHM are tested prior to being on the market. It also would preempt the state of West Virginia from taking such an initiative. According to Nye, “If the toxicity testing was required of chemicals before being placed on the market, DEP would have the information needed to characterize risk at the cleanup site, but they don’t. We are hopeful that our Senators will fix this gaping hole in current reform efforts.”
While they are not required to take comments into consideration under the Voluntary Remediation Program, DEP has set up an email address DEPVRPComments@wv.gov by which to receive comments regarding the Freedom cleanup. PCACS is urging citizens to contact DEP and tell them not to cut corners on cleanup. Visit www.chemsafety.org for more information.
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 Partitioning, Aqueous Solubility, and Dipole Moment Data for cis- and trans-(4-Methylcyclohexyl)methanol, Principal Contaminants of the West Virginia Chemical Spill. Andrea M. Dietrich, Ashly Thomas, Yang Zhao, Elizabeth Smiley, Narasimhamurthy Shanaiah, Megan Ahart, Katherine A. Charbonnet, Nathan J. DeYonker, William A. Alexander, and Daniel L. Gallagher, Environmental Science & Technology Letters 2015 2 (4), 123-127 DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.5b00061
 William T. Foreman, Donna L. Rose, Douglas B. Chambers, Angela S. Crain, Lucinda K. Murtagh, Haresh Thakellapalli, Kung K. Wang, Determination of (4-methylcyclohexyl)methanol isomers by heated purge-and-trap GC/MS in water samples from the 2014 Elk River, West Virginia, chemical spill, Chemosphere, Available online 24 December 2014, ISSN 0045-6535, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.11.006. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0045653514012648) Keywords: Methylcychlohexane methanol; Chemical spill; Contamination; Water; Isomer; GC/MS
With thousands of untested chemicals in our everyday products, have we all become unwitting guinea pigs in one giant human experiment? The powerful and inspiring new documentary “The Human Experiment” goes behind the scenes in the fight to protect us from these toxic products before they cause irrevocable harm to our health.
Sponsored by WVIFF,WV Rivers Coalition & WV Citizen Action Group
Elk River Blues, sparked into existence after the historic spill in January 2014 of over 10,000 gallons of a coal-cleaning chemical called ‘crude MCHM’, documents the culture of lax regulation and legislative oversight in West Virginia.
WHAT: At the next monthly meeting of the Chemical Release Prevention Project, the Roadmap Planning Team will host a presentation on the European Water Framework Directive by Dr. Michael McCawley, Interim Chair, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences at WVU’s School of Public Health.
WHO: People Concerned About Chemical Safety (PCACS) is a community organization in the Kanawha Valley that has been active in community affairs for over 25 years. Dedicated to the protection of health and safety of all who reside, work, and study in the vicinity of chemical facilities, we promote environmental justice and chemical safety through education and advocacy. PCACS is spearheading roadmap planning for a Chemical Release Prevention Program in Kanawha Valley.
WHEN: Friday, March 20 (10am-12pm); public comments will be taken at the end of the meeting.
WHY: Each month, PCACS convenes monthly meetings of the Roadmap Planning Team to plan next steps in the development of a Kanawha Valley chemical release prevention program. This program is guided by a recommendation made by the United States Chemical Safety Board following their investigations into the deadly 2008 Bayer CropScience explosion and the fatal 2010 DuPont phosgene release. The team is reviewing and considering models successful in reducing the frequency and severity of chemical disasters and best protect our water. Also being considered are recent chemical disasters including the Freedom Industries Elk River chemical leak and Bakken crude oil derailment, along with public input. As enacted under SB373, the Aboveground Storage Tank bill, the Public Water Supply Service Study Commission will review the outcomes of this roadmap in consideration of their final recommendations to the legislature in June 2015.
The next meeting of the Chemical Release Prevention Program Roadmap Planning Team will be Friday, March 20, 2015 from 10-12pm at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department (First Floor Conference Room). This and all meetings of the Chemical Release Prevention Program Roadmap Planning Team are open to the public and include time for public comment.
Please take just a moment to send this important message to the CEOs of the three largest dollar store chains asking them to adopt policies to identify, dislose, and replace hazardous chemicals in the products they sell.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, February 4, 2015
New Report Finds 81% of Dollar Store Products Tested Contain One or More Hazardous Chemicals Linked to Learning Disabilities, Cancer & Other Serious Illnesses
People Concerned About Chemical Safety Joins More than 100 Organizations Call on Dollar Stores to Protect Communities of Color and Low-Income Families from Toxic Products
The Campaign for Healthier Solutions – a group of over 100 health, community, and environmental justice organizations around the country – released a report today about toxic chemicals found in Dollar store products. The report — A Day Late and a Dollar Short: Discount Retailers are Falling Behind on Safer Chemicals – includes testing results for 164 dollar store products such as toys, jewelry, school supplies and other household items, that found over 81% (133 of 164) contained at least one hazardous chemical above levels of concern. 15 of these products were purchased from Dollar stores in the Kanawha Valley.
The campaign also sent a letter today to the CEO’s of the four largest Dollar store chains — including Family Dollar (tentatively acquired by Dollar Tree on January 22), Dollar Tree, Dollar General, and 99 Cents Only – urging them to stop the sale of products with hazardous chemicals to communities of color and low-income families, who already live in more polluted areas and “food deserts,” and adopt policies that will protect both customers and their businesses. Combined these discount chains have sales totaling over $36 billion and operate more stores nationally than Walmart.
“Many West Virginians struggling to make ends meet are confined to shopping at dollar stores for everyday products,” said Maya Nye, Executive Director of People Concerned About Chemical Safety. “Many of these products contain chemicals known to cause birth defects, cancer, learning disabilities and diabetes among other serious illnesses. Everyone deserves access to healthy products, not just those who can afford it.”
The chemicals of concern found in Dollar store products tested for this report include: phthalates, linked to birth defects, reduced fertility, cancer, learning disabilities, diabetes, and other health issues; polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC or vinyl), which creates hazards throughout its life cycle and has been linked to asthma and lung effects; and toxic metals such as lead, which harms brain development, leading to learning disabilities, lower IQ, and cause other serious health impacts, especially in children.
Other key findings from A Day Late and a Dollar Short include:
49% of products tested (80 of 164) contained two or more hazardous chemicals above levels of concern;
38% of the products tested (63 of 164) contained the toxic plastic PVC (vinyl);
32% of a subset of vinyl products tested for phthalates (12 of 38) contained levels of phthalates above the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) limit for children’s products.
12 of the 20 products purchased in the Kanawha Valley had levels of chlorine from 3 to over 100 times greater than the level of concern.
One toy purchased in the Kanawha Valley, Silly Straws, contained levels of phthalates greater than the CPSC regulated limit for children’s products.
In addition, 40% of sales at Dollar stores go toward food products (not tested for this report) – much of which is highly processed with low nutritional quality, and whose packaging is another potential source of toxic chemicals including bisphenol-A (BPA), a synthetic hormone linked to breast and others cancers, reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease.
Fortunately, there is a growing movement by mainstream retail and manufacturing brands – including Target and Walmart – to respond to consumer demand for safer products with publicly-available corporate policies that identify, disclose, and replace priority toxic chemicals with safer alternatives. By failing to address toxic chemicals through comprehensive policies, Dollar chains are not only putting their customers at risk, they are exposing their businesses to the fate of companies like Mattel, which lost 18% of its value after recalling toys with lead paint, and Sigg USA, which went bankrupt after failing to disclose toxic BPA in its water bottles.
“Many safer products are available. There are also a number of resources available to help Dollar stores transition to healthier solutions for their customers,” says Maya Nye.
The Campaign for Healthier Solutions is asking for a comprehensive set of reforms, including that:
Discount Retailers immediately remove children’s products found to contain regulated phthalates and lead from store shelves; and adopt comprehensive corporate chemical management policies to identify, disclose, and remove hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and from all products in their stores, beginning with their house brands.
Local, State, and Federal Governments ensure that discount retailers comply with all relevant laws and regulations; and adopt public policies (such as Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Law and Washington’s Children’s Safe Products Act) that require manufacturers and retailers to disclose hazardous chemicals in products, research alternatives, and remove hazardous chemicals when alternatives are available, effective, and safer.
Families and Communities let Dollar store chains know that they want safer products, and join local and national efforts advocating for nontoxic products.
The Campaign for Healthier Solutions is led by Coming Clean and the Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform. Participating organizations include: Breast Cancer Fund, Center for Environmental Health, Clean and Healthy New York, Clean Water Action, Coming Clean, Greenpeace, Healthy Building Network, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Lideres Campesinas, Los Jardines Institute, Moms Clean Air Force, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, Women’s Voices for the Earth.
DUNBAR, WV – People across the Kanawha Valley had a chance to have their voices heard about how to improve chemical safety. The goal of the meetings allowed residents a chance to have conversations about local chemical safety and to find out what solutions other states have implemented.
“I came here today to become empowered and educated, so I can go out in my community and have information,” said Cyndi McGill of Nitro.