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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'creosote' Category


23
Apr

EPA Inspector General Report Cites Agency Failures in Cleanup of Wood Preservatives at Superfund Site

(Beyond Pesticides, April 23, 2024) The Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report last week finding that the agency has failed to establish “institutional controls” at the American Creosote Works Superfund Site in Pensacola, Florida, leading to continuous groundwater and soil contamination that “leav[es] the public at risk of exposure.” The 1980 Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) established the Superfund program, codified under 42 U.S.C. Chapter 103, to clean up contaminated sites with tax money from polluting industries. The OIG made eight recommendations for the regional EPA administrator and one for the assistant administrator “for Land and Emergency Management to improve the institutional controls at American Creosote Works Superfund Site.” There are three main determinations found in the results section of the OIG report: first, the institutional controls to prevent potential exposure were either “insufficient or unimplemented;” second, the EPA missed its mark in communicating associated risks to the public in areas surrounding this Superfund site; and third, the full administrative record for this site was not available at the time of inspection. This report builds on what advocates argue is the sustained legacy of EPA inaction and failure to […]

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28
Mar

Legacy of Chemical Contamination and Weak Environmental Law Seen in DDT Dump Off California’s Coast

(Beyond Pesticides, March 28, 2023) High concentrations of fully intact, never broken down DDT remain on the California seafloor decades after it was dumped off its southern coast in the middle of the 20th century. “We still see original DDT on the seafloor from 50, 60, 70 years ago, which tells us that it’s not breaking down the way that [we] once thought it should,” University of California Santa Barbara scientist David Valentine, PhD, told the Los Angeles Times. “And what we’re seeing now is that there is DDT that has ended up all over the place, not just within this tight little circle on a map that we referred to as Dumpsite Two.” These findings underscore the enormity of legal and regulatory decisions to approve production of hazardous chemicals. While many may believe the legacy of DDT ended with its ban in the early 1970s, the California findings raise a deeper problem not only with U.S. chemical policy, but also the response from well-meaning environmental nonprofits that continues to play out to this day. As many in the environmental community invest tremendous resources in seeking to ban problematic pesticides or chemicals of the day after the contamination has occurred […]

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08
Mar

Creosote-Induced Health Problems Persist from Springfield, MO Production, Now Superfund, Site

(Beyond Pesticides, March 7, 2023) An old Kerr-McGee Wood Treatment Facility is still causing health issues among residents in Springfield, Missouri. The former site of pressure-treated railroad tie production remains contaminated with creosote, a concoction of dangerous chemicals including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phenols, and creosols. While residents are still dealing with lingering effects of a now shuttered production site, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to reregister creosote (wood preservatives are regulated as pesticides in the U.S.), perpetuating the harm caused by this material despite the wide availability of alternatives. The wood treatment facility in question operated for nearly 100 years, releasing significant levels of creosote-related chemicals throughout the immediate region. The Kerr-McGee Corporation spun off its liability for a range of hazardous sites previously under its control to a separate company called Tronox, which subsequently declared bankruptcy in 2009. Andarko Petroleum then purchased Kerr-McGee, but, during bankruptcy proceedings, Tronox filed a complaint against both Andarko and Ker-McGee, alleging fraudulent conveyance of the liabilities. As EPA explains, “At the core of the plaintiffs’ complaints is the allegation that the Defendants fraudulently transferred valuable assets out of Tronox and left Tronox with insufficient funds to pay the billions of […]

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20
Dec

After EPA Administrator Tours People of Color Community Poisoned by Creosote Wood Preservative, a Call to Ban It

(Beyond Pesticides, December 20, 2021) Despite a high-profile tour of communities affected by toxic chemicals by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan, EPA still fails to make connections that could help protect against poisoning of workers, fenceline communities, and others. For example, as Mr. Regan, in November, visited Houston, Texas, where thousands of residents are suing Union Pacific Railroad Company for contaminating their properties with highly hazardous creosote wood preservatives, EPA is in the process of reauthorizing creosote use for another 15 years with the knowledge that it is virtually impossible to produce and use without causing contamination and poisoning. Tell EPA to truly integrate environmental justice into all of EPA’s programs.  Environmental justice issues arise at every stage of the cradle-to-grave life cycle of toxic chemicals, from production, transportation, handling, and use, to disposal. Petroleum refineries are likely to be sited near poor communities composed of people of color. Mines contaminate tribal lands and poor rural communities. Manufacturing facilities are also located near low-income neighborhoods, employing their inhabitants in hazardous jobs. Pesticides are applied by farmworkers whose housing is surrounded by poisoned fields. And, coming full circle, hazardous waste “disposal” sites are surrounded by low-income communities. In April, […]

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02
Dec

Houston Residents Sue City, Railroad, for Poisoning and Contamination Caused by Creosote Wood Preservative

(Beyond Pesticides, December 2, 2021) Thousands of residents in Houston, Texas are suing Union Pacific Railroad Company for contaminating their properties with highly hazardous creosote wood preservatives. One of these lawsuits comes from Latonya Payne, legal guardian of Corinthian Giles, a 13-year-old boy who died of leukemia after a five year battle with the disease. A recent report found that the community is in the midst of a childhood leukemia cancer cluster, with disease rates five times the national average. Late last month, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan toured the area as part of his Journey to Justice tour. However, while Administrator Regan vows federal assistance with the cleanup of these long-lived chemicals, EPA is currently in the process of reauthorizing creosote use for another 15 years with the knowledge that it is virtually impossible to produce and use without causing contamination and poisoning. Some environmental advocates are suggesting that Administrator Regan take a tour of EPA’s pesticide registration program and stop the unnecessary poisoning that disproportionately affects people of color and those with vulnerabilities or preexisting medical conditions that increase their vulnerability to toxic chemical exposure. While advocates say that cleaning up EPA’s mess in communities […]

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31
Oct

Massachusetts Residents Raise Health Concerns about Creosote Railroad Ties in Their Community

(Beyond Pesticides, October 31, 2018) Residents in the town of Great Barrington, MA are concerned about the health effects that could result from creosote-coated railroad ties stored in their neighborhood. According to a report in the Berkshire Eagle, soon after the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MDOT) parked a load of railroad ties along tracks that cut through a neighborhood, community members began to complain about the smell. Creosote is a mixture of thousands of different chemical compounds. Derived mainly from coal tar and regulated as a pesticide by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the material represents a significant hazard that puts people and the environment in danger, and can be readily replaced by safer, alternative materials. “I would want to roll up my windows immediately,” Beth Rose told the Berkshire Eagle. Another Great Barrington resident, Jeanne Bachetti, told the paper, “I started to smell them right after they moved [them] in there. Sometimes we get a propane smell from [nearby] AmeriGas, so I couldn’t tell. Then it dawned on me — that’s not gas.” MDOT is currently in the process of a project to upgrade roughly 40 miles of freight line, and is using 60,000 railroad ties as part […]

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14
Sep

Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Over Dioxin Contamination from Poison Poles in Central California

(Beyond Pesticides, September 14, 2018) A lawsuit first filed nearly a decade ago over dioxin contamination released from the storage of chemical treated utility poles was settled this week in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Judge Richard Seeborg signed the agreement between California utility company Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and the Ecological Rights Foundation (ERF), which commits PG&E to identifying storage yards holding treated poles, and implementing technologies that reduce dioxin levels through the year 2026. The utility poles of concern were treated with the chemical pentachlorophenol, which is regulated as a pesticide by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and is known to produce dioxin as a byproduct of its manufacture. “Dioxins are among the most toxic chemicals known to science,” noted ERF attorney Fredric Evenson to KPIX 5.  “This has been a hard-fought legal battle, but in the end PG&E now appears to understand that dioxin has no business in our bay, and will now take meaningful action to benefit San Francisco Bay’s wildlife and residents who eat locally caught seafood.” As part of the settlement, PG&E is not required to admit any wrongdoing. “Because environmental stewardship is a guiding principle at PG&E, we are pleased […]

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27
Jul

Lower IQ in Children Linked to Toxic Air Pollutants, Some Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, July 27, 2009) A mother’s exposure to urban air pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can adversely affect a child’s intelligence quotient or IQ, according to the new study “Prenatal Airborne Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Exposure and Child IQ at Age 5 Years.” PAHs are widespread in urban environments and throughout the world as they have many sources, several of which are related to pesticides, including creosote used for wood preservation, burning pesticide-laden grass seed fields, and exposure to organochlorine pesticides whether banned, yet ubiquitous DDT or the still used insecticide dicofol. Other sources include synthetic turf fields and the burning of coal, diesel, oil and gas, or other organic substances such as tobacco. PAHs have been known to be bioaccumulative, carcinogenic and disrupt the endocrine system. The new study, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a branch of the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several private foundations, found that children exposed to high levels of PAHs in New York City had full scale and verbal IQ scores that were 4.31 and 4.67 points lower than those of less exposed children. High PAH levels were defined as above the […]

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