AmeriScan: October 9, 2001
ANTHRAX STRIKES FLORIDA TABLOID HEADQUARTERS
BOCA RATON, Florida, October 9, 2001 (ENS) - More than 700 people have been tested for anthrax in Florida after two confirmed cases of inhalation anthrax.
One man has died and a second man is hospitalized after apparently being deliberately exposed to anthrax at their workplace, the offices of American Media Inc., which publishes supermarket tabloids including the "Globe" and the "Sun."
A team of investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found anthrax spores on the computer keyboard of a "Sun" photographer, who died Friday after inhaling the spores and contracting anthrax.
A mailroom employee, who may have handled a letter in which the anthrax spores were delivered to the building, has tested positive for exposure to anthrax, but has not contracted the full blown disease. He is now on massive doses of antibiotics and is expected to recover.
The FBI said today they have ruled out any natural source for the anthrax spores, and believe that the disease was intentionally delivered to the office buildings. They have not identified a suspect in the attack, nor have they linked the anthrax attack to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11.
So far, the spore that causes anthrax, Bacillis anthracis, has only been identified in the single mailroom worker. No other workers are known to have illnesses consistent with anthrax, which causes fever, muscle aches and fatigue that rapidly progress to severe systemic illness.
Anthrax is not contagious from one person to another, the CDC said.
However, more than 400 people who work in the affected building or may have visited it in recent weeks have been contacted by the CDC for testing. More than 700 people showed up at the local health department on Monday to have their noses swabbed for anthrax spores.
All were given antibiotics to keep the disease from growing.
SETTLEMENT PROTECTS VERDE RIVER IN ARIZONA
PHOENIX, Arizona, October 9, 2001 (ENS) - A federal judge approved a settlement yesterday between six conservation groups and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) that will provide new protections to Arizona's Verde River.
The settlement requires the USFS to step up its presence on the river and to complete a comprehensive management plan within 30 months. The conservation coalition says the plan should have been prepared when a 40 mile stretch of the Verde was designated a National Wild and Scenic River 16 years ago.
"The public will see improved management right away and the Forest Service has a reasonable amount of time to fulfill its obligations," said Matthew Bishop, an attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center, who represented the plaintiff organizations. "By retaining jurisdiction, the court can hold the Forest Service accountable if they don't follow through."
In setting the lawsuit, filed in October 2000 by the Western Environmental Law Center on behalf of the plaintiffs, the USFS acknowledged that it had violated the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act by failing to prepare a comprehensive management plan for Arizona's Verde Wild and Scenic River. The designated stretch of the Verde - Arizona's only National Wild and Scenic River - flows through the Tonto, Coconino and Prescott National Forests.
"We have been concerned for over 20 years about irresponsible livestock grazing and unenforced regulations concerning recreational abusers and vandals," said Don Farmer, past president of the Arizona Wildlife Federation. "It seems a shame that the a lawsuit was necessary to get these three forests to work together to deal with these issues."
In addition to the pledge to complete a joint management plan for the three forests, the USFS agreed to a number of interim steps to improve grazing practices along the river, such as repairing fences that control livestock's access to the river. The USFS will also send forest rangers down the river more often to spot problems and initiate corrective actions.
"Now the real work begins," said Tim Flood, conservation coordinator for Friends of Arizona Rivers. "We're looking forward to a management plan that gives meaningful protection for the river's habitat and that determines how much water needs to remain in the river to support wildlife and recreational opportunities."
COMMENT NEEDED ON RULES TO COMPENSATE NUCLEAR WORKERS
WASHINGTON, DC, October 9, 2001 (ENS) - The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is asking for public comment on two rules under which the department will provide scientific expertise to assist in decision making under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000.
The two rules, "Methods for Radiation Dose Reconstruction" and "Guidelines for Determining the Probability of Causation," were published in the Federal Register on October 5.
Under the Compensation Act, the Department of Labor (DOL) is administering claims by current and former employees of nuclear weapons production facilities and their survivors who seek compensation for cancers caused by radiation exposures sustained in the performance of duty, chronic beryllium disease and silicosis.
The Act directs the HHS to provide scientific information that the DOL will use to evaluate claims by workers who seek compensation for certain cancers caused by occupational radiation exposures but are not requesting compensation under the "Special Exposure Cohort" provisions of the Act. The Special Exposure Cohort includes workers with specified cancers who were employed at specific sites designated in the Act.
"For a program as important as this, we have to bring the best scientific expertise we can to the table and move as quickly as possible," HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said. "With today's notices, we are taking steps to put some key processes in place immediately as we proceed with further steps to make sure that our products pass rigorous scientific scrutiny and public review."
The rules outline the methods that will be used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (CDC/NIOSH) in estimating claimants' past occupational exposures to radiation. That process is called dose reconstruction.
The rules also specify the scientific guidelines that the DOL would use in determining whether it is at least as likely as not that an energy employee's cancer was caused by occupational exposure to radiation at nuclear weapons production sites. That process is called determining the probability of causation.
The rules are available at: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh
JUDGE BARS TWO TIMBER SALES IN JEFFERSON NATIONAL FOREST
ATLANTA, Georgia, October 9, 2001 (ENS) - A federal judge has issued a permanent injunction against two timber sales in Jefferson National Forest, due to the U.S. Forest Service's (USFS) failure to consider alternatives to logging.
The original lawsuit challenging the Cuba and Taylor Branch timber sales on the New Castle Ranger District was filed by the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project (SABP). In 1999, Judge Marvin Shoob declared the sales null and void, and ordered the USFS to consider a reasonable range of alternatives in preparing new environmental assessments for the timber sales.
These sales proposed cutting 120 acres and constructing 1.3 miles of road. The USFS issued new environmental assessments (EAs) for each sale, which rubber stamped the prior approval of the sales.
This, "injected bias into the entire EAs amount to a post hoc rationalization of defendant's preference for moving forward with the sales," said the federal court in Atlanta.
"Analyzing alternatives to this timber sale would be a simple exercise," says Tracy Davids, executive director of SABP. "Unfortunately, the Forest Service has shown again and again that timber sales are more important than complying with environmental laws that protect values we all hold dear: clean water, healthy forests and solitude. Therefore, we continue to call on the Forest Service to end their commercial timber sales program."
Last month, the National Forest Protection Alliance issued a report on the nation's "Ten Most Endangered Forests," identifying the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest complex in Virginia as endangered by industrial logging, air pollution and water pollution. Information on the forests was accumulated from more than 40 grassroots forest activist organizations.
The report can be viewed at: http://www.forestadvocate.org
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY AGREES TO CUT AIR POLLUTION
FRESNO, California, October 9, 2001 (ENS) - Faced with the threat of a lawsuit, officials with the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District today agreed to settle with four community groups a dispute about the implementation of six air pollution control measures.
In July, a coalition of medical, community, and environmental groups announced their intent to sue the Air District for its failure to implement the controls it promised to enact in a 1994 ozone pollution control plan. The lawsuit was brought by Earthjustice on behalf of the Fresno based Medical Alliance for Healthy Air, Latino Issues Forum, and the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment. The Sierra Club was represented by Sierra Club counsel.
"This is a victory for everyone who breathes in the San Joaquin Valley and the Sierra Nevada Mountains," said Bruce Nilles an attorney with Earthjustice who represents the coalition. "We are pleased with this outcome because it will eliminate more than six tons per day of pollution."
"But, this is just the beginning," Nilles cautioned. "The District must reduce ozone pollution by 300 tons per day over the next four years to meet the federal ozone standard."
The community and medical groups wanted to compel the Air District to adopt and enforce six ozone pollution control measures, which the Air District had promised to enact to reduce ozone pollution by 6.5 tons per day by 1998.
A proposed court order now binds the Air District to adopt four of these rules - regulating architectural coatings, organic liquid storage, and organic solvent disposal, and commercial charbroiling - by the end of this year. It also requires the Air District to replace the other two rules with new, more effective pollution control measures within six months.
The settlement was lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Fresno and requires court approval before it becomes final.
FLORIDA MAN ARRESTED AGAIN FOR ILLEGAL HAZWASTE DISPOSAL
TALLAHASSEE, Florida, October 9, 2001 (ENS) - Frank Marrone of Tallahassee, owner of G.F.A. Salvage, was arrested today on one felony count of illegal commercial dumping, one felony count of illegal disposal of hazardous waste in a non-permitted facility, and one felony count of transporting hazardous waste without a manifest.
Marrone's arrest - the second in less than four months - follows a continuing criminal investigation initiated by the Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Division of Law Enforcement.
Marrone was arrested this morning, booked into the Leon County jail, and is being held without bond. The charges are being filed with the State Attorney's Office in Tallahassee.
The current investigation began almost three months ago, soon after his first arrest by DEP for felony commercial dumping. It was also alleged that Marrone had disposed of raw sewage by dumping it into Munson Slough.
Today's arrest involves the disposal of hazardous material at the local Salvation Army Thrift Store.
Marrone is alleged to have left cans of hazardous waste outside of the Salvation Army in an attempt to dispose of it due to the ongoing DEP criminal investigation. A witness observed Marrone unloading dozens of what appeared to be paint cans in front of the Salvation Army, which was closed at the time.
Some of the cans were corroded and leaking. Children were observed to have been playing among the cans.
Officers are executing another search warrant on Marrone's property to excavate and sample sites where hazardous waste may have been buried. Some of these sites were developed from information obtained from the execution of the first search warrant on June 25.
"This is one of our division's more disturbing cases to date," said Thomas Tramel, director of DEP's Division of Law Enforcement. "There appears to be an appalling lack of concern for public health and safety. Fortunately, some quick action prevented a serious problem from occurring, but this behavior must have consequences."
Each of today's charges are third degree felonies punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000 for each day of violation for each count.
AGREEMENT WOULD SAVE 171,000 NEW HAMPSHIRE ACRES
PITTSBURG, New Hampshire, October 9, 2001 (ENS) - International Paper and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) have announced the next step in an agreement that will make it possible to protect about 171,500 acres in Pittsburg, Clarksville, and Stewartstown known as the Connecticut Lakes property.
TPL, a national nonprofit organization, is proposing to purchase the property from International Paper by December 31, 2001, with the purchase price to be determined by an independent appraisal this fall. TPL plans to hold the property off the market while the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership Task Force works to develop a plan for the land's future.
The Task Force, which has been convened by U.S. Senator Judd Gregg and New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen, is comprised of local residents, North Country leaders, state and federal officials, and nonprofit groups. TPL will work with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, other nonprofit organizations, and state and federal officials to raise funds for the purchase.
"These forests have long provided an economic basis for this region," said Dave Lieser, International Paper's region manager for northern operations. "We are pleased to have reached a sales agreement with the Trust for Public Land that will achieve the long term conservation interests of this property and the community while protecting and maintaining the economic attributes of a working forest and local recreational traditions."
The largest contiguous block of New Hampshire land in private ownership, this property is the backbone of the local economy, providing both timber related jobs and a popular tourist destination for snowmobiling, fishing, canoeing, hunting, hiking and bird watching. It also surrounds three of the Connecticut River's four headwater lakes, includes nearly the entire watershed of Perry Stream and Indian Stream, and provides habitat for at least 20 rare wildlife species, including loons, osprey, bald eagles, and pine martens.
"We are committed to helping accomplish the vision that the Task Force's Steering Committee is developing for the land," said TPL field office director David Houghton. "Through this approach, we hope to help stabilize land ownership in the region, work with local officials and community members to foster economic growth through timber based jobs and tourism, protect environmentally sensitive portions of the property and endangered species habitat, and provide for public access and enjoyment."
$25 MILLION WILL BUILD PENNSYLVANIA ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER
ERIE, Pennsylvania, October 9, 2001 (ENS) - On one of his last days in office, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge delivered $25 million in capital budget redevelopment assistance funds to build The Presque Isle Center, a regional learning, research and visitor information facility outside the entrance to Presque Isle State Park in Erie.
"Presque Isle State Park and Lake Erie offer so much to so many people - a getaway with beaches and bikeways, a unique ecosystem for scientific study, and economic benefits for the entire Erie region," Ridge said. "Erie is privileged to have the crown jewel of Pennsylvania's state park system in its backyard."
"The vision for a first class regional visitors center at the entrance of Presque Isle State Park goes back nearly 50 years," continued Ridge. "Today I am pleased to unveil the 21st century version of that vision - a center that not only heralds Pennsylvania's most popular state park, but showcases the region's attractions and serves as an educational hub for its unique ecological and geological characteristics."
Situated on the bluff overlooking Presque Isle Bay and Presque Isle State Park, the 60,000 square foot Presque Isle Center will serve as an environmental education and research center. Interactive exhibits, displays and environmental programs will focus on wildlife, plants, water and geology; the history of Presque Isle and the Lake Erie region; the lighthouse and buildings at the park; and research and technology.
"First and foremost, The Presque Isle Center will be a learning center - a place where people of all ages can experience the unique natural features of Presque Isle, the Lake Erie watershed, and the Great Lakes region," Ridge said. "The center also will be a year round research facility for regional partnerships with colleges and universities studying the Great Lakes and waters that surround Presque Isle."
The center will include several classrooms to allow for expanded programming and environmental education for schools and groups. Park programming is now restricted to the Stull Center in the park, which has limited space and staff and is a seasonal facility.
The two story building will be constructed according to green building design principles. The elongated design and southern exposure will optimize passive solar performance. A 70 foot observation tower overlooking the park will serve as a solar collector and ventilator, distributing air through the building.
Ridge was sworn in Monday as the nation's new Director of Homeland Defense, and stepped down as Pennsylvania's governor.
DUKE ENERGY WORKERS HELP BUILD OYSTER REEF
HOUSTON, Texas, October 9, 2001 (ENS) - More than 50 Duke Energy volunteers helped construct an oyster reef and plant native marsh grass as part of the Galveston Bay Foundation Reef Roundup Event on Saturday.
A special ribbon cutting opened the new oyster reef at Sweetwater Marsh, Galveston Bay.
The reef construction and native grass planting will encourage marsh habitat growth in Galveston Bay. The reef will act as a wave barrier, making it possible for the marsh to become well established and prevent further shore erosion.
In addition to the construction and planting projects, volunteers and their families celebrated the event with educational activities, environmental games, bird watching and a special luncheon.
"This Duke Energy volunteer effort with the Galveston Bay Foundation marks the first step in establishing the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership (CWRP) in Texas," said Emilio de Cardenas, director of Duke Energy's environment, health and safety department in Houston. "We'll build on successful alliances the CWRP developed in Maine and Massachusetts to improve the coastal wetland environment along the Gulf Coast. To advance future corporate recruiting efforts, we will use this as an example of the types of restoration projects that can be supported through this partnership."
The Galveston Bay Foundation Reef Roundup Event is the inaugural project for the Texas chapter of the CWRP. Duke Energy is the lead corporation in the Gulf Coast region, as well as in the Texas chapter of CWRP.
The CWRP is a voluntary public private partnership in which corporations join forces with federal and state agencies to restore wetlands and other aquatic habitats. Qualifying projects may receive matching federal funds to further enhance the success of the projects.
Additional partnership events to promote sponsorship of environmental improvement projects in Texas and other Gulf Coast states will take place in the coming year. For more information on the CWRP, visit: http://www.coastalamerica.com/text/cwrp.html
NORM THOMPSON OUTFITTERS SWITCHES CATALOGS TO RECYCLED PAPER
HILLSBORO, Oregon, October 9, 2001 (ENS) - Norm Thompson Outfitters, in partnership with the Alliance for Environmental Innovation, has switched to paper with a minimum of 10 percent postconsumer recycled content in all of its catalogs.
The switch is the culmination of Norm Thompson Outfitters' partnership with the Alliance for Environmental Innovation, a nonprofit environmental group. Research completed during the partnership determined that paper with 10 percent postconsumer recycled content is available from major suppliers, is priced competitively with virgin paper, prints as well as virgin paper, and has no impact on customer response.
"Norm Thompson Outfitters is committed to using paper with the highest level of postconsumer recycled content that meets our business needs," said company president Rebecca Jewett. "By using recycled paper, we can reduce our burden on the environment while maintaining profitability. We expect that recycled paper will become the industry standard for catalogs, starting with 10 percent postconsumer recycled content, and moving to higher levels over time."
The Alliance calculates that Norm Thompson Outfitters' move to recycled paper will achieve the following annual environmental improvements:
"Switching to postconsumer recycled paper helps protect forests and wildlife, reduces energy use and pollution associated with paper production, and cuts waste sent to landfills and incinerators," said Victoria Mills, project manager at the Alliance for Environmental Innovation. "We applaud Norm Thompson Outfitters' leadership in moving to recycled paper and encourage other catalogers to follow suit."
Norm Thompson Outfitters is also taking steps to use less paper, and working with its paper suppliers to support cleaner manufacturing and environmentally preferable forest management practices.
Norm Thompson Outfitters sells clothing, gifts and home items through its catalogs, stores in Oregon and websites. The company was awarded the Direct Marketing Association's Robert Rodale Environmental Mailer of the Year award in both 2000 and 2001.
More information about the company's environmental initiatives is available at: http://www.NormThompson.com/CustomerService/Envir.asp