The Chromium Pipe Treatment

September 22nd, 2016 No comments

Christie DEP Rejected Scientists’ Recommendations On Drinking Water Standard for Carcinogenic Heavy Metal Chromium

Press Office Attacks Critic

“Hate that fucker,” Drewniak wrote to David Wildstein, the chief Bridgegate conspirator. “I want to beat him with a lead pipe…That would put everyone on notice.” Tom Moran column, “Christie’s Pals Want To Kill Me

Does the NJ press corps know the difference between rhetoric and reality? Do they care more about their own personal pecadillos than public health?

The ugly lead pipe metaphor -which got saturation media play – was obviously just nasty rhetoric.

But failure to regulate known carcinogens in public water supplies actually does kill people – and it got virtually squat in media circles.

Although you wouldn’t know it from reading the NJ newspapers, NJ has a long and sordid history with respect to public health risks and lax DEP regulation of the toxic heavy metal chromium, see:

The most recent chromium scandal is now playing out as a result of a national Report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Based on EPA data, EWG that found that over 200 million Americans are exposed to unsafe levels of the carcinogen in drinking water, see the Newsweek story:

Bill Wolfe, with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a group that protects government whistleblowers, says the EPA is “absolutely not” doing its job to protect the public from chromium, and that it’s a case that “illustrates undue influence—agency capture—by major corporate polluters.”

The EWG national Report prominently featured New Jersey, and in doing so exposed gross negligence by the Christie DEP.

The Christie DEP ignored DEP’s own scientists’ recommendations to set a chromium drinking water standard of 0.07 parts per billion, recommendations issued way back in September 2010.

The initial EWG Report noted:

In New Jersey, the press reported the water quality institute’s recommendation before it could be formally submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection for development of a regulation. This angered Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin, who was appointed by Gov. Chris Christie. He not only blocked submission of the recommendation, but effectively stopped the institute from meeting for four years,15 delaying drinking water regulations for more than a dozen chemicals.

The final version was softened, in response to DEP press office threats:

“In New Jersey, the press reported the water quality institute’s recommendation before it could be formally submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection for development of a regulation. According to former DEP planner Bill Wolfe, now an environmental advocate, this angered Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin, appointed by Gov. Chris Christie. Wolfe said Martin not only blocked submission of the recommendation, but effectively stopped the institute from meeting for four years,[15] delaying drinking water regulations for more than a dozen chemicals.

The final Report notes NJ’s battle:

Battles in New Jersey, North Carolina

Scientists in California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment are not alone in determining that extraordinarily low levels of chromium-6 in drinking water can cause cancer.

In 2010, New Jersey’s Drinking Water Quality Institute, a state agency comprised of scientists, utility officials and citizen experts, calculated a health-based maximum contaminant level – what California calls a public health goal – of 0.06 parts per billion, just slightly higher than California’s.[12] This year, scientists in North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, also drawing on the 2008 National Toxicology Program study that drove the California goal, calculated a do-not-drink level matching the New Jersey number.[13][14]

But neither New Jersey nor North Carolina has set a legal limit for chromium-6 in tap water. In both states, scientists’ health-based recommendations were at odds with the decisions of politically appointed regulators.

As I expected, that set the Christie hacks off and the DEP press office immediately sprung into attack mode to suppress that story in NJ media. To do that, they again smeared me personally.

This email was sent to EWG and reporters by DEP spokesman Bob Considine:

Unfortunately, you’re sourcing a disgruntled former DEP employee who was dismissed from here and is not telling the truth.

According to EWG, the Christie DEP press office essentially threatened them if they didn’t revise the Report – ironically on the same day of press reports of Gov. Christie’s spokesperson using the “lead pipe” threat.

EWG caved into that threat and revised the text of their Report, something I objected to and got this “apology” reply from EWG:

Bill,
I’m sorry you are disappointed, as I have profound respect for you and the work you have done and am very much hoping we can continue a relationship.

The simple truth is that we did not have the time or space to explain your proofs in detail, although we completely believe them. DEP was threatening what amounted to a nuclear counterattack on our credibility and the most efficient way to deal with it was to tell them they could have a couple of sentences in response. If the report had been one dealing with New Jersey in detail, we would have dug deeper and presented the evidence showing you are right.

Despite the fact that I sent NJ Spotlight reporter Jon Hurdle the evidence to back up my claim, he too was intimidated by the Christie DEP smear and did not print the full story about the recent DEP rejection of scientific recommendation back in 2010.

So here it is, from the Drinking Water Quality Institute’s meeting minutes for September 10, 2010:

3. Subcommittee Summaries—Subcommittee Chairpersons Health Effects—L. McGeorge: She noted first that the Subcommittee had adjusted its workplan, delaying action on radium and tertiary butyl alcohol to the first quarter of 2011; they would consider adding nitrates to their workload at a future meeting. Second, after A. Stern’s presentation at the previous Health Effects Subcommittee (HE) meeting on the slope factor developed by the NJDEP Chromium Workgroup for oral exposure to hexavalent chromium, the HE had accepted this slope factor as the basis for a Health-based MCL recommendation for hexavalent chromium at its September meeting. L. McGeorge distributed copies of a memorandum to the Testing and Treatment Subcommittees, recommending a health-based maximum contaminant level (HBMCL) of 0.07 μg/L for hexavalent chromium based on this slope factor.

 If readers have any doubts about this story, they can visit the video archives of NJN TV. Environmental reporter Ed Rogers broadcast a story on the evening news in which I was interviewed and supported the chromium recommendations of the health effects subcommittee.

Or readers could look into why the Chairwoman of the health effects subcommittee at the DWQI was removed after making that recommendation at that meeting.

She too got the Chrome Pipe Treatment.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Christie DEP Continues To Commercialize and Ruin State Parks

September 14th, 2016 No comments

A Tiki Bar Is Going Too Far

Island Beach State Park gem is commercialized with tawdry Tiki bar

Another shoe drops as a result of the “Keep It Green” theft of State Park Funds

red fox at Island Beach SP

red fox at Island Beach SP

We’ve written about this topic numerous times – see “Christie DEP Managing NJ State Parks, Public Lands & Forests As Cash Cows – a disaster for NJ State Parks and public lands.

The disaster is a result of the Christie DEP’s warped “Sustainable Parks Strategy”, which was compounded by the theft by the “Keep It Green” coalition of State Parks funds for open space.

The policy was imposed by unilateral DEP edict, with no public hearings or ability to comment and no legislative policy authorization.

Not only is a Tiki Bar completely incompatible with Island Beach State Park’s mission and natural resources, but there are plenty of places to get hammered on the Jersey Shore (I hope someone holds DEP Commissioner Martin personally liable when the inevitable DWI or drunk drowning deaths result).

I would have thought DEP would have learned something from the Liberty State Park debacle.

So No comment on the latest – other than it takes a very big pair of balls to name the place for the red fox – and has Jeff Tittel gone soft?

Read the NJ.Com story and weep

dunes2

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Whitman’s 9/11 Lies Were Not The First Time She Lied About Significant Public Health Risks Of Exposure To Toxic Chemicals

September 11th, 2016 No comments

After 15 Years and Thousands Dead & Dying, Whitman issues a self serving non-apology

Whitman’s prior lies about toxic mercury as NJ Governor should have disqualified and blocked confirmation as EPA Administrator

Senators Corzine, Torricelli & Committee Chair Boxer Supported Whitman, Helped Whitewash Record in NJ

Source: US EPA Inspector General Report

Source: US EPA Inspector General Report

Former NJ Governor Christie Whitman is in the news today on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 for what is shamelessly being portrayed as an “apology” and admission of errors in her repeated false statements that the air was safe to breath (see The Guardian who broke the story and The Bergen Record followup).

But Whitman pulls a Bill Clinton in parsing the words of both her so called “apology” and admission of error –

Note how Whitman unequivocally says she’s sorry that people got sick, but qualifies her own responsibility. She goes even further in The Record followup story and injects doubt about whether people even got sick and if it were EPA’s fault, qualifying and diminishing her own responsibility.

Paraphrasing Bill Clinton, I guess it all depends of the definition of “if”:

The Guardian:

“I’m very sorry that people are sick,” she said. “I’m very sorry that people are dying and if the EPA and I in any way contributed to that, I’m sorry.

The Record:

If people died because we made a mistake, then of course I feel awful,” she said in an interview Saturday.

“If ” people died? Ask the family of Joe Picurro of Toms River, NJ, who died.

In both news stories, Whitman clings to the lie about the science and Whitman’s claims that her statements were based on EPA scientists’ recommendations:

The Guardian:

“Everything that I did or said was based on the scientists, what their readings were telling them. I’m not going to secondguess the scientists because I’m not a scientist.”

That is another Whitman lie even the EPA Inspector General Report destroyed:

EPA’s early public statements following the collapse of the WTC towers reassured the public regarding the safety of the air outside the Ground Zero area. However, when EPA made a September 18 announcement that the air was “safe” to breathe, it did not have sufficient data and analyses to make such a blanket statement.

cheney6

But I want to tell a tragic  story about Whitman as Governor that foreshadowed her EPA 9/11 lies.

Had this scandal been taken seriously by the media and the US Senate at the time, there is no way Whitman would have been confirmed as EPA Administrator.

I know it well, having sacrificed my career at DEP over it and been forced out of DEP by Whitman and her political hacks as a whistleblower.

The Story that should have disqualified Whitman as EPA Administrator

Sworn testimony of a former NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Assistant Commissioner reveals that then NJ Governor Christie Whitman lied to the people of NJ about serious health risks – particularly to pregnant women, nursing mothers and their babies – of high concentrations of toxic methyl mercury in NJ freshwater fish.

The testimony names and implicates Whitman personally, by referring to hand written notes she wrote to DEP Commissioner Shinn in the margin of prior negative news stories about the risks of mercury, stories that specifically criticized the Governor for her false statements on the mercury issue.

The testimony reveals that the lies were part of a scheme cooked up by DEP and Whitman to discredit, inject false uncertainty into, and downplay the findings of a scientific study that found high levels of mercury in NJ freshwater fish.

The testimony names and shows that the scheme directly involved DEP Commissioner Shinn and his legal Counsel Mike Hogan – Hogan later was the Superior Court Judge who ruled in the highly controversial recent Christie DEP settlement of the Exxon $8 billion Natural Resource Damage case.

By lying about the reliability of this study,  DEP could continue to issue permits for planned garbage incinerators and a coal plant in south jersey – major sources of mercury – and avoid economic impacts to the recreational and commercial fishing and food industries, as well as DEP’s own fishing license revenues.

Whitman’s lies about mercury presaged her 9/11 lies and should have disqualified her from her subsequent EPA post in the Bush Administration.

But at that hearing, Whitman was introduced and supported by NJ’s Democratic Senators Torricelli and Corzine, enabling her record as NJ Governor to be whitewashed and not seriously probed by the Senate Committee.

The Whitman DEP appointees – Commissioner Shinn, Legal Counsel Hogan and Chief of Staff Mark Smith – then conspired to retaliate against the whistleblower who exposed this scheme. All are named and specifically implicated in the testimony.

But before we tell the complex story and provide excerpts and links to the sworn testimony, lets first lay the relevant scientific background – the boldface emphases are mine. Keep the boldface text in mind when you read the sworn testimony.

Mercury is highly toxic

Mercury bioaccumulates and biomagnifies up the food chain and is a more potent neurotoxin than lead, particularly for prenatal exposure (see this ATSDR toxicological profile for health effects).

Dietary intake is the most important source of nonoccupational exposure to mercury, with fish and other seafood products being the dominant source of mercury in the diet. Most of the mercury consumed in fish or other seafood is the highly absorbable methylmercury form. […]

Members of the general public with potentially high exposures include individuals who live in proximity to … municipal or medical incinerators, or coal-fired power plants. Other populations at risk of exposure include recreational and subsistence fishers who routinely consume meals of fish that may be contaminated; subsistence … and pregnant women and nursing mothers (including their developing fetuses and breast-fed infants) who are exposed to mercury from dietary, medical, or occupational sources,

Methylmercury constitutes over 99% of the total mercury detected in fish muscle tissue, with no detection of inorganic or dimethylmercury (Grieb et al. 1990; Bloom 1992). (Source: see ATSDR Potential For Human Exposure)

Scientists are especially concerned about impacts on children and developing fetus: (see Section 1.6 of ATSDR Public Health Statement)

Methylmercury is the form of mercury most commonly associated with a risk for developmental effects. Exposure can come from foods contaminated with mercury on the surface (for example, from seed grain treated with methylmercury to kill fungus) or from foods that contain toxic levels of methylmercury (as in some fish, wild game, and marine mammals). Mothers who are exposed to methylmercury and breast-feed their infant may also expose the child through the milk. The effects on the infant may be subtle or more pronounced, depending on the amount to which the fetus or young child was exposed. In cases in which the exposure was relatively small, some effects might not be apparent, such as small decreases in IQ or effects on the brain that may only be determined by the use of very sensitive neuropsychological testing. In instances in which the exposure is great, the effects may be more serious. In some such cases of mercury exposure involving serious exposure to the developing fetus, the effects are delayed. In such cases, the infant may be born apparently normal, but later show effects that may range from the infant being slower to reach developmental milestones, such as the age of first walking and talking, to more severe effects including brain damage with mental retardation, incoordination, and inability to move. Other severe effects observed in children whose mothers were exposed to very toxic levels of mercury during pregnancy include eventual blindness, involuntary muscle contractions and seizures, muscle weakness, and inability to speak. It is important to remember, however, that the severity of these effects depends upon the level of mercury exposure and the length of exposure. The very severe effects just mentioned were reported in large-scale poisoning instances in which pregnant and nursing women were exposed to extremely high levels of methylmercury in contaminated grain used to make bread (in Iraq) or seafood (in Japan) sold to the general population.

Researchers are currently studying the potential for less serious developmental effects, including effects on a child’s behavior and ability to learn, think, and solve problems that may result from eating lower levels of methylmercury in foods.A main source of exposure to methylmercury for the pregnant woman and the young child is from eating fish.

Highlights of the sworn testimony

Come back for part 2 of this post tomorrow, where we tell the NJ mercury coverup story, excerpt the sworn testimony, and provide links to all the documents so you can read the whole story.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Beauty

September 10th, 2016 No comments

nights

 

Beauty I’ve always missed 
With these eyes before
Just what the truth is
I can’t say any more
‘Cause I love you 
Yes I love you
Oh how I love you ~~~ Nights in White Satin (Moody Blues, 1967)

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

EPIC

September 10th, 2016 No comments

epic1

“End Poverty In California” (EPIC) was the motto of Upton Sinclair’s 1934 campaign for Governor of California. Sinclair is far better known as a radical writer than political candidate and the Jersey Guy he was (before he moved to California).

Sinclair wrote a wonderful book about that campaign – I, Governor of California – And How I Ended Poverty  – that told the story of how the media attacked him and the Democrats sabotaged him. For a current piece on the implications of that dirty campaign, see: The Traumatic Birth of the Modern Vicious Campaign.

(and if you ever want a good read on the press, who controls it, and how it operates, read Sinclair’s book “The Brass Check” – read it on line!)

For the “revolutionary” tone of Sinclair’s campaign, here’s an excerpt from his book – don’t you love this pledge: “There are going to be no lawyers and lobbyists for Big Business in my chambers”:

epic2

There are echoes of that campaign now, particularly how the Democrats derailed the Sanders campaign and the corporate media and Democrats have attacked the Jill Stein Green Party. Let’s hope the results are not similar (Google and find out how it turned out).

Here is the EPIC Platform:

  1. A legislative enactment for the establishment of State land colonies, whereby the unemployed may become self-sustaining and cease to be a burden upon the taxpayers. A public body, the California Authority for Land (the CAL) will take the idle land, and land sold for taxes and at foreclosure sales, and erect dormitories, kitchens, cafeterias, and social rooms, and cultivate the land using modern machinery under the guidance of experts.
  2. A public body entitled the California Authority for Production (the CAP) will be authorized to acquire factories and production plants whereby the unemployed may produce the basic necessities required for themselves and for the land colonies, and to operate these factories and house and feed and care for the workers. CAL and CAP will maintain a distribution system for the exchange of each other’s products. The industries will include laundries, bakeries, canneries, clothing and shoe factories, cement-plants, brick-yards, lumber yards, thus constituting a complete industrial system and a new and self-sustaining world for those our present system cannot employ.
  3. A public body entitled the California Authority for Money (the CAM) will handle the financing of CAL and CAP. This body will issue scrip to be paid to the workers and used in the exchanging of products within the system. It will also issue bonds to cover the purchase of land and factories, the erection of buildings and the purchase of machinery.
  4. An act of the legislature repealing the present sales tax, and substituting a tax on stock transfers at the rate of 4 cents per share.
  5. An act of the legislature providing for a State income tax, beginning with incomes of $5000 and steeply graduated until incomes of $50,000 would pay 30% tax.
  6. An increase in the State inheritance tax, steeply graduated and applying to all property in the State regardless of where the owner may reside. The law would take 50% of sums above $50,000 bequeathed to any individual and 50% of sums above $250,000 bequeathed by any individual.
  7. A law increasing the taxes on privately owned public utility corporations and banks.
  8. A constitutional amendment revising the tax code of the State, providing that cities and counties shall exempt from taxation all homes occupied by the owners and ranches cultivated by the owners, wherever the assessed value of such homes and ranches is less than $3000. Upon properties assessed at more than $5000 there will be a tax increase of one-half of one per cent for each $5000 of additional assessed valuation.
  9. A constitutional amendment providing for a State land tax upon unimproved building land and agricultural land which is not under cultivation. The first $1000 of assessed valuation to be exempt, and the tax to be graduated according to the value of land held by the individual. Provision to be made for a state building loan fund for those who wish to erect homes.
  10. A law providing for the payment of a pension of $50 per month to every needy person over sixty years of age who has lived in the State of California three years prior to the date of the coming into effect of the law.
  11. A law providing for the payment of $50 per month to all persons who are blind, or who by medical examination are proved to be physically unable to earn a living; these persons also having been residents of the State for three years.
  12. A pension of $50 per month to all widowed women who have dependent children; if the children are more than two in number, the pension to be increased by $25 per month for each additional child. These also to have been residents three years in the State.
Categories: Uncategorized Tags: