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Winston Smith Pays A Visit To The Drinking Water Quality Institute

Prior DWQI Recommendations To Regulate Toxic Chemicals are Down the Memory Hole

New Risk Review Process Allows Industry to “Manufacture Doubt”

We don’t forget Commissioner Martin’s smear of DEP’s science

“Who controls the past controls the future: Who controls the present controls the past”

As a scientist and an academic toxicologist, Rutgers professor Keith Cooper, PhD, Gov. Christie’s newly installed Chairman of the NJ Drinking Water Quality Institute (DWQI), certainly must be familiar with the compelling arguments of Professor David Michaels’ book “Doubt is their product – How Industry’s Assault on Science  Threatens Your Health”  and with Harvard Professor’s Naomi Oreskes’ work “Merchants of doubt – How a handful of scientists obscured the truth – from tobacco smoke to global warming“.

Both recent books amply document how corporate “scientists” have blocked, delayed, and weakened government’s attempts to regulate the public health and environmental risk of their products.

So, I was not surprised when Cooper presented a new DWQI review process and severely narrowed the scope of public comment at yesterday’s meeting of the DWQI.

(I asked a question at the outset of the public comment period and was told directly by Cooper that public comments were to be limited to the 3 technical papers presented. By definition, that excluded hugely significant issues – as discussed below).

Nor was I surprised that later, when I testified during the public comment period, that Dr. Cooper interrupted, objected to, and then basically told me to sit down and shut up when I began speaking about how his new risk assessment review process invited and exacerbated exactly the corrupt industry strategies and scientific abuses documented by Professors Michaels and Oreskes.

Hal Bozarth, NJ's "Godfather of Toxics" - Lobbyist for the NJ Chemistry Council

Hal Bozarth, NJ’s “Godfather of Toxics” – Lobbyist for the NJ Chemistry Council

With Hal Bozarth, head of the NJ Chemistry Council sitting in the front row, of course Dr. Cooper did not want to talk about the fact that the chemical industry, including NJ based Dupont, is waging a war on his science and the work of the DWQI.

Of course he didn’t want to talk about “manufacturing uncertainty”.

Of course with reporters copiously taking notes and recording the proceedings, Dr. Cooper did not want to talk about the fact that powerful players like Dupont have major influence on the Christie DEP’s Science Advisory Board and huge conflicts of interest.

Similarly, for the same reasons that his predecessor – Rutgers professor Mark Robson who resigned in frustration – of course Dr. Cooper doesn’t want to talk about the fact that the DWQI made a series of recommendations to DEP to develop drinking water “Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs).

Specifically, Cooper did not let me talk or ask questions about the status of the prior DWQI MCL recommendations for perchlorate (2005), Radon- 222 (2009) and 13 hazardous chemicals (2009) –  including tri-chloropropane found in Moorestown’s drinking water – all of which have been ignored by the Christie DEP.

And of course Chairman Cooper does not want to talk about the fact that DEP has documented over 500 chemicals in NJ drinking water, which was discussed at the September 2010 meeting, the one before DEP Commissioner Martin blocked the DWQI from meeting for 4 years (from the minutes of that meeting):

B. Wolfe wished to follow up on the May 7 presentation (posted on the NJDEP website June 28) of a “white paper” on unregulated contaminants. Research conducted by NJDEP found over 500 unregulated drinking water contaminants among the supplies tested, most of which had no toxicological data. Wolfe stated that it is not feasible to deal with this number of unregulated contaminants one at a time, when a technically and economically feasible approach of grouping contaminants by treatment approach is available. 

(for DEP documents and PEER petition to DEP, see: Filter the chemical soup in NJ’s drinking water).

Of course, Dr. Cooper doesn’t want to talk publicly about any of that.

That’s why its all been swept down the memory hole.

You see, the DWQI has a brand new review process.

After years of criticism, Cooper is desperately trying to “rebuild the reputation of the DWQI” and focus on that as the “new and improved” DWQI scientific review process.

By inference, that means that all the prior work of the DWQI and all the prior recommendations were somehow defective and therefore no longer valid.

The only people who think that the NJ DWQI have a poor scientific reputation are Dupont, the Chemistry Council and their tool DEP Commissioner Bob Martin (that’s what “customer service” and regulator relief” is!)

And that is exactly the false narrative that DEP Commissioner and his customer friends in the chemical industry want, because it becomes the excuse for letting them off the hook for meeting many MCL’s previously recommended by the DWQI.

[* That lie that prior DWQI was shoddy also provides an excuse for DEP Commissioner Martin’s directive that blocked the DWQI from meeting for 4 years.]

Under the pretext of more rigorous “sound science” (Dr. Cooper actually used that industry slogan), the shiny new process provides plenty of opportunity for the chemical industry to “manufacture doubt” to block, delay, and weaken any DWQI recommendations and DEP regulatory standards. And because it is so shiny and new and improved, that means that all the old DWQI Reports and recommendations are flawed and outdated and shoddy science (Bob Martin accused DEP scientists of shoddy science during his first weeks in Office –

Commissioner Martin testified to the legislature that DEP DWQI science was:

“shoddy, poor, not organized, and anecdotal” and that “there was little data and science to back it up”.

That “rebuild the reputation of the DWQI” is a devastating false narrative, of course.

For those that follow the details, that narrative is destroyed not only by the actual history, but by the fact that even yesterday’s presentation explicitly stated that the prior risk assessment methodology of the DWQI remains unchanged – the only things that have changed are how the DWQI Reports present the data.

All of which takes us to the day job of our Hero, Winston Smith.

Smith worked in the Ministry of Truth.

His job was to flush inconvenient facts “down the memory hole”.

As Orwell wrote: 

In the walls of the cubicle there were three orifices. To the right of the speakwrite, a small pneumatic tube for written messages, to the left, a larger one for newspapers; and in the side wall, within easy reach of Winston’s arm, a large oblong slit protected by a wire grating. This last was for the disposal of waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.

Orwell, like Dr. Cooper, fully understood the implications of history and the need to eliminate inconvenient historical facts:

If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, IT NEVER HAPPENED–that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death?

So, just what became of all the prior works and recommendations of the DWQI, now that Dr. Cooper has put in place his new industry friendly review process?

Orwell knows:

What happened in the unseen labyrinth to which the pneumatic tubes led, he did not know in detail, but he did know in general terms. As soon as all the corrections which happened to be necessary in any particular number of ‘The Times’ had been assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on the files in its stead. This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs–to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place. The largest section of the Records Department, far larger than the one on which Winston worked, consisted simply of persons whose duty it was to track down and collect all copies of books, newspapers, and other documents which had been superseded and were due for destruction. A number of ‘The Times’ which might, because of changes in political alignment, or mistaken prophecies uttered by Big Brother, have been rewritten a dozen times still stood on the files bearing its original date, and no other copy existed to contradict it. Books, also, were recalled and rewritten again and again, and were invariably reissued without any admission that any alteration had been made. Even the written instructions which Winston received, and which he invariably got rid of as soon as he had dealt with them, never stated or implied that an act of forgery was to be committed: always the reference was to slips, errors, misprints, or misquotations which it was necessary to put right in the interests of accuracy.


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