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When: Thursday, June 4th 5:30 – 6:45 PDT
On April 29th, Governor Brown issued an executive order to establish a new and aggressive California greenhouse gas reduction target of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. A number of legislative proposals are currently being debated in Sacramento to reach these ambitious targets.
Join us for a webinar to learn about our State’s climate policy proposals and their potential benefits and limitations. Our speakers will talk about the current policy landscape, what the proposals do and don’t do, and how we can ensure stronger health protections in climate policy. Our second speaker, Curtis Below, will offer insight into the climate policy views held by critical swing legislators and their constituents, including Latinos, non-Latino swing voters, and small business leaders.
Parin Shah, Senior Strategist with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Prior to APEN, Parin was with Green For All where he worked with cities and counties on equity and environmental policy. In 2004, he founded the Urban Accords Institute, which in 2005 co-hosted the UN World Environment Day in San Francisco out of which was developed the Urban Environmental Accords – a road map for creating green cities. From 2000-2004 as the President of the Commission on the Environment for the City and County of San Francisco, he co-authored ground-breaking legislation on climate change, environmental justice, wetlands conservation & restoration, zero waste, green buildings and food security.
Curtis Below, Senior Vice President at Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3)
FM3 Researcher Curtis Below has brought his broad professional experience in the public, nonprofit and private sectors to FM3 in 2007. Since joining the firm he has provided qualitative and quantitative research and strategic advice to government agencies, non-profit organizations, businesses, and candidate and ballot measure campaigns at both the state and local levels. In the public sector, Curtis previously worked in the California State Legislature for then Assembly member Herb J. Wesson, Jr., specifically focusing on health, utilities and conservation issues. In the nonprofit sector, Curtis worked for the Environmental Defense Fund, focusing primarily on environmental health issues.
Moderated by Martha Dina Argüello of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles
Join PSR-LA and communities throughout the world on Sunday, April 26 at 1 pm as we wave goodbye to nuclear weapons at the historic Chain Reaction peace sculpture in Santa Monica.
The event is part of an international Global Wave action taking place over 24 hours prior to the 2015 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference at the UN in New York, where governments meet to discuss their obligations toward nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. With a global arsenal of 16,300 nuclear weapons, and a trillion dollars pledged to modernize the US arsenal over the next three decades, meaningful progress on fulfilling the NPT treaty is in jeopardy.
World communities are therefore joining together on April 26 in a Global Wave mobilization that calls on governments to abolish nuclear weapons and re-invest the $100 billion annual global nuclear weapons budget into areas of social need such as eliminating poverty, addressing climate change, and ensuring basic health care and education world-wide.
The Global Wave will start in New York City and proceed through each time zone every hour through symbolic Wave events. Photos and video from the Global Wave events will be shown to governments at the NPT Review Conference to demonstrate global support for a nuclear weapons free world. Click here to see a map of the events.
In Southern California, what better place to join this international chain of peace events than Chain Reaction, Paul Conrad’s historic peace sculpture in Santa Monica. Chain Reaction is a 26-foot-tall sculpture depicting a nuclear mushroom cloud created from chain links. The inscription at the base reads, “This is a statement of peace. May it never become an epitaph.” It was designed by three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Conrad and gifted to the City of Santa Monica in 1991.
Don’t miss this historic opportunity to vote with your hands for a nuclear weapons free world! Our local Global Wave event will, in addition to calling for a nuclear weapons free world, commemorate the 29th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, remembering its victims and all those who have been impacted by nuclear weapons, nuclear reactor accidents, and radioactive fallout and waste.
Global Wave for a Nuclear Weapons Free World
Sunday, April 26th at 1 pm
Chain Reaction Sculpture, Santa Monica Civic Center
1800 block of Main Street in Santa Monica
Click here for map of event location
Click here to download flyer and click here to download press release.
For more information contact Denise Duffield at 213-689-9170 ext 104 office or cell 310-339-9676 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sponsored by: Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, International Health and Epidemiology Research Center, American Friends Service Committee-Los Angeles, Church in Ocean Park, Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Office of the Americas, Pace e Bene, Palisadians for Peace, Pax Christi
The Global Wave action is part of the Peace and Planet Mobilization for a Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just, and Sustainable World. Read more about the Peace and Planet mobilization – website and Facebook page.
Help PSR-LA revitalize and grow our efforts to address nuclear threats. Donate to the Prescription for Survival Campaign today!
PSR-LA is making headlines! In just the last two weeks, our work to protect health and the environment was featured in multiple media outlets. We are building momentum for change and now must keep the pressure on.
Please help us turn this exciting media attention into action by donating today! Each of these stories features just what is at stake in our work: people’s health.
Study may explain how pollution causes disease – KPCC
A new study examining the ways that air particulate matter causes cardiovascular disease was released in the Environmental Journal last week. PSR-LA has long worked to protect public health from toxic air emissions that greatly impact Southern Californians, particularly inland communities and those who live near freeways.
Santa Susana toxic cleanup effort is a mess – Los Angeles Times
The cleanup of nuclear and chemical contamination at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), for which PSR-LA has worked for over 30 years, has had many setbacks recently. An SSFL Work Group community meeting organized by PSR-LA last week was also featured on KNBC 4, “Residents Question Toxic Waste Cleanup Efforts.”
44 toxic chemicals used in local oil and gas operations, report says – KPCC
PSR-LA and other advocates recently released a report on chemicals used to drill and “stimulate” oil wells in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, which found that 44 toxic chemicals were used more than 5,000 times during the past year. More than half of the wells are located within 1,500 feet of a home, school, or medical facility. Click here to learn more.
LA to test Jordan Downs for lead contamination – Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Housing Authority has finally agreed to test land near the Jordan Downs housing project for lead. PSR-LA has been working with our partners in South Los Angeles to make sure that residents are not being exposed to harmful lead and other toxic chemical contamination from years of operations by nearby industrial facilities.
Environmental toxins can cause serious and life-threatening illness. PSR-LA believes that communities should not pay with their health for dangerous decisions made by polluting industries.
All of the issues that PSR-LA takes on – air quality, climate change, nuclear threats, toxics, and unhealthy land use choices – require us to go up against deep-pocketed and powerful industry forces. Your financial contribution to PSR-LA can help us win. Sometimes, just one more physician training, one more visit with a legislator, or one more community meeting can make all the difference.
Media attention is great, but we know that real change takes organizing and action. Your donation to PSR-LA will help us ensure that heath care professionals and impacted communities are at the table and have a voice in changing the policies that put health in harm’s way.
Together, we can achieve our goal of a healthier, safer world.Sincerely,All of us at PSR-LA
- The Toxies made a splash on March 22nd at a community event hosted by Congresswoman Grace Napolitano to discuss the status of the Baldwin Park Superfund site, as well as drinking water quality issues in the San Gabriel Valley.
It was the perfect venue for the Toxies to appear. Created by PSR-LA and Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy (CHANGE), The Toxies features actors who personify toxic chemicals as part of a multi-media campaign to keep communities safe from toxic chemicals and pollutants. Since 2010, the campaign has produced several Toxies award shows and last year launched a series of webisodes, “The Toxies: Exposed.”Decades of industrial activity and improper handling of chemicals has left the San Gabriel Valley highly contaminated with chemicals such as trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), perchlorate, NDMA, 14 Dioxin, and nitrates. While special water treatment systems have been put into place, the remediation is ongoing.
Toxies TCE, Perchlorate, and PCE entertained and educated the audience by “crashing” the community meeting to talk about their toxic qualities and effects on health.
Both the event and the Toxies were featured in the April 17 Pasadena Weekly cover story, “Toxic Avengers: Actors educate the public about hazardous chemicals as The Toxies.” and EnviroReporter.com’s “Toxies Play a Starring Role in San Gabriel Valley.”
To learn more and view photographs from the event, visit The Toxies website.
The Sacramento Superior Court granted a motion for preliminary injunction against the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) pending the final outcome of a lawsuit over the demolition and disposal of radioactive debris from the Santa Susana Field Lab (SSFL), a former nuclear reactor and rocket engine test site.
The suit was brought by the Strumwasser and Woocher and Consumer Watchdog on behalf of PSR-LA, Committee to Bridge the Gap, and the Southern California Federation of Scientists. We argued that the DTSC was violating CEQA by failing to perform any of the required environmental review for the demolition of Boeing-owned structures at Area IV, the nuclear portion of the site, prior to authorizing their demolition and disposal.
In the order enjoining DTSC from granting any further approval to Boeing’s activities pending the outcome of litigation, Judge Allen Sumner wrote, “The court concludes Petitioners established a reasonable probability they will prevail on their CEQA claim against DTSC, and the balance of harms on the record to date tips in their favor.”
Read the comprehensive study, Demolition Of Radioactive Structures And The Disposal And Recycling Of The Debris From The Santa Susana Field Laboratory Nuclear Area, by longtime PSR-LA ally Committee to Bridge the Gap.
See media coverage:
Check out CNN’s Opinion article written by PSR national’s past president, Dr. Ira Helfand, bringing to light the great danger of the thousands of nuclear weapons already in existence. Please take a look at Dr. Helfand’s report, Nuclear Famine: Two Billion People at Risk? in which he talks about the global impacts of limited nuclear war on agriculture, food supplies and human nutrition.
A nuclear threat far greater than Iran
By Ira Helfand
December 10, 2013
Editor’s note: Ira Helfand is co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and a past president of the organization’s U.S. affiliate, Physicians for Social Responsibility. He is the author of the report “Nuclear Famine: Two Billion People at Risk?”
(CNN) — The world is focused on forging a durable agreement to prevent Iran from developing a single nuclear weapon. While critically important, these efforts ignore a far greater danger: the thousands of weapons that already exist.
There are today more than 17,000 nuclear warheads, an ongoing existential threat to human survival that has largely been ignored since the Cold War ended two decades ago. And, unlike Iran, there are no comparable negotiations under way to deal with these far more dangerous arsenals.
In fact, the humanitarian consequences of even a limited nuclear war, such as a conflict in South Asia between India and Pakistan, involving just 100 Hiroshima-size bombs — less than 0.5% of the world’s nuclear arsenal — would put 2 billion people’s lives and well-being at risk.
The local effects would be devastating. More than 20 million people would be dead in a week from the explosions, firestorms and immediate radiation effects. But the global consequences would be far worse.
PSR-LA opposes military strikes on Syria. An op-ed by our board member Dr. Robert Dodge is below, cross-posted from the Huntington News.
Defining Appropriate Action in Syria
by Robert F. Dodge, MD
The horrific use of chemical weapons in Syria is a crime against humanity and demands an international response. President Obama states that the United States must take appropriate action vs. doing nothing. This is absolutely true. The problem comes in defining appropriate action. There are at least two options, military vs. non-military, the latter with a host of options.
Framing that action in military terms guarantees the loss of additional innocent lives. Choosing a military option further fuels the sectarian strife spreading across the Middle East. This will encourage the growth of anti-American sentiment rife in the region. Our trillion dollar war in Iraq has demonstrated that war is not the answer. Iraq is on the verge of falling into the worst chaos since the beginning of that conflict.
This crisis does demand action ― non-military action. Doing nothing is cowardly and not in keeping with the credibility or morals of the United States or any other country that professes to support the rule of international law and morality. This includes Russia, Iran and China.
An international response is demanded. After 9/11 there was a brief period and opportunity when the world came together with a sentiment that the “whole world was American.” That feeling was quickly lost as the U.S. opted for bombing nation after nation, including a unilateral “pre-emptive” war against Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11. We have paid and will pay the price of that war for generations.
Today, in a similar vein, the entire world identifies with and is sickened and horrified by the images of children and innocent victims of these cowardly gas attacks. But the military intervention being debated is not intended to end the violent conflict that has killed more than 100,000 Syrians. It won’t help the nearly two million Syrian refugees return home or get the more than 6.8 million people in need access to humanitarian aid.
Our leaders need to show courage against the tide of war. The perpetrators of these crimes must be brought to justice. There is an international arena for these crimes against humanity to be addressed. The International Criminal Court’s mission is to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. The International Court of Justice’s mission is to prosecute Nations that have committed crimes against humanity. These are just two methods by which perpetrators of these crimes can be held accountable. The United States has the opportunity to lead the way in empowering and supporting these international institutions in performing the role that they were established to do.
This will take courage, strength, determination, vision and true international leadership―not bombs. This is the role that the United States can and must pursue if we hope to see an end to sectarian violence in this region and the world over. We must call upon all nations and our own elected leaders complacent with arming the various sides in these conflicts to endorse and support this international peace keeping effort. This will demonstrate their true commitment to peace, international law and humanity.
We must follow our moral compass. The United States and other world leaders should intensify their efforts to find a peaceful, political solution to end the bloodshed, not add more violence to a tragic civil war. The president needs to hear from us and be supported for his courage and willingness to pause and hear from the nation as we pursue the best hope for the ordinary men, women, and children of Syria.
Dr. Robert Dodge of Ventura is a family practice physician and a board member of Physicians for Social Responsibility. He frequently speaks and writes on issues related to global sustainability and nuclear security.
Many stages of oil and natural gas development use chemicals. These chemicals are used not only for hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” but also well drilling and during recovery and delivery of oil and natural gas. Many of these chemicals are toxic and may seriously harm human health and the environment.
Surprisingly, a large number of the products and their chemical components used in the process remain undisclosed to the public because the oil and gas industry claims the chemical mixture is a “trade secret.” An in-depth review by Dr. Theo Colborn and colleagues at The Endocrine Disruption Exchange generated a list of hundreds of products used during oil and gas development and only a fraction of their respective chemical components. The study, “Natural Gas Operations from a Public Health Perspective,” published in 2011, presented an extensive database of fracking products and chemicals made publicly available to date, and their respective health effects.
PSR-LA created an infographic to summarize what is known about the products and chemicals used in fracking and their known effects on human health and the environment. Click here to download the infographic (PDF).
PSR-LA is committed to advocating for the public’s right to know about the chemicals related to oil and natural gas development. You can help move this conversation by sharing this post with your friends and colleagues using these samples:
PSR-LA’s nifty infographic on the adverse health effects of hundreds of toxic chemicals used and kept secret by the oil and gas industry during fracking. Share and help support PSR-LA’s fight against industry trade secrets and to protect public health!
Check out PSR-LA’s infographic on the health effects of chemicals used by the oil and gas industry during fracking #DontGagDocs #fracking
This is a cross post of the article originally posted on the Las Vegas Informer.
Editor’s Note: Below is a commentary by Robert Dodge, MD, who addresses the dangers and underlying issues of fracking for natural gas, a dramatically escalating technology posing unique dangers to our nation’s groundwater and health. The following column is an opinion piece and the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the staff and management of the Informer Media Group.
Our country is addicted to oil and gas. In recent years the technique of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, or fracking, has gotten greater attention, both positive and negative. It is a Trojan horse, sold to us as a way to become energy independent, provide local jobs, and stimulate the economy. As an MD, I need to note that the disease, death and destruction of fracking outweighs its appeal.
Fracking is a process where a large amount of water is mixed with sand and/or chemicals that are then injected deep underground into rock formations, fracturing the geologic formations to release petroleum, natural gas, or other substances for extraction. With today’s technologies horizontal bores can be drilled for miles away from the well.
While the precursor to modern fracking has gone on for decades, the potential health and environmental risks associated with today’s fracking methodologies are significant. Since federal laws have failed to prevent fracking pollution and groundwater contamination so severe that some rural wells are now producing flammable water that literally burns, states like Illinois have been faced with attempting to regulate it.
Modern fracking across the country is so water-intensive it uses some seven billion gallons of water annually in just four western states—North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado—mixed with massive amounts of a “chemical cocktail,” many of which are known cancer-causing agents, in addition to other kidney, liver, neurologic and respiratory toxins. The industry has refused to provide the identity of many of these agents under a “trade secret” law, though studies have identified more than 600 chemicals used. This lack of transparency and inherent “trust us” attitude is suspect at best in an industry that has brought us oil spills, pipeline breaks, and environmental degradation with their associated health impacts the world over.
This process is also premised on the assumption that there will be no cross-contamination of groundwater aquifers, demonstrably false. This assumes a leak-proof “plumbing” pipeline without mention of the potential for surface ground and air quality toxin contamination. It also fails to deal with the handling and detoxification of the millions of gallons of contaminated fracking water that result.
This new fracking is happening around the country and currently is being planned for California’s rich underground petroleum deposits. The California legislature is currently developing the oversight laws to regulate this industry. Senate Bill 4 authored by Sen. Fran Pavely passed the California Senate on Wednesday. Unfortunately this law does not protect the health and wellbeing of our citizens from the chemicals being used in fracking and even has the potential to gag physicians from revealing the impacts of fracking chemicals to their effected patients and consulting medical colleagues under threat of being sued by the oil and gas industry as their “trade secret” gets out. This gift to the oil and gas industry is unethical and forces physicians to break their Hippocratic Oath. Yet this already is the law in states like Pennsylvania.
When it comes to safeguarding the public health, anyone who has the potential to impact it would be well served to abide by the medical dictum of “first, do no harm.” As a family physician my responsibility is to protect the health of my patients and community. What is to be an acceptable risk for cancer and health risks of these toxins? Is it 1 in 10,000, 1 in 100,000? Who will decide? The oil and gas industry? In addressing incurable illnesses it is better to prevent what we cannot cure.
At the same time that we pursue fracking, our efforts are diverted from the bigger picture and the more pressing need to move away from our dependency on fossil fuel and toward the development of renewable forms of energy. Scientists tell us that of the existing carbon-based fuel in oil, gas and coal global reserves we can only consume ~20% before we reach the tipping point for catastrophic climate change and its resultant health implications. Without shifting the paradigm in energy sourcing, it is not a question of energy independence or whose fracking project is more favorable but more realistically a question of whose match will light the final fuse.
We have a limited time to get ahead of this process and work for real solutions to our energy needs while simultaneously protecting our health and environment. This is a time for the people to lead and the leaders to follow.
Robert F. Dodge, M.D., serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Beyond War, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions, and writes forPeaceVoice.
PSR-LA was pleased to co-sponsor a Hiroshima Anniversary Vigil on August 6 with Save Chain Reaction, a group dedicated to restoring and saving Paul Conrad’s historic sculpture at the Santa Monica Civic Center.
Chain Reaction is a 26-foot-tall sculpture depicting a nuclear mushroom cloud created from chain links. The inscription at the base reads, “This is a statement of peace. May it never become an epitaph.”
The piece was designed by three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Conrad and gifted to the City of Santa Monica in 1991. Though designated a Santa Monica Landmark last year by the Landmark Commission, the City wants to remove Chain Reaction unless supporters can raise $400,000 by February 1, 2014.
It was most fitting for the Hiroshima remembrance to be held at the sculpture, as both the event and artwork share the important goal of calling attention to the devastation caused by nuclear weapons.
Sixty-eight years ago, the United States became the first country to use a nuclear weapon by bombing Hiroshima, Japan, instantly claiming the lives of at least 140,000 people and causing thousands more to suffer from the debilitating effects of radiation. Two days later, the US dropped another atomic bomb on Nagasaki, instantly killing 80,000 with thousands more to be impacted by radiation.
Other countries quickly moved to have their own nuclear weapons, but the dramatic escalation of US and Soviet Union arsenals terrified citizens worldwide and prompted a massive global movement for disarmament.
PSR-LA was founded as part of that movement. Our 1981 conference on the medical consequences of nuclear war was attended by 3,000 people. We led physician diplomacy visits to the Soviet Union and China, where like-minded physicians from those countries joined in our call for peace. Physicians throughout Southern California joined PSR-LA, recognizing that on the matter of nuclear war, prevention is the only cure.
Nationwide, the movement flourished. In 1982, over a million people gathered in New York’s Central Park to rally for nuclear disarmament. A diverse group of speakers – from Martin Sheen to Cesar Chavez – called upon world governments to step back from the brink.
As the Cold War ended, the threat of nuclear war faded from our collective consciousness. The disarmament movement made great progress indeed – the global arsenal has gone from 70,000 nuclear weapons down to approximately 20,000 today. But the nuclear threat has by no means disappeared.
Today’s nuclear bombs are far more powerful than those that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and thousands remain on hair trigger alert. Nuclear power is rife with proliferation, security and health threats. Commercial nuclear reactors contain 1,000 times the radiation as released by the Hiroshima bomb, and the impacts of a disaster are difficult if not impossible to mitigate as we are seeing in Fukushima. Last year, taking into account the threats posed by nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, and climate change, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the hand on its infamous Doomsday Clock to 5 minutes before midnight.
As the clock keeps ticking, it is ever more important to remember the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to preserve art like Chain Reaction that reminds us that the nuclear cloud remains over all of our heads. On August 6, 2013, PSR-LA, Save Chain Reaction, and a dedicated group of individuals did just that.
Santa Monica icon and veteran peace activist Jerry Rubin, who organized and emceed the event, opened with a moment of silence for the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, followed by a moment of silence for those suffering due to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. Regina Sakurai and Michio Masubuchi of the Koyassan Buddist Temple in Los Angeles then presented the Hiroshima Eternal Peace Flame. The flame was given to the City of Los Angeles by the Mayor of Hiroshima in 1984 for the summer Olympics. Folk singer Ross Altman then sang a song about Hiroshima entitled “Furusato.”
An impressive group of speakers, including former Mayors of Santa Monica, longtime nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman, and Vietnam veteran, activist, and author of “Born on the Fourth of July” Ron Kovic, author and peace advocate Marianne Williamson, and Truthdig editor Robert Scheer, took to the mic for a few words.
- Jerry Rubin, peace activist
- James Conn, former Mayor of Santa Monic First mayor to be arrested while protesting at the Nevada Nuclear Weapons Test Site.
- Judy Abdo, former Mayor of Santa Monica. Also arrested while protesting at the Nevada Test Site.
- Michael Feinstein, former Mayor of Santa Monica
- Alexandra Paul, Actress and participant in 1986 Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament
- Rev. Janet McKeithen, Minister, Church in Ocean Park
- Cris Gutierrez, Santa Monica activist
- David Conrad, Save Chain Reaction and son of Paul Conrad
- Denise Duffield, Associate Director,Physicians for Social Responsibility- Los Angeles
- Dr. William E. Perkins, Pediatrician and PSR-LA Peace and Security Ambassador
- Ian McIlraith, Director of Peace and Community Relations, Soka Gakkai International- USA
- Harvey Wasserman, Author and leading strategist and organizer in the anti-nuclear movement
- Ron Kovic, paraplegic Vietnam veteran and author of “Born on the Fourth of July”
- Nat Trives, former Mayor of Santa Monica
- Elena Christopoulos, scientist and communications and sustainability expert
- Marianne Williamson, Spiritual teacher, author of “A Course in Miracles” and co-founder of the Peace Alliance
- Robert Berman, Founder and Owner of Robert Berman Art Gallery
- Robert Scheer, Editor in Chief, Truthdig
- Carol Wells, Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics
- Richard Brand, architect
As the evening drew to a close, participants held candles and encircled the Chain Reaction sculpture – each resolved, perhaps, to do just a little bit more for a nuclear weapons free world. And do more, we must. The nuclear threat has not gone away, and neither must we.
To get more involved in PSR-LA’s peace and security program, call Denise Duffield at 213-689-9170 or email email@example.com. To learn more about how you can help perserve the Chain Reaction, visit www.savechainreaction.com. Please also sign the petition.
View photos from the event:
PSR-LA joined Consumer Watchdog and other organizations in filing a lawsuit against the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and the California Department of Public Health (DPH) over disposal of radioactive waste from the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) to facilities not designed or licensed for such waste. We have previously, repeatedly and successfully, fought attempts to send radioactive waste from SSFL to sites such as Kettleman City and Buttonwillow.
On Monday, August 5, Consumer Watchdog and the Center for Race Poverty and the Environment issued a letter to DTSC and DPH to immediately stop the pending demolition of a plutonium fuel facility and all other demolition and disposal activities at Area IV of SSFL. The letter was accompanied by a comprehensive study by longtime PSR-LA ally Committee to Bridge the Gap. DTSC declined, and the lawsuit was filed the following day.
See Consumer Watchdog Press Release below:
Consumer Watchdog Filing Suit to Block Top Toxics Regulators From Disposal of Radioactive Waste, Including Plutonium, From Nuclear Site
Boeing Radioactive Waste from Santa Susana Field Lab Nuclear Meltdown Site in Simi Valley Headed to Facilities not Licensed to Accept Radioactive Waste
SANTA MONICA, CA –After regulators failed to meet a 24 hour deadline set by public interest groups to stop Boeing from demolishing and disposing of radioactive waste at facilities not licensed to accept radioactive waste and at recycling plants, Consumer Watchdog and Strumwasser & Woocher LLP are filing suit against the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and the Department of Public Health (DPH) to force their hand.
Radioactive debris from the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in Simi Valley has already been disposed in municipal landfills, hazardous waste landfills like Buttonwillow in Kern County, and at metal, concrete, and asphalt recycling shops. Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, Committee to Bridge the Gap, and the Southern California Federation of Scientists also joined the suit.
The complaint being filed alleges the continuing violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by Respondents because they have entirely failed to perform any of the required environmental review for the demolition of structures at Area IV of the Santa Susana Field Lab site prior to authorizing their demolition and disposal.
“Respondents have approved, without environmental review, the demolition and disposal of structures that are, by Boeing’s own measurements, radiologically contaminated,” the complaint says. “Worse, Respondents are expressly approving Boeing’s disposal of this radiologically contaminated waste offsite to toxic waste facilities that are neither licensed, nor designed, to accept radiologic material. Many tons of these materials have even been sent to recycling facilities so that these radiologically active materials enter the commercial metal supply.”
Consumers may be buying products or working in buildings tainted with the contamination. “It is paramount that the public be protected from toxic, and in this instance radioactive, harm,” said Consumer Watchdog Liza Tucker. “If the state won’t live up to its mission, we must force it to do so. People shouldn’t be wearing radioactive belt buckles or working in radioactive office buildings.”
Only licensed facilities with barriers to prevent any material from escaping for 500 years can accept low-level radioactive waste in California, which has no such facility. Hazardous waste facilities are not deep enough to safely contain radioactive waste.
The DTSC already approved the disposal of debris from six structures at the site. A nuclear reactor structure has also been demolished, but it is unclear if the debris has already been shipped off site. And the radioactively-contaminated plutonium fuel fabrication building structure awaits a decision. Four more radioactive structures also await decisions on disposal. Exposure to radioactive waste can cause cancer and genetic mutations.
“Plutonium 239 is by far the most dangerous radioisotope and one of the most toxic substances known,” according to Dr. Robert Dodge, Board Member of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles. “Once it circulates and deposits throughout the body, it exposes the blood, kidneys, liver and spleen to its cancer-causing alpha particle emissions.”
Yesterday, Consumer Watchdog revealed that regulators at the troubled DTSC and at DPH have been quietly allowing Boeing to demolish all of its radioactively-contaminated structures at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) site in Simi Valley and dispose of the debris at sites that are not licensed to receive low-level radioactive waste.
The US EPA has estimated that a person exposed to the levels of radiation that regulators and Boeing are using as radioactive release criteria could deliver a dose up to 45 millirem per year. That is equivalent to 22 additional chest X-rays a year and almost twice EPA’s limits for public exposure from an operating nuclear plant, but it is what DTSC, DPH, and Boeing have used to approve sending radioactive materials offsite, Tucker said.
A report delivered to state regulators yesterday asking them to cease and desist shows:
•Boeing’s own data analyzed in the report indicate structures already demolished were radioactively contaminated.
•In April this year, at the DTSC’s request, Boeing amended its procedures for building demolition to include radiological facilities and allow them for disposal in unlicensed sites. It gave the public no notice or opportunity to comment.
•The DTSC performed no environmental review of the demolition and disposal plans in direct violation of the California Environmental Quality Act.
Read the report by Daniel Hirsch, President of Committee to Bridge the Gap here: http://www.committeetobridgethegap.org/SSFLDemolitionAndDisposalStudy.pdf
Recycling companies Gillibrand of Simi Valley, Kimco of Sun Valley, and Standard Industries of Ventura have received material from the SSFL nuclear site. Debris has also been shipped for disposal to the Buttonwillow hazardous waste landfill operated by Clean Harbors Inc. in Kern County, and to municipal or industrial waste landfills Azusa Land Reclamation, Lancaster Landfill and Hauling, and McKittrick Waste Landfill, according to Boeing’s data. None of these facilities are licensed to accept radioactive waste.
See radioactive waste disposal map here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/nuclearwastemap.pdf
For more on the DTSC and its failure to protect the public from toxic harm, read Consumer Watchdog’s report Golden Wasteland here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/golden-wasteland-report<
PSR-LA has been closely tracking the national conversation on reforming our toxic chemical law – The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 – also known as “TSCA”. A new proposal has emerged that unfortunately, fails to protect our health. Passing laws that better regulate chemicals is an urgent priority, but we have to make sure it’s done in a way that actually protects health. We must protect the health of the most vulnerable, including pregnant women and children, workers, and communities living fenceline to production. Of particular importance to PSR-LA members is a recent proposal that would make it even more difficult for doctors and professionals to receive medical information necessary to treat their patients.
Fortunately, Senator Barbara Boxer, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, will hold a hearing tomorrow about TSCA reform proposals – and we invite you to listen in. The hearing starts early, Wednesday, July 31st at 9:30am ET. Click here to read about the panelists and see the livestream when the hearing starts .
Statement on S. 10009, The Chemical Safety Improvement Act
PSR-LA is the convener of the statewide coalition, CHANGE (Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy), which is a statewide coalition of 37 environmental health and environmental justice groups, health organizations, labor advocates, community-based groups, parent organizations, faith groups, and others who are concerned with the impacts of toxic chemicals on human health and the environment. This week, CHANGE recently sent a letter and statement to Senator Boxer, expressing our strong concerns about the latest TSCA reform proposal, S. 10009, The Chemical Safety Improvement Act. PSR-LA stands by this strong statement of opposition: We strongly oppose the CSIA unless significant amendments are made. The language of this bill does not advance prevention, protect public health, nor reduce harm. The CSIA does not fix many of TSCA’s significant problems that have left the public unprotected from toxic chemicals. Specific shortcomings include:
- The CSIA’s safety standard fails to shift the burden of proof about chemical health and safety onto the chemical manufacturers to demonstrate their products are safe. The bill too closely parallels the failed language of TSCA by saying a chemical must not pose an “unreasonable risk to human health or the environment under intended uses.” We support the language of the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act, as well as the introduced Safe Chemicals Act (S.696), both of which call for “reasonable certainty of no harm.” That language provides a much higher margin of health and safety, and level of protection for the public, as it shifts the burden of proof onto the manufacturer to demonstrate “reasonable certainty of no harm.” Surely this is the standard we want for our children.
- The CSIA does not adequately consider aggregate exposure, which is the reality in the world today. We know from biomonitoring studies that everyone is exposed repeatedly to multiple environmental chemicals. By not requiring an assessment of cumulative exposure, the CSIA repeats the mistake in TSCA by looking at one chemical at a time without acknowledging cumulative impacts from ongoing exposures.
- There is no mandate that disproportionately-affected communities and vulnerable populations receive added protections. Over-exposed and burdened fence-line communities, workers who handle chemicals, and people at sensitive developmental stages, such as infants and pregnant women, are more vulnerable to harm from chemical exposures than the general population. They require a law that protects their ability to thrive and attain their right to good health by addressing the impacts of disproportionate exposures that lead to actual reductions in toxic chemicals in their home and work environments.
- The CSIA effectively curtails the rights of states to determine their own standards of protection in environmental, occupational, and other public health arenas. The bill would prohibit states from taking action once the U.S. EPA designated a chemical as either a high or low priority, or if EPA simply began a safety determination process. A waiver provision for states to act is limited and cumbersome and is unlikely to succeed in many cases. We need a federal law that is as protective as possible, but states absolutely must retain the right to set a higher bar than federal minimums. Furthermore, under the CSIA, “no State or political subdivision of a State may establish or continue to enforce…” current laws that in any way pertain to a chemical that EPA begins to address. This means that current and proposed regulations that offer real preventive action about chemicals would be invalidated. This would be particularly harmful in California, affecting occupational health regulations (e.g., registering the presence of carcinogens in occupational settings, the 200-plus permissible exposure limits/PELS unique to the state), environmental health regulations (e.g., the Safer Consumer Products Regulations) and public health activities (e.g., about lead).
- The CSIA has no timelines or milestones for EPA action, instead calling for EPA action “from time to time” or in a “timely manner.” We know from experience that regulatory action to prevent or reduce harm from chemicals is a long process in the best of circumstances. EPA must have firm deadlines and deliverables to advance its obligations under any new law.
- The CSIA requires the use of cost-benefit analysis at the critical regulatory decision-making point where a phase out or ban of a chemical is contemplated. While the bill provisions state that only health considerations can be factors in making a “safety determination” (which we support), it must also be the case that regulatory decisions, including but not limited to phase-out or bans of problematic chemicals, should also be based solely on health factors. Traditional cost-benefit analyses are unlikely to adequately consider externalities such as costs to the public health, the need for environmental remediation, decline in property values, and reduced productivity at work, for example. The end result will mean some of the most toxic chemicals will remain in commerce despite their failure to meet the safety standard.
- The CSIA makes an unsupportable assumption that lack of information equals a lack of harm. Any bill reforming TSCA should require a minimum toxicity data set be submitted and reviewed before any chemical is designated as a “low priority.”
- Confidential Business Information (CBI) provisions in the CSIA include a “gag rule” on medical professionals who receive information necessary to treat patients who may have been harmed by exposure to toxic chemicals. This restricts health care providers from carrying out their mission to “do no harm.” The CSIA’s CBI provisions also impair the ability of public health practitioners to do their job, and reduce the right-to-know for workers, employers, and other members of the public.
- The CSIA makes no special provisions for nanomaterials despite the fact that they are insufficiently studied, differ structurally from their parent compounds, and may present new health hazards and risks.
- There is no language in the CSIA that allows the EPA to collect fees to help pay for safety assessments or determinations. Coupled with the lack of enforceable deadlines, this ensures that meaningful action to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals will be extremely modest.
- The CSIA has no provisions that support the development of green chemistry-based alternatives. The bill needs meaningful incentives in the bill that strengthen innovation in the marketplace for non-toxic and less toxic alternatives that promote safety and economic growth.
Please join us for The Toxies: Exposed worldwide premiere at 6pm on August 15th at the Downtown Independent Theatre in Los Angeles. Following the viewing, we will hold a discussion with scientists, advocates, and community members to learn more about the real life battle to retire these dangerous chemicals and pollutants.
The Toxies: Exposed is a 7-webisode series that follows a daring investigative journalist as he chases down toxic chemicals and pollutants. From diving into the human body to catch BPA impersonating estrogen, to going on a deadly joy ride with agricultural pesticide Chloropicrin and his friends, and narrowly escaping an aggressive interview with brain-damaging Lead, this groundbreaking exposé both shocks and entertains. Moreover, The Toxies: Exposed reveals the harmful misdeeds of toxic villains in our midst, so we can take steps to protect our health and communities.
This premiere is the 4th annual event of The Toxies, a multi-media campaign created by the statewide coalition, Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy (CHANGE) and led by Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles (PSR-LA), to educate the public on the hazards of specific chemicals and demonstrate how we can pull together as neighborhoods, workers, businesses and consumers to eliminate them from our lives.
The Toxies have reached thousands of people across the nation, supporting our advocacy for safer alternatives to toxic chemicals. With your help, we’ll reach even more this year!
- Attend The Toxies: Exposed Worldwide Premiere and Discussion at 6 pm on August 15 — Join us in-person for fracking fluid inspired cocktails (in the spirit of transparency, we’ll actually tell you what’s in the cocktail!)… who knows, maybe even some guest appearances from our stars. Following the premiere, join a discussion with scientists, advocates, and community members to learn more about the real life battles to retire these dangerous chemicals and pollutants. RSVP now!
- Spread the word — Invite people in your network to our worldwide webisode series premiere on August 15, 2013! Stay connected with us on Facebook, facebook.com/TheToxies, and Twitter @TheToxies, hashtags #toxies and #toxie.
- Sponsor the Toxies — You’ll get great visibility on our website, through our print materials, and at our premiere, while supporting this fun and informative project, and helping us share it with the world. Sponsor the Toxies now!
Visit www.toxies.com for more information.
California Physicians’ Group Lauds San Onofre Shutdown
Nobel-prize winning organization cites public health risk
Today’s decision by Southern California Edison to shut down the crippled San Onofre nuclear power plant is a victory for public health, say California chapters of the Nobel-prize winning organization Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR).
“San Onofre was a Fukushima disaster waiting to happen. It was shut down in January 2012 after a leak of radioactive steam revealed damage to its reactors’ replacement steam generator tubes. The plant is located near earthquake fault zones and has over 8 million people living within 50 miles of the site. Evacuation would be nearly impossible. The decision to permanently close the plant is a tremendous victory for the health and safety of Southern Californians,” said Denise Duffield, Associate Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles.
In April, Edison made a request to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it restart reactor Unit 2 at partial power and run it as a five-month test followed by two years of intermittent shutdowns and startups. Given the extent of damage of both reactors, PSR and environmental groups vehemently opposed this restart plan.
“We now know from the tragedy at Fukushima Daichii that a convergence of errors, poor planning and natural catastrophe can strike and leave a huge area covered in radioactive cesium requiring long-term evacuation from the surrounding land to protect public health, along with economic disaster due to closure of important fisheries and tourism. The economic impact of this accident is felt to be larger than the mortgage meltdown in the U.S.” said Harry Wang, MD, President of PSR Sacramento.
Radioactive cesium, which has a half-life of 30 years, has been found all over Japan, not just in the evacuation zones. This is significant because cesium is ingested or inhaled and is taken up into the body where it can concentrate in the heart and the endocrine tissues. Concerns about a major accident at San Onofre were serious given the earthquake prone region.
PSR remains concerned about the continuing threat posed by 1,400 tons of spent nuclear fuel that will remain at the San Onofre site. Only 25% of San Onofre’s highly toxic spent fuel is stored in dry casks. The remaining fuel is stored in pools, which remain vulnerable to earthquakes and power failure. If exposed, the fuel can self-ignite and release vast amounts of lethal radiation.
“The problem of spent fuel storage does not go away when a plant shuts down,” said Robert Gould, MD, President of PSR San Francisco. “There is currently no safe way to permanently store spent fuel, which remains toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. This is one of the reasons why PSR advocates moving away from nuclear power and investing in clean, safe, and renewable energy sources.”
Physicians for Social Responsibility is a physician and health advocate membership organization working to protect public health from nuclear threats and environmental toxins.
Denise Duffield, Associate Director of PSR-LA, 310-339-9676 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Catherine Thomasson MD, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, 503-819-1170 or CThomasson@psr.org
Marj Plumb, DrPH, Co-Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility San Francisco, 510-928-1959 or email@example.com