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This Juneteenth, We Highlight the Ongoing Fight for Environmental Justice

Friday, June 16th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, June 16, 2023) Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom for the last 250,000 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, but it is also a reminder that justice has not historically been “swift” or complete for Black Americans. The holiday commemorates the abolition of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.  According to a 2022 Gallup Poll, 40 percent of Americans know “a little bit” or “nothing at all” about Juneteenth. While this is a significant improvement in comparison to the 60 percent for the aforementioned metric in the previous year (when the holiday was federally recognized), greater public awareness is needed. This holiday is a time for individuals and organizations to acknowledge and reflect on their past and current actions or inactions that perpetuate systemic racism. As known from the history books, the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863, and the civil war ended on April 9, 1865. Juneteenth is a lesser-known anniversary commemorating the emancipation of enslaved people who received news of their freedom two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln’s freedom proclamation. While the technologies in the 19th century had a much slower travel time, […]

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Petrochemical Pesticides and Fertilizers Linked to “Shocking” Health and Environmental Crises

Tuesday, April 25th, 2023

Today, Beyond Pesticides released a special issue, Transformative Change: Informed by Science, Policy, and Action of its journal, Pesticides and You, with a compendium of “shocking scientific findings that compel us to act in our communities, states, and as a nation and world community.” The 168-page issue documents the last year of scientific, peer-reviewed articles, policy deficiencies, and action for change that intersect not only with petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers, but with existential health crises, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency.

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

Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

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

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EPA’s Deficient Pesticide Analysis Contributes to Ecological Decline

Monday, November 21st, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2022) Once again, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered a new pesticide without performing a thorough review of its impacts on biodiversity as well as threatened and endangered species. Inpyrfluxam was registered in 2020 and only after being sued by the Center for Biological Diversity for failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) did EPA commit to completing draft effects determinations by Fall 2022. Once again, EPA’s draft biological evaluation is incomplete and inadequate. EPA is accepting comments on its draft biological evaluation at Regulations.gov.  Tell EPA and Congress that Pesticide Registrations Require Complete Science. The Review of Inpyrfluxam is Incomplete and Inadequate.  The agency’s draft effects assessment is flawed and incomplete. We share the details because it shows that EPA is out of step with the science and its regulatory responsibility when it comes a thorough review for ecosystem effects of pesticides.   The agency used fish early life stage (ELS) tests to estimate chronic fish toxicity. This is inappropriate. The fish ELS is a sub-chronic test of sensitive life stages. Although it is often used as a surrogate or predictor of chronic toxicity, it does not adequately address potential adverse effects on reproduction or transfer of the test chemical to eggs/offspring […]

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Take Action: Bill Addresses PFAS; Remediation Needed for All Legacy Chemicals

Monday, November 7th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, November 7, 2022) The Maine Congressional delegation — Senators Collins (R) and Angus King (I), and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D) and Jared Golden (D), along with New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D) — have  introduced a bipartisan bill — the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act — to help farmers who have been adversely affected by the scourge of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemicals. The bills are the identical S. 5070 and H.R. 9186, both titled “Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act.” Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative to cosponsor the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act. If they are already cosponsors, thank them. Tell EPA to stop the spread of legacy chemicals. PFAS chemicals, also known as “forever chemicals,” are legacy contaminants or those whose historical use, including many decades ago in some instances, has led to their toxic persistence in the environment and in organisms. PFAS chemicals are not the only legacy contaminants. Others include wood preservatives, DDT, dioxins, and the termiticide chlordane. Unfortunately, some of these continue to be added to the environment, sometimes inadvertently, but also intentionally, particularly through pesticide use. As indicated by the title of these bills, farmers […]

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EPA Needs to End the Legacy of Toxic Wood Preservatives Now

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 22, 2022) Regulation of toxic chemicals must recognize the reality that, “The cocktail of chemical pollution that pervades the planet now threatens the stability of global ecosystems upon which humanity depends,” as stated by The Guardian. When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes the dangers of a toxic chemical—especially one persistent in the environment—it must take immediate action to prevent further contamination. So, allowing the phase-out of chemicals with long residual life can extend the poisoning and contamination for generations. Tell EPA to immediately ban all uses of pentachlorophenol and other toxic wood preservatives. Tell Congress to ensure that EPA does its job.  There is an ongoing crisis, widely reported, posed by the nearly ubiquitous presence of “forever chemicals”—poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and their relatives. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that 97% of Americans have PFAS in their blood. The Safer States Network finds that more than 210 bills will be considered in at least 32 states in 2022 to try to address the problem. Even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed that ‘forever chemicals’ are contaminating containers that store pesticide products, and subsequently the products themselves. PFAS […]

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With Market Collapse, EPA Cancels Highly Hazardous Wood Preservative Years after Worldwide Ban

Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2022) After nearly a century of use, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is officially cancelling the highly toxic wood preservative pentachlorophenol (penta). As one of the most dangerous pesticides ever produced, penta poses unacceptable risks to workers and surrounding communities, which often became superfund sites once manufacturing plants closed. According to the agency, “During the registration review process, EPA found that given the emergence of viable alternatives, the risks pentachlorophenol poses to workers’ health outweigh the benefits of its use.” Health and environmental advocates are pleased with the agency’s long overdue action on penta but remain incredulous that EPA has provided a generous phase-out for the utility and wood preservative industry, allowing use to continue for up to 5 years. Beyond Pesticides has been working to ban pentachlorophenol, creosote, and copper chromated arsenate since its founding in 1981. (See history of Beyond Pesticides’ work and litigation.) EPA’s statement on alternatives and workers’ health is a telling example for the public regarding the way in which the agency consistently places economic decisions above American’s safety. EPA has long known about the dangers penta poses to health, particularly the health of workers in penta production or treatment plants. […]

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Words, “All life is interrelated,” and His Legacy Are Honored on MLK Day, Monday, Jan. 17

Friday, January 14th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 14, 2022) On the annual celebration of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.— MLK Day, Monday, January 17 — Beyond Pesticides honors his legacy by calling out ongoing environmental inequities, and calling on all of us to advance environmental justice. In his 1967 Christmas sermon, Dr. King famously noted, “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” There may be no better description of what is at stake in environmental justice work — righting environmental wrongs that have disproportionate impacts on some groups of people. In its attention to the multitude of ways in which BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) populations face disproportionate risks and impacts, Beyond Pesticides works to ensure that all people are afforded circumstances that support their safety, health, and well-being. Rather than excavate the very long historical record of environmental injustice in the U.S., today’s Daily News Blog recalls several examples from the past year. It is impossible to begin that chronicle without first acknowledging that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has […]

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

Monday, December 20th, 2021

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

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

Thursday, December 2nd, 2021

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

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Bayer Loses Bid to Overturn Neonicotinoid Ban in Europe

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2021) Last week, multinational agrichemical company Bayer Cropscience lost its bid to overturn a 2018 ban on bee-toxic neonicotinoids throughout the European Union. The ruling from the European Court of Justice rejected all grounds on which the company filed its appeal, noting, “It must be held that the arguments put forward by Bayer CropScience cannot, in any event, succeed.” In denying the appeal, the court ruled Bayer responsible for paying its own legal fees, as well as the fees of environmental organizations that intervened to defend the ban. Environmental groups are applauding the ruling, as it reinforces several important aspects of the EU’s pesticide policy that favor greater public health and environmental protections. In an interview with EURACTIV, policy officer Martin Dermine at Pesticide Action Network Europe notes that the decision provides more leeway for pesticide regulators to consider new scientific evidence on pesticide hazards. “More than that,” he told EURACTIV, “the Court confirms the definition of the precautionary principle:  in case of doubts on the toxicity of a pesticide, the European Commission is entitled to ban it.” Pesticide regulators in Europe began restricting neonicotinoids in 2013, when a continent-wide moratorium was put in place based […]

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EPA Proposes Cancellation of Highly Toxic Wood Preservative Pentachlorophenol (“Penta”)

Tuesday, March 9th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 9, 2021) Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an interim decision to cancel of one of the most hazardous pesticides still used in the United States, pentachlorophenol (penta). Although long overdue, health advocates are hailing the agency’s action, taken due to significant risks to human health, the availability of alternatives, and the uncertain future of penta production. Many advocates hope that EPA’s announcement is the start of a pivot to science-based decision-making in the best interest of health and the environment, not the pockets of pesticide industry executives. Cancellation of this toxic chemical will bring  the U.S. into conformance with the Stockholm Convention, an international treaty to ban persistent organic pollutants (POPs) joined by over 150 countries that was never ratified by the U.S. “This has been a long time coming,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “After decades of scientific reports, lawsuits, regulatory comments, and an international ban, we’re glad EPA finally acknowledged the intrinsic dangers posed by continuing penta’s registration. We urge the agency expedite its slow cancellation timeline so that we can finally eliminate this unnecessary pollutant.” Produced for its ability to preserve wood through pressure treatment, penta has been […]

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Take Action by Sept. 13: Tell Canada to Ban Horrifically Hazardous Wood Preservative Pentachlorophenol

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, September 8, 2020) Canada should be in accordance with international treaty to eliminate persistent pollutants.  Canada is considering the elimination of one of the worst persistent pollutants—pentachlorophenol (penta)—that dot our landscape in utility poles and railroad ties. This wood preservative—a cancer-causing chemical with dioxin, furans, and hexachlorobenzene that causes health and environmental degradation—has no place in society as we struggle with shared global challenges of public and worker health threats, the climate crisis, and biodiversity decline. We have a chance to urge Canada to move ahead with a pentachlorophenol ban, joining with Mexico to show leadership in the protection of health and the environment—something the U.S. has not done. Tell Canada to ban pentachlorophenol. Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is accepting comments on a proposal to ban the all uses of penta in Canada. Comments are due September 13. Canada is a signatory to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which voted 90-2 to ban penta in 2015. The United States is not a signatory to the Stockholm Convention and still allows the use of penta on utility poles and other “wood that is subject to decay or insect infestation, including supporting structures in contact with […]

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As the World Bans Highly Toxic Wood Preservative, Pentachlorophenol, a Low-Income U.S. Community May Be Home to the Last Production Plant

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

UPDATE: The same day Beyond Pesticides published this piece, Gulbrandsen Chemicals announced it would drop its effort to produce pentachlorophenol in Orangeburg, SC, according to The State newspaper. (Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2020) Orangeburg, South Carolina may be the last place in the world to produce one of the most toxic pesticides known to humanity, pentachlorphenol. Despite a global ban on “penta” in 2016, in force in 186 countries, the United States has continued to import and use this hazardous wood preservative on telephone poles and railroad ties throughout the country. Now, with Mexico set to close one of the last production plants in the world, Gulbrandsen Chemicals Inc. wants to make Orangeburg, a majority black community with a population three times the U.S. poverty rate, the new epicenter for penta manufacturing. Overview and History Penta is used to pressure treat wood, with the aim of prolonging its use in utility poles and railroad ties. Beyond Pesticides has sounded the alarm on penta and other wood preservatives for over 20 years, starting with the reports Pole Pollution and Poison Poles, which outlined the science on the hazards and and alternatives to preservative-coated utility poles. Penta is a particularly concerning wood […]

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

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

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

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

Friday, September 14th, 2018

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

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Hundreds of Former EPA Employees Ask Senate to Block Pruitt Nomination

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2017) As the controversy surrounding the Trump Administration and GOP Congress’s plan for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to grow, a nonpartisan group of 447 former EPA employees united to write a strongly-worded letter urging the Senate to block Scott Pruitt’s confirmation as EPA Administrator. Citing EPA’s “fundamental obligation to act in the public’s interest based on current law and the best available science,” the group, whose members served under both Democratic and Republican presidents, calls into question Pruitt’s qualifications, given his longstanding record of opposing “longstanding tenets of U.S. environmental law.” This letter is just the latest in the constantly evolving debate over the need for environmental protection. In the past two weeks, the EPA has been under attack by the Trump Administration and Republican lawmakers who would continue to undermine the environmental protections required for clean water, clean air, and healthy natural resources. Myron Ebell, head of Trump’s EPA transition team, suggested last week that the agency’s already understaffed workforce be cut from about 15,000 employees to 5,000, with potentially more cuts to follow. Trump himself then issued an executive order proposing that for every new regulation promulgated, two must be repealed, an […]

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Label Warning on Dangerous PCP-Treated Poles Deemed Unconstitutional

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, March 3, 2016) Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Spatt declared a dangerous wood preservative label ordinance unconstitutional, ending a three year battle between a New York town and Public Service Enterprise Group (PESG). In 2014, under the authority of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), PESG installed thousands of hurricane-resistant utility poles containing the hazardous wood preservative pentachlorophenol (PCP or penta). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines pentachlorophenol as “extremely toxic” to humans even from short-term exposure and is listed as a “probable human carcinogen.” Judge Spatt cited the First Amendment doctrine of commercial speech, stating that, “In order to qualify as commercial speech, the message sought to be regulated must necessarily bear some discernible connection to the commercial interests of the speaker.” Because the utility poles are not intended to be sold to the public nor influence consumer behavior, PESG is not required to post “compelled warning signs” on their dangerous utility poles. In 2014, the Town of North Hempstead on Long Island New York passed a law requiring warning labels on the utility poles that are treated with PCP. At a town board meeting on September 9, a vote of 7-0 mandated the […]

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International Treaty Bans Pentachlorophenal, U.S. Continues Use on Utility Poles and Railroad Ties

Monday, May 18th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, May 18, 2015) Delegates from more than 90 countries took the unprecedented step of voting last week for a global ban on  pentachlorophenol (penta) — a proven toxic pesticide and contaminant found  in wildlife and human biomonitoring studies worldwide. The historic vote came at the combined meetings of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions — which usually make decisions by consensus — after India repeatedly blocked action. The U.S. is not a signatory to the Stockholm Convention, which provides the framework to moving persistent organic pollutants out of commerce. During the meeting, India surprisingly rejected the findings of the Stockholm Convention’s own scientific expert committee in which it participated. Switzerland triggered the voting procedure — the first in the history of the convention. Ninety-four countries voted in favor of  global prohibition of pentachlorophenol; two opposed; and eight countries abstained. “We commend the global community for this important decision which will help ensure that the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic and the traditional foods on which they depend are protected  against toxic pentachlorophenol,” said Pamela Miller of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. The delegates of the Stockholm Convention also supported international bans on two other  industrial chemicals that harm […]

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U.S. Senator Calls for Suspension of Pentachlorophenol, Used to Treat Utility Poles

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2015) U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) yesterday called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday to immediately investigate the specific use of pentachlorophenol  (penta or PCP), a toxic wood preservative, to treat  utility poles throughout Long Island and urged  Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG) Long Island to immediately suspend further use of this chemical until a  federal review  is complete. PSEG has been installing new, chemically-treated utility poles throughout the Towns of North Hempstead and East Hampton. In his press  release, Senator Schumer expresses  serious concern about penta’s  health risks to utility workers, adults and children and its ability to  move  into water over the long-term as the chemical leaches from the poles. The Senator also notes that a private firm has conducted a study based on a very limited sample size that does not consider long-term risks as the pole decomposes and further leaches toward groundwater. EPA, which is responsible for evaluating penta’s health and environmental risk, has noted public health concerns related to the chemical when ingested or inhaled, including  neurological, respiratory, kidney and immune system effects. On Long Island, 95,000 of PSEG’s 324,000 utility poles have been treated with penta. […]

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North Hempstead Sued by Utilities over Pole Warning Signs

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, January 21, 2015) Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated (PSEG) Long Island and Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) filed suit against the Town of North Hempstead, New York on Thursday, seeking to impede a 2014 ordinance requiring utility companies to post warning signs on utility poles treated with the hazardous chemical pentachlorophenol (PCP).  The chemical has been listed as a possible carcinogen, is typically contaminated with various forms of dioxins and furans —known carcinogens that persist in the environment. The ordinance, passed in fall 2014, requires warning labels on utility poles  that are treated with the hazardous wood preservative  PCP. The warning states:  “This pole contains a hazardous chemical. Avoid prolonged direct contact with this pole. Wash hands or other exposed areas thoroughly if contact is made.”  PCP is highly toxic and has been listed as a possible carcinogen by national and international agencies. Concerns  have been raised throughout the years over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) continued registration of PCP in the U.S. despite having been banned in all European Union member states, China, India, New Zealand, Indonesia, and Russia. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Central Islip, asserts that the law violates the […]

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United Nations Committee Recommends Global Elimination of Toxic Wood Preservative

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, November 4, 2014) Last week, a United Nations committee of experts recommended the global elimination of the pesticide pentachlorophenol (PCP), widely used in the United States and elsewhere for treatment of wooden utility poles and railroad ties. Scientists cite chemical’s persistence, bioaccumulation, long-range transport, and PCP’s toxic impacts in recommending it being listed in  the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, an  international treaty established to safeguard human and environmental health from highly hazardous chemicals. The committee further noted the wide availability of non-chemical alternatives much safer than PCP, which include steel, composite,  and concrete poles, as well as the burying of power lines. “This is the beginning of the end of pentachlorophenol,” said Pam Miller, executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. “Pentachlorophenol has global health implications since it is found in the bodies of people throughout the world including Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic. Now governments and the private sector need to get to work to finally eliminate this toxic chemical.” The United States is not a signatory to the Stockholm Convention, and is, in fact, the largest producer and user of PCP in the world. U.S. government agencies have sent mixed messages during  the […]

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EPA Seeks to Block a Worldwide Ban of a Highly Toxic Wood Preservative

Friday, October 24th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, October 24, 2014) The U.S. government is opposing international efforts    under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, supported by  countries worldwide, to halt the global use of the toxic chemical wood preservative, pentachlorophenol  (PCP), which is widely used in the U.S. to treat wood utility poles. U.S. government officials are out of step with countries around the world and domestically with  a bipartisan group of New York state lawmakers  seeking a state ban. Meanwhile, a group of Long Island residents is charging in a lawsuit  that hundreds of new PCP-treated utility poles are causing serious injury to health and property values. This month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added PCP to its carcinogen list, saying that PCP is “reasonably anticipated to cause cancer.” The U.S. is the largest producer and user of PCP in the world. A meeting of a Stockholm Convention committee in Rome this week  is  recommending a global ban on PCP. The  Convention is an  international treaty established to control highly hazardous chemicals. While most countries engaged in the process approve of the ban, the U.S. has consistently opposed it. “Cancer-causing chemicals should not be leaking from utility poles into […]

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