Thursday, March 8, 2018
Thursday, March 1, 2018
|El Paso USL team: Old Asarco site best location for stadium, real estate broker says|
According to commercial real estate broker, Dave Etzold, the location best suited for a soccer stadium is the old Asarco site given its size and location to I-10. The land in that location, west of I-10 and UTEP, is in the process of being purchased by the university. Etzold is involved in that deal and says ...
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
|$229 million smelter project|
Grupo Mexico, parent company of ASARCOCopper, told stockholders the company's multi million dollar smelter modernization project at Hayden, Arizona was 73% complete. It was expected to be completely finished only weeks away in April. The total cost the company was spending to revamp the ..."
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Monday, November 16, 2015
Residents in St Louis dying in record numbers from World War II radioactive waste
OCTOBER 28, 201511:23AM
Atomic bomb mushroom clouds over Hiroshima (left) and Nagasaki (right). Residents in St Louis, Missouri, are still suffering from the affects of the radioactive waste left over by the bomb preparations today.
IN 2011, residents across an American community in St Louis began to notice a chain of inexplicably high incidents of cancer and disease across its population.
For decades, both former and current residents from approximately 90 municipalities in the Missouri city were diagnosed with a long list of life-threatening illnesses, including leukaemia, lupus, brain tumours, appendix cancer, multiple sclerosis, birth defects and many more. People died. Babies died. And they're still dying to this day, dubbed "the poison children of Coldwater Creek."
But no one ever connected the dots as to what was really making these innocent people sick.
"You'll never forget the moment they tell you, 'We found lesions on your lung and your liver,'" Mary Oscko, who has stage 4 lung cancer, toldCBS News.
"My husband and I had to sit down at night and discuss whether I want to be cremated or buried. I don't want to be buried in North County, that's the one thing I told him — I do not want to be buried where this soil is."
In 1942, during the height of World War II, a corporation by the name of Mallinckrodt Chemical Works was hired by the US government to process uranium for the development of the world's first nuclear weapons. The operation was dubbed 'The Manhattan Project.'
Based in St Louis, it was here that the atomic bomb was born. That same bomb would be responsible for destroying Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, at the end of the Second World War. Those two bombs killed at least 150,000 people by the end of that year(without taking into account long term radiation damage). It was powerful, deadly stuff.
Consequences of St. Louis nuke legacy emerge
No place for kids: A Google Earth image of Coldwater Creek nd its surrounds as it looks today.Source:Supplied
A 1945 article in Lifeestimated that during the development of these atomic bombs, "probably no more than a few dozen men in the entire country knew the full meaning of the Manhattan Project, and perhaps only a thousand others even were aware that work on atoms was involved."
By the mid 1940s, Mallinckrodt Chemical Works had run out of space to store the radioactive waste left behind, so in 1946 they began to ship the leftovers to a relatively underpopulated area north of St Louis, next to a creek by the name of Coldwater. It was here that approximately 250,000 barrels of radioactive material were dumped in shallow pits and exposed to the elements.
"It was in wartime, everything was secretive. In the '40s it's not like we had social media, nobody knew," former resident Kim Visintine told news.com.au.
"The uranium was owned by the US government and the Department of Energy — this is their mess."
In some areas where waste spilled from the trucks, the Energy Department found radiation levels exceeded seven times the normal amount.
According to a 1990 article in the New York Times, the toxic waste was dumped secretly with the approval of the federal government.
"Reporters here asked questions about the trucks that were hauling dirt from the plant to land bordering the airport," the article reads.
"The concerns disappeared after the Government and Mallinckrodt said the wastes were 'not radioactive or otherwise dangerous'."
Cancer linked to radioactive exposure
This photograph shows thousands of barrels filled with radioactive waste that were dumped in St Louis.Source:Supplied
But in the 1950s and '60s, a residential boom hit the area and the city began to expand, so a decision was made to reroute Coldwater Creek to make it more aesthetic.
Little did residents know at the time that by dredging and disturbing the creek, it gave the contaminated sediment a mode of transportation, and soon it began to spread throughout the area. Unknowingly, people began ingesting and eating the leftover carcinogens.
"The analogy we always use is like spreading icing on a birthday cake," Ms Visintine explained.
"They spread the contamination across the entire region, it's been this comedy of errors. Nobody knew, we didn't know until we began investigating because we were all showing up with cancer. You can't smell it, you can't see it and you can't taste it.
"If you have really low doses of radiation and you ingest it, over time it builds in your body. Once it gets in your body it never leaves, it's like arsenic poisoning. It's not one ingestion, it's over and over, then it mutates and you end up with these cancers.
"We're showing up with these really rare cancers, and really high rates at really young ages."
In 2011, with the advent of Facebook, residents from the community began to reconnect and after sharing stories, they noticed a strange phenomena — unexplained high incidences of rare cancers.
"It was like this overwhelming response. When we started realising we were all sick we thought, 'this is statistically not right, there's an issue'," said Ms Visintine.
1946: Barrels of waste are dumped on 21.7-acres of land to store residues from uranium processing at the Mallinckrodt facility in St. Louis. Picture: U.S. Army Corps of EngineersSource:Supplied
As more and more residents shared their stories, a man by the name of Jeff Armstead decided to create a group — and map — to pinpoint what was going on.
"We hand wrote the first 750 cases of cancer but we had no idea how big this was. After that we started getting thousands of reports," Ms Visintine explained.
Soon enough, one little Facebook page grew from simply getting back in touch, to the alarming realisation that more than 2700 residents reported rare incidents of illness. This was becoming a cancer cluster of epic proportions: 45 cases of appendix cancer, 184 cases of brain cancer, 315 cases of thyroid cancer, 448 cases of auto-immune disease, and so on.
"The situation here is one of the most graphic illustrations of the enduring costs paid by an American community for its participation in the cold war," read the New York Times.
As a kid, Ms Visintine unknowingly ate vegetables full of radiation from her backyard vegetable garden. Kids would go down to the corner dairy mart and eat fresh ice cream from the huge dairy farms in the area, unaware the cows were eating from a contaminated field.
Kids would chew on honeysuckle torn from the backyard fence. They would play in the creek, completely oblivious they were bathing in poison.
The neighbourhood park where they used to play as kids is now padlocked, as construction crews remove radioactive waste discovered beneath the topsoil.
"What you see is an environmental health disaster unfolding slowly over decades," County health director Dr. Faisal Kahn toldCBS.
"The rates of appendix cancer, for instance, which is relatively rare — we see about 800 cases across the nation per year. To find seven or eight cases in one zip code or one small geographic area is rather unusual."
Devastating: This map shows the amount of reported illnesses in North St. Louis County.Source:Supplied
It gets worse.
In June, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked to clean up the mess in 1989, announced that it found more radioactive soil in various areas, including backyards and a public park. They've spent close to 17 years excavating and cleaning up the poisons of Coldwater Creek, but the problems still persist.
"This is the oldest radioactive waste of the atomic age, and there still is no safe place to put the stuff," said Kay Drey in 1990, a nuclear opponent who provided technical assistance to several suburban leaders.
It comes as no surprise, considering they're not even a third of the way from cleaning up. Ms Visintine said they're expected to be cleaning until at least 2020.
"Our main goal is to make sure we can protect human health and the environment," Army Corps' Mike Petersen told RT.com.
"What we're dealing with is generally a low level contamination but it does pose a long term threat and that's what we stay focused on.
"In the near term, it's low risk. We've told them [residents] don't dig, we're going to come out and restore the ground with clean fill soil."
A member of the Facebook group Coldwater Creek — Just the Facts Please, shares her experience.Source:Supplied
The group has over 12,000 members who now share their stories.Source:Supplied
But it's little relief to Ms Visintine, who lost her son to a brain tumour.
"When my son passed away he had respiratory failure as a result from brain cancer. We're passing it on to our children. We have entire streets where the families have gotten sick."
The US government has done little to study the health consequences borne out of this disaster.
Residents are hoping to access Downwinder status, a program set up by the US Department of Justice to compensate victims of World War II testing. Other cities in the United States, like Arizona, Nevada and Utah have received approval, but St Louis is not yet on the map.
"We are the birthplace of the atomic bomb, but we're the forgotten site," said Ms Visintine.
"The problem is the damage is done, I wish I was Dr Who and could go back and move in 1973, but it doesn't help me now. Until the area is cleaned up I wouldn't recommend moving there.
"Here we are in 2015 and we're victims of World War II. We don't want to be forgotten, we don't want to be orphaned."
In a statement to CBS, Mallinckrodt said: "The company worked under the direction of the U.S. government and at no time did Mallinckrodt own any uranium or its byproducts."
- Are you affected by Coldwater Creek contamination? Find out more information atcoldwatercreekfacts.com.
Friday, November 13, 2015
NOVEMBER 13, 2015
How we know the smelter was harmful
Exposed workers provided most important clues
Smelter workers were two to eight times more likely to die of lung cancer than average
Arsenic also linked to other types of cancer
BY MARIANNE SULLIVAN
Some have questioned how we know that particular people were harmed by the Asarco smelter ("Toxic legacy surprises Tacoma newcomers," 11-7). I'll explain.
We don't make decisions about the harms of the environmental contaminants based on individual stories. Rather, we use epidemiologic studies to try to determine whether or not exposure to environmental contaminants causes harm.
These issues can be very difficult to study and can take decades to sort out. But often highly exposed workers provide clues to health effects that might be harder to study in the community. Tacoma smelter workers are famous in epidemiologic circles because studies of their mortality have provided convincing evidence that exposure to arsenic causes lung cancer.
Here is what the research says about Tacoma: Men who worked at the smelter were between two and eight times (depending on their level of exposure to arsenic) more likely to die of lung cancer in comparison to males in Washington state as a whole.
Both industry-funded and independent studies of Tacoma smelter workers have come to the same conclusion: There is an increased risk of lung cancer death among Tacoma smelter workers. Asarco admitted as much to the Occupational Safety and Heath Administration (OSHA) in 1975.
Arsenic not only causes lung cancer but is also linked to cancer of the skin, bladder, liver and kidney, and a host of non-cancer health effects.
In the 1970s, both the Washington State Health Department and Asarco measured arsenic concentrations in children's urine in Ruston that were quite high, even compared to children living in other smelting communities.
Elevated urinary arsenic has been linked to health and developmental problems in children in international studies. Unfortunately there have been no studies of children in Tacoma that have started with a measurement of their arsenic exposure and then followed them over time to see if their health was affected. Local researchers wanted to do such studies in the 1970s and 1980s but could not get them funded.
However, a well-designed study of health effects among community residents found that women who lived near the smelter for 20-plus years had a small increased risk of lung cancer. The authors themselves said this "excess risk may be expected" since arsenic in the community's air often exceeded OSHA's occupational standard.
Arsenic was only one toxic agent emitted by the smelter. It also emitted very large quantities of sulfur dioxide, lead and other heavy metals. Sulfur dioxide air pollution is associated with adverse respiratory health effects and premature mortality.
THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT RESPIRATORY EFFECTS OCCURRED IN NEARBY RESIDENTS, PARTICULARLY AMONG ASTHMATICS AND OTHER SENSITIVE POPULATIONS.
When the smelter was still operating and pumping out massive quantities of sulfur dioxide, there is no doubt that respiratory effects occurred in nearby residents, particularly among asthmatics and other sensitive populations.
North Enders complained constantly of choking and coughing and other respiratory symptoms, but health and regulatory authorities had little sway over the company. Asarco, working with the Chamber of Commerce, even helped scuttle a health study that the City of Tacoma wanted to conduct about this problem in the early 1960s.
There have been very few studies of lead levels in children living near the smelter. But in the early 1970s, some Ruston children were found to have elevated blood lead, with some young children living close to the smelter exhibiting levels dangerously high by today's standards – levels linked with damage to the developing brain.
It is not clear the extent to which lead from gasoline (leaded gasoline was still in use), lead from smelter emissions or lead in paint caused these elevated blood lead levels, but we do know that the smelter was a significant source of environmental lead.
In addition to human health harm, many studies (a large number done by University of Washington researchers) have documented the smelter's impact on water quality in the Puget Sound region, soils and sediments, contribution to acid rain and acidification of Cascade Lakes (while it was operating), and many other ecosystem impacts.
Once toxic metals are in the environment, they are there to stay unless cleaned up. Tacoma is an object lesson in largely unchecked and unregulated industry pollution. Unfortunately, the primary smelting industry has increasingly moved to developing countries where a similar story of environmental and public health harm is unfolding.
Marianne Sullivan, doctor of public health, is an assistant professor of public health at William Paterson University in New Jersey. Her 2014 book, "Tainted Earth: Smelters, Public Health and the Environment," covers smelters and their public ...