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Interchange – PCBs Under the Rug: A 2007 Interchange Interview

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…in a community that would like to pride itself on being environmentally friendly and attracting people to a safe, comfortable place to live, such as Bloomington, we don’t want to admit that we’ve got this huge unresolved problem; it’s not good for our image. I think the community leaders, the elected officials, have been schizophrenic about dealing with this problem they’ve had a lot of reservations with facing up to it….You can’t just sweep it under the rug. It’s an ethical issue. –Mick Harrison, Public Interest and Environmental Attorney

Yesterday WFHB’s Daily Local News reported that though there has been relatively little public discussion about the contaminants in the past decade, a citizen group called Healthy Monroe County has recently reignited the issue. And on April 30th WFHB’s EcoReport aired an interview with Public Interest and Environmental Lawyer Mick Harrison, and Retired Senior Greenpeace Scientist Pat Costner about PCBs, their health effects, and the current state of the clean-up in Monroe County.

In complement to this we revisit an archive Interchange from September of 2007 about PCB contamination in Bloomington and the ongoing struggle of local activists and concerned citizens to make headway on a real clean-up of this environment hazard which was inflicted on Bloomington by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation between 1957 and 1977.

Westinghouse’s disposal practices were neither abnormal or illegal during this period. However, with the passage of environmental legislation in the 1970s, these disposal practices were halted. Furthermore, environmental legislation made those responsible for pollution strictly liable for the cleanup even if their disposal actions were legal at the time. In 1977 Westinghouse halted production of capacitors using PCBs due to the Toxic Substances Control Act that specified PCBs as a hazardous substance.

Since 1957…58 years and counting…

In this archive episode of Interchange Host Mylo Roze probes Bloomington’s PCB problem with key figures in the fight for public health. Mylo is joined in the studio by Environmental Attorney Mick Harrison and Citizen Activist Greg Moore. Addressed are the history, scope, sites and current status of PCB contamination in the Bloomington area due to dumping by the Westinghouse corporation. The state of then-current litigation against the EPA and the initiation of a new Action Group to get the remaining PCB contaminated materials and soil into sealed bunkers are explained. Possible liability of the City of Bloomington, cover-ups by local government officials and dump sites being ignored by the EPA are also mentioned. Toxic health effects, the ailments of former Westinghouse workers and our legacy of poisoning future generations are also dealt with in this ‘PCB episode’. The apathy and anxiety of the average Bloomingtonian regarding the issue are also spoken to by guests Moore & Harrison.

Related

Decades-Old Document Lists Properties Suspected of PCB Contamination
Health effects and clean-up options for PCBs- full 30 minute interview
Interchange – Mick Harrison
Frey v E.P.A

Credits
Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Board Engineer: Adam Reichle
Executive Producer: Joe Crawford

Bloomington Aims to Be the Next US City to Place Restrictions on Single-Use Plastic Bags

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The Center for Sustainable Living in Bloomington has put together a committee to try and reduce the number of single-use plastic bags in the city. Hundreds of cities and towns in the US have already enacted some sort of restrictions on the bag. Correspondent Harrison Wagner speaks with Center for Sustainable Living board member Jeanne Leimekuler on the Bloomington effort and Commissioner Dan Saltzman of the City Council of Portland on the effects in his city for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

Interchange – The Best of Andy Mahler: Mick Harrison and Bloomington’s Toxic Waste Problem

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This is the final show of our News Summit Special four-episode series “The Best of Andy Mahler.”

For tonight’s episode Mahler talks with Bloomington resident Mick Harrison, one of the nation’s foremost environmental and public interest attorneys representing whistleblowers, environmental advocates, and others who resist corporate and government malfeasance. The two pay special attention to how Westinghouse turned Bloomington into a toxic waste disaster area by dumping more than a million pounds of PCB-contaminated materials in and around Monroe County, and the decades-long efforts of Westinghouse (with EPA assistance) to avoid responsibility for cleaning it up.

Next week we’ll return to regular programming on Interchange when Doug Storm and Trish Kerle’ talk to composer and musician Lauren Bernofsky and author Scott Russell Sanders for a discussion on environmental awareness and the arts with a special focus on their current collaboration with The Cardinal Stage Company called The Breakfast Feast.

 

Dean of IU’s SPEA Testified In Support of EPA ‘Secret Science’ Bill

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John D. Graham, dean of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University and former senior official in President George W. Bush’s Office of Management and Budget, testified on Tuesday in support of a bill that prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, from using what backers of the legislation call ‘secret science.’

The bill, introduced by U.S. House Republicans, would prohibit the EPA from proposing new regulations based on science that is not transparent or reproducible.

“Most of the EPA-related studies that may not satisfy the reproducibility standard are in the air quality area,” Graham said, “The environmental epidemiology field does not yet have a strong position in favor of public access to data, which is necessary for reproducibility. The transparency standard is more widely accepted.”

The measure is sponsored by Subcommittee Chairman David Schweikert, a Republican from Arizona. In discussing the bill’s future, Graham said, “There is a mid-March meeting at the National Academy of Sciences where the reproducibility issue will be discussed in more detail by multiple stakeholders. Once that meeting occurs, it will become apparent whether the scientific community will support or oppose the bill.”

Indiana Sierra Club on Carbon Limits for Coal Plants

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Under rules announced last week by the Environmental Protection Agency, new power plants will be limited in how much carbon they can emit into the atmosphere. The new rule is expected to most dramatically affect coal-fired plants, which will be forced to capture at least some of the carbon they release. Both supporters and detractors of the rules say they will make it more difficult to build new, financially viable coal plants. The Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club has often brought attention to the environmental hazards of coal power. Assistant News Director Joe Crawford spoke with Jody Perras, from the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, about the potential effects of the rules for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

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