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#53 - Increases In Midnight Dumping Are Expected Because Of Waste Hauler Problems Hitting Small Busi, 29-Nov-1987

An EPA study (not yet formally released) says we should expect an
increase in midnight dumping. The study says small generators of
hazardous waste--principally automotive maintenance shops and dry
cleaners--are being forced out of business trying to comply with "small
generator" hazardous waste disposal rules. Rather than go out of
business, they'll probably choose "midnight dumping," the study
suggests.

The study says there are several problems with hazardous waste disposal
for small firms. Chief among them is the way the waste hauling industry
is organized: the industry is a monopoly in many areas; this problem is
"widespread," the study says. Where monopoly prevails, disposal prices
are high and escalating, and "coercion, intimidation, and threatened
boycott" are present. Coercion, intimidation and threatened boycott are
the tactics brought to this industry by organized crime.

The study was completed by trade associations but will be distributed
by Karen Brown, EPA Small Business Ombudsman, Mail Stop A149-C, U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, 401 M Street, SW, Washington, DC
20460; phone (202) 557-1938, Ask for a copy of "Hazardous Waste Pickup
Problems Among Automotive Maintenance and Dry Cleaning Firms;" dated
July, 1987.

--Peter Montague

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SCIENCE AND POLITICS COMBINE TO DEFEAT A MAJOR LANDFILL SCHEME

Dumpbusters, the citizens group in Spencerville, OH (see RHWN #51),
fighting a huge solid waste landfill proposed by Waste Management,
Inc., has won a total victory. Waste Management withdrew its
application November 16 because they had been given a choice by
authorities: withdraw your application or have it formally denied.

Pump tests run on test wells during July had shown an underground
hydraulic connection (water flow) between the proposed dump site and
the town's municipal drinking water wells. Sally Teets, leader of the
Dumpbusters, says she's convinced that the groundwater data were only
influential with the authorities because Dumpbusters hired their own
hydrologist to interpret the data and raised a political ruckus the
likes of which Spencerville had never seen before. "They collected the
data in July," she says. "They could have, and should have, turned down
the application then. But they didn't act until we put tremendous
pressure on them." THE LESSON? YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE SCIENCE ON YOUR SIDE,
WHICH IS TO SAY YOU MUST BE TECHNICALLY CORRECT IN YOUR ARGUMENTS. BUT
BEING RIGHT ISN'T ENOUGH: IT'S LOCAL POLITICAL ORGANIZING THAT WINS THE
DAY.

Dumpbusters celebrated their victory for a week, literally dancing in
the streets. David slew Goliath, and it was good.

--Peter Montague

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NEWSLETTER ON LEGAL AND MEDICAL ASPECTS OF 'ECOLOGICAL ILLNESS'
PROVIDES IMPORTANT INFORMATION

You can't win without information, but you can also drown in
information. What we all need is the information we can use and nothing
more. We need concentrated, distilled information at an affordable
price. A tall order.

We have found a newsletter packed with useful information: the
ECOLOGICAL ILLNESS LAW REPORT. For five years its editor, Earon Davis
(a lawyer with a master's degree in public health) has been cranking it
out, working alone in his basement. The product is wonderful.

What is "ecological illness?" It's "a growing constellation of
illnesses caused or exacerbated by chemical pollutants in indoor,
outdoor, and workplace environments. These illnesses, probably
attributable to chemically induced immune system disorders, may produce
a wide range of disabling disease symptoms," Mr. Davis writes.

In other words, ecological illness is what we're all worried about--
getting sick from the modern environment, whether it's from dumps or
bad drinking water or toxic household products.

Part of this problem is perfectly normal reactions to powerful
chemicals, like workers and their families getting lung disease from
asbestos. But another, less well-known part of this problem is
"environmental hypersensitivity"--people who are especially sensitive
to particular chemicals. The 10% of the population with asthma falls
into this category, for example. An estimated 20% of the population
(roughly 44 million Americans) suffers from some kind of environmental
hypersensitivity--headaches, skin rashes, coughs, breathing
difficulties, ringing in the ears... and on and on. For some of these
people, the modern environment is a nightmare, and for all of them it
is a very mixed blessing.

The ECOLOGICAL ILLNESS LAW REPORT is mainly aimed at lawyers, but much
of it is useful to you and me. It covers precedent-setting legal cases,
and it covers medical news. For example, in the latest issue
(September, 1987, Vol. IV, No. 6) we learn that Missouri residents and
workers received a settlement of $19 million from the people
responsible for spraying dioxin-contaminated oil on local roads--the
incident that caused the permanent evacuation of the town of Times
Beach, MO. Various illnesses and injuries had been claimed, as well as
property losses.

We also learn that an employee of Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI) was
awarded $275,000 after he developed central blind spots in both his
eyes. He had worked for eight years with benzene, toluene, xylene,
ethylene, glycol lead, tetraethyl lead and other substances. NONE OF
THESE CHEMICALS EXCEEDED THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE LEVELS but, in
combination, the plaintiff argued, the chemicals caused disabling
blindness.

We also learn that two recent scientific studies have found that
formaldehyde exposure of dogs and humans seems to cause impaired immune
system functioning. Formaldehyde is a common chemical in building
materials and household products, such as new carpets, and hair
shampoos, among others.

All in all, this newsletter is a treasure chest of ammunition for
people arguing that we need closer control of chemicals. It's $30 per
year (four issues) from EILR, P.O. Box 1796, Evanston, Il 60204; phone
(312) 256-3730.

--Peter Montague

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Descriptor terms: mcs; environmental illness; citizen groups;
pollution; lawyers; citizen groups; landfilling; spencerville, oh; oh;
dumpbusters; groundwater; waste hauling industry; epa; hazardous waste;
waste disposal technologies; small generators;