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E-M:/ Toxic Chemical report released by PIRGIM and NET/MI



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Enviro-Mich message from Vicki Levengood <vlevengood@voyager.net>
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE	Contact:  Brian Imus, PIRGIM: 734-662-6597
November 18,1998		Vicki Levengood, NET/MI: 517-333-5786

Report Reveals:
    Detroit Company Ranks No. 1 In Michigan, No. 5 In Nation In
Release     Of Toxic, Long-lasting Pollutants
Michigan ranks near top of list for release of toxic substances

Detroit, Michigan--A new report shows that Detroit’s Allied-Signal is
the number one facility in the state and the number five facility in the
nation for release of what scientists consider some the most harmful
substances on earth:  persistent bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs). 
According to the report, Allied-Signal released more than 110,000 pounds
of toxic substances into the environment in 1996.   PIRGIM and the
National Environmental Trust / Michigan released the report, Poisoning
Our Future:  The Dangerous Legacy of Persistent Toxic Chemicals, at a
news conference today in front of an Allied-Signal facility near
downtown Detroit.

According to the report, the state of Michigan ranks third in the
country for release of non-metal toxic pollutants, and twelfth in the
country for release of mercury, lead, and other dangerous metals into
our air, land, and water.  GMC in Saginaw was first in the state in the
release of metal PBTs, dumping more than 140,000 pounds of lead into
landfills in 1996. The study reports industries across the country
released nearly 20 million pounds of these substances directly into the
environment.

PBTs -- including lead, mercury, dioxin, and other toxic pollutants --
have been linked to cancer, birth defects, reproductive and hormone
damage, and a range of additional health problems. Lead and other
persistent, bioaccumulative substances are particularly dangerous
because they are highly toxic in very small quantities, remain in the
environment for long periods of time, and build-up in the tissue of
animals and humans.

"U.S. industries, like Allied-Signal here in Detroit, are quietly
polluting our air, land, and water with some of the most harmful
substances known to exist,” said PIRGIM spokesperson Brian Imus. 
“Polluters are releasing millions of pounds of these toxins into the
environment despite the fact that only a fraction of a teaspoon of a
substance like mercury would contaminate an entire lake to the point
where fish are unsafe to eat.”

Poisoning Our Future also reveals that because of loopholes in the
federal Right to Know law -- currently the best source of
publicly-available information on toxic emissions -- actual toxic
substance releases are drastically underestimated.  PIRGIM and National
Environmental Trust / Michigan estimate that the reported information
accounts for only 9 percent of releases of the most well-known of these
substances, like mercury and lead.  Dioxin, widely thought to be the
single most toxic substance, is not even included in the reporting list.
"The Toxic Release Inventory is this nation’s best reporting law.  And
yet it tells us almost nothing about chemicals like dioxin that pose the
greatest threat to public health and the environment,” said Vicki
Levengood, National Environmental Trust / Michigan. “Michigan citizens
have the right to know what’s being dumped on our land, in our water,
and in our air.”

The report analyzes releases of 31 toxic substances known to persist in
the environment and bioaccumulate in animals and wildlife, as reported
to the Community Right to Know Act’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) in
1996, the most recent year for which data is available. However, much of
the pollution is not included in TRI, because current thresholds that
trigger reporting requirements are set too high.  In Michigan, only a
little more than 23 percent of the industries that may be releasing
these substances are included in the TRI, leaving more than 75 percent
of facilities in the state that do not report because they do not meet
these high thresholds. The release of Poisoning Our Future coincides
with the U.S. EPA’s efforts to reconsider reporting thresholds for
certain chemicals.

"The International Joint Commission on Great Lakes Water Quality, on the
advice of dozens of leading scientists, declared that persistent toxic
substances are too dangerous to the biosphere and to humans to permit
their release in any quantity," said Brian Imus. "We should be working
to eliminate these substances, yet the public, policy makers, and even
industry themselves, do not have the information they need to track
their own pollution or promote pollution prevention."

PIRGIM and the National Environmental Trust / Michigan are calling on
the Clinton Administration and the EPA to take the critical steps to
reduce the use and release of these dangerous substances. Specifically,
the Clinton Administration and the EPA should:

· lower Right to Know reporting thresholds to include information on all
persistent or bioaccumulative toxins, and add dioxins to the reporting
list.  EPA should set a single zero threshold for reporting of these
extremely dangerous substances;

· expand Right to Know reporting to include all major sources of
pollution, as well as information on toxic chemicals used in the
workplace, transported through communities, and placed in consumer
products; 

· take steps to eliminate the use and release of substances like mercury
and dioxin by setting strict emissions standards for mercury from power
plants, and requiring the development and use of alternatives to major
polluting practices such as waste incineration, and industrial chlorine
processes that result in the formation of dioxin.

"As the EPA considers changes to Right to Know reporting requirements,
we are calling on Administrator Browner and her staff to stand strong
against the pressure from polluting industries that have been fighting
the public’s Right to Know for years,” said Vicki Levengood. “If we are
working in the dark, we cannot hope to find a way to reduce our exposure
to some of the most dangerous substances known to science.” 

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