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GLIN==> TOXIC UNDERWATER MUDS debated



CLEAN OCEAN ACTION COAST ALLIANCE
MEDIA ADVISORY AND RELEASE

A BILLION TONS OF TOXIC UNDERWATER MUDS THREATEN PEOPLE, ENVIRONMENT,
SHIPPING AND COMMERCE; ACTION ON ENVIRONMENT'S "SLEEPING GIANT" DEMANDED
BY GROUPS NATIONWIDE

November 9, Washington, D.C. -- Scientists and environmental leaders from
the Pacific, Atlantic, Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico converged on
Washington, D.C. to demand that human health and the environment be
protected from toxic harbor muds that are dredged and dumped in the ocean,
coasts, lakes and rivers.  The groups cited the cornucopia of contaminants
that plague bottom muds, which are dredged to keep shipping channels open
or to significantly deepen them.  The chemicals include PCBs, dioxin,
mercury, lead and hydrocarbons, which have been shown to cause cancer,
reproductive abnormalities, birth defects and compromised immune systems.

Every year, 100 ocean dumpsites receive 60 million tons of dredged harbor
muds, the equivalent of six million dump truck loads of mud. Roughly 400
million tons of sediments are dumped into rivers, lakes, bays and
estuaries annually, nearly three times the amount of mud that was dredged
to build the Panama Canal. The groups called for an immediate ban on
dumping contaminated sediments in America's waters.

"Like a muddy Typhoid Mary, sediments can be carriers of an unseen
threat," said Beth Millemann, author of a new report released at the press
conference, Muddy Waters: The Toxic Wasteland Below America's Oceans,
Coasts, Rivers and Lakes.  "The most dangerous offenders of the industrial
age have wound up in the muds below, yet the EPA and Army Corps of
Engineers persist in dumping untreated sediments into America's oceans and
rivers -- a practice as sophisticated as medieval man tossing the contents
of his chamber pot out the window," said Millemann.

The Environmental Protection Agency admits that more than a billion tons
of contaminated sediments lie below waterbodies, and that every major
harbor suffers from polluted muds.  Yet it is developing standards that
are so lax that more contaminated sediments could be dumped and more
pollutants could be spewed out of pipes and sewage treatment plants. The
scientists and environmental experts, who gathered in Washington to attend
a "Summit on Sediments," called on EPA to dump its weak provisions, not
more toxic mud.

"We all lose when EPA weakens rather than upholds legal standards of ocean
protection -- natural ecosystems lose because they become ever more
degraded and impoverished; the public loses because health is compromised;
and national commerce loses because eventually the damage will be
impossible to ignore and ports will be threatened with downsizing or
closure," said Boyce Thorne-Miller, Science Advisor for SeaWeb and Ocean
Advocates, national organizations that educate the public about threats to
the marine ecosystem.

Leaders from 15 states with contaminated harbors attended the "Summit on
Sediments," including NJ, NY, MA, RI, MD, CT, PA, ME, LA, CA, OR, WA, WI,
IL, IN and the District of Columbia. Speakers from 6 states and D.C. spoke
at the Nov. 9 press conference, and urged that treatment technologies
developed
by the private sector, and implemented in states like New Jersey, be
adopted nation-wide. New Jersey has developed alternatives to ocean
dumping to handle all its short-term needs, and a ban on dumping sediments
off the state's coast has been in effect since September 1997.

"The barbaric practice of ocean dumping was state-of-the-art in 1902, but
in New Jersey, we're meeting the 21st century with new technologies that
move us forward, protect the environment and create jobs," said Cynthia
Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action.  "If we can do it, so must
the rest of the nation," said Zipf.  Clean Ocean Action is a New
Jersey-based coalition of 150 environmental, fishing, business and civic
organizations.

Contaminated sediments have been shown to cause harm to people, fish and
shellfish, and other wildlife.  The EPA has documented tumors, cancer,
skin lesions and other problems in fish that came in contact with polluted
muds in the Elizabeth River, VA; Black River, OH; San Francisco Bay, CA;
San Diego Bay, CA; Boston Harbor, MA; Chesapeake Bay, MD; and portions of
the Great Lakes.  Women who ate fish contaminated with PCBs from bottom
muds in the Great Lakes gave birth to babies with smaller heads and who
weighed less, and who continued to experience developmental problems.

"Our families are fed up with cancer, birth defects and infertility
especially when it's preventable," said Jackie Savitz, Executive Director
of the Coast Alliance, a national coalition of environmental leaders.
"As long as EPA fails to issue protective criteria, people and wildlife
will continue to eat fish contaminated with toxics from sediments, making
chemical exposure and health effects a fact of life," said Savitz.

The scientists and environmental leaders have united to demand action
nationwide and back home.  They released a ten-point citizens agenda for
action that included their call for an end to open water dumping of
contaminated sediments, EPA's development of truly protective standards
and the national implementation of alternative treatment technologies.

Contacts:
Cindy Zipf, Clean Ocean Action         732/872-0111
Beth Millemann, Clean Ocean Action     202/546-0908
Jackie Savitz, Coast Alliance           202/546-9554
Boyce Thorne-Miller, SeaWeb/Ocean Advocates   301/972-7028

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