Posts Tagged ‘Baltimore’

W.R. Grace profits soar amid suffering

30 Oct 2008 by Wendi Lewis under Legal, News

W.R. Grace & Co. announced in mid-September that it had filed a Plan of Reorganization for the company with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. According to Grace Chairman, President and CEO Fred Festa, the filing was a step toward resolving the company’s asbestos-related liabilities and exiting its Chapter 11 bankruptcy status. A hearing on the company’s Disclosure Statement was set to begin this week.

As we have posted on this site many times before, W.R. Grace operated a vermiculite mine and processing plant in and near Libby, Montana, from 1963 to 1990. The vermiculite was contaminated with high levels of asbestos, which affected the health of mine workers and just about everyone who lived in the town. Gravel and other scrap rock from the mine was scattered throughout the town of Libby, used in construction of a running track at the school, lining flowerbeds, and underfoot on ballfields.

Hundreds of Libby residents have died of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses as a result of their widespread exposure to the asbestos materials, and even more are sick with asbestos disease. In March, Grace agreed to pay $250 million toward government cleanup efforts in the town of Libby. It is estimated that the Environmental Protection Agency has spent at least $168 million so far in removing asbestos-contaminated soils and other materials from the Libby area.

Reaching beyond Libby, which has been basically killed by asbestos, the vermiculite insulation that was manufactured by Grace is still a danger in thousands of homes, where it was used for years. Grace is currently accepting claims from homeowners who have the company’s Zonolite Attic Insulation (ZAI) in their homes, for reimbursement of asbestos abatement costs and other economic loss and property devaluation related to the presence of the asbestos-laden material. This action, which centers exclusively on property-related damages, doesn’t even touch the potential health hazard of having the substance in one’s home.*

While Grace sorts out its bankruptcy issues, the Baltimore Business Journal reported on Oct. 23 that the company has seen record profits in 2008, experiencing nearly 50 percent growth in its third-quarter earnings. The Journal reports the Columbia-based Grace (NYSE: GRA) enjoyed a 14 percent increase in sales since last year, with revenues topping $800 million. The report says,  “Grace’s pre-tax income from core operations, which factors out costs related to the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy, rose 6 percent to $82 million.”

The story quotes Grace Chief Financial Officer Hudson La Force as saying, “What’s really important is the condition of the financial markets in the middle of next year. We’re very focused on making sure when the time comes to make our exit, we have the financing in place to do that.”

Documents outlining the company’s Financial Reorganization Plan are available on the Grace web site at www.grace.com.

*PLEASE NOTE: TO LEARN MORE ABOUT FILING A ZAI CLAIM, PLEASE VISIT THE GRACE BANKRUPTCY CLAIMS INFORMATION SITE at www.graceclaims.com to download the forms necessary to file your claim. Deadline to file is OCTOBER 31, 2008.


My Cancer blogger has passed away

18 Aug 2008 by Wendi Lewis under News, People

Earlier this summer I wrote about a blog on National Public Radio called My Cancer. Written by the former executive producer of ABC’s “Nightline” program, Leroy Sievers, the blog was accompanied by weekly podcast, and provided a frank and honest look at living with a cancer diagnosis. In 2001, Sievers was diagnosed with and successfully overcame colon cancer. Then, in 2005, cancer returned, affecting his brain and his lungs. Seivers passed away Friday, at age 53.

The My Cancer blog inspired thousands of cancer survivors from around the world and boasted upward of 30,000 comments. Sievers also appeared on ABC newsman Ted Koppel’s “Living with Cancer” television special, which was broadcast by The Discovery Channel in May 2007, as well as a special broadcast of NPR’s Talk of the Nation program that addressed the same “Living with Cancer” topic, which aired July 9, 2008, also hosted by Koppel and featuring cancer survivor Elizabeth Edwards.

“Leroy gave voice to a topic that we are very uncomfortable with — death and dying,” Ellen McDonnell, NPR’s morning programming director, said in a statement. “My Cancer had a face and a heart and a smile.”

Sievers is survived by his wife, Laurie Singer.

A memorial fund has been set up to honor Sievers memory and work. Donations can be made to the following address:

Leroy Sievers Memorial Fund
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center
Patient and Family Services
100 N. Charles Street
Suite 234
Baltimore, Maryland 21201


Hamilton Jordan, Pres. Carter’s chief of staff, dies of mesothelioma

22 May 2008 by Wendi Lewis under News

hamilton jordan 2 Hamilton Jordan, Pres. Carters chief of staff, dies of mesotheliomaHamilton Jordan 1944-2008. Hamilton Jordan, who served as President Jimmy Carter’s chief of staff, died Tuesday, May 20, after a battle with mesothelioma.

This was the fourth time Jordan battled cancer. In the 1980s, he was diagnosed with leukemia lymphoma. About 10 years later, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He also had two battles with skin cancer. In 2000, Jordan wrote a book about his experience with cancer, titled “No Such Thing as a Bad Day,” which provided inspiration to cancer survivors.

He and his wife, Dorothy, founded Camp Sunshine, a nonprofit camp for children with cancer, and Camp Kudzu, a nonprofit camp for children with Type 1 diabetes. Jordan also founded the Georgia Cancer Coalition, a $1 billion organization funded by tobacco settlement money.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has published the following statement from Jordan’s family:

The Jordan Family greatly appreciates the overwhelming amount of love and support we have received from our friends during the many difficult years of Hamilton’s illness. We are saddened beyond words at his death, but we are also at peace knowing that he is finally comfortable after years of fighting an incurable disease. A truly unforgettable person, Hamilton will be remembered as a compassionate, brilliant, and selfless human being who touched so many lives with his limitless generosity.

In lieu of flowers the family asks that your donations be sent to any of the following charitable organizations:

The Hamilton Jordan Mesothelioma Fund at the University of Maryland-Baltimore Foundation, University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, 100 North Green Street, Suite 600, Baltimore MD 21201

Camp Sunshine, 1850 Clairmont Road, Decatur, GA 30033, enriching the lives of children with cancer through recreational, educational and support programs throughout the year

Camp Kudzu, 4279 Roswell Road, Suite 102, Box 254, Atlanta, GA 30342, providing education, recreation and peer-networking programs for children with diabetes

Community Advanced Practice Nurses, Inc., 173 Boulevard NE Atlanta GA 30312, offering free mental and physical healthcare to the homeless and medically underserved.

A memorial service for Hamilton Jordan, White House chief of staff during the Carter administration, will be held with family and close friends at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 23, at The Carter Center. Seating begins at 1 p.m. President Carter as well as other friends and colleagues over the years, will offer remarks and reminiscences. The event will not be open to press coverage.


Lung Cancer Leading Cancer Killer

3 Mar 2008 by Wendi Lewis under News, Organizations

The Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) announced Feb. 25 that statistics recently released by the (ACS) indicate that lung cancer continues to kill more people each year than all the other major cancers combined.

Beginning in 2003, ACS started using the 2000 census for its age adjusted statistical analysis. Since that time, the incidence rate for lung cancer in men rose from 86 new cases per every 100,000 of population to 89, and incidence rates for women went from 51.4 to 55.2.

The LCA points out that in dollars per death, lung cancer is receiving a fraction of the amounts given to breast, prostate and colon cancers.

The five-year survival rate for breast cancer now stands at 88 percent, prostate cancer 99 percent and colon cancer 65 percent, while lung cancer remains at 15 percent.

The ACS credits screening as a major component in achieving high survival rates. So, part of the problem, according to an article published in the Baltimore Sun Feb. 27, is that there is not yet any effective way to screen for lung cancer.

Reporter Stephanie Desmon found that neither physicians nor major medical societies advocate lung cancer screening at this time, because no one has proved that it saves lives.

Studies have shown that screenings find more cancer, but also more lesions and nodules that may or may not be cancer, Desmon’s report said. This leads to confusion about how to treat these spots, or whether to treat them at all. There also are concerns that lung screenings may lead to further tests, biopsies and surgeries, some of which may be unnecessary or harmful to a patient. Scans that produce “watch and see” results also lead to fear and anxiety, and emotional cost to the patient.

In 2002, the National Cancer Institute launched the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), which will compare two ways of detecting lung cancer – spiral computed tomography (CT) and the standard chest X-ray. By Feb. 2004, nearly 50,000 people (smokers or former smokers) had joined NLST at more than 30 study sites across the country.

The trial (now closed to further enrollment) is slated to collect and analyze data for eight years to examine the risks and benefits of each type of screening. The NLST is a randomized, controlled study and is large enough to determine if there is a 20 percent or greater drop in lung cancer from using spiral CT compared to chest X-ray. The trial is scheduled to last until 2009.