Posts Tagged ‘Seattle’

Idaho asbestos violations endanger workers, residents and require $4 million EPA cleanup

23 Aug 2013 by under Legal, News

DOJ logo 100x100 Idaho asbestos violations endanger workers, residents and require $4 million EPA cleanupTwo contractors who were hired to oversee a waterline renovation project in Orofino, Idaho, were sentenced in federal court for violations of the asbestos work practice standards and Clean Air Act. and Douglas Greiner were indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice. Their failure to adhere to required asbestos handling, disposal and abatement procedures endangered workers and the public, and cost the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nearly $4 million to clean up asbestos-contaminated land. (more…)


DOE construction workers report high incidence of mesothelioma

10 Sep 2009 by under News, People, Research/Treatment

DOE logo 100x100 DOE construction workers report high incidence of mesotheliomaA recent study published in the September 2009 issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine reports workers at four U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) facilities have elevated risks for developing cancer, and former construction workers at the Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington state are 11 times more likely to develop mesothelioma, in particular.

The study, Mortality of Older Construction and Craft Workers Employed at Department of Energy (DOE) Sites, was funded by the DOE and involved a medical screening program that began in 1996 and followed older construction workers at four DOE nuclear weapons complex sites. Sites in the study were Savannah River Site (SRS), South Carolina; Hanford near Richland, Wash.; and facilities at Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Amchitka, Alaska.

The study indicated Hanford workers were 11 times more likely to develop mesothelioma, and three times more likely to develop multiple myeloma, a cancer found in white blood cells. Additionally, Hanford workers died of , a severe scarring of the lungs resulting from asbestos inhalation, at rates 30 times higher than the general population. The study also found higher rates of deaths from cancers of the trachea, bronchus and lungs among Hanford workers.

According to the report, significantly excess mortality was observed for all cancers, lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis at all four sites studied. Additionally, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was in excess at Oak Ridge and multiple myeloma was in excess at Hanford. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was significantly elevated among workers at the Savannah River Site.

Workers participating in the study, called the Building Trades National Medical Screening Program, were followed to determine their vital status and mortality experience through Dec. 31, 2004. There were 8,976 workers included in the initial screening program, all of whom had participated in the building trades at the sites. Their data was gathered between 1998 and 2004, and compared to the National Death Index.

Approximately 31 percent of the people in the study – or close to 3,000 workers – had done construction work at the Hanford facility. Since the beginning of the study, 266 Hanson workers had passed away, and 94 of those deaths were attributed to cancer. That number reflects 14 more cancer deaths than would be expected in the general U.S. population.

According to its web site, the Building Trades National Medical Screening Program was developed to identify health problems caused by hazardous substances that workers may have been exposed to while working on a Department of Energy site. It is led by the CPWR, The Center for Construction Research and Training, in Washington, D.C. The consortium includes the University of Cincinnatie Medical Center (Ohio), Duke University Medical Center (N.C.), and Zenith Administrators, Inc., Seattle, Wash. The program is sponsored by the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO and endorsed by various state and local Building and Construction Trades Councils.

Additional sources:

Seattle PI
Aiken Standard
The News Tribune


Why is EPA proposing relaxed asbestos rules?

6 Aug 2008 by under News, Organizations

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Science Advisory Board (SAB) Asbestos Committee held public meetings July 21 and 22 in Washington, D.C., to discuss changes in the way it measures the risk posed by inhalation exposure to asbestos. Results of this meeting are coming under fire, as environmental groups, labor safety leaders, physicians, scientists and politicians object to the EPA’s proposed revised evaluation standards.

According to recent report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, there were 20 experts appointed to the SAB’s asbestos panel, charged with evaluating the validity of the EPA’s plan to change how the toxicity of the six types of asbestos regulated by the government differ in danger. Its findings would be submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

According to the PI report, scientific advisors say the EPA used the asbestos panel to submit new studies that contradict longstanding into the dangers of asbestos. The new studies say chrysolite, in particular, the most common type of asbestos, isn’t dangerous and doesn’t cause mesothelioma.

PI quotes Dr. David Egilman, an occupational medicine specialist, who testified at the public meeting, as saying the new study was financed by mining and other asbestos-related industries, and said the studies have no scientific credibility.

Another vocal spokesperson at the hearing was Sen. Patty Murray, who sponsored S. 742, the Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2007, which passed the Senate on Oct. 4, 2007. Currently, it is the companion bill to H.R. 3339, the Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act, sponsored by Rep. Betty McCollum, which currently is in committee in the House of Representatives.

Sen. Murray has long been an advocate for a total asbestos ban, calling for better worker protection. The PI quotes Sen. Murray as telling the committee, “I’d like the political appointees at the EPA to look into the eyes of a mesothelioma patient and say that asbestos isn’t dangerous. It appears that this administration is once again putting politics before public health.” Murray is currently chairwoman of the Senate Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee.

The EPA asserts the new system is needed to improve how asbestos-contaminated Superfund sites are evaluated. The organization can move forward with its proposal without approval from the OMB or the SAB, if it so chooses.