Mercury poisoning saga

Joel Hogue tests mercury vapor in bags containing clothes removed from the Moore family home. Some bags tested around 100 times the limit considered safe. Photo by Barbara J. Perenic, courtesy of the Springfield-News Sun.

Hey everyone. Check out my initial article and followup to the story of the family that had to leave its home because of a mercury spill. They had lived with the toxic vapors their entire 3-month tenancy.

Both articles appeared on A1 below the fold.

It’s a tale of caution: get a professional home inspection before you buy an older home, and before you rent one, take a close look for any mercury-containing devices.

I would also ask about any old engineering-type components that have been removed from the home in recent years, and ask to talk to previous tenants to see if they had any health problems while living there.

Update: Here’s the third story in the saga: Thieves looted the house while it was vacant, stealing all the major appliances, including the mercury-tainted washer and dryer. Beware what used machines you buy.


Ohio EPA called out U.S. EPA — at *my* meeting!

The time I had to write this report could have been rounded to zero.

The space I had to write this report was 1/4 what I would have written if I had all the space I wanted.

But it turned out beautifully, as my editors kept all the needed details, which, frankly, were astounding.

I wouldn’t have wanted to be a U.S. EPA staffer at last night’s meeting. Because I would have been yelled at for 2 hours, including by the person I pay to help the local community group (which didn’t make it into the story).

Read the report here.

Chicago: the greenest city *snicker*

Based on the frequency of news coverage about polluted soil or buildings in Chicago, you might think there really isn’t much of that here. After all, only a single EPA National Priorities List site exists in Chicago. But it was tough to get listed because the city would rather not have those blemishes on its record.

And cleanups of pollution happen all the time, all over the city, as the map below shows when you zoom into Chicago. Have there have been any near your house or workplace in recent years? The key below explains the different colored pins.

BLUE: Federal CERCLA (“Superfund”) sites in Illinois that are on the National Priorities List. There is only one NPL site in Chicago, at Lake Calumet on the far south side. (Note: Except for the location of the Lake Calumet site, these pins are approximations based on the city associated with the listing.)

YELLOW: CERCLA cleanups that are NOT on the NPL, whose city is listed as “Chicago.” Exact addresses were used in this case. These cases, as you’ll read below, are interesting.

TURQUOISE: “Non-voluntary” (usually court-mandated) cleanups performed or supervised by Illinois EPA. Again, exact addresses used.

A few disclosures after the break…

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Jensen nonviolent, after all

Art I made for the large open wall of my apartment. The metal numbers were someone else’s garbage. (My Dad’s, in fact.)

This month Derrick Jensen took a step back from his usual extreme tone in his Orion Magazine column. (Orion represents the literary and philosophical side of the environmental movement.) Normally he advocates a revolution in order to address environmental problems. With this most recent column, he (finally) clarified that he doesn’t mean violent revolution. At least necessarily.

A little background: Jensen doesn’t think the status quo can fix our problems, and I agree with him. The current system of the world’s governments, the massive corporate influence, the wealthy nations’ addiction to consumerism and the poor nations’ inability to climb out of poverty will more or less continue as-is, because those who could change things are too invested in the system to substantially change it.

But I’m also staunchly non-violent. So while Jensen may have softened up a bit from his normal tone, expressed in great pieces here and here, he still means business. I’m sure he’s enraged as much as I am that there weren’t enough limousines in Denmark to accommodate the climate conference at Copenhagen. The conference campus was fairly walkable, I heard.

The limo thing is but a humorous representation of the leaders being invested in the current system. Like a Ponzi scheme, they continue playing the dangerous game because to try to fix things is to admit your own stupidity. I highly recommend this piece, which compares the global economy with a Ponzi scheme.