Chemists Without Borders

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Toxic Pollution: our Right to Know

From OMB Watch

EPA recently announced plans to dismantle the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), our nation’s premier tool for notifying the public out about toxic pollution. The TRI annually provides communities with details about the amount of toxic chemicals released into the air, land, and water. The information enables groups and individuals to press companies to reduce their pollution, resulting in safer, healthier communities. But EPA is placing corporations ahead of community safety with enormous rollbacks in TRI reporting.

While this issue is at home rather than abroad, does it not make sense that ensuring a healthy environment in a democractic society depends on the public's right to know about pollutants in their communities? Should Chemists Without Borders take a stand on right to know about pollutants - whether in the U.S. or anywhere else?

Thanks to Peter Suber on SPARC Open Access Forum.

4 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. This post is wildly overstated, actually. If you actually go to the EPA website for this, www.epa.gov/tri/, it tells that they want to lower the reporting frequency and allow the use of a short form, thus lowering the regulatory burden on companies. Hardly a "dismantling" of the TRI. This sort of hype and scare-mongering just makes me ignore most everything from environmental groups, since it seems to occur pretty much all of the time.

    -Mark

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  3. hi Mark - reviewing the OMB Watch statement, I can see how this could be seen as an overstatement, although I see how reducing reporting requirements for polluting would be an area of real concern.

    It can be hard to understand where people are coming from, when we're communicating with someone we have never met. From what you're saying here, for all I know you could be a paid employee of a company that pollutes a lot and doesn't care at all, or you could be someone who cares deeply about the environment, but is looking for a new kind of approach. Or maybe you're more interested in the pharmacy angle of CWB, and not the environmental stuff?

    Perhaps if you could tell us a bit about yourself and what your dream about what CWB might do, it would help me to understand? If you've already gone over this in teleconferences I've missed, my apologies...

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  4. I work in the chemical industry, as a research chemist, and I am interested in environmental approaches that might actually work. For CWB, I think we should focus on getting chemists involved in charity type work, similar to Engineers without borders. This was the basis of the original letter to C&E News. I don't think CWB should be involved in general environmental concerns, nor in forced free publishing. These other areas, while of interest to chemists in general, don't seem like they should be the focus area of CWB. If CWB is going to focus on the "evil chemical industry" or the "environmental pollution agency", then count me out, along with most chemists in industry, and most companies who might be interested in donating to a charity group focused on chemistry.
    -Mark

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