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Sep-13-2011 18:23printcomments

White House Backs Chemical Industry Against Kids, Stalling EPA Hazard Reviews of Toxic Chemicals Like TCE, Indefinitely

Obama is playing with fire, placing millions of Americans at risk and harming efforts to curb current problems.

TCE is a deadly chemical that the Obama administration is choosing to protect
TCE is a deadly chemical that the Obama administration is choosing to protect, at the cost of the health of the American people, and there are efforts to indefinitely prohibit this chemical and others from scrutiny.

(WASHINGTON D.C.) - Corporate polluters won two big victories recently, but you only heard about one. That was president Obama's decision to block EPA from issuing cleaner smog standards, Daniel Rosenberg, Senior Attorney, Washington DC with Switchboard, the Natural Resources Defense Council Staff Blog reports.

His decision provoked such outrage across the country that the White House switchboard was jammed by angry callers.

You didn't hear about the second because, according to multiple sources, the White House worked behind the scenes to stop EPA from issuing a hazard assessment of the cancer-causing chemical TCE – and is working to effectively shut down the EPA’s program for assessing the hazards of chemicals – the basis for setting and updating health standards for drinking water, air quality, and clean-up of contaminated soil.

TCE (Trichloroethylene) is a widely-used solvent and is one of the most commonly found chemicals at Superfund sites across the country. You may recall it was TCE that gave kids leukemia in Woburn, MA and because the subject of a famous book and movie, A Civil Action.

Dr. Phillip Leveque

Doctor Phil Leveque is one of the nation's most educated Forensic Toxicologists, he spent many years as a Professor of Pharmacology, and was for many years, an Osteopathic Physician. He offered testimony in the nation's first TCE-death related court case, in 1974.

The defendant was Dow Chemical. The victim had used TCE to clean supermarket floor bubblegum stains, and died after breathing it regularly over a three-week period.

Dr. Leveque explained while testifying as an expert witness that TCE was originally created to be used as an anesthetic, intended to replace ether; however it was soon discovered that a human being can have direct contact with TCE only once, particularly when used as an anesthetic, and that a second contact will be fatal, without question.

So, it went from the medical world to the industrial cleaning world, because that is apparently how they do things here in the U.S. It was known from the beginning that this triple chlorine base degreaser was deadly, they thought it had one use, and simply made a lateral move.

It is as if the ego of the creator of the substance only cared about promoting its use, at all costs. Knowing that direct contact quickly turns fatal, sufficient warnings were never issued by Dow Chemical advising users not to breathe its toxic fumes.

It is only one, but TCE is a principle contaminant at the now-closed Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, where several writers served. This has been a focus of more than a hundred of our reports since 2008, along with Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, an active Marine Corps base where Marines serve today. It was learned in recent years, that the government paid scientists to construct a false report declaring that the water supply at Camp Lejeune was safe, see Report Clearing Marine Corps Connection to Camp Lejeune Sickness was Purchased.

It is also the subject of a brand new book soon to be released by Robert O'Dowd and Tim King of, titled: A Few Good Men, Too Many Chemicals which goes beyond El Toro, but mainly centers around the contamination at that Orange County, California location that was literally soaked in TCE and many other hazardous chemicals for more than fifty years.

Tim King said, "Obama has shown time and time again that he is the president of the mindless corporate sociopaths who could care less about the common man. It is terrible, it is sinful, it is shameful, and it will also ignite our afterburners. Perhaps they think we are unable to counter such madness when in fact, at least when we were publishing stories about El Toro frequently, spending time on scene, befriending Irving City Council members who sought our knowledge about the real story of the base, you couldn't Google anything to do with the place without pulling up our stories about the rotten contamination that lurks there to hurt people today and tomorrow the way it hurt and killed my brothers of yesterday."

He added, "They are trying to make derelicts out of the population of our society. Well protected from this TCE hazard, Obama and his cronies and the corporate CEO superstars are immune, this is obvious proof that Obama doesn't give a rip about the American people, especially Veterans, particularly Marines, that sucks."

Marines at El Toro used it to clean the jet fighters that were based there for so many years. The TCE was typically dumped into the ground after use and absorbed by the water tables beneath which Environmental Reporter Roger Butow, of nearby Laguna Beach, also a former El Toro Marine, dubbed quite fittingly, 'toxic soup'.

From there, the TCE 'plumes' begin and these travel off the base and actually flow for several miles, directly beneath Irvine City Hall. It is quite a reality for the 'safest city in America' as Irvine claims. Of course of you talked to Christina Shea, Irvine City Council member through 2011, she will tell you stories about the mismanagement of funds, the way the mayor Larry Agran hid information, lied to voters, and did everything possible to push the 'Great Park Project' through.

This is the other side of the plan for El Toro; the one that goes beyond building Lennar luxury homes on the contaminated ground. For years, there has been a proposal for a park on a former Marine base that is so toxic that it will stick to the tires of your car on summer days over 80 degrees. The place is a ruin, and yet it represents dollar signs, so with total disregard to the terrible health hazard, the various plans have continued to move forward.

King says the acts of President Barack Obama are in this case, a death sentence to Americans everywhere. It is a disgraceful matter and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the U.S. President's interests are with the corporate polluters, not with the interests of people.

Daniel Rosenberg explains in the Switchboard blog, that EPA was set to release its final updated assessment of TCE on Friday, September 2nd, (the same day the Administration blocked EPA from issuing a new health standard for ozone).

The updated assessment concludes that TCE is a known human carcinogen (whether you drink it, breath it, or absorb it through your skin), and causes even more chronic diseases than previously thought.

In addition to cancer, TCE has been linked with harmful effects to the central nervous system, kidney, liver, immune system, male reproductive system, and developing fetus. 

Because the updated assessment would lay the groundwork for more protective cleanup standards and exposure limits, the chemical industry has fought for more than twenty years to prevent EPA from updating its assessment – along with the Departments of Energy and Defense, which created a lot of those Superfund sites.

Meanwhile, the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, and the National Academies of Science have consistently endorsed EPA’s updated assessment.  In 2006, the National Academies recommended that EPA finalize its assessment so that efforts to reduce exposure to TCE could be made “expeditiously.”  Friday came and went, but the TCE assessment was not released. The same day draft assessments of two other chemicals – (1,4 dioxane and n-Butanol)  that had been made available for public comment on August 31st were mysteriously rendered “temporarily unavailable”.

These assessments are conducted by EPA’s IRIS program (IRIS stands for Integrated Risk Information System, which may be why few people are familiar with it). Although it is obscure, the assessments conducted under the IRIS program are extremely important.

They are the scientific foundation for health standards that are set to protect us from pollution in air, drinking water and contaminated soil. Word has begun to circulate that the White House has moved to stop any more IRIS assessments from being released – including for tetrachloroethylene or “perc” which is best known as the cancer-causing chemical commonly used in dry-cleaning, and a new cancer risk estimate for arsenic.

That’s funny, because that’s what the chemical industry and one of its scientists-for-hire demanded earlier this summer in a letter to the White House hatchet man Cass Sunstein, and in testimony before the House Science Committee’s Investigation and Oversight Subcommittee.  That was part of the industry’s campaign to discredit EPA and its scientists by distorting and misrepresenting the findings of a National Academies review of another long-delayed assessment of formaldehyde.  The chemical industry was also apoplectic that a separate Report on Carcinogens from the National Toxicology Program in June concluded that formaldehyde caused cancer, including leukemia, and that styrene was a probable carcinogen (the industry has now sued to overturn the NTP’s finding on styrene).

In a beltway journal report [Risk Policy Report – subscription required] today an unnamed industry representative went so far as to brag about the work done “behind the scenes” to pull the strings that stalled the program.

The IRIS program was plagued by political interference throughout the Bush Administration and was sufficiently paralyzed that it was only issuing 2 assessments per year, creating a backlog of hundreds of chemicals requiring initial or updated hazard assessments. A key part of the problem was that the OMB under the Bush Administration inserted itself directly into the IRIS process, and required EPA to submit draft assessments for multiple rounds of review by the White House.

The problem was so bad that the Government Accountability Office published a report about it, and designated the program as one at “High Risk” of failure due to the EPA’s inability to issue hazard assessments (the other two federal programs designated as “high risk” by GAO were those for regulating the financial industry and medical devices).

When EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson first took office, she began to repair the damage to the IRIS program, and reduce the backlog of chemical assessments.  Issuing the TCE assessment after two decades would be an important step forward toward restoring the program’s credibility and effectiveness. Maintaining a steady flow of assessments will be even more critical.

The public wants to be protected from exposure to toxic chemicals in the air, the water, and in the products they bring into their homes every day. But it seems that the White House isn’t thinking about health, the environment, or the public, only what the chemical industry and other big polluters are demanding.

Preventing EPA from issuing a final assessment of TCE -- or reverting to the Bush administration’s approach of continual White House interference to block release of assessments or demand weakening changes sought by the chemical industry – would be a deliberate decision to consign America’s children, and the public at large, to prolonged exposure to carcinogens and other toxic substances in their air and water.  In the health realm, it is hard to think of a worse legacy than that.

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Jim Moreland PA-C, MHS September 18, 2011 8:13 am (Pacific time)

I agree with post of Will Hill totally.

I have written so much protesting and denouncing my support to a President I once supported since the news "Leaked out" of the White House.

Frankly we are in the beginning of our end. If you think this is just only a military issue, then you would be wrong, it affects us all who live in the US and in other parts of the world where the US leaves its polluting footprint. Mr President, you cowardly left us on the field of battle in our time of need, but beware we Marines know what it is to go it alone. We shall have the last say. You have done nothing but ignited a firestorm in the hearts and souls of the veterans who suffer greatly due to the government negligence and willful cover-up. Yes, we shall have the final say. I officially today am a solid independent in search of a new alternative political party that will be a solution tour national problems instead of the major cause as the Republicans and Democrats are today. This nation has no alternatives, we have become hopeless and hapless and disenfranchised at this moment. But like history has shown in the past this indeed is the lull before true social and government reform occurs. We live in a country where the richer get rich and the poorer get poor. Today it is different, the poor include the educated and the hard working middle class who are not afraid of a struggle and who feel that real change will come when make it happen and usually is very radical and extreme but this is where we are headed as a country, simply because things not continue as they are today. Even the rich will perish from the vary chemicals they killed us with. Poetic Justice. But justice nevertheless. It is more justice than us Vets who have suffered severe consequences has ever been given. We who have been poisoned are the walking dead and the government is aware of the death toll in this environmental atrocity.

We Vets need to March on Washington and take our case to the American public. There are many injustices being done to our vets and active duty patriots. Those coming back from the wars are not receiving the benefits they are guaranteed. Active duty families on food stamps, high divorce and suicide rates. The vets who are in the system watch as more and more benefits are lost and they watch a bureaucracy that no longer is responsive, but one that is left improperly funded and good dedicated employees lack true leadership causing the front line workers to face angry Vets because they are placed on a Merry-go-round that only alienates them. Then there are us who have been poisoned by our government who completely turned their backs and willful cover-up this crime. All of us vets need to take our case to American people by Marching on Washington, but it will take all vets to affect change. This country is pro military, more pro military than it ever has been since WWII. We need to garner this support and further the cause of taking care of American heroes for the American people unlike our elected leaders want nothing but the best for their soldiers and family. Yes vets everywhere WE need to unite as one and reform the VA system who responive and who make real time decisions on real time problems and issues.

Mr. President you have failed this Marine/Navy Corpsmen but I will have the last word in this. You have greatly disappointed all vets and Me. Don't expect any moe financial support from this voter. You are wrong and have committed an immoral act as you have with this act of suppressing the EPA reports condemned more children, families and American heroes to death. At least in Heaven Mr. President, republicans and democrats will have no say, it is sad the millions who have lost there lives and most of us have been sentence us to be the Walking Dead, breathing only with no joy in life. Yes this is that serious, How dare you turn your back on us and claim that you are a Candidate of Real Change, the only change that has occurred is YOU. For the worst, Black or White the almighty dollar rules in this country and the world.

Respectfully angry,
Jim Moreland PA-C, MHS
Richmond Ky in case you come looking for me, I am in the phone book.

Will Hill September 14, 2011 7:05 pm (Pacific time)

Our enemies do not need to destroy us through the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction when we are so willing as a society to do it ourselves because of the unbridled greed of a few rich people and companies and their lobbyists. The fact is that big business has done more harm to this country, including the military industrial complex, than any external enemy ever has. All we have to do is look at what is ubiquitous in our environment today to see the chemicals that industry wanted to use in times gone by. TCE, DDT, the Donora Smog of 1948, the radioactive releases of three mile and experiments by CIA and military, the list is long and infamous of the many harms done to our country by powerful men and companies and government functionaries. We, as a country, just spent the past ten years fighting wars that started from the murder of these 3000 Americans. But these companies and rich industrial magnates and governmental functionaries and lobbyists have literally caused the death of millions of our fellow Americans across the decades. You would think that we would learn our lesson. You would think that we wold hunt these criminals and despoilers down and make sure that they could never do this again. You would think that we would make certain that such tragedies could never befall another generation of our country's population. You would be wrong.

The American public is ever ready to be sold on the value of free enterprise at the expense of the individual lives that it destroys. Unless and until it strikes home to a particular family or individual. By then it is too late and it is very hard to tie the causes back to the wallets of the greedy ones who convinced us to throw out the rules and damn the consequences.

Wake up, America! Take back your country and protect your lives before yet more Mass Destruction befalls all of us in the name of the almighty dollar!!!

I have, until recently, been a life-long Democrat, I am sorry to say that I can consider myself one no more when the leader of the party does this. Enough is enough. We need to return to sanity and prudence as a nation and we need to find away to stop all forms of lobbying and lobbyists from corrupting our system of government! We need Hilary or some other strong leader to step up and stop the madness!

I do not care if it is Hilary or an independent, I just know that we can not continue with business as usual in Washington, DC and allow special interests to continue to put all of our health at risk again and again in the name of the free market.

Anonymous September 14, 2011 12:23 pm (Pacific time)

until people understand, that an elite group of people, developed over centuries, now control most of the world, they will never get a clue. They are into eugenics, and want us all dead or slaves. Their words, not mine. It is not just corporate greed, it is a scientific manipulation of humanity. Complete control by the few. To them, our military is nothing but cannon fodder and medical experiments. To them, make sure veterans die or are homeless, because they know the veterans are figuring this out after first hand experience in the battlefield. What people seem to miss, is who is actually doing all of this. If you research history, the answers are all there. And it isnt just corporate greed and cover ups. It is a religion of the few elite. This concept is hard for people to grasp. To blame it on corporate greed is something they can handle. So thats what people do. Blame it on corporate greed. It goes much deeper but people for the most part cant accept how deep it goes.

Rory September 14, 2011 8:20 am (Pacific time)

Check out my documentary "Toxic Soup" ( as seen on Free Speech TV. It deals with how the giant chemical companies are manipulating the system to delay chemical and environmental reform.

Tim King: Thanks Rory!

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