Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Agencies ignore evidence of cancer risk from dioxin emissions at the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Facility

By Donald L. Hassig
During the years that the Onondaga County incinerator has been in operation, a substantial body of scientific knowledge has accumulated that serves as a basis for the conclusion that exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) imposes more than an acceptable quantity of cancer risk upon the average consumer of animal fats. POPs are contaminants of all animal fat and accumulate at the highest levels in the bodies of organisms at the top of food chains.

Consideringthis hazard, it would be most beneficial to the public health for Onondaga County to begin disposing of its garbage in a way that does not create POPs. The dioxin emissions of the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Facility, a municipal solid waste incinerator in Jamesville, add POPs to the environment and the food supply at a time when POPs contamination already is above a safe level.

Government entities — including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the state Department of Health and the Onondaga County Public Health Department — have failed to use existing scientific knowledge to minimize the cancer risk imposed upon Onondaga County residents by the operation of the incinerator, which is permitted by the DEC under the Clean Air Act.

In attempting to hold government accountable, Cancer Action NY has filed formal complaints against former director of EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment, Dr. Peter Preuss; DEC Division of Air Resources toxicologist, Dr. Thomas Gentile; and the state Department of Health. They have ignored the existing scientific knowledge on the subject of dioxin exposure cancer risk.

Cancer Action NY alleges that as director of the National Center for Environmental Assessment, the lead agency on the EPA dioxin reassessment, Preuss delayed finalization of the EPA dioxin reassessment. The complaint was filed on May 21, 2010, in the Office of the EPA Inspector General. There has been no response.

READ MORE: http://blog.syracuse.com/opinion/2011/07/mondays_commentary_agencies_ig.html

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