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#4 - NY Brings Criminal Charges For Toxic Contamination Of Workers, 21-Dec-1986

The Pymm Thermometer Corporation of Brooklyn, NY, two of its executives
and a plant foreman were indicted on charges of criminally assaulting
and recklessly endangering the lives of their workers by "knowingly and
continually" having them exposed to toxic mercury. It was the first
time that criminal charges had been brought in NY against corporate
executives for wrongful exposure of workers to toxic chemicals. The
indictment says that one of the 80 employees of the plant suffered
permanent brain damage from mercury poisoning and the defendants were
charged with assaulting the man with mercury as the weapon. According
to the state attorney general, an undetermined number of other
employees were endangered by the mercury, a chemical that has been
linked to kidney damage and loss of vision. The Pymm defendants
established a covert mercury-recovery operation in Apr. 1983 in the
cellar of the plant and managed to hide it from federal inspectors
until Oct. 1985. The injured employee worked in the cellar for 11
months, where he received the exposure that led to his injuries. The
defendants, also accused of conspiracy and falsifying business records,
pleaded not guilty.

--Peter Montague

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NEW JERSEY JOINS 1979 SUIT TO STOP INTERSTATE CONTAMINATION

NJ officials filed suit in federal court in New York city, charging the
solid waste from the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, NY, was
polluting waters that flow into NJ and posing a serious health risk to
state residents. The lawsuit, filed by the NJ State Attorney General's
office and the State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), says
the city is violating the federal Clean Water Act and the Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act. The suit asks the district court judge
to allow the state to join a federal suit filed for the same reason in
1979 against NYC by Woodbridge Township, NJ and asks the judge to order
the city to permanently curtail the pollution and immediately end use
of the landfill.

--Peter Montague

=====

DOCTORS OFFER NEW WAY TO HELP PREGNANT WOMEN KICK CIGARETTES

Two Pennsylvania physicians offer $100 discounts to patients who quit
smoking during pregnancy, citing evidence that babies born to mothers
who smoke are usually smaller than normal. The doctors, from Parkside--
a suburb of Philadelphia--report some success in their effort. Of about
100 patients who were smoking at the time, 75 took them up on their
discount offer and pledged to stop smoking and 40 of those 75 were
successful in quitting. The doctors, Irving A. Mann and Robert W.
Haggerty, said they would continue the program and hope the percentages
will improve over the years. Dr. Mann said he thought they got larger
and healthier babies as a result.

--Peter Montague

=====

NEW BOOKLET TELLS HOW TO FIND INFORMATION ABOUT TOXICS IN NJ

An environmental research organization--Inform, Inc.--has released a
guide to the various federal and state programs that collect data on
the chemicals used and disposed of by companies and plants in the state
of New Jersey. No centralized bureau contains all of the information on
which, and how much, of several hundred hazardous substances companies
are using, producing or disposing of, but interested citizens, local
officials, community groups and journalists can use the
guide--"Tracking Toxic Wastes in New Jersey"--to find out which agency
collects the kind of information they are looking for. The guide is
available for $15 (discounts for nonprofit organizations and bulk
orders) from Inform, 381 Park Avenue South, New York 10016.

--Peter Montague

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THALIDOMIDE VICTIM CAN NOW SUE GOVERNMENT; NEW PRECEDENT SET

On Oct. 21, 1986 President Reagan signed legislation that gives a man
deformed by the drug thalidomide the right to sue the federal
government. Mr. Reagan signed the bill over objections from the
Pentagon and Justice Department, which said it set bad legal precedent.
Stephen McKenna, 26, was born without legs in a US Army hospital after
a doctor under contract with the Army in West Germany gave his mother
thalidomide during pregnancy. At the time of his birth, thalidomide was
widely prescribed as a sleep- inducing and anti-nausea drug for
pregnant women in Europe but was banned in the US because it was not
proved safe.

--Peter Montague

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FEDERAL AGENCY RELEASED HIGH RADIOACTIVITY ON PEOPLE IN '40S

According to documents of the Department of Energy (DOE), the Hanford
nuclear reservation routinely released radioactive iodine wastes during
the 1940s that gave major radiation doses to thousands of civilians in
the Pacific Northwest. The discharges were on a scale that today would
be considered a major nuclear accident, but the DOE said it cannot
calculate the amount of exposure. Exposure is figured in part on how
much milk and leafy vegetables were raised and consumed in the area.
Radioactive iodine is absorbed by the body from air, food or drink,
especially cows' milk. Radioactive iodine concentrates in the thyroid
gland, where the radiation can cause cancer or other problems. The
previously secret information was made public in response to questions
from news organizations of the maximum possible exposure to a
hypothetical citizen of Hanford, Washington.

--Peter Montague

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Descriptor terms: ny; pymm thermometer corporation; poisons;
corporations; mercury; workers; enforcement; occupational safety and
health; heavy metals; indictments; nj; ny; lawsuits; clean water act;
fresh kills landfill; landfilling; health; water pollution; compliance;
rcra; interstate pollution; studies; inform, inc; information services;
chemicals; waste disposal technologies; production; doe; wa; hanford,
wa; cancer; radiation; radioactive waste; iodine; thalidomide;