Earth Day Greenwashed

Katy at Non-Toxic Kids is asking for examples of Earth Day being greenwashed and I have a great one. My town is having a green expo later this week and one of the big sponsors is the cement plant. This cement plant is a high priority violator of the Clean Air Act! Cement plants are the 3rd biggest emitter of mercury and yet this plant says they are green. The ways they calm to be sustainable include:

  • “Recycling” tires, which is really burning tires for fuel and is one of the reasons the local plant is a violator of the Clean Air Act.
  • “Recycling” hazardous waste, which again is burning it for fuel. Thankfully the one in my town doesn’t burn hazardous. They wanted to but the citizens of my town fought back and won.

And other things that sound lovely until you see what these plants are really doing. They say they are reducing their impacts yet they keep fighting any regulations and are even fighting for looser regulations. The local plant hasn’t been in compliance with the Clean Air Act in years.

Last year they sponsored the same event and had a whole booth talking about how wonderful they are. Sadly, people buy this. Few even in my own town know the impact of that plant. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they thought it was just steam coming from the stack, it’s not! What’s really coming from the stack is mercury, ammonia, benzene, certain glycol ethers, chromium, diethanolamine, dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, ethylene glycol, lead, manganese, sulfuric acid, and zinc compounds.

Cancer, asthma and auto immune illnesses seem to be common place in my town (I didn’t think to save the site but I found our cancer rates are higher than the state average and the other comes from convos with medical professionals in the town and what I have seen). People are noticing but are unsure of the cause when it’s most likely right in front of us, sure there are likely several sources but when something is putting chemicals that can cause these illnesses it likely they are causing at least some of them. They play the jobs card often when it comes to regulations but what good are their jobs if we are all dead and dying?

I’ve been invited to be apart of this green expo but turned down the offer as I won’t be apart of this greenwashing. It’s sad that something that could be really good for my town is being used by a company to paint itself green. And don’t get me wrong, a lot of parts of it are great, several sponsors are good and one of the speakers they have is amazing. I just hope someday it will be totally green!

Have you seen greenwashing for Earth Day yet? Go check out the examples Katy at Non-Toxic Kids has shared.

Photo credits: Crystalline Radical

Sources:
http://www.epa-echo.gov/cgi-bin/get1cReport.cgi?tool=echo&IDNumber=110001633796
http://toxmap.nlm.nih.gov/toxmap/main/index.jsp
http://scorecard.goodguide.com/env-releases/facility.tcl?tri_id=74820DLCMN1100W

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Comments

  1. Jack says

    How do you know that the local plant hasn’t been in compliance with the Clean Air Act in years? Please cite your source(s).

    How do you know what substances are emitted from the stack? Again, please cite your source(s).

    Do you have any fact-based evidence that occurrences of the illnesses you claim are ‘common place in my town’, are actually elevated above normal levels?

    Can you please point me to documentation (newspaper article, meeting minutes, facebook page, etc…) of when the citizens of Ada fought against the cement plant’s effort to recycle hazardous waste?

    At this point, you haven’t backed up a single claim you made in your post. Please provide fact-based evidence of your claims.

    This is important if people are going to take you seriously.

    Thank you. I look forward to seeing your evidence.

  2. Jack says

    Thanks, but only one of the links you posted even semi-supports your claims.

    (http://www.epa-echo.gov/cgi-bin/get1cReport.cgi?tool=echo&IDNumber=110001633796) — This link does show the quantities of certain substances transferred or released by the plant, however it only shows 7 out of the 13 chemicals you listed. Glycol Esthers, diethanolamine, dioxin, dioxin like compounds, and ethylene glycol are not even on the list! How do you know these other chemicals are coming out of the stack?

    It is also relevant to note that of the 5 substances that actually are on the list you provided, 3 of them occurred only once. Manganese has only been detected once, 7 years ago. Sulfuric acid was detected one time, 8 years ago. No mercury has been detected in the last 5 years, and no chromium in the last 6 years.

    (http://www.epa-echo.gov/cgi-bin/get1cReport.cgi?tool=echo&IDNumber=110001633796)
    This link you provided does not contain evidence that the cement plant has not been in compliance with the Clean Air Act for years. It does show that there have been very few violations over the previous 8 years, which in my opinion is a very good thing and a testament to this plant’s quality and environmental plan.

    “Talking with doctors” isn’t a fact based source to prove that cancer, asthma, and autoimmune disorders are elevated in this area. Comparing the local cancer rate to the state average doesn’t cut the mustard either. That’s like comparing gas prices between Ada and Oklahoma City.

    The other links you posted do not answer my questions and aren’t relevant to the claims you made.

    And please understand I am not picking on you personally. The claims you make are very serious and have the potential to affect many people.

    All I am asking for are the facts. If you are going to make these claims, then please back them up with a source. Again, these are strong claims and they deserve to be referenced/cited.

    Thank you.

    • says

      First of all this is a blog, this blog was just a rant, not a news article.

      As for Glycol Esthers, diethanolamine, dioxin, dioxin like compounds, and ethylene glycol, they are listed on this site, just search the zip and click on the plant it has a list of all chemicals released.- http://toxmap.nlm.nih.gov/toxmap/main/index.jsp

      The EPA shows that mercury was detected in 2009, it’s important to note that it doesn’t have data for 2011 or 2012. And as you can see they show chemicals for a few years then and don’t and then sometimes do again. This is why I listed all the chemicals that they have release since the EPA records show.

      If you read the Compliance Summary Data it shows (Qtrs in NC (of 12)) and it’s 12 of 12 for the CAA (clean air act). It also says they are currently a HPV, High Priority Violator. “The value of “Yes” indicates the facility is in SNC or HPV for the permit or site in question and may pose a more severe level of environmental threat. ”

      I’m not sure what you mean by very few violations? First of all if you ask me breaking the law (violating the Clean Air Act) once is to many times. Action was taken by the EPA this past quarter and they paid last summer for violations.

      ““Talking with doctors” isn’t a fact based source to prove that cancer, asthma, and autoimmune disorders are elevated in this area. Comparing the local cancer rate to the state average doesn’t cut the mustard either. That’s like comparing gas prices between Ada and Oklahoma City.”- And at no point did I say it was. Again, this is a blog rant not a news article. Also I’m sure not all illness in this area comes from the plant, there are other sources but these chemicals are linked to many chemicals the plant releases so it seem pretty reasonable to think at least some cases are caused by the plant.

      “And please understand I am not picking on you personally. The claims you make are very serious and have the potential to affect many people.”- I’m not trying to get the cement plant closed, I have no issues with the people that work there. I have stated this dozens of times. My issue is with the people in charge and the company itself (which is not a local company, not even a US company). The effects of the Clean Air Act being violated effects a lot of people as well. Cement can be produced in cleaner ways and that is what I want to see.

      I do HATE that people often assume if you are upset about something a company is doing that you don’t like the people at the company. I hate oil but my best friend works in the oil industry as do other family members and friends. As long as there is a market for these products people will have jobs with these companies. They aren’t the ones making the choices that are causing the problems and those are the people I have an issue with.

  3. Jack says

    That’s great. Next time you might want to consider adding a disclaimer to your posts that they are just rants and may contain conjecture, logical fallacies, and claims that can’t be backed by evidence.

    I wasn’t warned of this and I thought you were speaking with some authority or expertise.

    Sorry for wasting both of our time.

    • says

      I thought it was pretty clear this is a blog. And my rant is based on fact, I sent you the facts. I have spent dozens of hours researching this. I have files upon files on it and I really doubt you want to read all of it.

    • says

      My whole point is, this would be written differently if I wrote it for a newspaper or something. Blogging is a different form of writing, I thought this was common knowledge.

  4. Jack says

    “And yes I understand many of these chemicals are released in small amounts but many are very toxic and can build up over time.”

    I get that. You might be interested to know that, according to wikipedia, human flatulence contains up to 30% carbon dioxide and up to 10% methane. These chemicals are released in small amounts, but they too can be toxic and build up over time, especially in poorly ventilated areas.

  5. Jack says

    “My whole point is, this would be written differently if I wrote it for a newspaper or something. Blogging is a different form of writing, I thought this was common knowledge.”

    I really don’t care if you wrote it with a #2 pencil and a big chief tablet…all I’m asking is that if you are going to make serious claims, be prepared to back them up with serious evidence.

    This is taught in middle school English 101. Common knowledge, if you will.

    Have a great day!

    • says

      “And my rant is based on fact, I sent you the facts. I have spent dozens of hours researching this. I have files upon files on it and I really doubt you want to read all of it.”

      • Jack says

        You did not send me the facts. You sent me links to very large webpages full of all types of information.

        I totally believe that you have done the research and have the facts. Yes, you are 100% correct that I don’t want to read your pages upon pages of research. Just show the facts to me in a way that the common person can understand, and how they directly support your claims. Here is an example of what I am talking about.

        ‘Source X’ shows evidence that cancer rates are x% higher in the Ada, Oklahoma area than the national average.

        and

        This chart from ‘Source Y’ indicates that the smoke stack at the Ada Cement plant produces chemicals i, j and k in quantities sufficient to cause locally increased health risks.

        DON’T throw a bunch of links at me that contain pages of charts and data that don’t even support what you are saying, or that are merely related to the subject you are talking about.

        DON’T thrown anecdotal evidence at me and expect me not to rigorously question it.

  6. says

    wow- Jack you need to find other things to do with your time.
    Lisa- this is YOUR space, you are not a scientific journalist as you stated. Thank you so much for fighting for our planet, our society and our health.

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