A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 January 10, 1991
Available for $4 from Waste Not.
A state study of the death rate from Lou Gehrigs disease in El Dorado has a missing piece of data - the death rate that was found for the illness in the city. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrigs disease, is a progressive neuromuscular disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways in he brain and spinal cord. The study by the state Department of Health lists the rate for the United States, the rate for Arkansas and the rate for Union County. All the deaths from the disease that occurred in Union County were in El Dorado. A rate was calculated based on the countys population of roughly 50,000, rather than the citys population of 25,000 - which would have produced an ALS death rate for the city that was about four times the national rate. Mary Ann Coleman, then the epidemiologist for the Health Department, headed the study. Coleman, now director of the Department of Health and Safety for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said if shed been give a choice, she wouldn't have calculated any death rates at all...An ALS death rate wasnt calculated for El Dorado - not because it was a high rate, but because it wouldnt have been good science, Coleman said. If the residents had been given the number that was four times the national rate, it would have been hard for scientists to then explain that the figure wasnt necessarily valid, she said. It wasnt a good number because of El Dorados small population base and because the rate only covered eight years of study, she added...The story began with Mardell Smith, an El Dorado housewife, who became concerned when she found that four people there had been diagnosed with ALS...Smith said that when she started to make telephone calls around the community, what she found both shocked and frightened her. In addition to the ALS cases, she found Guillain Barre Syndrome and transverse myelitis, both of which are rare neurological diseases that result in muscle weakness like ALS. And she found large numbers of brain tumors...The cause of ALS isnt known. A number of studies have linked the illness to environmental toxins. An April 1990 report by the federal Office of Technology Assessment [OTA] said neurotoxic chemicals constitute a major public health threat. It reported on studies that found such illnesses as Parkinsons disease and ALS linked to toxins. One study suggested that ALS may be linked to a buildup of heavy metals in the body over time...The April OTA report said that the adverse health effects from exposure to chemicals that are toxic to the nervous system area national problem... page 6-K.
When the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NYOSH) looked at Ensco, high levels of PCBs were found in the blood of workers and high levels of dioxins found in wipe samples of the workplace. page 6-K. The NYOSH report, titled Health Hazards Evaluation at Ensco was published in Feb. 1988 and is available from NYOSH in Atlanta, Georgia, telephone # 404-331-2396.
Without holding a public hearing, state pollution control officials gave Ensco Inc. a 60 percent increase last year in the amount of hazardous wastes that could be burned in a company incinerator. The increase was given to an incinerator unit that officials of the state Department of Pollution Control and Ecology (PC&E) admit had been experiencing problems. At the same time the units feed rate was increased, its operating conditions were relaxed. Randall Mathis, PC&E director, determined that the increase was a minor modification of Enscos permit, which meant no public hearing was required...In June 1986 and in September of that year, more than 1,000 El Dorado residents showed up for public hearings to protest a proposed feed rate increase for Ensco. The proposed increase also sparked a protest in the streets by about 1,000 people. PC&E officials said they anticipated that the increase proposed in 1989 might get a similar response... page 8-K. REVOLVING DOORS: From Regulatory Agency to ENSCO. Jarrell Southall, former director of the Arkansas PC&E went to work for the company in 1983. He is the contract administrator for the companys proposal to build a haz. waste incineration facility in Arizona...Mohamed Mo Abdulhafid was hired by Ensco on Aug. 6 after three years as an inspector with the state PC&E. Abdulhafid was supervisor of a 24 hour on-site inspection team at the plant...Former EPA official Stan Jorgensen is the director of regulatory affairs for Ensco...When Jorgensen was at EPA in Dallas, he was chief of the regions Solid Waste Branch. He had immediate control over any changes in Enscos permits and input into whether the company would be penalized when it violated regulations...Phillip Deisch, a former PC&E chief counsel and now an attorney for Ensco...Ed Holland, a former El Dorado inspector for PC&E and now an environmental engineer at Ensco...Tripper Cronkhite, former EPA attorney who is now general counsel for Ensco...Rod Breuer, who worked with Jorgensen in the Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources and now works with him at Ensco.
For a copy of Enscos violations of their state permits for 1989-90, prepared by the Arkansas Department of Pollution Control & Ecology (PC&E), send $3 to Waste Not, or write to the PC&E, 8001 National Drive, PO Box 8913, Little Rock, AR 72219-8913. Tel: 501-562-7444. For more information contact citizen activist Mardell Smith in El Dorado at 501-862-5293.