A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 January 1992

Note from Waste Not: Apologies for the long delay in publishing the newsletter. We are late due to a month long super-effort of filing the tremendous number of reports and papers we have received from our readers over the last year. Waste Not plans to report on the status of medical waste incinerator proposals - please send us (via fax/phone/post) updates on the status of medical waste proposals in your area.


In the 1960’s Diamond Shamrock had a Federal contract to manufacture Agent Orange for use in Vietnam at its plant at 80 Lister Street in the Ironbound district of Newark, NJ. Samples taken from the plant site reached dioxin levels of up to 50,000 parts per billion. The site borders the Passaic River and is within a few blocks of the 2,250 ton per day BFI incinerator that went on line in November 1990. In 1991, workers accepted a $1.6 million out of court settlement from the Diamond Shamrock doctor who treated them. Waste Not asked Michael Gordon, of Gordon & Gordon (West Orange, NJ) the lawyer representing the workers and residents in this suit: “What was the most interesting thing you learned during your involvement in this case?” He replied: “That everyone’s worst nightmare that companies will go on poisoning in the face of profit is true.”

Diamond Shamrock settled out-of-court before they presented their experts. Depositions were taken by Gordon from those who were to testify on Diamond Shamrock’s behalf, which included: Dr. Robert Waldman, Dean of the Univ. of Nebraska Medical School; Phillip Guzelian, toxicologist, MD; Raymond Harbison, Professor of toxicology/epidemiology at U. of Florida (Gainesville); Dr Herbert Schaumberg; Dr. Armond Yanders from Missouri; and T.W. Frazier Russell, a chemical engineer. Rutgers University Press will be publishing a book this Spring that includes a chapter co-authored by Michael Gordon and Ellen Silbergeld titled: Occupational exposure from dioxin: a case study, Diamond Shamrock, Newark. Waste Not will inform its readers of the details when the book is published. Several years ago Ironbound Voices published a series of reports on Diamond Shamrock and the problems the workers suffered. They are available for $10 from Arnold Cohen at the Ironbound Committee, 95 Fleming Ave, Newark NJ 07105 (tel: 201-589-4668).

The Newark Star Ledger report of the dioxin settlement, 1-25-92. “A seven-year legal battle to hold the Diamond Shamrock Corp. responsible for illnesses resulting from dioxin contamination generated by the manufacturer of Agent Orange at its Newark plant ended abruptly yesterday with a $1 million out-of-court settlement. The chemical company agreed to the settlement without admitting liability in the seventh week of trial in a suit filed on behalf of 72 former workers, their families, neighbors and surrounding businesses in Newark’s Ironbound section, where the plant operated at 80 Lister St. from 1951 to 1969...The surprise agreement was for only a fraction of the millions in compensatory and punitive damages sought by the plaintiffs. The highest individual payment will be $50,000 to the widow of a former Diamond Shamrock worker whose death, her attorneys said, was directly related to dioxin poisoning...Diamond Shamrock produced several chemicals including DDT, a pesticide, and Agent Orange, a herbicide used as a defoliant during the Vietnam War...In 1983, Gov. Thomas Kean declared a state of emergency after record levels of dioxin were found at the site. The site appears on the federal superfund list and was targeted for a $16 million cleanup. The latest status reports show that 79,000 cubic yards of contaminated materials from the site and surrounding community have been collected. But they remain on site, stacked in more than 850 containers, because there is no place to dispose of the waste. Officials plan to bury the containers on the property. Initially, there were 102 plaintiffs in the suit, including several workers who suffered significant - even mortal - health problems. Their case hit a major setback when Yanoff ruled that most of the employees could not sue because they had already pursued workman’s compensation claims. His ruling was upheld by an appellate court...The case was settled before Diamond Shamrock attorney’s (of the law firm McCarter & English) presented any proof of their arguments...[Diamond Shamrock’s lawyer] John Flaherty, argued in his opening statement that the plaintiffs’ health problems were ‘exaggerated’ and that the company had acted responsibly. The case was settled before Diamond Shamrock attorneys presented any proof of their arguments...” (See also the New York Times report on the settlement, 1-25-92, page 29.)

Diamond Shamrock is no longer in existence. Occidental Petroleum Corp. acquired the chemical subsidiary of Diamond Shamrock in 1986 for $850 million. Occidental is responsible for Diamond Shamrock’s chemical subsidiary liabilities. Also in 1986 Diamond Shamrock spun off its oil/gas business into two brand new companies: MAXUS ENERGY CORP. - oil and gas exploration and production (the Rainforest Action Group is fighting Maxus plans to drill for oil in Ecuador), and Diamond Shamrock R & M: oil & gas consumer marketing. Kerr McGee Corp. purchased the Canadian unit of Maxus Energy Corp. in 1989 -see Wall Street Journal, 6-30-89, page C-21.

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NOW AVAILABLE FREE: Report on the pilot intensive recycling program in East Hampton, Long Island, NY, that showed that 84.4% of municipal solid waste is recyclable. This pilot program designed and implemented by the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems and published in the report titled: Development and Pilot Test of an Intensive Municipal Solid Waste Recycling for the Town of East Hampton is now available free of charge for any person making an individual request to the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) in Albany, NY. Telephone NYSERDA at 518-465-6251, ext. 272 and ask for report #90-6. People should be sure to ask for both volumes. Volume 1 is the main report and Volume 2 contains the appendices (important because they reveal the methodology). NYSERDA was the original funding agency for this experiment which Waste Not #32 reported on. It was this highly successful 10-week, 100 volunteer family study in Intensive Recycling in 1988 that ignited interest in community recycling. The results of this pilot program, which used a 4-bin collection system, demonstrated recovery rates of:
Bin # 1 Food waste and soiled paper 32.9%
Bin # 2 Paper/Cardboard 40.5%
Bin # 3 Metal cans/glass bottles 13.4%
Bin # 4 Non-recyclables 13.2%

Material rejected during compost/recycle process 2.4%


Faced with a deterioration of its positions on solid waste and the environment, the U.S. plastics industry has established a new action group called the Partnership for Plastics Progress. PPP takes over the role formerly played by the Society of the Plastics Industry’s Council for Solid Waste Solutions -and goes beyond it...Industry sources expect PPP to be proactive and better able to address the full range of environmental issues confronting the plastics industry (including, for example, air, water and heavy-metal emissions). Greater emphasis is to be placed on incineration, composting, chemical-process recycling and other options. Programs. Three task forces (outreach, advocacy, product stewardship) are to generate and implement PPP’s programs. A major new element is a costly media program designed to reach out to American consumers. The nature of public relations efforts is still being defined, nevertheless a source says positive, carefully planned publicity campaigns will surface in 1992...” Modern Plastics, Dec. 1991, pgs.36-38.

INFORMATION NEEDED ON WOOD FIRED COGENERATING PLANTS. An 18 megawatt wood cogenerating plant is proposed for Chauteaugay, Franklin County, NY. The community is a small, rural farming community (dairy, potatoes, home gardens) and residents are anxious to receive any information it can to help it assess potential adverse impacts. The proposed vendor is KES Inc. (Meridan, CT), a part of Kenetech from California. Please send information to: Jane McDonald, Route 1, Box 375, Chauteaugay, NY 12920. Tel: 518-425-3381. Or telephone Mary Rankin at 518-497-6064.

WASTE NOT # 182 A publication of Work on Waste USA, published 48 times a year. Annual rates are: Groups & Non-Profits $50; Students & Seniors $35; Individual $40; Consultants & For-Profits $125; Canadian $US45; Overseas $65. Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.