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 Health Impact of the Cement Plant

                  Health & Environmental Threat

                   

                  Research worldwide indicates that tire burning kilns have a 
                  serious detrimental impact on community health and the 
                  integrity of the surrounding environment. 

                  Kiln emmissions have been found to cause cancer and 
                  respiratory illness. Environmental degredation ranges from 
                  physical alteration to heavy metal,mercury, and chemical 
                  contamination. 

                  Chemicals from the air and ground water entering the river, 
                  can accumulate to toxic quantities in wildlife and degrade the 
                  river ecosystem. As the river becomes polluted the entire 
                  ecosystem is at risk: human health is compromised, wildlife is 
                  threatened and the environment is in peril. 

                  Below are listed 10 points that substantiate this view and can 
                  be supported by medical research, primarily commissioned by 
                  Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA). 

                    Dioxins
                    Dioxins are among emissions from tire-burning kiln. The 
                    World Health Organization (WHO) has recently classified the 
                    most toxic dioxins as the worst known human carcinogens 
                    (cancer causing agents). 

                    Dioxins also affect the immune system, fertility, and the 
                    unborn child. Because of this, the USA has reduced their 
                    safety levels for Dioxins repeatedly. 

                    The EPA concluded, "Exposure to Dioxins, even at minute 
                    levels, poses cancer risks and health concerns wider than 
                    previously suspected". 



                    Particulates
                    Particulates are extremely small particles that enter the 
                    lungs directly, as they are too small to be filtered out. 

                    In August 1995 the official monitoring of particulates at 
                    Castle Cement Plant in Clithroe, England was 70mg/m whereas 
                    an independent monitoring showed 490mg/m at a school 
                    downwind from the plant. At this school 22% of 8 - 9 year 
                    olds used inhalers, compared with an upwind school where 
                    only 3% of children used them. Castle Cement's predicted 
                    particulate emissions are 63 tons p.a. (Castle Cement's 
                    Environmental Statement). 

                    No matter what the company says will come out of the stack, 
                    studies worldwide have shown that real emissions are 
                    considerably greater and subject to sporadic events of 
                    particularly high concentrations.



                    Unpredictability of Plume
                    No one can guarantee where the plume from the tower will 
                    land. Plumes from high stacks can travel considerable 
                    distances depending on wind conditions (direction and 
                    intensity). 

                    Studies have shown that a plume from a tall stack drops its 
                    particulates within a minimum radius of 11 miles to 47 miles 
                    from the stack. The volume of particulates can be quite 
                    large and may actually travel considerably larger distances 
                    (100's of miles) in any direction with the wind. 

                    This is also the reason that acid rain originating from 
                    smoke stacks in the Midwest falls to the ground in Maine. 
                    The health effects of this kiln will reach to Tallahassee 
                    and Jacksonville in small amounts. 

                    Again, company predictions of the plume emission volumes and 
                    trajectories are not realistic. Mercury and a myriad of 
                    other chemical pollutants will fall in the Ichetucknee, 
                    Santa Fe and Suwannee rivers. 

                    Regions such as The San Francisco Bay Area and the state of 
                    Maine have already limited mercury emissions to below what 
                    will come out of this plant. 



                    Heavy Metals and Mercury 
                    EPA studies have documented that heavy metals do not 
                    incinerate and emissions from incinerators pose a 
                    significant health risk. The new cement kiln would be 
                    generating heavy metal emissions and most of them are toxic 
                    to humans. 

                    Worldwide studies have revealed that mercury entering an 
                    aquatic system will accumulate in the food chain. Fish are 
                    particularly susceptible to accumulating high amounts of 
                    these toxins in their tissues, which can then accumulate in 
                    the tissues of the birds and mammals who eat them. And 
                    ultimately, in humans who eat the contaminated fish and 
                    animals. 

                    The kiln will release 129 pounds of mercury more than 
                    allowed by any state or agency concerned with environmental 
                    health. 



                    General Health Problems 
                    A study conducted on illnesses related to tire burning 
                    cement plants in Texas showed a 50% to 100% increase in 
                    coughing, phlegm, sore throats, and eye irritation in people 
                    near the incinerators.

                    A similar study concluded that a substantially greater 
                    incidence of larynx cancer occurred in a community within 2 
                    km of a commercial hazardous waste incinerator. 

                    Double blind studies reveal that people who live within five 
                    miles of a tire burning kiln in Texas are sicker, it is that 
                    simple. 



                    Lack of Research 
                    For the vast majority of chemicals, we have little or no 
                    long term toxicity data. Fewer that 2% of chemicals have 
                    been tested. 

                    Tires are not made of rubber, they are complex chemical 
                    mixtures that will release thousands of chemicals in 
                    mixtures that will create new ones, the health hazards of 
                    this are unknown. As a cancer researcher I know that 
                    mixtures of chemicals in low doses are cancer causing in 
                    humans, even if the individual chemical is not. 

                    WHO reports recent evidence that 10,000 people in England 
                    and Wales die prematurely each year from respiratory or 
                    heart conditions due to particulates. MAFF (Ministry of 
                    Agriculture, Food & Fisheries) showed dioxin levels to be 4 
                    times higher than normal at Clitheroe Cement Kiln where 
                    prescriptions for asthma have risen 50% since they started 
                    burning chemicals and tires. 



                    Cement Kilns are prone to Upsets and Trips
                    Dr Rickard (Professor of Environmental Health) states that 

                    "cement kilns do not have the necessary reliability and 
                    safeguards to ensure complete destruction of hazardous 
                    wastes". 

                    Castle Cement in UK has had many such 'trips' in the past, 
                    as do the kilns in Texas and the rest of the USA. By 
                    previous experience, there will be mistakes often and they 
                    result in odor, and chemical releases far above the listed 
                    values. 



                    Hidden Costs 
                    I urge you to consider the economic impact that heavy 
                    industry will have on the surrounding community


                      The visual blight and resulting drop in property values

                      People leaving the area - there is already evidence for 
                      this

                      The deterrent to firms who might otherwise have moved to 
                      this area

                      Lowering of living standards and quality of life

                      Noise and Diesel truck emissions 




                    Threat to Employment 
                    The area in Northern Florida between the three rivers is a 
                    pristine environmental area whose whole future depends on 
                    tourism and vacation and retirement housing. All this will 
                    stop with the kiln, we trade 80 jobs for thousands. 



                    Stress 
                    With the increase in noise, traffic on local roads and 
                    respiratory and other health problems, there is likely to be 
                    an increase is stress related illnesses in the local 
                    population. 


                  Recommendations

                  As elected representatives you shoulder the responsibility for 
                  our health and well being. If you approve this application you 
                  are giving permission for a tire incinerator to be built in 
                  our community with the associated long-term health risks not 
                  only to the present generation but also to generations to 
                  come. I, therefore, strongly urge you to consider the 
                  following objectives and do something to stop this kiln. 


                  Objectives

                    Stop the mining around the rivers because it will degrade 
                    the rivers. The mine should not be a hostage. Since you know 
                    the mine is a hazard, stop it without any tie to the kiln 
                    which is another issue. 


                    Do not permit the plant do to health reasons. Dioxins, 
                    mercury, mixed chemicals not reported to DEP are enough of a 
                    justification. Health studies worldwide prove beyond a doubt 
                    the kiln will cause cancer and lung disease. A tire-burning 
                    kiln is not good for a community. 


                    Certainly do not permit this kiln in an agricultural 
                    environmentally sensitive area. If it must exist put it in 
                    an industrial area. However, my personal view is that a tire 
                    burning cement plant is a health hazard anywhere it is 
                    built. 


                  Adapted from The Campaign Against the New Kiln, a site 
                  dedicated to stopping a tire-burning kiln in the UK. 






HeraldDemocrat-2

      Part 2
      The Health and Economic Impacts of Living Near A Cement Plant 
      Living near a cement plant means many things. In this case, if North Texas 
      Cement is successful in building their plant south of Whitewright, it 
      means seeing fertile farmland turned into huge, dusty pits where limestone 
      is being dynamited and/or dug out of the ground. It means an enormous 
      increase in truck traffic, noise and lights. But, there are also serious 
      health and economic ramifications if the plant is built there. 
      Last November, Save Whitewright and Tri-Counties (SWAT) held a meeting in 
      Sherman where Dr. George Crawford, Professor Emeritus of Physics and 
      former head of SMU Physics Department and Dr. Neil Carman, former 
      inspector of industrial plants for the Texas Air Control Board for 12 
      years, were the key speakers. They spent two hours discussing the health 
      impacts of living near a cement plant, and the facts were alarming. 
      There is not enough room to cover all of the information brought to light 
      at that meeting, but here are some highlights: 
      From Dr. Crawford: 
      The area within five miles of the plant will be the high danger zone, and 
      within twenty miles of the plant will be the danger zone. In these zones 
      there will be an increase in lung-related diseases such as asthma, 
      bronchitis and emphysema. Those with a predisposition to respiratory 
      problems will be affected the most. Premature death will occur among the 
      weakest in the population. 
      Cement kiln dust (CKD) contains the residues of fuel-burning. If tires and 
      coal are burned, there will be heavy metals like mercury. There will be 
      harmful dioxin. Cement kiln dust dumped into quarries will eventually find 
      its way into every underground water source in the area. 
      The most harmful pollutants in the emissions from cement kilns are 
      invisible, and the statement that there must be no harm in the emissions 
      because nothing can be seen is a meaningless statement. 
      From Dr. Carman: 
      The burning of tires emits harmful heavy metals and dangerous dioxin. Very 
      low levels of dioxin have been shown to cause cancer. 
      The burning of coal in cement kilns emits mercury, a lethal element that 
      accumulates in the environment. f this is allowed, we are leaving a 
      dangerous legacy for our children and grandchildren. The mercury will 
      accumulate in the soil, the plants, and the fish, and it will be ingested 
      by livestock. Mercury is a known contributor to birth defects, 
      neurological damage, and brain damage. 
      These facts come from educated scientists who have studied the fields of 
      air masses and the health effects of air pollution for over twenty years. 
      And if health concerns aren't enough to convince you that living near a 
      cement plant is not a good idea, consider the following facts about the 
      economic impact of living near a cement plant. 
      Barbara Wilson is a Realtor for Coldwell Banker Benchmark in Sherman. Most 
      of her home sales are in Grayson county, and she reports losing sales and 
      prospective sales due to just the possibility of a cement plant locating 
      in Grayson County. Ms. Wilson stated, "They buyers know that it is 
      undesirable to live near a cement plant, and they also feel sure that 
      heavy industry attracts other heavy industry, and that there will be more 
      and more of this in the area once it gets started." She added that these 
      customers are concerned about the potential health problems of living near 
      a cement plant as well as the loss of quality of life. 
      Another Realtor, Mary Stevens, a multimillion dollar producer for Re-Max 
      in Allen (Collin County) reports that a prospective buyer was absolutely 
      committed to buying a country home in Grayson County until news of the 
      cement plant surfaced. Now the buyer won't look at anything near 
      Whitewright. 
      A family in Whitewright considering putting their house on the market this 
      spring was advised by a Realtor to wait. The message was: hope the cement 
      plant does not locate in Whitewright, and you'll get more for your home. 
      One Whitewright family had plans to open a business in downtown 
      Whitewright, an area that is in need of important services such as a 
      printer and shoe repair store. This family immediately canceled these 
      plans until the issue of the cement plant is resolved. 
      In casual conversations with Whitewright residents I personally know of a 
      dozen families that have put home improvements or the building of a new 
      home on hold due to the prospect of the cement plant. Undoubtedly there 
      are many others. Whitewright and Grayson County have already suffered 
      economically due to just the possibility of a cement plant in the area. 
      And ask yourself this: is there even one place in the world that is home 
      to a cement plant that would be considered a nice neighborhood...one that 
      a family would look forward to living in or near? And is there one place 
      in the world that is home to just one cement plant and no other heavy 
      industry? The establishment of a cement plant in an area seals that area's 
      fate. It will be a heavy industry town forever, and never what is was 
      before. 
      The next logical question is: don't the federal and state governments 
      protect citizens so that there are no harmful pollutants and no adverse 
      economic impacts from industry like cement plants? Next time, I'll address 
      those issues. You may be surprised at the answers. 
      |Part 1| |Part 3| |Part 4| |Part 5| |SWAT Home Page| 




HeraldDemocrat-3

      Part 3
      What Help Can Be Expected from the TNRCC and the EPA? 
      When a community is threatened by the construction and operation of an 
      unwanted industrial facility the citizens probably assume that there are 
      certain state and federal regulations that will protect them. They 
      probably assume these regulations will take into account health and safety 
      issues, traffic concerns, noise and light pollution, and the economic 
      impact of this kind of facility. No doubt they hope that these regulations 
      will safeguard them and their investment. And that is no doubt what many 
      people in Grayson, Collin and Fannin counties believe when they consider 
      the issue of North Texas Cement Company building a cement plant south of 
      Whitewright in Grayson County. 
      It is important for everyone to understand just how the Texas Natural 
      Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) operates, and how much help 
      citizens can expect from the United States Environmental Protection Agency 
      (EPA). 
      The fundamental principle underlying the operation of both the EPA and its 
      representative TNRCC is that it is in the nation's best interest not to 
      disturb the economics of existing industry in order to preserve the health 
      of those locally subject to the pollution. Their present approach is to 
      clean up the worst polluters of a given industry, i.e. the worst of the 
      cement kilns, but they apply no pressure to the best. If the entire 
      industry presents health risks, then nothing is done for the health of 
      local citizens. 
      The EPA is only concerned with hazardous waste permits, so the EPA will 
      not be involved with the initial North Texas Cement Company (NTCC) 
      permitting process because NTCC is not initially requesting a permit to 
      burn hazardous waste as fuel. 
      In Texas, the TNRCC has been authorized to act on behalf of the EPA in the 
      area of air pollution. The TNRCC has no jurisdiction over noise, light 
      pollution, increase in traffic and loss of property value due to proximity 
      to an industrial site. These issues are handled by local zoning 
      ordinances. However, North Texas Cement has conveniently chosen its 
      proposed site outside city limits, where there can be no zoning 
      ordinances. Why are there no ordinances? Because in Texas only residents 
      of incorporated cities are given the basic tool for community planning: 
      zoning. 
      What about the health hazards? Doesn't the TNRCC have strict guidelines 
      for cement plants to ensure the emissions are safe to breathe? The TNRCC 
      uses a system called "Effects Screening Levels" (ESLs) for thousands of 
      chemicals to determine whether a facility will cause health damage to the 
      surrounding community. It is the basis for all the state's assurances of 
      safety to citizens from facilities (such as cement kilns) emitting toxic 
      air pollution. As long as any chemical's concentration in the air does not 
      exceed its ESL, the TNRCC states that no "adverse health effects are 
      expected." 
      Yet according to the first independent examination of the state's ESL 
      system ("Sacrificing Science for Convenience") "ESLs turn out to be 
      arbitrary numbers which have no sound scientific basis and reliance on 
      them is nothing short of dangerous." This new report is written by 
      scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and a 
      former state air quality engineer. 
      Another alarming factor, according to the UTMB report, is this ESL system 
      for risk assessment is reliant upon obscure federal occupational exposure 
      standards called Threshold Limit Values (TLVs). The TLVs themselves are 
      based not on independent epidemiological research, but on corporate 
      literature that has never been peer-reviewed. Despite warnings from the 
      authors of these TLVs not to use them in the establishment of "safe" 
      ambient air levels for the public, the TNRCC is doing just that. This is 
      exactly the equivalent of tobacco company studies showing that tobacco is 
      not addictive or harmful. 
      Jim Tarr, the environmental engineer who coauthored the study, concludes 
      that the regulatory system used by the TNRCC does not meet the six most 
      basic ethical tests that should be applied to government. In the meantime, 
      Tarr states "the public is left to suffer the unknown consequences of a 
      scientifically meaningless, bureaucratic endeavor." 
      If further proof is needed that the TNRCC is putting industry profits 
      ahead of public health, consider this: on September 11, 1995 a memo was 
      sent to the 15 Field Offices of TNRCC stating that they were no longer 
      allowed to perform unannounced annual inspections of major industrial 
      facilities such as cement kilns. The new policy called for announced only 
      inspections with a one to two week advance warning. This is the equivalent 
      of the highway patrol announcing the time and location of their speed 
      traps. 
      In the last couple years, the TNRCC has also had a history of denying 
      citizen participation in public hearings concerning industrial plants. 
      Examples are: South Odessa citizens and Rexene Products; Lubbock citizens 
      and West Texas Wilbert Vault Co.; citizens opposing Rainbow Materials 
      concrete batch plant; and citizens concerned about the Formosa Plastics 
      Point Comfort PVC Plant. 
      When the above facts are examined it becomes clear that the sentiment, 
      "There is nothing to worry about because the EPA and the TNRCC will look 
      out for us," lacks any real reassurance. 
      The EPA and TNRCC are quite effective in controlling small businesses. 
      They, for example, forced the closure of the only gasoline station on the 
      main street of Whitewright, but they have difficulty dealing with big 
      money, particularly when it funds so many Political Action Committees that 
      fund political campaigns. 
      What is the solution? What do concerned citizens like the supporters of 
      SWAT want to achieve? We will address these issues next time. 
      |Part 1| |Part 2| |Part 4| |Part 5| |SWAT Home Page| 





HeraldDemocrat-4

      Part 4
      The Solution According to SWAT 
      The 1500 citizens who have signed a petition opposing the construction of 
      a cement plant in Grayson, Collin and Fannin counties don't have their 
      heads in the sand. They know society needs industry and society needs 
      cement. They also know something else: living near a cement kiln, any 
      cement kiln, is unsafe. 
      According to Dr. George Crawford, Professor Emeritus of Physics at SMU and 
      an expert on air pollution, the area within five miles of a cement plant 
      is a "High Danger Zone" and within twenty miles is a "Danger Zone," where, 
      he states, "There will be an increase in lung-related diseases: asthma, 
      bronchitis and emphysema. Those with a predisposition to respiratory 
      problems will be affected the most. Premature death will occur among the 
      weakest in the population." 
      So what is the solution? We need cement, and we need to protect the health 
      and welfare of all citizens, not just those that live outside these danger 
      zones. The only solution to this apparent dilemma, short of locating 
      cement kilns 20 miles from the nearest inhabitant, is for the cement 
      industry to clean up its act. 
      Unfortunately, the cement industry is being dragged, kicking and 
      screaming, into the twenty-first century. In all the full page ads and all 
      the public relations literature the cement industry produces, there is not 
      one mention of a cement kiln operator making any investment to reduce 
      pollution that was not mandated by government. And of all the dollars 
      spent on public relations and political campaigns, there is not one shred 
      of evidence that a single cent has ever been spent in pollution research. 
      This is not an industry leading us into the future. It is dragging us 
      down. 
      Actually, cleaning up cement kiln emissions is not all that difficult. All 
      they have to do is burn only natural gas. The only problem is that it 
      costs more than the alternatives: coal, tires, hazardous wastes. 
      Government is part of the problem. Cement kilns that burn tires are paid 
      by the state. Cement kilns were not designed to be incinerators, of 
      course, so the state even provided grants to pay for retrofitting to get 
      them to minimal standards. That process is part of the "Texas Tire 
      Recycling Program" and is a misguided attempt to solve the tire disposal 
      problem. 
      Some of our more brazen tire-burning advocates in and out of government 
      have the gall to call it recycling. Think about it. If I told you I was 
      recycling newspaper by burning it in my furnace, what would you say? How 
      can burning anything be recycling? And why should the state pay cement 
      kilns to burn an extraordinarily large Texas resource that might be used, 
      for example, in street and highway construction and maintenance? The great 
      State of Texas needs to find a more enlightened solution to its waste tire 
      problem. 
      Given the clear and present dangers of life near polluting industry, 
      citizens must be given the right to plan and control their communities 
      growth. In Texas, only incorporated cities can control their own growth 
      because only they have the right to create zoning ordinances. On 
      unincorporated county land, anything goes: junk yard, massage parlor, you 
      name it. Does it make sense to you that citizens' say in determining the 
      usage of neighboring land depends upon which side of a city border line 
      they live? It is time our legislators wake up to the fact that farmers 
      have the same concerns as city dwellers. 
      Finally, the EPA and its representative TNRCC must be insulated from 
      politics. They need the same power as the US Food and Drug Administration 
      and the same autonomy as Alan Greenspan. As it stands, both organizations 
      are run by political appointees, and thus must cater to the political 
      realities of campaign funding. Neither can be effective in regulating big 
      money. 
      In summary, a number of factors contribute to the ability of dirty 
      industry to locate in a neighborhood near you: unenlightened industry and 
      government, impotent regulators, inequitable community planning rights and 
      politicians for hire. The long term solution is to fix them all. For now, 
      the only promising avenue of pursuit for those in the danger zone of North 
      Texas Cement Company's proposed cement plant south of Whitewright is the 
      incorporation of the city of Bethel and zoning out heavy industry. The 
      election to incorporate and select a city council is May 3. We need your 
      support. 
      |Part 1| |Part 2| |Part 3| |Part 5| |SWAT Home Page| 




HeraldDemocrat-1

      Part 1
      Who are the supporters of SWAT and why are they fighting a cement plant? 
      You may have seen something in this newspaper, on TV, or heard a neighbor 
      talk about a group of people going by the name of "SWAT" and wondered what 
      it's all about. Before getting into the details of how and why this group 
      formed, let me pose a few questions. What would you do if you found out 
      that a multimillion dollar company had been quietly trying to option land 
      to build a facility that would forever change the nature of your 
      community? What would you do if, after some investigation, you discovered 
      this industry could damage your health, decrease your property values, 
      increase traffic significantly, and contaminate the water supply? What 
      would you do if you found out your city officials seemed to be turning a 
      blind eye to all of this, or even worse, supporting this activity? 
      No doubt you would do what over 1400 area citizens have done in Grayson, 
      Collin and Fannin counties. You would begin by studying the problem. You 
      would talk to neighbors, talk to other people who live in similar 
      communities, talk to experts in the fields of concern, and then organize 
      to develop a plan of action. 
      "SWAT" stands for Save Whitewright and Tri-Counties, the organization that 
      formed in October of 1996. The reason? They discovered, rather suddenly, 
      that a cement company, North Texas Cement Company of Midlothian, had been 
      working quietly for months to win the favor of local politicians and 
      option 2500 acres of land in their community to build a quarry and cement 
      plant. So who are these SWAT people? They are doctors, nurses, moms and 
      dads, farmers, merchants, lawyers, realtors, grandparents, pastors, 
      electricians, plumbers, teachers, administrators and people from all 
      professions and walks of life from Grayson, Fannin and Collin counties. 
      Many of these people moved there to escape the big-city pollution. They 
      are not crazy, emotional environmentalists. The supporters of SWAT see 
      this as a public health issue, just as you would if you found out you 
      would be living in the "danger zone" from emissions and other problems 
      associated with cement plants. SWAT started with a few neighbors comparing 
      notes, and now, just six months later, SWAT has grown to more than 1400 
      supporters. They are just like you. 
      No doubt some of your questions are: "So, what exactly are the health and 
      economic concerns of this type of industrial activity? Isn't this industry 
      regulated by state and federal agencies? Won't these agencies ensure that 
      public health is protected? What is the solution? What does SWAT want to 
      achieve? These are good questions. Each one will be addressed in a series 
      of editorials to be published each week in this column. Next week the 
      health and economic impacts of living near a cement plant will be 
      addressed. 
 

 

 

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