Sunday, December 17, 2006

Food for thought

Here’s a thought or two on something that has the potential to bring our country to its knees….

We have all heard talk about threats to the Internet, banking, the stock market, our water supply, transporation, etc. Has anyone considered what would happen if terrorists hit our restaurants?

Think about it. There are roughly 935,000 restaurants in the United States, and, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2007 forecast, sales are expected to hit $537 billion next year. Yep, $537 BILLION. (http://www.restaurant.org/research/)

In Georgia alone we’re expected to have spent $12.6 billion in restaurants when the ball drops on New Years Eve 2006. There are approximately 366,000 individuals working in restaurants in Georgia. That’s about 9% of our work force.

That’s a lot of money and a lot of food. It’s also a huge segment of our workforce.

I hadn’t given it much thought until all the recent problems with salmonella and E.coli problems. Taco Bell is taking a major hit because of the E. coli illnesses relating from, at last check, lettuce (http://www.fayetteforum.org/2006/12-8-taco-bell.htm). There’s another E. coli situation developing at Taco John’s restaurants in Iowa and Minnesota that appears to be unrelated.

Not to long ago we were all scared to eat spinach and some (many?) are still foregoing touching the iron-rich green veggie. In the past month or so there have been four recalls of cantaloupes due to a salmonella outbreak. In reviewing the recalls and alerts that have floated into my inbox over the past few months there are untold numbers of known issues with our foods. Undeclared milk, sulfites or nuts in products, lead in containers or lids, or one of the five most common bacteria that cause illnesses, Salmonella, Listeria, E.coli O157, Campylobacter and Clostridium perfringens seems to pop up at least once a day anymore. (http://www.fayetteforum.org/foodweeat.htm and http://www.fayetteforum.org/recalls.htm).

All a group of good (bad) terrorists needs to do to bring us to our knees is slide over our southern border with other illegal aliens, go to work in various food producing fields and defecate in the water.

Can you imagine their glee as they plot to devastate our country by doing what comes naturally?

Not only will it affect the restaurant industry, but it’ll knock a hole in other food related industries including our grocery stores. When Taco Bell thought their E. coli problem was due to bad onions, they changed distributors. As it turns out, it wasn’t the onions. Of course, the same distributor may have been providing them with their lettuce, too. Grocery stores were hurt badly when we had the spinach scare. All spinach growers took a hit. The transportation industry may have been hurt to some degree. People all along the chain probably lost jobs.

I’m just touching the very thinnest surface with my speculations. Those who are “in-the-know” are much more capable of extrapolating the impact on our economy. I would imagine that somewhere some homeland security types have already considered this scenario and are looking into upgrading the latrine situation for workers. Maybe there are agents working undercover at farms. Possibly more regulations are being imposed to require fences around water supplies or other safeguards to keep workers from pooping in the water supply.

Quite truthfully, I don’t see any way to stop this from becoming a reality if some group puts their minds to it. You can’t guard the water supply all the way to its source. The cost to sterilize or treat water before spraying it on growing crops would be astronomical. It’s not a pretty picture when you really start to think about it.

What’s the answer? Better minds than mine will have to figure that one out! All I know is that I find myself choosing veggies I can cook rather than raw foods like lettace and spinach unless they're locally grown. And, while I still eat out, it's not quite the easy, don't-give-it-a-second-thought event that it used to be.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Here we go again...

It's going to be a long time before many are willing to put spinach back into their diet... at least the fresh bagged type. I don't know what it did to the frozen spinach industry. I do know that one of my favorite foods at the Village Cafe stopped being served until just recently! I love their spinach and substitute extra instead of whatever starch is being served.

Over the past few weeks I've received four, yes four, different recalls from different cantaloupe producers. Salmonella again. Another industry hit and probably hurting very badly.

Then there is the eColi scare with Taco Bell.

Taco Bell is owned by Yum, Inc. They also own KFC, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver's and A&W All-American Food restaurants. If you'd like to know more about Yum, here's the link: http://www.yum.com/about/default.asp

The scallions that caused the problem for Taco Bell came from Boskovich Farms in California. The distributor was the Texas-based McLane Co. In the release below, I noted that Taco Bell has changed distributors. I wonder if ALL the restaurants owned by Taco Bell's parent company (more than 34,000 in 100 different countries) will switch if they are using the onion-supplier?

The producer for Taco Bell is Ready Pac Produce. I believe, but haven't confirmed, that Ready Pac was also mentioned in conjunction with the recent spinach scare? I have read a number of news reports stating that thus far Ready Pac has come up clean in the testing being done. I'll do a little checking around and let you know if I find any real connection.

If you've never ever thought about how food reaches your table, it's something worth looking into. It's amazing how our food is processed... Who owns what is also rather interesting!

Back to salmonella! If you'd like to read the four cantaloupe recalls, all four are posted here: http://www.fayetteforum.org/2006/11-17-rio-vista-cantaloupes.htm

Here's the link to the Taco Bell story: http://www.fayetteforum.org/foodweeat.htm/12-8-taco-bell.htm

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Toxic... spiders...

Yuk. Some time back I received an email from my son with a list of strange things. The reader was supposed to go through and decide which ones were true and which ones were not. At the end you found out that all of them were supposedly true.

One of the "facts" on the list was that we swallow an average of 8 spiders during our lifetime while sleeping.

Given it was an email, I decided it must not be true (I didn't want it to be true) and dismissed it like I do most forwarded email.

However, a few days ago I was scanning some websites and low and behold there was an advertisement which used the same line.

I assume they must have either read the same email I did, or they got it from the source.

Whether it's true or not, it stayed with me.

I don't run squealing when I see a spider, but if there's someone else around who's willing to deal with the thing, I'm going to let them squish it rather than do it myself.

Here's my biggest question about the number of spiders we may or may not swallow: How do they come up with that number?

Would some scientific group put cameras in bedrooms to watch? What about campers, hikers and those who like to sleep in the wild? Do they swallow more and skew the average?

What about places where people live in open huts? Are there still nomads in the deserts?

Does the average include the homeless? Does it take into account those colder areas where there might not be very many spiders?

If anyone out there is counting the number of spiders swallowed, let me know.

Addendum:

Well, I had to go out and look it up! It's a myth. Thank goodness. I couldn't imagine a spider wanting to get into a mouth that's busy snoring, but I could see a slight possibility of it happening (just not more than maybe once in a lifetime). Now, I could see a spider crawling into an ear... it doesn't blow out breath, it's dark...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Salmonella & our food supply

Seems like almost every day an alert pops into my mailbox with a food recall. Some days I get four or five. More and more I'm seeing problems with Salmonella. This is a nasty, nasty critter. I've read that many of our so-called stomach viruses and flu's are nothing more than very slight touches of Salmonella poisoning. We eat a bit of minutely tainted meat or salad, get sick (but not real sick) and chalk it up to a flu.

It stands to reason that as we produce most of our foods in factories that we're going to run into hygiene problems. Think about cleaning your own kitchen and how difficult it is to get into those little cracks, to change out the sponges or to get that bit of splatter behind the stove. Imagine a huge mega-production line with machines and people who, let's face it, are just doing a job. They're not thinking about little Sally or Jim who's going to be eating that food. They're punching a time clock and thinking about what they're going to do when they get off work.

I'm aware that there are umpteen kinds of cleanings that go on and that it's in the best interest of companies to avoid food contamination problems. So what does that say about the rising number of problems with our food supply? Is it getting beyond them?

The latest and greatest Salmonella problem that prompted this blog is the one from the Hershey Company (below). How do they know that seven bottles might have a problem? They produce millions (probably) of bottles yet somehow they know that seven of these might be contaminated with Salmonella? If they caught the Salmonella on a production line and shut it down it seems like they'd have the bottles. Maybe they caught it and were able to account for all but seven of the bottles?

I suppose when I have a few moments, just out of curiosity, I'm going to have to do a little bit of looking into food production a bit more in-depth. Right now I have more questions - and concerns - about the foods I'm buying.

The Hershey Company Recalls Seven Bottles of Reese's Shell Topping Due To Possible Health Risk

Contact:Stephanie Moritz717-534-7641

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- Hershey, PA -- November 14, 2006 -- The Hershey Company today announced that it is recalling 7 (seven), 7.25-ounce bottles of REESE'S Shell Topping manufactured in Canada on October 27, 2006, due to possible contamination with Salmonella.
The 7 (seven), 7.25 ounce bottles of REESE'S Shell Topping have the code 30MXB printed on the back of the bottle below the cap. The UPC/Bar Code is 346010. No other Hershey's shell toppings or other Hershey confectionery items are involved in this recall. No illnesses have been reported to date.

The product in question was available for purchase only in the state of Michigan after November 5, 2006.

Food contaminated with Salmonella may not look or smell spoiled. Consumption of a food contaminated with Salmonella may cause symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Long-term complications may include severe arthritis. These symptoms could be serious and life-threatening in young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

The recall is the result of routine manufacturing quality checks by the company during which an externally sourced ingredient tested positive for Salmonella. The company has ceased production and distribution of this product, and is working with FDA.

Consumers who have purchased the item in question should contact Hershey Consumer Relations at 1-800-468-1714.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bird Flu, Corporations and Ayn Rand

Every day new things are being discovered. In many cases (if not the majority of cases) it's the private sector that makes the discovereis when it comes to life-saving or life-enhancing drugs. A lot of times in the wild rush to get things on the market before the other guy adequate homework isn't done regarding the side affects.

Unfortunately, until a lot of people are taking these new drugs it's not possible to figure out all the potential negative side affects. My dentist was telling me about a great pain killer that worked wonderfully - no side affects, no nasty lingering affects. It was pulled off the market fairly quickly. Why? Seven people died. Turns out some people have a serious problem with it. All the testing, all the approvals and all the studying (seven years I think?) and they didn't know it could kill people.

Back to my original thought chain... Without the role of the private sector, we probably wouldn't have a chance against many of the illnesses and diseases that attack. Yes, they do it for profit in most instances. Those who don't have insurance and/or those who can't afford the drugs sometimes yell and scream that it's not fair. I don't know the answers when it comes to who should or shouldn't get health care. One thought though - without these companies working for a profit, putting their time and effort into research, the drugs wouldn't exist at all. Then no one would have the "cure."

The only way I see (without giving it a ton f deep thought) for eveyone to have access to these drugs would be to take from the rich and give to the poor. But I have to tell you - if I work hard for something and someone wants to take it away from me without fair compensation, I don't think I'll put a lot of effort into doing it again. Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, Gault. If you haven't read it, you should. I may not agree entirely, 100%, with everything in the book, but it is thought provoking and very on-the-mark.

Here's a company that's working on the bird flu. I might have to look into buying stock. I'm certainly glad they, and others, are competing to be first:

eFoodSafety.com, Inc. Reports ''Significant and Unique'' Bird Flu Virus Testing by the Company; Testing is Being Conducted on the Actual H5N1 Strain of the Bird Flu Virus

11-3-06 SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--eFoodSafety.com, Inc. (OTCBB:EFSF), a Company dedicated to improving health conditions around the world through innovative products and technologies, today provided additional information regarding yesterday’s announcement to shareholders and the investment community about the testing of Citroxin against the Bird Flu virus at Innova Biotechnology Co., Ltd. (http://www.innovabiotechnology.com/) in Thailand. This testing is especially significant because it is being conducted on the actual H5N1 strain of the Bird Flu virus, not the surrogate H9N2 strain that most domestic laboratories are currently using in their Bird Flu testing. Citroxin can be sprayed on bird cages and hen houses without it being harmful to animals or humans in surrounding areas if ingested.

The Company has taken the time to locate a facility that has the actual H5N1 Bird Flu virus that has killed millions of birds in Asia and the actual strain that has led to human deaths. The significance of eFoodSafety’s groundwork testing to date will allow the Company to report results taken against the exact H5N1 virus, the viral strain that has killed millions of birds and some humans over the past several years.

The Company is also closely monitoring the H5N1 virus because indications are that a mutated strain of Bird Flu virus, a “Fujian-like strain,” has emerged in response to vaccination programs designed to halt the disease in farm flocks. Indications are that this strain has emerged abroad, but not domestically yet.

Patricia Gruden, President and CEO of eFoodSafety.com, Inc., stated, “Experts continue to renew their warnings of a Bird Flu pandemic and the World Health Organization continues to express its fear that a Bird Flu pandemic could kill millions in a worst case scenario. For that reason, testing with Citroxin is significant and unique in that we are at the forefront of testing on the exact and specific H5N1 strain of the Bird Flu virus that has been found to be the cause of human deaths.”

Mrs. Gruden further observed, “Having established clearly defined testing protocol guidelines on testing of the actual H5N1 Bird Flu virus enables eFoodSafety to be at the forefront of testing, with the next level of testing on live subjects already in place. The Company’s Citroxin formulation represents one of the products we are developing as we continue to work toward our ultimate goal of becoming a provider of global healthcare technologies.”
About eFoodSafety.com, Inc.

eFoodSafety.com, Inc. is dedicated to improving health conditions around the world through its innovative technologies. The company’s Knock-Out Technologies, Ltd. subsidiary has developed an environmentally safe sporicidal product formulated entirely of food-grade components that eradicates anthrax and a germicidal product, Citroxin (formerly named Big Six Plus) – EPA Reg. No. 82723-1 that kills six major bacteria: E-coli, Listeria, Pseudomonas, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus, Avian Influenza, Black Mold. The sporicidal product has completed its final efficacy laboratory study requisite for EPA registration. In the study, it eradicated both Clostridium Sporogenes and Bacillus Subtilis with 100% efficacy on both hard and porous surfaces. The company’s MedElite, Inc. subsidiary distributes clinically proven products to physicians who then prescribe the products for their patients. It recently became the owner of the Talsyn™-CI/bid Scar Cream, that has been clinically proven to facilitate and improve the appearance, redness and strength of scars (http://www.talsyn.com/), as well as seven (7) other products in the Talsyn™ line. The company is also is a distributor for Cinnergen™, a non-prescription liquid whole food nutritional supplement that promotes healthy glucose metabolism (http://www.cinnergen.com/), and Trimmendous™, a weight loss formula focusing on the body’s 24-hour metabolic processes. The company has recently entered into a joint venture agreement with CK41 Direct, Inc. to launch an anti-acne skin care system, with a branded name and celebrity spokesperson to be announced in the near future.

Please visit the Company’s website at: http://www.efoodsafety.com.

Safe Harbor Forward-Looking Statements

Statements contained in this release that are not strictly historical are “forward-looking” statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. The forward-looking statements are made based on information available as of the date hereof, and the company assumes no obligation to update such forward-looking statements. Editors and investors are cautioned that such forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties and the company’s actual results may differ from these forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to demand for the company’s products and services, our ability to continue to develop markets, general economic conditions, our ability to secure additional financing for the company and other factors that may be more fully described in reports to shareholders and periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Task Force Rally

Saturday (Oct. 21st) the South Fulton / Fayette Community Task Force held a Rally in Tyrone to continue to highlight problems with the Philips Services plant on the border of Fayette County.

There were a LOT of elected officials (and candidates) at the rally. Some spoke, most spoke. Some, like Commissioner Bill Edwards, Fulton County, came with cameras and video crews. Most came alone or with their spouse. All seemed to know the issue and all were definitely behind closing the plant. No waffling.

The turn out was decent. Many came for a short period, signed the petition, talked and left. Most of the elected officials and candidates were there for the duration.

One thing that continues to bother me is that the problem is continuing to be referred to as the "onion odor" problem. Yes, there is an odor, but it's not just a smell. It's chemicals. It's toxic waste. Instead of "onion," if someone had labeled it a "toxic" smell or a "chemical" smell then maybe more folks in the area would be concerned.

Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of concern. But in many people's minds "onion" is not bad. It just smells and maybe makes your eyes water. Unfortunately, this is more than a smell, it's more than bad onions.

We have absolutely no real true idea of what we've been breathing for over 15 years. We have no idea what has been dumped in our water supply. We have no idea what has leached into our ground waters. The Philip Services plant did not turn in ANY of the required required reports to the agency that was tasked with regulating their actions. The EPD not once (based on what I've read) asked for the reports.

The haphazard records that ARE available are worthless if you're trying to find out what Philip (and the prior owner of the plant) were destroying. Toxins from across the country were shipped past other waste treatment plants to Fairburn. Why? We don't know why and may never know why, but it raises questions. Was it because no one was watching the plant? They had no oversight so it was chosen to get rid of the questionable toxins that other states wouldn't allow?

Who knows.

I hope the Community Task Force and our elected officials will continue to yell and will do everything in their power to close this plant. I'll hate it for the people who work at the plant - they'll probably lose their long-term jobs or have to move. But I think this is a case where the greater good should prevail. Besides, maybe those workers will opt to get a job in a healthier environment and live long, healthy lives.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Citizen's Rally, Oct. 21st

The South Fulton and Fayette Community Task Force will hold a Citizens Rally Oct. 21 at Shamrock Park in Tyrone to address issues and questions surrounding the activities of the Philip Services plant in Fairburn and the symptoms and illnesses experienced by residents of both counties.

The rally will run from 1-5 PM and will feature elected officials and their opponents to speak on our behalf. City and town councils, county commissions and community associations will be there to present official resolutions calling for the plant’s closure. Live music will be provided by the 70’s band Terra Free and barbecue and hot dogs will be served. Everyone is invited to come and show support and make their voice heard.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Spinach, Lettace... what next?

I love spinach. I can't stand turnip greens and collards. Unless I want to flirt with a painful death or illness, I can't eat my spinach for a while, if ever. As a substitute I've been trying to eat more lettace. Well, guess what? Now it looks like we're not going to be eating lettace either.

Turns out that contaminated irrigation water gets sprinkled on other foods, too, if I'm reading the latest FDA recall correctly (posted below).

What is going on with our food these days? I'm an avid reader but not only can I not keep up with all the info and problems associated with our food sources, I can't figure out what is correct, wrong or blown out of proportion.

I keep threatening (myself) that I'm going to put a garden in the backyard (to feed the deer). It's a bit too late this year to start one (whew!) but if I still feel the same way and the problems continue, I'm gonna do it.

-----------------

FDA Statement on Nunes Lettuce Recall On October 8, 2006, the Food and Drug

Administration (FDA) became aware that The Nunes Company, Inc., of Salinas, California initiated a voluntary recall of green leaf lettuce distributed under the Foxy brand. The company reported to FDA that it initiated the recall because of E.coli contamination of water used to irrigate the lettuce plants in the field during growing. At this time, there has been no determination of whether the E. coli found is O157:H7-the highly infectious type that can cause life-threatening foodborne illness in humans-or the more common, generally harmless strains of E. coli that usually do not cause disease. Further, there has been no known human illness linked to this recall.

Based on current information about the scope of this E. coli contamination, FDA views the firm's prompt action as commendable, because it is better to be cautious than to potentially put consumers at risk of contracting a serious foodborne illness. As FDA becomes aware of additional information about the contamination of the water supply that triggered the current voluntary recall, including the results of additional ongoing tests, the agency will make this information available to the public immediately.

Fresh leafy greens grown and consumed in the United States are safe. Every year there are many thousands of pounds of fresh leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach grown in the United States and consumed by the public with no consequent illness. However, outbreaks do occur, such as the recent E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to raw spinach, and there is a need to do everything possible to minimize the likelihood of further outbreaks and prevent serious illness. For this reason, FDA has taken a number of actions in recent years, in partnership with its sister agencies, to improve the safety of fresh leafy greens and is working on additional steps. From farm to table, everyone has a responsibility to ensure food safety, including growers, processors, distributors, retailers and consumers, and government.

FDA believes there is a need to examine and improve certain agricultural practices to minimize the risk of E. coli O157:H7 contamination of leafy greens. FDA and the State of California launched the Lettuce Safety Initiative in August 2006 to minimize such risk and to create greater awareness by industry of FDA's commitment to food safety and concern about the safety of lettuce. This Initiative has since been broadened to include spinach and other leafy greens. The Initiative has a number of key objectives, including assessing current industry approaches and stimulating new efforts to improve lettuce safety; identifying industry practices that potentially lead to product contamination and developing policy or guidance and identifying research to minimize future outbreaks; taking targeted regulatory action using a risk-based approach toward areas most likely to be the source of contamination; and alerting consumers early and responding rapidly in the event of an outbreak.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Added another blog & update on Philip Services

I didn't want to clutter this blog with stuff about detox drops, zeolites and similar so I started a new blog titled Zeolites & Health. After reading so much about toxins over the past few months detoxing my body in any way I reasonably can has become a bit more important.

I signed up as a distributor for the Waiora Natural Cellular Defense after hearing so many good things from my friends & actually seeing results. You can read the Zeolites & Health blog for more on that if you're interested.

I'm taking the detox drops, the antioxidant capsule and at times drinking the detox tea. I'm a huge tea drinker anyway, so substituting a detox tea at times is no big deal for me!

The situation at the plant in Fairburn is pretty much stagnant on the state level it seems. A LOT of things have been happening with the Community Task Force (link on the side to their web site). More politicians are signing on saying the plant needs to be shut down. The problem with that is Philip Services can ignore them and they know it. The plant is legal and until the EPD and the state and county regulatory agencies refuse to renew their permits, they can do whatever they want.

The citizens around the plant are still smelling the onion odor in the evenings.

The plant has NOT submitted the required forms and reports for SIXTEEN years! The EPD porocess is hopeless if they aren't even aware that companies aren't submitting reports for that length of time!!!

I hope you'll read my new blog, Zeolites and Health. This blog focuses on toxins in the environment. The Zeolite and Health blog will focus on the personal health aspects.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hospitals & Face Masks

Interesting article in my Clay Times magazine titled "Hospitals, HEPAs, and Health." The article is primarily about "Studio Health & Safety" each month but due to a mix-up in the previous edition expanded into hospital health and facemasks in this particular issue (March/April 2006).

The previous month the author, Monona Rossol, had covered the need for potters to protect themselves from clay and glaze particles when working in a studio by wearing the appropriate facemask. Unbeknownst to the author, the magazine used a photo of a woman wearing the typical hospital facemask (she calls it the old "Ben Casey" mask).

Unfortunately, it turns out that the facemask is worthless and she notes that people in her field know they can only filter out "crumbs, flies and boulders." I probably wouldn't have continued reading the article if not for that phrase. It caught my attention as I would have thought hospitals with all the associated health risks and germs floating around would have tighter regulations than other work environments.

Not so. Per the article, when OSHA rules were expanded, the hospitals opted not to follow the rules saying it was too costly. They wanted their own rules. Rossol notes that since the 1970s hospitals "have maintained that they were exempt from many of the Occupational Safety & health Administration (OSHA) respiratory protection rules."

It wasn't until about two years ago that the hospitals were forced to apply the same standards everyone else has to follow. However, in each of the last two years Congress has passed bills "prohibiting OSHA from fining hospitals for failing to meet the respiratory protection requirements."

What? Why?

It may be simply old-wives-tales and hearsay, but I'm sure everyone reading this has heard that the biggest problem with going in the hospital for surgery or another illness is that you have a high chance of catching something else.

I will be checking into the practices of our local hospitals to find out what standards they adhere to when it comes to face masks. I was already concerned about what I might catch from others in the hospital and the much-talked-about problem with staph infections, etc. in the event I ever had to seek treatment. If the people who are ministering medically to me are breathing in the germs of others, they could easily be expelling them into MY space. If they have an illness and they are not wearing a proper mask, that little piece of cloth isn't going to help either of us.

As Rossol notes when closing her article, "if your doctor, nurse, dentist, dental technician, or other health professional puts on a mask in the course of your treatment, take a look at it. If it has a single strap or is of loose cloth, be aware that neither of you is well-protected from passing viruses or bacteria." Yuk.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

PSC Strangely Quiet?

It seems that with all the hue and cry about the problems at the Philip Services Corporation (PSC) waste treatment plant in Fairburn that they might be doing a bit more to respond to the complaints of the citizens than they have been.

I understand they are probably being counseled by their legal arm not to do anything to incriminate, but you'd think their public relations on this issue might be just a bit more in play.

As I've wandered around the Internet looking up PSC, I've noted they've had a number of problems over the years and have had a similar lack-luster response from what I could tell.

The Georgia EPD should be hanging their head in shame. They let this company go for 16 years without filing the required reports. PSC bought the company, had to go through all the required political and regulatory hoops to do so, yet they didn't pick up on the fact that their were reports to be filed? Did the EPD not send them or provide them with the requirements? Did they choose to ignore them?

I have been less than impressed with our state's response and with the response from the PSC on this one.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Is this the best we can expect?

New blog, old topic. We in Georiga have been dealing with a problem caused by the Philip Services Corporation in Fairburn. The only reason anyone became aware of a problem at this waste treatment plant was because one of the toxins had mercaptan in it. Propyl mercaptan smells. Bad. They use it in tiny, tiny amounts in natrual gas to give it an odor. They put it in pesticides and other similar things to give them a smell.

Smells like rotton onions.

The odor wafted across a fairly large area of South Fulton and Fayette counties. People started raising a ruckus. Finally, and I do mean FINALLY, enough people raised enough of a stink to bring in the EPD, various health agencies and other governmental agencies.

I've been writing about this issue in my Fayette Life blog, but decided to set up a new one just so I could keep the negative stuff out of that blog (it's supposed to be a happy blog ;-) Anyway, if you'd like to read more about the issue, visit www.FayetteForum.org and click on Fayette Life in the far right column, visit www.JMacSnippets.net and click on issues, or go to www.CommunityTaskForce.org. I'm not going to bore you with all the background since you can go to those excellent sources and read to your hearts content.

Now that we've been dealing with this issue for a while and I've had a chance to watch the government's reaction, I've realized we are in big trouble if we're hit with a serious problem (like a pandemic, a terror action, or some other catastrophic event of similar magnitude).

Our government is so bogged down with rules they can't act. No one is willing to take any initiative. The agencies can't talk to each other. The EPD can't act based on a recommendation from Public Health. The EPD can't do testing unless they catch an agency in the act almost.

I see this huge, huge overblown bunch of agencies that SHOULD be able to react, but their bloated and lethargic and crippled by their own actions. Inefficient. Scared almost.

I also wonder at a system where the EPD is regulating a company they use, or at least my understanding is that they use the Philip Services Corporation to get rid of toxins. The EPD didn't notice that Philip hadn't turned in reports, required reports, for TWO years... why? I can see missing one month, one report, but two entire years?

If they find a problem now at Philip, who looks bad? They do. Is there any incentive for them to FIND a problem? What happens if they do find a problem? They shut them down? Nah, they simply fine them.

That's going to hurt. The EPD levied the largest fine ever in the history of their existance ($100,000). I've been out wandering around the Internet and see where the EPA fined them one MILLION. When you're dealing with a Goliath like PSC, what good does it do to fine them?

Do the citizens who are dealing with illnesses resulting from the toxins released from PSC benefit from the fine. Nope. The system puts the money into a pot for cleaning up toxic messes.

Seems like the punishment should match the "crime.' Fix those who were affected by the mercaptan, MOCAP, ethoprop dumped into the air, or the dirt, and/or the water. What you want to bet that the company would be willing to spend more in litigation than the cost of everyone's doctors bills combined? Can't let those stock prices fall. Can't let the pubic lose confidence. Can't lose those lucrative contracts. Admit you goofed and the dominos start to fall.