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Greenpeace Protests Toxic Burning Plan

Greenpeace Protests Toxic Burning Plan image Greenpeace Protests Toxic Burning Plan image
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Organizers from the environmentalist group Greenpeace staged a two-day protest against the Stauffer Chemical Company near Chicago to oppose plans to increase burning of toxic wastes there. Two Greenpeace members were arrested. Ken Hollis, 27, of Toronto, Ontario, and Steve Loper of Chicago were arrested as they descended from a two-day occupation of the company's smokestack. The two men had hung a huge 75 foot banner which said "Ban the Burn," and a smaller banner which said, "Greenpeace." Other Greenpeace members released balloons with protest messages and did guerilla theater in white chemical protective coveralls and breathing gear. John Else, director of Greenpeace's Ann Arbor office, said that people in the suburban Chicago neighborhood were surprisingly supportive of the Greenpeace action. "When we were standing out around the plant, a number of people would drive by, honk their horns, give a thumbs-up. In one instance, an older lady sat in her car and applauded," said Else. The Stauffer Co. has a previous record in the chemical disposal industry. A "Potential Hazardous Waste Site Preliminary Assessment" form prepared for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes previous environmental problems caused by the company, according to Greenpeace, which obtained a copy of the document. The report lists 100 tons of "toxic," "persistent," and "corrosive" material described as having the characteristics of a "sludge," "slurry," and "liquid." Hazardous substances found in this preliminary survey include arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver and sulphuric acid. The report lists eight "Hazardous Conditions and Incidcnts" including groundwater and drinking water contamination. The report dryly notes that "contamination of Grand Calumet River and Lake Michigan food chains are inevitable." Mr. Molini, now with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, supported the accuracy of the data in the report obtained by Greenpeace in a recent interview. "Stauffer has a blemished environmental record," said Mr. Molini. He explained that by this he meant that "It appears that they have not always operated in a legal manncr." Molini explained that the figure of 100 tons of waste had been provided by the company in 1977 and that it could be higher. Despite Stauffer's unpromising past record, the Indiana and Federal authorities may grant Stauffer a permit to expand their (Greenpeace continued next page) Greenpeace (Continued from previous page) buming of toxic waste at the suburban site to include 342 different chemicals. Greenpeace charges that there are no guarantees that this facility will transmute all of these substances into completely harmless forms. The Chicago action succeeded in drawing increased public attention and awareness to the issue. The televisiĆ³n and print media gave substantial coverage to the Greenpeace action. The Chicago Tribune and other local newspapers gave the story front page exposure. The coverage in one of the local Hammond newspapers, the Times, was particularly sympalhetic. One resident, Terry McCloskey of the local Izzac Walton League, was quoted as saying that "ducks die on contact" when they land on one of the Stauffer Co. lakes. Greenpeace will follow up on the August 13-14 action by tabulating and reporting the results of a health survey conducted near the site of the plant by Greenpeace workers. The Greenpeace Water for Life campaign will continue with other actions against pollution in the Great Lakes, especially at the Dow Chemical plants in Midland and Sarnia. NEWS


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