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MBD Update and Analysis for Chlorine Chemistry Council, 5/18/94
The following document by the secretive PR firm of Mongoven, Biscoe & Duchin (MBD) was leaked to the public by a whistleblower and was published in the 2nd Quarter 1996 issue of PR Watch, the quarterly newsletter of the Center for Media & Democracy. It offers a revealing example of the extent to which the chlorine industry is engaged in surveillance activities against environmentalists. Read it and weep!
MBD Update and Analysis
For: Chlorine Chemistry Council
Date: May 18, 1994
Activist Update: Chlorine
NRDC and U.S. PIRG Join Forces to Recruit and Train Anti-chlorine Activists for Protracted Battle
U.S. PIRG's Green Corps is collaborating with NRDC's Clean Water Network (CWN) on a project to recruit and train activists in an anti-chlorine campaign that is initially targeting the pulp and paper industry.
The move by CWN to bring Green Corps into a more active role in the anti-chlorine battle appears to be part of an overall strategy devised by the network's participants to broaden the anti-chlorine attack by recruiting and training enthusiastic young activists to carry the anti-chlorine banner on several fronts. . . .
Green Corps is a three-year-old environmental training project of Ralph Nader's U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and is based in U.S. PIRG's offices in Washington, D.C. . . . [PIRG] follows the Greenpeace line on chlorine chemistry but, according to its staff people, it has no formal affiliation with Greenpeace except through the Clean Water Network.
While that may be true in the strictest interpretation, there is a long-standing close association and history of cooperation between NRDC, U.S. PIRG, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace on a variety of issues. . . .
CWN, a project of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), claims chlorine causes birth defects, reproductive problems, cancer and other human- and animal-health problems. The network, based in NRDC's offices in Washington, DC, has a staff, publishes a monthly newsletter and claims to have several hundred groups associated with it. It is a highly active group that meets monthly to exchange information among members and to give direction on clean water issues.
Originally CWN was most active on issues arising out of the Great Lakes but it is now expanding into a much broader area of activism with particular emphasis on chlorine chemistry. . . . It is expected to expand its assault by using its constituent groups and other NRDC resources to press attacks on other areas of chlorine chemistry--product-by-product, step-by-step, application-by-application. . . .
All of this is consistent with what a key person on chlorine issues at Greenpeace said is Greenpeace's plan to orchestrate a grand strategy that encourages various environmental groups to concentrate on specific aspects of chlorine chemistry where they can be most effective.
The idea behind the strategy is to give Greenpeace a strong lead on the issues but to use various groups--some of which are more acceptable to the mainstream--to appear to lead specific issues, thus giving the overall campaign the appearance of a widespread, generally accepted grassroots uprising against chlorine chemistry.
CWN is an important element in the Greenpeace strategy because it provides a forum for Greenpeace to communicate and coordinate the various parts of its anti-chlorine efforts and to recruit activist groups and their members to carry a big share of the battle.
Greenpeace Says Dioxin is a Public Health Emergency and Calls for Global Chlorine Ban
Greenpeace, as expected, has called the EPA draft Dioxin Reassessment Study justification for a global chlorine ban. It says the study clearly indicates a national public health emergency. . . .
The dioxin reassessment began in 1991. Greenpeace began its U.S. anti-chlorine campaign based on potential birth defects in late 1992. . . . Greenpeace says action is needed to ban chlorine in incinerators, paper and plastic because levels of dioxin currently found in the bodies of the general human population, in the food chain, and in the environment are "already in the range at which severe effects on reproduction, development, and the immune system occur."
Greenpeace says the U.S. EPA study, a draft summary of a three-year scientific reassessment of the toxicity of dioxin, "confirms that fetal developmental and immune system damage are among the most serious health threats from dioxin exposure." Greenpeace, which obtained a draft of the report before its scheduled release in June, called for immediate action to restrict major industrial uses of chlorine and chlorinated chemicals, which create dioxin when produced, heated, processed, or burned.
"The U.S. EPA's findings indicate a public health emergency from dioxin that is not going to go away until industry's addiction to chlorine is broken," said Greenpeace's Rick Hind. "We need emergency action to eliminate any further discharges of dioxin, and that means a comprehensive phaseout of chlorine and chlorine-based chemicals."
Greenpeace says the largest dioxin sources are incinerators burning chlorinated wastes, pulp mills that use chlorine and chlorine dioxide bleaches, and the manufacturer of PVC (or vinyl) plastic; but all other sectors that use or burn chlorine also result in dioxin formation. Greenpeace said that the EPA should take emergency action to address these three priority areas, while long-term plans are initiated to phase out all other chlorine-based processes. . . .
The U.S. EPA's study indicated that there is no safe level of dioxin exposure and that any dose no matter how low can result in health damage. New findings on the mechanism of dioxin toxicity show that tiny doses of dioxin disrupt the action of the body's natural hormones and other biochemicals, leading to complex and severe effects including cancer, feminization of males and reduced sperm counts, endometriosis and reproductive impairment in females, birth defects, impaired intellectual development in children, and impaired immune defense against infectious disease. . . .
Currently many industrialized nations allow industries to release dioxin within "acceptable discharge limits," but since any dose of dioxin is hazardous, no discharge can now be considered "acceptable." Further, dioxin is so persistent that even small releases build up over time in the environment and in the human body. . . .
INFORM Unaffected by Reassessment
Bette Fishbein, solid waste research analyst at INFORM, says the EPA's dioxin reassessment will not alter INFORM's position on incineration. . . .
INFORM is a widely respected environmental research group based in New York City. It mainly focuses on identifying, researching and evaluating pollution caused by people, governments and industry. It also tries to develop "solutions" to the pollution problems it studies.
The organization has a solid history of working with corporations, citizen groups, major environmental organizations and governments at all levels. Although it is a relatively small organization with a small budget, it is very well regarded by mainline environmental organizations, government agencies and industry. Some of the more radical grassroots environmentalists think it is too friendly with industry. . . .
The organization's leaders are most effective at reaching lawmakers at the municipal, state and federal levels. It is currently very influential on legislation dealing with solid-waste management and hazardous-waste reduction and its influence is growing. INFORM's personnel, expecially President Joanna Underwood, testify frequently on environmental issues before state and federal legislative and regulatory bodies.
INFORM has 1500 individual members. It also receives support from corporations and government agencies.
Cattlemen Form Industry Group on Dioxin
The National Cattlemens Association (NCA) is coordinating a group of affected industries to respond to the EPA's report on the reassessment of dioxin.
The group--called the Dioxin Working Group--currently includes the National Milk Producers Federation, American Society of Animal Science, National Broiler Council, National Turkey Federation, International Dairy Foods Association, American Sheep Industry, National Pork Producers Council, American Meat Institute, National Renderers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Food Producers Association.
Representatives from the working group met on May 13 with Lynn Goldman, EPA's assistant administrator of prevention, pesticides and toxic substances, and EPA's political point person on dioxin. . . . At the meeting Goldman said that "we've always known that dioxin is toxic" and she said she was pleased that the report "gave us proof." . . .
The industry groups have met with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Animal Research Service and Food Safety and Inspection Service to discuss USDA's plans for looking at levels of dioxin in cattle. . . .
The Dioxin Working Group also is talking to hill staffers about its view of the report and it has met with other groups that are affected by the report, such as [the Chemical Manufacturers Association] and the Incinerator Industry to ascertain what each is doing and what messages they are sending out. At this time, the dioxin source industry groups are concentrating on questioning the toxicology data the report relies on. . . .
NCA and its allies in the working group have a history of strong relations with the Agriculture department, and it's certain they will use these solid ties to put pressure on EPA through Agriculture to make sure the final report is responsible, particularly the last chapter.
Second Citizens' Conference
Gateway Green Alliance is sponsoring the "Second Citizen's Conference on Dioxin: A Training Program and Times Beach Reunion" to be held July 29-31, 1994 in St. Louis. . . .
Panel discussions will address dioxin's "Mechanisms of Action" for affecting living organisms. A second panel will explore long term "Health and Environmental Effects." Greenpeace scientists will conclude the afternoon session with a discussion of how industry can function without chlorine chemistry.
Other sessions at the conference will share the theme of "citizens being told that dioxin was less harmful than it was later found out to be." . . . Former Times Beach residents will explain what happened to them. A researcher from the University of Milan will describe the 1976 explosion in Seveso, Italy and the results of recent studies. The session will close with an "Update on Vietnam Veterans and Agent Orange." . . .
U.S. PIRG to Check Out Dow and [Chemical Manufacturers Association]
Ralph Nader's Washington, DC-based U.S. PIRG is looking into Dow and CMA's PAC spending "to see what 'informal channels' were used to 'moderate' positions in Congress" on the Clinton plan to study a phase-out of chlorine-based chemicals.
PIRG's reference is to a letter from Dow's Richard Sosville in which he pledged to work within "formal and informal channels" in Washington to "moderate this position."
PIRG says its report "should shed some light on the industry's influence--and in an election year, force some members of Congress to stop short before selling out to the special interests."