EPA ISN'T ENFORCING MERCURY RULES-Andrew Stelzer

04/28/04

The environmental Protection Agency is holding a conference on the public health impacts of mercury in Tampa this week. Until several months ago, it was expected that the EPA would instate new mercury emissions standards for power plants. But now it appears that the EPA will delay the new regulations for 15 more years. Several doctors and a city council member gathered at the site of the conference today to educate the public about the dangers of Mercury, especially to women.

ACT “we know 8 percent of women…� Dr Katherine Shea has been a pediatrician and has a masters in public health. ACT Its not only the high dose exposure…it’s the low dose exposure…even at levels that are low, we can measure deficits, into the second decade.�

Most people know that mercury is poisonous. But how many know that there are high levels of mercury in the fish and shellfish in Florida’s waters? The bigger the fish, and the more fish that fish eats, the more poison goes into the human body when they eat that fish for dinner. Karen Perry works with Physicians for social responsibility ACT ’the mercury from the utility smokestacks moves…begins to accumulate…�

Florida’s ranks 15th in the nation in mercury pollution. And the EPA reported in 2001 that mercury levels could be lowered by 90 percent in 3 years if the maximum standards were enforced.
ACT “its kind of ironic that the same day the EPA is holding this…the public comment period will close…� ACT “wed like to see EPA…� Dozens of non-profits, and up to 400 thousand people have written the EPA asking them to instate mercury regulations this year, but Perry says there are some well-funded opponents to tougher regulations. ACT “Who support the rule…we know the bush admin has many friends in the energy industry…we know that children are having their development delayed�

City council member Linda Saul-Sena says she is worried about her daughter’s health, and wishes she could do more in her role as a city official, but her hands are tied. ACT “I want my community to be healthy..but the rules are not something that I can address directly…im dependent on state and feds.� Saul Sena says that experiences with TECO show that there is a need for laws that force utility companies to change their ways. ACT ’TECO came to the table in 1999, they agreed with EPA, and they said�

A National exposure study which says that 3 and a half million women are effected by Mercury in the Unites States; some estimates say that close to 8 percent of women have dangerous levels of Mercury in their system, and most of it comes from eating fish and shellfish. Dr Oswald Saavedra grew up in Russia; for over 20 years, he has practiced internal medicine in Orlando. ACT �we act if there’s a problem ..If we know it’s dangerous,. Don’t eat it….�

Sudee Prau is an environmental consultant and engineer from San Francisco; he came to Tampa for the EPAs conference on Mercury. ACT �Isn’t it our basic right to be able to eat what we would like to eat and eat plenty…�

Prau says there are solutions that the utility companies don’t want to consider. ACT ‘If the technology is getting old, maybe its time for new technology..Maybe we need to phase out coal burning energy.�

The Environmental Protection Agency is accepting comment on the Mercury regulations until Friday. You can get more information at www.epa.gov, or by calling physicians for social responsibility at 202-478-6128.

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