Archives for the day of: April 1, 2011

From Daily Reporter:

ST. LOUIS, Mich. — A central Michigan community has agreed to a $26.5 million settlement with a chemical company accused of contaminating its water supply in the 1950s and 1960s.

The city of St. Louis hopes its settlement with Rosemont, Ill.-based Velsicol Chemical Co. will help pay to replace the water system that serves the area, which is contaminated with a byproduct of the pesticide DDT, the Morning Sun of Mount Pleasant and The Saginaw News reported Wednesday.

“It’s a monumental and historic occasion and it’s a gigantic step forward in our quest to provide reliable and quality water so the citizens won’t fear it,” said Bob McConkie, the city manager.

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From New York Times:

One of the most important U.S. EPA officials is somebody you probably don’t know.

Vincent Cogliano is the new acting director of the Integrated Risk Information System, or IRIS, which assesses health risks posed by — you name it — automobile exhaust, tobacco smoke, chemicals in drinking water. EPA uses the assessments to guide its regulation writing, the focus of intense scrutiny these days on Capitol Hill.

IRIS, Cogliano said, is “kind of the center of everything EPA does scientifically.”

“IRIS is EPA’s program to evaluate scientific information on the adverse health effects of chemical contaminants in the environment,” he said. “IRIS contains information on more than 500 chemicals and is consulted by scientists and decisionmaking officials in EPA and other environmental health agencies worldwide.”

EPA hired Cogliano — a 59-year-old Washington, D.C., native, who had worked at EPA early in his career — from the World Health Organization, where for the last seven years he directed the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France.

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The program that Cogliano took over last November has long been dismissed by environmental watchdogs as weak and slow, as evidenced by a large and venerable backlog of chemicals awaiting evaluations. It is also less than well-regarded by the Government Accountability Office, which listed IRIS among “high risk” troubled federal programs (Greenwire, Feb. 16).

Cogliano has plans for revamping IRIS, including streamlining its process for assessing chemicals and making plans to analyze substances that might present future health risks.

His zeal for reforming the program has environmentalists cheering.

“Dr. Cogliano is the right person at the right time for this monumental task,” said Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “IRIS not only needs to ramp up its pace of completing assessments, but it has to update its science to be responsive to many of the recommendations of the National Academies reports.”

Sass added that the National Academy of Sciences has advocated using science-based factors to adjust studies and account for data gaps, kids’ exposures and other uncertainties — all recommendations that Sass said IRIS should follow.

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