2010 March 18: SC Georgetown: COMMENTS on Federal Gov. tests when mill operating, State of South Carolina tests when mill in shut down, therefore State of South Carolina DHEC says city meets air quality standards

2010 March 18: SC Georgetown: COMMENTS on Federal Gov. tests when mill operating, State of South Carolina tests when mill in shut down, therefore State of South Carolina DHEC says city meets air quality standards
 
Published Thursday, March 18, 2010 10:30 PM

GEORGETOWN, S.C. —  Air monitors, placed at two local schools, say there is no problem with air quality in Georgetown.
These findings are contrary to those being alleged by a federal lawsuit filed in Charleston.
Although there were some problems with air quality in the past, current air monitoring does not show abnormally high levels of pm10, which are small, dust-like pieces that can settle in the lungs.
“We do have ambient air monitors and they monitor air quality and pm10 particulate materials,” said DHEC spokesman Thom Berry.
“Right now, those monitors are within standards. We did have some issues with the pm10 monitor several years ago, but we have not seen any problems with particulate matter since that time.”
According to Internet sources, the particulate matter can cause a variety of illnesses.
The pm10 particulate matter, which can come from industry and manufacturing, has been linked to cardiovascular disease and breathing problems, according to the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The particles are small enough to settle in the lungs, and cause breathing and heart problems, as well as cancer.
Berry said the levels of the particles are now within normal levels in Georgetown. The particles can come from a variety of sources, he said.
“We were seeing some increases in the level of particulate matter,” Berry said. “When the steel mill was still operational, there were some issues with truck traffic in that area as well. Everyone worked together and got those emissions down.”
 “If there were a problem [with air quality], it would show up in the ambient air quality, then based on that, you could go in and do more specific studies,” Berry said.
“Ambient shows a snapshot picture, and that could lead to more detailed studies to narrow down what the contaminant is and what the possible source could be.”
According to DHEC, “The levels of pm10 measured in Georgetown are consistently below the national annual standard. The Georgetown area is consistent with the rest of South Carolina. The maximum level of pm10 in the Georgetown area never exceeded the U.S.EPA 24-hour standard.”
Breathing problems
Some Georgetown residents have now joined a mass torte, alleging that pollution in Georgetown has caused them to have asthma, heart problems, reproductive issues, cancer and stroke.
The Bell Legal Group has filed a federal lawsuit in Charleston, claiming that International Paper Co. intentionally polluted the air, land and water around Georgetown, and covered up the problem.
The environmental action was filed on behalf of the citizens of Georgetown, according to the Bell Legal Firm.
“IP, a pulp and paper manufacturing company located in Georgetown, has continuously, and for years, released hazardous substances and toxic waste into the air, land and water, which have caused serious health effects on both humans and animals,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit further states that IP “knowingly suppressed facts pertaining to the extent of their release, and in doing so, they willfully neglected to inform citizens that their emissions could cause, promote, and accelerate cancer, cause birth defects, and cause other serious, disabling, and life-threatening diseases and health conditions.”
Most of the people who have asked to join the lawsuit have respiratory illnesses and others do have eye cancer,  said attorney Ryan Heiskell.
In a recent response to the lawsuit, attorneys for IP asked for the suit to be dismissed.
IP has also said in the past they have done millions of dollars of work to make the plant safe and reduce any possible pollution.
“The Plaintiffs’ claims for public nuisance, wantonness, negligence per se, ultra-hazardous activity, fraudulent suppression, and unjust enrichment are fatally flawed under South Carolina law, and should therefore be dismissed with prejudice,” according to documents filed by IP in federal court.
No decision has been made on whether the request to throw out the lawsuit will be granted.
Kim Gill, spokesperson for IP, said earlier this week that she cannot comment on the specifics of pending litigation; however, she will defend the allegations vigorously to uphold the mill’s strong safety and environmental record.
“We operate our mill subject to extensive local, state and federal environmental regulations that are designed to safeguard human health and the environment,” Gill said.
“We have a long-standing commitment to the community to operate our mill in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.”
Different illnesses
Plaintiff Delcie Tisdale says she has eye cancer that causes partial blindness, chronic bronchitis
and has had a stroke.
Tisdale, who grew up on Emanuel Street, said she is now disabled.
She had a stroke while in her 30s and doctors discovered then that her reproductive organs were twisted, she said.
She was told she had eye cancer when she was 8 years old, she said.  
“That’s when I started with that,’’ she said of her eye cancer.
She said she decided to join the lawsuit when she heard about the possibility the mill “damaged a lot of people with sickness.”
Those who have asked to be part of the case include former employees, cancer patients and others who want to sue for people who have already died, Heiskell said.
At least 200 people have asked to join the lawsuit, Heiskell said
The lawsuit is expected to take several years of litigation, Heiskell said.  
“We have no intention of shutting down the paper mill,’’ he said. “We believe they have technology required to prevent these emissions, but have chosen not to employ those devices in Georgetown. We believe other communities in which IP operates have and do benefit from this newer technology.”
He continued, “There’s nothing we can do to make IP do the right thing except follow through with this lawsuit.”
By Kelly Marshall Fuller
Kfuller@gtowntimes.com

Well Duh!! My Point exactly!!!

Posted by on 3/22/2010

The air quality tests were conducted while the mill was shut down ???? Why not use the same scientific accounting when conducting other tests. Lets say we count vehicle traffic only between 3:00 am to 4:00am. Or lets count students attending classes but only on sunday’s.

Posted by on 3/21/2010

Is the mill not in shutdown??? Great time to check air quality!1

Posted by on 3/19/2010

The air samplers are actually at the Beck Administration building and by the Steel Mill. Should still be representative. All the toxic air releases are public info. and Bell’s data do not show a definitive link between IP and cancer incidence.

Posted by on 3/19/2010

Those who can do; those who can’t teach; those who can’t do or teach become lawyers.

Posted by on 3/19/2010

Bad news for ambulance chasers.

Posted by on 3/19/2010

If all the testing was done during "shutdown" or any other "24 hr"period as the DEHC claims,,readings would be low. Its convenient that now the air has gone from bad,,to good almost overnight,,,Hmmm!

Posted by on 3/19/2010

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