Gaza: A modern concentration camp run by Israel

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GAZA CITY, Jul 2 (IPS) – Gaza is being forced to pump 77 tonnes of untreated or partially treated sewage out to sea daily due to the Israeli blockade of the coastal territory. The fear is that some of this is creeping back into drinking water.

“The health of Gaza’s 1.5 million people is at risk,” Mahmoud Daher, from the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) told IPS following a report released by WHO after it carried out a number of tests on Gaza’s contaminated water.

On the ground Israel’s closure has translated into a lack of fuel, electricity and spare parts needed to operate wastewater and sewerage treatment plants. Consequently Gaza’s water and sanitation systems are near complete collapse as the power required to run treatment and desalination plants, pump water to homes, and pump sewage away from populated areas is only available on a very limited basis.

Following Hamas’ takeover in Gaza last year, after it won legislative elections in 2006, Israel designated the densely populated strip of 360 square kilometres hostile territory and sealed off the borders, enforcing an embargo which is supported by the international community.

Since then the Jewish state has allowed only a trickle of humanitarian goods into Gaza, and only after intense international pressure and intervention. Besides drastically reducing fuel and electricity supplies, Israel has also barred import of most vital technical parts, which humanitarian organisations argue are necessary if Gaza’s basic infrastructure is to operate.

In order to assess the degree of sewage contamination WHO took seawater samples from 13 risky areas in the five governorates of the Gaza Strip. Two microbiological tests were carried out to examine the presence of human and animal faeces.

The results revealed that three areas in Gaza and one area in the Rafah governorate (30.8 percent) are polluted with human faeces (Faecal Coliform) and animal faeces (Faecal Streptococcus), and three areas in Gaza city (23.1 percent) are polluted with animal faeces.

The danger is that this contaminated sea water is leaking into Gaza’s underground water aqueduct following a two-year drought. The drought has meant that the 160 million cubic metres of water extracted every year from Gaza’s underground water supply is not being replenished as the strip received only an annual average of 85 million cubic metres of rain over the last couple of years.

Read moreGaza: A modern concentration camp run by Israel

Pentagon Fights EPA On Pollution Cleanup

The Defense Department, the nation’s biggest polluter, is resisting orders from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up Fort Meade and two other military bases where the EPA says dumped chemicals pose “imminent and substantial” dangers to public health and the environment.

The Pentagon has also declined to sign agreements required by law that cover 12 other military sites on the Superfund list of the most polluted places in the country. The contracts would spell out a remediation plan, set schedules, and allow the EPA to oversee the work and assess penalties if milestones are missed.

The actions are part of a standoff between the Pentagon and environmental regulators that has been building during the Bush administration, leaving the EPA in a legal limbo as it addresses growing concerns about contaminants on military bases that are seeping into drinking water aquifers and soil.

Under executive branch policy, the EPA will not sue the Pentagon, as it would a private polluter. Although the law gives final say to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson in cleanup disputes with other federal agencies, the Pentagon refuses to recognize that provision. Military officials wrote to the Justice Department last month to challenge EPA’s authority to issue the orders and asked the Office of Management and Budget to intervene.

Experts in environmental law said the Pentagon’s stand is unprecedented.

“This is stunning,” said Rena Steinzor, who helped write the Superfund laws as a congressional staffer and now teaches at the University of Maryland Law School and is president of the nonprofit Center for Progressive Reform. “The idea that they would refuse to sign a final order — that is the height of amazing nerve.”

Pentagon officials say they are voluntarily cleaning up the three sites named in the EPA’s “final orders” — Fort Meade in Maryland, Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida and McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey.

Fort Meade borders residential areas in fast-growing Anne Arundel County; Tyndall and McGuire are in less-populated regions. At all three sites, the military has released toxic chemicals — some known to cause cancer and other serious health problems — into the soil and groundwater.

But the EPA has been dissatisfied with the extent and progress of the Pentagon’s voluntary efforts.

“Final orders” are the EPA’s most potent enforcement tool. If a polluter does not comply, the agency usually can go to court to force compliance and impose fines up to $28,000 a day for each violation.

Read morePentagon Fights EPA On Pollution Cleanup

California Begins Poisoning Millions with Toxic Synthetic Fluoride Chemicals

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(NaturalNews)Fluoride is now being added to the water systems of Los Angeles and San Diego, in spite of the substance’s classification as a toxin by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Fluoride refers to any compound made with the element fluorine, one of the most reactive elements known. Because fluorine reacts easily with other chemicals, it is widely used in industrial applications such as metal manufacture, glass, ceramics, Teflon, pesticide, rat poison and the manufacturing of nuclear weapons.

The EPA limits the fluoride content of water to four milligrams per liter, and suggests 0.8 milligrams per liter as the optimum concentration. But the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council has said that 10 to 20 years of exposure to 10 to 20 milligrams of fluoride per day may result in “crippling skeletal fluorosis.” At the EPA’s maximum concentration, this could be achieved by drinking less than three liters of water per day.

Because fluoride builds up in the body, longer exposure to lower levels of fluoride can lead to the same effects.

In spite of early studies implicating fluoride as a toxin, the United States began adding it to public water supplies in the 1940s. Fluoridation of Southern California’s water supply was discussed and defeated by citizen opposition in 1966, 1968 and 1975. But in the late 1990s, Los Angeles began adding fluoride to the water. San Diego’s Metropolitan Water District followed in December 2007.

Water fluoridation has been controversial from its inception, with critics pointing out that while dental associations claim that fluoride strengthens tooth enamel on contact, adding the substance to water exposes people on a systemic level.

A number of studies have linked ingestion of fluoride to neurological and skeletal effects, including causing brain and thyroid damage and bone cancer in adolescent boys. Recent research has found a number of fluoride compounds to be endocrine disruptors, which mimic the body’s hormones with the potential for serious reproductive and developmental harm.

Sunday, June 15, 2008
by: David Gutierrez

Source: Natural News

US: Raw sewage is continuously released into rivers, streams

America’s aging sewer systems continue to dump human waste into rivers and streams, despite years of fines and penalties targeting publicly owned agencies responsible for sewage overflows, a Gannett News Service analysis shows.

The analysis of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data found that since 2003, hundreds of municipal sewer authorities have been fined for violations, including spills that make people sick, threaten local drinking water and kill aquatic animals and plants.

Local governments across the USA plan to spend billions modernizing failing wastewater systems — some of which are more than 100 years old — over the next 10 to 20 years, EPA, state and local sewer authority officials said.

(If any disaster happens in your area you will have no drinking water. Store a lot of food and water.
I have also highly recommended to have a water filter and there are a million good reasons for that. – The Infinite Unknown)

Read moreUS: Raw sewage is continuously released into rivers, streams

Feds Not Addressing Drugs In Water

A White House task force that was supposed to devise a federal plan to research the issue of pharmaceuticals in drinking water has missed its deadline and failed to produce mandated reports and recommendations for coordination among numerous federal agencies, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

More than 70 pages of the task force’s documents, including e-mails and weekly reports, were released under the Freedom of Information Act as a Senate subcommittee prepares to convene a hearing Tuesday prompted by an AP investigation about trace concentrations of drugs in America’s drinking water.

Read moreFeds Not Addressing Drugs In Water

Pharmaceuticals lurking in U.S. drinking water

AP probe found traces of meds in water supplies of 41 million Americans
A vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation shows.

To be sure, the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose. Also, utilities insist their water is safe.

But the presence of so many prescription drugs — and over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen — in so much of our drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health.

From California to New Jersey
In the course of a five-month inquiry, the AP discovered that drugs have been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas — from Southern California to Northern New Jersey, from Detroit to Louisville, Ky.

Read morePharmaceuticals lurking in U.S. drinking water