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News briefs 1.29.03

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Interfaith says peace

As First Rogue George W. Bush tries to conjure an excuse for "pre-emptive" war on Iraq, hundreds of national organizations, community and student groups, unions, etc., are signing up for the peace movement.

            One new signer is the Interfaith Alliance of Rochester.

            Calling itself "a growing and diverse interfaith community supporting our nation's democratic process," the alliance recently adopted a resolution "opposing military action by the United States against Iraq unless unequivocally authorized by the United Nations Security Council." The statement doesn't go into further detail.

            Spokesperson Neil Jaschik says the resolution came after reconciling some shades of opinion. Some board members, he says, are "absolutists --- no war, period," while others "say the case has not been made."

            "We perceive our major purpose in life as educational," says Jaschik.

            Learn more about the group via its national coalition website, www.interfaithalliance.org.



Decades of emissions

The New York Public Interest Research Group (often known simply as NYPIRG) and the statewide Citizens Environmental Coalition recently took the long view on pollution.

            The groups actually ran with a study done by three researchers from the US PIRG Education Fund, the Washington-based research arm of the PIRG network. The study, Toxic Releases and Health: a Review of Pollution Data and Current Knowledge on the Health Effects of Toxic Chemicals, looks at 1987-2000 data from the federal Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI).

            The timeframe, the researchers say, provides more than a snapshot --- and thus tells a more comprehensive story of regulated industrial emissions and their possible "links to serious health problems."

            The study does pinpoint some things, however. Most notably, it says that Kodak Park "ranked nine among the top 100 facilities nationwide for TRI releases of dioxin and other carcinogenic chemicals in 2000." Of particular concern, according to the researchers: more than 58 million pounds of dichloromethane (usually called methylene chloride) released by Kodak during the years studied. The EPA says methylene chloride at high levels of "lifetime exposure" has a "potential" to cause liver damage and cancer.

            NYPIRG and the Citizens Environmental Coalition worry that Kodak's emissions may play some role in "such health ailments as developmental and reproductive disorders." The groups say Rochesterians are "still waiting for a more accurate study [of these concerns] from the state Department of Health."

            A Kodak spokesperson couldn't be reached before presstime. But the company has long said Kodak Park shows up high on lists of polluters only because of its massive size. Moreover, in its 2001 environmental report, the company boasted of having reduced methylene chloride by 86 percent since 1987, among other clean-up measures.

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