Monday, September 13, 2021

Off topic (sort of)


I don't know much about shared e-scooters, but apparently they're a thing in Louisville. A study published in an academic journal studied the effects of shared e-scooters in that city on transit bus ridership. The conclusion: not much.

Another study that came up in a routine search deals with "The Social Life of the 'Forever Chemical': PFAS Pollution Legacies and Toxic Events" that appeared in Environment and Society: Advances i Research 12 (2021). There a couple of paragraphs related to events at a factory along the Ohio River below Parkersburg, West Virginia:

Beginning in 1999, Rob Bilott led a series of lawsuits against DuPont that helped reveal the extent of PFOA contamination around Parkersburg as well as how the company dodged regulation. His book Exposure (2019) details how DuPont covered up in-house occupational health and toxicity studies, the emissions from its Washington Works plant, and ongoing leaching from illegally dumped hazardous waste. DuPont spent years buying up contaminated wells and land adjacent to the plant for in situ emissions and dumping, but the waste leached into nearby creeks, rivers, and other wells, eventually contaminating the drinking water of tens of thousands of people in West Virginia and Ohio. As scrutiny increased, DuPont followed the familiar playbook of other twentieth-century hazardous industries (Markowitz and Rosner 2002; Oreskes and Conway 2010). Their lawyers and representatives destroyed documents, threatened lawsuits and gag orders, engaged in smear campaigns, stifl ed whistleblowers, deployed sophisticated public relations campaigns to defend its corporate image, partnered with politicians and regulators to undermine oversight, labeled the results of independent scientifi c studies as “junk science,” and fought and dragged out litigation for nearly two decades (Bilott 2019; Lyons 2007; Lerner 2015).

Bilott denounces the revolving door between government regulators and industry, in one example describing collusion in forming a joint investigative panel to deflect further inquiry. An EPA investigation into the mysterious deaths of dozens of cows on the Tennant farm near Parkersburg—the case that served as the detonator of the PFOA/C8 scandal—revealed no company wrongdoing. Flexing its political muscle, DuPont negotiated who would serve on the Cattle Team panel, which subsequently did not test specifically for PFOA as it was not a registered substance dumped at the nearby Dry Run landfill, even though internal company documents later revealed full cognizance of toxic dumping at that site (Bilott 2019; Lerner 2015).