Where Facts And Controversy In The News Come Together In Truth

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

DC Lobbyist Stop Scientific Data Exposing Diesel Exhaust In Mines

Editors Receive Warnings Not To Publish Scientific Study On Dangers From Diesel Exhaust In Underground Mining... by, Jack Swint

"It's a vague but threatening letter, and I think its vagueness is what makes it noteworthy, It demonstrates how the legal system can be used to restrain scientific communication." Dana Loomis, Epidemiologist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center

Editors with at least four research publications say they have received a letter and copies of federal court documents from a DC attorney advising them against publication or other distribution of data and draft documents by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. (NIOSH)

Documents that have determined that even with the ongoing enhanced controlling and monitoring of diesel emissions in underground mining,…“Diesel exhaust is a potential cancer causing substance which affects all underground miners as much as 100 times the typical environment concentration of diesel exhaust and 10 times that measured in other workplaces.”

The study has been ongoing for the past 15 years. Just as several scientific journals were about to publish its findings, the DC law firm of Patton Boggs warned them not to. Their January 31, 2012 letter temporarily stopped publication but started our inquiries into the law firms true reasons for not wanting the data released. (We attched the scientific study below)

Patton Boggs Law Firm

DC Based Patton Boggs represents 200+ lobbyist groups across the United States including, Mining Awareness Resource Group, who is behind this effort to stop publication by NIOSH and the scientific community. One of their listed lobbyist is attorney Henry Chajet, who also happens to be an attorney at Patton Boggs and who sent the warning letter to stop publication of the scientific data.

Records show that Mining Awareness Groups only lobbying issue is… “Mine Safety and Health issues including the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health's study on Diesel Particulate Matter.” Records also show that they paid Chajet’s law firm $120,000 in 2011. The Center for Responsible Politics shows Patton Bogs earned a total of $36,680,000 just from lobbying groups who retained the law firm in 2011.

Other lobbyist groups onboard with Patton Boggs include numerous Health Services, Hospitals, Pharmaceuticals, Education, Human Rights, Oil and Gas, Casinos, Defense, and Trucking. Their top 4 largest lobbying retainers are from the Depository Trust and Clearing Corp $1,080,000.00, Wholesale Markets Brokers Association with $920,000. Followed by Kidney Care Partners $870,000 and KV Pharmaceuticals $720,000.

Coincidentally, the Federal Judges Association is also clients of Patton Boggs since 2009 and has paid them an estimated $210,000 in retainers.

The Warning Letter

"We respectfully request that you and your counsel carefully consider any intent to publish these DEMS papers, as well as the impact and consequences of any such publication." It continues; "We provide you with advance notice of this situation in the hope that, if you are considering publication or distribution of these papers, you will refrain from doing so, until the court orders and congressional directions are complied with, or otherwise resolved.”

The letter includes a vague statement about consequences that could ensue if the advice not to publish the data is ignored. It’s signed by attorney Henry Chajet, who makes it clear that he seeks to persuade journals to delay publishing or distributing papers containing results from the Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study (DEMS), a government-funded research project. (Letter attached)

Besides the intended recipients targeted in the warning letter, Chajet also offered copies of federal court orders barring release of the DEMS study while a federal civil case has been pending for years. He forwarded copies to Helen Gilbert with the Department of Justice, Chairman of the US House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Workers Protection.

Dana Loomis, editor of OEM and an epidemiologist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, says, "I was completely surprised" by the letter, especially since OEM does not have and never had any DEMS paper under consideration. "It's a vague but threatening letter, and I think its vagueness is what makes it noteworthy, It demonstrates how the legal system can be used to restrain scientific communication." Loomis says he doubts the legal rulings would even apply to scientific journals, especially ones based in another country.

Publishing The DEMS Report And Data

We obtained the DEMS study from an already September 2010 published copy by the Oxford Journals “The Annals of Occupational Hygiene.” It is linked below in parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. A rebuttal from six scientists was later published and is also linked. Trevor Ogden, a retired physicist and the editor of The Annals, says his journal accepted the four papers in February 2010. The journal also accepted a fifth paper in February 2011, but is still waiting for permission from DEMS to run it.

It should be noted that tests were performed in “non-metal” underground operations and did not include coal mines specifically. They were conducted in nine underground locations including a limestone mine in Missouri, three potash facilities in New Mexico, two rock salt facilities in Ohio and Louisiana, and three trona (hydrated sodium carbonate mineral) facilities in Wyoming.

The 11. 5 million dollar diesel study, for which planning began in 1992, is run jointly by NIOSH and the National Cancer Institute. It monitored the health of more than 12,000 miners exposed to diesel exhaust in underground spaces. One goal of the study was to learn how many miners developed lung cancer. Acute exposures to diesel exhaust have also been linked to health problems such as eye and nose irritation, headaches, nausea, and asthma.

Timing Is Everything

The timing of the release of the DEMS data is critical because two prestigious groups; the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the U.S. National Toxicology Program are set to review their standards on the health risks of diesel exhaust. Their decisions could have financial consequences for many users of diesel engines, particularly in lawsuits claiming harm.

Mining Awareness Resource Group; has long argued that DEMS was scientifically flawed. The coalition first took the federal government to court in the 1990s arguing that the industry needed to be more involved in DEMS oversight. The case has gone through multiple federal court hearings resulting in an order that requires DEMS scientists to turn over all data related to DEMS, including drafts of scientific papers based on that data, to the mining coalition and to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce, which claims jurisdiction over the study.

Early disputes involved whether DEMS ought to include industry representatives on a scientific oversight committee. The two sides also disputed who exactly should have jurisdiction over DEMS. Eventually a court ruling forced DEMS to file a charter with a U.S. House committee. This should have gone through the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Chajet, points out that a coalition of mining industry groups are legally entitled to review data from the study before publication. The 2-decade-long dispute over DEMS is now under review in the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Diesel Exhaust Not A New Problem To The Coal Mining Industry

Coal mine operators began to introduce diesel-powered equipment into underground mines in the early 1970's. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) established standards and regulations for diesel-powered equipment in underground coal mines back in October 1996. According to MSHA, those new requirements would “help safeguard miners from fires, explosions, toxic exhaust gases, and other dangers” that diesels can pose in underground coal operations.

"With diesel use on the rise in the underground coal industry, coal miners need these requirements to help assure them a safe work environment underground," said Davitt McAteer, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Until now, federal safety rules for equipment in underground coal mines focused mainly on electrically powered machines."

From 1986 through 1988, five long-term animal studies, and two epidemiologic studies of humans, all concluded that exposure to diesel exhaust causes lung cancer. But, MSHA and the mining industry did not include any of those studies, results or safeguards from the harmful health effects of diesel exhaust to the miners themselves.

Also, in August, 1988, the “NIOSH Bulletin 50” released findings to the industry and MSHA outlining what they knew then to be the possible cancer causing effects from the exposure to diesel exhaust in underground coal mines. That report summarized studies on the harmful potential in all underground mining operations. (attached)

In January of 2001, MSHA promulgated rules setting compliance standards for both underground coal and non-metal mineworkers. The underground coal rule 30 CFR 72.520, controls the exposure of the miners by limiting the emission rate from newly introduced and existing diesel-powered equipment. (See attached) But, according to the DEMS study, the current diesel exhaust amounts miners are breathing is still way to high and can cause serious health concerns.

In Closing…

Once again, it appears on the surface that government bureaucracy, lobbying and or legal loopholes has managed to slow down the civil litigation that’s keeping these studies from being globally published. The harmful, even deadly effect of diesel exhaust is clearly a fact and has been for many years.

Data in the DEMS report claims that their findings show that even with new stringent rules and regulations on the emissions of diesel exhaust that are being enforced by MSHA; underground miners are still exposed to 100 times the typical environment concentration of diesel exhaust. And, 10 times that measured in other workplaces.

The DEMS report has been a cumulative study for the past 15 years and is backed by government entities including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Cancer Institute.

It also appears that once again, the health and safety of underground miners is outweighed by the potential negative effect that the release of these reports could have on the manufacturer and sales of diesel equipment used in underground mining. Yes it could be costly if they are required to conform even more to building their machinery to protect the lives of the men and women miners in America and around the world.

Read the attached DEMS studies below….

End Of Story...

Jack Swint - Publisher
West Virginia News
E-Mail: WestVirginiaNews@gmail.com
Website: http://WVNewsOnline.com
Blog: http://WestVirginiaNews.blogspot.com
Twitter: @WVNewsOnline



No comments:

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
Charleston, WV, United States