Monday, May 23, 2022

May 23, 1983: A tale of two cities -- Oak Ridge, Tennessee and St. Augustine, Florida

On this day 39 years ago, I was cross-examining DOE and Union Carbide officials at Oak Ridge, Tennessee City Council about Oak Ridge Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Plant mercury "losses."  Biggest mercury pollution event in world history, long kept secret from even Presidents of the United States.

A tale of two cities -- Oak Ridge, Tennessee and St. Augustine, Florida





Some 39 years ago tonight, on May 23, 1983, I was at the Oak Ridge, Tennessee City Council meeting, cross-examining the new U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge Operations Manager JOE BEN LA GRONE about the millions of pounds of lethal mercury that our government and Union Carbide emitted into workers’ lungs and brains, and into the East Fork Poplar Creek and groundwater of the state of Tennessee – a tort, a crime and a sin.
JOE LA GRONE was the new DOE Oak Ridge Operations Manager, sent to “manage” the expected public outrage. In hindsight, he did well, and it’s a shame there was not more outrage upon our learning that the world’s largest mercury pollution event was perpetrated by the U.S. Government and Union Carbide, its longtime mendacious contractor for five nuclear weapons plants in three states, with some 20,000 employees being exposed to what Dr. Michael Bruner called a “witches’ brew” of chemicals. It happened in America, with Americans poisoning Americans in secret, claiming “national security.”
After his presentation, I asked JOE BEN LAGRONE whether, if the Soviet Union had dumped millions of pounds of mercury all over Oak Ridge, that would not be considered an “act of war?” 
I also asked LA GRONE, whether “being DOE means never having to say you’re sorry?” 
I questioned the ethnocentric nature of Oak Ridge managers, who disdained testing turtle meat, even though low-income African-American residents caught and ate turtles from the East Fork Poplar Creek. I questioned the lack of scientific validity of DOE’s studies. I questioned the conflict of interest nature of self-monitoring of environmental pollution.
In all, at the May 23, 1983 Oak Ridge City Council meeting, I questioned LAGRONE & Co. for about 20 minutes, all of which was transcribed in the minutes of the Oak Ridge City Council. Looking at those minutes today, 39 years later, I am reminded that there is no limit to what one can accomplish if you research, ask questions, and don’t take "no" for an answer. 
(Here in our local governments, citizens are often ordered not to ask questions by maladroit mendacious officials like uneducated, unsophisticated, uncouth St. Johns County Commissioner CHRISTIAN WHITEHURST, who did so at the May 17, 2022 Commission discussion of State Senator TRAVIS J. HUTSON's SIlverLeaf development expansion.  As the late William F. Buckley, Jr. once asked, "Why does baloney reject the grind4r?") 
Before I left for law school, Mr. LaGRONE had ordered Union Carbide to incur overtime, providing me with 30,000 pages of documents establishing that workers in Y-12 buildings 9201-4 and 9201-5 breathed in as much as 30-60 times the then-prevailing health standards for mercury, without respirators.
In the best tradition of diplomats from Thomas Jefferson to Richard Holbrooke, I stood up for our country and her principles against those who violated human rights and devastated our environment. Sorry if that offends. 
The City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee will never be the same again thanks to the ethical employees and residents who “blew the whistle” and stood up to authoritarianism and its Environmental Racism. Massive cleanups at all Department of Energy nuclear weapons plants followed, costing hundreds of billions of dollars, creating jobs, saving lives, in eleven states.
Likewise, the City of St. Augustine, Florida and St. Johns County, Florida will never be the same again thanks to the ethical employees and residents who “blew the whistle” on pollution, civil rights violations and mismanagement problems. 
Our City of St. Augustine government is being transformed before our eyes and is becoming something to be proud of, not ashamed of – that’s a good thing, and great progress.
St. Johns County -- change is in your future. 
There were times in Oak Ridge – and in St. Augustine – when friends warned me that my life was in danger. But as the great American patriot, Nathan Hale, once said, “My only regret is that I have but one life to give for my country.” 
There are still a hostile few who think citizens should be “seen and not heard” and should “know their place.” 
St. Johns County Administrator HUNTER SINCLAIR CONRAD told me at last year's budget hearing, "I don't have to answer your questions," stating he works for the Board of County Commissioners.
Pray for him and those like him.
I pity them, for they “know not that they know not that they know not,” as my former environmental whistleblower client and mentor the late EPA, HUD and FBI Senior Special Agent Robert E. Tyndall (Retired) put it best.
They are wrong -- this is our place, our town and our time -- we’re going to make this a better place.


Sunday, May 22, 2022

Climate change benchmarks all set records last year, report finds. (Axios)

Query: how unprepared is St. Johns County and its one-party rule of rebarbative developer puppets for climate change?  

We've got some 32 neighborhoods with epic flooding, recurring and dangerous due to our corrupt St. Johns County government and its mewling, mendacious worship of metastatic "growth,"  which is the ideology of a cancer cell. 

Fron Axios:

May 18, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Climate change benchmarks all set records last year, report finds

Data: AVISO+ Products; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

Key data released Wednesday underscores how swiftly human activities are reshaping the climate.

Why it matters: The “State of the Climate” report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a stark reminder for policymakers and business leaders that if the world continues on its current course, climate impacts will escalate in severity and scope. 

The big picture: The WMO report confirms the past seven years were the warmest such period on record.

  • 2021 was comparatively cool, at 1.11°C above the pre-industrial level, due to a La Niña event in the tropical Pacific Ocean. 
  • Once that event ends, and an inevitable El Niño sets in, a new warmest year will be crowned. 

Zoom in: Greenhouse gas concentrations reached a new high in 2021 and recently hit 420.23 ppm for the month of April 2022. 

  • Temperatures will continue to increase as long as carbon dioxide levels continue to go up, with a leveling off taking place once emissions reach zero. 
  • Ocean heat content hit a record high in 2021 — a telltale sign of a planet that is absorbing far more heat than it is releasing back into space. The vast majority of this extra heat goes into the oceans, with increasing temperatures in the upper 2,000 meters. 
  • Marine species are on the move as the ocean warms, and warming waters are altering the ocean’s ability to function as a giant carbon sink. Ocean chemistry is also changing as more CO2 is taken in, making waters more acidic. 

Threat level: Heat waves aren’t just a phenomenon felt on land, either, with marine heat waves observed on a global scale during 2021, wiping out some coral reefs and damaging others. 

  • Global mean sea level reached a record high too, with seas swelling at a faster rate than in the 1990s, which scientists have attributed to the growing ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica. 
  • The report highlights record ice mass loss among glaciers in Canada and the Pacific Northwest from extreme heat and wildfires last summer. 

The bottom line: The report amounts to an annual climate report card, and the planet fails to earn a passing grade. 

Yes, but: There are numerous solutions available to alter the planet’s trajectory if leaders act with urgency, as study after study has shown.