“Deny, delay, minimize, trivialize or ignore”

The AP posted a story about a House investigative report on the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which is charged with protecting the health of communities affected by toxic contamination. According to the AP story:

A House investigative report says officials from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry “deny, delay, minimize, trivialize or ignore legitimate health concerns.”

Here in Hawai’i we have had our own problems with ATSDR.

Several years ago, Father Alapaki Kim of St. Rita’s church called on the Centers for Disease Control to investigate the high incidences of cancer in his tiny Nanakuli parish. The ATSDR was dispatched.

After conducting some interviews and reviewing old state studies, they concluded that health risks from radio towers in Lualualei were “inconclusive”.

In 2005, ATSDR did a Public Health Assessment for the Pearl Harbor Naval Complex. Basically they concluded that the various contamination sites they looked at posed no threat to the community. Their only recommendation: “avoid eating fish and crab from Pearl Harbor in order to prevent exposure to PCBs.”

In Vieques, the community picketed and boycotted the meeting held by the ATSDR to take community testimony.  They accused the ATSDR of working to undermine the legitimate concerns of the community and told them that they were not welcome in Vieques.   After picketing outside for a time, the protestors filed in and held a mock funeral for Milivy Adams, a young girl who died of a horrible cancer. Then as they left,  they each placed a small white cross with the name of a Viequense who died of cancer on the desk of the ATSDR officials and walked out.  There was a tall stack of crosses when they left.

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