- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 8, 2001

EPA should let sleeping sediments lie

Commentary columnist Michelle Malkin is correct that a "review of the current scientific literature shows there is no credible evidence of increased human cancer risk from exposure to trace levels of PCBs" and, therefore, no basis for the Environmental Protection Agency's "latest junk science decision" to force General Electric Co. (GE) to pay some $460 million to conduct what would be the largest environmental dredging operation ever in the United States ("Dredging up more junk science," Aug. 6). The operation would remove 2.65 million cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment from the Hudson River in New York state that has been benignly buried for a generation in miles of sediment north of Albany.
GE legally discharged, under the authority of both federal and state permits, 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the northern Hudson River from factories in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls until 1977, when the substance was banned by the federal government. Yet there is no scientifically established evidence that PCBs are a probable human carcinogen or that they cause any sort of human malady. PCBs have never been shown to harm humans except in massive doses and even then, all they cause is a temporary skin disorder.
In 1997, the largest ever study of occupational exposure to toxic PCB chemicals, involving more than 7,000 men and women who worked from 1946 to 1976 in these two GE factories, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found no significant increase in cancer deaths among workers who were exposed on the job.
The study's lead author, Dr. Renate Kimbrough, said in Albany's the Times Union that "there was no association between PCB exposure and deaths from cancer or any other disease, including heart attacks and strokes," and that these findings were "consistent with the finds of four other earlier studies conducted by other researchers of workers in the same plants" studies performed by the Mount Sinai Medical Center, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the Harvard School of Public Health, in conjunction with the New York State Department of Health.
As in the case of asbestos, the removal operation may prove more harmful than just leaving the stuff where it is. The EPA should let sleeping sediments lie.


Addiction is complex illness, requires professional treatment

As president of NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, I must take exception to the July 31 article "Ministries cite state rules as biggest barrier to funding," which described the barriers religious groups face in helping people. The article cites a report indicating that professional credentialing is one such barrier. I strongly disagree.
NAADAC represents 13,000 licensed or certified addiction-treatment counselors who daily provide care to persons afflicted with the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction.
Scientific research shows that addiction is a complex brain disease requiring sound medical, psychological and social interventions. As with other areas of health care, the training and development of competent, caring and effective clinicians is an ongoing process as new research comes online. Essential components of the addiction-treatment process include the diagnosis of co-occurring psychiatric and medical illnesses, as well as the severity of social stressors.
All states have a process for licensing or certifying addiction counselors as a matter of consumer protection. The consumer in this case is a patient with a life-threatening illness. That person has a right to the best clinical care, which always includes a thorough, comprehensive, individualized assessment and treatment plan. To develop these skills, the treatment professional must be trained and so recognized. One would demand the same from a physician, pharmacist or any other health care provider.
NAADAC recognizes the paramount role of spirituality in recovery. We welcome all who seek to provide quality care. The need is great, and the treatment gap is wide. Our concern is not with which organization or person provides the care, but rather by what standards that care is provided.


Venezuela's vanishing freedoms

I read with interest columnist James Morrison's comments on the difficulties faced by the Venezuelan ambassador in defending President Hugo Chavez (Embassy Row, Aug. 7).
Ambassador Ignacio Arcaya may be the right guy for such a "mission impossible," since his late father was, like Mr. Chavez, a close friend of Fidel Castro. A couple of years ago, when Mr. Arcaya was Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations, he traveled to Havana for the dedication of a bust of his father, a former Venezuelan foreign minister.
In Venezuela, 40-plus years of Social Democrat and Christian Socialist administrations paved the way for Mr. Chavez by increasing the size of government and making the private sector and the people increasingly dependent on government favors. As long as the oil wealth is controlled by politicians, there is no real hope of individual and economic freedom in my country.
Mr. Chavez knows it and, as recently as last weekend on his radio address to the nation, said that "private property is not sacred only the welfare of the people is sacred." He, of course, considers himself to be like Mr. Castro the only true defender of the welfare of the people.
Unfortunately, many Washington politicians think that capitalism is OK for the United States but that socialism is better for Latin America. Also last week, Prudence Bushnell, U.S. ambassador to Guatemala, was distributing to ambassadors of other countries a document attacking Manuel Ayau, one of Latin America's foremost defenders of free markets, the rule of law and limited government, as well as a former president of the Mont Pelerin Society.
Former President Bill Clinton's State Department made it easy for the likes of Mr. Chavez. No wonder American leftists (outrageously called "liberals" in this country) oppose the nomination of Otto Reich as assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere.

Agencia Interamericana de Prensa Economica (AIPE)
Boca Raton, Fla.

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