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stickdog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 08:37 AM
Original message
Senator Paul Wellstone and Mozambique's President Samora Machel
Secret assassination conspiracies are things that happen only in other countries.


The death of Mozambique's first president, Samora Machel, in an 1986 plane crash on South African soil, was not an accident but a murder, according to the South African Press Association (SAPA) on Monday.

  The report cited a revelation made by a former member of an apartheid death squad. The man is a Namibian national, Hans Louw, who was one of the most sinister of the apartheid regime's specialunits, dedicated to clandestine operations, up to and including murder, against the regime's opponents.
  Louw claims that he was part of a "clean-up team," whose job was to go to the crash site, and finish off Samora Machel if he survived the disaster. In fact, the back-up team was not activated, because the original plan -- to lure the plane off course by using a false navigation beacon -- worked, and Samora died on impact, as the presidential aircraft smashed into a bleak hillside at Mbuzini. He said the false beacon was put in position by members of the apartheid regime's military intelligence.

  Louw says he was also part of a squad that spied on prominent member of the Namibian Liberation movement, Anton Lubowski. He says he took part in a team that lured an Angolan military plane off course, again using a false beacon, causing a crash that killed key figures in the Angolan military in 1989.

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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 08:54 AM
Response to Original message
1.  W.R. Grace
Edited on Fri Aug-06-04 09:06 AM by seemslikeadream

I wonder when if ever we'll get to see the EPA report on asbestos?

Asbestos Bill Introduced: Murray's Floor Statement
Senator Murray Explains Her Bill to Protect Workers & Consumers

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, June 18, 2002

(Washington, D.C)- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray introduced the "Ban Asbestos in America Act" (S.2641).

Below is Senator Murray's statement on the bill in the Congressional Record.

Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, today I rise and join my colleagues Senators Baucus, Cantwell, Dayton and Wellstone in introducing legislation to improve protections for workers and consumers against a known carcinogen: asbestos.

The primary purpose of the Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2002 is to require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the substance by 2005.

People Think It's Been Banned. It Hasn't.

Most Americans believe that asbestos has already been banned. People have this misconception in part because EPA tried to ban it in 1989, and the ban was well publicized. But what wasn't so publicized was the fact that in 1991, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned EPA's ban, and the first Bush Administration didn't appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. While new uses of asbestos were banned, existing ones were not.

People also believe asbestos has been banned because the mineral has been heavily regulated, and some uses are now prohibited. But the sweeping ban that EPA worked for ten years to put in place never went into effect.

As a result, products such as asbestos clothing, pipeline wrap, roofing felt, vinyl-asbestos floor tile, asbestos-cement shingle, disc brake pads, gaskets and roof coatings still contain asbestos today. Had EPA's ban gone into effect, these products would no longer be allowed to contain this deadly substance.

Victims of Asbestos Exposure

This morning I met with three people who wish there had been better protections in place against the dangers of asbestos years ago. I had the honor of meeting Mrs. Susan Vento, the wife of the beloved Congressman Bruce Vento from Minnesota who died from a disease caused by asbestos in October of 2000 at the age of 60. Rep. Vento was exposed to asbestos when he worked in factories in St. Paul during college.

I also had the privilege of meeting Lt. Col. James Zumwalt, the son of the legendary Navy Admiral Elmo Zumwalt who also died in 2000 of mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lining of the lungs and internal organs caused by asbestos. Like so many others who served in the Navy, Admiral Zumwalt was exposed to asbestos during his military service.

In addition, I had the pleasure to meet Mr. Brian Harvey, a former English teacher from Washington State University and a survivor of the deadly disease. Like Congressman Vento, Mr. Harvey was exposed to asbestos working summers during college -- only Mr. Harvey worked in a timber mill in Shelton, Washington instead of in factories in St. Paul. Mr. Harvey received aggressive treatment from the University of Washington, and his triumph over the deadly disease offers all of us hope.

You don't have to tell Mrs. Vento, Lt. Colonel Zumwalt or Mr. Harvey that asbestos can kill, or that it hasn't been banned. Unfortunately, they already know about asbestos.

Rudy Barber & Fred Mirante

I have also heard from other Washington state residents about the devastating effects that asbestos exposure can have on people's lives. I'd like to take a moment to tell you about an e-mail I received from two of my constituents, Mr. Charles Barber and his wife, Ms. Karen Mirante, who live in Seattle. They wrote to me last year to express support for my efforts on asbestos. Mr. Barber and Ms. Mirante had just recently learned that both of their fathers were diagnosed with mesothelioma, the same deadly disease that took the lives of Congressman Vento and Admiral Zumwalt.

Mr. Barber's father, Rudolph (Rudy) Barber, was a World War II veteran who worked at Todd shipyards. Then he worked for Boeing for 35 years building airplanes. According to his son, when Rudy served on a troopship during the war he recalled sleeping in a bunk under asbestos-coated pipes which flaked so badly that he had to shake out his sleeping bag every morning.

A few years after retiring from Boeing, Rudy Barber started to develop breathing problems. First he was told by one doctor that his disease could be cured with surgery, but it wasn't. After undergoing surgery, another doctor diagnosed him with mesothelioma. After a year and a half of suffering and of enduring repeated radiation and chemotherapy treatments, Mr. Barber died on April 28, 2002. According to his family, he never complained and continued to help his family and neighbors with maintenance and farm work for as long as he could.

Karen Mirante's father, Fred Mirante, was a retired truck driver who was active in labor issues. While the source of Mr. Mirante's exposure to asbestos is unknown, it is likely that he breathed in asbestos from brakes when he worked on cars. After receiving experimental therapies for the disease and after a two and one-half year battle, he died on June 4, 2002. June 16, last Sunday, was the first Father's Day that Mr. Barber and Ms. Mirante had to spend without their cherished, hard-working dads.

I mention Bruce Vento, Admiral Zumwalt, Mr. Harvey, Mr. Barber and Mr. Mirante to demonstrate that asbestos disease strikes all different types of people in different professions who were exposed to asbestos at some point in their lives. Asbestos knows no boundaries. It is still in thousands of schools and buildings throughout the country, and is still being used in some consumer products.

I first became interested in this issue because, like most people, I thought asbestos had been banned. But in 1999, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer starting running stories about a disturbing trend in the small mining town of Libby, Montana. Residents there suffer from high rates of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. These findings prompted Montana Senator Max Baucus to ask EPA to investigate. The agency found that the vermiculite mine near Libby, which operated from the 1920s until 1990, is full of tremolite asbestos. EPA is still working to clean up Libby, which is now a Superfund site.

Asbestos From Libby Was Shipped Around the Nation

W.R. Grace, the company which ran the mine, had evidence of the harmful health effects of its product, but did not warn workers, town residents or consumers. Instead, the product was shipped to over 300 sites nationally for processing and then was used to make products such as home insulation and soil additives. EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) have determined that 22 sites are still contaminated today, including one in Spokane, Washington.

At many plants where vermiculite from Libby was processed, waste rock left over from the expansion process was given away for free, and people used it in their yards, drive ways and gardens. During its investigation into sites around the country which processed vermiculite from Libby, ATSDR discovered a picture taken of two darling little boys, Justin and Tim Jorgensen, climbing on waste rock given out by Western Minerals, Inc. in St. Paul, Minnesota sometime in the late 1970s. According to W.R. Grace records, this rock contained between 2 and 10 percent tremolite asbestos. This rock produced airborne asbestos concentrations 135 times higher than the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's current standard for workers. Thankfully, neither Justin nor Tim has shown any signs of disease, but their risks of developing asbestos diseases, which have latency periods of 15 to 40 years, are increased from their childhood exposures.

People may still today be exposing themselves to harmful amounts of asbestos in vermiculite. As many as 35 million homes and businesses may have insulation made with harmful minerals from Libby. And EPA has also tested agricultural products -- soil conditioners and fertilizers -- made with vermiculite, and determined that some workers may have been exposed to dangerous concentrations of tremolite asbestos.

As I learned more about Libby, and how asbestos has ended up in products by accident, I was shocked to learn that asbestos is still being used in products on purpose. While some specific uses have been banned, the EPA's more sweeping ban was never put into effect because of an asbestos industry backed lawsuit. As a result, new uses of asbestos were banned, but most existing ones were not.

Asbestos Is Still in Consumer Products

Asbestos is still used today to make roofing products, gaskets, brakes and other products. In 2001 the U.S. consumed 13,000 metric tons of it. Asbestos is still entering the product stream in this country, despite its known dangers to human health.

Other Countries Have Banned Asbestos

In contrast, asbestos has been banned in these 20 countries: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Now it is time for the United States to ban asbestos, too. According to EPA, 27 million Americans had significant exposure to the material on the job between 1940 and 1980. It is time for the sad legacy of asbestos disease we have witnessed during the 20th century to come to an end. I want to ensure our government does all it can to minimize future suffering and death caused by this substance.

Bill Summary

That is why today I am introducing the Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2002. The legislation has four main parts.

First and foremost, this bill protects public health by doing what the EPA tried to do 13 years ago: ban asbestos in the United States. The bill requires EPA to ban it by 2005. Like the regulations EPA finalized in 1989, companies may file for an exemption to the ban if there is no substitute material available: if there is no substitute material available and EPA determines the exemption won't pose an unreasonable risk of injury to public health or the environment.

Second, the bill requires EPA to conduct a pubic education campaign about the risks of asbestos products. Within 6 months of passage, the EPA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission will begin educating people about how to safely handle insulation made with vermiculite. I believe the government needs to warn people that their insulation, if made with vermiculite, may be contaminated with asbestos. Home owners and workers may be unknowingly exposing themselves to asbestos when they conduct routine maintenance near this insulation. While EPA has agreed to remove vermiculite insulation from homes in Libby, the agency currently has no plans to do this nation-wide.

The legislation also requires EPA to conduct a survey to determine which foreign and domestic products being consumed in the United States today have been made with asbestos. There is no solid, up-to-date information about which products contain it, although EPA has estimated that as many as 3,000 products still do.

The survey will provide the foundation for a broader education campaign so consumers and workers will know how to handle as safely as possible asbestos products that were purchased before the ban goes into effect.

Third, the legislation requires funding to improve treatment for asbestos diseases. The bill directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services, working through the National Institutes of Health, to "expand, intensify and coordinate programs for the conduct and support of research on diseases caused by exposure to asbestos."

The Ban Asbestos in America Act requires the creation of a National Mesothelioma Registry to improve tracking of the disease. If there had been an asbestos disease tracking system in place, public health officials would have detected the health problems in Libby much sooner, and may have saved lives.

In addition, the bill authorizes funding for 7 mesothelioma treatment centers nationwide to improve treatments for and awareness of this fatal cancer.

As was the case with Mr. Harvey, who received treatment from the University of Washington, early detection and proper treatment make the difference between life and death. This bill authorizes $500,000 for each center for five years. This means more mesothelioma patients will receive treatments that can prolong their lives.

In response to the EPA Inspector General's report on Libby, Montana, EPA committed to create a Blue Ribbon Panel on asbestos and other durable fibers. However, because of insufficient resources, EPA has now narrowed the focus of the Panel to address issues surrounding only the six regulated forms of asbestos. The bill requires EPA to expand its Blue Ribbon Panel on Asbestos to address issues beyond those surrounding the six regulated forms of asbestos.

The Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2002 expands the Blue Ribbon Panel's scope to include nonasbestiform asbestos and other durable fibers. The Panel shall include participation by the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

In its response to the Inspector General, EPA was originally planning for the Panel to address implementation of and grant programs under Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, creation of a National Emissions Standard for Hazardous Pollutants under the Clean Air Act for contaminant asbestos, and other legislative and regulatory options for protecting public health.

The Administration also promised for the Panel to review the feasibility of establishing a durable fibers testing program within EPA, options to improve protections against exposure to asbestos in asbestos-containing products in buildings, and public education. The Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2002 requires the Panel to address these subjects as EPA originally planned.

The legislation also requires the Panel to explore the need to establish across federal agencies a uniform asbestos standard and a protocol for detecting and measuring asbestos. Currently, asbestos is regulated under at least 11 statutes.

There are different standards within EPA and across federal agencies, and agencies rely on different protocols to detect and measure the substance. This has led to widespread confusion for the public -- for example, in 2000, there were reports that there was asbestos in crayons.

There has also been confusion surrounding asbestos exposure in New York City following the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers. And in Libby, the EPA Inspector General's report cited split jurisdiction and multiple standards as one of the reasons EPA didn't do a better job of protecting the people of Libby from exposure to asbestos in the first place.

The Blue Ribbon Panel will also review the current state of the science on the human health effects of exposure to asbestos and other durable fibers, whether the current definition of asbestos containing material should be modified throughout the Code of Federal Regulations, and current research on and technologies for disposal of asbestos-containing products and contaminant asbestos products. The bill leaves up to the discretion of the Panel whether it will expand its scope to include manmade fibers, such as ceramic and carbon fibers. The Blue Ribbon Panel's recommendations are due 2 years after enactment of the Act.

Our federal agencies need to do a better job of coordinating and working together on asbestos, which will mean less confusion for the public and improved protection for everyone.

The toll that asbestos has taken on people's lives in this country is staggering. And while Senators Baucus, Cantwell, Dayton, Wellstone and I continue to mourn the loss of Congressman Bruce Vento, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, more than 200 people from Libby and thousands of others, today our message is one of hope.

Our hope is that by continuing to work together, we will build support for the Ban Asbestos in America Act. If we can get this legislation passed, fewer people will be exposed to asbestos, fewer people will contract asbestos diseases in the first place, and those who already have asbestos diseases will receive treatments to prolong and improve quality of life. I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.

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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 09:04 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. Why did the White House prevent EPA from telling Americans about asbestos?
Murray Questions Why Our Government Isn't Warning Homeowners and Protecting Workers from Dangerous Insulation

For Immediate Release: Thursday, February 6, 2003

Video of Sen. Murray's Remarks

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) spoke on the Senate floor about the public health dangers of asbestos-tainted insulation and continued to seek answers to why the White House prevented EPA from telling the American people about this danger.

There are between 15 - 35 million homes, schools and businesses in America that still contain asbestos-tainted insulation. Last year, the EPA developed a plan to warn homeowners of this silent danger. But an investigative report found that EPA never followed through because the White House OMB intervened to kill the plan.

For more information about asbestos, including the investigative report, and Sen. Murray's legislation to ban asbestos in America, go to

Senator Murray's remarks follow:

Ms. MURRAY. Mr. President I rise today to share a story with my colleagues. It's a true story about a family who happened to live in a neighborhood in Spokane, Washington. They could have easily been in Memphis or Minneapolis or Midland as well. But they lived in my state, in Spokane, a typical American city in Eastern Washington.

Mr. President, as part of realizing their American dream, Ralph Busch and his wife Donna bought a house. They were newlyweds, and this was the home they bought after getting married. They soon discovered that it needed roof repairs, and so Ralph spent quite a bit of time in the attic - working on his roof. The following year they found they had to renovate an addition that was put on the house in the 1950s.

They both had full-time jobs, so they spent many nights and weekends working on their home. They knocked down walls and tore through the old insulation, drywall and wood. They sanded and hammered and spent two entire years fixing up the place.

One morning, Ralph was reading the newspaper. Just by chance, he came across a story about a company that manufactured a household insulation called Zonolite. This insulation, he read, was tainted with deadly asbestos. Ralph suddenly realized that Zonolite was in his home. Ralph Busch was stunned as it dawned on him. He had just spent two years in his own home handling Zonolite insulation and he and his wife may have unknowingly been exposed to deadly asbestos.

What would happen from his and his wife's exposure? How come no one had told him he had asbestos in his attic? The Zonolite insulation was a product from the little town of Libby, Montana. It was produced by the W.R. Grace Company.

W.R. Grace mined vermiculite from the hillside near Libby. The company turned the ore into insulation known as Zonolite by heating vermiculite to expand it into light granules. The process was similar to popping popcorn. After sorting the popped vermiculite, W.R. Grace poured it into bags and sold it to use as insulation. The company marketed Zonolite as "perfectly safe"…

But laced throughout the vermiculite in the ground near Libby, another mineral was present: asbestos. W.R. Grace's process to make Zonolite and other products could not, and did not, remove all the asbestos from the end product. Zonolite insulation contains between .5 percent and 8 percent asbestos.

The community of Libby has suffered immensely from decades of mining the deadly vermiculite ore used to make Zonolite insulation and other consumer products. At least 200 men and women from Libby have died from diseases caused by exposure to asbestos-tainted vermiculite, and hundreds more people from the town are sick.

When inhaled, asbestos can cause deadly diseases – from asbestosis to mesothelioma, a deadly cancer of the lining of the lung that is almost always fatal. In fact, mesothelioma kills at least 2,000 people each year and is caused only by asbestos.

The diseases induced by exposure to asbestos result in horrible deaths and they are nearly always fatal. Treatment is harsh and debilitating. These diseases can take years to strike. The late Congressman Bruce Vento and the father of the modern Navy, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, both died from asbestos they had been exposed to years earlier.

The asbestos-tainted insulation manufactured by the W.R. Grace Company was used in homes throughout the country for decades. Vermiculite from Libby first started being sold commercially in 1921, and W.R. Grace bought the mine in 1963. Reviews of invoices indicate that more than 6 million tons of Libby ore was shipped to hundreds of sites nationwide for processing over the decades. This chart behind me shows more than 300 sites across the nation, where ore was processed, in many cases to make Zonolite insulation.

In internal memos and e-mails, the Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that as many as 35 million homes, schools and businesses may still contain this insulation. Moreover, W.R. Grace knew the Libby mine contained asbestos when the company purchased it in 1963. But Grace made millions of tons of Zonolite anyway and unabashedly marketed it as "safe."

If the manufacturer of this insulation knew it was contaminated with asbestos, why didn't it or the federal government make sure that Ralph Busch and millions of others across the country knew to leave it alone? The answer to the first question is that W.R. Grace still claims its product isn't harmful. The answer to the second question is more complicated.

According to published reports and internal EPA documents, the EPA was preparing to tell the American people about the dangers of Zonolite insulation. But it didn't happen. An investigation by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Andrew Schneider found that last spring while it was addressing the public health crisis in Libby, Montana, the EPA was preparing to tell the American people about the dangers of Zonolite insulation in millions of homes across this country.

But first, EPA had to deal with Libby. EPA decided it needed to minimize the exposure of Libby residents to asbestos-contaminated vermiculite, and the agency drafted a press release announcing its decision. This document said that EPA – "... will spend $34 million to remove dangerous asbestos-contaminated vermiculite insulation from 70 percent of residential and commercial buildings in Libby."

I am glad that EPA has taken aggressive steps to protect people in that small Montana town. Senator Baucus deserves tremendous credit for the work he has done to bring federal resources to Montana to help people in Libby. And EPA deserves credit for doing the right thing, and going in to remove the insulation from Libby.

But what about the rest of the country? What about the millions of other homes with Zonolite insulation? Since EPA decided to help Libby, the agency anticipated the logical follow-up question of what about the millions of homes nationwide that contain the same Zonolite insulation as homes in Libby.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the EPA had drafted news releases, and drawn up lists of public officials to notify. The agency was preparing to embark on an outreach and education campaign to let people know about this hazard in their homes. But what stopped EPA from following through with its warning?

It may have been the same person or people who blocked another government health agency from warning workers about asbestos exposure. Last April, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) was preparing to release new guidance for workers who come into contact with insulation in the course of their daily work.

NIOSH was preparing to alert workers - such as electricians, plumbers and maintenance workers - about how they can better protect themselves from exposure to asbestos in Zonolite insulation. These materials were prepared last April, but they still have not been released.

Let me read from a "Pre-Decisional Draft" of a NIOSH Fact Sheet dated April 11, 2002. I ask that it be printed in the record in its entirity. NIOSH recommended that workers:

"…should isolate the work area from other areas in order to avoid spreading fibers, use local exhaust ventilation to reduce dust exposures, and use appropriate respiratory protection. If the employer or worker is concerned about potential exposure, and if at all possible, the vermiculite should not be disturbed."

But, astonishingly, this guidance was never released. How many of the construction workers, maintenance people, electricians, plumbers and homeowners across the country know they should "avoid spreading fibers, use local exhaust ventilation or appropriate respiratory protection?"

I suspect that like Mr. Ralph Busch, thousands of people across the U.S. are not taking these important precautions because they are simply unaware of the danger. I would like to read to my colleagues another section from the never-released NIOSH Fact Sheet. This was in response to the question about how workers can know if the vermiculite they have is contaminated with asbestos. It says,

"As a rule, we believe that any vermiculite that originated in Libby, Montana, before 1990 should be regarded as potentially contaminated. It is known that vermiculite from Libby was sold as attic insulation under the product name Zonolite Attic Insulation and that this product is still in homes throughout the United States."

But especially interesting is the next section, which is in parentheses as a comment by the author:

"W.R. Grace estimates several million homes contain 'vermiculite attic insulation,' which is most likely very conservative. If we don't wish to provide any indication of the magnitude of the potential VAI (or vermiculite attic insulation) exposure in number of homes, we should be clear about the potential situation to provide a more accurate picture and warning."

I must ask my colleagues, why wouldn't NIOSH or others in the Administration -- when they are taking great pains to do the job in right in Libby -- want to share with workers and the public an indication of the magnitude of the number of homes with asbestos-tainted vermiculite? Isn't it our government's job to protect people from risks associated with hazardous substances such as asbestos? Don't we need to know the scope of the problem in order to help gauge the extent of the potential risks? Why aren't we warning workers and giving them the new guidance that has already been drafted by NIOSH?

Interestingly enough, on April 10, 2002, the day before the date on this NIOSH Fact Sheet, EPA received a letter from W.R. Grace defending their harmful product. The letter read, "Zonolite Attic Insulation (ZAI) has been insulating homes for over 60 years and there is no credible reason to believe that ZAI has ever caused an asbestos-related disease in anyone who has used it in his/her home."

How then does Grace explain the fact that the company has settled at least 25 bodily injury claims caused by exposure to Zonolite? Make no mistake. W.R. Grace is a company with one of the worst public health and environmental records in America.

I draw my colleagues' attention to a 1998 article by Dr. David Egilman, Wes Wallace and Candace Hom published in the journal Accountability in Research entitled "Corporate Corruption of Medical Literature: Asbestos Studies Concealed by W.R. Grace & Co." I will read briefly from the abstract of this article:

"In 1963, W.R. Grace acquired the mine (in Libby) and employee health problems at the mine became known to W.R. Grace executives and to Grace's insurance company, Maryland Casualty. In 1976, in response to tighter federal regulation of asbestos and asbestos-containing products, W.R. Grace funded an animal study of tremolite toxicity. They hoped to prove that tremolite did not cause mesothelioma, the cancer uniquely associated with asbestos exposure. However, the study showed that tremolite did cause mesothelioma. W.R. Grace never disclosed the results of this animal study, nor did they disclose their knowledge of lung disease in the Libby workers, either to the workers themselves or to regulatory agencies. These actions were intentional, and were motivated by Grace's conscious decision to prioritize corporate profit over human health."

Given the facts that W.R. Grace has knowingly manufactured and sold an asbestos-tainted product, has suppressed research findings showing that tremolite asbestos causes cancer, and has denied that their product is potentially dangerous, the company is woefully lacking for credibility.

Which brings us to our question: If EPA was planning to warn the American public about the dangers of Zonolite insulation, what stopped EPA from following through with its plan? Why aren't we warning homeowners nationwide about Zonolite insulation? Why aren't we warning workers and giving them new safety guidelines?

Well, M. President, the answers might lie, not with the EPA, but with the White House Office of Management and Budget, OMB. An internal e-mail from John F. Wood, the Deputy General Counsel at OMB, to staff at EPA contained details about finalizing the Action Memo for Libby. Also copied on the e-mail were OMB Deputy Director Nancy Dorn and Associate Director of Natural Resources Programs Marcus Peacock. Here's what OMB's lawyer wrote to EPA, and I ask unanimous consent that this e-mail be printed in the record:

"Thank you for your efforts to alleviate my concerns. Here are just a few edits, which are necessary to avoid the problems we discussed earlier. Please be sure to observe the deletion of the citation of Sect. 104 (a) (4)."

What is Section 104(a)(4)...? It is a clause in the Superfund law, which enables the EPA to declare a public health emergency. And why did OMB tell the EPA to "delete the citation" to Section 104 (a) (4)…? We don't know for sure, but if EPA had issued the public health emergency for Libby under Superfund, then the agency would have had to answer questions about asbestos-tainted insulation from every other homeowner in the country. And here is what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigation concluded:

"The Environmental Protection Agency was on the verge of warning millions of Americans that their attics and walls might contain asbestos-contaminated insulation. But, at the last minute, the White House intervened, and the warning has never been issued."

The Post-Dispatch got reaction from an EPA staffer about OMB's intervention:

"It was like a gut shot," said one of those senior staffers involved in the decision. "It wasn't like they ordered us not to make the declaration, they just really, really strongly suggested against it. Really strongly. There was no choice left."

I ask unanimous consent that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article be printed in the record.

Mr. President, because of OMB's involvement, EPA never conducted the planned outreach to warn people about Zonolite. NIOSH's guidance to workers about how to protect themselves was never finalized. In response to these shocking reports, on January 3, 2003, I wrote to EPA Administrator Whitman and OMB Director Daniels to get some answers. Mr. Daniels has not yet responded to the allegations that his office blocked the announcement. Ms. Whitman wrote that she is responding on behalf of OMB. I can only ascribe this to OMB's desire to remain unaccountable and to hide the role it played in these decisions.

Ms. Whitman's response was woefully inadequate. She failed to explain the nature or the substance of OMB's involvement. She also wrote that it is not possible to know how many homes contain vermiculite insulation even though her own agency has estimated it may be between 15 and 35 million homes, schools and businesses. I ask unanimous consent that Administrator Whitman's letter be printed in the record.

Mr. President, my colleagues may be curious about why I am so interested in EPA's decisions regarding vermiculite from Libby. This issue is important to me because residents in my state are being exposed to asbestos from Zonolite. And, Mr. President, constituents in your state and every other state in America may also have this insulation. I am deeply concerned that most people with Zonolite in their homes are completely unaware of this problem.

I am afraid most will not learn of it until they have already been exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos. And I am most concerned that this administration may be stifling EPA's efforts to warn homeowners, consumers, and workers because of pressure from W.R. Grace. And I must remind my colleagues: there is no safe known level of exposure to asbestos. Deadly diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma can develop decades after just brief exposures to high concentrations of asbestos.

Ultimately, I believe Administrator Whitman wanted to do the right thing by warning homeowners nationwide to be careful if they have Zonolite in their homes when the agency began removing Zonolite from homes in Libby, Montana. But she was stopped. The reasons may never be known – the excuse may be buried in "executive privilege."

So, where do we go from here? First, I hope my colleagues will support efforts to get to the bottom of what stopped the EPA from warning the public. We have to increase pressure on EPA, NIOSH, and other public health agencies to raise public awareness about Zonolite.

Second, I hope my colleagues will support legislation to ban asbestos in America and to warn people about the potential dangers posed by Zonolite insulation. I appreciate the support for this legislation I have received from Senators Baucus, Cantwell, Dayton and our late colleague, Senator Wellstone, who were original cosponsors.

I have been working to raise awareness about the current dangers of asbestos for over two years. In July of 2001, I chaired a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on asbestos and workplace safety. In June of 2002, two days after introducing the Ban Asbestos in America Act, I testified at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on Libby held by Senator Baucus.

My colleagues may wonder whatever happened to Ralph Busch and his wife Donna. After reading about Zonolite in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Mr. Busch went to get the asbestos removed from his home. He learned it would cost $32,000 to do so. When he tried to secure compensation from his homeowners insurance to pay to clean up the contamination, his insurance company rejected the claim. He got nowhere with the company that had inspected the home before he purchased it. They hadn't known about Zonolite, either.

When he talked to his realtor about trying to sell his house, Mr. Busch's realtor emphasized that Mr. Busch and his wife would be responsible under the law for disclosing the presence of Zonolite to any potential buyer. According to Mr. Busch, even his realtor and I quote, "...expressed apprehension over entering the house saying he has young children and was fearful of asbestos exposure without a proper respirator... ...this about a house we were living in every day."

In the end, having exhausted all of his options, Ralph Busch and his wife Donna sacrificed their home to foreclosure, having lost thousands of dollars and their good credit rating. They didn't feel that it was safe to live there anymore, or to bring other people into their home. Finally they decided to move out of their "dream house" in Spokane. To this day, that home remains vacant.

Apart from the tremendous economic loss, Mr. Busch and his wife are concerned for their health. They are left wondering what long-term negative health effects they may suffer as a result of their exposure to asbestos fibers from the insulation. Mr. Busch has told me, "I feel like the poster-child for the unsuspecting homeowner who unknowingly set off a time bomb in the process of remodeling his home."

To this day, Mr. Busch is haunted by words he read in the Spokesman-Review almost three years ago. The March 12, 2000, article, entitled, "Zonolite's Effects Outlive Plant," said this about mesothelioma:

"The disease inflicts one of the most torturous deaths known to humankind. Some people require intravenous morphine to numb mesothelioma's pain. Some need part of their spinal cord severed. Some are driven to suicide."

If there is a role for government in people's lives, then it should include protecting the public health. We have an opportunity to protect the public's health so that Ralph Busch and thousands - perhaps millions - of other Americans won't have to be needlessly exposed to the time bomb sitting in their homes, schools and businesses.

And meanwhile, if you are planning to do work in your attic, look at your insulation carefully first to see if it is vermiculite. You can see pictures of what this insulation looks like by going to EPA's web site, which is If you think you have Zonolite, immediately contact EPA to get additional advice about how to handle it. According to EPA's web site, if you think you have Zonolite insulation, leave it alone and not disturb it.

And, contact your Representative in Congress and ask him or her to pass legislation to ban asbestos, something we all should have done decades ago. We can make a difference, but we must act today
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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 09:12 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. I started this really lonely battle with good friend Senator Wellstone
Sen. Murray Opposes SB 2290, Praises Dr. Bret Williams, Dr. Harvey Pass, Chris Hahn and MARF


Remarks by Senator Patty Murray on Asbestos Legislation

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Mr. President, I rise today to share my serious concerns with the asbestos liability bill now before the Senate. As my colleagues know, this is not just another bill for me. This is something Ive spent years learning about, educating my colleagues about, and writing legislation to address.

In fact, my work on asbestos started 3 years ago this very month, when I asked the Senate HELP Committee to hold a hearing on asbestos exposure in the workplace. I started this as a really lonely battle with good friend Senator Wellstone. We held press conferences, and it seemed like no one came. Senator Baucus and Senator Cantwell were with us, but it was a very lonely fight.

Thats why today it is so great to watch my colleagues like Senator Daschle, Senator Reid, Senator Dayton and Senator Leahy moving this discussion to such a productive level. They have taken the time to listen to victims, and I think that if everyone did wed have a much more balanced bill before us today.

Im pleased that after all these years of working with victims, family members, and doctors -- the full Senate is now engaged in a debate about asbestos.

I am also pleased that many of the things I have been fighting for have been included in this legislation. This bill includes the ban on asbestos that I first introduced two years ago. That is an important acknowledgement of what I told the Judiciary Committee last June, "If Congress is going to prevent any future lawsuits, then Congress must try to prevent any more asbestos casualties, by banning the use of asbestos."

So I am pleased by some of the progress in this bill, but I am also deeply disturbed by what this bill will do to people whose lives have been torn apart by asbestos, to future victims, to family members, and to average Americans who are being exposed to deadly asbestos everyday without even knowing it.

After listening to victims, hearing their stories, and looking them in the eye, there is no way I could vote for this inadequate and unbalanced bill.

Im Standing Up for Many

As Ive learned about asbestos over the past three years, I have been troubled by the duplicity of some companies, by the negligence of our own government, and by the absolute horror that asbestos inflicts on people. But throughout this process, I have also been touched by the commitment and optimism of victims. Some of them realize its too late for them, but they want to make sure that no other American goes through the horror they have experienced.

After working with them, I know I am not just standing here on the Senate floor as a single Senator. Im standing here on behalf of all of the people I have been honored to meet and stand with over the past three years.

Im standing here on behalf of people like Brian Harvey, Gayla Benefield, Bret Williams, Ralph Busch, Marv Sather, and George Biekkola. They were all exposed to asbestos through no fault of their own.

Im standing here on behalf of family members of asbestos victims. People like Sue Vento, the wife the late Congressman Bruce Vento of Minnesota, Sue Harvey, and Lt. Col. James Zumwalt, the son of Navy hero Elmo Zumwalt.

Im standing here on behalf of doctors who have labored to save their patients against a merciless killer. Doctors like Michael Harbut, Alan Whitehouse, and Harvey Pass, who not only provided medical care, but worked to raise awareness and call for needed research.

Im standing here on behalf of public health leaders like Dr. Richard Lemen, the former Assistant Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Phil Landrigan, and people like Andrew Schneider and Barry Castleman who have worked to warn the public about these dangers.

And, Im standing here on behalf of researchers and advocates. People like Chris Hahn of the Mesothelima Applied Research Foundation and advocates at the Environmental Working Group.

All of these people have stood with me at press conferences and have testified before Senate hearings calling for us to help the victims and to ban asbestos. We have a real obligation to them, and Im standing here on the Senate floor today to make sure the Senate does right by people who have been wronged.

George Biekkola

Let me share one of their voices with you. In July 2001, the HELP committee held that hearing I requested on Workplace Safety and Asbestos Exposure. One of the witnesses was Mr. George Biekkola of Michigan, a World War II veteran and a community leader who helped bring a hockey rink to the children of his community.

Those of us who were at that hearing three years ago will never forget what he said. He broke down several times as he read his statement, but his message was clear. He told us that he had spent 30 years working at the Cleveland Cliff Iron Company in Michigan. He operated a hard rock drill and was exposed to asbestos dust. He was forced to retire at the age of 60 because asbestos had scarred his lungs and reduced his lung capacity by one-third.

At that hearing he told us, quote, "I thought Id be spending my retirement traveling out West with my wife, hunting deer up in the mountains. But today, I cant." He said that he couldnt exert himself because his heart was weak and that he had to be careful because a simple case of pneumonia could kill him.

He told us, "This isnt how I thought Id be spending my retirement, but when I think about the other guys I worked with -- I guess I came out lucky."

He said, "Im here today to tell you my story so that maybe someone else working in a mine or a brake shop or a factory wont lose the things I have lost."

He concluded his statement with these words. "Senators, please make sure that what happened to me wont happen to anyone else . . . Workers like me are counting on you to protect us. Please dont let us down."

Mr. President, Im sad to report that George Biekkola died two weeks ago today from asbestosis and mesothelioma. Until the end, he was looking out for other victims. In fact, at his funeral last Saturday, his family displayed a photograph of him testifying at that Senate hearing.

George isnt with us today, but his words ring as loudly now as they did three years ago Senators, dont let us down. That is why Ive been working on asbestos for the past three years, and that is why I cannot support this inadequate bill.

Mr. President, after all the things that Americans like George Biekkola have been through, after all they have lost, after all their families have lost, and after all they have done to protect others, I will not let them down, and thats why I cannot support this bill.


Before I turn to the specifics, I want to put this discussion in context. For decades, weve been pumping this poison into Americans on purpose and by accident. Its wrecked lives, families, fortunes, and its been a problem for many businesses.

Asbestos is everywhere, and its killing us. Weve got to stop putting this killer in products. Weve got to stop importing products that contain asbestos. Weve got to figure out a way to "make whole" everyone whos been affected by this epidemic, and we need to do it in a balanced way that gives certainty and equity to both victims and companies.

This process has been an education for me because, like many Americans I thought asbestos had been banned a long time ago. In 1989, the EPA did try to ban asbestos, but that effort was overturned in a lawsuit from the asbestos industry. Ten years later in 1999, reporter Andrew Schneider and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published articles about a disturbing trend in the small mining town of Libby, Montana. Residents there are suffering from extraordinarily high rates of asbestos related disease.

At many plants where vermiculite from Libby was processed and then shipped, waste rock left over from the expansion process was given away for free. I learned that people used this free waste rock in their yards, driveways and gardens. This picture shows Justin and Tim Jorgensen climbing on waste rock given out by Western Minerals, Inc. in St. Paul, Minnesota sometime in the 1970s. According to W.R. Grace records, this rock contained between 2 and 10 percent tremolite asbestos. This rock produced airborne asbestos concentrations 135 times higher that OSHAs current standard for workers. We have to do right by Justin and Tim, and those are the people Im thinking about as I look at this bill.

I also learned that our country is far behind others. The United States remains the only industrialized country beside Canada that has not yet banned asbestos. More than 30 million pounds of asbestos are still consumed in the United States each year.

A Continuing Danger

I learned that asbestos is still found today in over 3,000 common products in the US, including baby powder, cosmetics, brake pads, pipes, hair dryers, ceiling tiles and vinyl flooring. It is still legal in 2004 to construct buildings with asbestos cement shingles and to treat them with asbestos roof coatings. It is still legal to construct new water systems using asbestos cement pipes imported from other countries. It is still legal today for cars and trucks to be made and serviced with asbestos brake pads and linings.

Workers in this country are still being exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos. According to OSHA, "an estimated 1.3 million employees in construction and general industry face significant asbestos exposures on the job."

Washington State Impact

Asbestos has taken a particularly large toll on the people of my state. According to a recent report by the Environmental Working Group, King County has the fourth-highest number of deaths related to asbestos in the country. Three other counties Kitsap (24th), Pierce (28th) and Snohomish (52nd) all rank in the top 100 for asbestos-related deaths. Overall, Washington state ranks eighth in asbestos-related deaths nationwide.

Just last week in Spokane, Washington our state Department of Health announced that 100 former workers at a vermiculite factory likely inhaled deadly asbestos fibers and should seek advice from their doctors.

They also warned that the children and spouses who lived with these workers could become ill from particles that were carried home with loved ones on clothing, skin and in hair. Given the known dangers of this mineral, we should all be asking - why are we still using it? Why are we still adding it to products on purpose where there are perfectly acceptable substitutes?

My Work on Asbestos

Americans in every walk of life and in every corner of this country have been exposed, and weve got to protect them. Thats why Ive worked to do a series of things over the past few years. On June 18, 2002, I introduced the Ban Asbestos in America Act. I reintroduced this bill again last May as Senate Bill number 1115. I want to thank all the Senators who have cosponsored my bill: Senators Baucus, Boxer, Cantwell, Daschle, Dayton, Durbin, Feingold, Feinstein, Hollings, Jeffords, Lautenberg, Leahy and Reid.

Ive pushed the EPA to warn homeowners about the dangers of Zonolite insulation, which today is in the attics of 35 million homes, schools and businesses. Ive urged the EPA to warn brake mechanics about the deadly asbestos dust they are exposed to on the job. Ive asked OSHA to increase its efforts to enforce existing regulations that attempt to protect automobile brake mechanics.

Ive shared my concerns with legislators in Canada, the country that is the largest source of Americas asbestos imports. I testified at a hearing on Libby, Montana, and I testified before the Judiciary Committee last July.

Asbestos liability is a real problem. Its a problem for victims, and its a problem for companies. We need a balanced solution. Unfortunately, this bill falls short in 6 ways.

6 Problems with this Bill

First, it is unfair to victims because the awards are too small even smaller than many would get if they were allowed a day in court.

Second, it could lock future victims out of getting help because the trust fund is inadequate.

Third, it keeps Americans in the dark about the dangers of asbestos. It does not include the education campaign that we know is needed and that I have been pushing for over the past three years.

Fourth, it falls short on research, tracking and treatment for asbestos diseases.

Fifth, it makes family members jump through too many restrictive hurdles.

Sixth it allows insurance companies to place liens on the awards that family members receive - unfairly reducing the award they deserve and treating them much differently that other federal compensation programs.

Let me discuss each of those in detail.

1. Awards Are Too Small

First, the awards are too small. Many people who have had their lives torn apart by asbestos will actually do worse under this bill than they would in court. For example, awards for lung cancer victims who have more than 15 years of exposure to asbestos are limited to $25,000 - $75,000, even though most victims will die within a year. Victims with asbestosis who have lost 20% to 40% of their breathing capacity many who will be disabled for life will receive only $85,000. That is far less than their lost wages and medical costs. This bill gives them less than they deserve. At the same time, it blocks the courthouse door to victims who have staggering medical bills, lost wages and other damages. I dont see how Congress can leave asbestos victims worse off than they are today, but thats what this bill would do.

2. The Trust Fund is Too Small

Second, the trust fund is too small to compensate all victims, but that is just one of the problems with this trust fund. I believe a successful trust fund would provide fair and adequate compensation to all victims and would bring reasonable financial certainty to defendant companies and insurers. To do that, the trust fund must include four things: fair award values, appropriate medical criteria, adequate funding, and fast processing.

The system for processing claims must allow victims to get prompt payments without the complications, time and expense of a traditional lawsuit. Unfortunately, the trust fund in this bill falls far short of what is needed. I have already discussed how the award values are unfair.

In addition, the trust fund is not adequately funded. In fact, the trust fund in this bill has been slashed dramatically from the original Hatch legislation. In the Judiciary Committees bill, the trust fund was $153 billion. But in this bill, the trust fund has been slashed by over $40 billion.

Now, the trust fund didnt just shrink on its own. It was reduced after closed-door negotiations that included only one side the defendant companies and the insurance industry. It was not based on the actual needs of victims. Instead, it was based on what insurers and businesses were willing to pay. This one-sided agreement reduced the funding provided in S. 1125 by more than $40 billion. Making matters worse, an additional $10 billion in contingent funds does not become available for 24 years. The United States Senate should not adopt a policy of adjusting award values just to meet an arbitrary and artificial limit reached in a backroom with only one side present.

Not only was this figure arrived at in an unfair way, but its clear that it is not enough to meet the needs of current and future asbestos victims. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the cost of this bill at $134 billion. This bill only provides $109 billion so there is a significant shortfall already.

But there is very good reason to believe that the shortfall will be even larger. Recent claims in the Manville trust shows much higher than expected claims for many asbestos diseases. Those claims also show that recent mortality and morbidity data increase the likelihood that the number of asbestos related diseases and related claims will exceed current estimates.

If this fund becomes insolvent, it will leave victims without the help they need. Because of that possibility, last year, Senators inserted a number of protections during the Judiciary Committee mark-up.

Important Protections Were Removed

Tragically, the bill before us today throws away those carefully-crafted, bipartisan protections.

For example, we had protections for victims in case the trust fund became insolvent. Those protections in the Biden amendment were stripped from this bill.

We had protections that guaranteed that asbestos victims would preserve their legal rights until the trust fund is operational. Thats important because if this bill becomes law, it will end up in court, and there will be no mechanism for victims and their families to get help while this law is tied up in court. We solved that problem with the Feinstein amendment, but again -- those protections were stripped from this bill.

So overall this trust fund is inadequate. If we are going to lock the courthouse doors to victims, weve got to be 100 percent certain that the trust fund will have enough money to cover all of the 600,000 current claims -- and the thousands more that may be filed later. This is especially important because asbestos diseases have a very long latency period often decades long making it hard for us to predict today who will need help in the future.

If we pass this inadequate trust fund, my constituents and hundreds of thousands of other Americans -- will be left out in the cold with only the faded memories of their loved ones to carry them through this tragic ordeal.

3. No Public Education Campaign

My third concern with this bill is that it keeps Americans in the dark about the dangers of asbestos exposure. This bill completely drops the education campaign that was in both of my asbestos bills. One of the reasons why asbestos takes such a deadly toll is because people are unaware that they are being exposed it.

Ralph Busch of Spokane

Ralph Busch exposed himself and his wife to asbestos when he renovated his home. He never knew about the dangers until he happened to read a story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Today, his dream house is abandoned, his credit is ruined, and his health is a constant worry. Ralph Busch did not do anything wrong. He couldnt have known about the danger of Zonolite insulation. There is no way that Ralph Busch could have known that by buying and renovating an old house he would eventually expose his family to dangerous levels of asbestos.

We must make sure others do know about this public health risk by providing additional resources to educate the American public about the dangers of worksite and home exposures to products that contain asbestos.

We must also provide safety information to homeowners on what they can do to prevent asbestos exposures at home, particularly in the attic and basement.

Workers Unaware of Dangers

In addition to homeowners, many workers are exposed to asbestos on the job. Often they are not aware of the danger, and they dont have the protective equipment they need.

I am heartened to hear that EPA, ATSDR and NIOSH are now proactively reaching out to consumers and workers to warn them to stay away from vermiculite attic insulation. But, I am very concerned that the EPA, prodded by a request from the law firm of the former acting agency administrator, is considering revising its "Guidance for Preventing Asbestos Disease Among Auto Mechanics" to convey the false impression that brake repair work is no longer a risk.

Clearly, any effort by the EPA to downplay these risks flies in the face of current Congressional intent regarding the inherent health problems with exposure to asbestos in the workplace. I sincerely hope that EPA will not bow to the pressure of the industry and in fact strengthen its guidance for brake mechanics.

4. It Does Not Do Enough for Research, Tracking and Treatment

My fourth concern is that this bill does not do enough for research, tracking and treatment.

I want to thank the Senator Hatch for including some modest resources in his latest version of the bill which should be used to establish mesothelioma research and treatment centers around the country. Yesterday I was pleased to hear Senator Hatch say that he would be willing to explore additional funding for asbestos research and treatment centers. These centers will be critical as the medical community works to develop new treatments and protocols for the variety of deadly cancers and diseases that exposure to asbestos brings to workers and their families.

Unfortunately, not included in S. 2290 are the resources needed to track the victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos causing cancers, and to conduct additional research about the harmful effects of this deadly material.

These are areas that doctors and other experts have told me time and again we must invest in. I heard from some of those doctors last month at a press conference I held, which Senator Reid and Senator Dayton attended. At the press conference, Dr. Bret Williams of North Carolina said, "As a doctor, a cancer patient, a husband and father, I am asking my government to take a stand. Fix the problem. Give us hope. Fund a mesothelioma research program. Please invest in a cure."

A surgeon from Detroit, Dr. Harvey Pass, told us that progress on asbestos diseases requires funding, and he said that funding, "remains absolutely insufficient to set up the type of collaborative approaches that already exist with lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer."

So the fourth problem with this bill is its inadequate support for research, tracking and treatment of asbestos diseases.

5. Treats Family Members Unfairly

My fifth concern with this bill is the way it treats family members. Under this bill, family members of victims will be forced to jump through an additional series of hoops, reducing the likelihood they will ever receive an award.

Susan Lawes & Spokane Families

Lets remember, these family members have lost their loved ones. In many cases they are vulnerable themselves because they came into contact with asbestos fibers through a family member. Take the case of Susan Lawes. Her father was a pipe fitter and was exposed to asbestos on the job. When he came home from work, asbestos fibers were still on his clothes. Hed walk through the door after the end of a long day and give his daughter a hug. Last month, Susan was diagnosed with an asbestos disease. As she told me, I am literally dying because I hugged my dad.

Susan and so many people like her are not treated fairly under this bill. The children and the spouses of workers should not have to prove five years of exposure to asbestos from their husbands and fathers as they would under this bill. They also should not be forced to appear before a special Physicians Review Board in order to determine their medical condition and whether they are eligible for a compensatory award.

Its the same for people in Spokane, Washington. Spokane is one of the 22 sites that EPA has determined is still contaminated. Why are we forcing these innocent victims of take-home asbestos exposure to jump through extraordinary hoops to determine their eligibility for an award?

So my fifth concern is the unfair way this bill treats family members making them jump through hurdles that reduce the chance they will ever get the help they need.

6. Allows Insurance Companies to Reduce Victims Awards

Finally, this bill allows insurance companies to reduce any awards that victims actually receive something that is not found in similar federal plans.

This bill allows insurance companies to place liens on the awards that victims and family members receive.

I find it unconscionable that health insurance companies and other entities can recoup their costs by placing liens on the awards family members receive in compensation for their loss of a father, a husband, a son or a daughter.

These workers were often the only breadwinners in their households, but this bill tells their surviving family members that they can be sued by their health insurance provider for a substantial part of an award an award that as Ive shown may already be inadequate.

Whats especially disturbing is other federal compensation program do not allow this type of action, but for some reason, asbestos victims are being given fewer protections. The awards provided to victims in federal compensation programs like the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program and the Ricky Ray Hemophiliac Relief Fund Act are not subject to liens by workers compensation insurers. I dont know why the authors want to treat asbestos victims differently, but I do know that it is not fair, and its one of the reasons why I can not support this bill.

So Mr. President, in the end, this bill falls far short of what victims deserve.

The awards are too small.
The trust fund is inadequate.
It fails to educate Americans about the dangers of asbestos.
It falls short on research, tracking and treatment for asbestos diseases.
It puts unfair burdens on family members.
It allows insurance companies to reduce a victims award.
Ive been fighting on this for years, and it makes no sense that we could squander this moment with a bill that is so inadequate. George and Gayla and Ralph and Marv and Bret and Brian all deserve so much better, and I will continue to fight for them.

Mr. President, regardless of what happens with this bill, the one thing we must do is ban asbestos, and I assure my colleagues I will keep fighting for that. I do want to pass a law. We need a real solution. I dont want companies going bankrupt. I dont want victims going without the help they need. I still think we can do it, and I will continue to fight for a balanced and fair bill that will do right by victims across the country. We really have an obligation to them and their families. Ive been fighting for them for three years, and no matter what happens this week, Im not going to stop now.

*** POSTED APRIL 22, 2004 ***
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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 09:25 AM
Response to Reply #1
5. Asbestos-Containing Products Risk Reduction Act of 2002
Asbestos-Containing Products Risk Reduction Act of 2002

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Legislative Summary


Over the years, asbestos has taken a staggering toll on our country. We have recently been reminded of the dangers posed by asbestos because of concerns about asbestos exposure from the dust and debris caused by the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers. Had this country acted swiftly to ban asbestos when public health evidence about its dangers first emerged, the Towers would not have been built with any asbestos at all. Now well need to wait several decades to determine whether asbestos exposures in New York will cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma for first responders and residents.
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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 09:34 AM
Response to Reply #1
7. W.R. Grace files for bankruptcy
W.R. Grace files for bankruptcy
Taxpayers may get cleanup bill for asbestos contamination

Tuesday, April 3, 2001


Because of the filing, taxpayers may get stuck with millions of dollars for cleaning up sites contaminated by the 150-year-old company.

Grace President Paul Norris said yesterday that his company has received more than 325,000 asbestos personal-injury claims, which have already cost the company nearly $2 billion.

The federal government has done health screening on 6,114 people or who live or lived in or near Libby. Analysis of the first 1,067 examinations showed that 30 percent of the people had signs of asbestos-related disease. With it often taking 20 years or more for the disease to become apparent, no one is willing to guess how many people will be sickened because of the exposure to asbestos in Libby and other sites that processed the vermiculite.

It is estimated that hospitalization, oxygen, medication and home care can cost a person between $300,000 to $500,000 during the course of the illness. Grace is the sixth major company to cite asbestos claims as their reasons for filing chapter 11 since January. Twenty-six companies have made such filings since 1982.

Most of the hundreds of thousands of pending asbestos suits are filed against multiple defendants. The litigation will often list 10, 20 or more corporations that either produced asbestos or used it in products they manufactured.

The Environmental Protection Agency is conducting investigations at 55 sites throughout the country where Grace ran expansion plants that turned the vermiculite ore into insulation and garden and construction products. Sixteen other sites have been identified as being contaminated enough to need cleanup.

"We budgeted between $14 and $16 million for this year, and it now becomes a problem of getting that money," Peronard said. "It's looking more and more like taxpayers will pick up what Grace drops."
EPA has been working closely with forensic accountants in the Justice Department to see whether the company has moved its assets to other, newly formed corporations.

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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 09:39 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. U.S. Seeks to Intervene in W.R. Grace Asbestos Bankruptcy

LIBBY, MONTANAJune 14, 2002On behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a motion to intervene in a bankruptcy action involving offshoot companies of W.R. Grace, a major asbestos defendant. The government charges that just prior to bankruptcy filing, W.R. Grace transferred funds to spinoff companies to hide assets and avoid liability for asbestos claims (Daily Inter Lake Newspaper, Kalispell, Montana, May 27, 2002). The company and 61 domestic subsidiaries had filed for bankruptcy reorganization under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in April, 2001.

W.R. Grace is the manufacturer of construction materials and chemicals and the former owner of an asbestoscontaminated vermiculite mine in Libby Montana. Vermiculite is an ore resembling mica that is used in housing insulation, soil conditioners, and fertilizers.

The United States is a Grace creditor and hopes to recover expenses for the environmental cleanup of Libby, which has been declared a Superfund disaster area. The company has received over 325,000 asbestos personal injury claims from Libby and elsewhere, according to a press release (see W.R. Grace web site, click on GRACE in the News, click on 2001 News Releases, then on April 2, 2001).

topAsbestos Insulation and Fireproofing
One W.R. Grace product, Zonolite insulation, often contains vermiculite that is contaminated with tremolite asbestos and derived from the Libby mines. The Environmental Protection Agency is removing Zonolite from homes in Libby, although it has no immediate plans to eliminate the insulation from millions of other residences nationwide (see article on Asbestos Zonolite Insulation in Libby).

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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 10:14 AM
Response to Reply #1
9. environmental liabilities -- $1 BILLION
Grace told the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1998 that its liability for environmental cleanups was more than S230 million. But some EPA officials estimate the company's environmental liabilities to be "substantially greater," adding that it could be closer to $1 billion.
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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 10:27 AM
Response to Reply #1
10.  OMB and EPA squash the EPA Report
December 29, 2002
Bush administration squashes EPA public health warning that insulation in 15 to 35 million U.S. homes is probably contaminated with an extremely lethal form of asbestos.
According to the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and Wichita Eagle, the Bush administration has squashed the release of an EPA public health warning that insulation in 15 to 35 million U.S. homes is probably contaminated with an extremely lethal form of asbestos. The warning was originally planned to be released in April 2002, along with a declaration of a public health emergency in Libby, Montana, where ore from a W.R. Grace vermiculite mine was contaminated with an extremely lethal asbestos fiber called tremolite that has killed or sickened thousands of miners and their families. Shipping records from W.R. Grace show that at least 15.6 billion pounds of vermiculite ore was shipped from Libby to 750 plants and factories throughout North America, with between a third and half ending up in insulation called Zonolite that was used in millions of homes, businesses and schools from the 1940s through the 1990s.

In early April 2002, the U.S. EPA had a public health warning ready to go: News releases had been written and rewritten, and lists of governors to call and politicians to notify had been compiled. But the declaration was never made - just days before EPA was set to make the declaration, the warning was squashed by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), even though the EPA had already greatly watered down the warning at the direction of the OMB.

Both OMB and EPA acknowledge that the OMB was actively involved in quashing the warning, but neither agency would discuss how or why. EPAs chief spokesman Joe Martyak said, "Contact OMB for the details," while OMB spokeswoman Amy Call said, "These questions will have to be addressed to the EPA." Both agencies have also refused requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to provide documents to and from OMB about the asbestos warning.
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stickdog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 10:38 AM
Response to Reply #1
11. Plane Crashes, WR Grace, Deadly Asbestos, WTC Collapse & Wellstone
Edited on Fri Aug-06-04 11:02 AM by stickdog

The link works for me, but here's the original post if you are having trouble:

In the recent NC plane crash, 3 WR Grace employees were killed: Joseph Spiak, general manager of specialty vermiculite (including the highly toxic asbestos containing Zonolite), Paul Stidham, director of environmental health and safety, and Richard Lyons, global health and safety manager.


Although Halliburton is an enormous operation with more than 100,000 employees in 120 countries, it is a relatively small player when it comes to asbestos litigation, at least when compared with W.R. Grace & Co., GAF and the Johns Manville Corp. Nevertheless, Halliburton has spent $99 million to settle or dispose of 129,650 asbestos suits, according to company records.


WR Grace Asbestos containing insulation was used at the World Trade Center (WTC). James Cintani stated that Grace Vermiculite did not contain asbestos. Unfortunately this was not true this material was 2-5 percent asbestos. 100,000 80 pound bags of this vermiculite was used in the WTC. In addition 9,150 pounds of MonoKote 3 was used at the WTC. Monokote 3 was about 20 percent asbestos. Therefore in total about 201,183 pounds of pure asbestos fiber from Grace was used in the WTC.


White House budget office thwarts EPA warning on asbestos-laced insulation

The Environmental Protection Agency was on the verge of warning millions of Americans that their attics and walls might contain asbestos-contaminated insulation. But, at the last minute, the White House intervened, and the warning has never been issued.

The announcement to warn the public was expected in April. It was to accompany a declaration by the EPA of a public health emergency in Libby, Mont. In that town near the Canadian border, ore from a vermiculite mine was contaminated with an extremely lethal asbestos fiber called tremolite that has killed or sickened thousands of miners and their families. Ore from the Libby mine was shipped across the nation and around the world, ending up in insulation called Zonolite that was used in millions of homes, businesses and schools across America. Zonolite insulation was sold throughout North America from the 1940s through the 1990s. Almost all of the vermiculite used in the insulation came from the Libby mine, last owned by W.R. Grace & Co.

Interviews and documents show that just days before the EPA was set to make the declaration, the plan was thwarted by the White House Office of Management and Budget, which had been told of the proposal months earlier. Former EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus, who worked for Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, called the decision not to notify homeowners of the dangers posed by Zonolite insulation "the wrong thing to do." "When the government comes across this kind of information and doesn't tell people about it, I just think it's wrong, unconscionable, not to do that," he said. " What right does the government have to conceal these dangers? It just doesn't make sense."

The question about what to do about Zonolite insulation was not the only asbestos-related issue in which the White House intervened. In January, in an internal EPA report on problems with the agency's much-criticized response to the terrorist attacks in New York City, a section on "lessons learned" said there was a need to release public health and emergency information without having it reviewed and delayed by the White House."

The EPA's files are filled with studies documenting the toxicity of tremolite, how even minor disruptions of the material by moving boxes, sweeping the floor or doing repairs in attics can generate asbestos fibers. Most of those who have studied the needle-sharp tremolite fibers in the Libby ore consider them far more dangerous than other asbestos fibers. In October, the EPA team leading the cleanup of lower Manhattan after the attacks of Sept. 11 went to Libby to meet with Peronard and his crew. The EPA had reversed an early decision and announced that it would be cleaning asbestos from city apartments. (NOTE: THIS STUFF WAS IN THE WTC TOWERS!!!)

Peronard told the visitors from New York just how dangerous tremolite is. He talked about the hands-on research in Libby of Dr. Alan Whitehouse, a pulmonologist who had worked for NASA and the Air Force on earlier projects before moving to Spokane, Wash. "Whitehouse's research on the people here gave us our first solid lead of how bad this tremolite is," Peronard said.

Whitehouse has not only treated 500 people from Libby who are sick and dying from exposure to tremolite. The chest specialist also has almost 300 patients from Washington shipyards and the Hanford, Wash., nuclear facility who are suffering health effects from exposure to the more prevalent chrysotile asbestos. Comparing the two groups, Whitehouse has demonstrated that the tremolite from Libby is 10 times as carcinogenic as chrysotile and probably 100 times more likely to produce mesothelioma than chrysotile.

(Please read. There's much, much more here.)


Murray promises to renew push for asbestos warnings

Dec. 30 - After revelations that the Bush administration squelched public health warnings about a widely used form of insulation that contains cancer-causing asbestos, Sen. Patty Murray vowed yesterday to renew her fight for a public education campaign. Murray, D-Wash., said she will demand an explanation this week for why warnings planned last spring by the Environmental Protection Agency were called off at the last minute by high-ranking Bush administration officials.

Internal EPA documents show that about 15 million to 35 million of the nation's approximately 105 million households contain a brand of insulation known as Zonolite. Mined for decades in Libby, Mont., Zonolite contains a particularly lethal form of asbestos known as tremolite. "I just find it astounding that when this kind of information is available that can save people's lives, that this administration has decided to keep that secret and not let people know," Murray said. "Here's a health risk we can do something about."

Murray's co-sponsor, Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., died in October in a plane crash.

W.R. Grace says the insulation is safe, and wrote a letter to the EPA in April insisting that no health warnings are necessary.

In addition to its use in insulation, the brownish-pink vermiculite was contained in garden products, cement mixtures and many other products. One of those products was as fireproofing in ceiling tiles used widely in schools and federal office buildings. Helping manufacture those tiles as a side job while in college likely gave Brian Harvey of Marysville mesothelioma, a disease caused only by exposure to asbestos. Harvey criticized the Bush administration's decision to pull the public health warning. "I have a real problem with that," Harvey said. "That I consider unforgivable."

"At the top levels of the Bush administration, they are maintaining this cloak of secrecy that I can't imagine the people who I've worked with at the EPA are very happy about," Murray said. "Hopefully, the public will start crying out for Congress and the administration to do something about this."
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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 10:44 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. stickdog the link isn't working
could you check it please?

Is it this one?
The Paul Wellstone crash was.....
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stickdog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 11:07 AM
Response to Reply #12
14. Here's the google cache verson if you are having trouble
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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 12:51 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. Thanks so much stickdog
I have wanted that thread forever. Didn't know how to get it. I was such a young DU pup then. But my mind hasn't changed as to who's responsible for Wellstone's death.

Thanks again.
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stickdog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 12:38 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. The NTSB report of the crash that killed the WR Grace employees
Edited on Fri Aug-06-04 12:39 PM by stickdog
Joseph Spiak, general manager of specialty vermiculite (including the highly toxic asbestos containing Zonolite)
Paul Stidham, director of environmental health and safety
Richard Lyons, global health and safety manager

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
the airplane's loss of pitch control during take-off. The loss of pitch control resulted from the incorrect rigging of the elevator system compounded by the airplane's aft center of gravity, which was substaintially aft of the certified aft limit.

Contributing to the cause of the accident were:

(1) Air Midwest's lack of oversight of the work being performed at the Huntington, West Virginia, maintenance station;

(2) Air Midwest's maintenance procedures and documentation;

(3) Air Midwest's weight and balance program at the time of the accident;

(4) the Raytheon Aerospace quality assurance inspector's failure to detect the incorrect rigging of the elevator control system;

(5) the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) average weight assumptions in its weight and balance program guidance at the time of the accident; and

(6) the FAA's lack of oversight of Air Midwest's maintenance program and its weight and balance program.

The full narrative:

The FDR was sent to the Safety Boards laboratory for readout and evaluation. The
fire and impact damage to the exterior of the FDR prevented the data from being extracted
in the normal manner. The solid-state memory module, which was in good condition, was
extracted from the crash-protected memory case, and a new connector was attached to the
module. The module was then inserted into a surrogate F-1000 FDR, and the data were
downloaded and decompressed using the manufacturers software. About 95 hours of data
were recorded on the FDR, including data from the accident flight. The FDR powered up
for the accident flight just before 0825:00, and the last valid data were recorded just
after 0847:28.

The elevator control cables generally had numerous bends and kinks. Two of the
elevator AND cables seven spirally wound strands were completely broken and
unwound, and one strand was partially broken and unwound. (These strands were located
near the trailing edge of the wing, where the fuselage had folded toward the right wing
tip.) The unwound sections of the cable were examined at the Safety Boards Materials
Laboratory, and no evidence of fatigue cracking or a preexisting condition was found.

The elevator trim tab control wheel was intact and was attached in the cockpit. The
pitch trim appeared to be near the full AND position. The pitch trim control cables were
broken. The control cables were in the correct orientation. The left and right drums had
their respective cables wrapped around to the middle position.

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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 12:53 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. And thanks for posting this
I was going to get to it. Such coincidences!
Have you seen the anomolies of this crash?
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Minstrel Boy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 09:01 AM
Response to Original message
2. But the NTSB would NEVER conceal the truth!
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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 10:55 AM
Response to Reply #2
13. Check out this site
Edited on Fri Aug-06-04 11:07 AM by seemslikeadream
while it's still up cause it's disappearing fast. There's a great screen shot of Wellstone Sat Anomaly saw it this morning and now it's gone!
This is the cache because the original site is now gone

referring to this
Alchemike: wellstone was going after wr grace...
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Minstrel Boy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 09:33 AM
Response to Original message
6. But America is a city on a hill! To suggest the hill has a false beacon
Edited on Fri Aug-06-04 09:35 AM by Minstrel Boy
leading those who would challenge its power elite to untimely deaths is a disturbing insinuation, troubling my sleep. /sarcasm

Here's an old lecture by John Judge that should be required reading, but never will be, which contextualizes the "unlucky" American experience of progressive leaders, whistleblowers and witnesses getting lonegunmen'd, suicide'd and accident'd since WWII.

Assassination as a Tool of Fascism


But I found the same names cropping up, the same modus operandi, the same monies, (and I've only named a few of them), throughout not only the major assassinations...but also many of the witnesses that died. And a lot of the people that we knew were involved in the original research started to drop dead. There's people dropping dead now, during the Contragate investigation. It's a constant pattern: the witnesses are wiped out.

And when you go into the specifics: who did they know, or where they were, who was around them, or who helped set them up, you will find, I believe, (if you do the work, and I encourage you to do it on the things that you're interested in) people that have connections to Navy Intelligence. That's the central place where these people operated from, on the command level. You'll find people otherwise involved in the US Intelligence agencies. And you'll find people either with direct ties to Nazi Germany or with connections to current Fascist International networks that grew out of that period.

But those Nazis came here. They formed our foreign policy. There's a couple of new books out. If you haven't had a chance to see them, you should get them. This is by Bower, from a British publisher. It's called The Paperclip Conspiracy, and it's about the hunt for the Nazi scientists. There's an earlier book by Clarance Lasby, Project Paperclip that's very good, but these are recent ones, with some new information.


What I'm suggesting is that there's this history of the Fascism moving; that assassination has been its long-term technique for certain political purposes; and that it's time you took a look around you. Because they are killing us. They're not killing all of us. But they're killing people not just at the top government levels, but all the way down to the activists and the people who are going to try to make a difference.
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LeftHander Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-06-04 01:50 PM
Response to Original message
18. Asbestos keeps cropping up....
Ahhhhh asbestos....I am keenly interested in asbestos....

1999 Halliburton CEO - Cheney aquires Dresser (Harbison-Walker)

Dresser is a longtime Bush family company.

These companies were steeped in the Asbestos quagmire. At the edge of ruin. 200,000 asbestos claims that could reach 2-3 million a piece.

In June of 2002 Halliburton had lost a large claim and sent the stock tumbling to a dangerous low.

I believe Cheney took on Dresser as a favor to GHWBush and the Bush family. His task was to prevent Asbestos claims from destroying Dresser and Harbison-Walker. Using his defence contacts he was able to secure BILLIONS of U.S. dollars in a war in Iraq to bolster HAL stock and give time for Buddies like Orin Hatch to push a bad asbestos liability bill through congress. Which required a GOP controlled senate. Wellstone dies in a crash. As a asbestos victim advocate he would NEVER of stood and allowed the Asbestos bill introduced by Hatch to live as long as it did. They spent millions on ads trying to convince limiting asbestos liability was good for victims.

The bill now stalled or dead has disappeared from the public as the war in Iraq and the election dominates the media.

The asbestos libility and estimated 750,000 claims is the single most expensive liability claim tracked to a single cause in U.S. history. Tort reform and Judicial appointments all now appear to guided by the outcome of this bill. Interestingly enough the public is now being hit with another campaign to allow Bush judicial appointments to go ahead.

For Bush to not gain the Presidency in November will certainly mean that any asbestos friendly legislation will be difficult if not impossible to pass. Funds pooling into Halliburton as a result of Cheney's open ended no-bid contracts will surely end and put Halliburton at risk for complete dissolution as law suits send the company spiraling into financial oblivion.

With the above threads it really looks like there has been a huge effort on the part of many big corporate type GOPers to make sure asbestos does not cause major economic strife for a large portion of U.S. industry. Much of which is the backbone of the U.S. military industrial complex.

It sickens me the length people will go to protect money and allow people to suffer generation after generation.

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