From the “hard to swallow” department comes the latest news from the long running saga of a scrap steel foundry in kooky Berkeley, California.  Seems that the company, Pacific Steel Castings (PSC) was ordered to stop releasing stinky toxic chemicals into the nearby neighborhood populated with schools, daycare centers and thousands of modest homes.  So the company drafted up a detailed plan to catch, capture and control the nasties – stuff like formaldehyde – known cancer cancer-causing chemical, etc.

Now the bizarre part – PSC wanted to keep the details “secret” or a “Trade Secret” in legal terms.  You’d think they’d want the world to know and be bragging about it. Nope.  Remember your’re in Berkeley, a decidedly special place for sure.  Yup, the lawyers for PSC, blacked out large sections of the toxic control plan and claimed these sections were “Trade Secrets”.  That’s a legal term meaning: I can’t tell you because if you’re my competitor – another steel mill – you could take this information and ruin my business – bankrupt me!

Let me see if I got this right.  Steel mill agrees to do a bunch of stuff to reduce toxic stench and then doesn’t want to share the details with their neighbors or even the regulators, because it would potentially hurt the profits and help their competitors.

According to media reports: “Portions of the plan that the court determined Pacific Steel will not release include odor control strategies, long term odor control strategies, further efforts to reduce alleged emissions, map layouts, odor abatement equipment maintenance programs and complaint response procedures.”

So how you control cancer causing gases that spew into the community can be kept secret. Huh?  I wonder how anyone could trust such a plan.  Does PSC really think this is the way to build confidence in their efforts to reduce pollution?

The fact is PSC doesn’t care and has demonstrated this arrogance to the neighbors for decades.  Worse yet, Berkeley’s Green Mayor, Tom Bates, defends the company and the Air District claims its getting better.

Luckily some folks have organized to get to the bottom of how their health is being affected by PSC.  Aided by local volunteers and Global Community Monitor’s staff, and with funding from the San Francisco Foundation and the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, we’re finally going to get to the bottom of what PSC’s pollution is doing to their neighbors.

A Body Burden study is planned for later this year to test the blood of children living in the shadow of PSC.  They’ll be looking specifically for metals such as manganese and nickel, which are additives to the steel making process.  PSC is the source of 99 to 100% of these toxic metals in the area.  So if it’s in the kid’s blood – it’s most likely coming froorm PSC and we won’t keep that a secret.

It may be a secret how PSC is trying to control its stinky gases, but the GCM sponsored Body Burden Study will put some much needed daylight on the very real health damage being done in Berkeley and just maybe the politicians and bureaucrats will finally do their jobs instead of making excuses.

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