one thing, Markel says, there’s no excuse for Velsicol’s delay in forwarding employee medical records to his office. And what’s worse, he says, NIOSH staffers feel there may be discrepancies in the information that has arrived from Velsicol. The only response given reporters by Velsicol has been a two-paragraph statement from a spokesman in the company’s Chicago headquarters that maintains the company has “reported fully on the Phosvel matter to the appropriate government agencies, and we are working with them in reviewing these instances.” Since disclosure of the NIOSH probe, other state and federal agencies have jumped into the Velsicol fray. Although the federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration office in Houston has no evidence on file of past safety violations concerning the Bayport plant, director Bob Griffin says he is taking a look at present working conditions at the plant. Asked why OSHA was unaware of conditions cited by ex-workers, Griffin said his office is understaffedand generally doesn’t investigate a plant unless there is a specific complaint. OSHA records, he says, show that no complaints were filed about Velsicolbut former Velsicol employee Carpenter disputes Griffin. He says he mailed a complaint to OSHA the day after he resigned, but was told by an agency representative that OSHA was powerless to follow up on the complaint since Carpenter was no longer employed at the plant. Griffin says he will investigate Carpenter’s claim. The Texas Air Control Board, the Houston Air Pollution and Water Pollution Departments, and the Harris County Pollution Control Departmentalong with EPA have begun sampling air and water near the Bayport plant to determine whether there are lasting environmental effects of Phosvel pollution. The Texas Water Quality Board and Texas Department of Health Resources are sampling shellfish from Galveston Bay for traces of the pesticide, and TWQB is investigating reports that Velsicol illegally dumped pesticide waste at a Texas City disposal pit in October and November, almost a year after production ceased. Jim Jordan, chief of the Harris County district attorney’s pollution control division, said Velsicol faces county charges in five odor releases and one liquid discharge that took place from June, 1975, to August of this year. The liquid discharge occurred last March and was so strong that tests showed it could kill fish within two minutes. The Phosvel investigation, Markel says, is not limited to operations at Velsicol, for NIOSH is closely surveying operations at ten similar plants in the U.S., Canada, and Hollandincluding a second plant in Houston, Chem Trix Corp. The U.S. plants will be studied by NIOSH, Markel says, and the foreign plants will be advised of potential hazards by the Department of State or the World Health Organization. NIOSH will also oversee disposal of more than 7,000 It’s not just chemical workers and foreign farmers who have been exposed to leptophos; American consumers have had a taste of the nerve-attacking pesticide on some of their tomatoes for several years. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was a major move by U.S. tomato producers and processors into Mexico, where they could find cheap and unorganized labor and where they could escape the more stringent environmental and safety laws of the U.S. Today, about a fourth of the tomatoes eaten in this country are grown in Mexico. While leptophos pesticide is prohibited in U.S. tomato fields, it is sprayed in Mexican fields with some abandon. According to barrels of Phosvel now stored in two Houston warehouses. Meanwhile, the Bayport Vesicol plant is not lying idle. Since halting production of Phosvel almost a year ago, the plant has begun to turn out another pesticideEPN. Although licensed for agricultural use in the United States, EPN has been described by a Duke University researcher as twice the toxin leptophos is. Mohamed B. Abou Classified advertising is 200 per word. Discounts for multiple insertions within a 12-month period: 25 times, 50 percent; 12 times, 25 percent; 6 times, 10 percent. JOIN THE ACLU. Membership $20. Texas Civil Liberties Union, 600 West 7th, Austin, Texas 78701. NEW ORLEANS ON $8 A YEAR. The Weekly Courier, 1232 Decatur, 70116. THE NEW YORK TIMES Sunday edition delivered to your home in the Dallas area. Call 2395325 for rates and information. NEED SOMETHING from Germany? Jim & Hanni International, 1600 Northwood, Austin 78703. 474-2582. BOOKS PRINTED from manuscript. Biography Press, Rt. 1-745, Aransas Pass, Texas 78336. JOIN COMMON CAUSE. Only one person can make democracy work again . . . YOU. $15 \($7 Antonio St., Austin, Texas 78701. LIBERTY LUNCH. 405 W 2nd. Austin. Eclectic fare. Jazz Theatre. BOOK-HUNTING? No obligation search for rare or out-of-print books. Ruth and John Mc173, Austin, Texas 78703. BOOKPLATES. Free catalog. Many beautiful designs. Special designing too. Address: BOOKPLATES, P.O. Box 28-1, Yellow Springs, Ohio 45387. Washington Post reporters Peter Milius and Dan Morgan, tomato growers in Mexico made heavy use of leptophos in 1975, and FDA inspectors found tiny amounts of the pesticide in nearly half the truckloads of imported Mexican tomatoes they sampled last year. Since then, growers in Mexico have cut back on their use of leptophos in favor of other pesticides, and there is general agreement among toxicologists that Americans consumed too little over too short a span to be in any danger of leptophos poisoning. But the leptophos-sprayed tomatoes offer still more evidence that the proliferation of economic poisons inevitably comes back to haunt us, even if the poison has to go through Mexico first. Donia, professor of pharmacy at Duke, says it takes half as much EPN as Phosvel to kill a laboratory hen. “I just can’t imagine they would do that,” Abou-Donia says. “I was surprised to hear that they had turned around and were making something that would definitely be more hazardous to workers.” December 24, 1976 19 WHAT EVER HAPPENED to Carole and Bob Rogers and their daughter Becky? Pat Lawrence, 5113 N. 9th, Fresno CA 93710. MOVING BACK TO AUSTIN. Soc. grad student wants to share house with other starting January. Bill Gibson, 97 Sylvia, Arlington, Mass., 02174. PRISONS FEED ON THE POOR AND THE NON-VIOLENT. 2,000 new prisons and jails will be built before 1980 unless you act to stop them. Join our network. National Moratorium on Prison Construction, 3106 Mt. Pleasant St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20010. LEARN TO FLY HOT AIR BALLOONS. Contact Derek Howard, Southwestern Balloon School, 6106 War Bonnet, San Antonio. 681-2573 or, in Austin, 327-2194. WHAT RIGHTS DO UTILITY RATE-PAYERS HAVE? To find out, send $2 for a copy of The Consumers Guide to Utility Regulation. You will receive free The Southwest Utility Watch. Southwest Utility Associates, Box 13052, Austin, Texas 78711. CHINESE PERIODICAL SUBSCRIPTIONS. Peking Review, news weekly, airmailed, $4.50/ yr. China Reconstructs, general information monthly, airmailed, $3.00/yr. China Pictorial, picture-feature monthly, seamailed, $4.00/yr. Chinese Literature, cultural monthly, seamailed, $4.00/yr. Available through Prairie Fire Bookstore, 3221 Main, Houston, Texas 77002. Write for free catalogue of other books, magazines, cards, etc. The Mexican tomato connection CLASSIFIED
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