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you ought to have to leave. “This is home,” says Howard. “It’s home. There is where my husband moved when he was in the third grade. I went all 12 years of school here. I couldn’t be any prouder of where I live. If I packed up and moved somewhere else, it wouldn’t be home. It would be hard to leave here. My daddy even worked at TXI. I knew about the dust, but not all this other stuff. Why should we have to give up our home for the crap they’re doing now?” Howard isn’t the only one who has wondered. And her story isn’t even the worst. The TACB Task Force on Waste-derived Fuels for Cement Kilns which would ultimately call for restrictions on the practice received dozens of affidavits from residents of the Midlothian/Cedar Hill area attesting to a disturbing incidence of severe health problems within the past seven years. Among the most serious: birth defects, asthma and other respiratory diseases, skin rashes and lesions, hormonal irregularities, intestinal problems, hyperactivity among children. At least two people said they had depression so severe that they attempted suicide. Several women said their menstrual cycles had altered, in some cases going on for weeks at a time, since the burning began. Terry Atchinson, who lived on a small ranch between Midlothian and Cedar Hill, underwent a hysterectomy at age 29, and developed migraine headaches. One of her sons, born after the waste-burning was started, was jaundiced at birth. Another is hyperactive. Atchinson moved to Aubrey, Texas, last August and says her health and that of her sons improved almost at once. Atchinson’s children, as well as several others is the area, were tested by a private laboratory in 1991 for chemical residues in their hair. In almost every case, total toxicity was extremely high, including measurements of lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium and other heavy metals. One of the affected children has developed bone cancer. At least one child directly downwind of the kiln has developed leukemia. Another was born with a cleft palate, and two babies from neighboring families died after being born anencephalic. Sue Pope, 52, whose 27-acre Hidden Valley Arabians ranch lies directly in the path of the prevailing southerly winds from the kilns, has been ill almost continuously since 1987, suffering from attacks of endometrigsis, autoimmune syndrome, severe sinusitis and upper respiratory problems. She and her husband, Ralph, are under constant medication and have had to outfit their house with special fans and other devices to enhance breathing. They rarely sleep through a night. Like Howard, she’s gotten little help from the state. When she asked the TACB last July to test the area for furans and dioxins, two lethal chemicals known to be generated from hazardous waste residues, she received a patronizing letter saying it would be too expensive. But, like other area ranchers, the Popes’ health is just part of the impact. According to affidavits and testimony before the TACB, outdoor livestock in the Cedar Hill/Midlothian area have developed a number of severe health problems in the past seven years. Dr. Mikel Athon, a Cedar Hill veterinarian, reported in a Nov. 19, 1992, letter that from 1989-1992 reproductive problems had afflicted 10 horses belonging to five owners in the area around the Popes’ ranch. “This appears to be an abnormally high incidence of reproductive problems for such a small area and population of horses,” Athon concluded. The reproductive abnormalities included several incidences of twinning, a rare multiple-birthing phenomenon among livestock that has been linked to toxic exposure in some European studies. Hidden Valley Ranch, the tack room walls of which are lined with national championship ribbons, now maintains only eight horses. Its prize $25,000 stallion, born in 1986 the year the waste-burning began has yet to sire live offspring. The most recent attempt resulted in a twinning. Both foals died. Last year, the ranch lost all five of its foals through miscarriages. This spring, Pope watched in horror as a calf on her father’s adjacent ranch emerged from the womb so deformed “it looked like a monster.” It quickly died. Are these just isolated misfortunes, random bad luck or cause for alarm? Virtually every issue surrounding the burning of hazardous waste at kilns, even the most basic data and measurements, let alone the epidemiological meaning of anecdotal evidence, is in dispute. Dr. Edward Kleppinger, a Washington, D.C., consultant who served on the state’s 18member hazardous waste-burning task force, represents those who are plenty worried. Kleppinger, whose clients have included Greenpeace and commercial incinerators, is well known for opposing the burning of hazardous waste in cement kilns. One of the major sources of his opposition is the possibility of unknown, unpredictable dangers. “Animals in the field are potentially the canaries in the coal mine,” says Kleppinger. “And here’s what really bothers me. If, in fact, animals represent elevated levels \(of toxif, if, if, then I’m very concerned about the dairy herds in that area. If the cattle are exposed to it, then that gets into the milk going into Dallas. It would be nice to see the breeding records of those dairy herds, but there’s a better way. Why not just test the damn milk?” Indeed. According to an EPA study of hazardous waste incineration effects in Ohio, “risks from beef and milk consumption can be 1,000 times higher than risks from inhalation.” Greenpeace says the risks are 10,000 times greater. But to order testing would be to imply officially that there might be a problem. The first line of defense of waste-burning is denial that a problem even exists. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the studied indifference of the Texas Department of Health. No specific testing for kiln-emitted substances in the milk of the five herds downwind of the Midlothian plants has ever been ordered from Austin. Despite numerous complaints over the years from the Midlothian area, the only effort at tracking the effects of exposure on the local population has been the distribution a year ago of a brief self-assessment survey around the city. About 300 forms were turned in. They have yet to be evaluated. Dr. Richard Beauchamp, the state health department medical toxicologist in charge of the survey, says flatly that there is no unusual health risk in Midlothian. “On the basis of monitoring data from the TACB, there does not appear to be anything in the way of a hazardous exposure that would not be comparable to any other area. We would have to have a known pollution source that would be exposing people to higher than acceptable levels. … Right now there is no known source of pollution.” Asked the obvious if the three giant cement kilns might not be possible sources Beauchamp responds: “No more than coalfired plants. The people in the area are exposed to things that would be adverse at high levels, but they are exposed at low levels far below the lowest level known to produce adverse effects.” Jack Divita, a spokesman for the EPA regional office in Dallas, said, if burning hazardous waste in cement kilns was not safe, neither we nor the Texas Water Commission would allow it.” In essence, this is the same position taken by the cement industry. Insisting its products are both safe and environmentally sound, the industry siggests that those who oppose waste-burning simply have the facts wrong. TXI’s chief lobbyist, Dallas-based Randy Jones, blames much of the problem on “outsiders” who have come in to convince local residents that they are sick. Virtually every charge against waste-burning, from somewhat esoteric quarrels over kiln temperature destruction rates to disagreement over whether a creek bed actually skirts TXI’s primary quarry, is stonewalled with counter-facts or counter-interpretations. “We have 1,300 employees at TXI and Chaparral [a large steel-making subsidiary next door to TXI],” Jones explained one morning in a modest prefab office that serves as the company’s Midlothian headquarters. “It’s absurd to think we’d do something that’s not in their [workers’ best interests. There is no price on that. If it’s not a safe method it shouldn’t be done.” Outside, a succession of tanker trucks moved in and out of the guarded entry gate 12 JULY 2, 1993