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version they could support. It calls for further research and “voluntary reductions” by industry of dioxin. It does not mention chlorine at all. “They considered that [the mention of chlorine],” said Phillips, “a major sin.” Asked why, when chlorine is absolutely necessary to the creation of dioxin, the substitute resolution is silent on chlorine, Shilling responded bluntly, “We took it out.” To Phillips’ credit, she did manage to defend stronger language in the “rationale” to the adopted resolutionstill no mention of chlorine, but more specific mention of the dangers of dioxin, and identifying at least some of its man-made sources, including medical and municipal waste combustion and cement kilns. On the convention floor, Phillips described the resolution as a “giant step in the right direction,” and Pederson, as promised by the Chemical Council, also spoke in favor of it. The battle was not quite conceded; another woman Phillips says was hired by Texas Eastman to speak against the resolution, took the microphone to defend what she called “DOX-ins,” afterwards checking with industry representatives to see if she had done all right. “We sort of joked,” said Phillips, “that maybe she was opposing ‘little wiener dogs!'” Finally put to a vote before the one thousand and four hunched delegates, the substitute resolution passed by seventy-two votes. LIFE OF the cement kiln resolu tion was nasty, brutish, and short. TXI, and its chief representative Harold Green, had no inclination to compromise, and before the debate they lobbied hard for a rejection of the resolution outright. At the convention, Green was less shy about iden tifying himself than he had been in his letter to delegates; TXI had its own booth at the convention, decorated with child-friendly Sesame Street characters, including Big Bird. TXI spokesman Tom Tully later ex plained that Ralph Rogers, Chairman of TXI’s board of directors \(his son, Robert, is man of PBS and a big supporter of the Chil drens’ Television Workshop. “When Mr. Rogers heard that we were going to the PTA convention,” said Tully, “he asked us to take along his stuff about children’s television. So the two things [hazardous waste and Sesame Street] were not related.” Several people described Green as an obnoxious presence on the convention floor; he angrily confronted Phillips in the exhibit hall and, she said, tried to disrupt her workshop on environmental organizing. Later, Phillips said, even members of the Chemical Coun cil apologized for his behavior. Green coun ters that he only insisted that Phillips “tell the truth,” and that he has nothing to apolo gize for: “Her position was defeated, and she’s upset that her side lost.” It’s a characteristic overstatement. The cement kiln resolution was proposed on the floor by Ann Jahn, of the Cedar Hill Early Childhood PTA. Following her allotted two-minute speech to introduce the resolution, Jahn and her colleagues were surprised by what was apparently a preplanned parliamentary maneuver. Another delegateGreen described her as “a toxicologist from Houston”immediately rose and moved that the resolution be “postponed indefinitely,” a motion that took precedence over the proposed resolution. After a few minutes of discussion of the need for further information, the motion to postpone was passed, by one hundred and forty-seven votes. Said Ann Jahn: “They just used the parliamentary procedure to accomplish what they wanted doneto avoid debate on this topic.” Even that we’re not a major contributor, but there’s not been an obligation to test.” She added that when DuPont and other companies find out what levels are “critical,” they will move toward voluntary reductions. Let’s hope they find out soon. In his recent book, The Making of a Conservative Environmentalist, Republican Gordon Durrtil, the Bush-appointed U.S. Chairman of the International Joint Commission on the Great Lakes that recommended the phase-out of chlorine, estimated that the “chemical-bychemical” approach to dioxin-reduction, preferred by the industry, would take a minimum of one hunched yearsthat is, if no new organochlorines were created in the meantime, and the government could somehow manage the Herculean task of completely evaluating one hundred chemicals per year. At a more reasonable but still quite difficult four chemicals per year, wrote Durnil, the task would take “somewhere between fifteen thousand and fifty thousand years.” Kim Cattaneo, President of the Cedar Hill Early Childhood PTA, and one of the delegates who went home disappointed when the convention voted not to debate the hazardous waste issue, doesn’t think we have that long. Disappointed but un The “chemical-by-chemical” approach to dioxin-reduction, preferred by the industry, would take a minimum of one hundred years. daunted by the outcome of the deTXI supporter Barbara Pederson was bate, she returned to her community to constunned by the abrupt conclusion; she had tinue educating and organizing her wanted to speak against the resolution: neighbors. “We’re trying to keep the infor”That [resolution] did not meet the objecmation flowing; it will take a tremendous tives of the TPTAwhich must be ‘for amount of work and money, which we children’ and ‘statewide.’ A citizens group don’t have.” Cattaneo’s neighborhood is from Midlothian was taking a community twelve to fifteen miles downwind from the issue and claiming it was a statewide TXI plant, and it has been plagued by othissue…” erwise unexplained health problems in the In fact, it may soon be more than a years since the cement kilns, designed to be statewide issue. Recent studies have shown fueled by coal or natural gas, were allowed that dioxins emitted from incinerators \(reto burn hazardous waste. “There have been kiln incinerators, are dispersed and travel said Cattaneo, “in the five years I’ve lived much farther than previously realized. Rehere,” and she also described the frequent searchers have been able to trace major incidence of severe childhood asthma. Her dioxin deposits in the Great Lakes to own five-year-old son, otherwise healthy, sources as far away as Florida and, you had a bout of severe respiratory illness guessed it, Texas. There are a great many after playing soccer during an afternoon people, Texans and others, downwind from when “the air smelled like garbage.” TXI’s cement kilnsnot to mention the Cattaneo was not impressed by the chem couple of dozen more kilns profitably ical industry’s PR blitz at the TPTA convenburning across the countryand a goodly tion, nor by the continuing insistence of number of them are children. TXI, supported by the TNRCC, that there is I asked Mark Shilling and Barbara Pednothing wrong. “I’m just a concerned erson, in the wake of their industry’s vote mommy; I don’t have any other interest in to support the reduction of dioxin emisthis at all, except for the fact that there have sions, what the chemical industry would do been so many questions raised and I would to help make that happen. “That’s probably like to have those questions answered. I going to be done on a company by cornwould like to know it’s safe, and if you can pany basis,” answered Shilling. “We don’t convince me it’s safe, I’ll be on your side. I have any kind of a program to ask them to don’t want to be involved in this at allbut make those kinds of reductions.” Said PedI have too much information from too many erson, of DuPont, “We’re still in a self-as sources across the country that say this is a sessment mode. We kind of have a feeling very dangerous process.” THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7