AmeriScan: November 1, 2001

FAA RESTRICTS AIRSPACE OVER NUCLEAR FACILITIES

WASHINGTON, DC, November 1, 2001 (ENS) - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is enforcing no fly zones over 86 sensitive nuclear sites and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

After the Federal Bureau of Investigations issued a new security alert on Monday, the FAA issued a notice placing additional restrictions on private or general aviation flying in the airspace surrounding nuclear power plants and other sites.

All general aviation flying is now prohibited within a radius of 10 nautical miles and below 18,000 feet of the 86 nuclear sites. The ban also applies to flights over the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the nation's emergency oil stockpile along the Texas and Louisiana coasts.

Each of the sites and its location is listed in a Notice to Airmen, available at: http://notamweb.nas.faa.gov

The prohibition is planned to last until midnight on November 6. The only exceptions are medevac, law enforcement, rescue/recovery, emergency evacuation and fire fighting flights when authorized by air traffic control.

The ban on flying over these sites is in addition to previous flight restrictions the FAA has imposed throughout the U.S.

"The FAA realizes these restrictions inconvenience general aviation pilots and airports," FAA Administrator Jane Garvey said. "As the FAA and other federal agencies continuously review measures to ensure national security, we look for the understanding and cooperation of the general aviation community."

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SANDIA'S DECON FOAM HELPS CLEAN UP ANTHRAX

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico, November 1, 2001 (ENS) - Federal authorities are using a decontamination formulation developed at the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) Sandia National Laboratories to help rid Capitol Hill buildings of anthrax this week.

Cleanup workers have taken quantities of the formulation with them into Congressional office buildings as one of the decontamination products selected to help clean up the Hart Senate Office Complex and the Dirkson and Ford Congressional Offices in Washington DC. They also are preparing to use the foam to decontaminate mailrooms on Capitol Hill contaminated with anthrax.

Two Sandia researchers are on site in Washington as technical advisors. Sandia licensed rights to commercialize the chem-bio formulation (often referred to as a decon foam) to two companies last year - Modec, Inc. and EnviroFoam Technologies - following a five year research and development project at Sandia funded by the NNSA's Chemical and Biological National Security Program.

The formulation, a cocktail that includes ordinary household substances such as those found in hair conditioner and toothpaste, neutralizes both chemical and biological agents in minutes. It can be applied to a contaminated surface as a liquid spray, mist, fog or foam.

Traditional decontaminating products are based on bleach, chlorinated solvents, or other hazardous or corrosive materials. Many are designed to work against only a limited number of either chemical or biological agents.

The Sandia formulation works against a wide variety of both chemical and biological agents and is non-toxic, non-corrosive, and environmentally friendly. In multiple independent lab tests and field trials, the formulation was effective against anthrax spores and chemical warfare agents.

In lab tests at Sandia it also destroyed simulants of anthrax, simulants of chemical agents, vegetative cells, toxins and viruses.

"It has performed well against biological agents as well as the most worrisome chemical warfare agents," said co-developer Mark Tucker of Sandia.

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EPA RESTRICTS TWO AGRICULTURAL PESTICIDES

WASHINGTON, DC, November 1, 2001 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed new restrictions on the use of two agricultural pesticides, azinphos-methyl and phosmet.

Azinphos-methyl and phosmet, first registered over 35 years ago, have been important tools for pest control in certain food crops.

For azinphos-methyl, 28 crop uses are being canceled, seven crop uses are being phased out over four years, and eight crop uses will be allowed to continue for another four years. Prior to the expiration of the four year period, the EPA will conduct a comprehensive review of these eight crop uses, based on the latest seven scientific information, to determine if it should continue to allow registration.

Azinphos-methyl is registered by Bayer AG and Makhteshim-Agan Industries. The crop uses being phased out in four years include those for: almonds, tart cherries, cotton, cranberries, peaches, pistachios, and walnuts; the crops with time limited registrations include: apples/crab apples, blueberries, sweet cherries, pears, pine seed orchards, brussels sprouts, cane berries, and the use of azinphos-methyl by nurseries for quarantine requirements.

For phosmet, three uses are being canceled, nine crops are being authorized for use under specific terms for five years, and 33 crops are being approved for continued use. The new measures on phosmet are being implemented under an agreement with the registrant, Gowan Co.

The three voluntary cancellations include use on: domestic pets, household ornamentals, and household fruit trees; phosmet, however, is not often used for these applications. Phosmet will be authorized for use for five years on a group of nine crops: apples, apricots, blueberries, crab apples, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears and plums/dried plums.

"The new measures announced today on azinphos-methyl and phosmet will help decrease pesticide exposure and provide additional health protection for agricultural workers," said Stephen Johnson, EPA assistant administrator for prevention, pesticides and toxic substances. "New health effects monitoring of agricultural workers will be required to determine if it is necessary to impose additional restrictions. Today's decision also provides time for farmers to make the transition to safer alternatives for the uses that are critical for crop production."

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SCIENTISTS IMMUNIZE MICE AGAINST WEST NILE VIRUS

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, November 1, 2001 (ENS) - Yale scientists have immunized mice against West Nile virus, raising the possibility of developing a vaccine for humans against the sometimes fatal mosquito borne infection.

Although there have been about 10 West Nile virus related deaths reported to date in the United States, the virus is considered an emerging disease, said Dr. Erol Fikrig, associate professor of medicine and in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale School of Medicine, who directed the study.

"Its seriousness as a public health threat is not fully known yet," Fikrig said. "That should become apparent over the next two to three years. If the vaccine proves necessary, its development will be valuable."

Results of the study were published online in the "Journal of Immunology" on October 23 and appear in the November 1 print issue.

West Nile virus was first identified in Uganda in 1937 and has since infected people in many other parts of the world. It was seen for the first time in humans in the U.S. in the New York City area in 1999.

Sporadic cases have since appeared around the northeast and in the south and midwest. The virus, which infects birds as well as humans, spreads through mosquito bites in warm weather months.

There is no cure for West Nile virus, although infection does not often cause serious consequences. Elderly patients, however, can develop fatal encephalitis, a central nervous system infection.

Fikrig, Tian Wang, a post-doctoral fellow in his laboratory, and other Yale colleagues worked with John Anderson and associates from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven to isolate the virus found in an infected bird. They genetically engineered a protein in the virus, which they then injected into uninfected mice.

Immunization with the vaccine provided complete protection for the animals against West Nile virus.

Diagnosis of West Nile virus can be difficult using current methods. The protein used to make the vaccine could be employed to develop a diagnostic test.

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STUDY FINDS FOREST SERVICE TIMBER SUBSIDY REPORT UNRELIABLE

WASHINGTON, DC, November 1, 2001 (ENS) - A General Accounting Office (GAO) report concludes that the U.S. Forest Service's reports on timber subsidies are unreliable, not released in a timely manner and did not provide the basic cost accounting information needed to determine the net cost of the logging program.

Responding to concern over money losing timber sales during the 1980's, Congress, the Forest Service and the GAO (the investigative arm of Congress) developed a system to track timber sale costs called the Timber Sales Program Information Reporting System (TSPIRS).

The GAO report, released October 22, was requested by Democratic Representatives George Miller of California and Cynthia McKinney of Georgia. The representatives asked the GAO to prepare a report detailing the budgetary impact of the Forest Service timber sale program and to update their previous reports on the timber sale program, which revealed more than $2 billion in taxpayer losses between 1992-1997.

The GAO concluded that it was "impractical, if not impossible, for us or anyone to accurately determine the Forest Service's timber sales program cost." The report further accuses the Forest Service of "serious accounting and financial reporting deficiencies."

The report found that the Forest Service is using accounting practices that hide the costs of the timber sale program - such as charging timber sale program costs to other programs or charging staff time based on the budget, rather than actual time spent on the program. Charging employee time to another accounts also hid costs of the timber sale program.

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LABOR HOUSEHOLDS REJECT ARCTIC DRILLING CLAIMS

WASHINGTON, DC, November 1, 2001 (ENS) - Voters in union households reject two central arguments put forth by proponents of oil drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), according to a bipartisan national poll released by The Wilderness Society.

By an almost 2:1 ratio (59 percent to 32 percent), union voters rejected the argument that, in light of the declining economy and layoffs, the United States needs to open the Arctic Refuge for drilling to create 735,000 new jobs. The majority agreed that while the nation needs to do something to stimulate the economy, the oil industry funded study which claims drilling would lead to hundreds of thousands of jobs is based on flawed assumptions and exaggerates the number of potential new jobs.

By a similar margin (61 percent to 34 percent), union household voters also rejected the notion that allowing oil drilling in the Refuge would increase national security. The voters endorsed a statement that increasing fuel efficiency is the single most effective action that could reduce national dependence on foreign oil.

Among the general population, a majority of Americans in all regions (54 percent to 38) shared union members' skepticism that drilling is needed to stimulate the economy. A majority (57 to 36 percent) rejected the idea that drilling in ANWR will aid national security or U.S. military efforts.

"It is clear that the jobs and national security arguments just don't hold water, and the American people aren't buying any of it," said Jim Waltman, director of refuges and wildlife for The Wilderness Society. "Drilling in the Arctic Refuge would damage a national treasure while doing little to create new jobs or make our nation more secure. It's not surprising that given the irreparable damage that would occur and the small amount of oil under the refuge, most people see energy efficiency and improved fuel economy as much smarter moves."

The study, conducted October 4-7 by Republican pollster Bellwether Research and Democratic research firm The Mellman Group, also found that most Americans (53 percent to 40 percent) are likely to see attempts to link drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with national security as an attempt to exploit the recent national tragedy to further a political agenda.

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FLORIDA EXPANDS NATIONAL ESTUARINE RESEARCH RESERVES

TALLAHASSEE, Florida, November 1, 2001 (ENS) - A vote this week by Florida Governor Jeb Bush and cabinet members expands the boundaries in two of Florida's three National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERR).

Rookery Bay NERR, located in southwest Florida near Naples, will add 90,000 acres of uplands and submerged lands to the existing 20,000 acres. Apalachicola NERR in the Florida panhandle gains 53,427 acres of publicly owned uplands, bringing its total acreage to 247,185.

"Through this boundary expansion, 412,000 acres of Florida's public uplands and state owned submerged lands are protected in national estuarine research reserves," said David Struhs, secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Rookery Bay and Apalachicola NERR's were two of the nation's earliest national reserves. Florida's third NERR (and the nation's 25th), the Guana Tolomato Matanzas, borders St. Augustine on the east coast and was designated in 1999.

The NERR program, administered by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, began in 1972. Of the 25 NERR designations throughout the nation since the program's inception, Florida is the only state to have three.

The purpose of the NERR program is to conserve the natural resources of estuarine ecosystems that represent the various regions of the U.S. and its territories. States get federal funding assistance for facilities construction, land management, habitat restoration, land acquisition and program operations.

NERR staff design and implement environmental education programs, conduct scientific research on estuarine ecology, monitor the biological and physical processes of the environment, and manage the uplands and submerged lands to protect the resources.

National recognition of educational programs designed by staff at both the Rookery Bay and Apalachicola NERR prompted NOAA to implement the programs at NERR's nationwide.

In early December 2001, Rookery Bay NERR will celebrate the groundbreaking of its new Environmental Learning Center and Marine Laboratory, with completion planned for the summer of 2002. Grants from NOAA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, totaling more than $1 million, will be used to construct the 16,000 square foot research and education facility.

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DOW URGED TO WITHDRAW WEED KILLER

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, November 1, 2001 (ENS) - A new e-mail campaign is demanding that Dow AgroSciences take Confront and other persistent, clopyralid containing herbicides off the market until Dow can demonstrate their safety to both backyard and centralized composting processes.

The web based campaign has been launched by the Athens, Georgia based GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN) at: http://www.grrn.org

"Confront is totally contradictory to all of our goals for recycling, resource conservation and sustainability," said GRRN president Anne Morse. "Dow's proposal that the solution lies in educating composters and making composters pay for expensive laboratory testing is completely unacceptable."

"Dow must follow the Precautionary Principle and withdraw Confront immediately until it can be proven safe for organics recycling," added Morse. "Dow must take full financial responsibility for damage caused by its products."

Morse said losses in Washington state due to unmarketable compost are significant, according to state and industry officials.

A class of persistent herbicide products in turf and agricultural applications, of which clopyralid is a member, has been detected in finished compost in Washington state, Pennsylvania and New Zealand, says the trade journal BioCycle.

BioCycle said that, "Sensitive plants like tomatoes, beans and sunflower grown in compost containing clopyralid can be deformed and damaged. Even compost containing manure from animals that have eaten hay treated with picloram, a Dow chemical in the same class, have been damaged by minute quantities of the herbicide."

"Dow AgroSciences claims to have fulfilled its obligations with its label warning," said Gabriella Ulnar-Heffner, a Seattle Public Utilities program development specialist. "The label is totally inadequate since its message is only being delivered to the commercial applicator who applies the chemical to lawns and not to the homeowner or lawn maintenance company who collects the grass clippings and makes the compost. Moreover, clopyralid levels have been detected in compost products produced from such agricultural residuals as manures, straw and animal bedding."

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WORLDWIDE SURVEY ASSESSES BIODIVERSITY IN LITTER

WASHINGTON, DC, November 1, 2001 (ENS) - Over the next two months, scientists at 32 sites in 20 countries will dig through bags of leaf litter to learn more about the tiny creatures which perform one of nature's most important jobs - decomposition.

The researchers are part of the first global survey of the biodiversity in the plant debris that blankets much of the planet's surface.

As part of the Global Litter Invertebrate Decomposition Experiment (GLIDE), last August and September the researchers placed mesh bags of leaf litter on the ground of diverse ecosystems, from tropical to boreal forests, and from to savannahs to arctic tundra. In November and December, they will retrieve some of these bags for analysis of global patterns of decomposition and the species involved.

ostracod

Most of the tiny crustaceans called ostracods live in water. The Queensland terrestrial ostracod is a rare example of a land living ostracod, making its home in damp leaf litter in Australia (Photo by Dr. David Walter, courtesy GLIDE)
The chair of GLIDE, Dr. Diana Wall of Colorado State University, expects the study to advance the team's understanding of large scale distributions of the tiny animals that dwell in Litter and litter. Even at small scales, biodiversity in Litters and litter is poorly known.

There is not one experimental plot, anywhere in the world, for which all species of soil and litter creatures have been described. The lack of information on these species is partly due to their sheer abundance and diversity.

"The species diversity of fauna in litter and soil is likely to be orders of magnitude greater than the more familiar biodiversity aboveground," said Wall. "Furthermore, there may be hundreds of species and thousands of individuals in a handful of soil or litter. Collecting and identifying such large numbers of species poses an enormous challenge to soil taxonomists."

Wall explained that the majority of these species are not visible to the naked eye since they live in dark underground habitats, and many are microscopic. Biologists estimate that for many soil and litter taxonomic groups, less than 10 percent of species have been scientifically described.

All of the scientists participating in the project are volunteering their time to place the litterbags in the field and collect them.

More Information on GLIDE is available at: http://www.nrel.colostate.edu/projects/glide/