Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Frontline: Tyson's kills the Chesapeake Bay

Frontline: Tyson's corner and Tyson's chicken are killing the Chesapeake Bay.

So is Purdue Chicken. Standard Purdue contracts say the company owns the chicken, their feed, and their feeding regimen. They won't take ownership of the chickensh*t that is creating "dead zones" killing fish and crabs and other Bay life.

Tyson's corner - as large as Boston or Phoenix, "a case study in harmful impact of unchecked growth." "The car built Tyson's; it also built the gridlock that is strangling Tyson's."


"There is now today ... 46 million sq ft of development... and 40 million sq ft of parking." Tyson's is a glaring example of poor land use:, impervious surfaces that cause drainage and runoff, no accommodation for biking or walking, and poor public transportation.

"The danger signs are everywhere. 'Dead zones.' Dying young whales. Inter-sex in male fish. The growing risk of serious health problems in humans."

"The key is public engagement."

More than three decades after the Clean Water Act, iconic American waterways like the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound are in perilous condition and facing new sources of contamination.With polluted runoff still flowing in from industry, agriculture and massive suburban development, scientists note that many new pollutants and toxins from modern everyday life are already being found in the drinking water of millions of people across the country and pose a threat to fish, wildlife and, potentially, human health.
In Poisoned Waters, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith examines the growing hazards to human health and the ecosystem.
"The '70s were a lot about, 'We're the good guys; we're the environmentalists; we're going to go after the polluters,' and it's not really about that anymore," Jay Manning, director of ecology for Washington state, tells FRONTLINE. "It's about the way we all live. And unfortunately, we are all polluters. I am; you are; all of us are."
Through interviews with scientists, environmental activists, corporate executives and average citizens impacted by the burgeoning pollution problem, Smith reveals startling new evidence that today's growing environmental threat comes not from the giant industrial polluters of old, but from chemicals in consumers' face creams,
deodorants, prescription medicines and household cleaners that find their way into sewers, storm drains and eventually into America's waterways and drinking
"The environment has slipped off our radar screen because it's not a hot crisis like the financial meltdown, war or terrorism," Smith says. "But pollution is a ticking time bomb. It's a chronic cancer that is slowly eating away the natural resources that are vital to our very lives."
In Poisoned Waters, Smith speaks with researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), who report finding genetically mutated marine life in the Potomac River. In
addition to finding frogs with six legs and other mutations, the researchers have found male amphibians with ovaries and female frogs with male genitalia.
Scientists tell FRONTLINE that the mutations are likely caused by exposure to
"endocrine disruptors," chemical compounds that mimic the body's natural
The USGS research on the Potomac River poses some troubling questions for the 2 million people who rely on the Washington Aqueduct for their drinking water.
"The endocrine system of fish is very similar to the endocrine system of humans," USGS fish pathologist Vicki Blazer says. "They pretty much have all the same hormone systems as humans, which is why we use them as sort of indicator species. ... We can't help but make that jump to ask the question, 'How are these things influencing people?'"
"The long-term, slow-motion risk is already being spelled out in epidemiologic data, studies -- large population studies," says Dr. Robert Lawrence of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. "There are 5 million people being exposed to endocrine
disruptors just in the Mid-Atlantic region, and yet we don't know precisely how many of them are going to develop premature breast cancer, going to have problems with reproduction, going to have all kinds of congenital anomalies of the male genitalia, things that are happening at a broad low level so that they don't raise the alarm in the general public."

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