Saturday, October 14, 2006

More Fraud, Misconduct at EPA

A recent report issued by the EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) found “hundreds of weaknesses—missing data, no log books, falsified measurements—not noted by EPA. The office had found many of the same problems in 1999, and they were identified again by EPA in 2002,” according to Kate Raiford of Raw Story. But EPA did nothing about them and now tries to downplay the issue.

“Fraud in even just one lab can have a significant impact on several thousands, millions of people,” said a spokesman for the EPA OIG. “We think this is an area vulnerable and susceptible to fraud.” The fraud involves both drinking water and wastewater laboratory testing. It includes manipulating equipment to make it look like the experimental protocol was followed or the correct result was produced. EPA OIG also found evidence of altered signatures on reports, no maintenance records on instruments, and numerous quality control failures.

EPA has a long history of scientific malpractice. Both the General Accounting Office and the Congressional Research Service have been severely critical of EPA's policies and procedures on a variety of issues. EPA has violated its own risk assessment guidelines and debased scientific standards regarding secondhand smoke. It was found guilty of violating six federal statutes for using harassment and intimidation to try to compel employee support for its policy on secondhand smoke. It has fraudulently misrepresented the findings of other scientists in order to make it appear they supported conclusions EPA favored. A dozen career employees of EPA wrote a letter to the Washington Times “risking our careers rather than choosing to remain silent” about “egregious misconduct” at EPA. Internal documents available under the Freedom of Information Act show that EPA exaggerated claims and promulgated unwarranted policies. EPA has gone against the advice of it own Science Advisory Board (see, for example, its history of action on particulates.) EPA fraudulently manufactured fake “scientific” studies in order to support its views on sulfur dioxide (see my book MAKERS AND TAKERS for fuller explanation of this.) EPA has funneled taxpayer money to lobby groups that support political action on policies—even unscientific ones—that EPA wants to promote.

In this blog on March 13, 2006, I explained EPA's role in producing the largest groundwater pollution in U.S. history—the MTBE affair—and called for the abolition of EPA on the basis of this and other examples harmful to the environment and human health as well as violative of science and even basic honesty.

And don't forget EPA's decision to ban DDT. Since EPA banned it in 1972, 50 million people have died from malaria. Dr. Robert White-Stevens has called it “Authorized Genocide.” In my book, I state: “Several times as many human beings die every year because of bans on DDT and other pesticides as were killed by Hitler's holocaust, by both sides in all the years of the Viet Nam war, and by the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.” At EPA's hearing on DDT some 300 technical documents were introduced and 150 scientists testified, all in favor of DDT. The world's major scientific organizations testified on behalf of DDT. The judge declared: “The uses of DDT under the regulations involved here do not have a deleterious effect of freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds, or other wildlife.” But EPA administrator Ruckelshaus—who never attended any of the hearings—nevertheless decided to ban DDT. He later admitted he made a political decision rather than a scientific one.

In MAKERS AND TAKERS, I also explain that Third World countries simply follow the lead of the U.S., not only because they lack the resources to do their own investigations but because they are under financial pressure to do so. They were told, for example, that continuing to use DDT would result in a loss of U.S. financial aid. And DDT isn't the only example. I point out that 300,000 Peruvians contracted cholera—and at least 3,156 died—when local authorities stopped chlorinating drinking water because EPA said chlorine might cause a slight increase in cancer.

Furthermore, banning DDT led to the substitution of far more dangerous chemicals, such as parathion. At the EPA hearing, no evidence was ever presented of even a single person ever dying from DDT. But, according to British entomologist Kenneth Mellanby, “hundreds of human deaths” resulted from the substitution of more dangerous chemicals that replaced DDT.

4 comments:

Thorium said...

I searched the EPA OIG web site at http://www.epa.gov/oig/ and I think I found the relevant report (PDF format) titled "Promising Techniques Identified to Improve Drinking Water Laboratory Integrity and Reduce Public Health Risks." It is at:
http://www.epa.gov/oig/reports/2006/20060921-2006-P-00036.pdf.

The report is directed at the labs external to EPA that test drinking water for entities such as municipalities. The report focuses on four areas: inappropriate procedure, laboratory fraud, data quality, and laboratory integrity. Interesting report. There were 58 lab fraud investigations in FY2005. Here is an example: "Lab director substituted purified water for sample when sample lost and testing dates falsified."

The lesson I would learn from this report is that I should not trust government entities to safeguard anything as important as drinking water -- but I already knew that :-)

Anonymous said...

... and nobody seems to care, at least not those in who should be and by law are in charge and accountable for public services.

But when the president lies, everybody is entitled to lie.

Anonymous said...

Similar to the anti-smoking groups (many fueled by bogus information from early EPA studies), the EPA is out of control. My father's electro-plating business was closed down by the EPA because of alleged groundwater contamination. After all was said and done, after more than 50 employees lost their jobs, after my parents lost EVERYTHING they owned, there was no real scientific proof to back up the EPA's allegations. Groundwater studies and tests came up empty. And even if there actually was proof, would it be accurate or fabricated? Sadly things like fraud and misconduct seem to be accepted by the public as far as the EPA is concerned.

Michael J. McFadden said...

I realize it's a bit late to be adding a comment to this thread, but I think the following link:

http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2008Apr23/0,4670,EPAScientists,00.html

definitely has a place here.

====
Hundreds of Environmental Protection Agency scientists say they have been pressured by superiors to skew their findings, according to a survey released Wednesday by an advocacy group.

The Union of Concerned Scientists said more than half of the nearly 1,600 EPA staff scientists who responded online to a detailed questionnaire reported they had experienced incidents of political interference in their work.

====

Unfortunately the research doesn't seem to stretch back to the most famous case of EPA's biased research: the 1993 "EPA Report on Secondhand Smoke". You know, the one that got thrown out as cherry-picked "pre-determined" science by a federal judge?

Of course Antismokers love to point out that the ruling was later overturned by a superior court... but they NEVER mention that the only reason given for the overturn was the fact that the EPA had carefully avoided making their report inot a binding ruling... thus not allowing it to be subject to review. The higher court quite specifically did NOT criticize any of the actual findings made by Osteen.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"
http://encyclopedia.smokersclub.com/130.html