January 7, 2022
The E-Newsbrief of the National Clearinghouse is a free weekly newsletter focusing on new developments in the world of worker health and safety. Each issue provides summaries of the latest worker health and safety news from newspapers, magazines, journals, government reports, and the Web, along with links to the original documents. Also featured each week are updates from government agencies that handle hazmat and worker safety issues such as DOE, EPA, OSHA and others.
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More Than a Million Americans Have Died from Overdoses During the Opioid Epidemic
Deaths due to drug overdose have topped a million for the first time since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began collecting data on the problem more than two decades ago. A study released by the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the CDC, found that 932,364 people died in the U.S. from fatal overdoses from 1999 through 2020.
NPR [Author: Brian Mann]
Infectious Diseases ‘Clear and Present Danger’ Everywhere
COVID-19 continues to demonstrate how quickly “an infectious disease can sweep across the world”, pushing health systems to the brink and upending daily life for all of humanity, the United Nations chief said, marking the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness.
Climate Change, New Construction Mean More Ruinous Fires
The winter grassland fire that blew up along Colorado’s Front Range was rare, experts say, but similar events will be more common in the coming years as climate change warms the planet — sucking the moisture out of plants — suburbs grow in fire-prone areas and people continue to spark destructive blazes.
AP News [Author: Martha Bellisle]
Yucca Mountain Remains in Debate Over Nuclear Waste Storage
Mounting opposition to proposed nuclear waste storage sites in Texas and New Mexico has kept Yucca Mountain in Nevada in the national debate over what to do with the growing stockpile of radioactive material scattered around the country. The Biden administration is opposed to Yucca Mountain and announced plans in January to send waste to places where state, local and tribal governments agree to accept it.
Fresno Bee [Author: Gary Martin, Las Vegas Review-Journal]
U.S. Eyes Finish of Buried Nuclear Waste Cleanup at Idaho Site
A lengthy project to dig up and remove radioactive and hazardous waste buried for decades in unlined pits at a nuclear facility that sits atop a giant aquifer in eastern Idaho is nearly finished, U.S. officials said. The U.S. Department of Energy said that it removed the final amount of specifically-targeted buried waste from a 97-acre (39-hectare) landfill at its 890-square-mile (2,300-square-kilometer) site that includes the Idaho National Laboratory.
Capital Press [Author: Keith Ridler, Associated Press]
State of New Mexico Demands Feds Investigate WIPP, Federal Nuclear Programs
Stronger oversight of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) could be coming as the federal government was called on by New Mexico officials and members of Congress to address alleged problems with the U.S. Department of Energy’s environmental cleanup operations. New Mexico Secretary of the Environment James Kenney expressed concerns for operations at WIPP in a letter to the federal Government Accountability Office.
Carlsbad Current Argus [Author: Adrian Hedden]
As Miners Chase Clean-Energy Minerals, Tribes Fear a Repeat of the Past
Deep in the Salmon River Mountains, an Idaho mining company, Perpetua Resources, is proposing a vast open-pit gold mine that would also produce 115 million pounds of antimony — an element that may be critical to manufacturing the high-capacity liquid-metal batteries of the future.
New York Times [Authors: Jack Healy and Mike Baker]
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Webinar: National PFAS Roadmap – Update for Tribes and Indigenous Peoples
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is hosting a webinar on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) impact on tribes and indigenous peoples on Jan. 16 at 2:30-4:00 p.m. The webinar is part of the Environmental Justice Webinar Series for Tribes and Indigenous Peoples that builds capacity of tribal governments, indigenous peoples and other environmental justice practitioners, and discusses priority environmental justice issues of interest.
U.S. Department of Labor Extends Comment Period for ETS on COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has extended the comment period for the COVID-19 vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard (ETS) to Jan. 19. OSHA extended the comment period by 45 days to allow stakeholders additional time to review the ETS and collect information and data necessary for comment.
U.S. Department of Labor Extends Comment Period for Rulemaking to Protect Indoor and Outdoor Workers from Heat Hazards
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is extending the period for submitting comments on the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings. Comments on the ANPRM must now be submitted by Jan. 26.
Community Health Workers: Building Cultural Bridges to Address Environmental Public Health Webinar
NIEHS is hosting a webinar on community health workers on Jan. 27 at 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET. This webinar will feature two co-presentations about NIEHS-funded projects where academics are partnering with community health workers to address local environmental health issues. A community health worker is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served.
U.S. Department of Labor Extends Deadline for Nominations to Serve on Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health
The U.S. Department of Labor has extended the deadline for submitting nominations to serve on the Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health. Nominations must now be submitted by Jan. 31.
U.S. Department of Labor Schedules Meeting of the Maritime Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health
The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration has scheduled a meeting of the Maritime Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health on Feb. 15 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. ET.
2022 National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program
Leaders from various sectors will engage in an exchange of ideas and approaches to achieving environmental justice on March 9-11, 2022, in Washington, D.C. These interactive training sessions will feature voices of experience, research, discussions, and thought-provoking dialogue. The program format will feature the needs and challenges of communities, governments, municipalities, tribes, faith-based organizations, and others with an interest in environmental justice.
Brownfields 2022 will be held Aug. 16-19, 2022, In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Brownfields Conference features a dynamic educational program of speakers, discussions, mobile workshops, films and other learning formats that are calibrated to provide attendees with case study examples, program updates, and useful strategies for meeting brownfield challenges head on.
|On The Web This Week
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Offshore Situation Room: Enhancing Resilience to Offshore Oil Disasters in the Gulf of Mexico: Proceedings of a Workshop Now Available
More than a decade after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Gulf Research Program convened a diverse group of 60 experts in a virtual event to inform its efforts to enhance resilience to future offshore oil disasters in the Gulf of Mexico region. The event, Offshore Situation Room, took place over three half-days during June 15-17, 2021, and had four main objectives. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussion of the event.
Thirteen U.S. Workers Die on the Job Per Day, on Average—and These Are the Most Dangerous Jobs
In 2020, 4,764 U.S. workers died while on the job — an average of 13 workers dying per day and the equivalent of one worker dying every 111 minutes. This data, recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, measures fatal workplace injuries and does not capture the full scope of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
CNBC [Author: Abigail Johnson Hess]
Improvements for NYC's Delivery Workers' Safety and Working Conditions to Start in January
A slate of city laws for delivery workers is set to kick in the new year and will roll out in stages, commencing in January with more oversight of the delivery apps and increased transparency for the more than 65,000 delivery workers in New York City. Starting next month, delivery apps must be licensed by the city to operate in the five boroughs.
Gothamist [Author: Sophia Chang]
California Is Suing Walmart Over Alleged Improper Disposal of E-Waste and Other Hazardous Materials
The California attorney general and 12 state officials filed a lawsuit against Walmart, saying it allegedly illegally disposed of electronic and hazardous waste, compromising local landfills. California Attorney General Rob Bonta alleges in a statement the company violated state environmental laws with their practices, and the waste included materials like lithium and alkaline batteries, insect killer sprays, aerosol cans, LED lightbulbs, and more.
The Verge [Author: Jasmine Hicks]
Michigan's Poorer, Minority Neighborhoods Become 'Sacrifice Zones' For Increased Pollution
The industrial park across the street from Terry Weaver's northern Flint neighborhood once seemed more like a forest. "I used to walk there and watch the deer," said Weaver, 63, who since 1959 has lived on Cecil Drive in the pastoral-sounding Webster Woods neighborhood on Flint's border with Genesee Township. Then came a huge, wood waste-burning incinerator to generate power, approved over community protests in the early 1990s.
Detroit Free Press [Authors: Keith Matheny and Kristi Tanner]
Study: Climate Change Could Lead to More Hurricanes Hitting Northeastern Cities
Climate change could lead to hurricanes expanding their reach further north into the Atlantic, potentially affecting cities such as Boston and New York, according to research published in the journal Nature Geoscience. Researchers wrote that warming temperatures could lead to tropical storms moving further north when they form in the Northern Hemisphere.
The Hill [Author: Zack Budryk]
|Federal Agency Update
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First Health-Care Worker Virus Rule Officially Ended by OSHA
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has officially withdrawn its original COVID-19 health-care emergency temporary standard (ETS) but is continuing to work on a permanent version of the rule. The federal OSHA announcement came one week after its ETS had reached its six-month expiration date with no word from the agency on what lay ahead.
Bloomberg Law [Author: Bruce Rolfsen]
U.S. Sets Shorter COVID-19 Isolation Rules for Healthcare Workers
Worried that a new COVID-19 wave could overwhelm understaffed U.S. hospitals, federal officials loosened rules that call on healthcare workers to stay out of work for 10 days if they test positive. Those workers now will be allowed to come back to work after seven days if they test negative and don't have symptoms, according to the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.
COVID-19 Omicron News: CDC Issues Contingency Plan to Prevent Health Care Worker Shortage
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an alert to health care professionals across the country to prepare for a possible major surge in infections of COVID-19 due to the high transmissibility of the omicron variant. Among the CDC's contingency options is shortening the amount of time health care workers must self-isolate following a COVID-19 infection.
EPA Releases $1 Billion Plan for Superfund Site Cleanup
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced how it plans to spend $1 billion earmarked in the bipartisan infrastructure bill for cleaning U.S. Superfund sites. The bill, which passed last month, included a total of $3.5 billion for 49 previously unfunded sites across the nation.
CBS News [Author: Alexandra Larkin]
U.S. Affirms New Interpretation for High-Level Nuclear Waste
The Biden administration has affirmed a Trump administration interpretation of high-level radioactive waste that is based on the waste’s radioactivity rather than how it was produced. The U.S. Department of Energy announcement means some radioactive waste from nuclear weapons production stored in Idaho, Washington, and South Carolina could be reclassified and moved for permanent storage elsewhere.
U.S. News and World Report [Author: Keith Ridler, Associated Press]
|Awardee Highlights/Online Learning
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Hazards of Disaster Cleanup, Support for Workers Focus of NIEHS Talk
Climate-related disasters and worker safety were among the topics discussed during the Dec. 3 Keystone Science Lecture featuring Kevin Riley, Ph.D., director of the Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program at the University of California, Los Angeles. Environmental emergencies and cleanup efforts can make individuals susceptible to harmful exposures, both immediately and in the long term, he noted.
Environmental Factor [Author: Jennifer Harker]
WTP Fall Workshop Presentations and Session Recordings Now Available
Presentations and recordings of the various sessions from the WTP Fall Workshop, titled “Advancing Partnerships to Improve Worker Health and Safety,” held virtually on Oct. 19-21 are now available.
"Never Before Has the Need for a Localized Approach to Crises Been So Evident"
On the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and Red Crescent Societies released a statement on emergency preparedness.
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Duke University Director of Health and Safety, Office of Undergraduate Health and Safety Support-OUE
The OUE-UHSS Director of Health and Safety reports to the Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education – Experiential Education. As leader of Undergraduate Health and Safety Support (UHSS), the position provides strategy and vision for risk assessment and mitigation and health and crisis preparedness, faculty leader training, and response plans for undergraduate programs and students undertaking Duke- sponsored travel domestically and abroad.
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