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Environment: Week’s Watch

2 minute read

Reacting to charges that leaded gasolines are a prime source of air pollution, the Buffalo city council has adopted the nation’s first anti-lead ordinance. Starting next September, all service stations in the city must have at least one pump for low-leaded gas. In 1976, the sale of gas with more than one-half gram of lead per gallon will be prohibited. The goal by Jan. 1, 1980: no leaded gas in Buffalo. Meanwhile, Akron has ordered a ban on the sale of detergents containing phosphates by June 30, 1972. Offenders will be slapped with fines ranging from $100 to $300 and jail sentences up to a maximum six months.

Bruce McDuffie is a chemistry professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton. When a student suggested recently that he “test some tuna” for mercury, McDuffie analyzed cans of Grand Union tuna that he took from his kitchen shelf. To his astonishment, the first can tested at .75 parts per million of mercury, 50% above the .5-ppm level considered safe by the Food and Drug Administration. How did the mercury, an industrial waste, taint the tuna, which live in midocean? No one yet knows. But following FDA tests of Grand Union and Van Camp brands last week, thousands of cans of tuna have been removed from stores in six states, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, where the tuna was originally packed.

Dumping bilge oil at sea is a naval routine as old as diesel-powered ships. But when Navy ships recently dumped 637,000 gal. of sludge and oil off Mayport, Fla., threatening resort beaches along the Florida coast, the public outcry was heard in Washington. Testifying before a Senate subcommittee chaired by Senator Edmund Muskie last week, Navy Secretary John H. Chafee frankly admitted that the dumpings violated “the spirit and intent of legislation signed by the President [the Envfronmental Protection Act of 1970] only eight months ago.” The Navy, he promised, will belay such practices from now on. Still not impressed, Muskie called the Mayport foul-up “incredible,” and added that it casts doubt on the Government’s ability to enforce its own rules.

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