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January 2011 Austin Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) Update
We added some people to our list in December - but some housekeeping was also conducted (about 25 addresses were non-functioning), leaving us with an active, solid list of 218.
3rd Annual Holiday Green Party Was Great!
A big thank you to Texas Green Network for sponsoring our Green Holiday Party! A good time was by had by those in attendance, and Austin PSR showed up impressively and met some nice folks, hopefully toward the purpose of making that connection between being "green" and having greater health and quality of life for all of us.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011, 6:00 to 7:30 pm, Central Market Café at 38th and North Lamar– our PSR Meet and Greet! Come and hear briefly about what Austin PSR is up to, about recent successes, and especially with regard to the upcoming legislative session. Meet other PSR members, and have a beer or drink of your choice from Central Market.
Next Austin PSR Board Meeting: Sunday, February 20, 2011, 3:00 to 5:00 pm
The next board meeting is 3-5 pm on Sunday, February 20, 2011, and as usual, all are welcome. If interested in attending, please write Marian Morris at email@example.com.
NUCLEAR ISSUES/NATIONAL SECURITY
Update on Stopping Texas From Becoming the Nation’s Radioactive Waste Dump!
The Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission (TLLRWDCC) is rushing to approve the Subchapter B rule that would open Andrews County in West Texas to accept radioactive waste from around the country (more information on the rule-making here). TCEQ staff members unanimously recommended denying the licensing of storage because of the high risk of radioactive contamination of water. Three TCEQ staff members have resigned over the licensing of the site.
On December 30, a state judge voted to stop the Compact Commission’s adoption of rules allowing nationwide importation of radioactive waste (the original intent was that only Texas and Vermont have access). Yesterday a federal judge decided he had no jurisdiction to stop the meeting, so today the meeting and probably a vote will have happened in Andrews County. Nationwide access to the storage site could potentially mean international storage, because some states accept waste from outside of the U.S. – that they would then send to Texas….stay tuned.
What you can do to help……
Seeking Information on Radioactive Waste in Medical Settings….
Austin PSR board member Karen Hadden is looking for some information from the health care community, regarding the issue of storing radioactive waste that is coming from medical use. If you have any information or know someone who might have information to answer the following, please write to me (Marian Morris, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Karen Hadden (Karen@seedcoalition.org) as soon as possible:
#1 We want to know if your hospital/ radiology department has any problems at this time disposing of radionuclides. Is there a build up on site that is a problem? Is there just the normal letting materials decay on site so as to become non-radioactive and have more affordable disposal?
#2 Is technetium a major portion of the radionuclides that are used? Any data regarding percentages of radionuclides that are generated at your hospital? What half-lives do they have?
Is there a lot of technetium?
New START Passed!
New START passed! Our U.S. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn voted against it, citing what they considered flaws in its construction. You can write them here: Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn if you wish to express your opinion of their votes to them.
With the ratification of the New START, which to remind you stands for the newest version of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between Russia and the U.S., the U.S. and Russia will work to reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons each country has. This will be done in a coordinated way so that each country can feel safe knowing that the other country is telling the truth and is actually dismantling weapons. The text of the treaty is here if you would like to read it (it’s quite interesting): New START Treaty.
PSR’s roots are in the activism around stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Damage from the use of nuclear weapons is massive and long-lasting, which is why Austin PSR works to support disarmament efforts.
ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH
Sunset Advisory Commission Review of TCEQ
People travelled from all over the state to speak at the December 15 sunset review hearing for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) at the Texas State Capitol. Actually getting to speak was a challenge – this was a marathon, and public comment for TCEQ did not begin until about 8:00 pm that evening. Many who had come had to leave to get back to family and work, although some did endure and stayed until they were heard. Austin PSR submitted comments as well as our fantastic petition with 100 signatures of doctors, nurses and health professionals. Comments we sent in can be seen at our website, if you’re interested in the details. Many thanks to everyone who participated in this effort!
At least part of the TCEQ’s mission is to protect public health. Austin PSR’s efforts are to encourage the strengthening of that mission, and especially to get the TCEQ to take a more aggressive approach with regard to controlling emissions from coal-fired power plants, which are strongly associated with increases in respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological problems.
And it’s not over! Next is seeing that we continue to have input while the bill to continue TCEQ makes its way through the Texas Legislature. There will still be opportunities for public input, and we will let you know what they are. Stay tuned….
We need doctors and nurses again to sign another letter regarding taking care of our natural resources – humans (and their home)! Please look at the letter at the Austin PSR website, consider adding your name (by emailing Robert Ressler of Environment Texas – email@example.com- requesting to add your name, credentials, and city), and consider asking colleagues to do the same. The letter is addressed to Texas U.S. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, asking generally that they support efforts to create clean air and clean up industrial facilities – worthy goals supported by Austin PSR.
PSR Supports Uresti Bill to Raise Smoking Age to 19
Texas Senator Carlos Uresti’s office filed their bill (SB 268) raising the smoking age to 19, for the upcoming legislative session. Austin PSR has given its support to Senator Uresti’s efforts to curb smoking in young people. The text of the filed bill can be found in the pdf at the end of this newsletter.
Austin PSR supports this bill as one more tool for helping people not to start smoking, because once they start, it’s really hard to stop. Making these gradual, incremental changes to public policy is a way to have the human environment support healthy habits for large populations in one fell swoop. Imagine the lives saved, the increases in quality of life, and the decreases in costs of treating people’s respiratory illnesses, including lung cancer, that are caused by smoking. This bill can do a lot of good.
January 19, 2011, 6:00 to 7:30 pm: Austin PSR Meet and Greet, Central Market Café, 38th and Lamar
February 20, 2011: Austin PSR board meeting, Sunday, 3-5 PM. Write Marian for more info firstname.lastname@example.org.