Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Letter from Steven D. Sandberg

I just recently stumbled across the Dioxindorms article and I am shocked that your University is allowing those students to live there.

I am one of the very few who have won lawsuits or settled from PCB-dioxin exposure. I sued for my ex-employer (General Electric), Monsanto, Westinghouse, and Occidental Petroleum Chemical Company. I worked with PCB's, dioxins, & furans for many years and now I am suffering the adverse effects from the exposure after 18 years of exposure. Did you know dioxin, furans and PCB's store in the (adipose) fatty tissue and all cells within the human body? My mission is to inform everyone of your students about the long term effects of exposure to these chemicals. Which includes: chloracne, birth defects (spina bifida), skin cancer, liver damage and kidney failure to name a few. What right does your university have to say that these residence halls are safe? Would you allow your child to live in these dorms breathing the air coming out of these ducts all night long, every day of the year? GE told us PCB's were no worse than cooked bacon or table salt. I told a lawyer at my deposition I will drink a glass of water with two teaspoons of salt if you drink a glass with 2 teaspoons of burnt' spent PCB oil in it.. he did not know what to say or think. These students will be breathing in these toxic chemicals from here on out getting small doses everyday which will accumulate in their bodies over time. The dose makes the poison they will be small doses everyday until the dose starts to show ill effects. By not having this ventilation ducts replaced your future in lawsuits will increase ten fold in my opinion.

The PCB department I worked at in Anaheim, California was shut down it is now a ghost town due to the contamination. The EPA stated to General Electric in their letter. "Any more exposure to these chemicals poses an unreasonable risk to human health and the environment". GE was fined over $350.000.00 and settled out of court with the two defendants who sued them in Anaheim, Ca. You will never get those buildings safe for students. Look at the city of Times Beach, Missouri ..it no longer exists due to the dioxin contamination.

I plan on flying to New Paltz within the next month or two to talk to the students and their parents at a private meeting. I will inform them all to get (adipose tissue biopsies), and blood testing for dioxins, furans and PCB's. I will also inform to all get their vehicles and homes of friends checked for contamination (their carpeting in their cars, foot pedals and the carpeting of their friends homes. ). I am sure they are contaminated also, mine was. Did you know tetrachlorodibenzo-dioxin is one the most dangerous chemicals known to man? PCB's and Dioxins are the chemical cousins of Agent Orange. The U.S. government downplayed the toxicity of this chemical at first but now look at the new human effects published.

I now suffer from skin cancer on my hands and arms, had chloracne, the bottoms of my feet turned yellow and thickened, the right side of my body is not functioning correctly (arthritis) and now my liver is in bad shape. What's next, I am only 50 years of age. Did you know that a supervisor (Ed Bates) at a GE plant in Pittsfield Mass. went to over 291 funerals over a 20 year period. These were all his workers exposed over the years at their PCB plant in Pittsfield. I will also be bringing him along to talk to your students and their parents and hopefully Dr. Daniel Titlebaum (toxicologist) from Colorado a renowned expert on the adverse effects of exposure to PCB's, dioxin and furans.

Without testing of fat tissue and blood, your students will not have a chance in a lawsuit. I will do my best to inform them to have these tests performed (independently) from toxicologists that have done mine. Believe me, I was alone with my lawyer in front of 7 lawyers on video and I did not give -up on my quest to sue these companies. I am sure many of the students have the resources and funds to have these tests performed by Pacific Toxicology Labs or other places I know of and will go through with a lawsuit against your university, the transformer manufacturer, and the dielectric fluid manufacturer , which is Monsanto.

What right do you have to say these dorms are safe? Do you really know? It takes years sometimes to see any effects of exposure.........but without a blood test and fat biopsy your students will not have a leg to stand on. My goal is to inform and get them all tested who have lived in these dorms after the incident.

Your university should be totally aware of the Binghamton State Office Building fire involving a PCB transformer fire-explosion. (read PDF in link below).

"Decontamination of the Binghamton State Office Building, Progress Report - Ma

I would suggest the University to have an independent company place air monitoring devices throughout the dorms especially on the vents leading to all rooms within the dorms..........by a unbiased company.
I would also suggest you quit saying these dorms are safe. General Electric and Monsanto said the same thing. They lost or settled 90% of their lawsuits.

You could be getting yourselves into a class action lawsuit without having the ventilation systems replaced. The statutes of limitation are not over yet either. The law states it begins when the defendant knows of the problem and they will only know when they all get tested that these chemicals exist in their bodies. That's where I believe you have messed up saying it was all safe to enter these dorms. At the moment they believe they are safe but when they get the test results they will think otherwise............ then the statues of limitation begin.

I was the chemical worker interviewed by Eric Francis for the Sierra Club Magazine Article "GE's warm caring impression".

GE's Warm, Caring Impression

I still have this fax memo and I will show it to all the families who have son's and daughter's living in those dorms.

Believe me I took on 4 powerful companies and their lawyers and will do it again if necessary to help these students. I will speak the truth and will not hold back any information. I truly believe I have the knowledge, the resources, and the time to help these kids out. I learned a lot in 10 years of depositions, and research on the subject matter and if I don't have the correct and accurate information my colleagues will. I know the right people who can lead these students in the right direction.

Thanks for your time..........if you don't do the right thing it could get worse for everyone involved.

Steven D. Sandberg


To update you on the events that have been taking place, Lois Gibbs from the Center for Health and Environmental Justice (www.chej.org) came and spoke to about 100 students in the Lecture Center earlier this month. The focus of her lecture was to educate students about the way the New York State goverment denied that there was any danger of exposure to toxic chemicals in her home town of Love Canal, near Niagra Falls in Upstate NY. Even though over 50 percent of babies were being born with birth defects (including multiple rows of teeth) and people were getting cancer at alarming rates, the NY State goverment said, "You can't prove it." In order to protect the lives of her children and those around her, she joined up with neighbors and began an onslaught of activism, calling legislators and elected officials....doing whatever it took to put the politicians on the spot and demanding they pay attention. Love Canal was built on a toxic waste dump which was destroying the lives of its residents. New York State allowed it for year, and eventually, with the passion and dedication of the citizens, the town was evacuated. Gibbs went on to build the Center for Health and Environmental Justice www.chej.org, which is responible for pressuring large companies, including Target and WalMart, to stop using highly toxic plastics in their packaging. Go Lois Gibbs!!!!! Power to the People!

This is no joke. If the NY State government would play games with peoples lives back in the 70's when Love Canal was an issue, why would 2007 be any different with the SUNY New Paltz dorms? This issue has been going on for 16 years now, and the SUNY administration still claims that PCB and Dioxins in the four dorms - Capen, Gage, Scudder and Bliss, pose no serious health threats to students....

Just to make things clear as well, there are no questions as to whether or not the dorms are contaminated. The administration has repeatedly said that they are contaminated, but they are safe. Excuse me? PCB and Dioxin exposure (dioxin was the chemical used in Agent Orange) is safe?

The questions we want answered are, how contaminated are the buildings, and where are the hot spots? And what are the health risks to students who live in the buildings year round?

This is what we are in the process of finding out. Student leaders and activists have been meeting with county legislators and will soon be meeting with an environmental consultant to determine the best way to put pressure on the Ulster County Department of Health to take action and cooperate with Senate Resolution 42, which calls for peer-reviewed, split sample testing. Why do we want split sample testing? To make sure they don't lie about the results.

If you live in one of the four contaminated dorms, there are several things you can do right now to learn more and to become involved.

The only way we are going to be able to stand up to the administration is if the students and parents inform themselves and speak up.

Please register for the Dioxin Dorms discussion board. We need to get people talking to each other and informing each other of the issues. We need to create a social movement that is going to create an impact. This is necessary if we are to succeed.

You can also go to www.dioxindorms.com and read the articles there.
There is also PCB/Dioxin Activist Coalition blog to read at www.newpaltzpcbs.blogspot.com

The reason there is not much activity on these sites right now is because there is only a very small group of people doing all the work, and there is so much that needs to be done.

A 3-5 minuted informative video needs to be made and posted on You Tube. Any volunteers?

A student Health Survey needs to be handed out and collected. Who would like to be involved with that?

Are there any students who are studying environmental issues that would like to take this on as an independent study and could likely get credit for it?

Go the the student health center and tell them that you want to get your blood tested for PCBs, dioxin and dibenzofurans. If at leat 30-50 students do this, it will get their attention. Ask for Dr. Peter Haughton and listen to the mouthful of lies he will tell you about how people in Asia drank PCB oil and were fine. It is called the Yusho Incident and you can research it yourself. (We have this statement by Dr. Haughton on record.)


Please feel free to reply to this email....if we don't respond immediately, please be patient. If you do not live in the dorms, you can still become involved and protect your fellow students. Please email this to anyone you know who lives on campus, or attended SUNY New Paltz in the last 16 years.

Print it out and spread it around.

EDUCATE YOURSELF and please read the letter below.

Thank you and may you be in good health,

The PCB/Dioxin Action Coalition

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Letter from Jenna Dern, President of Synthesis

Speaking up, in my own words...

On August 20th, Move In Day, the administration prepared an nformational 'factsheet' which was both handed out and posted on their website to update the public on the ongoing PCB investigation.

The informational sheet, prepared by the administration and New York State Department of Health, said after a series of meetings this summer, students "appeared to be satisfied" with the administration's answers to their questions about the PCB and dioxin contamination of those dorms:

"At the conclusion of the two meetings, the group had no more questions and appeared to be satisfied with the information that the scientists and other administrators shared," the sheet claims.

In point of fact, I was one of two students, the other being SA President Jessica Coleman, at the meetings and we were not satisfied. I never gave my approval, nor signed or stated I was in agreement in regards to this issue. The administration and the Health Department are directly misrepresenting my views.

Members of Synthesis, the SA, and Student Senate whom last semester passed resolution 42, demand the administration participate in comprehensive split sample testing of the ventilation systems, heating units and electrical conduit systems. Instead of complying with this resolution the administration wrote that the dorms pose no health dangers saying that there are no elevated levels of exposure to either students or workers in the dorms.

As coordinator of Synthesis, I will continue to educate students about their toxic environments and through the senate resolution number 42, will demand split sample testing of the areas not found in the "informational" sheet.

At our next Synthesis meeting on Wednesday, September 19th we will be discussing the strategy students will be taking during the next semester about this issue; it will be held in SUB 418 at 8 pm.


Jenna Dern

Sunday, August 5, 2007

'Dioxin Dorms' Goes Live

Journalist Eric Francis Coppolino has created another info site for students and parents to research the issue at hand. Please visit www.dioxindorms.com

Friday, July 13, 2007

Student Leaders, County Legislators and Concerned Community Members Meet with NY State Health Department Officials

On May 16th, 2007, in a student meeting with the SUNY New Paltz administration, President Steven Poskanzer and other administrators claimed no responsibility for developing the testing protocols and administering the campus cleanup following the 1991 PCB & Dioxin explosion. They asserted that the NY State Department of Health maintained complete authority over the situation and offered to set up a meeting with Health Department officials in order to alleviate any concerns students may have regarding PCB & Dioxin contamination and exposure on the SUNY New Paltz campus.

As a result of that meeting, on June 22nd, 2007, student leaders, Ulster County legislators, environmental advocates and concerned community members met with officials from the NY State Department of Health and SUNY New Paltz administrators in a meeting coordinated by John Shupe, the Head of Facilities for the SUNY New Paltz Campus. The intention of this meeting was to clarify who was responsible for the cleanup and maintenance of the campus over the 16 years following the incident and to determine what further steps to take in order to ease the increasing concern among citizens about the seriously adverse health effects of exposure to PCBs and Dioxin.

The New York State Department of Health stated that SUNY was indeed responsible for the cleanup. When asked why we were told in a previous meeting that SUNY wasn't responsible, Shupe replied, "WE NEVER SAID THAT." I'm sorry, Mr.Shupe, but we recorded the meeting and it is on record.

Jessica Coleman, president of the Student Association, and Jenna Dern, president of the student activist group Synthesis, presented the State Health Department and SUNY New Paltz administration with a cohesive list of desired protocols for peer-review testing of the four buildings in question. Dean Palen of the NY State Department of Health, the person responsible for overseeing the re-opening of the buildings 16 years ago, and the man who ordered the "arms-length cleanup" of the ventilation units in Gage Hall in 1994 (after tests taken by Eric Francis showed extremely high levels of contamination) agreed to review the students' requests and come back with an answer at a meeting scheduled for several weeks later. At that meeting, on July 2nd, the answer to the students call for re-testing was denied. Ed Horn of the NY State Dept. of Health reasserted, as he did in the June 22nd meeting, that although they acknowledge there is contamination in the buildings, students do not have direct contact with the toxins (because they are located in ducts, vents and inside the walls) and there is no danger. Therefore, according to their logic, the buildings are safe and there is no risk.

We, as students of SUNY New Paltz, believe that the NY State Department of Health and the SUNY New Paltz administration are taking unnecessary risks with people's lives and future generations in order to avoid potentially significant financial liabilities, when they can simply close down buildings that are known to be contaminated. There is much evidence to support this claim. Please read the attached information and articles to educate yourself more fully about the risks of PCB and dioxin exposure and the negligence of the people in charge of handling this issue with true integrity.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Student Senate Passes Resolution Demanding Peer Review Testing of Key Locales in Dormitories

On April 24, 2007, the SUNY New Paltz Student Senate unanimously passed a resolution demanding that the school's administration participate in a split-sample testing scenario with the Student Association.

43rd Student Senate Resolution 42

43rd Student Senate

2nd Session


Demanding Split Sample PCB testing in New Paltz Dormitories

A Resolution By Ms. JORDAN (for herself and Mr. HOLMES),

WHEREAS on December 29, 1991, a driver lost control of her car and hit a utility pole in New Paltz, producing an electrical surge and explosions on the SUNY New Paltz campus.

WHEREAS electrical transformers exploded and spread PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) and Dioxins in several locations on campus, including Capen Hall, Scudder Hall, Gage Hall, Bliss Hall, the Coykendall Science building and Parker Theatre.

WHEREAS following the explosions there was a cleanup in the affected buildings after which two types of testing occurred to determine the extent of toxic contamination - wipe samples and air sampling analyses. The tests were conducted by a contracted environmental remediation firm hired by SUNY New Paltz, in conjunction with the Ulster County and New York State Departments of Health.

WHEREAS comprehensive testing of ventilation systems, heating units and electrical conduits has not occured.

WHEREAS The Senate understands that scientific consensus is that exposure to Polychlorinated Biphenyls and Dioxins can result in Cancer, suppressed immunity, damage to the hormonal system and birth mutation.

THEREFORE, be it resolved,

That the Student Senate demand that the SUNY administration at New Paltz willingly participate in comprehensive split-sample PCB and Dioxin testing of ventilation systems, heating units and electrical conduits in the four dormitories in question (Capen, Gage, Bliss & Scudder). Split-sampling will consist of simultaneous sampling by two separate New York State certified laboratories, one chosen by the SUNY Administration at New Paltz and the other by the President of the Student Association.

Educational Forum on PCBs and Dioxins at SUNY New Paltz Held May 3rd in Gage Hall

On May 3, 2007 the first ever student-led public forum on the PCB/Dioxin contamination issue at SUNY New Paltz was held in the student lounge at Gage Hall, one of the dorms affected by the 1991 chemical fires incident. Speakers at the forum included Brian Shapiro, an Ulster County Legislator and Chair of the Ulster County Environmental Commission, Mannajo Green of The Hudson River Clearwater Sloop, Inc., Russel Schindler, an environmental lawyer (and formerly the Student Association lawyer at SUNY New Paltz), and George Farrel, an five-time award winning sicence teacher and concerned parent whose daughters attended SUNY at the time of the incident (one of whom lived in an affected dormitory at the time.) The event was moderated by SYNTHESIS coordinator, Aliza Hava. About 100 students were in attendance. The college physician, Peter Haughton, and the head of facilites, John Shupe, were present.

Each speaker had the opportunity to explain their understanding of the incident and the environmental factors and health risks associated with it. Brian Shapiro urged the students to organize in an effort to get sufficient data on the actual extent of contamination of the dorms.

The forum was followed by a Q&A session where students addressed the speakers with their questions and concerns.

The SUNY New Paltz administration maintains that the dormitories, Bliss, Capen, Gage and Scudder Halls have been cleaned to below the federal standards of PCB exposure. However, independent tests by investigative journalist Eric Francis reveal contamination in ventilation units that were never thoroughly inspected or cleaned following the initial incident. For more details, please read through the articles by Eric Francis Coppolino posted in the right hand column.

More to follow......