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Pesticides: NYC Settles Lawsuit Against Giuliani

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

www.nospray.org

Pesticides: NYC Settles Lawsuit against Giuliani, et. al.
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Feds Approve, and Judge Daniels Signs Agreement on April 12, 2007
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New York City admits that pesticides may remain in the environment
beyond their intended purpose and may cause adverse health effects
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For seven years, the No Spray Coalition and other environmental groups have battled the City of New York in Federal Court in opposition to the Giuliani administration's massive and indiscriminate spraying of toxic pesticides, including Malathion.

On April 12, a federal judge signed a settlement agreement in which New York City admits that the pesticides sprayed may indeed be dangerous to human health as well as to the natural environment.

The settlement agreement states that, contrary to the City's prior statements, pesticides may remain in the environment beyond their intended purpose, cause adverse health effects, kill mosquitoes' natural predators, increase mosquito resistance to the sprays, and are not presently approved for direct application to waterways.

Mitchel Cohen, the coordinator of the No Spray Coalition and an individual plaintiff in the lawsuit, sees the settlement agreement as a "tremendous victory" for health advocates and a rebuff to the "anti-environmental polices of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani."

"Thousands of New Yorkers were made seriously sick by the spraying," Cohen said. "A number of members of our coalition, including several of the plaintiffs, died from pesticide-related illnesses. Many suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) or Asthma caused or exacerbated by the spraying. We are very glad that the new City administration has to some degree acknowledged that pesticides are extremely dangerous to human health. They need to be rejected as a way of killing mosquitoes."

"In particular," Cohen continued, "the use of insect repellents containing DEET should never be used, especially on children." Cohen said that the Coalition will be discussing that concern with the City when officials meet with the No Spray Coalition as stipulated in the settlement.

Another plaintiff in the lawsuit, artist Robert Lederman, noted that in 1999 and 2000, then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and other City officials claimed that the spraying was "safe" and was used as "a last resort" in its effort to kill mosquitoes said to be vectors for West Nile encephalitis.

"This agreement represents the latest rebuff to the notion that Giuliani was a good Mayor," Lederman said. "In 1999 and 2000, while repeatedly spraying the population of NY with pesticides derived from Nazi-era nerve gasses, Giuliani appeared in daily press conferences claiming that the chemicals were completely harmless. The City of NY has now admitted that these chemicals are harmful, that they persist in the environment and that much more caution will have to be used if they decide to ever spray them again."

Attorneys for the No Spray Coalition -- Joel Kupferman, (NY Environmental Law and Justice Project, and National Lawyers Guild), and Karl Coplan and Daniel Estrin (PACE Environmental Litigation Clinic), announced that as part of the settlement the City agreed to pay $80,000 to five grassroots environmental and wildlife rehabilitation groups and meet with the plaintiffs in several sessions to review an extensive list of concerns that the Coalition provided. The Plaintiffs are not permitted, under the terms of the Clean Water Act, to receive a monetary settlement themselves.

Members of the Coalition say that the resolution of the lawsuit begins a new phase in its activities. In its letter of concerns to the City, which is an attachment to the lawsuit settlement, the No Spray Coalition seeks to win official approval for its proposed "Community Health and Environment Council."

Cohen said that if the City approves it iin further negotiations with the No Spray Coalition, the new Council would "make recommendations on environmental health impacts of pesticide use and alternatives, review and propose alternative, nontoxic control of mosquitoes."

It would also "critique the city's official mosquito control plan and offer new plans to replace adulticides with safe materials, and assess agents chosen with regard to interaction with all toxins in our living environment." The No Spray Coalition points out that there is currently no testing of chemical or biological agents in combination, and, said Cohen, these chemicals often have synergistic or cumulative impacts on health and the environment that fall below the officially designated danger zone when examined separately."

Cohen said that while he hopes that the City would approve the proposal to establish the Community Health and Environmental Council, he recognizes that "it will probably take another prolonged struggle to achieve that, the next step in our fight to make the City accountable environmentally and health-wise to the people subjected to these toxins."

Cohen added that he sees the terms of the Settlement Agreement as helpful to those fighting against pesticide spraying elsewhere. "Indeed, we consulted with many organizations not only in the U.S. but in Canada and Mexico as well," Cohen said, "and we negotiated clauses in the Agreement with the needs of other locales in mind."

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit were: the No Spray Coalition, National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides, Disabled in Action, Save Organic Standards - New York (by its president, Howard Brandstein), and individual plaintiffs Valerie Sheppard (deceased), Mitchel Cohen, Robert Lederman, and Eva Yaa Asantewaa.

website: www.nospray.org
hotline: 718-670-7110
email: editor @ NoSpray.org
listserve: SprayNo @ yahoogroups.com


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