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Corporate Executive Tied to Radioactive Contamination Doesn’t Belong on EPA Environmental Justice Counsel

More than 300 people were exposed to radioactive dust while working for the company

WASHINGTON - On Wednesday, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt announced his picks for the National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee -- and they included the vice president of a company that has been responsible for multiple releases of radioactive plutonium dust. Michael Tilchin is presently vice president of CH2M Hill, a company that has been responsible for three releases of this dangerous substance, including  a "catastrophic" incident in June where more than 300 workers were exposed and 31 workers tested positive for internal plutonium contamination.

KING-TV,  the Seattle-based news station that has been investigating CH2M Hill’s plutonium incidents, noted that plutonium dust emits alpha radiation, “the worst kind of radiation” which can lead to “lung cancer, liver cancer, and bone cancer.”

This is part of a disturbing and dangerous trend started by Pruitt of hiring people or selecting advisers to the EPA  who work for the industry they are tasked with regulating. Of the 59 EPA hires tracked by the Associated Press over the last year, about a third worked as registered lobbyists or lawyers for the chemical, fossil fuel or other industries.

In response, Liz Perera, Sierra Club’s Public Health Policy Director, released the following statement: 

“We can’t leave important decisions about environmental justice to those who work for the companies and industries that have already proven to disregard the health and safety of their employees and the communities around them. We need people in these jobs who understand how to solve environmental justice crises, not those who have created them. Scott Pruitt’s latest pick further solidifies that he doesn’t care about the health and safety of the American people -- especially those most vulnerable to the air and water pollution his agency is tasked with cleaning up. All he cares about are polluter profits.

“It’s a travesty that the EPA is turning it’s back to the most vulnerable communities in our country who must endure the worst air pollution and its health effects while Pruitt cozy’s up with corporate polluters and the companies that have already shown they don’t care.”

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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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