Tag Archives: Bill Nelson

Acreage Cancer Cluster – Status update & Residents meeting

A very important public meeting is scheduled for tomorrow – February 9th from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. to allow residents to discuss the pediatric cancer cluster in the Acreage.

Details from the original story is here.

The location of the public meeting is Seminole Ridge High School – 4601 Seminole Pratt Whitney Road – Loxahatchee.

Update on the story:

Florida Governor Charlie Crist has weighed in stating that he will appeal to the federal government for their assisting into the investigation. This comes one day after Florida health officials said that there were no plans to search for the environmental cause of the cancer cluster.

“This is of grave concern to me,” Crist said. “The people deserve every ounce of energy that can be put into this situation to reveal how this happened, what the cause might be and what can be done to help these residents.”

“This investigation will continue as long as it takes to get to the root of this issue,” he said. “The people deserve nothing less.”

Dr. Alina Alonso wanted to “clarify statements that may have led to confusion.”

Through a spokesman, Alonso said late Thursday that she “welcomes the governor’s involvement.”

“I want to reiterate that the investigation is in no way finished, but rather is at a point where the Palm Beach County Health Department needs the guidance of elected officials, universities, research facilities and federal agencies to look further into the elevated rates of cancer,” Alonso said in a statement, adding that she “would like to clarify statements that may have led to confusion.”

Alonso said the next step was to raise awareness about childhood brain cancer. Florida Surgeon General Ana Viamonte Ros rejected that saying that The Acreage residents are “beyond aware.”

“We want to do everything we can and use all our resources to give as much information,” Viamonte Ros said. “And not just awareness, but certainly to be able to find a cause, if there is one, or certainly to be able to answer questions.”

But Viamonte Ros believes that state health officials have exhausted their research options and have “reached the point where we need federal guidance to review what we’ve done and better clarify what the next steps should be.”

State officials additional plan to contact the National Institutes of Health. Meanwhile, Crist said that they state was now working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The good news is Florida Department of Health’s Chief of Staff Robert Siedlecki Jr. said that state officials will test the water and soil at cancer-stricken children’s homes.

“If they want us to test it, we will.”

“We have to try to figure out what is happening,” Commissioner Shelley Vana said. “You can’t just leave them hanging like that. I do understand that it can be difficult to find answers, but we have make an attempt.”

“My heart goes out to the Acreage families who are experiencing the heartache of cancer,” he said in a statement. “I cannot imagine the pain these parents, grandparents, children and their loved ones are feeling. I support the calls for further investigation and thank Governor Crist for committing to get to the bottom of this.” – Florida Senate President Jeff Atwater (R-North Palm Beach)

Anyone with additional information regarding the investigation, please provide any details in the comments below.

Also, if you plan on attending the February 9th meeting (or if you attended after in concludes), I would welcome the comments.

There will be a live on-line chat during the Tuesday night meeting with Palm Beach Post reporter Jason Schultz.[click here]


Crist vows to investigate Acreage cancer cases

State officials agree to test soil and water at Acreage homes of cancer-stricken children

State officials agree to test soil, water at homes of Acreage kids with cancer

Map: acreage cancer cluster

Updated articles from the Palm Beach Post


Pediatric Cancer Cluster in The Acreage

The Florida Department of Health confirmed that The Acreage in Palm Beach County is encountering a higher than normal number of brain and central nervous system tumors and cancer in children, especially girls.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and other state lawmakers are calling for a probe to determine the cause.   One environmental expert said that the cancer cluster did warrant national attention.

Health officials state that they may never be able to determine the cause.  Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Palm Beach County Health Department, said that there are currently no plans to conduct environmental tests.

“We really don’t have one thing,” said Alonso.  “From what we’re seeing now, there is nothing that is going to say, ‘Aha this is the cause of the cancer.’”

Nelson said environmental tests should start “as soon as possible.”  He pledged to work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to get them to “lend their resources and expertise to the investigation.”

“Residents still don’t know a cause or what’s responsible for these cases of cancer,” Nelson wrote to Florida’s surgeon general on Tuesday.  “And we can’t work to fix the problem or hold someone accountable until we can answer these questions.”

“We need to give them the resources to make sure they can identify a cause,” said State Representative Joseph Abruzzo (D-Wellington).

Environmental tests will not occur until the department finishes analyzing the interviews over the next two months. 

Authorities have identified 13 cases of brain cancer or tumors among children and teenagers in the community from 1993 and 2008.

There was a significant jump in the number of cases after 2002 said Tammie Johnson, a state epidemiologist.  There is enough data available thus far to label these cancer cases a cluster.

Two more children were diagnosed with brain tumors in late 2009 generating fears that the cancer cluster is continuing to grow.

Homeowners should insist on federal assistance said Peter deFur, president of Environmental Stewardship Concepts in Richmond, Virginia.   He added that the CDC should conduct a health assessment which would include reviewing residents’ medical records and performing blood and environmental analysis.

The Acreage is a semirural community in northwest Palm Beach County.  As the name would suggest, homes are built on at least a single acre lot.  There are farms in the area and farm equipment is stored on those lots. 

Quick aside:  I looked at the area a dozen years ago about a year before my divorce.  I really have to say that I liked the rural feel of the community and loved the idea of hiring and working directly with the builder that would construct my home.   I suspect it is this reason that I have been watching this story develop.  My daughter was 6 years old when I looked at the community.

The state Department of Environmental Protection, which is not part of the cluster investigation, isn’t planning to conduct any tests, spokeswoman Cristina Llorens said Tuesday.  The agency randomly sampled 50 wells last year and declared that ground water quality in The Acreage was “generally good,” despite some elevated levels of radiation that could come from natural causes.

Excessive radiation can cause brain cancer.

Environmental concerns in the area:

  • Farm chemicals
  • Well-water quality
  • Pratt & Whitney toxic-cleanup site
  • Possibly contaminated fill dumped from other locations
  • Cell phone towers
  • Naturally occurring radioactive substances in rock

deFur said that The Acreage may be experiencing a “cumulative risk situation” where stresses on top of stresses exceed  what people’s systems can handle.

The fact the health department found a greater disparity in girls than boys raises a question of whether a hormone-disrupting chemical could be involved, he said.

“For everybody to have a comfort level, you need to know the source,” said Michelle Damone, board president of Indian Trail Improvement District.  “Without knowing the cause of it, how do you go and correct it?”

Next phases:

The state health department expects to complete the second phase of the study by mid-March, 2010.  They plan to conduct interviews with 12 of the 13 families and review the cancer rates using updated population data.  Note:  The thirteenth family could not be located as they have moved from the area.

If a third phase occurs, it may include environmental tests which would take up to one year to complete.

A fourth phase would be a large-scale federal or university-based project.

As mentioned earlier, additional studies are not currently planned.

“Everybody is exposed to a multitude of things,” said Becky Samarripa, whose 15-year-old daughter had a tumor removed in 2008.  Still, so many of these children went to the same schools, play in the same soil and drink the same well water that tests in at least one of those areas should be warranted, she said.

New York law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, affiliated with environmental activist Erin Brockovich, has been conducting water analyses since late last year. 


Public meeting:

Officials plan to discuss the investigation at a public meeting.

Date:           February 9, 2010

Time:          6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Location:   Seminole Ridge High School

                    4601 Seminole Pratt Whitney Road



Link to study:  Acreage SIR Recalculation Population Estimate Methods and Results

Cancer cluster designation rattles The Acreage

New data confirms Acreage cancer cluster; health official puzzled on cause of children’s ailments


Sex, Drugs and Oil – ‘Drill baby Drill’ takes on a whole new meaning

This post has it all – A scam, a Democrat who grows a set, a sex scandal and the truth about the price of oil FINALLY comes out.

The Republicans have been screaming that if we want to lower to cost of oil, we must drill more.  They have used this to criticize Democrats and for a while it worked.  Many Democrats changed their position or softened their opposition to expanding the areas for offshore drilling (including Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama).  Even prominent Republicans have changed their position, like Republican Presidential nominee John McCain, Florida Governor Charlie Crist and Florida Senator Mel Martinez.

When Congress went on vacation recently, Republicans tried to pull a power play to get the Democrats to return to Congress to vote for removing the moratorium on leases expanding offshore drilling along the U.S. coast beyond what already exists.

When talk of drilling off the coast of Florida became bigger news, I began to research.  That led to 2 posts explaining the scam:

The Offshore Oil Drilling Scam – posted June 25, 2008 and

Offshore Oil Drilling – The Scam Continues – posted August 5, 2008

Bill Nelson Grows a Pair

A number of days ago, I heard rumblings from my other senator – Democrat Bill Nelson.  The only way I’ve been able to identify Nelson as a Democrat is by the ‘D’ after his name.  (though he is more of a Democrat than fellow Nelson, Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska))

Earlier this week, it was reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will offer a compromise bill that will allow limited offshore oil drilling 50 miles off the coasts of Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia and off the Gulf coast of Florida.

We are offering Republicans multiple opportunities to vote for increased drilling,” said Reid.

Then it happened!  Bill Nelson started showing a spine.  I’m not sure what caused it, but I like it.  He has begun advocating for a bipartisan approach to develop alternative energy sources.

Our national debt and our reliance on foreign oil are very heavy burdens for our economy.  It is my belief that one of our major threats to our national security is our dependence on oil — not just foreign oil, but oil.”

Bill Nelson has hinted at filibuster and said that Florida will not be ‘a sacrificial lamb.’  He also said the ‘drill baby drill’ pleas were misguided rhetoric and hollow chants.”

More leasing, if that’s just the answer, will only delay our freedom from oil,” he said. “Then we also have the potential consequence that we will dirty and destroy our state’s economy. We have a $65 million-a-year tourism industry in this state that depends on pristine beaches.”

“We need to bring the gas prices down by not wasting so much oil and by banning the greed speculation on the part of the oil traders and profiteers,” he said.

“Our future is breaking our addiction to oil. That is what the next president is going to have to do,” Nelson told reporters before his speech. “You can’t drill your way out of the problem.”

A Scandal is a-brewin’ or a-drillin’

As Reported by the AP:  {emphasis is mine}

A scandal involving sex, drugs and — uh, offshore oil drilling. It’s a strange mix, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time for those in Congress pressing to expand oil and gas development off America’s beaches while trying to stave off an election-year rush by Democrats to impose new taxes and royalties on the oil industry.

Between 2002 and 2006, 19 oil marketers — nearly a third of the Denver office staff — received gifts and gratuities from oil and gas companies, including Chevron Corp., Shell, Hess Corp. and Denver-based Gary-Williams Energy Corp., the investigators found.

Employees frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and natural gas company representativeswho referred to some of the government workers as the “MMS Chicks.”

“This is why we must not allow Big Oil’s agenda to be jammed through Congress,” said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who strongly opposes any expansion of offshore drilling, especially closer to Florida. He said the report “shows the oil industry holds shocking sway over the administration and even key federal employees.”

“This IG report has it all — sex, drugs and the Bush administration officials once again in cahoots with Big Oil,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., whose Joint Economic Committee released a report last year claiming the Minerals Management Service has failed to collect millions of dollars in oil royalties.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, planned a hearing on the investigation next week.

But House Republican leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, accused the Democrats of “trying to pull a hoax on the American people.” He said the plan would result “in little or no new American energy production” because states would share no royalties and have little financial incentives to allow drilling.

It was oil market speculation after all

The title and first paragraph in the AP story told me all I needed to know.

Report: Oil-price surge was speculation

WASHINGTON — Speculation by large investors — and not supply and demand for oil — were a primary reason for the surge in oil prices during the first half of the year and the more recent price declines, an independent study concluded today.

The report was completed by Masters Capital Management released by the U.S. House and Senate.  Here are some of their findings.

$60 billion was invested into oil futures markets during the first five months of 2008. As a result oil prices increased from $95 a barrel in January to $145 a barrel by July.

Since July, these investors have withdrawn $39 billion from those markets.  Prices subsequently decreased as a result.   Current price (close of September 10, 2008 – $102 per barrel.)

“We have clear evidence the fund flow pushed prices up and the fund flow pushed prices down,” said Michael Masters of Masters Capital Management.  The price decline “began a massive stampede for the exits” by investors on July 15th.

“This analysis illustrates that when oil speculators poured large amounts of speculative money into oil markets, prices skyrocketed just as they were hoping,” said Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington).  “And when the speculative money got pulled out, prices tumbled.” 

“These large financial players have become the primary source of the dramatic and damaging volatility seen in oil prices,” concluded the report.

The Commodities Futures Trading Commission is expected to release a report as early as this week on oil speculation.  Last July, the CFTC released a report indicating that “fundamental supply and demand factors” influenced the oil markets and that the data “does not support the proposition that speculative activity has systematically driven changes in oil prices.”

Excuse me?  Their report showed supply and demand were the indicative factors in the high price of oil? 

Who is this commission, you ask? 

From the ww.cftc.gov:

The Commission consists of five Commissioners appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to serve staggered five-year terms. The President designates one of the Commissioners to serve as Chairman. No more than three Commissioners at any one time may be from the same political party.

Currently there are 4 members on this commission.  Acting CFTC Chairman Walter Lukken 

Acting Chairman Walter Lukken (pictured at right) who was first appointed in 2002 becoming acting chairman on June 17, 2007.     

Commissioner Michael Dunn was sworn in December 6, 2004 and reconfirmed in 2006.

Commissioner Jill E. Sommers was sworn in August 8, 2007

Commissioner Bart Chilton was also sworn in on August 8, 2007

And in their infamous wisdom, the Senate will present legislation that will place “limits on the amount of oil certain traders, interested only in speculation, would be allowed to purchase in futures markets.”  They would also expand the authority given to the CFTC to regulate the oil markets. 

And there you have it.  A team of commissioners nominated by President Bush, release a report that incorrectly place the cause of the extremely high cost of oil on supply and demand.  This triggered the demand for increased offshore drilling.  So when evidence is presented that support that the report was incorrect, the US Senate expands the authority of that failed commission.  Brilliant.