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Profile: US Geological Service (USGS)

 
  

Positions that US Geological Service (USGS) has held:



 

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US Geological Service (USGS) actively participated in the following events:

 
  

September 20, 2001      911 Environmental Impact

       US Geological Survey (USGS) scientists begin performing tests on the dust samples collected by USGS geophysicists, Gregg Swayze and Todd Hoefen, during the previous three days (see September 17, 2001-September 19, 2001-). Roger Clark (the astrophysicist who heads the AVIRIS program at USGS), Gregg Swayze, Todd Hoefen and Eric Livo (another USGS scientist) analyze samples in the Imaging Spectroscopy Lab and Gregory Meeker (head of the USGS's microbeam laboratory) views samples with the scanning electron microscope and conducts energy dispersive spectroscopy. Other USGS scientists study the samples using X-ray diffraction, X-ray fluorescence, as well as chemical analysis and chemical leach testing. Within hours, the results from the various tests indicate the presence of asbestos and an “alphabet soup of heavy metals.” Each of the different techniques used to determine the chemical components of the dust “back each other up,” Swayze later explains to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Some techniques can see more than others, and we were throwing in every technique we had in house,” he says. Tests revealed the dust to be extremely alkaline with a pH of 12.1 (out of 14). [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02] and that some of it was as caustic as liquid drain cleaner. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02 (B)] “We were startled at the pH level we were finding,” Swayze adds. “We knew that the cement dust was caustic, but we were getting pH readings of 12 and higher. It was obvious that precautions had to be taken to protect the workers and people returning to their homes from the dust.” Sam Vance, an environmental scientist with the EPA, sends the results to officials at the EPA, the New York health department and US Public Health Service. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Eric Livo, Todd Hoefen, Gregg Swayze, Geoffrey Plumlee, Joe Taggart, Steve Sutley, Robert Green, Roger Clark, US Geological Service (USGS), Phil Hageman, Gregory Meeker
          

September 27, 2001      911 Environmental Impact

       After USGS scientists complete their analysis of the dust samples collected in New York City (see September 17, 2001-September 19, 2001-) —which found asbestos, an “alphabet soup of heavy metals,” and an extremely high pH level (see September 20, 2001) —the team emails the results to “all the government contacts the team had” including people at the EPA and FEMA, as well as to the federal emergency response coordinator. The EPA never informs the public of the dust's high pH. “We anticipated that the results would have been shared with the people on the ground, those at risk, but it looks like the information never got to those who needed it,” Geoffrey Plumlee, a geochemist, will later tell the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02 (B)] Some scientists will suggest that the dust's high pH is a major cause of what will come to be known as the “WTC cough” (see September 9, 2002).
People and organizations involved: US Geological Service (USGS), Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency  Additional Info 
          

February 23, 2002      911 Environmental Impact

       The EPA's National Ombudsman's office convenes a hearing on the environmental issues that resulted from the attacks on the World Trade Center. Hugh Kaufman, the EPA ombudsman's chief investigator, remarks during the hearing that he believes the EPA, as well as state and city officials, have intentionally utilized inferior testing methods in order to avoid finding evidence that environmental conditions threaten public health. “I believe EPA did not do that because they knew it would come up not safe and so they are involved in providing knowingly false information to the public about safety,” Kaufman, says. “Not just EPA, the state and the city, too. We also had testimonies that all the agencies—local, state, and federal—have been consorting together every week to discuss these issues.” [CNN, 2/24/02] Numerous experts testify at the hearing, criticizing the EPA's response to the September 11 attacks, including David Newman, an industrial hygienist with the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH); Dr. Thomas Cahill, of the University of California at Davis; Marjorie J. Clarke, PhD, an adjunct professor at Lehman and Hunter College, City University of New York; Alison Johnson, Chairman of the Chemical Sensitivity Foundation, among others. Government officials and employees were invited to participate—including officials from the EPA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the US Geological Survey, the governor's office, state agencies, the mayor's office and city agencies—but did not appear. “This is the first time this has happened in this type of hearing,” Hugh Kaufman, tells United Press International. [Newsmax, 2/24/2002 Sources: Transcripts of EPA National Ombudsman Hearing on EPA response to WTC contamination, 2/21/2002]
People and organizations involved: Federal Emergency Management Agency, US Geological Service (USGS), Marjorie J. Clarke, PhD, Alison Johnson, Environmental Protection Agency, Thomas Cahill, Hugh Kaufman, Cate Jenkins, PhD., Jerrold Nadler
          

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