Entries in Cleanup (3)


Occupy LA Cleanup May Cost Over $1 Million, Mayor Says

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- As a chain link fence and concrete barricades surrounded the City Hall Park that Occupy Los Angeles protesters called home before an overnight police raid removed them, one of the movement’s lead organizers vowed the fight would continue.

Just after midnight Wednesday, 1,400 police officers raided the park encampment and arrested 292 demonstrators who refused to follow an order to disperse.

“Occupying a patch of land adjacent to City Hall was not sustainable over time because of public health reasons,” Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa said during a news conference Wednesday.  “Anybody who went through that park knows it was not an exaggeration.  It was not hyperbole.  It was and is a public health hazard.  That’s why you saw police officers in hazmat suits.”

Villaraigosa said the protesters had to be removed as well “to make sure that everyone has access to City Hall steps.”  On Wednesday, he and Police Chief Charlie Beck thanked both law enforcement and the demonstrators for a relatively peaceful day.

Villaraigosa said that sanitation workers had been working throughout the night in the park, which was littered by trash and flattened tents, and smelled of urine.

“Replacing the lawn will cost us a lot of money,” he told reporters Wednesday.  He said the cost of the raid and the park’s repair “may go beyond a million [dollars], certainly.”

In a statement earlier in the day, Villaraigosa said that the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority had previously walked through the park to assess the needs of those who had nowhere to go.  He added that during the park’s closure, a First Amendment area would remain open on the Spring Street City Hall steps.

Mario Brito, a lead organizer of Occupy Los Angeles, said during a news conference Wednesday that activists would start occupying the neighborhoods where bank executives have homes.  He also said demonstrators were calling for a moratorium on home foreclosures.

Villaraigosa said Wednesday that he expected more Occupy protests.

“If their movement is to move beyond this stage, it will have to be peaceful,” he said.  “Working together, we can respect the right of people to speak out against the government, against injustices.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Cleanup Continues in St. Louis Following Tornado

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) -- St. Louis' Lambert Airport opened Saturday night for some arriving flights after a tornado caused such terrible damage to the main terminal on Friday.

The storm ripped part of the roof off the airport's main concourse, blew out glass windows and wreaked havoc on the runway, damaging a handful of planes.

"It's going to take a while before the C concourse can be functional," airport director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge said. "A good portion of the roof is absolutely gone, every window is out of that as well as extensive damage to a number of the actual restaurants and stuff in the concourse."

She said one passenger jet was severely damaged and five or six others sustained lesser damage.

Officials hoped to restore the airport to 70 percent operating capacity by Sunday, though they cautioned that to achieve that, they need to first restore electricity to the facility. The damaged concourse will be closed for the coming months.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said today that already crews have made dramatic progress cleaning things up at the airport.

Gov. Jay Nixon said 750 homes in the region were damaged and that President Obama pledged federal assistance during a phone conversation. The tornado also caused widespread damage and power outages in St. Louis County, and power company officials said many could remain in the dark until Monday.

The National Weather Service reported damage consistent with winds gusting over 135 miles per hour during the brunt of the storm.

Most of the danger at the airport resulted from shattered glass, which was sent flying when approximately half of the windows in Terminal 1 blew in as the storm hit.

Despite the damage, officials said they were relieved that only five people were hospitalized due to injuries sustained at the airport, and that all of them were treated and released.

According to the National Weather Service, the storm was one of about two dozen tornadoes that hit across five Midwest states Friday, and it is likely that there are more to come, especially in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Gulf Oil Spill: Fishermen Say They Are Sick from Cleanup

U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, an army of fishermen, 10,000 strong, joined the cleanup effort. Today, almost a year after the spill, many say they are suffering from debilitating health effects that studies suggest are consistent with prolonged exposure to chemicals in oil.

An ABC News investigation found that many workers were told they did not need respirators -- advice BP received from the government -- and that no government agency tested the air the workers were breathing out at sea until a month after the spill.

BP continues to insist that "no one should be concerned about their health being harmed by the oil." In fact, BP says, "The monitoring results showed that the levels generally were similar to background conditions -- in other words, concentrations that would have been expected before or in the absence of the spill."

Tell that to Todd Rook, age 45, who says he had pneumonia four times in the last eight months and never once before the oil spill. Or to Malcolm Coco, 42, who says he has had blood in his urine and suffered from chest pains and memory loss.

BP hired fishermen as part of the Vessels of Opportunity Program, where they took their own boats out to sea to stop the oil before it hit the shore. There were more than 3,000 of these boats out there -- that's more than 10,000 proud fishermen riding through the oil, burning it, skimming it, laying down those booms, for hours and days -- sometimes weeks out at sea without coming home -- all to save their precious waters and livelihood.

And now they're speaking out for the first time, but they may just be the latest victims of oil spills. Only two weeks ago, a major study in the New England Journal of Medicine reviewed 26 studies from the eight biggest oil spills around the world. And in a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Gina Solomon, co-director of the Occupational and Environmental Health Program at the University of California, San Francisco says, "The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico poses direct threats to human health from inhalation or dermal contact with the oil and dispersant chemicals."

Respiratory symptoms aren't surprising to medical experts contacted by ABC News. In a 2002 spill off the coast of Spain, cleanup workers were twice as likely to have breathing problems as non-cleanup workers were. In another study, workers who worked more than twenty days on the oil were four times as likely to have breathing problems.

There are over 200 chemicals in oil, some more dangerous than others. One of them is benzene -- a Group 1 carcinogen according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It is in the same class as radioactive iodine, arsenic, and asbestos.

Dr. Michael Harbut, an oncologist who sees Gulf patients, said, "I think there's a fairly high likelihood that we'll see some increase in some cancers in some of the populations with exposure to the chemicals." Harbut is director of the Environmental Cancer Program at the Karmanos Cancer Institute.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio ´╗┐

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