Toxic Carolina

Pollution statistics for the state of North Carolina were released last month from the Toxic Release Inventory mandated by the Community Right to Know Act. The data show toxic releases to the environment continuing to decrease slowly, while the amount of toxic wastes “managed” by industries has increased, according to a press release from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

North Carolina ranked 10th in the nation for total toxic-chemical releases to air, land and water, and eighth for on-site releases, with 59.9 million pounds of toxins released to the air and 2.5 million pounds to surface water. In the last year, state industries managed — i.e. recycled, incinerated, reprocessed or treated — more than 733 million pounds of toxic waste.

Among the state’s top releasers of toxic chemicals, according to the group, are: Champion International Corp. in Canton; Broyhill Furniture Industries, Inc. in Lenoir; Shurtape Technologies in Hickory; DuPont in Leland; PCS Phosphate Co., Inc. in Aurora; and the Wright Chemical Corp. in Riegelwood.

Robert Pregulman, the Southern field organizer for U.S. PIRG, thinks North Carolina should do much better. He points to the state of Massachusetts, where manufacturers decreased their total toxic chemical use by 24 percent, their waste generation by 34 percent, and their toxic releases to the environment by 73 percent. “Industries in Massachusetts,” he says, “are reducing their reliance upon chemicals that may cause cancer, birth defects and other serious health problems. Although Massachusetts industries should continue to reduce toxic-chemical use, that state’s program should be a national model.”

In 1990, Congress passed the Pollution Prevention Act, declaring it to be the national policy that “pollution should be prevented or reduced at the source whenever feasible.” Nevertheless, the quantities of industrial wastes managed have continued to increase.

Waldorf education explained

Two former Waldorf-school teachers who recently retired to the Asheville area will host a Saturday, Aug. 22, meeting to describe the Waldorf teaching method, and to assist any parents who may be interested in providing it to their children.

Waldorf education, founded by Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner, follows the natural progression of child development, from infancy to maturity. Steiner created a curriculum designed to meet the child’s particular need at each developmental stage.

Following a lecture explaining the philosophy and practical aspects of the Waldorf approach, there will be a general discussion. A brief video of typical Waldorf-school scenes may also be shown. The meeting will take place at the Church of the Holy Spirit on Bonecamp Road near Mars Hill. Child care may be arranged with Karen Watkins at 682-9263.

For more information, contact Peter or Lucille Clemm at 658-1423.

Sitnick hosts roundtable discussion on pollution

Every person in the U.S. throws away an average of 4.3 pounds of trash per day, or 1,570 pounds per year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In some cases, this trash becomes litter, and litter becomes a problem for communities across the country.

In an effort to solve Asheville’s litter problem, Mayor Leni Sitnick will hold a roundtable discussion focusing on litter and what can be done about it. The discussion will take place Thrusday, Aug. 20, in the William F. Wolcott building, 161 S. Charlotte St.

While the city of Asheville has increased efforts to minimize the litter problem in our area — such as minimizing the amount of time trash sits at the curb, and increasing the frequency of street collection downtown — Sitnick knows that real progress will only be made when citizens join the efforts to keep our area of the world clean.

“We want everyone to come with their solutions and ideas,” Sitnick said. “We want to leave with concrete plans to make Asheville a cleaner place to live and visit.”

For more information, contact Robin Westbrook at 251-9973.

Bike-transportation maps now available

Good news for Asheville cyclists: The Bikeways Task Force of the Asheville Area Metropolitan Planning Area has developed a high-quality map designed to help road riders make good judgments about which routes to use — based on their own level of cycling ability and traffic-handling skills.

Selected roads in the map are color-coded for cycling suitability. Level I (green) roads have little to moderate traffic; level IV (purple) roads have high traffic volumes, but are included because they serve as valuable transportation linkages for cyclists. Terrain was not factored into the ratings, but steep inclines are indicated by chevrons which point in the direction of the climb.

“The map serves a dual purpose,” explains Task Force staffer Elizabeth Teague, a planner with the Land-of-Sky Regional Council. “It provides information to help cyclists navigate our area, but it is also a planning tool for the Metropolitan Planning Area’s Advisory Committee, in that it identifies roads which are important as cycling thoroughfares. The Task Force’s goal is to keep the Level I roads safe for cyclists, and to improve the higher-level roads for cycling safety.”

Volunteers from the Bikeways Task Force and the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club spent eight years surveying roads and ranking them, based on criteria such as traffic volume and road width. “It took several years, revisions and lots of e-mail before the map was at a point where everyone was happy with it.”

Maps are available for a $3 donation, to help fund future reprints and revisions. You can find them at: Carolina Fatz Mountain Bike Center; Hearn’s Cycling and Fitness; Liberty Bicycles; Asheville’s Parks and Recreation Dept.; Pro Bikes; Ski Country Sports; the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce; and Earthsports/Climbmax.

For more information, contact Elizabeth Teague at 251-6622.

Water-efficiency workshop

There’s a lot more to water conservation than just sticking a bottle in your toilet tank. All water users and suppliers — including businesses, industries and institutions — need to be aware of the options available for using water more efficiently and helping preserve water quality, according to the Regional Water Authority of Asheville, Buncombe and Henderson.

To that end, the RWA will present a Water Efficiency Workshop on Friday, Aug. 28, at the North Carolina Arboretum. The workshop will show water-utility personnel how to encourage their nonresidential customers to conserve water and increase efficiency, and will give the managers of commercial and industrial facilities tools, techniques and case studies on how to reduce water consumption in their operations.

The workshop is aimed at both water suppliers and commercial users, including water- and wastewater-utility managers; conservation personnel; city officials; business and institutional facility managers; environmental groups; residential users and government personnel who are actively involved in water conservation.

The featured speaker will be Jane Ploeser, coordinator of the Water Conservation Program for the city of Phoenix. She has implemented several progressive water-efficiency programs in her city and has written many articles on nonresidential water conservation. Ploeser also serves as chair of the Commercial Industrial Institutional Committee of the American Water Works Association.

The registration fee is $15 for RWA customers, $25 for noncustomers (through Aug. 15). After Aug 15, all registrants will pay $25.

For more information, call Jennifer Ball at 259-5958.

Calling all smart people

French Broad Mensa, the western North Carolina chapter of American Mensa, will be offering its membership test on Saturday, Aug. 15, at 1 p.m. at the Enka Branch Library.

Mensa, the famed high-IQ society, is an international organization with only one requirement for membership — a score within the top 2 percent of the general population on a standardized test. Reservations are required for taking the test.

To make a reservation, call the testing coordinator at 667-6934.

— frenetically compiled by Paul Schattel

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