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SHELL TO BE A BIG PLAYER IN CONTROVERSIAL MICROPLASTICS

SHELL TO BE A BIG PLAYER IN MICROPLASTICS

By John Donovan

The timing of President Trump’s delayed visit to Shell’s new Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex, which will produce more than a million tons of plastic in the form of tiny pellets, turned out to be unfortunate.

It happened to coincide with the release of scientific research and evidence about the unknown consequences of airborne microplastics on the heath of “birds, fish, whales and people”.

Please read the extracts below from various news organisations covering the Trump visit, which inevitably was surrounded by controversy and scandal.

Workers were paid by Shell to attend and listen to what turned out to be an hour-long political campaign speech masquerading as a visit to celebrate the near completion of a gigantic new business. Workers were also ordered not to protest. 

Associated Press: Trump claims credit for Shell plant announced under Obama: August 14, 2019

Extracts:

President Donald Trump sought to take credit this week for a major manufacturing complex in western Pennsylvania in his latest effort to reinvigorate the Rust Belt support that sent him to the White House. He was cheered on by fluorescent-vest-clad workers who were paid to attend by Shell, their employer, which is building the facility. Despite Trump’s claims, Shell announced its plans to build the complex in 2012, midway through President Barack Obama’s term in the White House.

Trump was visiting Shell’s soon-to-be completed Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex, which will turn the area’s vast natural gas deposits into plastics.

But “fracking for plastic” has drawn alarm from environmentalists and other activists, who warn of potential health and safety risks to nearby residents and bemoan the production of ever more plastic. There has been growing concern over the sheer quantity of plastic on the planet, which has overwhelmed landfills, inundated bodies of water and permeated the deepest reaches of the ocean. Microplastics have been found in the bodies of birds, fish, whales and people, with the health impacts largely unknown.

The Independent: Trump news: President endorses man who openly avows white nationalism, collects Nazi relics and called Sandy Hook ‘a hoax’: 14 August 2019

Extracts

Donald Trump has endorsed the political ambitions of ex-Arizona Diamondbacks baseball star Curt Schilling, an outspoken conservative and Breitbart podcast host known for espousing conspiracy theories and white nationalist rhetoric and collecting Nazi memorabilia.

The development comes after the president addressed energy workers in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and joked about calling off the 2020 election and serving a third term, attacking his political opponents including Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, despite the event not being earmarked for campaigning.

Speaking to staff after touring the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex in Monaca, Mr Trump also spread misinformation about wind power (“All of the sudden it stops – the wind and the televisions go off”) after defending his retweeting of baseless rumours about the death of billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The Guardian: Microplastics ‘significantly contaminating the air’, scientists warn: 14 August 2019

Extracts:

The scientists called for research on the effect of airborne microplastics on human health, pointing to an earlier study that found the particles in cancerous human lung tissue. In June, another study showed people eat at least 50,000 microplastic particles per year.

Many millions of tonnes of plastic are discarded into the environment every year and are broken down into small particles and fibres that do not biodegrade. These particles, known as microplastics, have now been found everywhere from high mountains to deep oceans and can carry toxic chemicals and harmful microbes.

MailOnline/Daily Mail: Microplastics have reached the ARCTIC as scientists find evidence of the polluting material in remote snow samples: 15 August 2019

Extracts:

According to new research, the tiny particles are transported by the atmosphere and are washed out of the air, especially by snow.

This means the synthetic material is now even present in sparsely populated areas, such as the Alps.

The study, conducted by Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute, raises fresh questions about how much plastic humans are unintentionally inhaling.

 

 

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