Thursday, May 8, 2008

Q Talks ABout the CDC and Scientoplogy's Deathwinds

In the US government, certain agencies do certain things as defined by law. The CDC is disease investigation/public health issues, they don't do air quality or workplace contamination investigations except as consultants to another agency that asks for or is directed to ask for CDC's help. CDC was involved in the Legionnaire Disease investigation since it was initially a case of an unknown acute disease in a defined population of US citizens on US soil.

Atmospheric air quality is under either the EPA or the individual state if the state has primacy for monitoring air/water quality and atmospheric/water discharges within the state. Workplace safety issues are normally OSHA, including exposure to a legally-defined list of toxic substances and investigation of workplace practices that lead to death or injury. Asbestos contamination of a workplace due to work practice would be an OSHA investigation. EPA does have legal oversight for defining carcinogens, but no responsibility for anything except carcinogen discharges in air or water. FDA has oversight of carcinogens in foods. OSHA has oversight of carcinogen exposure of workers due to work practices. The US Coast Guard preempts OSHA on maritime matters to some extent, but only with US registered vessels or US ported vessels.

Since EPA monitors atmospheric air quality and native water quality, they got involved in the Johns-Manville asbestos plant contamination of the atmospheric air and water in Montana. OSHA got involved in the workplace problems of asbestos contamination in Montana. CDC might have been involved in the mesothelioma aspects as a public health issue, but only as a public health issue alone. I do not believe that CDC has quasi-police powers as do EPA and OSHA except, possibly, for infectious disease control.

If it is a workplace contamination problem such as "sick building syndrome", it has been difficult to find an agency that has oversight unless, as an example, testing shows that the building exceeds workplace concentrations of defined workplace contaminants under OSHA and that the contamination occurred as a result of workplace practices as defined by law. Sick building syndrome is normally a state department of health responsibility, and that might include exposure to asbestos in an existing building where no obvious work practice was involved in the exposure.

Since the suspected contamination of Freewinds occurred on board a ship, it might be OSHA, it might be the US Coast Guard, etc., depending on how the law is written, but only if the ship, its owners, or agents, were resident in the US. It certainly would not be CDC if asbestos is involved, unless OSHA or USCG call CDC in for consultation on mesothelioma itself. CDC would be called in if mesothelioma were discovered in some population where the source were unknown and it was a rampant issue arising on its own, much like in Love Canal there was first a known public health crisis before the environmental issues were defined.

In the case of a foreign vessel, under foreign ownership, the US has no explicit jurisdiction unless it pokes into the affairs of a foreign state. The fact that such vessel carries US citizens is out of bounds for most US agencies. If a US citizen disappears on a foreign vessel, the FBI might get involved if invited to do so by the host country, normally as observers only, without any portfolio. A US citizen on a foreign vessel is essentially a temporary resident in the foreign country of registration and outside the jurisdiction of US law.

I would not expect CDC to get involved in this at all. I would expect that those passengers who might have been contaminated on a foreign vessel in open waters to seek redress in the civil court of the country of the vessel's registration. Freewinds, its management and crew would be subject to the laws, if any, governing asbestos exposure in its home country, Panama, in this case. If it can be shown that the foreign firms have assets in the US, or are controlled by a US entity (like the Flag Ship Service Org/Church of Scientology), then the civil suits might be filed in US Federal courts.

One can review the enabling regulations for each of CDC, EPA, OSHA, etc., in the Code of Federal Regulations that can be found in most university and large municipal libraries. Set aside several months.

Note that I am not suggesting that CDC, or another agency like OSHA would not take an interest in the asbestos contamination on Freewinds, only that it is unlikely that they can or would do anything about it given their limited freedoms to act under their enabling legislations. The most CDC might do is conduct a study of mesothelioma incidence if the population of affected parties could be identified and there were a federal mandate to do so, however remotely that might come about. It's just about tough luck for American citizens to be exposed to a non-communicable disease on a foreign-registered vessel.

Now, my view might be irrelevant since Freewinds made the mistake of undertaking maintenance in Curacao where it supposedly released asbestos onto Curacao while docked. There might be treaties, etc., where somehow the US could be involved, but at this point the damaged party is Netherlands Antilles and the Dutch government with Freewinds and its captain as the perpetrators.

If it can be proved that the captain was indeed aware of asbestos release while docked in Curacao and attempted to hide the fact of the release, then he and his crew might be charged criminally for whatever crimes against the government of Curacao. The crew, prior to the time of the dry-docking, was likely under the laws of Panama for their exposures to asbestos. After drydocking, the ship is resident in Curacao and not on the high seas, to it will be interesting to see just what happens to the ship itself. The Dutch might just force the ship and crew to return to the high seas, never to return again if the special abatement crew from the US fails again to do their jobs properly.

Q -- From the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup

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