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Colorful March on Golden Gate Bridge Today Highlights Push to Stop Keystone XL Pipeline

National Nurses United Press Release, 6/20/13

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New Report on Toxic Chemicals in Arkansas Tar Sands Spill Emphasizes   Health Hazards Linked to Controversial KXL Project Say Nurses

SAN FRANCISCO – In one of the most colorful protests yet against the Keystone XL Pipeline project, registered nurses from coast to coast, joined by activists from the nation’s leading environmental groups and other Bay Area activists will march across the Golden Gate Bridge today. The message to the Obama administration – stop the pipeline before it’s too late for our planet and our health.

Today’s huge march comes as a new report was released today in Washington identifying seven highly toxic compounds that can cause cancer and developmental problems found in a sample from the March tar sands oil spill near Mayflower, Ark.

What:  March and Rally, Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
When:  Today, Thursday, June 20, rally at 12 noon, march at 12:30 p.m.
Where:  Rally, staging area at Battery East, near the Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion, Fort Point

The event is hosted by National Nurses United (NNU), the nation’s largest nurses organization, which cites serious adverse health concerns as well as environmental consequences of the Pipeline-- a project one prominent NASA scientist said is among “the biggest carbon bombs on the planet.”

Endorsers and participating organizations include 350.org, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, CREDO, Greenpeace, UNITE HERE, Local 2850, Food and Water Watch, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, California League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter, Equal Health Network, Center for Biological Diversity, Keystone XL Action Council, Citizens Climate Lobby, Global Exchange, Bay Localize, and Movement Generation.

In addition to opposing Keystone, the rally will call attention to the adverse effects of global and U.S. austerity measures. Participants will also urge enactment of a tax on Wall Street speculation, the Robin Hood tax, which would raise hundreds of billions of dollars every year in the U.S. alone to fight climate change and help fund other basic needs. 

In joining with environmentalists, unions, First Nation leaders, and other organizations from across the country to oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline, NNU said the extraction, transport and refining of the tar sands crude oil in the project all pose a major threat to public health.

That was brought into renewed focus today with the report from the Environmental Working Group which identified lead, benzene, tuolene, ethylbenzene, chromium, and other toxic compounds in a tar sands sample collected from the March spill of an Exxon pipeline. Among the many potential known health effects from the various chemicals are cancer, birth defects, nervous and immune system disorders, and kidney and liver damage. http://www.ewg.org/release/poison-pipeline-toxic-risk-keystone-xl

“As a maternity nurse, the list of chemicals contained in the tar sands oil are a pregnant woman's nightmare,” said Oakland, CA RN Katy Roemer. “We are talking about impacting not only our current generation of men, women and children but also the next in the case of a spill.”

“We do not have the capacity to adequately clean up the chemicals that we know are contained in the tar sands oil and we do not even know the full list of those chemicals. The ones we do know about are awful. For example, lead does not go away, it is around forever and no level of lead in the human body is safe. It is devastating to the neurological system of the fetus but also to all developing children. The spills that will occur along the pipeline, should construction be finished will ruin the communities where they happen. How far are we willing to go in terms of destruction to continue with a fuel that we know is not sustainable?” Roemer said.

In addition to nurses from 25 states, environmental, and community activists, nurse and labor activists from Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa will also be on hand. NNU is hosting a national conference in San Francisco June 19 to 21 at which the global fight against austerity, eroding healthcare standards, attacks on unions, and the fight against climate change are on the agenda.

For more on NNU’s opposition to KXL, see http://www.nationalnursesunited.org/blog/entry/primer-on-climate-change-healthcare-and-the-keystone-xl-pipeline/

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