Kudos to the Port of Port Elizabeth as, during this past weekend’s PEoples Port Festival hosted by the Port, it appeared that the loading of Manganese Ore into the 188.99m cargo vessel, Serene Sky, had been halted – probably at considerable cost to the Port during the well attended festival.
On Saturday 25 March 2017 the manganese ore loading gantries were silent right up until nightfall when loading began again in windless conditions under the cover of darkness.
On Sunday the Manganese Ore was also not loaded during the day. Frankly, if the ship had been loaded on Sunday the South East wind (blowing from the Manganese Ore Terminal across the harbour in the direction of North End) would have resulted in many thousands of visitors to the Port seeing what you see below: clouds of Manganese Ore Dust polluting everything in it’s path.
The thought of Manganese Ore contaminating one’s food and drink may well have chased the many happy people attending the PEoples Port Festival away in droves and turned the tide of sentiment once again.
On 18 January 2017 the United States of America, by the authority of the Attorney General of the United States, acting at the request of the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency filed a civil action against defendant S.H. Bell Company concerning emissions of manganese (Mn) from its facility located in East Liverpool, Ohio and Ohioville Borough, Pennsylvania that present an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health or welfare. At certain concentrations, manganese is a neurotoxin and causes neuromotor and neuropsychological deficits, including tremors, balance issues, negative cognitive effects, and mood changes. East Liverpool residents have been identified with health ailments consistent with chronic manganese exposure. S.H. Bell handles and stores raw and processed metal products, including various manganese ores.
Click here to read the filing: http://courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/bellcomp.pdf
In November 2011 US EPA researchers conducted a health study of airborne manganese exposure in East Liverpool, Ohio.
Click here to read the EPA study and findings: https://www.epa.gov/healthresearch/air-manganese-study
Workplace studies of occupations such as mining and welding have shown that inhaling high levels of manganese can lead to nervous system health effects. Few studies have been done on the health effects of airborne manganese exposure in community settings on adults. The main purpose of the US EPA study was to evaluate whether nervous system health effects (neurotoxicity) were detectable in community residents with long-term, airborne manganese exposure.
In an August 2009, a manganese health study was conducted by San Francisco State University in Marietta (a community near a smelter emitting manganese) and Mount Vernon (a community without a large airborne manganese source), Ohio. The East Liverpool EPA study in November 2011 followed a similar protocol so that data from all three communities could be compared.
Statistical differences were noted between the above three communities for:
- Blood: East Liverpool residents had higher average blood cadmium levels than Mount Vernon residents, but they were still within the normal range found in the general population. East Liverpool residents had lower blood mercury levels than Marietta residents.
- Neurological assessment: East Liverpool residents showed slower movement initiation (results in delays in onset of movement) than Mount Vernon residents, but were slightly better than Marietta residents.
- More hand tremors (involuntary shaking) were observed in East Liverpool residents than Marietta residents.
- East Liverpool residents had more postural sway/instability (involuntary swaying or instability when standing on both feet) than Marietta and Mount Vernon
- East Liverpool residents had lower scores for immediate memory (daily living) than Marietta
- East Liverpool residents had lower scores for word reading, motor speed, motor strength and motor tactile than Marietta and Mount Vernon residents.
The combined data from East Liverpool and Marietta showed that having a higher exposure index was related to lower neuropsychological and motor performance. Living a shorter distance from a manganese source was also associated with neuropsychological and motor performance. The strongest effects were seen for tremor, motor speed, and motor strength.
The average blood manganese level in the general population ranges between 4-15 µg/L. The following levels were detected in residents from East Liverpool: 10.32 µg/L
Health Risks from Manganese Exposure: Manganese is a neurotoxin at certain concentrations that can cause neuromotor and neuropsychological deficits. Inhaled manganese may be transported to the brain before it is metabolized by the liver. Exposure to elevated concentrations of manganese in the air may lead to a permanent neurological disorder known as manganism, the symptoms of which include tremors, difficulty walking, facial muscle spasms, negative cognitive effects, and mood changes. It may also lead to lung inflammation and impaired lung function. In children, exposure to elevated levels of manganese may result in effects on brain development, including changes in behavior and decreases in learning and memory capacities.
With Manganese being transported in open railway trucks from Hotazel and from holding facilities in Markman and Swartkops along Port Elizabeth’s road network the potential hazards to communities along the route are increased.
Personally, I often drive behind the manganese trucks in Strand Street – the combination of manganese ore and other pollutants from the many taxis in Strand Street must surely present a major health hazard to the many Taxi Drivers and street side food vendors in the area as it is under the freeway, virtually enclosed which does not present an ideal environment to blow the pollutants away.
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