Brush Wellman Responds

To the Editor,

Brush Ceramic Products Inc. has been part of the Tucson community since 1980. We are a subsidiary of Brush Wellman Inc., the nation's leading producer of beryllium-containing materials. Brush Wellman has more than 50 years experience at the forefront of beryllium health and safety issues.

We believe that sharing information is key to understanding and preventing the potential health impacts of beryllium production. Thus, Tucson Weekly can be commended for covering this topic with its February 13 article, "Something in the Air." However, in a few areas, the article falls short of accurately covering this complicated and technical topic and, as a result, factually and implicitly misleads and misinforms your readers in those instances.

The article makes the statement that, "Every day, a 'legal' amount of beryllium is spewed into Tucson's air." The fact is that since the plant opened more than 20 years ago, its beryllium emissions have been well below the limit established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to protect the community. Use of the term "spewed" is misleading, as it gives the impression that emissions from the plant are uncontrolled--which is neither fair nor accurate. To be factual, it must be noted that for the last two years, an independent consulting firm engaged to conduct quarterly stack emission sampling has found no detectable beryllium emissions.

It is important for the community to understand how Brush Ceramic Products protects its workers as well as the neighboring area.

Inside the plant, we use ventilation systems to limit the possibility of particulate escaping from the production processes. We also mandate that workers wear powered HEPA air filtering respirators to prevent inhalation of beryllium powder. These are just a couple examples of the many internal measures designed to protect employees.

To help address public safety and prevent the drag-out of dust containing beryllium from the facility, employees must wear company-supplied uniforms (which do not leave the premises) while working and shower before they leave the plant. But the primary public protection mechanism is the filtering system used to clean the ventilation system air that helps protect workers inside the plant. A three-part filtering system removes dust before the air is discharged through the plant's exhaust stack. The final filter effectively traps even the finest particles.

Contrary to Ms. Pat Bernie's claim in the article, the Brush Ceramic Products facility has had--since its opening--equipment that measures whether the filtration system is working properly. Though not required by our air permit, we have routinely monitored those measurements on a daily basis and regularly perform physical inspections of the system. And as previously noted, we have hired an independent contractor to conduct our stack sampling tests and have increased the frequency of these emissions tests from one to four times per year. Brush Ceramic Products has taken these steps not because environmental law or regulation requires it, but because it is the right thing to do for workers, their families and the community.

On another point, the statement in the article that "the limit for Department of Energy workers and federal contractors is .2 micrograms per cubic meter" is incorrect. The Department of Energy, as a federal employer processing certain beryllium products, has established a "limit" for internal processing, but that has nothing to do with external beryllium emissions, which are regulated by the EPA. Additionally, the DOE "limit" for workers referred to in the article is not the DOE health standard, but an "action level" which, if present, prompts the use of control measures such as air monitoring or warning signs. In fact, the DOE final rule states that "DOE has decided that the most prudent course is to lower the action level to 0.2 mg/m3 rather than set a new exposure limit." The DOE continues to use the current Occupational Safety and Health Administration health standard for in-plant worker protection.

Later in the article, a quote attributed to Ms. Bernie alleging that a section of neighboring property is "too contaminated to be developed residentially" is patently false. Beryllium is naturally occurring and is found in rocks and soil throughout Arizona and the entire United States. A soil study conducted in 1999 by Pima County Department of Health in response to community requests, which was also reviewed and validated by the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) officials, found only normal, natural concentrations of beryllium on that property and at all other locations in the community where samples were taken. A subsequent soil study in 2000, commissioned by the Sunnyside Unified School District and, involving multiple locations surrounding our facility, also found no evidence of beryllium concentrations above natural levels in the surrounding soil.

Beryllium and beryllium containing-materials save lives through use in air bag sensors, fire sprinkler heads, mammography X-ray equipment, pacemakers and weather satellites. They also serve to reduce air pollution and global warming gases by improving fuel efficiency in cars and trucks. Beryllium also plays a vital role in our nation's defense. Beryllium oxide products made in Tucson also find their way into similar vital segments of our economy such as medical lasers used for eye surgery.

For many years, Brush Wellman Inc. has actively participated in a variety of research projects, including a collaborative effort with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a branch of the Centers for Disease Control. These initiatives help to further the understanding of issues related to beryllium and worker health.

Brush Wellman Inc. remains committed to preventing beryllium-related health effects and encourages anyone interested in learning more about beryllium and health-related matters to contact the company at (800) 862-4118 or to visit our Web site at or

--R. C. Napoles
Director, Human Resources and Corporate Communications
Brush Ceramic Products, Inc.

In Defense of Norah Jones

To the Editor,

As a mediocre piano player myself, I must write in defense of Norah Jones, who was summarily trashed by your music critic ("Mainstream Music," The Rant Issue, March 6).

Regarding her presumed lack of skill: Any virtuoso can play a lot of notes--it takes true talent to only play the good ones. And to accuse her of nepotism is really asinine. What's an artist supposed to do if she inherits the gift from her parents? Become an accountant? At least she's not cashing in on her famous roots, unlike Jakob Dylan, Sean Lennon, Natalie Cole, etc.

Your critic also takes her to task for not writing all her own songs. I realize it's a strange concept, but some artists set aside their egos and record material written by their sidemen. This way they end up with better songs, and the band members get to contribute. Miles Davis worked this way, recording the compositions of Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. Plus, Miles embraced a glaringly simple playing style. Is your critic going to trash him, too?

Norah Jones makes beautiful music. If your critic can't hear it, perhaps he is in the wrong line of work. The Weekly should be ashamed for allowing his petty whining to soil the pages of your otherwise thoughtful publication. My petty whining, on the other hand, could help to balance out your grievous error. Of course, it could also put me on your critic's shit list, but considering my style of music, I've got nothing to lose.

--Duncan Stitt
piano player/songwriter

Franzi's Stance: Old and Demented

To the Editor,

Mr. Franzi reminds me of the clichéd, pipe-puffing oldster sitting around an old country store making comments that begin with, "Why in my day, we ... " The comments then trail off to why today's thinking people are just so wrong about everything.

Reading the silly commentary titled "False Premise" (March 20) brought those thoughts immediately to mind. One would think from Franzi's remarks that either he has never ventured beyond the Pima County line or simply knows little about the concept of metropolitan government except for futile local efforts. Then, he compromises his credibility further by snidely referring to Karl Marx and the political leanings of Tom Volgy.

The fact is that a very conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce, on whose staff I once served, included the concept in its Urban Development Guidebook and in conferences on the subject, some of which I produced.

Contrary to Franzi's apparent lack of background beyond Tucson and Pima County, combining logical operations does not require that all employees need to be retained or that all the offices and other operations of both continue. It also does not need to create a power-centralized government.

I don't have all the space needed here to educate Mr. Franzi, a man who seems only at home when ridiculing others. He was only accurate about one thing: Metro government is indeed more than a generation old, but hardly in the narrow and politically demented fashion he describes.

--Joseph J. Honick

Quit Attacking Progressive Pols

To the Editor,

The Weekly can't seem to give up its addiction to "gotcha journalism." Even though your paper purports to have a progressive agenda, you continue to attack local politicians that support that agenda.

The article you did on Steve Leal and Gabby Giffords ("Delinquent Community Leaders," March 6) was a gratuitous journalistic drive-by shooting.

--Ted Prezelski

Print Size: Remember the Aged Ones!

To the Editor,

Did you know that you have readers over the age of 50? Sure! Some of us even have brains that still function, though we wear glasses. So keep up the good work you have started, but don't shrink the crossword puzzle any more. The last guy used cheap ink and we COULD HARDLY READ THE DAMNED THING.

--Judy Casey

The Skinny Shares a Trait With Ashcroft's Doings

To the Editor,

I wish I knew precisely to whom to address this letter. Unfortunately, although they (he, she or it) are consistently vicious each week on a variety of topics, The Skinny is published without a credit. This week the topic was "City Hall Pass" which bravely (and, as always, anonymously) attacks City Manager James Keene for his "proto-fascist methodology" in attempting to formulate a policy for public access to City Hall.

They briefly describe the new rules, which require people to have an appointment with whomever they are going to visit, much like at any public or private office building in the country. I will admit that I have not read the new ruling cover to cover, but having read accounts of it in the newspaper, it sounds as if the manager's office is attempting to strike a balance between public access and the safety and protection of city employees. As The Skinny might have heard, there are actually numerous violent crimes and acts of terrorism in this world, and it is not likely to get better soon.

Perhaps there is a possibility that the City Manager's Office takes its responsibility to keep city employees out of danger seriously. My bet is that the new rule will not keep anyone interested in visiting City Hall from doing so. I would also wager that if city employees were harmed by an intruder in City Hall, The Skinny would be leading the charge to fire Jim Keene for not having a sound policy in place to protect city employees.

The item describes Keene's city hall bill as "antithetical to a free and democratic society." It then goes on to accuse James Keene and Mayor Bob Walkup of having a similar ideology to John Ashcroft's Patriot Act and Patriot 2--and calls for Keene to be "canned."

If The Skinny believes that these public servants bear any resemblance to John Ashcroft, my guess is that they also believed that Al Gore and George W. Bush were "the same thing," and voted for Nader. Of course, since The Skinny is not only self-righteous and venomous, but also 100 percent anonymous (much like the aspects of the Patriot Act they loathe), they will continue to attack anyone who tries to accomplish anything positive in the Tucson city government, regardless of what it is.

--Phil Lipman

Stop Running the Work of Idiots!

To the Editor,

What is with the idiot writers you use for your paper? The March 20 issue had such egregious examples of stupid and irresponsible writing that I have to respond.

First, Renée Downing's column, "War Games," is chock full of disgusting and infantile statements. She refers to going back to Iraq to "whup him." Well, the only reason we have to do go back in the first place is because of weaklings like her who were against the Gulf War. In order to get the precious coalition together, we had to limit the operation to freeing Kuwait, and leaving Saddam in power, in spite of all his atrocities.

Next, she snidely comments on how clever it is for the United States to disarm Iraq before attacking it, and how unmanly of an act that is--as if we should arm Iraq, then attack. How can our country have raised a generation of idiots to say something like that? Yeah, let's make it as dangerous for our military as possible, just so that all the Renées in the world can feel better about a level playing field.

Later, she refers to the president as "Our Little Fella" and then throws some handy Bible-bashing in. As a voter for Clinton and then Gore, I object to having the president referred to like that. Renée, don't you realize that you just embarrass the whole liberal side with that drek?

Now over to Dave Devine's "War Torn," where he quotes some Not-So-Mensa member that Bush is planning genocide, with 200,000 people dying. She says we are about to enter World War III. Dave would do better not to quote someone from the UA hysteria dept. In fact, with Dave's placing of Bush as a demented Dr. Strangelove in an Old Tucson setting, he might do better as the Weekly's film reviewer, since James DiGiovanna needs to be replaced.

I know I have a lot of readers agreeing with me on how you should find a new reviewer. DiGiovanna hasn't really bothered me in the past--I've found his reviews hit-and miss. But the one on Willard ("Rat a Tat Tat") was the most unreadable film review that I have ever seen. His gag of referring to the old and new Willard movies was painful to even attempt to follow. Why does The Weekly bother with a reviewer who, I understand, lives in New York? Why not just hire someone here (support the local economy, you know)? How about encouraging the art of writing among Tucson's high school students by having them send in film reviews every week, and then you choose the best for each issue. I'll bet all the Scuds in Iraq that they can do a lot better job.

--Brian Brainerd

Thoughts on War and The Weekly

To the Editor,

Every week, I seek out my personal copy of the Tucson Weekly.

There are so many issues surrounding the war, starting with the horrific recognition that each war waged so far has not been the last war. However, this one may well be. I am grateful to the Tucson Weekly for the right-on cartoons of This Modern World and Random Shots. (I also love the comics in your competitors' newspapers, too.) There is probably not a word printed among your columnists that I fail to read. Though I do not necessarily agree with their opinions, the columns are well worth reading.

It is a darned shame that anyone NOT in agreement with the war is considered unpatriotic. And should someone NOT be in right-wing conservative Christian mode, you simply do not believe in Jesus Christ.

As sincere Christians following Christ, please, each and every one of us put our prayers upon the head of every serviceman and servicewoman, as well as our country's leaders.

--Joyce Plaisted

The Public Lands Fee Issue Is Important

To the Editor,

I'd like to thank you for Tim Vanderpool's excellent article ("This Land Is Our Land," March 27), about the federal Recreation Fee Demonstration Program that has been sweeping the country for the last seven or eight years.

Lest well-intentioned citizens scoff at someone complaining about paying $5 per day per person to experience sublimity, I'd like to add a couple, minor comments.

East Aravaipa Canyon (where we were cited for refusing to pay the Fee Demo portion of the fee requested) has no trailhead to speak of, or restroom, so Tom Schnell in Safford must be telling us it takes that much money to fund a Web site. (Arguably, $5 x 50 people = $250/day).

Secondly, the program is supposed to be gauging public reaction, although John McGee (local USFS chief) told us they have "no record" of dissenters. Should the program become permanent, the fees could go through the roof. Can you think of anything that's gotten cheaper lately?

Finally, even discussing the pennies involved is kind of like saying the civil rights movement was about sitting at the lunch counter at Woolworth's.

Citizens, write or call us; we're in the book.

--Gaye Adams and Greg Lewis

My Kid Can Write Better Than You

To the Editor,

Please stop Jimmy Boegle from reviewing restaurants. He sucks! My 8-year-old daughter writes better reports.

--Tom Schlueter

Mr. Schlueter has been contacted about the possibility of his daughter doing a review. We'll keep you posted.

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