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National Educational radio presents the following program in cooperation with a group w the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company. Every day you breathe a noxious chemicals like sulfur dioxide Benza pirating carbon monoxide actually and and enough so to turn your lungs black. Well there are two ways to avoid the ill effects of breathing polluted air. 1. Hold your breath. In California we have a machine that they say way to smart for me and you will have to have one. Right to your state or local Air Pollution Control Agency. Or to clean air. Learn what you can do to help us all breathe freely again. Group w o the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company presents the pollution explosion a 10 part study of the rising tide of air and water pollution
then America. Your commentator is John Taylor. Pollution of all kinds has become increasingly menacing to the health and general well-being of Americans and nowhere are the dangers and miseries quite so evident as in the urban centers where two thirds of our population now lives. Even in the old eastern cities where air pollution has been a problem for many years little has been done to combat it until very recently for example take New York City. I have a hole in the ground like any other. For years New Yorkers were as resigned and apathetic about air
pollution as they were about the daily subway crush all crime on Forty second Street a year ago. If you talked about air pollution you were considered a health fanatic. Speaking is Mrs. B brand. Conn. Hi I'm president of the New York City citizens for clean air. If you talked about doing anything about air pollution you were regarded as a super optimist people simply accepted dirty air as a part of urban life prior to World War 2. New York as did many other cities. Quis DeLong with its dirty smoky air because to most public officials Mayor LaGuardia included smoke from a busy factory chimneys meant prosperity. After the war a basic smoke control effort was initiated. Former New York City air pollution commissioner Arthur Benn mine was with the city government at that time in the news director who found World War 2.
When we heard why I came in he brought about through the probabilities in me on a small control regulation. And I at that time was superintendent of the Department of Housing and buildings. Then I struggled with a so-called smoke control code until in 1970 a way to Nashville to come back and take over the problem of air pollution control. Whereupon I initiated the development of an air pollution control code and going through the very process of enacting it it became a law. The air pollution control called the City of New York October 1964. Critics of the bend line code felt that it was merely a smoke casing system without effective sanctions. Whatever the codes value the fact remained that the city's air became dirtier and dirtier more fuel was burned for power and heat. More trash was fed into the incinerators more cars clogged already choked streets and more and more people suffered. The impetus that finally shook the unshakable New Yorkers
was a doctor's report on the relation between air pollution and the death rate. New York City Councilman Robert Lowe explains. Ever a period of some 10 20 years. The medical profession has been measuring the relationship between death rates and levels of contamination in the air. And recent studies have shown that when we have. Peak periods of pollution. We also have peak periods. What hourly rates. In other words the death rate goes directly as the f pollution goes up. When this information came to light. More and more people in the city of New York felt that drastic steps were required. So about a year ago we started having public hearings at the New York City Council. We had information from public health people and others that Graham has the
need for action from a health point of view so important that air pollution become that John Lindsay now mayor of New York City made effective control legislation one of his major campaign planks a group of worried and angry citizens formed an organization called Citizens for clean air and attempted as Mrs. B brand the president tells to educate New Yorkers. I think that what citizens for clean air has done in the past year is help to change the climate of opinion about air pollution in New York. Our. Home thrust of our activities in this organization are educational activities. We saw what a year ago to change the apathetic viewpoint of New York City as far as air pollution. To an enlightened opinion. And we I think that this is where we've succeeded. Our message has been through speakers bureaus through the
newspaper and radio media to bring to the public the idea that they do not have to tolerate dirty air that it is not something they have to accept as a part of urban living and that all of the technological tools presently exist to do something about changing our air at a cost which will is far less then the economic burden of air pollution. And I think that this is where we have succeeded. The new interest in air pollution control resulted in the City Council passing a strong law in April 1966. Its sponsor councilman Lowe details the provision the new legislation that was passed in the New York City Council and signed by Maryland's the on May 20th. Provides a number of things. Basically to control pollution from two sources. The first the burning of fuel which means soft coal and residual oil primarily. And the second
waste disposal which means incineration our bell provides these things. First. We would prohibit the burning of soft coal entirely for heating purposes in a period of two years. Second. We would require Consolidated Edison the giant utility company. Which consumes almost half of all the soft coal and oil burned in the city of New York. To In Style control equipment of 99 percent efficiency where ever soft coal is burnt. Thirdly. We would. Seek under this legislation a gradual step by step reduction in the quantity of Safir permitted in soft coal are in residual oil. Then when we get into the problem of rice disposal. We would require that the city spend money to upgrade its own facilities at least 15 million dollars are needed to upgrade the 11 minutes Bill incinerators of the city
of New York so that they will confirm with our own app pollution standards today. None of those plants do conform to our emission standards. Secondly we would require the upgrading of all apartment house and center raters Essentially this means creating a hotter fire through the use of an exhilarating fuel in other words we would have a gas. Fire jet over the garbage in an incinerator to increase the temperature of the burning. This would create a more complete combustion and reduce the air pollution. We would provide for stiffer penalties. We under the statute outlaw open burning on barges. And a number of other items looking toward stricter enforcement. I have the code. One of the essentials is that we would upgrade not only our present
incinerators some 13000 of them but also race heating equipment in our buildings in the city and thereafter we would require operating certificates. So that the department of that pollution control would have to check up on the equipment periodically. This is a tough bill because it requires as many segments of the economy to do things which are inconvenient and in some cases may be costly a result of the new law. Was to legalize the waste disposal system of a new Manhattan luxury apartment building Mayfair towers. With 37 stories on two levels. The building had a problem that made the ordinary and legal incineration method impractical. So the building's design is used a refuse chute instead a revolutionary idea in New York City during the Wagner administration. Michael Lee Mayfair towers chief engineer tells the story.
The idea of the refuse chute. This is a copy of something that's been used in Europe for a number of years. It is a stainless steel chute. That runs from top to bottom. It's 24 inches in diameter. And there are access there as on each floor. They grab it just put it in either Iraq or a loose it's a material that drops down through the chute to refuse carts that are at the bottom. These cats are then picked up by a private sanitation who dumps them. In the city's incinerator. We have absolutely no garbage order. Shoots a steam cleaned every night for one hour at a time. We have we do not have any stacks on the building we burn absolutely nothing. We heat by New York steam. This shirt was put in here. Without permission. It
was in direct violation. Of. Any of water that the building department sent for us. We put the chute in. Two years ago. After the chute was installed then the fight began with the powers that be. There was finally approved on an experimental basis. As you can see it's worked so well that the law has now been changed that all new buildings will have refuge in the incinerator. Another plus for the refuse chute Mayfair Towers has no mice roaches or other little pests that plague so many New York City apartment houses. Even with its obvious benefits however there are those who think the new law is not all it's cracked up to be. For instance former air pollution Commissioner Ben lyne minces no words about the value of his 1964 code and the relative worthlessness of Councilman Lowe's in the city council within the
last year has made a few innocuous amendments will say have given tremendous publicity. But these amendments will be forgotten in time they're not effective they're not practical. They're not the toughest call that I was ever in acted and regrettably And unfortunately the city council in its wisdom did not see fit to consult with people who knew what they were talking about. Many of the things that the city council said will become effective three or five years hence. At which time there will be no doubt a complete change over the city council. Councilman Lowe and says that the new law will reduce the city's air pollution. This bill could mean a reduction of sunflowers in the city of New York over a period of three years of 25 percent. That's a rather substantial reduction. It could mean a reduction over a period of five years and 80 percent in the stoppered dioxide thrown into the atmosphere. And Mayor Lindsay who supported the legislation throughout has a good word for it also. It's a pretty comprehensive loft maybe as we go along it will have to examine it to see
whether it needs any tightening here and there but it's a fairly tough one as it stands. It was vigorously opposed by. The. Combustible fuel boiler burning industry and by others we think it's a good one. Mayor Lindsay replaced Ben line as air pollution commissioner appointing Austin hella one of the federal government's foremost experts on the subject. Commissioner Heller has extensive plans for the New York City air pollution department of a key items underway at the moment. The development of a comprehensive air monitoring system. Becomes mandatory to assess the air quality profile was silly as it is now. And to provide a basis. For our valuation I went out of a an effective. Abatement program. Once. The system is put in operation. We will be in a position to estimate. The missions on a per square mile basis.
We then can determine. What were the prior audio problems exist. And from that standpoint a much better position to. Move ahead most effectively. To reach the air quality goals that will be set for the city. Another writing which is. Just as important. Is to provide. The public. With information. In terms of. Progress that we will be making over the years. And this becomes in my opinion. A mandatory item. That we be in a position to explain very carefully. Accomplishments. And the rate at which we are making progress to achieve the objectives of this to practice. The commissioners program includes an enlarged engineering department where the branch devoted entirely to studying ways to upgrade the city incinerators which are
now a major source of pollution. The new plans are now being initiated and to continue as Commissioner how we plan to have it in operation and in our warning system. In January. 1970. The Iranian monitoring system ought to be in effect not a part of 67 perhaps early 68. I would expect within a period of. Two years. We'll have to see a substantial change. Particularly with respect to particular It's an atmosphere and a reduction. In suffering. And one of John Lindsays first acts as mayor of New York City was to appoint a special task force to study all aspects of air pollution. The task force's recommendations were published in a weighty book just as the empty air pollution bill was signed into law. Some of the recommendations were already incorporated into the law but many of them are now forming the basis for Commissioner howlers.
Many Pronk assault on polluted air. Norman Cousins editor of The Saturday Review of literature who headed the Mayor's Task Force summarizes a few of the suggestions that should be implemented. Shock. We found that the fight against air pollution. Must be incorporated into a larger plan a comprehensive plan and program for control of all environmental hazards. This would include not just air pollution but rather pollution. Noise congestion. We were concerned in short about the quality of life in New York City. Now for the program. I have an environmental control board. How to be related to Everest city planning including urban renewal. Now with respect to enforcement we've decided to have recommended that fines be established by administrative procedures which is to say the agency. Which is charged with keeping New York City clean so far as it's
there is concerned and so has the authority. To issue sentences and fix the fines. For violations. Some people might wish to contest. The summons they have they will have every right to do so and every opportunity to do so. And this of course will of course will go into the courts. We thought the city could act to reduce air pollution caused by gasoline and diesel engines. Even though the city had no licensing powers over Emma Beal's in general. In this connection I might point out that right now where testing. Pollution control devices on the tailpipes of taxicabs and we expect to do the same for us another cousin's recommendation one endorsed by an increasing number of people at all government levels is for tax incentives for installation of air pollution control equipment. In New York City one of the companies that would stand to benefit greatly from a tax write off is Consolidated Edison the local power company.
In the past Con Ed has paid many fines for a violation of air pollution laws. They are clearly marked red white and blue stacks often belch smoke. Ironically most of it on Manhattan's plush East Side and it seems only a few irate citizens were much concerned. However now Con Ed vigorously supports the city's new control law. The company's advertisement now attests to a dedication to clean air and says Vice President w o Dunham Crawford Con Ed has always thought this way. Our efforts in this regard go back to the 1920s. We've we have through the years everything that practicability could be done. For example on the question of suffering. There is a city pollution code. Which restricts the amount of cell for which can be contained in the fuels we burn. The present
code calls for two point eight percent maximum suffering yet the server in the code we burn this year is only about 1.6 percent. So we try to live well with them the provisions of the code. Mr. Crawford is referring to the old Ben line code of course which was considered inadequate by most control officials. Connett however has been quite active in attempts to use fuels other than coal and oil so-called clean fuels continues Mr profit. We try to get amounts of natural gas to burn in our boilers. We have tried to do this on several occasions. Natural gas is controlled by the Federal Power Commission. And the Federal Power Commission has has not been very liberal for example in the 1950s we attempted to obtain a very large amount of natural
gas. We were unsuccessful in doing that the case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court and we were eventually turned down. Among other reasons because of a finding that this was an infirmary was a natural gas. However last year we again applied for natural gas to be burned under our borders and in this instance we were successful. We have a temporary permit for a year to burn 20 billion additional cubic feet of natural gas. We are not attempting to assure that the temporary allocation will be made permanent. One further thought is that we have been in the forefront of atomic power development. Of course there is no air pollution resulting from the burning of nuclear fuels. We obtained the first construction permit for atomic power plant issued in the country. And we think that nuclear power is the best long term answer to air pollution.
There's been a great hue and cry by many citizens against the use of nuclear power for generation of electricity. They are fearful that radiation and thermal heat will contribute to want to pollution. Others simply resist the idea of atomic power so close to their homes as years ago they resisted jet airport's. Kind Addisons vice president is reassuring plants are designed to make sure there is no danger. The Atomic Energy Commission was exhaustive hearings to assure that such things do not happen. For example in our own case at our Indian Point plant on the Hudson the county of Westchester and the state recently conducted a survey in the center of Indian Point. And found that the level of radioactivity as number other than it is anywhere else in the state. So we feel that this is not a problem that it is not exchanging one form of pollution for another. All of New York City's air pollution is not caused by elements within the city limits.
Estimates vary but 15 to 30 percent is said to be caused by the huge industrial complexes and the open burning a lot across the harbor in New Jersey. The New York New Jersey interstate sanitation commission handles complaints but it has no enforcement powers and can only advise. New York's new Clean Air Act gives the commission more power in New York state but New Jersey can still go its merry way and often does. There have been some recent improvement but New Jersey's progress toward adequate control laws is very slow. Implementing the Federal Clean Air Act. New York's Governor Nelson Rockefeller has asked for a federal conference on the New York New Jersey problem. This has been postponed twice because of inadequate data but now the decks are cleared for action. So goes the New York City battle against air pollution. Another big city is also fighting for a breath of fresh air. That's. Coming up.
Yes Chicago where you really lose your blues because the skies obscured by and I mean a haze of polluted air. Chicago the Windy City whose fame Zephyrs can't seem to blow away the problem. The major problems in air pollution in the metropolitan County area. Are. Many. Industrial. Buildings their manufacturing concerns multiple family dwelling. Etc.. The. Summer been burning. And of course one of the. Chief contributors to air pollution in. This area is the. 14 billion vehicle mileage on our travels throughout the county. That was AJ Mullen the administrator of the Cook County Air Pollution Control Board. The automobile pollution is a problem that the federal and state governments will have to take care of.
But Chicago has taken some effective steps in controlling what was its main source of pollution industry. This has included cooperation with neighboring states such as Indiana where Gary's steel plants have been prime polluters. In 1963 the Cook County ordinance was adopted with a stringent enforcement section. Explains Mr. Mullins. And yeah. Penalty clause therein provides for a fine of up to $500 a day for each day of violation. Up to now we have not had to use that plan. We have had cooperation from the there and the people are entitled to a. Notice of the fact that they are in violation. And also a hearing by virtue of the ordinance and giving given a chance to correct the same. In addition to the Cook County Air Pollution Control Board Chicago has had its own
city air pollution control department dating from 1890 now headed by Commissioner William T Stanley. The state of Illinois has a department also among all of these and with grants in aid from the federal government. Chicago and its environs are now fairly free of the old red brown industrial smoke that used to characterize the area. But despite the fact that the color is gone the atmosphere is still polluted and the Chicago complex will need further provisions such as Los Angeles has before the air pollution abatement can take place. And so in these two programs we've looked at four cities where attempts some successful some not yet proven. I've been made to control air pollution. It is too early in the water predicted these cities will ever be completely smog free. That will be another tale perhaps for another generation to tell. But the ingenuity of American business has been challenged.
The apathy of the city dry broken. The call to arms sounded. Now and then. A wheezing urban I can just see the light of a clear sky peeping through the smog. Ruth W. with a Westinghouse Broadcasting Company has presented the pollution explosion a 10 part study of the increasing pollution of America's air and water. The series was produced by Robert Frank written and recorded by Stephanie Shelton. Executive producer William J kaila. Here Again. John Daly. In these programs we spotlighted a few of the pollution control programs now exist in the next the last two programs. We will attempt an evaluation learn where we stand now and where we must go in the future will assure that pollution does not emit desperately erode the land.
And the health of America. The ending on network as presented this program in cooperation with group w o the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company. This is the national educational radio network.
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Pollution explosion
Episode Number
Producing Organization
Westinghouse Broadcasting Company
Group W Productions
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents a variety of speeches, music clips, and commentary to analyze the pollution problem in the United States.
Series Description
A discussion of environment-related issues.
Media type
Host: Daly, John Charles, 1914-1991
Producing Organization: Westinghouse Broadcasting Company
Producing Organization: Group W Productions
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-8-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:27
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Chicago: “Pollution explosion; 8,” 1968-01-23, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 21, 2024,
MLA: “Pollution explosion; 8.” 1968-01-23. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 21, 2024. <>.
APA: Pollution explosion; 8. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from