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Greenpeace finds toxic chemicals in branded clothing
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Aug 23, 2011

Traces of toxic chemicals harmful to the environment and to human health have been detected in products made by 14 top clothing manufacturers, Greenpeace said Tuesday.

Samples of clothing from top brands including Adidas, Uniqlo, Calvin Klein, H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, Lacoste, Converse and Ralph Lauren were found to be tainted with the chemicals, known as nonylphenol ethoxylates, the watchdog said at the launch of its report "Dirty Laundry 2".

Greenpeace campaigner Li Yifang said that nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), commonly used as detergents in industries including the production of natural and synthetic textiles, were detected in two-thirds of the samples the group tested.

"NPEs break down to form nonylphenol, which has toxic, persistent and hormone-disrupting properties," Li told journalists in Beijing.

"It mimics female hormones, alters sexual development and affects reproductive systems."

Components of NPEs have been implicated in the widespread "feminisation" of male fish in parts of Europe and also in disrupting hormone processes in some mammals, according to the campaign group WWF.

Greenpeace said it purchased 78 branded clothing samples -- mostly made in China, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines -- from 18 countries around the world and subjected them to scientific analysis.

"Even at low levels, it represents a big threat to the environment and human health," Li said.

"This is not just a problem for the developing countries where textiles are made.

"Since residual levels of NPEs are released when clothes are washed, they are in effect creeping into countries where their use is banned."

Use of the chemicals is restricted in Europe.

As the report was released, activists stormed a flagship Adidas store in Hong Kong, demanding that the store eliminate hazardous chemicals in their products and urging would-be customers to "rethink".

Adidas also came under fire in separate Greenpeace report, "Dirty Laundry", released last month, which accused the manufacturers of well-known textile brands of polluting major rivers in China with chemical waste.

About a dozen Greenpeace activists dressed as referees created a stir as they descended on one of Adidas' busiest shops in the southern Chinese city.

They handed out campaign leaflets to customers while handing warning yellow cards to store staff, cautioning the brand to "play clean".

Eight samples of wastewater from two factories in the Yangtze and Pearl River deltas, identified as suppliers for the brands, contained "a cocktail of hazardous chemicals", the group said in last month's report.

Nike and Puma have since pledged since then to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals in their products by 2020, but Adidas has not, according to Greenpeace spokeswoman Vivien Yau.

Adidas Hong Kong did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

But the company has previously said it used the Youngor Group -- one of the accused suppliers -- for garment cutting and sewing only, not to source fabrics, but had also asked Youngor to investigate Greenpeace's claims.

It added that it had a comprehensive policy on avoiding dangerous substances.

However, Yau said: "As the second biggest player in the sportswear industry, Adidas has an obligation to detoxify its global supply chain.

"So far, the brand has done nothing despite repeated requests from us. This is really unacceptable."

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Bucharest demands lower cyanide level for Canadian gold mine
Bucharest (AFP) Aug 23, 2011 - Romanian Environment Minister Laszlo Borbely said Tuesday that a Canadian gold mine project would be given the green light only if it drops the proposed cyanide level in its tailings pond.

"I demanded to SC Rosia Montana Gold Corporation to respect two important conditions: to reduce the cyanide percentage to a level that is not pollutant... and to give the money for re-ecologising the area, in the first years of extraction," Borbely said in a ministry statement.

"The investor proposed a cyanide concentration of 5 ppm (parts per million). It's half of the maximum level admitted at the European level, which is 10 ppm. Even if it is at half, I asked them to reduce it," the minister explained at a press conference quoted by the Mediafax news agency.

President Traian Basescu recently said he was in favour of the project provided that profit sharing is renegotiated.

Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC), which is 80 percent held by Canadian firm Gabriel Resources, wants to use cyanide to extract gold from an open-cast mine in Rosia Montana, a picturesque Carpathian mountain village.

Rosia Montana's hills are said to hold more than 300 tonnes of gold and 1,700 tonnes of silver, one of the biggest deposits in Europe and all the more attractive now with gold prices at record highs.

The company, which has been waiting several years for a green light from the ministry, is planning to invest $1.7 billion (1.2 billion euros) in the project, which has drawn criticism from environmentalists, archaeologists, historians and international organisations.

Critics claim the mine would destroy priceless Roman mining galleries and threaten the environment, and have pleaded for UNESCO listing of the site.

Neighbouring Hungary is also opposed to the mine project.

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Greenpeace Copenhagen gatecrashers get wrists slapped
Copenhagen (AFP) Aug 22, 2011
A Copenhagen court on Monday sentenced 11 Greenpeace activists to 14-day suspended prison terms for gatecrashing a royal gala dinner at the December 2009 United Nations climate conference. The sentences were much lower than the up to 70 days requested by the public prosecutor along with banishment from Denmark for six years for the foreign members of the group. The activists, from Brita ... read more

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