CWA joins suit against pole preservatives


The Communications Workers of America has joined a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency,
attempting to force it to crack down on the use of chromated copper arsenate, pentachlorophenol and creosote as preservatives on utility poles.

The chemicals, the CWA said, pose serious long-term health risks, including
cancer, birth defects, kidney and liver damage and neurological disorders.

"The Environmental Protection Agency has overwhelming data on the effects of
these preservatives both on workers' health and the environment, but it has failed
to act to safeguard the public, workers and the environment," the suit charged.

The EPA has scheduled a partial phase-out, but tje CWA and environmental group
Beyond Pesticides said its plan is inadequate.

The CWA said it has about 25,000 members, primarily telephone repair and
installers, who "come into regular contact with utility poles that have been
treated with these dangerous substances."

Although the majority of cable workers who could be affected by exposure are
nonunion, the CWA does represent some cable employees at Comcast Corp., Charter Communications Inc.,
Adelphia Communications Corp. and elsewhere.

The suit was filed this week in a Federal District Court in Washington,