Professor Cheng,

Your email was not working, in that we sent you our abstract a number of times, but it was rejected. So, we decided to post our abstracts here.

Hi Professor Cheng,

Here’s our abstract– exactly 75 words.

Jamaica Bay may disappear within four years if nothing is done to protect it. The major cause of marsh loss has been excess nitrogen loading by Water Pollution Control Plants. It has decreased oxygen levels and increased sulfide, toxic to Spartina alterniflora, resulting in rapid loss. The DEP should not delay plans to improve WPCPs and implement methods at the plants that reduce the amount of nitrogen being dumped. Nitrogen should be its first priority.

Summary of W.R. Grace Debate #1

Lawyers and Witnesses that Spoke and their position:

Vadim- lawyer prosecution; Representative of the people of Libby, Montana

  • Grace Co has been slowly poisoning Libby for over 3 decades.
  • Grace Co destroyed environment, lives, ignoring sanctions by the EPA and federal government
  • Asbestos found in vermiculite causes asbestosis, lung cancer,and other health issues.
  • Dangers known since the 1990s.
  • Environment saturated with asbestosis
  • Company eager to withhold info from people
  • Mislabeled their product
  • Improperly labeled the material
  • Concealing effects
  • Attics have asbestos without people knowing
  • Asbestos shipped to over 40 countries
  • Grace Co. recompense: giving money, medication and gym membership is not adequate enough

Nicketta- lawyer defense

  • Grace was unaware of asbestos when buying mine from the company Zonolite; Grace just invested in a faulty company and when he found out about bad effects he took measures to reduce them.
  • Epa not quick enough to act in reporting asbestos levels
  • Not only company using asbestos at the times
  • Asbestos not banned until 1989
  • Research was done during this time period; people became more aware of the hazardous effects
  • It took many measures to reduce dust levels; these measures were taken by Grace Co.
  • Posted signs, payed for health care
  • After shutting down in 1990 took measures in cleanup of Libby

Nicole- EPA against

  • Knew of contamination in 1980s
  • Instead of using money they concealed the problem
  • Profit motive
  • High rates of death

Salem- correspondent with MSHA

  • MSHA was the main organization that performed inspections 2 times a year
  • All those years except once, the company passed inspection
  • No reasons to close the mine due to the high MSHA limit

Alessandro - production manager

  • MSHA is in accordance with the health act
  • Standards set of what is safe and what isn’t were properly adhered by Grace Co.
  • After inspections finished in 2000 determined that MSHA was not inspecting properly
  • MSHA should have lowered the permissible exposure level
  • Tests to see how high the levels are- used phase contrast microscopy, new method, transmission microscopy would have been more accurate.
  • Employees that conducted asbestosis had no knowledge of asbestos
  • MSHA failed to check levels of take home contamination- check levels of asbestosis in homes
  • Grace followed guidelines that MSHA set themselves
  • 1964 company implemented an annual x ray procedure for employees who worked there over 20 years


Lawyer Vadim argued on behalf of the residence of Libby, Montana that the measures taken by the Grace Company was not enough. Lawyer Nicketta argued for the Grace Company that the actions taken by Grace Company were acceptable and at or above standard to the regulations and to the severity of the situation.  Three witnesses were called, one by the accusing side, and two by the opposing side. Both sides questioned all three witnesses. Several issues were brought to light and raised.

Issues and/or Descrepencies:

  • Defendent and Prosecutor: How extensive was the research done during the 30s and 60s? Did they know of the precautions one had to take under asbestos.
  • Defendent: asbestos - In 1989, it was known that it was hazardous in the 1970s (internal research by grace). Why did Grace provide x-rays and med checkups rather than precautionary materials (ie clothing)?
  • Defendant: Grace implemented health programs in the 60s, however they did not provide the clothing or health advisory warnings. There seems to be a conflict or discrepancy of whether Grace Co knew that there was asbestos present at the site at the time of the purchase. Can this been cleared up?
  • Prosecution: Clarify what sanctions has been ignored from the EPA?
  • Defendent: Is Grace Company suggesting that the previous company Zonolite Company should be held responsible?

Judges Feedback on New Format:

  • “debate” and/or “mock trial” was more organized than the previous debates. It tested whether one was really knowledgeable regarding the topic or not.
  • I think the mock trial is going pretty well for now. I think the lawyers are doing a good job considering how challenging their roles are. My view on judging is that I don’t think I should interfere too much unless I feel something needs to be cleared up or that the discussion is going off-topic.
  • After each witness presents his or her information, the judges should only be allowed to ask questions that would clarify any issues or ideas brought up by the witness.
  • The head judge should stop the cross-examining lawyer from bringing up issues that the witness did not address. There is no way that witness will have the knowledge pertaining to that question.
  • It might also be a good idea to allow other witnesses to step in and address questions being asked by a cross examining lawyer, although this might make things a bit complicated.
  • People need to speak up a bit.
  • All sides spoke well, but timing still needs improvement.

Debate Review – Is it time to revive nuclear power?

Judges: Miriam Schwartz, Neyra Azimov, Nicole Babushkin, Adiba Ishak, Haran Ratna.


The first debate overall ran very smoothly and was very informative. The sides were careful to not repeat themselves in their initial statements and kept their statements interesting. They also were overall very good about sticking to their topic and keeping the goal of their statement clear and proving their point from the perspective of the role they were playing. The only problem we could see is at the end, with the question/answer portion, it got very repetitive and started to just be a never-ending circle where either side refused to budge. Another problem is with some presenters, they failed to maintain eye contact and talk to the audience—therefore, even though the content of their presentation was fairly exciting, the audience had trouble focusing.

            The debate began with President Bush (Ilya) opening and introducing his party and then with his statement. He believed that based on the facts and statistics of nuclear power usage and the number of recent accidents, it is not only completely safe to switch over to nuclear power, but necessary to save the environment. He brought the example of France where 78% of their power is nuclear and haven’t had any problems.

            McCain (Bushra) went next. She followed up McCain’s platform by adding that their point isn’t to switch complete dependence on coal to complete dependence on nuclear energy, rather to introduce an alternate energy source to lighten the burden and lead eventually to energy independence. She brought another example of safe nuclear power usage—the NAVY, and added that once the plants are built, it would be extremely cheap to run them and it will emit minimal CO2.

            Next went the environmentalist (Jonathan Chan). He expanded on how nuclear power is environmentally friendly in that it emits much less CO2 than fossil fuels and said that we cannot rely on wind or solar power because they simply can’t provide enough power to sustain us. In fact, using them in excess would harm habitats and cause more damage to the environment.

            After him, the New Energy CEO (Jonathan Lin) presented. He looked at nuclear energy from an economic perspective. He said that the incredible undertaking that building such plants would be would create thousands of new jobs. He also said that many of the problems making it difficult to use nuclear power today stem from government regulations rather than actual problems. For example, reprocessing Uranium is not allowed currently in the United States.

            The store owner (Colette) followed. She brought graphs and said that even though it may seem as if the price of oil has been going down, if you look at an expanded graph, it is still incredibly more than it was several years ago.

            The Geologist (George) that spoke next also made some interesting points. He stated that Uranium would be more politically favorable to import because it is in all the countries we are allied with (as opposed to countries from where we import oil from). He addressed the uranium-radiation concern, saying that reprocessing Uranium limits radiation effects to only 100-300 years and can then be reused to make more energy.

            The Physicist Dr. Shteyler addressed the safety concerns saying that we have to look at the probability that something bad will happen. He said that nuclear reactors are covered with thick concrete domes that protect them. If a terrorist attack were intended, a plane would have to hit at particular angle and spot, which is very improbable. The workers who work at the reactors are also protected from the radiation through the suits and special badges.

            We then turned our attention to the No-side. Alexandra gave a very good and brief summary of what her side would be talking about and introduced the first speaker, Salim. The Environmentalist argued that nuclear power is not a green source of energy. Contrary to the Yes side’s argument that nuclear power emits close to no carbon dioxide, Salim brought up the fact that the process that goes into digging, refining and transporting Uranium does, in fact, emit CO2. Therefore, the gap between CO2 emissions for fossil fuels and for Uranium is not as wide as most are led to believe.

            The Oil Company Owner, Ali, showed concern for the high prices of nuclear power. He mentioned that it takes $14 billion to build a reactor, and since the bottle necks needed come in limited quantities (4 produced each year), that will cause competition in the market, higher prices, and reliance on foreign imports. Importing Uranium would just trigger a switch from dependency on oil to a dependency on Uranium.

Charissa, the Stockholder, was also worried about future dependency on Uranium. There are different types of Uranium in the earth and more than 99.2% is Uranium-238, which can’t fission spontaneously. So to use it we would have to process it and that will emit more harmful gasses and cost more money.

Nickeitta, the Public Interest Researcher, argued that if nuclear power plants continue to be used the way they are today, by 2050 the carbon emission would be the same as that of fossil fuels. She also gave an example of a nuclear power plant that produced 1427 tons of CO2 per day negating the Yes-side’s argument that nuclear power produces no CO2.

Barack Obama (Chinemerem) stressed on the idea that the time to revive nuclear power is not now. He explained that because there are still accidents occurring and generations will be affected, the time should be spent on more research rather than to jump to nuclear power.

            The Environmentalist (Kyulee) focused on the problems that nuclear power poses. The wastes need a safe place to be stored in a way that would prevent future accidents. Thus, the wastes issue makes nuclear power even more expensive, dangerous, and ineffective.

            The chemist (Majid) first explained the way a reactor operates and mentioned a few ways it can go wrong. Another problem, he said, involves dealing with the wastes. Current solutions such as burying the waste underground or reprocessing it can cause their own problems. He finishes off by citing DDT as an example of an area scientists were mistaken with and, therefore, efforts should be made with nuclear power not to repeat a similar mistake.

The Doctor, Alexandra, focused on the health risks and conditions dealing with nuclear power plants. Her primary concern is to examine the health and well being of individuals who were and might in the future be exposed to accidents by the nuclear power plants. She spoke about accidents such as Chernobyl and other locations with similar problems such as Turkey. She also focused on different facts concerning fossil fuels, carbon dioxide, Uranium production and financial issues.

Next spoke the mother, Alessandro. He began by demonstrating an image of a baby affected by nuclear power. His top priority concerned the health of his children. He states, “Accidents are bound to happen.” He talked about incidents involving nuclear power plants. He presented research and statistics involving the nuclear power plants. He showed a series of pictures of children with serious physical health problems. 

The farmer focused on other alternative energies the United States can use. Solar and Wind energy she believed was a safe approach, safer than nuclear plants. In her opinion the sun is the safest approach for plants, animals and humans. She addressed the accident in Pennsylvania to prove that the United States could make mistakes. She introduced problems with her finances and stated that she is not willing to pay taxes for something that causes radiation that harms her plants.

Overall, the judging panel was pleased with the performance of both sides, especially since this was the first debate. Many people were nervous, stuttered, and made less eye contact than they should have. But, again, this was only the fist debate, and with practice there will definitely be improvement in those areas.

Name: Sophia Eze



                                    LIBBY Vs. W.R. GRACE & Co.




Evaluation of The Case.


After listening to the opening arguments of both sides, it became apparent that they both have convincing arguments.


The testimony given,




 Due to the testimony given by Nicole Babushkin (Environmental Protection Specialist <Region 8>) :


-         Grace owned the company from  1963 – 1992

-         Grace Executives were aware of the situation by 1970.

-     Through product testing Grace found out.

-         Grace did not turn out its results by the Toxic Substances Control Act to the EPA.

-         Grace obstructed National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health from investigating the health implication of the asbestos


Health Effects To The Workers and Libby Residents

Federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry find (Summer, 2000) : 18% of residents have lung abnormalities already.

30% are susceptible to lung cancer.




Arguments for W.R.GRACE & Co.


Nickeitta (Lawyer) argues all they are guilty of is of taking up a faulty company.


In 1963, Grace purchased the mine from Zonolite. They were later made aware of the problems


She argues that they then did all they could to alleviate the problem. Including giving the workers annual x-rays and banning smoking. They oiled the road to the mine etc. The State Board of Health approved of the company after conducting inspections and the

Company filed a notice under section 8(e) of the Toxic Substances Act.

Also she highlights the fact that the asbestos dust level was within the

Permissible Exposure Limits by the Mine Safety and Health  Association



(Miscellaneous / Additional reading of accounts)

Jonathan Lin (Grace CEO) says he is as outraged as the Libby community that the EPA did not alert the company on time of an issue so serious.


My Questions.


Well after listening to the opening statements of both sides, and my fellow judges went over their review questions, I was content to ponder the facts of the matter already presented. I was particularly interested in Vadim’s counter argument and requested to review his presented sample evidence A (Collete Salame’s paper).


This proved to be quite helpful in showing me some hard facts that negate Grace Company’s claim.

Some of these facts are that:


1)      Even though Grace Company indeed conducted x-rays on their employees, they hid the facts from the employees themselves and never turned over the result to them. They also hid the results they found from the safety and helth organizations.

2)      Just as the Johns Manville’s company, they hid the fact that their product contains significant amount of  asbestos. They also avoided putting the required safety labels.



The case is still being heard. It is still in court. So far these are my notes. I have not gotten to any conclusive decision.



 Seminar 3: Science and Technology in New York

Culminating Projects — FAQs



Concerning poster abstracts


When are poster abstracts due?  Friday, November 14, 2008.


What is a poster abstract?  As part of standard scientific practice, short descriptions of each poster are published in conference programs so that participants can get an idea of what they’re about to encounter.  That’s exactly what we’ll be doing too.


What does the abstract consist of?  An abstract must include the following:

read more by click the following link Term Poster Information

Oct 15 (Wednesday)

  • 1:00 PM - Chudner, Shteyler, M Sahin, A Sahin, Eze
  • 1:30 PM - Ilya R, Saim H, Alessandro A, Jonathan L, and Bushra W
  • 2:00 PM - Neyra Azimov, Miriam Schwartz, Nicole Babushkin, Ling Charissa  Cheung
Oct 16 (Thursday)

  • 4:00 PM - Leung, Papadopoulos, Ratna
  • 5:00 PM - Ishak, Salame, Chan, Harari, seo


  • school teacher (Miriam Schwartz)
  • Mayor (Ali Sahin)
  • Graduate student (Majid Sahin)
  • Lawyer A (Vadim Shteyler)
  • Victim A (Neyra Azimov)
  • Lawyer B (Adiba Ishak)
  • Doctor (Haran Ratna)
  • Environmental Protection Specialist (Nicole Babushkin)
  • EPA (George Papadopoulos)
  • Contractor (Colette Salami)


  • Grace’s Environmental and Health safety Officer (Miriam Harari)
  • Long time Grace worker (Charissa Cheung)
  • Lawyer (Nickeitta Leung)
  • Grace’s CEO (Jonathan Lin)
  • Production Manager (Alessandro Alempijevic)
  • TBA (Salim Hasbini)
  • TBA (Kyulee Seo)


  • Bushra Wazed
  • Ilya Ryvin
  • Alexandra Chudner
  • Chinemerem Eze


  • Jonathan Chang

  • The debate for Issue #2 is whether you agree or disagree with this statement “The Grace Company should be held responsible.” Please watch the Youtube video for an introduction at
  • Please let me know ASAP if you want to be a judge for Issue #2. We can have 5 judges again this time. If you have been a judge before, you cannot be a judge this time. I will post the names of the judges as soon as I hear from 5 of you.
  • For EVERYONE except for the judges, please email me by the end of Wednesday (10/1) your side and your role. I will then post the names on each side, as well as your contact information.
  • By 10/15 (Wednesday), EVERYONE except for the judges will need to post a position statement, AND by 10/22 (Wednesday) a short video. The short video must be something that you recorded, relevant to issue #2, limited to 3 minutes maximum. It does not have to be that you are making statements. You can be creative on this!
  • Everyone will have chance to read the posted statements and view the videos in the week of 10/15-10/29, to prepare for the debate on 10/29.
  • We’ll meet on 10/29 to start the debate. Look for more announcements prior to that date.
  • In redard to the term poster project, here is the list of topics & groups: (1) Green Market - Babushkin, Azimov, Schwartz, Cheung; (2) Tap water vs. bottle water - Ishak, Salame, Chan, Harari, seo; (3) NYC public transportation development - Leung, Papadopoulos, Ratna; (4) Jamaica Bay - Alessandro, Tlya, salim, Bushra, Jon; (5) Waste disposal - Chudner, Shteyler, M Sahin, A Sahin, Eze.  Please let me know if you want to change.
  • Judges for Issue 1: please email me your 2-3 page summary as soon as it is ready.

Macaulay Honors College

Seminar 3 2008

Meet the Scientists


Monday, September 8, 2008
6:30-8:00 PM
Dr. Sacha Spector
Invertebrate Zoology


Tuesday, September 16, 2008
6:30-8:00 PM
Dr. William Harcourt-Smith
Physical Anthro/Paleontology

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
6:30-8:00 PM
Dr. Orsola De Marco

Thursday, October 2, 2008
6:30-8:00 PM
Dr. Edith Gonzalez de Scollard


Sunday, October 5, 2008
10:00-11:30 AM
Dr. Monique Scott
Human Evolution






Please note that you are NOT required to choose from one of the following topics. You should come up with a better title after you’ve done some research on each topic. This list is preliminary, and I will add a few more later.

1. The redevelopment of Gowanus Canal - environmental, economical, cultural, and social constraints.

2. Should environmental quality monitoring devices be permitted in public spaces?

3. Should the govern pay for the Newtown Creek legacy?

4. What is the priority at Jamaica Bay for ecosystem restoration?

5. Post-911 air quality: who is to blame?

6. NYC should place priority in public transportation development.

7. Why the air conditioner in classrooms not fixed?

8. What should we do about our nitrogen problem?

9. If tap water is better, why do many people in NYC still drink bottled water?