solidsurfacealliance.org Blog


Brazilian Environmental Concerns Continue to Arise From Granite Quarrying

Posted in Granite social and envirnomental issues by Administrator on the October 19th, 2008

Here is an excellent story on locals dealing with the enviromental concerns from a granite quarry. Streams filling with sillt and mud, even drying up after water is diverted, mudslides, you name it. It is a Yahoo Babelfish translated page, so it take a minute to load.

COLATINA CITY, Brazil granite mining concerns

Another article is about illegal mining in Brazil. It seems there is a tax of 2 to 3% of the value of stone sold from the mine, which some companies don’t want to pay. So they open mines in rural areas, bribing the local officials to look the other way. In this case, even the property owners didn’t know the granite was being mined. This article is mostly about the controversy, ins and outs of the court fight over ownership and the amount of tax evasion going on.

Fighting for royalties and tax evasion by one granite company

Announcing the New Solid Surface Alliance Forum

For more info, to ask questions, or to find a tester, go to forum.solidsurfacealliance.org

We finially have the Forum up for the Solid Surface Alliance. Unregistered guests can browse all but one of the catagories, but if you want to ask a question or comment, you need to register. Registeration is easy, fill out the usual form, the system will email you with a link to activate your account, then just log in as usual.

The forum is brand new, so there won’t be much content until the membership grows, so add a question or comment if you visit to help get the conversations going. New forums are tough to start, people look around, see little going on, and leave. But, with the volumne of questions we get from the public, this forum will save lots of time and make the answers available for all interested internet viewers to find.

There is one section off limits to all but invited members, that is the Scientific Section which is dedicated for those who are working on the issues. There they can spreak freely, bounce ideas off each other, and not worry about info getting picked up and repeated elsewhere before the proper time.

Please contact us if you have any problems signing up or logging on. Remember you MUST click on the link in the email that is sent to you to activate your account. You might have to scroll down one page when you open the email to find the activation link.

Thanks,
Al
For more info, to ask questions, or to find a tester, go to forum.solidsurfacealliance.org

Want A Peek At What A Granite Countertop Lawsuit Would Look Like?

Posted in Help for Shop owners by Administrator on the October 11th, 2008

For more info, go to forum.solidsurfacealliance.org

Most shops carry workers compensation insurance, which workers trade the right to sue for immediate health care and a guaranteed weekly benefit to replace lost wages while injured. What few know is that the workers comp insurance doesn’t prevent the injured employee from suing others that had even a minor part in the accident.

In this case, a worker was helping unload granite from an open top shipping container, one of those huge ocean going, metal containers. Somehow the worker was crushed severely when 8,000 pounds of granite broke loose and pinned him against the side of the container.

The employee sued the crane company whose crane was used for unloading the container, the Italian granite company that loaded the slabs into the container, a Swiss shipping company, the American owned granite distribution company, and the trucking company that delivered the container to the granite shop.

Of course all pointed the finger at the others, filing cross complaints in court. Everyone blamed all the others for the accident, which cost the worker two years of lost work, no doubt quite pleased with the $1.07 million dollar settlement.

This is exactly what will happen when granite fabricators start having health problems from working with hot granites or consumers start popping up with health problems that can potentially be traced back to a hot granite countertop. Everyone that touched that granite slab will be dragged into court, as well as the tooling companies that were used that created the dust.

Here is the article.

The Word Is Out, Juparana Bordeaux Is Being Dumped On the Market

Posted in As If the Industry wasn't crooked enough by Administrator on the October 8th, 2008

For more info, go to forum.solidsurfacealliance.org

Juparana Bordeaux, usually called Bordeaux for short, has earned a reputation for having higher than normal radiation levels. First the Houston TV report named it, then the samples sent to scientists turned out to be elevated as well. Lots of chatter on the internet on Bordeaux, enough that the stone has earned a really bad reputation.

So what would one do with a product in inventory that had earned a bad reputation? Return it to the company that sold it to you? Dump it in a land fill? Perhaps be responsible and send it to an Uranium processor and turn it into nuclear film?

Why no silly! We are talking about the granite industry. Apparently you just change the name of the stone, offer it at a cut rate price, and move the product out the door. The pictures below are from Apex Marble at 2455 Stevens Creek Blvd in San Jose, Bordeaux being sold as “Red Galaxy” or “Diamond Red” depending on which salesman was asked. This stone averaged 50 to 70 uR/hr (microroetgens per hour), which is 12 to 17 times background radiation levels.

Click on picture thumbnails to enlarge, then use the back button to return to the site.

Juparana Bordeaux being sold as “Red Diamond” or “Red Galaxy”

And another Bordeaux measured at another yard

Bordeaux granite showing 382 uR/hr Gamma radiation<

“Doubt Is Their Product”, the One Book To Read If You Want To Understand the Fight

Posted in Recent Info on the testing effort by Administrator on the October 5th, 2008

For more info, to ask questions, or to find a tester, go to forum.solidsurfacealliance.org

Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emporer, once wrote that nothing is new, all has gone before. In the case of granite testing and the fight to prevent it from happening, one can look into the granite industry’s play book. The parallels between big tobacco, lead paint manufacturers, asbestos manufactures, and many other industries that sucessfully delayed standards on their products are right there to read.

David Michaels is an epidemiologist and director of the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. He once served as the Assisant of Energy for Envirnomental, Safety, and Health, an agency devoted to protecting those working for and living near nuclear plants. Mr. Michaels wrote a book called “Doubt Is Their Product”, and expose of the Product Defense Industry, those who work with manufacturers of dangerous products in an attempt to slow down the day of reckoning.

The Product Defense Industry has many methods, which bring back memories of the tobacco wars going on back in the last century. Most over 45 years of age will remember watching tobacco officials standing before congress, defending their product as harmless.

One of their methods is to hire their own scientists, then publish in captive “scientific journals”.

Or they will request the data from reputable studies, then apply unusual methods to dilute the conclusions, trashing the original study.

Then there is the tactic of attacking the activists or scientists on the other side, attempting to discredit when they have no other methods. This one ought to be familular with this blogs readers.

Another method, is to use Freedom of Information requests to steal info from Federally funded scientists, even before the study is done, which the granite industry is currently doing with several researchers. One of the Radon forums I am a member of recently had several state officials mentioning the letters they had recieved from the MIA, demanding all info on the subject, as well as requesting that Build Clean be forced to turn over their data on the as of yet unfinished Houston countertop survey.

Then there is the DAQ, or Data Access Act and the Data Quality act, which the hazardous material industry can use to force government scientists to change their studys and their conclusions. Considering that epidemiologist studies can take 20 to 30 years, interfering with the studies can eliminate any truly damaging studies from coming out.

So from the lead paint industry’s use of purity, health, and prosperity to brand their product, we now have the granite industry using anti bacterial, natural, and safe to brand their product. The MIA even has a brocure with an infant playing with granite blocks! So it should come with no surprise that the granite industry stoops to personal attacks and strong arming researchers.

But, apparently the hiring of Cohn & Wolfe, the big tobacco PR firm, is changing their ways. If you look up the “Truth about Granite and Radon” on the MIA website, you will find that they removed the picture of the baby playing with the granite blocks from that brochure.

Absolutely lacking in morality and concern for their customers, these guys will do anything to continue selling the hot granite.

A Long Time Member of the Solid Surface Industry Attacks

Posted in Who Is Attempting to Stop the Testing Effort? by Administrator on the October 5th, 2008

For more info, to ask questions, or to find a tester, go to forum.solidsurfacealliance.org

Politics and agenda, be it the office, the town hall, or the hallways of an university, they are always present. The solid surface industry is no different, and in the granite testing controversy many of the former champions of the solid surface industry are turning into opponents of testing granite.

I call granite the crack cocaine of the countertop industry. Cheap material, high selling cost, thus huge markups, no warranty, no training neccasary, no one keeping track of unhappy customers. Like a drug, granite can debase those who touch it if they aren’t careful. From working with materials that have long warranites and strict standards, they learn that with granite anything goes cause there is no one to say otherwise. Like a drug, it can trash a shop’s reputation for quality work, and lead to a lot of unhappy customer.

But, it pays boat loads of money for as long as it lasts.

I posted this message on an industry forum called Fabnet in response to an email I recieved. Russ Lee, a long time Issfa member is currently attempting to convince Issfa (International Solid Surface Fabricators Association) members to drop the pretense that Issfa is representing the solid surface industry’s interests. He is to lead a change in the organization that will include all countertop materials. This is like the Beef Council deciding to represent pork producers, “It’s whats for dinner” ? Which one?

Here is the thread.

I have been asked many times why the solid surface industry doesn’t support the granite testing effort. To start with, there are only two members of their Board of Directors that are solid surface only shops, the rest, six or more, are all granite shops some of which don’t even feature solid surface on their websites.

So it is the Beef Council being run by a bunch of chicken farmers.
Now, the post was copied and pasted below.

http://thefabricatornetwork.com/Forum/tabid/164/Default.aspx

Many fabnetters have confided in me over the few years I have been here, and I am sure I have with those folks a reputation for keeping confidences where it it warranted.

However, on occasion, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one. This is such an occasion.

Russ Lee is said to be a level headed person, unflappable was one description recently given. I understand that many respect his judgement on things related to the solid surface industry. Others will wonder why I revealed such a horrible personal attack against me, knowing that the stoners will post it out of context and without the following rebuttal. Easy answer, I don’t doubt that I am right and don’t really care if stupid people show their a**.

There is another Russ Lee that was revealed in this email sent to me tonight. If anyone credible doubts this email, I will forward it to you.

“Hi Al,

I hope you will take this in the spirit in which it is intended. Even though I don’t know you well personally I would like to share some experiences I have had in my own life. My wife of 31 years suffers from bi-polar disease. My son-in-law’s father also suffers from bi-polar disease and I have had personal interactions with a few other people over the years who also suffer from the same ailment. As such, I have had occasion to observe the classic symptoms which, I can honestly say, almost always follow a very similar pattern. The nature of your posts lately make me wonder if you might have a touch of the disease yourself.

A characteristic of bi-polar disease is the manic stage in which, as my son-in-law puts it, you become 20 feet tall and bullet proof. That’s kind of a flippant way to describe it, but it is characterized by huge energy bursts, trouble sleeping, a feeling that the person knows more about a given topic than anyone else, that they are often “called” to change the world, and usually experience a feeling of extraordinary well being. Also part of the disease for many people is some paranoia.

Most people with the disease are adamant that nothing is wrong and will vehemently oppose any efforts by family members to get help. Sometimes they become violent.

Now, I may be completely wrong in my suspicions, but a lot of what I see on the FabNet seems to fit the pattern. Your recent statements about death threats (especially after reading the posts that make you say that) kind of set off the warning bell. I know it is presumptuous of me to even say this to you, and I hope you take in the spirit of someone who has lived with the disease most of his adult life. Please think about it, and if you think it may be appropriate, consult a doctor. Bi-polar disease is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It is easily treated, although the sufferer will have to eventually give up the manic phases (the extraordinary feeling of energy and well-being) to find a balance.

Your friend,

Russ “

Now, Russ has had little contact with me over the years, mainly an email exchange allowing the use of his Wikipedia post on solid surface, then later asking to remove the Wiki post so as not be known as supporting solid surface on the SSA site. Not a problem, I took his work down immediately after he requested it. But except for butting heads on Fabnet on occasion, that is the extent of our relationship. One can understand that a letter such as his is not sent as a “friend”, but as a passive/aggressive attack.

Let’s face it, Russ came here with an agenda, which of itself is not a problem, but he also wants to spread his information without being questioned as to it’s validity or purpose. Russ is not at all happy that he has to defend his statements, nor does he want me asking the tough questions despite the fact that were they actually answered, it might push his project forward. So Russ decides to up the ante with a personal attack in the guise of concern.

Russ, let’s look at what you wrote and address it point by point.

First off, my condolences with your family troubles, I understand you have dealt with far more than this. However, it seems this issue runs rampant in your family, not mine, and perhaps you are overly sensitive to the matter, either that or “you might have a touch of the disease yourself”.

Russ, I have never described myself as “20 foot tall and bullet proof”. Dealing with the multitude of ignorant opponents I have been blessed with certainly could lead down that road, but I have dealt with life enough to understand the danger of becoming over confident. Those on Fabnet whose opinions I respect, I consider their advice very seriously. Ask Tom. Others might mean well, but speak from ignorance of the subject, so I explain why I don’t follow their advice and do as I think best. My spending several years educating myself on the subject matter, and the advice of many experts in the fields of interest may preclude indulging well meaning individuals.

Huge energy boosts….well, it has been a little over two years. How long do these “bursts” last? I sleep like a baby Russ, comes from doing what is right. Try that sometimes. As to knowing more about a given topic, well, in the Radon/radiation/granite issues, I do know more than anyone in the countertop industry. Were you trustworthy, I would send you hundreds and hundreds of email exchanges I have had with the country’s leading experts on Radon and radiation, where you could see my manner with those who have far more knowledge than I on these matters.

Russ, many of leaders of the effort to set standards and protocols are in my email group that I run on the granite issues. They value me for several reasons, I provided the hottest samples they have ever seen (understand that they were given low samples for their studies, my samples kept them from publishing an incomplete study), I know enough about their world that I can offer a lay mans opinion on how their work will be taken, I know enough about the granite business that I can answer questions about the trade practices (or I have the contacts within the industry that I can get the answers), and most importantly, I am stubborn enough to dig to the bottom of the pile sifting for clues that make their work easier and better.

I also spend lots of money procuring and shipping samples to them. They know that what ever they need, I will bust my tail finding it for them. In short, Russ, we have the same goal, finding the truth of the matter. Basically, where a man puts his treasure, there also lies his heart. Russ, they trust me cause they understand me.

Now, I see you are also trying to “change the world” with regard to Issfa. Perhaps you should look at your own emotional health to seek out any hints of abnormal behavior?

Now, my family, especially my lovely wife, are very supportive of what I do, nor would you have any proof that anyone wants me to “get help”. The only ones that have threatened violence have been the stone industry members. Allowing of course, that your letter itself is not passive/aggressive violence in itself.

And the statements about the death threats. Russ, Russ, Russ….. you are so inadequate to this task. Consider that many fabnetters also keep up with the stoneadvice site for several years. Many have seen the posts about me on the SFA site, mentioning physical violence, driving down to OKC to take care of me, one mentioned that Kansas still used “hanging” and that maybe Oklahoma did as well. Plenty of little snips about meeting me at a stone show and “educating me”, or settling this in “the octagon”. Then there is the “Dark Room”, well let’s just say there was enough posted there to have a lot of fun with the SFA should they push the issue.

And Russ, you wouldn’t believe some of the emails we have gotten. The most disturbing one threatened to “rape” all the females in my family. Do this, call Joanna Duggan and chat with her about this issue. She and Mike faced the same thing several times.

Do these threats give me pause? Sure, and we have taken the appropriate precautions. We like guns here in OKC, Russ. Us country boys can take care of our own. But I don’t lose a minute of sleep nor do I consider stopping this effort to bring the issues to light.

And finally Russ, you wrote:

“….I hope you take in the spirit of someone who has lived with the disease most of his adult life. ”

Bingo….. Russ, there is a process called projection. A disturbed person takes his problems and “projects” them on to their imagined enemy or opponent. However, always, always, these poor souls will reveal themselves with mannerisms or simply tell you what you need to know if you listen patiently. Some call it a Freudian slip, but I believe it is simply that most human beings are adverse to lie completely, they just have to leave a clue as a warning. I hope you take this in the spirit it is intended, but perhaps you yourself could benefit from consulting a doctor.

And yes, it is very presumptuous for you to offer your opinions and I have never been your friend, nor would I want to be friends with someone that has such a lack of integrity such as you have shown with this email.

Russ, my core belief is one best desribed by the Chinese as “Taoism”, a belief that things happen for a reason, that one must go with the flow of events. To do so invites incredible events to take place, as one is simply doing what fate intends.

I see life as proof that someone or something is in charge. Call it God, Fate, destiny, Karma, any number of names that we poor humans have created to fill the void, but it is there. Any sucesses I have a part in are not my sucesses, I am like a tool laying in a tool box. A hand reaches in needing a tool for a task and I cooperate. Other tools feel the “hand” upon them, and violenty evade, which is where the majority of human suffering has it’s start.

So Russ, it ought to be very clear to most readers where things lay in this thread. You desparately want to help turn Issfa away from even the apperances of doing what many, many members paid their dues to do, support the solid surface industry. You seem to idolize Oxley, despite his shortcomings and lack of professionalism, perhaps from too long waiting in his shadow.

Now is your chance to shine, but there is that damned Al asking awkward questions.

Just answer the questions, Russ. Doing a personal attack just shows that you can’t answer the charges without damaging your agenda.

Post script:

A few hours later, the moderator pulled the entire thread for “administrative review”, then deleted a offensive post from a stoner, then returned the thread to the Member Section for all to see. The next day, another former supporter of the testing effort, Lenny Elbon, posted actual physical threats along with vauge claims that I had posted misleading information.

A few hours later, Andy Graves, thefabricatornetwork.com site owner, banned me from the site for thirty days, for “continued disrespectful posts”. One must assume that to respond to another’s disrespect is itself disrespectful in Andy’s world.

The truth of the matter is much more simple. I had been getting warnings that Andy was searching for an excuse, that I was bad for the advertising revenue on his site. Back in June, right after the first TV story on the Houston granite, Andy posted some misleading info on his site, claiming he tested 2,000 slabs of granite and found no slabs of concern. Now, a few weeks before, he did post some 60 and 80 uR/hr slabs, which would give you 117 mR per year with four hours a day use of the countertop. Next, he declared Build Clean to be a fraud, and said he was contacting his friends at the MIA.

After the New York Times story came out, all of a sudden Andy posts pictures showing 150 uR/hr granite, using the same meter he had used when he claimed he couldn’t find any hot granites. The problem was that by then he had already shipped my meter back to me, proving that he had already found the hot slab, but witheld the fact for what ever reason.

So now we know why Issfa didn’t support the testing effort, and now other long time solid surface industry members are pushing Issfa to drop it’s representation of solid surface and quartz, then become an organization that sells training to fabricators. The problem is the guys that spent years and thousands of dollars helping build Issfa into something. Another issue is that these days, no one can sell information, too much available for free on the internet. The manufacturers will train you for solid suface fabrication, and there is no formal training required for stone or quatrz.

In the end, the solid surface community will get what it deserves. The Issfa vote was around 80 to 30 to drop the exclusive representation of solid surface and quartz, showing a split as well as absmally low numbers that even cared.

What a way to run an industry.