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I WAS DISGUSTED BY THE Loose Lips story (10/13) about the D.C. Jail somehow running out of vegetables to feed inmates, and how the culinary staff had to publicize this horrible fact to get the so-called corrections department to pay its bills to vegetable vendors. If people convicted of crimes are likely to improve their life, get quality education, and learn nonviolent conflict resolution, decent nutrition is one prerequisite, and denying nutrition is a violation of basic human rights.

This indifferent attitude toward prisoners’ health is mirrored at the Lorton prison complex. The D.C. government operates a dairy farm at the prison, immediately adjacent to the Lorton trash burner, which can burn 3,000 tons a day worth of plastic containers, use-once nonrechargeable batteries, old sofas, car tires, Starbucks cups, disposable diapers, and countless other items sent there by D.C. and Fairfax County. (It’s the second largest incinerator in the U.S.—the largest is Detroit’s.) These dairy cows graze within ONE HUNDRED YARDS of the incinerator smoke stack, vacuuming up partially burned trash particles and accumulating them into their fat tissues. Their milk, laced with dioxins and vaporized heavy metals, is then fed to prisoners, who don’t know they’re being poisoned.

Burning chlorine-containing wastes—PVC plastic (Saran Wrap, pipes), bleached paper, dry-cleaning solvents, pesticides, etc.—creates ultrahazardous dioxins, which have been linked to immune system damage, birth defects, breast cancer, endometriosis, and even reduced sperm count and smaller penises in male offspring (this is true!). These pernicious compounds bio-accumulate up the food chain, so it is likely that the D.C. Department of Corrections’ dairy farm is producing especially toxic milk (it’s equally likely that they’ve never tested for dioxins or other incinerator creations). The EPA’s massive dioxin “reassessment” study, conducted at the request of the chlorine industry, recently concluded that more than 90 percent of Americans’ dioxin exposure is from consuming animal products, a finding that has upset the meat/dairy industries.

Everything thrown away in D.C. is converted into much more toxic incinerator ash, so please use reusable products instead of “disposables” (think “CUS”—Can’t Use Paper Plastic Styrofoam) and pressure politicians to prevent pollution. Your great-grandchildren demand that you act today to stop this destruction.

Takoma Park, Md.