GreenYes Digest V97 #178

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GreenYes Digest Sat, 26 Jul 97 Volume 97 : Issue 178

Today's Topics:
[Fwd: Fwd: air-mail: pollution secrecy sign-on letter]
Full Cost Landfill Accounting
FW: Rachel #556: WMI -- A Culture of Fraud and Dishonesty? (long)
Thanks to whomever contact Adele Kushner
When does a recycled product count as a recycled product??

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Problems you can't solve otherwise to

Date: Fri, 25 Jul 1997 08:28:08 -0500
From: "Susan K. Snow" <>
Subject: [Fwd: Fwd: air-mail: pollution secrecy sign-on letter]

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Note of introduction: Neil Carman,Ph.D., forwarded this to me. Neil was
a former whistleblower and air quality regulator with the State of
Texas. Now, he is working with the Sierra Club in Austin to help poorer
communities fight against cement kilns burning hazardous wastes and
other sources of pollution.

These pollution secrecy bills in Congress are chilling! We urge you
sign on to this letter.
Susan Snow

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This is a sign-on letter against a bill currently being circulated in
Congress. The bill would industries to conceal environmental and
safety studies from the public. It would also provide immunity from
from civil, and even some criminal, penalties if violations were found
during a self-audit and the industry promises to rectify the
situation. Please respond to Todd Robins at 202-546-9707 or by end of the day Friday.

______________________________ Forward Header
Subject: pollution secrecy sign-on letter
Author: Todd Robins <> at INTERNET
Date: 7/23/97 10:49 AM

July xx, 1997

Dear Senator/Representative:

We, the undersigned organizations and concerned members of the public, are
writing to express our unqualified opposition to "The Environmental
Protection Partnership Act" (S. 866)/ "The Voluntary Environmental
Self-Evaluation Act" (H.R. 1884), recently introduced by Senator Kay
Bailey Hutchinson/Congressman Joel Hefley. This bill would allow
industries to conceal environmental and safety studies ("self-audits")
from scrutiny by the government and the public, and immunize companies
from civil, and even some criminal, penalties when companies discover
violations in self-audits, and voluntarily disclose and promise to correct
the violations.

Proponents of these new polluter secrecy and immunity rights claim they
will promote voluntary compliance with environmental laws. In reality, by
establishing a broad secrecy "privilege" for information contained in
environmental audits, S. 866/H.R. 1884 would seriously undermine the
public's right to know. Allowing companies to designate internal paper
trails or data relating to environmental problems as a secret "audit"
would keep citizens in the dark, while benefiting only those with
something to hide. Without access to the wide range of factual
information companies would be authorized to conceal, the victims of
harmful pollution practices will be prevented from obtaining protection
and redress.

What is more, the bill would silence whistle blowers. By forbidding
employees from testifying regarding a facility's environmental audit in
any court or proceeding, S. 866/H.R. 1884 would have a chilling effect on
workers who might otherwise provide information on health and safety
hazards at their plants for the well-being of their co-workers and
communities. The bill would also give employers a new tool to intimidate
and retaliate against employees who do come forward. [S. 866 only]
Furthermore, S. 866 would let stand state pollution secrecy laws that
actually punish whistle blowers for disclosure of "privileged"
environmental secrets. Currently in some states, a plant employee who
notifies neighbors that the plant is polluting their drinking water can be
held personally liable for penalties the company has to pay as a result of
the disclosure of its violations. A government-employed whistle blower
under similar circumstances could go to jail. S. 866 would permit states
to implement and enforce federal environmental standards under these
unfair conditions.

In addition, this legislation would severely undercut environmental law
enforcement by giving violators immunity from civil, and even some
criminal, penalties when environmental violations are voluntarily
disclosed and steps are taken to begin to correct them. Removing
accountability would encourage abuse, reward scofflaws by allowing them to
profit from violations, and disadvantage companies that take their
environmental responsibilities seriously. Moreover, under S. 866/H.R.
1884, polluters who recklessly endanger the public health in ways that
would be considered criminal under current standards could get off without
penalty by merely apologizing and promising to make amends.

Most importantly, S. 866/ H.R. 1884 would eviscerate the right of citizens
to enforce federal environmental laws. Recognizing that citizens affected
by pollution violations are often the only ones willing to take firm
action, Congress had the vision to preserve a critical role for the public
as partners in enforcement in many of our national environmental laws.
However, by denying public access to vital information and shielding
violators from penalties, this bill will effectively strip from citizens'
hands the legal tools we need to protect ourselves and to hold violators

Rates of non-compliance with environmental laws remain persistently high.
A recent U.S. PIRG study of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data
found that one in five major polluters was in significant violation of the
Clean Water Act during a recent period, Congress should be giving
environmental law enforcement agencies and their citizen partners more
tools to do their jobs, not tying their hands and letting polluters police

Finally, S. 866/H.R. 1884 is completely unnecessary. The bill's
legitimate goals - to encourage environmental self-auditing and promote
voluntary compliance - can be, and are being accomplished WITHOUT secrecy
"privileges" and immunity "incentives" that hurt our right to know, excuse
serious violations, and inflame public distrust. More and more companies
are utilizing self-auditing as a compliance tool. Meanwhile, there is no
evidence that "audit privilege" laws similar to S. 866/H.R. 1884 enacted
at the state level have brought about any significant improvement in
environmental compliance.

The EPA's Audit/Self-Policing Policy is already accomplishing this bill's
goals with notable success. Under EPA's policy, which contains NO secrecy
privilege and NO immunity for criminal violations, but mitigates civil
penalties for self-disclosed violations in appropriate cases, 105
companies have disclosed violations at 350 facilities in the past year,
and EPA has already settled matters with 40 companies and 48 facilities,
waiving penalties in most cases.

The conclusion is clear: S. 866/H.R. 1884 is an unnecessary attack on
environmental law enforcement, workers, and the public's right to know
about pollution. We strongly urge you to oppose this legislation.


Todd Robins, U.S. PIRG
Public Interest Research Group | Internet:

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Subject: air-mail: pollution secrecy sign-on letter

           modem:  512.462.0633



Date: Fri, 25 Jul 97 22:55:29 PST From: Subject: Full Cost Landfill Accounting

[The letter below from Dr. G. Fred Lee has a 67K file attached. If you would like me to forward it send me a note. -- Bill Sheehan]

G. Fred Lee & Associates ________________________________________ 27298 E. El Macero Dr. El Macero, California 95618-1005 Tel. (916) 753-9630 MW Fax (916) 753-9956 e-mail

Dr. William Sheehan Zero Waste Associates 268 Janice Drive Athens, GA 30606

Dear Bill:

Following up on the discussions that I presented at the California Resources Recycling Association's annual meeting devoted to the significant underpricing of the cost of Subtitle landfilling compared to the true cost that will ultimately have to be paid when the Subtitle D landfills cause groundwater pollution that leads to future "Superfund" sites, I have recently had an occasion to develop a discussion of the approach that should be followed in the permitting of Subtitle D landfills. Typically today, landfill applicants and regulatory agencies who should be concerned about a particular minimum Subtitle D landfill will meet regulatory requirements, fail to discuss the well-known inadequacies of these requirements. There are a number of states and other political jurisdictions where regulations have been adopted which prohibit a particular political jurisdiction, such as the state pollution control agency, from adopting more stringent regulations than the federal regulations. Typically, however, in the permitting of landfills the local government, such as the county board of supervisors, must issue a use permit which sets the local conditions that must be met. I have yet to find a situation where a county or other political jurisdiction at that level could not impose stricter requirements than either the US EPA federal Subtitle D regulations or state regulations.

Attached is a write-up that discusses the issues that county boards of supervisors and other local political jurisdictions should consider in developing use permits for a proposed landfill. While, as discussed, it is possible to develop a protective landfill at most locations, the development of such a landfill will result in significantly increased costs of waste disposal than that being paid today in many areas of the country. It is not possible to develop protective landfills at sites where inadequate uy8bufferlands are owned by the landfill operator to dissipate any releases from the landfill during the active life and there is a usable groundwater system connected to the base of the landfill that could be polluted by landfill leachate for as long as the wastes in the landfill will be a threat. It is my estimate that typically on the order of $60 to $90 per ton tipping fees are necessary to develop protective landfills. In addition to these costs are the costs associated with collection and transportation of the wastes to the landfill. Obviously, tipping fees on the order of $20 to $40 per ton are passing the costs of landfilling on to those in the sphere of influence of the landfill during its active life through a degraded environment and the eventual "Superfund" costs associated with groundwater clean up that will occur.

If you wish, please make the attached report available to others through your e-mail network, indicating to anyone who is interested that if they have questions or comments, they should contact me.

Sincerely yours,


G. Fred Lee, PhD, PE, DEE

GFL:oh Enclosure


Date: Fri, 25 Jul 1997 14:14:23 -0700 From: Robin Salsburg <> Subject: FW: Rachel #556: WMI -- A Culture of Fraud and Dishonesty? (long)

Another great newsletter from Rachel's Environment & Health Weekly. If = you don't already subscribe, I'd recommend signing on. Also, help them = with a cash donation if you're able. The do REALLY great and important = work.

Robin Salsburg

---------- From: Peter Montague[] Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 1997 4:24 PM To: Subject: Rachel #556: WMI -- A Culture of Fraud and Dishonesty?

=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3DElec= tronic = Edition=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D= =3D=3D . . . RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY #556 . . ---July 24, 1997--- . . HEADLINES: . . WMI: A CULTURE OF FRAUD AND DISHONESTY? . . =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D = . . Environmental Research Foundation . . P.O. Box 5036, Annapolis, MD 21403 . . Fax (410) 263-8944; Internet: . . =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D = . . Back issues available by E-mail; to get instructions, send . . E-mail to with the single word HELP . . in the message; back issues also available via ftp from . . and from . . and from . . Subscribe: send E-mail to . . with the single word SUBSCRIBE in the message. It's free. . =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D= =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D= =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D


Waste Management, Inc. (WMI --formerly WMX Technologies), the largest waste hauler in America, has fallen on hard times. Lately the NEW YORK TIMES has taken to calling the company "troubled"[1] and "beleaguered."[2] In 1996, WMI reported profits of only $192.1 million on revenues of $9.19 billion; in 1995, the firm had reported profits of $603.9 million on revenues of $9.05 billion. WMI stock is selling for about the same price it brought in 1989 and stockholders are distinctly unhappy. For mismanaging the company, WMI's chief executive, Phil Rooney, was forced to resign in February, 1997,[3] with severance pay of only $2.5 million per year until 2002.[4]

Rooney had joined WMI in 1969 and had masterminded its public relations campaign to present the company as "environmentally responsible," even though WMI's core business is burying millions of tons of dangerous wastes in the ground year after year. For a time, Rooney even got himself appointed to the Board of Directors of the National Audubon Society, a mainstream environmental group, and Dean Buntrock, WMI's founder, joined the board of the National Wildlife Federation. Under Rooney's guidance, WMI even insinuated itself into the Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA) --creating quite a flap among the funding community at the time --and now makes cash donations to environmental groups. Such grants serve WMI's business goals by creating chasms of mistrust within the environmental community.

In general, mainstream environmental groups like Audubon, National Wildlife Federation, and Environmental Defense Fund ignore --or openly cooperate with --WMI's environmentally destructive core business and its greenwashing tactics.[5] On the other hand, local grass-roots groups are often engaged in a life-or-death struggle with WMI at the local level and they are not fooled in the least by WMI's greenwashing. They know that when all is said and done, WMI is a company that plays hardball. That is how, in the early 1960s, WMI entered an industry dominated by the Mafia and soon became king of the mountain.[6]

According to the company's world wide web site, within the U.S., WMI owns 133 garbage dumps; seven hazardous waste dumps; two hazardous waste incinerators; one hazardous waste deepwell injection site; and one "low-level" radioactive waste dump. Wheelabrator Technologies, a subsidiary of WMI, owns 16 garbage incinerators and 3 sewage sludge processing facilities. Outside the U.S., Waste Management International, another subsidiary of WMI, operates eight incinerators and 56 solid and hazardous waste dumps.

Over the years WMI has developed several winning strategies for overcoming citizen opposition. Its earliest tactic was purchasing leaking dumps and promising to clean them up in return for permission to expand operations. The purchaser would often be a newly-created WMI subsidiary corporation with few or no assets of its own. The threat was clear: If the community refused to allow expanded operations, the corporation would have limited income and might have to declare bankruptcy, leaving the community saddled with leaking poisons threatening its groundwater. Under these circumstances, many communities allowed WMI to expand dumping operations --a Faustian bargain at best. Given that all landfills eventually leak (see REHW #37, #316) those communities were choosing to improve their lot today, passing the environmental health costs on to their children or grandchildren.

Another tactic that WMI pioneered was to offer communities a part of the profits --perhaps 1% of their revenues from a facility, which can add up to a substantial sum. Because landfills are often located in poor communities, such an offer would dazzle local politicians struggling to pay for public services. Furthermore, such an offer would gain the support of property owners in the community because it promised an alternative source of revenue besides the property tax.

After December, 1996, however, communities receiving an offer of profit-sharing from WMI have had reason to think carefully about the wisdom of making such a deal:

In December, 1996, a federal judge in Tennessee declared that "top corporate officers" of WMI had "decided upon and followed a well-defined plan to cheat Plaintiffs out of money rightfully due them under the terms of the purchase agreement for the Emelle hazardous waste disposal facility."[7,pg.54] WMI's hazardous chemical dump in Emelle, Alabama is the largest such facility in America.

In 1974, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified Emelle as a good place for a big hazardous waste dump. Ten individuals then bought 340 acres in Emelle and sought a license from the state of Alabama to operate a dump. Among the 10 was James Parsons, the son-in-law of former Alabama governor George Wallace.[7,pg.10] The license was granted.

WMI purchased the Emelle dump site from the 10 individuals February 23, 1978, promising to pay them 12.5% of all the money made by the facility for 21 years. In 1992, a WMI employee --presumably by mistake --sent a secret document to one of the 10 sellers, showing that WMI had doctored its accounts to reduce its payments to the 10 individuals. The 10 individuals took WMI to court in 1993 and federal judge Odell Horton issued his opinion and order December 11, 1996.[7]

The judge calculated that WMI had cheated the 10 individuals out of $76.5 million dollars between 1981 and 1993. He ordered WMI to pay that sum plus another $15 million in punitive damages. WMI denies any wrongdoing.

In his written opinion, Judge Horton went on to say that, "The Court finds Defendant [WMI], through its top corporate officers, consciously and deliberately engaged in fraud and misrepresentation towards Plaintiffs."[7,pg.55] Judge Horton did not mince words: "What is troubling about this case," he said, "is that fraud, misrepresentation and dishonesty apparently became part of the operating culture of the Defendant corporation."[7,pg.54]

Under a new kind of law in many U.S. states, a corporation's "culture" can become the basis for denying business opportunities. These new "bad boy" laws, or "good character" laws, give states the right to refuse licenses and permits to companies that have a history of violating the law. (And of course, all states have the right to revoke a corporation's charter, effectively ending their existence as a legal entity, if they choose to. See REHW #309, #449, #488, #489.)

The state of Indiana in June of this year denied WMI a license to expand its Adams Center Hazardous Waste Treatment and Disposal Facility near Fort Wayne. It was a stunning victory for Allen County Dumpstoppers, a group of citizens who had fought the Adams Center dump for about 10 years.

WMI had tried several legal maneuvers to get around the Indiana law, which says the state can deny a permit application if the applicant has not demonstrated good environmental stewardship. Indiana passed the law in 1990; WMI's wholly-owned subsidiary, Chemical Waste Management (CWM), challenged the constitutionality of the law, but in 1994 it was upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court.

After the law was declared valid, WMI created a new paper corporation, which they called Chemical Waste Management, L.L.C. (CWMLLC). CWMLLC then applied for a permit to expand the dump, claiming it had no environmental record and thus had a good character. CWMLLC said it was not associated in any way with Chemical Waste Management of Indiana (CWMI), which is a subsidiary of Chemical Waste Management (CWM), which is itself a wholly-owned subsidiary of WMI. Despite claims of independence by CWMLLC, the $34,000 application fee was paid by a check drawn on the account of CWMI, clearly linking CWMLLC to CWMI, CWM and WMI with their miserable environmental records.[8]

It is interesting to note that CWM tried the same tactic in the case of the fraud and misrepresentation at Emelle. CWM currently owns Emelle, but in 1978 it was Alabama Solid Waste Systems (ASWS), a subsidiary of WMI, that bought the 340 acres from the 10 developers.[7,pg.11] ASWS later became Waste Management of Alabama (WMA), which later merged into CWM, a wholly-owned subsidiary of WMI. When the cheating was discovered, one of CWM's defenses was, "We never signed any contract with those 10 individuals. Somebody else did it." Judge Horton rejected that defense.[7,pg.34]

Indiana also rejected the claim that CWMLLC was distinct from CWM and WMI. Indiana said it denied CWMLLC the license to expand because:

** February 14, 1992, CWM buried waste illegally in an Illinois landfill and was fined $25,000.8

** In Alabama July 4, 1992, WMI paid a $25,000 fine for burying wastes illegally.[8]

** In California July 29, 1992, WMI paid a $25,000 fine for spilling hazardous wastes from a leaking tank.[8]

** In Pennsylvania August 9, 1992, CWM pleaded guil-ty to six felony violations of the federal Superfund law and was fined $3 million.[8]

** In California November 13, 1992, WMI paid a $65,000 fine for various violations of law.[8]

** In Illinois December 31, 1992, CWM paid a $275,000 fine for incinerator violations.[8]

** In Louisiana July 7, 1993, WMI paid a $25,000 fine for various environmental violations.[8]

** In Louisiana November 30, 1993, CWM paid a $261,918 fine after a judicial finding of environmental violations.[8]

** In Texas April 8, 1994, CWM paid a $15,000 fine for faulty analytic methods at its Port Arthur incinerator.[8]

** In Alabama June 24, 1994, CWM paid a $35,000 fine for illegally handling PCBs [polychlorinated biphenyls] at the Emelle dump.[8]

** In Illinois June 1, 1995, CWM paid a $1.9 million fine for serious problems at its Chicago incinerator.[8]

CWMLLC is now appealing the denial of the expansion permit in Indiana, claiming that the new paper corporation should not be penalized for the crimes and violations of others.

What all this really shows is that we have allowed corporations to escape sensible controls. Up until 1886, corporations were entirely defined by state legislatures. They could only do what their corporate charter said they could do. After 1886, corporations were defined as "persons" under the law, which allowed them to do anything that any other person could do. Recent history reveals that this was a serious mistake.

The solution to this problem is to go back to the way things used to be, to deny corporations the rights of persons under the Constitution, just as our grandparents did. Corporations bear no resemblance to persons, so why treat them as such?

--Peter Montague (National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO)

=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D [1] Claudia H. Deutsch, "Waste Management Hires Sprint President," NEW YORK TIMES July 15, 1997, pg. 2.

[2] Claudia H. Deutsch, "Recent Changes at WMX Satisfy Dissident, for Now," NEW YORK TIMES February 22, 1997, pg. 36.

[3] Claudia H. Deutsch, "Under Pressure, Chief Resigns at WMX," NEW YORK TIMES February 19, 1997, pg. 2.

[4] Bloomberg News, "$2.5 Million a Year for Ex-WMX Chief," NEW YORK TIMES March 15, 1997, pg. 40.

[5] See, for example, REHW #156, #157, #403.

[6] Edwin L. Miller, Jr. [District Attorney, San Diego County, California], FINAL REPORT, WASTE MANAGEMENT, INC. (San Diego: San Diego Board of Supervisors, 1992). 260 pages. Copies may still be available for $32.75 from: Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, Room 402, County Administration Center, San Diego, CA 92101-2471. Phone: (619) 531-5430. Be sure to ask for the full 260-page version of the report.

[7] Odell Horton, "In the United States District Court for the Western District for Tennessee, Western Division, Mark W. Gregory, et al., Plaintiffs, vs. Chemical Waste Management, Inc., Defendant. Civil No. 93-2343-H/V, Opinion and Order" stamped with the date December 11, 1996 by the clerk of the court. See also, Jeff Bailey, "Judge Orders WMX to Pay $91.5 Million to Hazardous-Waste Dump Developers," WALL STREET JOURNAL December 16, 1996, pg. A3.

[8] "IDEM Uses Good Character Law to Deny Hazardous Waste Landfill Expansion," IDEM [Indiana Department of Environmental Management] NEWS, press release dated June 13, 1997. Contact: Jo Lynn Ewing at (317) 232-8560.

Descriptor terms: waste management, inc.; wmi; wmx; cwm; chem waste; emelle; landfilling; fraud; lawsuits; al; tn; tx; ca; in; bad boy laws; waste industry; waste hauling industry; mafia; odell horton; phil rooney; edf; audubon; national wildlife federation; ega; incineration; corporations; waste management international;

################################################################ NOTICE Environmental Research Foundation provides this electronic version of RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY free of charge even though it costs our organization considerable time and money to produce it. We would like to continue to provide this service free. You could help by making a tax-deductible contribution (anything you can afford, whether $5.00 or $500.00). Please send your tax-deductible contribution to: Environmental Research Foundation, P.O. Box 5036, Annapolis, MD 21403-7036. Please do not send credit card information via E-mail. For further information about making tax-deductible contributions to E.R.F. by credit card please phone us toll free at 1-888-2RACHEL. --Peter Montague, Editor ################################################################


Date: Fri, 25 Jul 1997 10:15:56 -0500 From: "Susan K. Snow" <> Subject: Thanks to whomever contact Adele Kushner

I wish to send a message of gratitude to whomever contacted Adele Kushner. She and her volunteers have been extremely helpful to us, sending me xeroxes from the Marieta papers on the co-composting of municipal solid waste and sewage sludge and the company of question.

I will send a personal message to Adele, but I wish to thank whomever contacted her.

Thanks again. Susan Snow


Date: Fri, 25 Jul 1997 16:12:26 -0500 From: Pete Pasterz <Pete.Pasterz@USDWP.MSU.EDU> Subject: When does a recycled product count as a recycled product??

{Sorry for any cross-postings :) }


Here's another "standardization" issue that I have seen even less guidance on than the quandry about what items to count as recycled in setting a recovery %.

In examining our purchases for accounting for how much/many recycled products we use, it occurs to us that some of the products we buy are likely to have recycled content, but this is not overtly stated by the supplier/manufacturer. An obvious, extreme example is anything made from steel (paper clips to trucks!). With the average recycled content of a steel product being 67+% (with variability by type) these are highly recycled products.

Should such products be included in our count, even if: 1) the manufacturer/vendor does not state, promote, or even know that they are? or

2) if content has "always" been part of the product? (how far back is always?)

The question here is do you know of any standards which have been established to decide on how to deal with items for which recycled content is not disclosed; where no choice is offered; and where recycled content has been a traditional component of the product??

If you're not aware of standards, and if you count recycled product purchase $ and weights (or volumes) what methods do you use? Do you distinquish between recycled and post-consumer? Why or Why not?

Thanks for your help.

Pete Pasterz Michigan State University


End of GreenYes Digest V97 #178 ******************************