Sunday, April 06, 2008

Elkhart Indiana Gets SuperFund Research Money for Groundwater Contamination

Cedarcreek Wisconsin also gets $2.7Million

The Lusher Street ground water contamination site in Elkhart, Indiana has been added to the Superfund National Priorities List. The NPL is a list of the nation's most contaminated hazardous waste sites eligible for cleanup under EPA's Superfund program.

The Lusher site is an underground plume (mass of contaminated water) of industrial solvents, including TCA (1,1,1-trichloroethane) and TCE (trichloroethylene). The plume area is bordered to the north by the St. Joseph River, to the west by Nappanee Street, to the south by Hively Avenue, and to the east by Oakland Avenue. Research has shown the plume is moving northward toward the river. In 1987 and 2006, EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management provided alternate water supplies to area residents. With the site's addition to the NPL, it will be eligible for additional study and cleanup resources, and hopefully the source will be identified.

Nationally, 12 new hazardous waste sites were added to the NPL recently, with six sites proposed for addition to the list. The Lusher site was the only new or proposed site in the Great Lakes states. To date, there have been 1,581 sites listed on the NPL nationwide. Of these, 324 sites have been deleted from the list. Cleanup construction has been completed at 1,031 sites. There are now 60 proposed sites awaiting final agency action.

A $2.7 million cleanup plan for the Cedar Creek Mercury Marine Plant Superfund site in Cedarburg, Wisconsin has been approved which involves excavation of soil at the Plant site plus ground-water monitoring. A separate plan to address ground-water contamination will be done at a later date.

PCBs from two local companies - now-closed Amcast and Mercury Marine - contaminated Cedar Creek (from below the Ruck Pond Dam to its intersection with the Milwaukee River), the Plant 2 property, the former Amcast property and some nearby private properties. EPA Superfund involvement at the site began in 2003. Mercury Marine and Wisconsin DNR began studying the site in 1983.

PCBs were once widely used by industry as coolants, insulators and lubricants. The manufacture of PCBs in the United States was stopped in 1977, but the compound stays a long time in the environment. They are linked to cancer, as well as reproductive and developmental problems in people and animals. PCB-contaminated river sediment affects fish, wildlife and people as it rises through the food chain. In the 1970s, Wisconsin advised residents not to eat fish from various rivers throughout the state because of the contamination. The advisories are still in effect.

Click here to find links to the Federal Register notice concerning the Elkhart groundwater contamination, information on submitting comments, background on the NPL process and summaries of the sites newly added or proposed.

Click here to find copies of the Cedar Creek study detailing the final cleanup plan, the Record of Decision and other site documents.

It should be noted by all that these are perfect examples of corporate eco-terrorism committed against the people of the United States who now have to foot the bill to clean up some these asshole's messes.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

EPA Testing for Dioxin in Saginaw Neighborhood

A residential neighborhood in Saginaw is being screened for dioxin-contaminated soil. Approximately 10 residential properties along the Tittabawassee River will be sampled. Small plugs from up to 36 inches below the surface will be sent for laboratory analysis.

Lab testing may take two to three weeks. Once the data is returned, EPA and MDEQ, along with Michigan Department of Community Health, will consider a range of options, including more comprehensive sampling in the area and possible cleanup actions.

"Residential soil contamination is a serious matter," said Associate Superfund Director Ralph Dollhopf. "At this time of year, children are playing outside again and families are planning gardens. If action is needed, this project will ramp up very quickly."

The investigation aims to determine the extent of dioxin contamination present in the neighborhood. The project was prompted by Dow Chemical Co.'s February 2008 disclosure to the agencies of an elevated dioxin level found in a residential soil sample collected by Dow in November 2007. Under the company's Michigan operating license, MDEQ required Dow to conduct certain soil and embankment sampling along the Middle Branch of the Tittabawassee River.

Dow's Midland facility is a 1,900-acre chemical manufacturing plant. Dioxins and furans are byproducts from the manufacture of chlorine-based products. Past waste disposal practices, emissions and incineration at Dow have resulted in on and off-site dioxin and furan contamination.

For more information please visit

18 States Sue EPA over Greenhouses Gases

From the Associated Press: Eighteen states are suing the EPA in an attempt to force it to comply with a Supreme Court ruling in April that found the EPA has authority to regulate vehicle emissions, AP reports. The plaintiffs say that the ruling requires the EPA to decide whether to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA disagrees.

The petition asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to require the EPA to act within 60 days.

In last year’s decision, the court stopped short of saying that the EPA must actually limit vehicle emissions, but it said “the EPA can avoid taking further action only if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change or if it provides some reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether they do.”

Last week, AP reported that the EPA said it would not rush any decision on the ruling by the Supreme Court. Such action “could affect many (emission) sources beyond just cars and trucks” and needs to be examined broadly as to other impacts, Stephen Johnson, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency wrote lawmakers.

The Plaintiffs include attorneys general from Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia, plus representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the cities of New York and Baltimore, and several environmental organizations.

Coastal Populations Losing Livelihoods to Polluted Waters

News from the World Resources Institute think tank...

Coastal communities worldwide are witnessing their livelihoods choked by agricultural and industrial pollution, according to findings released today by the World Resources Institute.

"A significant portion of the world's population - nearly half of which lives within 40 miles of a coast - is vulnerable to harmfully over-enriched ecosystems," said Mindy Selman, senior associate at WRI and lead author of WRI's findings.

Excessive nitrogen and phosphorus has emerged as one of the leading causes of degraded water quality. WRI identified 415 over-enriched - or "eutrophic" - coastal areas throughout the world. Of these, 169 are depleted of oxygen, creating "dead zones" that are unable to support marine life. Another 233 of the systems identified are experiencing one or more symptoms of eutrophication, including toxic algal blooms, loss of biodiversity, and die-off of coral reefs. Only 13 of the coastal areas identified exhibit signs of recovery.

Click here to view map of eutrophic coastal areas on the WRI site.

Some of the coastal areas studied include the Chesapeake Bay, Baltic Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and Tampa Bay. Seventy-eight percent of the assessed continental U.S. coastal area and 65 percent of Europe's Atlantic coast are eutrophic.

"There is a dramatic growth in areas receiving nitrogen and phosphorus created by agriculture, sewage, industry, and fossil fuel combustion," said Robert Diaz, a co-author of the findings and professor of marine science at the College of William and Mary.

Over the past 50 years, human activities have caused a doubling of nitrogen pollution and a tripling of phosphorus pollution in coastal areas. By comparison, human activities have increased atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide - the gas primarily responsible for global warming - by 32 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Age.

The most severe form of oxygen depletion in coastal areas has escalated dramatically over the past 50 years, increasing from about 10 documented cases in 1960 to 44 in 1995 to at least 169 today.

The sources of pollution vary by region. In the United States and Europe, agricultural sources such as animal manure and commercial fertilizers are typically the main causes of eutrophication. Sewage and industrial discharges, which usually receive some treatment, are a secondary source. However, elsewhere in the world, wastewater from sewage and industry is often untreated and a primary contributor to eutrophication. Only 35 percent of wastewater in Asia is treated, 14 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, and less than 1 percent in Africa.

The full findings appear in Eutrophication and Hypoxia in Coastal Areas: A Global Assessment of the State of Knowledge.

"The number of degraded coastal areas around the world is sure to be a much greater problem than even our study of 415 areas suggests," Selman said. "Many countries will need to take initial steps in monitoring their water and eventually reducing pollution through smart policies."