Friday, July 25, 2008

Dow will Clean up dioxin in Saginaw

The Feds have reached an agreement with Dow Chemical Co. that requires the company to clean up dioxin contamination in the Riverside Boulevard neighborhood of Saginaw. Construction work in this neighborhood on the Lower Tittabawassee River is expected to begin in late July and continue through the fall.

There are dangerously high levels of dioxin contamination in yards, the unpaved Riverside Boulevard roadway and in the interior of some homes.
Last April, EPA took soil samples at residential properties following discussions and consultation with Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan Department of Community Health.

The agreement, called an "administrative order on consent", includes:
* Excavation of residential yards, then backfilling with clean soil.
* Interior cleaning of homes.
* Remediation of unpaved surfaces on Riverside Boulevard.

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.

New EPA Regional Administrator for the Great Lakes

Lynn Buhl will become Regional Administrator for EPA Region 5, which encompasses Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Bharat Mathur, EPA's Acting Regional Administrator since May of 2008, will resume his position as Deputy Regional Administrator.

Since September 2006, Buhl has served as Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance at EPA Headquarters, where she advised the Administrator on a wide range of environmental enforcement issues.

Previously, Buhl served as Acting Secretary of Maryland's Department of the Environment and Deputy Secretary of Maryland's Department of Natural Resources. During her years of service in Maryland, she provided policy advice to Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr. and was instrumental in reforming Maryland's contaminated site cleanup program.

Prior to her service in Maryland, Buhl worked at Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality, Daimler Chrysler Corporation and in EPA's Region 5 office as an assistant regional counsel.

Buhl, a native of Missouri, holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia, and a J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law.

Coast Guard Enlists Alliance, Public in Michigan Beach Trash Investigation

The Alliance for the Great Lakes is assisting the U.S. Coast Guard in its investigation to identify the source of tons of strange trash washing up along the Lake Michigan shoreline in West Michigan. The Alliance is calling on its West Michigan beach adopters and any other members of the public willing to help clean up the debris and collect information to share with the Coast Guard as it works to identify the source.

The Coast Guard says most of the debris is street litter such as food wrappers, beverage containers and balloons that was first reported washing up in Sleeping Bear Dunes in mid-June.

Initial reports from Sleeping Bear Dunes have been followed by reports of a large wash-up of debris in Manistee, and of trash washing up in Muskegon and Allegan County. Manistee appears to have received the brunt of the trash, but other communities are also dealing with abnormally high amounts of litter washing up on their beaches.

Photographs of dangerous material and items with identifiable information will help to identify possible sources. Anyone finding this type of trash should report it immediately to the Coast Guard Investigative Service at: 586-307-6759 through Friday, July 25, and 586-239-6759 thereafter.

Local Alliance Adopt-a-Beach teams, already trained in collecting trash and water quality data as part of regular cleanups and general beach stewardship, responded immediately to the wash-up in Sleeping Bear Dunes and Muskegon -- many folks just headed out to the beach without being asked. Thanks guys.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wolf Killings Continue in Yellowstone Region

The Bush Administration stripped wolves of their endangered species protection in March. 106 wolves have been killed in the past 118 days.

Almost one per day. And if Wyoming, Idaho and Montana have their way, at least 900 wolves -- nearly 60 percent of the population -- could be exterminated this fall, when a massive public hunt begins.

Make no mistake: This will be the very last summer for many of Yellowstone's wolves -- unless immediate action is taken to stop the killing.

Tourists visiting Yellowstone have been horrified to learn that the wolves they've traveled hundreds and thousands of miles to see are being gunned down as they wander outside the protection of the park. Hundreds of tourists a day are signing petitions to protest the slaughter.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is circulating those petitions in the park AND taking court action -- along with 11 other conservation groups -- to compel the Bush Administration to restore protection for the wolves.


Then, if you'd like to do more, you can donate to help the NRDC Action Fund build a national outcry against the slaughter.

Your support will help us broadcast the wolf's plight and mobilize America against the Bush Administration.

Swift action is imperative. Wyoming, Montana and Idaho are planning public hunts for the region's remaining 1,400 wolves this fall -- the first in more than three decades. Once the leaves fall from the trees, wolves will be easy targets for aerial sharpshooters who can gun down entire packs in a matter of minutes.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Lt. Governor Cherry Speaks out on Great Lakes Protection

Lt. Governor Cherry has been touring the state to raise public awareness of preserving the Lakes – especially to urge Congress to reauthorize the Great Lakes Legacy Act. He's been posting on blogs during his trip and today I'm fortunate enough to announce that he is using Black Bear Speaks to get the word out. He started in Port Huron and is now on the Lake Michigan shoreline. Over the past several days, Cherry has been in Benton Harbor, St. Joseph and Muskegon where he has been talking with local leaders, residents and the media about the Lakes.

Cherry, who chairs the Ann Arbor-based Great Lakes Commission, announced a restoration project at a press conference this morning at the Grand Trunk boat launch site. The project will focus on the south shoreline of Muskegon Lake, from the Lake Michigan channel to the mouth of the Muskegon River. The project aims to restore hundreds of acres of wetlands along the shoreline by planting native species, removing old seawalls, etc.

This is a tremendous opportunity, so please use the comment feature below to tell the LG Cherry exactly what you think needs to happen in regard to protecting and conserving the Great Lakes.

"Yesterday's activities began in Michigan's Twin City Region—St. Joseph/Benton Harbor. Historically, these two communities were sited at the confluence of two major Indian transportation routes. The Sauk Trail was the major land route across Michigan's Lower Peninsula, and connected to the major water route between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. The Miami and Potawatomi established camps in the St. Joseph/Benton Harbor area.

St. Joseph is also the home of one of my duck hunting companions—Judge Charlie LaSata.

The purpose of our stop here was to celebrate the work that The Conservation Fund, in conjunction with the Berrien County Drain Office and Health Department, has done to reduce the sediment load that the Galien River dumps into Lake Michigan. Non-point source pollution is a major pathway for the deposition of toxics and other contaminants into the Great Lakes. Through a local, state, and federal partnership, a watershed management plan was developed and is in the process of implementation. A number of conservation easements have been purchased. This year's $300,000 grant will be used to tackle E. Coli contamination by identifying failing septic systems and protecting wetland areas. Additionally, local residents are organizing two river cleanups this year.

The celebration took place at Warren Dunes State Park. My wife, Pam, and I were met by Peg Kohring of the Conservation Fund, Frank Rustwick, Deputy Director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Mike Terrell, the Park Manager at Warren Dunes. Mike had previously been assigned to Seven Lakes State Park near my home. Now he manages the gem of the Michigan State Park system. Mike tells me that 20 per cent of the revenue for the entire state park system is generated at Warren Dunes. That tells us something about the economic impact of breathtaking natural wonders and why it makes economic sense to protect them.

We held a ceremonial grant transmittal to the Conservation Fund at a park pavilion on the shore of Lake Michigan and at the foot of the world's largest body of fresh water dunes. A great crowd of local conservation activists gathered for the event, and we talked about the enormous opportunity that this presidential election presents to secure a strong federal commitment for Great Lakes restoration. Both candidates have signed a pledge to support Great Lakes restoration and protection. This is the year to put the Great Lakes on the federal agenda for 2009."

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Bogus Recycling Company Owners Jailed

Oh yes, sometimes your government gets it right. This time
three folks were arrested in Lapeer County for racketeering and money laundering.

Between 2000 and 2004, World Waste Services and Cove Landfill were
permitted by the state of Michigan to conduct a solid waste business. World Waste Services submitted falsified documents with forged names of governmental officials to the DEQ and Huron County that sparked a cooperative criminal investigation between the DEQ and Huron County Sheriff’s Department.

It turns out that the company entered into recycling contracts with municipalities throughout the thumb area. They gave the appearance of adhering to the contracts and
recycling the waste, but instead disposed of the recyclable material into Cove
Landfill, at no cost to them.

The owners were took most of the cash they received at the business and converted it to their own personal use by laundering the money through area casinos.