Friday, September 25, 2015

Black Bear Sleeps

I've obviously been taking a break from writing for a bit. Hibernation. What can I say, there was too much going on in my life, I was overwhelmed. I'll start writing again in a month or so. The Bear will return. For now, I suggest you read this, this and especially this.

I'm going for a long walk in the park and then I'm going to take a nap. And everyone should read this too: Black Elk Speaks

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Public Meeting April 14 on Proposed Cleanup Options for Occidental Chemical Site in Montague

There will be an informational meeting Wednesday, April 14, on proposed cleanup strategies for contaminated ground water at the Occidental Chemical Corp. facility in Montague. The meeting is from 6 to 8 p.m. at Montague Township Hall, 8915 Whitbeck Road.

The proposed cleanup plan includes installing installation of six new wells on the southern portion of the former Occidental Chemical property. The idea is that the wells, working with a current well system in place at White Lake, might reduce ground water contamination to safe levels from Old Channel to White Lake within the next 18 years.

From the EPA: State and federal environmental regulators have been overseeing cleanup work on the OCC property since 1979. Since that time, the first set of extraction wells have removed and treated billions of gallons of ground water and prevented the flow of contaminants into White Lake. However, contamination remains trapped in subsurface soil on the northern portion of the site and those chemicals continue to seep into the ground water. No treatment technologies have been found that can remove this contamination trapped in sands below the water table. The objectives of EPA’s proposed plan are to clean up ground water to better protect White Lake and allow for the eventual beneficial use of the ground water and unrestricted use of the OCC property and private property south of Old Channel Trail.

Show up to have your comments included in the plan.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Michigan Golf Course added to Superfund toxic sites list

The Gratiot County Golf Course in St. Louis, Michigan has been added to the Superfund National Priorities List. Superfund is the federal program that investigates and cleans up the most complex and uncontrolled hazardous waste sites in the U.S.

The Gratiot County site lies east of the Hidden Oaks Golf Course on Monroe Road. From 1956 to 1970, the nearby Velsicol Chemical burned their hazardous waste in an open pit. Originally the pit disposal area was proposed to Superfund in 1982, but at that time Velsicol excavated 68,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil. In 2006, more soil and ground water contamination was found, and EPA and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality decided to propose the site as a new listing. With today’s action, the site is now eligible for further analysis and development of a cleanup plan.

So the message here is that for over 55 years, the groundwater and soil in St. Louis Michigan have been contaminated. It took 12 years after the toxic waste burning ended before anyone was held responsible and made to remove contamination. It took another 24 years before testing found more contamination. How long will it take to actually resolve this problem? Long after you and I are gone, probably, and long after all the people who worked at Velsicol have died of cancer.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Meanwhile Down in Evansville... or should we call it "Leadville"?

upcoming lead-contaminated soil Superfund cleanup, 350 properties affected encompassing whole neighborhoods

350 properties in an area bounded by Mary Street to the west, Iowa Street to the north, Elliot Street to the east and Division and Illinois streets to the south will excavated and restored down in LEADVILLE beginning in March. The work is being funded through at least $5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The effort represents the second phase of cleanup at the Evansville site. In 2007 - 2008, the Feds cleaned up about 80 properties with lead levels above 1,200 parts per million (EPA’s residential lead cleanup level is 400 ppm). As that effort wrapped up, EPA announced plans for the current project. A third phase of the cleanup encompasses about a dozen neighborhoods in a 4.5-square-mile area north and south of the Lloyd Expressway near downtown Evansville. This expanded area includes about 10,000 properties that will be tested for soil contamination. EPA expects 4,000 may require cleanup. Work in this expanded area will begin in 2011 or 2012.

Several long-closed manufacturing companies used lead, arsenic and other metals in their operations leaving behind the contamination. Evansville was placed on the Superfund National Priorities List in July 2004.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Legal battle over, state wins clean-up costs for Ludington industrial site

$525,000 Settlement Reached

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment reached a settlement that secures re-imbursement of the costs incurred by the department to investigate contamination from the former Handy Things Manufacturing Company property in Ludington. The settlement with Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation, the corporate successor to Handy Things Manufacturing, also requires the company to address existing soil and groundwater contamination at the site and includes provisions to prevent any unacceptable exposures to the contaminants.

Soil and groundwater in the area are contaminated with volatile organic compounds, chromium, zinc, cyanide, and other metal plating materials. The former Handy Things Manufacturing Company is one source of the contamination in this area, two others are Industrial Plating and Manufacturing, Inc., property (formerly known as the Ludington Plating Company), and Straits Steel and Wire Company property. Both properties are owned by Straits Steel and Wire.

The DNRE and Department of Attorney General are currently in negotiations with Straits Steel and Wire to reach a similar settlement regarding pollution that is attributable to them.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ottawa River clean-up has begun

Approximately 260,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment is being removed from the Ottawa River and Sibley Creek in Toledo, OH. The project began on December 19th and it is estimated that it's going to cost us - me and you fellow taxpayer - $49 Million dollars. The goal of the project is to reduce impacts to human health and the environment on the Ottawa River. This is the eighth cleanup of a contaminated site under the Great Lakes Legacy Act.

Sediment in the river and creek is contaminated with a mixture of heavy metals, PCBs and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons called PAHs. The sediment contamination in the Ottawa River is a key contributor to the fish advisories currently in place and limit the amount of fish that can be safely eaten.

During phase one of the project 15,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment will be removed from Sibley Creek, processed on-site to remove excess water and transported to the city of Toledo’s Hoffman Road Landfill for disposal. Sibley Creek is a 1.1-mile long tributary to the Ottawa River that enters the river about four miles upstream of the river mouth. The Sibley Creek work is expected to be completed by the end of January.

In April 2010 dredging of the main channel of the Ottawa River will begin. Some 245,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment will be removed. Dredging activities in the Ottawa River are expected to be completed by late 2010.

EPA is providing $24.5 million for the project through the Great Lakes Legacy Act. The Ottawa River Group, a consortium of private businesses in partnership with the city of Toledo, will provide the remaining $24.5 million. The city is providing space in its municipal landfill as their cost share.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Sunoco to Pay $173,310 for Air Quality Violations at Marcus Hook Refinery

Over in the NOT-SO-GREEN corner for the past year is Sunoco, which has ordered to pay $173,310 in penalties for pollution violations at its refinery in Marcus Hook, PA.

In May 2008 a broken boiler released 8.3 tons of carbon monoxide. Two incidents in June 2008 resulted in 18.1 tons of volatile organic compounds being released into the atmosphere, along with 1,300 gallons of oil. These incidents resulted in residential damage claims and odor complaints.

In December 2008, a compressor shutdown resulted in the release of 3.93 tons of nitrogen oxides and 8.09 tons of volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere.

Storage tank violations in June, September and November 2008 involved seal problems and an oil leak, which was NOT reported to the Pennsylvania Dept of Environmental Protection. Sunoco was also cited for failing to perform various inspections of instruments, tank hatches and ventilation systems.

So, let's continue to shine on a light Sunoco for a bit.

EPA Rules to Impact Manufacturers, Utilities

he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced two separate actions that could significantly impact several industries including power and water utilities.

The EPA has identified three industries — chemical manufacturing, petroleum and coal products manufacturing (including refineries and not coal mines), and the electric power generation, transmission, and distribution industry — that could face financial assurance requirements to ensure that the owners or operators of the facilities, not taxpayers, will be responsible for cleanups through the Superfund program.

Read the rest of this story here: EPA Rules to Impact Manufacturers, Utilities

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

EPA cites Sauder for clean-air violations

The EPA is taking action against Sauder Woodworking Facility for alleged Clean Air Act violations at the company's furniture manufacturing plant in Archbold, Ohio. EPA proposed a $328,334 penalty.

Allegations suggest Sauder has violated federal and state regulations by emitting excessive amounts of particulates (smoke, dust, ash), nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds from its plant. Sauder has also violated notification and record keeping requirements and requirements to continuously monitor emissions.

Inhaling high concentrations of particulates can have adverse health effects, particularly in children, the elderly and people with heart and lung disease, while nitrogen oxide can irritate the lungs and lower resistance to respiratory infections. Nitrogen oxide also contributes to the formation of smog and acid rain.

Volatile organic compounds also contribute to the formation of smog. People with asthma, children and the elderly are especially at risk.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Genesee County Files Application to Drain Lake Huron

The Michigan DEQ received a water withdrawal permit request this week from the Genesee County Drain Commission for the withdrawal of 85 million gallons per day from Lake Huron as a public water supply source for Genesee County, the city of Flint and customer municipalities in Lapeer, Sanilac, Saginaw, and Shiawassee counties.

A 45 day public comment period required under state law will be open through July 15, and a decision on the permit application is expected later this summer.

Copies of the permit application and supporting information are available on the DEQ website at

Friday, May 15, 2009

$10.3 Million in grants for contaminated land cleanup, economic development in Michigan

Funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are being awarded to help communities in Michigan clean up sites known as “brownfields” which may be contaminated by hazardous chemicals or pollutants. The grants which include $2.5 million from the Recovery Act and $7.8 million from the EPA brownfields general program funding, help revitalize former industrial and commercial sites, with the intent of turning them from problem properties to productive community use.

Battle Creek (2), a $200,000 hazardous substances assessment grant to update the city’s brownfields inventory and conduct 18 site assessments, and a $200,000 grant to assess properties with potential petroleum contamination.

Ingham County (2), a $200,000 hazardous substances assessment grant to inventory brownfields and conduct 18 site assessments, and a $100,000 grant to conduct eight site assessments at properties with potential petroleum contamination.

Jackson County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, $1 million revolving loan fund grant to support cleanup activities for sites contaminated with petroleum and hazardous substances. The Authority is targeting properties along the West Michigan Avenue Corridor.

Lenawee County, $200,000 hazardous substances assessment grant to inventory brownfields and conduct 26 site assessments.

Lincoln Park, $200,000 hazardous substances assessment grant to inventory brownfields and conduct 18 site assessments.

Roscommon County, $200,000 hazardous substances assessment grant to inventory brownfields and conduct 19 site assessments.

Van Buren County, $200,000 hazardous substances assessment grant to inventory brownfields and conduct 23 site assessments.

Applicants selected to receive brownfields general program funds are:

Albion Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, $200,000 hazardous substances assessment grant to inventory brownfields and conduct 18 site assessments.

Bay City (2), a $200,000 hazardous substances assessment grant to conduct at least 16 site assessments, and a $200,000 grant to assess properties with potential petroleum contamination.

Benton Harbor (2), a $200,000 hazardous substances assessment grant to inventory brownfields and conduct 20 site assessments, and a $100,000 grant to conduct 10 site assessments at properties with potential petroleum contamination.

Downriver Community Conference (2), a $1 million grant to assess hazardous substances and potential petroleum contamination at 90 properties throughout 14 member communities, and a $1.5 million revolving loan fund grant to support cleanup activities for sites contaminated with petroleum and hazardous substances.

Grand Valley Metropolitan Council (2), a $200,000 hazardous substances assessment grant to inventory brownfields and conduct about 50 site assessments, and a $200,000 grant to conduct assessments at properties with potential petroleum contamination.

Hastings, $200,000 hazardous substances assessment grant to conduct 18 site assessments.

Huron County (2), a $200,000 hazardous substances assessment grant to inventory brownfields and conduct up to 16 site assessments, and a $200,000 grant to conduct assessments at properties with potential petroleum contamination.

Lake County (2), a $200,000 hazardous substances assessment grant to inventory brownfields and conduct 21 site assessments, and a $200,000 grant to conduct assessments at 27 properties with potential petroleum contamination.

Muskegon, $200,000 hazardous substances assessment grant to conduct about 20 site assessments.

Oakland County, $1 million grant to inventory brownfields and assess hazardous substances and potential petroleum contamination at about 90 properties.

Saginaw County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, $1 million grant to assess hazardous substances and potential petroleum contamination at about 70 properties.

St. Joseph County Economic Development Corporation, $200,000 grant to assess potential petroleum contamination at up to 20 properties.

Ypsilanti (3), $600,000 total, $200,000 each for three hazardous substances cleanup grants to address properties on East Michigan Avenue and South River Street.

Monday, April 06, 2009

New Environmental Justice Grants for Chicago and Milwaukee

What is ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE??? In the United States, minority and low-income communities are disproportionately exposed to comparatively high levels of pollution and health risks. For example, in the early 1990's it was recognized that 96% of all hazardous waste dumping sites were in predominately minority owned communities. The federal government's Environmental Justice program aims to help these folk by ensuring fair treatment and meaningful involvement for everyone affected in the environmental decision-making process. The federal government has been issuing grants for the past 15 years to address these issues.

Nation-wide, $800,000 in grants to organizations working with communities facing environmental justice challenges will be distributed throughout the country. Forty grants, up to $20,000 each, are going to community-based organizations and local and tribal governments in 28 states for community projects aimed at addressing environmental and public health issues.

In April, The Metropolitan Tenants Association in Chicago is receiving $19,940 to educate low-income individuals in rental buildings about lead poisoning and pesticide use. The project will focus on education, inspection and abatement in 40-70 multiple-unit buildings, housing a projected 1,000 renters.

Also in April, People for Community Recovery in Chicago is going to receive $19,966 for a project called "Environmental Justice through Education and Exploration." The organization will work with youth ages 14-18 in the predominantly African-American Altgeld Gardens public housing project on the harmful effects of environmental hazards in the air, water and water.

The City of Milwaukee is receiving a grant for $20,000 to raise awareness of how human actions affect storm water runoff and water pollution. The training will be provided in English, Spanish, Hmong and Lao languages by peer educators at local schools and neighborhood and faith-based organization meetings.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Crown Chemical Fined for Dumping Caustic Waste into Local Water Supply

Jim Spain, former president of Crown Chemical in Crestwood iL, has plead guilty to illegally dumping chemical wastes into a regional sewer system. He gets off easy with a fine, home confinement and a year's probation. Crown Chemical Inc., which also pleaded guilty to charges in the case, was sentenced to pay a criminal fine, required to spend a year on probation and make a public apology. The company's manager, Catalino Uy, was fined and will spend two years on probation. The fines total $135,000.

Spain was charged in 2006 with the illegal discharges, lying to federal investigators and conspiracy. Spain admitted that he showed employees how to discharge the untreated wastewater to the local sewers, and that he also directed employees to use a hose to try to dilute the waste being discharged. During the trial he acknowledged that the illegal discharges extended for 16 years, from 1985 until 2001. Spain also admitted he had lied to federal investigators and admitted that he telephoned several employees before they arrived for work and told them to falsely tell investigators that they treated the wastewater before they discharged it.

Crown Chemical Inc., manufactures industrial and commercial home cleaning products. According to the indictment in the case, wastewater resulting from cleaning out tanks at the facility routinely was drained to the city sewer system, despite the fact that the discharges violated standards for their acid content and at times for their caustic content. The sewer system in Crestwood is a regional system that connects to a treatment plant owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

Guess what Chicago, you just drank toxic waste... again.

EPA says Des Plaines River Oil Spill is Cleaned Up

EPA said today that most cleanup activities associated with the Feb. 8 oil release from Caterpillar's Joliet facility are now complete. The work was performed with support from Illinois EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The poisoning of the river occurred when Caterpillar Corps waste oil/water separation system failed. Two waste oil collection pits containing about 65,000 gallons of oil overflowed, spilling onto a parking area and an embankment leading down to the Des Plaines River.
Up to 6,000 gallons of the oil flowed into the river. About 90 percent of the spilled oil collected in a gravel parking area and on the embankment. Light river surface "sheening" was spotted several miles downstream from the Caterpillar facility.

The Coast Guard and Caterpillar contractors captured most of the off-shore spill with an absorbent pad system.

Later in the week, the parking area and shoreline impacted by the spill were monitored for additional releases. Runoff from recent rains was monitored to prevent recontamination of the cleaned areas. Next, Caterpillar will submit for EPA review a follow-up water and land sampling plan. Laboratory analysis of this work should be complete by April or May 2009. About 200 cubic yards of oil-stained parking lot gravel and other debris is now staged in rolloff boxes awaiting treatment and/or landfill disposal.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


HARRISBURG – A first-of-its-kind conference will be held April 26 – 28 to educate and improve communication among members of environmental justice communities, community organizations, private sector organizations and government officials, the Department of Environmental Protection announced today.

The conference, organized by the DEP's Environmental Justice Advisory Board and Office of Environmental Advocate, along with Drexel University, will be held at the Sheraton Harrisburg-Hershey Hotel, Harrisburg.

"Environmental policy in Pennsylvania must be formed with respect and sensitivity toward everyone and with special care to protect vulnerable communities, said Environmental Protection acting Secretary John Hanger. "Our goal is to include community members and advocates as partners and participants in planning and decision making. This conference will foster a better understanding of the obstacles vulnerable communities face and what we can do to address them."

The conference, "Building Healthy and Improved Communities for All," is also being made possible through the efforts and sponsorship of the departments of Transportation, Public Welfare, Education, Health, Community and Economic Development, as well as Simmons Cooper Cooney & Conway, Waste Management, and individual donors. Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Open House on Kennecott Mine Proposal

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold an open house on October 22 to answer questions about the federal role in regulating the proposed mine and the underground injection control permit application submitted by Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company. The open house will be held at the Holiday Inn, 1951 U.S. Highway 41, West Marquette, Mich. There will be three sessions from 9 to 11 a.m., 1 to 3 p.m., and 6 to 9 p.m.

Kennecott proposes to dispose of treated wastewater as part of a nickel and copper sulfide mining operation within the Yellow Dog Plains of northwestern Marquette County. EPA notified the company that any underground disposal system at the mining site must comply with the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act's federal Underground Injection Control program before construction and operation. The Safe Drinking Water Act is intended to protect underground sources of drinking water.

The UIC permitting process for the underground disposal system is EPA's only direct regulatory role in the Eagle mine project. EPA is conducting a technical evaluation of the permit application and supporting documents and expects to issue a draft decision before the end of the year. EPA will accept public comments and hold a public hearing when the draft decision is announced.

A copy of the permit application and more information about the Eagle mine project and the underground injection control program is available at: