Archive

Archive for March, 2010

The Land I Use: Hazardous Waste Wells On The Southern Shores

March 25th, 2010

[ IDEM's ] site description of ArcelorMittal

via [ Post-Trib ] “Toxic disposal talk gets deep - Underground injection a matter of trust” By Gitte Laasby

PORTAGE — When federal officials allow companies to inject hazardous waste deep into the ground, they take the companies’ word for what kind of waste is disposed and that it isn’t leaking, a federal official admitted Wednesday night.

ArcelorMittal wants to add a new underground injection well at its Burns Harbor plant to dispose of hazardous waste for the next 10 years. The company also wants to continue to use three existing wells, where it disposes of millions of gallons of hazardous waste annually from ArcelorMittal plants.

Issues:

  1. What obligations does ArcelorMittal have towards future land uses of this highly valuable and ecologically sensitive property on the southern shores of Lake Michigan, a few steps away from the Indiana Dunes National Shoreline and the Little Calumet River?
  2. Is this not the perfect situation for exercising the “Precautionary Principle?”
  3. Does this not serve as an example of the extraordinary where-with-all of vested interests against the humble capacity of a public trying to ensure they live in a safe and vital community?

[ EPA Fact sheet and Public Notice - pdf ]

(Sometimes these maps need a little clarifying. The Deep wells are only a few steps away from the Indiana Dunes National Shoreline and the Little Calumet Rivers. One of the most bio-sensitive and diverse areas in the country, and one of the most impaired.)

“ArcelorMittal has three injection wells operating at 250 W. U.S. Highway 12 in Burns Harbor. These wells inject waste from a steelmaking process known as “steel pickling” and waste ammonia liquor, a product of cokemaking.”

Read more…

Thomas The Land I Use

View of Lake Erie: Road Trip to Buffalo

March 24th, 2010

Spring break and the opening reception for the show “Precious Cargo” just happen to coincide, so we took a road trip along the southern shores of Lake Erie. All photos from my phone.

Armed with market analysis’ and statistics, it is rare for an Urban Planner to reveal how they or their family’s approach and use different spaces. They never appear in the analysis. Is that possible? Just asking.

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Thomas What I am Looking at

Environment: Tom Anderson Resigns

March 24th, 2010

via [ Post-Trib ]

Save the Dunes executive director Tom Anderson resigns after 20 years with the organization

Thomas Environment, Regional

The Water I Drink: Grand Cal Toxins Excavated

March 24th, 2010

via [ NWI Times ] “$33.1M RIVER BOTTOM REMEDIATION PROJECT ON WAY TO RESTORING AQUATIC HABITAT” By Steve Zabroski

HAMMOND | The first phase of a long-awaited cleanup of the Grand Calumet River was completed last week, with remediation work on the waterway now moving westward through the heart of the city.

The $33.1 million project aims to remove from the bottom of the river sediment contaminated with toxic and cancer-causing chemicals deposited there through more than a century of industrial activity.

Tainted river bottom between Columbia Avenue and Howard Avenue has been hauled away since work began in December, and excavation all the way to Calumet Avenue is scheduled for completion by June.

Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the remediation project will remove close to 82,000 cubic yards of polluted sediment from the waterway — last dredged in 1895 — all the way to Hohman Avenue.

Read more…

Thomas The Water I Drink

Regional Rats: The Grand Calumet River

March 8th, 2010

I plan to plot the more than 600 contributers of contamination

Why would any community agree to such extreme negative costs to its land, water, air and residents?

Is there any doubt that East Chicago should be the epicenter for the dialogue on environmental justice and stewardship?

Simple thoughts:

  • If we solve the environmental problems for fence-line industrial communities like East Chicago we solve the problem for middle-class America and the causes of global warming.
  • When negative costs outweigh positive benefits is there justification to revoke the responsible party’s “Land Use” privileges?
  • Does the Law of the Commons apply?

[ EPA's EnviroMapper ] [ Grand Calumet River Area of Concern ]

via [ Post-Trib ] Region’s sewer: Grand Cal faces long recuperation
By Gitte Laasby

State and Federal “14 Beneficial Use” Criteria.

  1. Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
  2. Undesirable algae or too many nutrients in the river, often from runoff. It causes dense plant growth or animal death because of a lack of oxygen
  3. Tainting of fish and wildlife flavor
  4. Restrictions on drinking water consumption, or taste and odor
  5. Degradation of fish and wildlife populations
  6. Beach closings
  7. Fish tumors or other deformities
  8. Degradation of aesthetics
  9. Bird or animal deformities or reproduction problems
  10. Added costs to agriculture or industry
  11. Degradation of flora and fauna at the bottom of the river
  12. Degradation of plankton consisting of small plants or animals
  13. Restriction on dredging activities
  14. Loss of fish and wildlife habitat

GARY — The Grand Calumet River has the most problems of any river in the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.Cleanup has progressed slowly since the river was designated as one of the nation’s worst in 1987. Locals say it could take several decades before the river is restored to its pre-industrial state and can be a source of recreation for region residents, but several proposals are in the works

Municipalities in the region used the river as a sewer for their waste. For about a century, steel mills and treatment plants have spewed untold amounts of heavy metals, pesticides, bacteria and pollutants that can cause cancer in humans into the river.

Today, elevated levels of mercury, lead, cadmium and polychlorinated biphenyls lie buried in the Grand Cal to a depth of up to 11.5 feet below ground surface, according to the EPA. The river also has problems with oil and grease and too little oxygen. EPA estimates that the Grand Calumet River and Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal contain 5 million to 10 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment up to 20 feet deep.

What else contributes to the ailments of the Grand Cal?

Fifteen combined sewer overflows discharge an estimated 11 billion gallons of raw wastewater into the harbor and river, according to the EPA. About 57 percent of that is discharged within eight miles of Lake Michigan, which contributes to E. coli contamination nearby, EPA says. Bacteria are the main reason for beach closings.

Stormwater runoff and water leached out from 11 waste disposal and storage sites located within 0.2 miles of the river continue to degrade water quality.

Five Superfund sites, the most contaminated places in the nation, are located in the area. So are 423 hazardous waste sites. And more than 150 leaking underground storage petroleum tanks. Air pollution and contaminated groundwater also affect the river, EPA says.

Today, about 90 percent of the river consists of wastewater from industry and sewage from municipal treatment plants, EPA says.

When officials assess the health of a river, they judge it based on 14 possible “beneficial uses,” such as whether people can swim in the river or eat fish from it and whether the river has the variety of bugs that would be expected in similar places.

The Grand Calumet is the only river in the United States that’s impaired in all 14 possible ways, said Gary Gulezian, director of EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office.

The Grand Calumet River and the Indiana Harbor Ship Canal were identified in 1987 as an “area of concern.”

Read more…

Thomas The Water I Drink

More Lessig

March 8th, 2010

Lawrence Lessig is a kind of category upon himself.

Thomas Misc

National Trust For Historic Preservation

March 8th, 2010

Marktown - East Chicago Indiana

Marktown - East Chicago Indiana

[ Marktown Historic District ]

As proposed, the federal budget would slash funding for National Heritage Areas by 50% and completely eliminate two key preservation programs – Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America. The reality is this funding matters now more than ever, and not just because these programs protect and preserve our national heritage.

Saving America’s Treasures
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Thomas Case Studies

Region Rat: Regional Expressions

March 8th, 2010

In My Studio: Four Charrettes - Frameworks

March 3rd, 2010

I will be participating in Paul Sargent’s “Precious Cargo” show in Buffalo this month.

Precious Cargo
March 18 – May 15, 2010
University at Buffalo Art Gallery
Opening Reception: March 18, 5 – 7pm
Screening Event: May 14, 2010
Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center

Precious Cargo is an exhibition of contemporary art and design projects addressing the flow of goods and services in an interdependent post-global world.  Organized by multidisciplinary artist Paul Lloyd Sargent, works in this exhibition critique and complicate such binary oppositions as: inter/national vs. regional/local transport, [interdependent] global trade vs. [self-sufficient] local trade, supply chain vs. disposal chain, resource exhaustion vs. sustainable culture, consumption vs. reuse, resource vs. commodity, and more.  This is the second exhibition in an annual Artist in Residence program in which artists are invited to transform the gallery space over the duration of the exhibition run, providing audiences an opportunity to engage the artist-at-work and witness the transformation of the gallery over time.  Sargent will be working in the gallery on March 20, 30 & 31 and April 1, 6, 7 & 8 constructing “Not To Scale,” a working relief map of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway made entirely from found objects illustrating the lock system, canals, and waterways necessary for travel from the Atlantic Ocean to ports along each of the Great Lakes.

Contributing works in the UB Art Gallery will be:
The Center for Land Use Interpretation(CLUI)
The Center for Urban Pedagogy(CUP)
Compass Group working in the MRCC
Thomas Frank
Chris Jordan
Stella Marrs
Mary Mattingly
Lize Mogel
Stephanie Rothenberg
Sam Sebren
The Waterpod®
Alex Young
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Thomas East Chicago Portrait Series, In My Studio