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.


  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.


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


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

Economy of Corruption: Lawrence Lessig

March 24th, 2010


Thomas Misc

The Water I Drink + The Energy I Use

March 20th, 2010

oil + water conference: The Case of Santa Barbara and Southern California

This conference will explore the ways in which oil and water have created and transformed the history and culture of Santa Barbara and Southern California. Topics will include the Santa Barbara oil spill; the impact of oil on Hollywood; agriculture and marine life; the Owens River Valley; the Salton Sea; cars and car culture; and environmental histories and their lessons.

Thomas Environment

Infographics: The NCAA Men Basketball Tournament Brackets

March 19th, 2010

via [ ESPN ] Even though I’m on the road I still need to keep in touch with reality - The NCAA Men Basketball Tournament Brackets.

Thomas Information Graphics

What I Am Looking At: Stephen Addiss

March 16th, 2010

Vietnamese Folk Song (Pham Duy/Stephen Addiss)

In the early 1980’s, I took an Asian Art survey course offered by Stephen Addiss at the University of Kansas, called “Art and the Human Spirit.” It was one of the most amazing and influential courses I’d taken. Since then I’ve used the idea of “Art and the Human Spirit” as a kind of binding agent for the seemly different activities I have engaged.

Stephen Addiss is an exemplar artist. He is a composer, musician, poet, painter, and Japanese art historian. he studied with John Cage while attending the New School for Social Research in New York, from 1958 to 1960.

Addiss’ work has been shown in numerous one-person and group exhibitions, including the Queens Museum, St. Louis Museum of Art, the University of Virginia Art Museum, and museums in Korea, China, and Taiwan. Additionally, he is the author of thirty-five books, including How to Look at Japanese Art, The Art of Zen, The Art of Chinese Calligraphy, and 77 DancesJapanese Calligraphy by Poets, Monks, and Scholars, 1568 - 1868.

[ Smithsonian Folkways: Stephen Addiss and Bill Crofut ]

You can find limited preview of several of his books at Google Books

[ Tao te ching ]

Thomas What I am Looking at

The Land I Use: Easterly’s Pile

March 15th, 2010

via [ Post-trib ] “Toxicity of pile remains undetermined at site - New test results show waste more toxic than first indicated” By Gitte Laasby

<Drawing Connections>

It ought to be noted that Tom Easterly, IDEM’s commissioner, served as Superintendent for Environmental Services at Bethlehem Steel’s Burns Harbor division. Additionally James Flannery the Executive Director of the Northwest Indiana Quality of Life Council (I can feel the irony), served as the Environment Manager for AcelorMittal and continues to serve on the State of Indiana’s Water Pollution Control Board. Jim also served as Board President for the East Chicago Waterway Management District (E.C.W.M.D.) while I served as it’s Executive Director (how all things lead back to East Chicago).

* The E.C.W.M.D. oversees the Indiana Harbor Shipping Canal (IHSC), the most polluted waterway in the country surrounded by ArcelorMittal, by far its largest user. After more than 35-years since the Clean Water Act was enacted there has never been a project to clean up the waterway. The only project initiated is an USACE project to dredge the canal for navigational purposes only.

</Drawing Connections>

BURNS HARBOR — More than a year and a half after ArcelorMittal first applied for a landfill in Burns Harbor, the company has not disclosed the toxics in all the waste to be landfilled.

The waste — also known as Easterly’s Pile — has been dumped in piles up to three stories tall on open ground a couple hundred feet from Lake Michigan and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for more than a decade.

What is certain is that some of the waste destined for the landfill is more toxic than ArcelorMittal first indicated.

New test results obtained by the Post-Tribune show the waste is one step short of being considered hazardous because of high contents of lead and cadmium.

Read more…

Thomas The Land I Use, The Water I Drink

What I am Looking At: Mark Lombardi

March 15th, 2010

Wikipedia [ Mark Lombardi ]

NPR: The ‘Conspiracy’ Art of Mark Lombardi - Late Artist’s Swirling Diagrams Chart Scandalous Relationships

I was introduced to Mark Lombardi’s work while I lived in Brooklyn in 1999. During this time I was designing content management systems and user cases for the online Medical Education market. Anyhow, the visio user case scenarios that I was designing were similar in structure to the work of Mark Lombardi and because of this I became instantly fascinated with his work. Unfortunately, he committed suicide in 2000.

Thomas What I am Looking at

Infographics: Center of the World

March 12th, 2010

via [ Radical Cartography ] Graphic by Bill Rankin 2006

Thomas Information Graphics

Infographics: Energy Performance Score (EPS) for Homes

March 12th, 2010

via [ Jetson Green ]

In the Pacific Northwest, momentum is building for the Energy Performance Score, which was conceived by the folks at the Earth Advantage Institute.  The non-profit company, you may recall, published a list of green building trendsfor 2010 and one trend was energy labeling on homes and office buildings.

Thomas Information Graphics

Infographics: Distorting the Food “Supply” Chain

March 10th, 2010

via [ Andrew Sullivan ]

Why are we discussing Food Taxes and Federal Subsidies for Food Production? Because

the federal government already has a tax policy affecting what we eat, and it dramatically distorts the price of our food … and the size of our waists.

Thomas Information Graphics

Case Study For Regional Rats: Downsides of City-County Consolidation

March 10th, 2010

Aaron Renn of the Urbanophile has a valuable series of posts on government consolidation. This is a timely discussion as municipal leaders in Northwest Indiana consider options for cutting costs.

… as a discussion of some of the pros and cons of “big box” vs. “small box” government.

This piece will serve as a warm-up to a forthcoming series on the downsides of the consolidation of US city and county governments

Thomas Case Studies

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

Thomas Case Studies

Region Rat: Regional Expressions

March 8th, 2010

What I Am Looking At & What It Means To Be Human: Daniel Heyman

March 6th, 2010

The Water I Drink: The IHSC Is Feeling Neglected

March 3rd, 2010

via [ EPA ] “EPA Adds Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal to the National Superfund List of Hazardous Waste Sites; Agency will Pursue Polluters to Pay for Comprehensive Cleanup”

(New York, NY) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it has officially placed the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY on its Superfund National Priorities List of the country’s most hazardous waste sites. Since EPA proposed the listing in April 2009, Agency officials have met with government and elected officials, business representatives, representatives of civic organizations, and community members, and reviewed more than 1,300 comments received on its proposal to list the site. The Agency has determined that adding the site to the Superfund list is the best way to clean up the heavily contaminated canal.

“After conducting our own evaluations and consulting extensively with the many people who have expressed interest in the future of the Gowanus Canal and the surrounding area, we have determined that a Superfund designation is the best path to a cleanup of this heavily contaminated and long neglected urban waterway,” said Judith Enck, Regional Administrator. “We plan to continue our work with the same spirit of inclusion and involvement that has already been demonstrated, and thank everyone for their focus on this pollution problem.”

Read more…

Thomas The Water I Drink