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

Our Visual Culture: Framing Port-au-Prince

March 25th, 2010

Infographic: CNT Develops “H+T Affordability Index”

March 25th, 2010

The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) has begun to map out housing costs by factoring in transportation. We are not far from indexing other costs associated the overhead that comes with choosing a community in the purchase of a home (property or sales tax, produce, local services, health care, education, industrial externalities - pollution, etc). It is only a matter of time that a rating system based on such indexes becomes widely adopted.

This doesn’t bode well for regions that continue developing along the last centuries model of outer suburban development. At some time a comprehensive index will be developed to help home buyers make informed decision. And once this occurs it will be much easier to make regional comparisons. Perhaps regional leaders ought to ready their communities for this new playing field on which to compete.

According to the H+T Affordability Index Lake and Porter counties in Indiana (where I call home) don’t measure-up so well.

In the lefthand map above, the yellow areas show where housing is less than 30 percent of average income and the blue areas show where it’s more than 30 percent. On the righthand side, the yellow areas show where housing costs plus transportation costs are less than 45 percent and the blue areas show where that combined measure is more than 45 percent. It’s an indirect comparison, but as you can see, a lot of places look cheap when you just look at housing (on the left), and that picture changes when you factor in transportation.

To make matters worse if you factor in the additional costs of living in Lake County, it simply doesn’t make sense for a home buyer to burden themselves with such overwhelming costs.

Additionally, how would Lake County measure-up if we also factored in costs associated with industrial pollution?

  • Lake county’s air-shed ranks 9th of 3140 counties as the most polluted.
  • Lake Counties waterways are also some of the most polluted in the country.

What if this index was combined into an Energy Performance Scorecard (EPS) for home buyers to make a more accurate assessment of the value of a potential purchase? Shouldn’t all costs associated with the purchase of a home be made available to the buyer as part of disclosure.

Thomas Case Studies, Economics, Energy, Environment, Information Graphics

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

Our Visual Culture: & The Way We Live

March 14th, 2010

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: Google’s Trendalyzer

March 12th, 2010

via [ Information Aesthetics ]

After Google acquired Trendalyzer from the Gapminder foundation several years ago, a simple Chart API and more powerful Data Visualization API appeared that allowed for the generation of powerful, interactive information dashboards. More recently, Google added visualization graphs to search results. Other valuable visualization jewels in the now impressive Google treasure collection include: Google Insights for SearchGoogle Trends,Google Wonder WheelGoogle Flu Trends and Google Zeitgeist.

Read more at: Google Blog

A refresher on Gapminder

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

Infographics: Human Geography of Cave Drawings

March 10th, 2010

via [ Cool Infographics ] from the [ NewScientist ] The Writing on the Cave Wall By Kate Ravilious

This article addresses the geography of the earliest forms of Human mark making. I’ve recently posted several similar issues on Human Geography.

Thomas Information Graphics

What I Am Looking At: Theaster Gates

March 10th, 2010

[ Theaster Gates ]

I need to get out of my cave more often.

I had a brief chance encounter with Theaster Gates today. I found myself sitting in the University of Chicago Booth Business School cafeteria this morning working on the Graphic for the previous post. While working I overheard pieces of a conversation behind me. I thought I heard the gentleman talk about issues he was grappling with between being an Artist and an Urban Planner. Oh, this caught my attention, and I couldn’t help but interrupt his conversation and introduce myself. It turned out to be Theaster Gates. For some reason I couldn’t remember his name, until later when I realized that I was recently looking at his work at the 2010 Whitney Biennial and did a post about the “Newly Revitalized” Whitney Biennial.

  • Audio: Artist Connect Lecture { The Art Institute of Chicago } November, 3, 2007
  • August 2, 2009 Interview with Kathryn Born of Bad with Sports

Thomas What I am Looking at