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[ The Great Lakes ] Death Watch

September 8th, 2011 No comments

[ Lake Erie Death Watch ] By Barry Yeoman for the NRDC

Brought back from the brink once before, a Great Lake again faces biological collapse

What would it mean to lose one of our Great Lakes? The environmental and economic calamity could devastate the region’s tourism, sport fishing industry, drinking water supply, and wildlife, and could also take a toll on human health. And there would be plenty of blame to go around, from changing agricultural methods to inattentive politicians to weaknesses in our nation’s bedrock environmental protections — many of which can partially trace their existence to concern over Lake Erie in the first place.

Erie is the most fertile of the Great Lakes: It contains only 2 percent of their water but 50 percent of their fish. Its biological abundance, and its location in a densely settled corner of the Midwest, make the prospect of collapse all the more frightening. If conditions grow worse, imploding native fish populations could decimate Lake Erie’s recreational fishing industry. (Fishing generates $7 billion a year throughout the Great Lakes.) The water supply for 11 million people could become undrinkable without expensive treatment. And blue-green algae, linked to liver cancer in China and fatal poisonings in Brazil, could pose a grave threat to people here, too, particularly if ingested.

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[ BP’s Citizen Advisor ]

December 30th, 2010 No comments

[ TRI ] “Justice in the Air”

December 30th, 2010 No comments

[ Justice in the Air ] tracks toxic data from America’s Industries and Companies to Our States, Cities, and Neighborhoods.

And examines who breaths a disproportionate share of toxic air and who is releasing them.

Links on company names below lead to detailed company reports.

East Chicago Companies in Orange

Rank

Corporation

Toxic score
(pounds released
x toxicity x
population exposure)

Minority share of health risk

Low-income share of health risk

1

E.I. du Pont de Nemours

285,661

36.0%

17.3%

2

Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)

213,159

32.0%

22.5%

3

Dow Chemical

189,673

42.7%

13.%0

4

Bayer Group

172,773

24.3%

6.8%

5

Eastman Kodak

162,430

26.2%

13.4%

6

General Electric

149,061

32.4%

13.4%

7

Arcelor Mittal

134,573

61.6%

24.9%

8

US Steel

129,123

36.8%

17.8%

9

ExxonMobil

128,758

69.1%

25.4%

10

AK Steel Holding

101,428

7.9%

17.8%

11

Eastman Chemical

98,432

9.9%

25.4%

12

Duke Energy

93,174

20.3%

16.9%

13

ConocoPhillips

91,993

34.7%

15.1%

14

Precision Castparts

87,500

15.8%

9.8%

15

Alcoa

85,983

20.3%

15.2%

16

Valero Energy

83,993

59.9%

12.8%

17

Ford Motor

75,360

24.6%

11.7%

18

General Motors

73,248

29.5%

19.8%

19

Goodyear

67,632

27.3%

11.2%

20

E.ON

65,579

21.6%

15.6%

21

Matsushita Electric Indl

65,346

54.6%

15.7%

22

Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold

63,911

62.1%

13.2%

23

Apollo Mgt. (Hexion Specialty Chemicals)

63,880

40.2%

13.1%

24

Avery Dennison

62,740

37.7%

14.8%

25

BASF

60,984

31.9%

13.3%

26

Owens Corning

59,609

42.6%

9.7%

27

Dominion Resources

58,642

29.3%

15.9%

28

Allegheny Technologies

58,375

8.3%

14.2%

29

BP

54,336

54.7%

11.3%

30

Honeywell International

50,417

42.1%

13.1%

31

International Paper

49,385

30.6%

16.2%

32

Ashland

43,492

30.7%

18.9%

33

Constellation Energy

42,972

35.5%

11.2%

34

Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG)

41,773

57.0%

16.5%

35

AES

39,789

29.8%

15.1%

36

Progress Energy

38,027

24.0%

11.2%

37

Nucor

36,963

51.3%

21.2%

38

United Technologies

36,526

30.6%

7.6%

39

Timken

36,047

17.6%

17.4%

40

Berkshire Hathaway

35,285

37.8%

13.2%

41

SPX

34,559

39.8%

11.2%

42

Royal Dutch Shell

34,556

43.5%

13.8%

43

Southern Co

33,577

33.6%

12.5%

44

Allegheny Energy

31,539

10.2%

14.1%

45

American Electric

31,364

9.3%

124%

46

Reliant Energy

30,821

14.0%

10.7%

47

Boeing

30,453

33.7%

13.6%

48

General Dynamics

30,337

69.0%

20.9%

49

Occidental Petroleum

30,069

43.6%

16.9%

50

KeySpan

29,008

53.7%

17.8%

51

Lyondell Chemical

28,591

33.6%

14.9%

52

Sunoco

27,851

33.5%

16.6%

53

Anheuser-Busch Cos

27,032

41.0%

16.7%

54

Ball

25,709

38.5%

14.8%

55

Deere & Co

25,346

19.9%

15.6%

56

Procter & Gamble

25,238

41.2%

16.1%

57

Tesoro

24,708

24.6%

10.0%

58

Temple-Inland

24,537

47.0%

20.1%

59

Pfizer

24,508

38.3%

19.8%

60

Rowan Cos.

24,389

46.2%

21.6%

61

Leggett & Platt

23,870

28.2%

12.6%

62

Northrop Grumman

23,798

56.6%

22.6%

63

Weyerhaeuser

22,708

23.0%

17.1%

64

Rohm and Haas

22,489

40.9%

16.5%

65

Tyco International

22,115

32.7%

9.3%

66

Terex

21,730

17.3%

9.4%

67

Corning

20,942

17.6%

12.6%

68

Exelon

20,811

33.6%

13.6%

69

Fortune Brands

20,583

19.5%

8.0%

70

FirstEnergy

20,441

16.8%

10.0%

71

Suncor Energy

20,378

45.3%

12.9%

72

Crown Holdings

19,447

30.5%

14.3%

73

Masco

18,572

6.7%

12.0%

74

ThyssenKrupp Group

18,133

21.7%

12.1%

75

Textron

17,443

33.6%

13.6%

76

Sony

16,426

12.5%

5.3%

77

Mirant

16,337

42.4%

9.2%

78

RAG

16,080

52.9%

18.4%

79

Alcan

15,231

10.8%

12.1%

80

Huntsman

15,119

47.7%

20.4%

81

Bridgestone

14,952

15.9%

10.1%

82

Danaher

14,621

23.9%

15.7%

83

PPG Industries

14,300

23.2%

13.0%

84

Hess

13,687

66.5%

26.4%

85

Akzo Nobel

13,453

58.6%

25.2%

86

Dynegy Inc.

13,439

25.6%

10.1%

87

Federal-Mogul

13,435

28.0%

13.6%

88

Stanley Works

13,196

32.1%

10.2%

89

Komatsu

13,132

30.9%

19.2%

90

Saint-Gobain

13,012

38.6%

16.7%

91

PPL

12,972

11.6%

8.0%

92

Caterpillar

12,924

24.2%

11.0%

93

Smurfit-Stone Container

12,868

29.9%

12.0%

94

Siemens

12,649

32.8%

12.8%

95

MeadWestvaco

12,465

40.9%

18.3%

96

Marathon Oil

12,454

33.0%

14.3%

97

Emerson Electric

12,258

13.1%

15.1%

98

Northeast Utilities

11,115

11.7%

7.9%

99

National Oilwell Varco

11,042

78.0%

26.5%

100

Dana

10,638

36.2%

17.6%

Toxic 100 firms

4,713,588

34..%

15.2%

Other 500-list firms

459,798

31.1%

13.3%

Non-500-list firms

9,403,595

35.2%

15.5%

All Firms

14,576,982

34.8%

15.3%

U.S. population

31.8%

12.9%

Explanatory notes:

  • Toxic score: Quantity of air releases and incineration transfers reported in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory for the year 2005, adjusted for dispersion through the environment, toxicity of chemicals and number of people impacted. Adjustments are from the EPA’s Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators project. For details, see the technical notes.
  • ‘Minority share of health risk’ and ‘Low-income share of health risk’ express the share of the total RSEI human health risk from toxic air pollution of a particular company borne by minorities or low-income people.  For details, see Ash and Boyce, “Measuring Corporate Environmental Justice Performance.”
  • Coverage: This table presents the highest toxic scores for corporations that appear on certain Fortune, Forbes, and/or Standard & Poor’s top company lists in the year 2007. Individual facilities are assigned to corporate parents on the basis of the most current information on the ownership structure.

Categories: The Air I Breath

[ Climate Change ] EPA Sets CO2 Standards

December 23rd, 2010 3 comments

[ EPA ] Sets CO2 Standards for Power Plants and Oil Refineries

Power plants account for more than 2.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, more than any other industry.  Oil refineries clock in as the second largest source, with emissions equivalent to more than 200 million tons of carbon dioxide (mainly a mixture of carbon dioxide and methane).

via NRDC Switchboard [ David Doniger’s Blog ]

List of Coal Plants in the US via [ Wikipedia ]

Rank State # of Plants Total
Capacity
(MW)
2005 Power
Prod.
(GWh)
1 Texas 20 21,238 148,759
2 Ohio 35 23,823 137,457
3 Indiana 31 21,551 123,985
4 Pennsylvania 40 20,475 122,093
5 Illinois 32 17,565 92,772
6 Kentucky 21 16,510 92,613
7 West Virginia 19 15,372 91,601
8 Georgia 16 14,594 87,624
9 North Carolina 25 13,279 78,854
10 Missouri 24 11,810 77,714
11 Michigan 33 12,891 71,871
12 Alabama 11 12,684 70,144
13 Florida 15 11,382 66,378
14 Tennessee 13 10,290 59,264
15 Wyoming 10 6,168 43,421
16 Wisconsin 28 7,116 41,675
17 Arizona 7 5,861 40,730
18 South Carolina 16 6,469 40,545
19 Oklahoma 7 5,720 36,446
20 Utah 8 5,080 36,008
21 Colorado 15 5,309 35,671
22 Virginia 22 6,208 35,099
23 Iowa 28 6,506 34,729
24 Kansas 8 5,472 34,595
25 Minnesota 21 5,670 34,336
26 New Mexico 4 4,382 29,990
27 North Dakota 10 4,246 29,813
28 Maryland 9 5,236 29,782
29 Arkansas 3 3,958 23,356
30 Louisiana 4 3,764 23,190
31 New York 18 4,273 22,018
32 Nebraska 8 3,194 20,175
33 Nevada 3 2,769 18,412
34 Montana 4 2,536 17,844
35 Mississippi 5 2,696 16,661
36 Massachusetts 6 1,776 12,095
37 New Jersey 7 2,237 12,090
38 Washington 1 1,460 10,483
39 Delaware 4 1,082 5,185
40 New Hampshire 2 609 4,097
41 Connecticut 2 614 3,995
42 Oregon 1 601 3,588
43 California 8 439 3,024
44 South Dakota 2 481 2,999
45 Hawaii 1 203 1,548
46 Maine 1 103 754
47 Alaska 5 118 650
48 Idaho 2 19 51
49 Rhode Island 0 0 0
50 Vermont 0 0 0

List of Oil refineries in the US via [ Wikipedia ]
Alabama

Alaska

Arkansas

California

Delaware

Georgia

Hawaii

Illinois

Indiana

Read more…

[ COP16 ] Democracy Now

December 9th, 2010 No comments

via [ Democracy Now ] COP16 in Cancun, December 9, 2010

[ Tar Sands ] On the Great Lakes

December 2nd, 2010 No comments

via [ Sierra Club ] Toxic Tar Sands: Indiana

Carolyn Marsh, Whiting Indiana

Carolyn Marsh’s house in Whiting, Indiana, just southeast of Chicago, sits within walking distance of both Lake Michigan and the BP Whiting Refinery. One is beautiful and the other, Marsh says, looks like “a death trap zone.” Now BP is pushing to expand the capacity of its refinery to process tar sands crude.

The synthetic heavy crude produced from tar sands is laden with more toxins than conventional oil. If the expansion goes through, people like Marsh, who live in the shadow of these refineries, will face increased exposure to heavy metals, sulfur, and carcinogens like benzene.

After learning of BP’s plans to pump tar sands pollution into the air and her community, Marsh was galvanized to action. She joined a legal challenge to the oil giant’s air permit.

Marsh believes BP’s permit application dramatically underestimates the potential air pollution from their tar sands expansion. The company understated the amount of toxic gases vented from flares, claiming they would only be released occasionally. But flaring will only increase as the refinery handles more of the world’s dirtiest oil.

Flaring is only one part of the refinery’s massive polluting process, and air pollution is not the only threat that Marsh fears from the tar sands expansion.

“We don’t want Lake Michigan to become another oil industry sacrifice zone. Quality of life here in Indiana should not suffer for foreign oil profits.”

The refinery is already one of the largest sources of mercury pollution in Lake Michigan. Mercury is a

Tar sands crude spells disaster for clean water in every step of its life cycle. If tar sands operations continue to expand in America, Lake Michigan will be exposed to the same types of contamination spreading through the once pristine water sources along the Athabasca River in Alberta, where tar sands are mined.

A recent study published by leading Canadian scientists found elevated concentrations of toxic heavy metals including arsenic, lead and mercury around and downstream from tar sands mining operations, suggesting a strong correlation between tar sands mining and toxic discharges to water resources.These poisonous impurities are released in refining as well, and discharges from BP’s tar sands expansion will bring the pollution of the Athabasca directly to Lake Michigan.

Marsh believes the citizen struggle to stop the tar sands expansion is her community’s best line of defense, and she has committed to the fight. She has little faith in state regulators, whom she believes are too complicit with toxic conditions created by BP’s refinery. Marsh knows what’s at stake.

Lake Michigan, which provides drinking water for 10 million people, will be exposed to new levels of contamination from particulate emissions and huge increases in ammonia and other discharges into the water from the refinery’s tar sands expansion.potent neurotoxin that causes severe fetal damage, impaired motor function, and kidney and respiratory damage in humans. “We don’t want Lake Michigan to become another oil industry sacrifice zone. Quality of life here in Indiana should not suffer for foreign oil profits,” she says.

{More Indigenous Territory has been Claimed by Maps than by Guns}

December 2nd, 2010 4 comments

via [ OurWorld 2.0 ] “Mapping critical politics: a land use expert talks tar sands” By Max Ritts

The late geographer Bernard Nietschmann once observed that “more indigenous territory has been claimed by maps than by guns”. Whether or not you agree that more can be taken back with maps, it is hard to overestimate the role of representations in the shaping of collective understandings and modes of possible intervention in political struggle.

Land use maps can have a number of applications. In many countries, they are prepared by government agencies, for a variety of reasons, or by individual groups and organizations. Often, land use maps are made publicly available for the benefit of those interested in land use trends. These maps can also become important in zoning and property disputes. Read more…

{ TAR SANDS } The Other End of the Pipeline

June 25th, 2010 No comments

The Other end of BP’s pipeline – From the Alberta TAR SANDS to BP’s Whiting Refinery.

via [ Democracy Now ] Indigenous Groups Lead Struggle Against Canada’s Tar Sands

{ Principles } Pre >&< Post { cautionary }

June 2nd, 2010 No comments
  • Pre-cautionary:

if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action.

  • Post-cautionary:

Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, the lack of full scientific certainty shall be used as a reason for not implementing cost-effective measures until after the environmental degradation has actually occurred

Categories: Environment

{ BP } How Will BP’s Earth Day Disaster Impact Expansion Plans Here?

May 21st, 2010 No comments

via [ WBEZ – Chicago Public Radio ] Worldview Segment “Will the Gulf Spill Affect BP Investment in Chicago Area? By Michael Puente.

Officials with the oil giant BP say it’s recovering about 3-thousand barrels of oil a day from that huge leak in the Gulf of Mexico. The company is spending millions to stop the leak and may have to shell out billions more in cleanup costs and economic losses to the region.

Closer to home, in Northwest Indiana, there’s concern that all this expense may affect BP’s multi-billion-dollar investment in its Whiting, Indiana refinery, just a few short miles from Chicago’s city limits.

The Gulf catastrophe also has emboldened BP’s local critics about the company’s environmental record here.

WBEZ’s Michael Puente brings us this report from our Northwest Indiana bureau in Chesterton

Michael’s Interview with me comes toward the end at the 6:10 minute point

Calumet Icon: Marian Byrnes

May 20th, 2010 No comments

Early this morning, Marian Byrnes, the longtime environmental activist of the Calumet Region passed away.

“Her incredible legacy will be remembered in all of our hearts, and future generations will hear stories about her strength, vision, wisdom, and compassion for nature. Without her endless pursuit of open space protection in the Calumet region, many acres of invaluable wetlands, prairies and forests would surely have been lost. A debt of gratitude is owed to her for her years of dedication and service to both people and nature. I am simply humbled by all she accomplished.”

– Nicole Kamins

Categories: Environment

{ BP } Live / Work Conditions

May 20th, 2010 2 comments

25-years-ago BP abandoned its professional training facilities in Robertsdale, donating the facilities to Calumet College, and moved to a 200-acre LEED certified campus in Naperville. They did so because they could no longer attract professionals to this location due to Quality of Life issues. Quality of Life issues they had a major hand in creating.

Today BP’s professional staff enjoy the healthy work environment of a green campus with ample buffering between office buildings and roadways, while residents adjacent to the BP’s refinery are not so fortunate. Today BP is constructing a whole new facility at their East Chicago / Whiting Refinery to refine the “No Good, Very Bad, Dirty” heavy sour crude from the Alberta Tars Sands and to do so they are constructing 6 cokers directly across the street from the Marktown Historic District where more than 120 children under the age of 18 live, play and sleep.

BP likes to refer to the project as a modernization or retooling project. This is an important distinction to them because to call it what is, a “new facility” or “new construction,” would trigger all sorts of regulatory reviews and permitting, including a new-source review requiring an environmental and health risk assessment. I am not certain if there has ever been a risk assessment done on the impacts the BP refinery has the neighboring communities. I don’t know if that is because they have been grandfathered in or what. I just know that new construction ought to trigger a new source review and that is not happening.

For labor purposes BP calls the project a “maintenance project.” Thus they bypass all sorts of labor rules in terms of pay, scheduling, and work conditions as would be the case for new construction. Let’s make this simple, if I tore down my house to construct a brand new home, I could not go to City Hall seeking a maintenance permit for the new construction. I would be required to seek the proper permits and follow requirements for new construction. This is just one way in which BP has been cutting corners here to save themselves costs. I can’t say what other cost cutting measures BP is making, but I do know they did not do this without the aid of regional leadership. I wonder what our regional leadership is thinking now as we learn more about the costs of BP practices to the gulf region.

This is a good environmental justice example of how benefits-without-risks are created and separated from risks-without-benefits in a free-market economy. Free-market corporations and present day land use policies have a very intentional consequent of accumulating wealth and benefits in one location while clustering risks and blight in another. All too often the geography of separation is as clear as the “Northshore” and “Southshore” designations.

It makes me wonder if anyone working in office complexes similar to the BP complex in Naperville feel any sense of culpability for the lives negatively impacted on the other side of their company’s production line. What about Kraft Foods? what about Grainger? what about Cargill? and U.S. Steel? and ArcelorMittal? Boeing? GATX? or Ryerson?

[ Wikipedia list of Corp HQ in the Chicago Met area ]

Compounding problems, BP extracted an additional $165 million in tax abatements from the mostly poor people of Marktown and East Chicago. They did this behind closed doors, and without a single public hearing, all while lecturing the region on “Good Government.” Despite efforts, residents, who pay the highest property taxes in the state at 7.4%, still do not know that they gave up $165 million to BP. BP accomplished this feat by spreading the wealth to voting districts outside the plume of negative externalities while taking advantage of their partnerships with corrupt local political enterprises under the plume. BP is well known for this form of philanthropic activity and I could go on about “to whom” and “how much” was given, but that will have to be for another post. Let these two examples suffice for now.

Three years ago a $25-million donation from BP capped Phase 1 of a three-part expansion and renovation campaign. Since 2002, BP had agreed to more than $125 million in state and regional legal settlements over pollution problems.

Art museums are often the beneficiaries of largess from corporations wishing to polish their sometimes less-than-gleaming image. (Cigarette, anyone?) Oops.

via [ LA Times ] BP Grand Entrance at LACMA looking not-quite-so-grand

In 2009 BP gave to Napperville for $1 an extremely expensive Hydrogen fueling station with multipliers of positive effects.

The Land I Use: Making an Environmental Inventory of East Chicago

April 6th, 2010 3 comments

Categories: The Land I Use

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

March 25th, 2010 5 comments

[ 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…

Categories: The Land I Use

Environment: Tom Anderson Resigns

March 24th, 2010 No comments

via [ Post-Trib ]

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

Categories: Environment, Regional

The Water I Drink: Grand Cal Toxins Excavated

March 24th, 2010 No comments

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…

Categories: The Water I Drink

Regional Rats: The Grand Calumet River

March 8th, 2010 1 comment

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.”

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Categories: The Water I Drink

View of Lake Michigan: Twilight on S. Route 41

February 2nd, 2010 No comments
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Categories: View of Lake Michigan

View of Lake Michigan {Regional Rats}: Increased Industrial Demand

January 29th, 2010 1 comment

During these difficult economic times there are many losers, including our land, water, air, biology and the local population. This is especially amplified by the more than 40-years since the Industry’s fortunes where coupled with those of the community’s. The results of this decoupling can be horribly seen in the our cultural landscape of existing conditions,

This is what I see when I look at existing conditions and opportunities along the southern shores of Lake Michigan here in East Chicago. Below you will find someone else’s vision which is limited to reindustrialize our lakefront.

Existing Conditions:

  • A Gated Industrial Community
  • Arguably the most polluted waters in the country – the Indiana Harbor Shipping Canal (IHSC)
    • Joerse Beach: most contaminated beach in the Great Lakes and third most in the country.
  • Arguably the most polluted air-shed in the country – Lake county indiana ranking as the 9th most polluted air-shed in the country with the sources of pollution concentrated on East Chicago’s lakefront
  • >80% of East Chicago’s land-use is dedicated to heavy industry – ~50 of these industrial lands are out of productive use and considered contaminated, e.g., brownfields
    • 14% of East Chicago’s land-use is dedicated Residential – ~17% of these residential properties are apart of a superfund site.
Opportunities:
  • Immediate access to the world’s greatest freshwater resource
  • Adjacent to Chicago
  • Diversified land-use and therefore a diversified water-use, air-shed use resulting in a diversified regional economy
And a Plan to address the impairments of existing conditions and realize the opportunities – The Marquette Plan.

In contrast this is what Bill Nagel of the NWI Times, the Forum, Nirpc, and to a real degree many of our environmental groups, such as Save the Dunes, Lee Botts founder of the Lake Michigan Federation, are promoting.

< How dare I include prominent environmentalist as obstacles to environmental, and economic progress>

via [ NWI Times ]

“Blast furnace restart could jump-start 750 jobs – MARKET DEMAND PROMPTS MITTAL TO FIRE UP INDIANA HARBOR WORKS NO. 4 FURNACE” by

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{Regional Rats} Grand Calumet Sediment Spill

January 21st, 2010 No comments

via [ Post-Trib ] “Hauler of no help, cleanup crew says” by Teresa Auch Schultz

HAMMOND — Officials are at a loss to know what, if any, pollutants were in a spill on 165th Street on Monday because the hauling company doesn’t have the necessary records, an official said.

The spill happened when a truck carrying sediment from the Grand Calumet dredging project was cut off by another driver and hit the breaks around 11 a.m. Monday on 165th between Columbia Avenue and Indianapolis Boulevard, said Ron Novak, Hammond environmental manager director.

The material in the truck shifted and spilled onto the road, causing police to shut it down for about three to four hours, Hammond Police Lt. Rich Hoyda said.

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Categories: Environment