Archive

Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

[ The Great Lakes ] Death Watch

September 8th, 2011

[ 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.

.

Thomas Environment, The Water I Drink, What I am Looking at

[ Elemental ] Reevaluating Our Relationship To Water - A Universal Cause

April 26th, 2011

Another account on how East Chicago is connected to what is happening in Northern Alberta (previous account from Henry).

BP and our Economic Development Gurus have put East Chicago on a diet of Tar Sands. I thought it appropriate for you to see how the TAR SANDS are destroying our most vital and fragile resources - The land, the water, the air, and our peoples.

[ Elemental ]

Elemental - Trailer from Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee on Vimeo.

Elemental is a documentary produced and directed by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee. It explores our essential relationship to water, and the fundamental importance of reevaluating that relationship in the face of the global environmental crisis. It is a universal cause told through three stories on three continents, one of which East Chicago is intimately involved.

Eriel Deranger participated in the film and the telling of her story - the story of her people - the story East Chicago is so dependent on for economic development. Eriel is a native Dené from Northern Alberta, Canada. She is a young mother and activist determined to protect the future of her people from the ecological genocide wrought by living downstream from the largest industrial development in the world: the Albertan Tar Sands. I met Eriel in Edmonton last fall.

Remember the “STUFF” BP is piping into our community to refine is more than the land on which she lives - The Tar Sands, it includes Eriel’s Story and the lives of her people. She will tell more…

Thomas Environment, Tar Sands, The Water I Drink

[ Tar Sands ] This Used To Be An Ancient Forest

March 31st, 2011

For the people of East Chicago.

BP and our Economic Development Gurus have put East Chicago on a diet of Tar Sands. I thought it appropriate for you to see what the TAR SANDS are and what East Chicago is so dependent on for ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.

Please listen to Henry. He is a gentle man from the Dene Nation in the Northwest Territories. I recently met him in Edmonton.

Remember the “STUFF” BP is piping into our community to refine is the land on which he lives - The Tar Sands. He will tell more…

Thomas BP / TAR SANDS, Tar Sands

[ The Water I Drink ] Chromium

January 18th, 2011

via [ Post Trib ] “Chromium found in NWI - Jury still out on safe exposure levels, source of chemical” By Gitte Laasby

The cancer-causing chemical made famous in the movie “Erin Brockovich” is finding its way into drinking water in Northwest Indiana — likely at many times the level California scientists consider safe, according to a new report.

Some warn about dangers and blame Northwest Indiana’s steel mills, which discharge thousands of pounds of chromium into Lake Michigan, the source of drinking water for most of the region’s residents. Others say the chromium comes from natural sources and may actually be good for you.

The report by the Environmental Working Group shows levels of chromium in tap water in Lake County averaged 16 to 41 times what California authorities recently suggested is a “safe” level for “bad” chromium.

However, the Northwest Indiana numbers include both “good” and “bad” chromium, and they’re still within the range that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers safe for drinking.

EPA only requires water utilities to test for total chromium, a combination of the “good” chromium (chromium-3) and “bad” chromium (chromium-6, also known as hexavalent chromium.) Good chromium is an essential nutrient often found in multivitamins that regulates glucose metabolism. Bad chromium is carcinogenic.

“It’s difficult to draw conclusions because they’re saying we should have hexavalent chromium at a certain level, but we’re not really testing for that, so it’s hard to say where we are and what’s safe. That’s the big discussion taking place now,” said Mark LeChevallier, director of innovation and environmental stewardship for American Water nationwide.

EPA has set a tap water standard of 100 parts per billion for both kinds of chromium combined.

In Northwest Indiana, the highest level measured in the last six years was 35.4 parts per billion in Cedar Lake, according to the Environmental Working Group. That’s well below the 100 part standard set by EPA, but nearly 600 times the 0.06 parts per billion that California recommends is safe for “bad” chromium.

Indiana American Water — which delivers water to Gary, Burns Harbor, Chesterton, Hobart, Merrillville, Portage, Porter, South Haven, Schererville, Crown Point, Lake Station, New Chicago and Ogden Dunes — has detected chromium in its water only twice since 1999. That was in 2003, when tap water levels were 11 parts per billion in Gary and 10 in Ogden Dunes, said company spokesman Joe Loughmiller.

“We’ve had no detections of total chromium at any of our operations in Indiana last year,” he said.

The utility’s detection limit for combined “good” and “bad” chromium is 7 parts per billion, so anything below that would not show up in tests, he noted.

“We’re detecting total chromium, which is good and bad — or might be all good, who knows?” LeChevallier said.

To the Environmental Working Group, that’s exactly the question. The group has criticized EPA for not setting a legal limit for “bad” chromium in tap water despite a September 2010 review by EPA scientists that said the metal is “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”

“At least 74 million Americans in 42 states drink chromium-polluted tap water, much of it likely in the cancer-causing hexavalent form,” the Working Group said in its report. “Given the scope of exposure and the magnitude of the potential risk, EWG believes the EPA should move expeditiously to establish a legal limit for chromium-6 and require public water suppliers to test for it.”

EPA said its standards are as protective of human health as science warranted when the rules were made.

“EPA’s regulation assumes that the sample is 100 percent chromium-6,” EPA said in a Jan. 11 press release. “This means the current chromium-6 standard has been as protective and precautionary as the science of that time allowed.”

No chromium was found in Porter County, according to the report, but the group said that doesn’t mean there isn’t chromium-6 in the water, only that it wasn’t found above the detection limit, said Leeann Brown, a spokeswoman for the Environmental Working Group.

The report is based on two types of data: Samples taken by volunteers in big cities, including Chicago, tested only for bad chromium. And water quality reports of both good and bad chromium by local utilities averaged over a five-year period and weighted by population, she said.

Unclear if NWI levels are bad

In Chicago, tap water samples showed “bad” chromium levels were 0.18 parts per billion — about three times California’s “safe” level. But there’s no way to tell how large a share of the chromium found in Northwest Indiana is “bad” chromium, Brown said.

“We can’t answer these questions for the nation. We need EPA to do it. From the little we know, this is where we could be finding it,” she said. “There’s no way to give someone (using) a small utility the answers they need. We need someone to step in and require testing and require that this information be articulated to the people buying this water.”

Complicating the matter is that the metal transforms back and forth between good and bad chromium, LeChevallier said. Your stomach can process some, but not all, chromium-6, and chromium in surface water like Lake Michigan can transform when it reacts with oxygen in the air.

“It changes between those two forms,” LeChevallier said. “What is the measurement in water, how stable it is, whether these low levels stay chromium-6 when you ingest it and it goes through your stomach, it’s very complex. It’s hard to know that what you’re measuring is, in fact, having health effects … That’s kind of why EPA is looking at this and taking its time to review the health effects.”

Mills blamed for chromium

Chromium-6 can pollute water through erosion of soil and rock. But it also gets into water supplies after being discharged from steel and pulp mills and metal-plating facilities. That has led some to blame Northwest Indiana’s steel mills for chromium levels in drinking water from Lake Michigan.

The EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory shows that U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal’s four locations in Lake and Porter counties discharged a combined 3,100 pounds of chromium in 2009.

The closest source to Chicago’s water intake is ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor West in East Chicago, which discharged 1,000 pounds of chromium about 10 miles from the intake. ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor is the farthest away, about 25 miles.

“We’d expect to see higher chromium if there’s a discharge from steel mill factories and the like in the area … The reasons in Illinois would be hard to say, although we know from EPA they’re planning much further investigation into this chemical,” said Brown of the Environmental Working Group.

EPA vowed at the end of December to find out how widespread the problem is. On Jan. 11, the agency issued enhanced monitoring guidance recommending where utilities should collect samples, how often they should be collected, and what analytical methods should be used for testing.

That should give consumers more information on how much “bad” chromium is in drinking water, how it transforms and how current treatment methods affect levels of bad chromium in drinking water, EPA said.

LeChevallier said some chromium comes from industries, but he didn’t think mills are the source in Northwest Indiana.

“The low levels we’re finding in the water are probably not coming from industrial effluent. They’re coming naturally from the soils,” he said. “The Environmental Working Group targeted groundwater supplies because that comes from the soil. We rarely find this in surface water supplies because oxygen can react with chromium.”

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management reduced the amount of “bad” chromium that the mills can discharge when it recently renewed their wastewater permits.

Remove it yourself

LeChevallier said his own family drinks tap water from American Water in New Jersey and that he’s not worried because levels of chromium are below the standard EPA set as protective.

Eric Rosenthal, senior vice president of marketing at Culligan water, agreed that most or all municipal water systems are safe to use. However, for those who are worried about it, water systems using reverse osmosis can take remove hexavalent chromium, he said. Stores such as WalMart and Meijer sell water in bulk from such a Culligan system.

Buying your own reverse osmosis system costs $700 and up, he said. It’s possible to rent water treatment systems, which cost at least $10 a month. But regular water filters such as Brita won’t do the trick, he said.

“We would not use a pitcher or a faucet-mounted filter to take chromium-6 out,” he said. “You need … a more sophisticated water purification process,” he said.

Chromium: Is region’s

water at risk?Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Toxics Release Inventory, 2009 dataSource: Environmental Working Group database, www.ewg.org/tap-water/home

Who releases chromium?

Here’s how much chromium facilities in Northwest Indiana release, according to their reports to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

LAKE COUNTY

* U.S. Steel Gary Works: 1,400 pounds air dust, 340 pounds air, 800 pounds surface water.

* ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor West: 1,000 pounds surface water, 51 pounds air.

Harsco Metals, East Chicago: 128 pounds air.

* ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor East: 104 pounds air, 2 pounds surface water.

* U.S. Steel East Chicago Tin Operations, East Chicago: 2 pounds air dust, 65 pounds air.

* LaSalle Steel Co. Fluid Power OPS, Griffith: 5 pounds air.

* North American Refractories Co., Gary: 5 pounds air.

Total: 1,802 pounds surface water, 2,100 pounds air.

PORTER COUNTY

* ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor: 600 pounds air dust, 500 pounds air, 500 pounds surface water.

* U.S. Steel Midwest, Portage: 13 pounds air dust, 14 pounds air, 800 pounds surface water.

* Sequa Coatings Corp. Precoat Metals, Portage: 392 pounds air.

* Beta Steel Corp., Portage: 269 pounds air.

* NIPSCO Bailly: 253 pounds air.

Total: 1,300 pounds surface water, 2.041 pounds air.

Utilities that found chromium

Here are the utilities in Lake County that detected chromium in their finished tap water some time between 2004 and 2009. Listed as the average (av) and maximum (max) levels found and how many people the utility serves.

A detection of chromium does not mean “bad” chromium (chromium-6) was present.

Utilities not included on the list did not detect chromium.

Hammond (87,600 people:) 0.65 av, 3.9 max

East Chicago Water Works (33,001 people): 3.12 av, 7.1 max

St. John Municipal Water Utility (15,025 people): 10 av, 20 max

Twin Lakes Utilities, Inc. (Crown Point, 8,000 people): 2.4 av, 4.8 max

Lowell Water Department (7,705 people): 0.84 av, 4.2 max

Whiting Water Department (5,200 people): 2.77 av, 11 max

Cedar Lake Water Works (1,923 people): 12.23 av, 35.4 max

Fairway Regional Water District (210 people): 1.85 av, 3.7 max

Cedar Lake Mobile Home Park (200 people): 1.6 av, 3.2 max

Chicagoland Christian Village (150 people): 1.75 av, 3.5 max

Noble Oaks Subdivision Water Association (70 people): 1.37 av, 4.1 max

Bremerton Mobile Home Park (48 people): 8.4 av, 16.8 max.

Thomas The Water I Drink

[ What I Am Looking At ] Naomi Klein

January 18th, 2011

This TED Talk of Naomi Klein reminds me that I need to right a wrong. I never gave her work a fair look. Perhaps it was because she focused on some of the same narratives that I did and I held those around my circle in much higher esteem. I need to change that and finally read her book the “Shock Doctrine.”

Regardless, this is a great talk that proportions the right mix of critique in this tragedy: Risk Assessments, The Precautionary Principle (Thanks Carolyn Raffensperger), Hubris, and Feminism.

Thomas Climate Change, Tar Sands, What I am Looking at

[ Energy / Environment ]

January 16th, 2011

via [ Post-Tribune ] “NIPSCO settles with EPA” By Gitte Laasby

The Northern Indiana Public Service Co. will permanently shut down its power plant in Gary, invest about $600 million in pollution controls and pay $13 million in environmental mitigation and penalties as a result of a settlement with the federal government Thursday.

The legal agreement will create jobs and result in reductions in air pollution, specifically of a pollutant that can lead to asthma attacks and cause premature death, one that can aggravate respiratory and heart disease and smells like rotten eggs, and one that contributes to ozone and acid rain.

“The pollution reductions achieved in this settlement will ensure that the people of Indiana and neighboring states have cleaner, healthier air to breathe,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “EPA is committed to advancing its national enforcement initiative to reduce air pollution from the largest sources of emissions.”

At the peak of investment into environmental controls, NIPSCO said as many as 1,000 jobs could be created for local contractors and within the company over the next eight years.

“The installations are staged in. We’re hoping on the skilled craft, we can bring it and hold it for five to eight years. So it’s not that you bring in 1,000 people for six months and then done,” said Kelly Carmichael, director of environmental health and safety for NiSource. “This is an extended period of time, which always helps with the labor force because then people can relocate.”

The agreement comes after the EPA accused NIPSCO in 2004 of installing equipment at its coal-fired power plants in Chesterton (Bailly Station), Michigan City and Wheatfield (R.N. Schahfer) in the 1980s and 1990s without first obtaining the required permits. The equipment was supposed to be the best available to remove pollutants, but was not, EPA said.

The Bailly station at the time was located in an area that had not attained EPA’s air quality standard for ozone or sulfur dioxide — both of which NIPSCO was contributing to by overpolluting. Both are supposed to be reduced as part of the settlement.

The agreement covers all NIPSCO’s plants. As part of the agreement, NIPSCO will install pollution control requirements at the three operating plants and permanently close the Gary plant (Dean H. Mitchell) on North Clark Road, which has been out of operation since an economic downturn in 2002. Read more…

Thomas Energy, Environment

[ Tar Sands ] Henry Basil

January 8th, 2011


Please take a moment and listen to Henry. He is a gentle man of the Dene Nation in the Northwest Territories. I recently met him in Edmonton when I was there for the “Everyone’s Downstream” Conference at the University of Alberta. This documentary was products by Felix Gonzales.

His life is directly linked to ours in East Chicago and Whiting.

BP is mining the surface of his land - The Tar Sands - and piping it to BP’s Whiting Refinery. Please remember the gas you are burning is the land on which he lives - The Tar Sands.

more on [ Tar Sands ] by Felix Gonzales

Thomas BP / TAR SANDS, Tar Sands

[ Energy / Environment ] Refinery Cleanup

January 1st, 2011

Always looking for Case Studies for the future options for BP.

via [ Post Trib ] “Westville Oil Refinery Will Be Cleaned” By Gitte Laasby

WESTVILLE — After more than two decades, one of the nation’s most polluted sites — the former Cam-Or waste oil refinery in Westville — will finally be completely cleaned up around 2013.

It will also mean fewer public health risks from exposure to lead and other dangerous pollutants, and improve the environment, officials said.

The companies were Cam-Or customers and helped generate the waste oil at the now-vacant 15-acre site north of Indiana 2 near U.S. 421.

The site is bordered by private homes to the east and located within the West-Tech Redevelopment Area.

Originally owned by Westville Oil, the facility operated as a refinery for reprocessing waste oil starting in 1934.

From the 1950s to 1978, waste oil discarded at the facility was stored in 11 unlined lagoons, which allowed contaminants to leach into soil, groundwater and Crumpacker Ditch.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducted a cleanup in 1987, treating 9.5 million gallons of contaminated water and removing about 112 drums. The agency later determined more remediation was necessary.

“The pollution at this industrial site occurred over several decades and the clean-up of contaminated soil and groundwater is expected to take years, so it was a complicated process to hammer out a legal agreement to fully fund the remediation of the site,” said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller in a statement.

“This agreement helps resolve a lingering environmental impediment to future economic development and hopefully jobs for the LaPorte and Porter county areas.”

Groundwater along a one-mile plume extending from the site is contaminated with a solvent, benzene and other pollutants. Soil at the site is contaminated with the carcinogen benzene and heavy metals, such as lead. In June 2008, EPA decided lead-contaminated soil will be excavated and safely consolidated on-site, and contaminated groundwater will be extracted and treated.

According to the EPA, low levels of contamination have been detected in several of the private wells downgradient of the site. Read more…

Thomas Case Studies, Environment

[ BP's Citizen Advisor ]

December 30th, 2010

[ TRI ] “Justice in the Air”

December 30th, 2010

[ 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.

Thomas The Air I Breath

[ Climate Change ] EPA Sets CO2 Standards

December 23rd, 2010

[ 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…

Thomas BP / TAR SANDS, Energy, Environment

[ COP16 ] Democracy Now

December 9th, 2010

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

Thomas Climate Change, International

Crude - The Incredible Journey of Oil

December 9th, 2010

via [ ABC Science ] “Crude - The Incredibly Journey of Oil” (2007) By Richard Smith

This 2007 documentary is the best overview of the history of oil I have seen. It is a great introduction to the issues of hydrocarbons, peak oil, and global warming.

Thomas Climate Change, Energy

[ Climate Change ] Climate Justice

December 6th, 2010

Working out the negative impacts of Globalization -

via [ Upside Down World ] BP Sued in Ecuador For Violating the Rights of Nature

“The Rights of Nature” being tested through the assertion of Universal jurisdiction as an offense to humanity´s conscience.

via [ Oxfam ] Climate change tribunals

Thomas Climate Change, Economics

[ Tar Sands ] Everyone’s Downstream IV

December 3rd, 2010

[ Everyone's Downstream IV ] International Conference - November 25 - 28, Edmonton, Alberta

Below is my presentation on East Chicago and BP’s Canadian Crude project.

Click on image to begin slideshow.

[ Video Archive ] of Conference

Thomas BP / TAR SANDS, East Chicago, Energy, Environment, Northwest Indiana, Tar Sands

[ SUPERFUND365 ]

December 2nd, 2010

[ SUPERFUND365 ]

Each day for a year, starting on September 1, 2007, Superfund365 visited one toxic site in the Superfund program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We began the journey in the New York City area and worked our way across the country, ending the year in Hawaii.

Today the archive consists of 365 visualizations of some of the worst toxic sites in the U.S., roughly a quarter of the total number on the Superfund’s National Priorities List (NPL).

Thomas Case Studies, Environment, What I am Looking at

[ Under the Plume of Permitting ] IDEM Coughs

December 2nd, 2010

via [ Post-trib ] “Overhaul of fuzzy pollution rules stall - State tries to determine how much waste is too much” By Gitte Laasby

Three years after the firestorm over BP Whiting’s wastewater permit, Indiana is still issuing permits under the same fuzzy rules that led to the controversy.

At the heart of the outrage over the BP refinery being allowed to increase its pollution to Lake Michigan were Indiana’s unclear water pollution rules.

The state started revising them in early 2008, but nearly three years later, the overhaul is stalled. Permits — including a wastewater permit for U.S. Steel Midwest in Portage — are still being issued under the old rule. State officials say new rules won’t be ready until next year.

Critics say the standstill leaves industry and the public in limbo about when it’s OK to increase pollution to Lake Michigan and other waters, and opens the possibility for lawsuits.

Even those strongly dedicated to the process are throwing in the towel. Among them is one of Indiana’s most respected veteran environmentalists, Miller resident Lee Botts. She sent a letter to the governor’s office announcing she’s resigning effective Dec. 1 from the board that’s responsible for approving the new rules. She served on the board since 2006. Read more…

Thomas Environment

[ Tar Sands ] On the Great Lakes

December 2nd, 2010

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.

Thomas BP / TAR SANDS, Environment, Local, Northwest Indiana, Regional, Tar Sands

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

December 2nd, 2010

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…

Thomas BP / TAR SANDS, Case Studies, Tar Sands, Ways of Seeing

[ Infrastructure ] Tar Sands

December 2nd, 2010

via [ Vancouver Media Co-op ] “The Whole World is Downstream - Community members say negative impacts of the tar sands have a global reach” By Sandra Cuffe

Community members impacted by tar sands development came together in Edmonton this weekend to make it explicit that the tar sands isn’t just an issue in Alberta, or even just in Canada. Climate justice activists have long made the point that the tar sands are a leading driver of emissions worldwide.

But in addition to changing the climate, the direct impacts of tar sands extraction are already making themselves felt across the globe. Even though the principle extraction area is in Alberta, transportation and refining of tar sands oil is touching the lives of people from Madagascar to B.C. to Trinidad.

The community of Fort Chipewyan is located approximately 250km downstream from biggest tar sands projects near Fort McMurray. Because of its proximity to what some call the tar sands gigaproject, folks in Fort Chipewyan have felt the impacts of the tar sands on ecosystems, health, and communities, and their people have been on the front lines, fighting back hard.
“Fort Chipewyan has been at the forefront of this challenge,” said former Mikisew Cree First Nation Chief George Poitras, adding that the name of the community is now synonymous with resistance to the tar sands. ”We’ve made a lot of progress on making the tar sands an international issue,” said Poitras.

Due in large part to the outspoken resistance by Fort Chipewyan, other Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities now have more information and case studies to defend their own lands from the onslaught of the tar sands giga-project. Actual and proposed pipelines, refineries, and ports designed to transport tar sands oil from Alberta to destinations around the world crisscross the continent.

“One of the reasons we’re fighting so much is because of what’s happening there [in Fort Chipewyan],” explained Toghestiy, a hereditary chief from the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in north central British Columbia.

There is clear vocal opposition to the five pipelines proposed for construction through the 22,000 square kilometers of unceded Wet’suwet’en territory. grassroots Indigenous resistance has been a thorn in the side of Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline that would transport oil from the tar sands to the coastal port of Kitimat, BC, in order to facilitate its export to Asia.

At the end of the pipelines are the refineries, which can have serious consequences for local residents. Visual artist and former urban planner Thomas Frank discussed the impacts of a BP refinery project in East Chicago, in northwestern Indiana.

Using his own research, Frank showed maps of East Chicago, with small pockets of neighbourhoods steeped in steel worker culture surrounded by a myriad of industrial projects, from steel mills to oil refineries. The poverty-ridden core communities, principally made up of Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and African-Americans, live between smokestacks, toxic waste sites, and the Indiana Harbor Shipping Channel, which is considered the most contaminated waterway in the United States.

“This is a serious environmental justice issue that accumulates wealth and benefits in one location while clustering risks and blights in another,” said Frank.Ninety percent of the water in the Channel consists of wastewater from industry and sewage, explained Frank, adding that Indiana discharges 33% more toxins into waterways than any other state. The sheer quantity of toxic discharges in Indiana, with 6.4 million people, amounts to more than the last 26 states combined, the latter representing over 100 million inhabitants.

BP was cited in 2009 for releasing multiple times the permitted level of benzene in a period spanning six years. Permits issued to the company also allowed for 1600 pounds of ammonia to be released into Lake Michigan per day, in clear violation of the Clean Water Act. In fact, explained Frank, BP moved its training facilities from the area to Illinois, citing concerns about “quality of life” issues for the company’s professionals.

Priya Ganness-Nanton, a community organizer from the Rights Action Group in Trinidad and Tobago, told the story of successful community struggle against an aluminum mill in the country. Ganness-Nanton hopes to take the lessons from the long history of struggle in Trinidad and use them to fight the tar sands exploitation recently announced by the government.

“In February of 2009, Minister of Energy Conrad Enill announced that the bitumen should be extracted using Canada’s experience as a model,” wrote Macdonald Stainsby of Oil Sands Truth in an article written after a visit to Trinidad earlier this year.
Other conference participants shared information about places where companies are planning to exploit tar sands deposits. Ashley Anderson of Peaceful Uprising in Utah talked about their resistance to Calgary-based Earth Energy Resources’ plan to develop tar sands deposits near Moab, in an area well-known and well-visited for its natural beauty. Macdonald Stainsby explained about corporate plans to develop tar sands deposits in Madagascar, Morocco, and a joint project between Jordan and Israel.
Videos of all of the presentations made on Saturday, dedicated to community reports from Fort Chipewyan to Trinidad, are available for viewing online. Sandra Cuffe has been reporting from the fourth annual Everyone’s Downstream conference in Edmonton for the Vancouver Media Co-op.

Thomas BP / TAR SANDS, Energy, Infrastructure, International, Tar Sands