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Entries in water pollution (6)

Wednesday
Apr022014

Buffalo To Reduce Lake Erie Pollution With Grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the City of Buffalo, NY, a $500,000 grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) that will be used in conjunction with another $500,000 in funding from Empire State Development to provide green infrastructure in an effort to minimize polluting stormwater runoff into Lake Erie.

Space view of the Great Lakes.

Empire State Development is New York State’s chief economic development agency that works to promote the growth of the state economy through loans, grants, tax credits, and other forms of financial assistance to projects and initiatives that will create business growth and job creation.

A major focus of this project will be building a green infrastructure along a one-mile stretch of Buffalo’s Niagara Street that’s part of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail and National Scenic Byway. This area currently accumulates untreated stormwater that drains directly into the Black Rock Navigation Channel and the Niagara River.

Northern waterfront of the Niagara River. Photo from Wikimedia.org.

The EPA says the project will include the installation of porous asphalt, stormwater planters, rain gardens, and the reduction of impervious pavements. The new project is expected to capture stormwater from about 15 acres along Niagara Street and result in the reduction of about 5 million gallons of stormwater runoff per year.

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Thursday
Oct242013

EPA Has Finalized Plan For Cleaning Up Toxic Contamination Within New York’s Gowanus Canal

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has just finalized a plan to clean up the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, N.Y., which is considered one of the most polluted bodies of water in the country.

Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn, N.Y. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Completed in 1869, the canal has been one of the nation’s busiest commercial waterways, serving industries including: gas works (manufactured gas plants), coal yards, cement makers, soap makers, tanneries, paint and ink factories, machine shops, chemical plants, and oil refineries.

In recent decades, the canal has been used as a repository for untreated industrial wastes, raw sewage, and runoff.

Today, the EPA says that although much of the industrial activity along the canal has ceased, high levels of contamination remain in its groundwater and sediment. Contamination stills flows into the canal from overflows of sewer systems that carry sanitary waste from homes, as well as from rainwater coming from storm drains and industrial pollutants.

The EPA’s remedial investigation of the site found that it has been polluted with high levels of over a dozen contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and heavy metals, including mercury, lead, and cooper.

PAHs and heavy metals were also found in the canal water. PAHs are a group of chemicals that are formed during the incomplete burning of coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage, or other organic substances.

PCBs were used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors, and other electrical equipment, and their manufacture was banned in 1979.

The EPA says that, “PCBs and PAHs are suspected of being cancer-causing, and PCBs can have neurological effects as well,” also expressing concern that, “To this day, people can still be found fishing in the Gowanus despite advisories about eating fish from the canal.”

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Tuesday
Aug282012

North Carolina Hog Farmer To Pay Heavy Fines For Pouring Tons Of Waste Into River System

Freedman Farms has been sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $1.5 million in fines, restitution, and community service payments for violating the Clean Water Act for discharging tons of hog waste into a stream that leads into North Carolina’s Waccamaw River.

Browder’s Branch tributary of Waccamaw River. Photo by Capitol Broadcasting Co.

The river system begins at Lake Waccamaw and travels 140 miles through southeastern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina draining into the Atlantic Ocean.

The river begins as a slow-moving blackwater river surrounded by huge expanses of wetlands and evolves into a faster moving river with sandy banks as it makes its way toward the ocean.

Evidence provided to the Eastern District Court of North Carolina showed that Freedman Farms discharged the tons hog waste  into the Browder’s Branch tributary of the Waccamaw River that flows through the White Marsh wetland area.

The Freedman case was investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal investigation division and the agency’s science and ecosystem support division. Also involved in the investigation were the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

Freedman Farms. Photo from WWAY NewsChannel 3.

Freedom Farms is a corporate hog farm, located in Columbus County, N.C., raising about 4,800 hogs for market. The hog waste was supposed to be directed into two lagoons for treatment and disposal. Instead, the hog waste was released directly into Browder’s Branch tributary.

The Clean Water Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to knowingly or negligently discharge a pollutant into a water system in the United States.

In an order issued by the court, Freedman Farms will be required to pay restitution in the amount of $1 million – in five annual payments starting January 2013 – to the North Carolina Land Trust.

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Tuesday
Jun262012

EPA Settles With 70 Companies To Clean Up NJ’s Passaic River Pollution Out of Their Own Pockets

Seventy companies – considered potentially responsible for polluting New Jersey’s lower Passaic River with toxic chemicals – have settled with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the pollution using their own money.

Tony Falcon holding a fish he caught in the lower Passaic River in Paterson. Such fish are often contaminated, according to NorthJersey.com, which also provided the photo.

The companies will be expected to remove about 16,000 cubic yards of highly contaminated sediment from a half-mile long area of the river near the town of Lyndhurst.

The soil has been found to contain high levels of chemicals, including PCBs, mercury, and dioxins, according to the EPA, adding that, “PCBs are likely cancer-causing substances and mercury can cause serious damage to the nervous system. Dioxins can cause cancer and other serious health effects” including hormonal disruptions, early developmental problems, and skin disease.

The agency says that, “The highly contaminated sediment was discovered in Lyndhurst during sampling performed by the EPA and the parties late in 2011. The work is scheduled to begin in spring 2013.”

Specifically, the agreement calls for the companies to  remove the contaminated soil from the mud flat area that’s near the north section of Riverside County Park, and install a protective cap over the excavated five-acre area and further test their “sediment treatment technologies.”

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Tuesday
Apr242012

Promising Test Results In Algae Use For Cleaning Wastewater From Oil and Gas Operations

While OriginOil’s main focus is extracting oil from algae for use in making biofuels and other products, the company has just announced promising test results for a chemical-free process of using algae for the cleanup of “produced water” from oil and gas operations.

Algae bags at test site. Photo courtesy of OriginOil.

To understand it a little better, the U.S. Department of Energy explains that, “Produced water is water trapped in underground formations that is brought to the surface along with oil or gas. It may include water from a reservoir, water injected into the formation, and any chemicals added to the production and treatment processes. Produced water is also called brine or formation water.”

Produced water is considered an industrial waste and a hazard to people if it gets into the drinking water. Besides a high salt content, the energy department says that produced water can containing varying degrees of:

  • Oil and grease.
  • Chemical additives used in drilling and operating a well.
  • Naturally occurring radioactive materials.
  • Various natural inorganic and organic compounds.

OriginOil said that its researchers have been able to clarify water samples from a Texas oil well carrying heavy concentrations of dissolved organics, known as frac flowback.

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