New legislation protects NY waters from waste

June 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Dumping

Large industrial water users will have to get a state permit for water withdrawals under a bill that was a top priority for environmental groups this legislative session.

The Water Withdrawal Permitting Program bill was passed by the Assembly as part of its Earth Day package this spring and won unanimous approval in the Senate Thursday. It awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature.

The measure requires anyone with the capacity to withdraw more than 100,000 gallons of water per day to first obtain a permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said implementing a statewide program to monitor the large-scale withdrawal of water is consistent with actions being taken in other states and is supported by both the environmental and business community.

For more Rochester, N.Y. news go to the website www.whec.com.

Article source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43437070

NASA Set to Launch Salt-Measuring Satellite Tomorrow

June 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Secrets of the Ocean

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 9:23 p.m. to note the new launch time and date.

NASA is gearing up for the launch of its new Aquarius observatory, which will help map out the links between Earth’s climate and the saltiness of its oceans.

Aquarius is slated to blast off Friday (June 10) at 10:20 a.m. EDT (1420 GMT) atop a Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. NASA had originally scheduled the launch for June 9, but the space agency announced Wednesday evening that it had pushed the liftoff back a day to work out some software issues with the rocket’s flight program.

The $287 million Aquarius/SAC-D will join 13 other NASA satellite missions devoted to studying Earth from above. But Aquarius will bring something new to the table, researchers say. Its precise measurements should allow unprecedented insights into global patterns of precipitation, evaporation and ocean circulation — key drivers of our planet’s changing climate.

“In order to study these interactions between the global water cycle and the ocean circulation, the piece that we’re missing is ocean salinity,” Gary Lagerloef, Aquarius principal investigator at Earth and Space Research in Seattle, said in a briefing Tuesday. “And that’s the gap that Aquarius is designed to fill.”

[ Video: Sea Salt Changes Ripple Around the World ]

Understanding ocean salinity

On average, the world’s oceans are 3.5 percent salt. That concentration doesn’t vary much; extremes range from 3.2 percent to 3.7 percent at various spots around the globe, Lagerloef said.

However, even such subtle differences can have big impacts. Salinity levels strongly influence ocean temperatures and circulation patterns, which themselves affect the exchange of water and heat between the oceans and Earth’s atmosphere.

So measuring ocean salinity precisely is important to better understand and predict Earth’s climate, researchers said.

“Aquarius, and successor missions based on it, will give us, over time, critical data that will be used by models that study how Earth’s oceans and atmosphere interact, to see trends in climate,” Lagerloef said in a statement. “The advances this mission will enable make this an exciting time in climate research.”

Until now, most ocean salinity measurements have been taken from ships and buoys. Such readings tend to be sparse and patchy; some regions of the globe, including the southern oceans, receive very little attention.

“What the satellite does is give you a systematic measurement over the whole globe,” Lagerloef said. Aquarius is expected to take measurements for at least three years. Its readings will complement and extend the efforts of the European Space Agency’s Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission, which launched in November 2009.

Sniffing salt from above

Shortly after liftoff, the Aquarius/SAC-D spacecraft is to settle into orbit 408 miles (657 kilometers) above Earth. Researchers will monitor the satellite’s behavior for 25 days, to make sure everything is working properly. Then they’ll begin to ready Aquarius for measurement-taking.

“It’s worth the wait, to check it out completely,” said Amit Sen, the Aquarius project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

When it’s up and running, Aquarius will use a set of three precise radiometers to measure microwave emissions coming from the ocean surface. Certain characteristics of these emissions are affected by salinity, so analyzing the readings will reveal just how salty the observed patch of ocean is.

Aquarius also boasts a scatterometer, which will use radar to measure waves at the ocean surface. Rough seas can create “noise” that confuses or degrades the salinity signal; the scatterometer will help researchers correct for this impact.

As Aquarius zips around the Earth every 90 minutes, it will take continuous salinity readings in a swath about 250 miles (400 km) wide and create a global salinity map every seven days. It will be able to detect salinity differences as small as 0.02 percent. That’s the equivalent of an eighth of a teaspoon of salt in a gallon of water, researchers say. [ The World’s Biggest Oceans and Seas ]

Launch outlook looks good

Assuming NASA fixes the software bug, the outlook for a Friday launch is good. The weather should cooperate for tomorrow’s liftoff; NASA currently pegs the chances of a launch-delaying weather violation at 0 percent.

Aquarius/SAC-D is blasting into space aboard a Delta 2 rocket operated by the firm United Launch Alliance (ULA).

NASA recently  lost two other Earth-observing satellites, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory and the Glory spacecraft, to problems during
launches provided by Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp. However, NASA officials said those failures played no part in using with ULA for the Aquarius/SAC-D launch. The decision to go with the Delta 2 was made eight or nine years ago, Sen said.

Aquarius is one of eight instruments aboard the spacecraft. The other equipment will observe fires and volcanoes, map sea ice and collect a wide range of other environmental data.

The mission is a collaboration between NASA and the Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE), Argentina’s space agency. The project also involves the participation of Brazil, Canada, France and Italy.

Mike Wall is a senior writer for SPACE.com, a sister site of OurAmazingPlanet. You can folllow him on Twitter: @michaeldwall.Follow
SPACE.com for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

© 2011 OurAmazingPlanet. All rights reserved. More from OurAmazingPlanet.

Article source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43339373

Clean Water Act suit to proceed against Seward coal facility

January 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Dumping

A Clean Water Act lawsuit alleging violations by the Seward Coal Loading Facility was allowed to go forward Jan. 10 by federal district Judge Timothy Burgess.

The coal facility, jointly operated by Alaska Railroad Corp. and Usibelli coal mine subsidiary Aurora Energy Services, has been a sore spot for Seward residents who say the coal dust from operations creates both a nuisance and a public health hazard.

Alaska Railroad Corp. and Aurora Energy Services were denied their bid for dismissal by Burgess.

The lawsuit, filed last January by Trustees for Alaska on behalf of the Sierra Club, Alaska Center for the Environment and Alaska Community Action on Toxins, alleges that a conveyor system delivering coal to export vessels allows coal to fall directly into Resurrection Bay along the length of the conveyor system to the loading facility, as well as from the belt after it loops back underneath itself.

Trustees for Alaska said coal dust from the stockpiles, railcar dumping facility, stacker/reclaimer, ship loader and the conveyor systems fall into Resurrection Bay. There are also concerns over Aurora Energy plowing snow that is allegedly contaminated with coal dust, as well as storm water that flows directly into Resurrection Bay.

The coal dust also blows off the facility’s two massive coal stockpiles into the bay, covering nearby fishing charter boats, other vessels and nearby neighborhoods with dust and debris.

“We are pleased that the Court will allow the case to move forward and address the pollution problems at the coal facility in Seward,” said Trustees for Alaska attorney Brian Litmans in a statement. “The facility is unable to contain the coal dust and keep coal from going into Resurrection Bay, which violates the law and is an ongoing nuisance and health issue.”

The statement from the consortium of plaintiffs also stated Seward was covered with coal dust both on Dec. 10 and Dec. 22.

Last July, the railroad and Aurora reached a joint compliance order with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to pay a $220,000 fine, with most of that money going toward the cost of dust mitigation measures.

Three supplemental environmental projects ordered by DEC were completed on schedule in 2010 and include the installation of additional dust suppression equipment including spray bards, high-pressure spray nozzles and a sealed chute and fogging system on the stacker/reclaimer.

According to Alaska Railroad Corp. vice president for corporate affairs Wendy Lindskoog, another $540,000 in capital expenditures are planned for 2011 regarding dust suppression projects.

Lindskoog said it is company policy to not comment on ongoing litigation.

The Seward coal loading facility, which is located on land owned by the Alaska Railroad, was originally built in 1984 as an economic development project to sell coal to world markets.

Suneel Alaska Corp., the purchaser of the coal for the Korean domestic market, negotiated with the state for construction of the coal dock and a loan from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities built the dock and Suneel installed the conveyor and loading systems.

Railroad officials said their participation was limited to leasing waterfront property for the facility and transporting the coal from Healy to Seward under a contract with Suneel.

Suneel and its successor, Hyundai Merchant Marine, continued to purchase coal and operate the facility through the 1990s and into the early 2000s, with AIDEA becoming a co-owner of the facility in 1995.

Hyundai remained the lessee on the property and operated the facility until January 2007, when the railroad entered into an operating agreement with Aurora Energy Services.

Since then, railroad officials said, the Alaska Railroad and Aurora Energy Services have spent more than $1 million on safety, operational and environmental improvements, including significant environmental upgrades to deal with coal dust.

Andrew Jensen can be reached at andrew.jensen@alaskajournal.com.

Article source: http://www.alaskajournal.com/stories/012111/oil_cwasp.shtml

Lipinski Helps Lead Bipartisan Effort to Protect the Great Lakes

January 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Dumping

The following information was released by the office of Illinois Rep. Daniel Lipinski:

In a bipartisan effort to protect Lake Michigan, Congressman Dan Lipinski and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk were joined today by Sen. Dick Durbin and Congressman Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth) to announce they will introduce legislation that will increase fines for dumping sewage into the Great Lakes. Congressman Lipinski has worked with Sen. Kirk on similar legislation over the last two Congresses.

“After working on this legislation over the past two Congresses, I believe we’ve assembled a strong, bipartisan core of support that will enable us to see it signed into law,” Lipinski said at a press conference at the Shedd Aquarium. “The Great Lakes are our region’s most precious natural resource, providing drinking water for 30 million people, unmatched recreational opportunities, and a livelihood for many. Yet each year brings news of more beach closings and swimming bans. We can’t allow the dumping of billions of gallons of raw sewage into the same waters that we use for drinking, swimming, boating and fishing. We need to deter polluters while investing in projects that improve water quality, and this bill accomplishes that.”

The Great Lakes Water Protection Act would more than double fines for sewage dumping to $100,000 a day per violation and make it harder for offenders to avoid fines. Money collected from fines would flow to a Great Lakes Clean-Up Fund created by the legislation to generate financial resources for the Great Lakes states to improve wastewater treatment options, habitat protection, and wastewater treatment systems.

“By joining forces on this important piece of legislation, we believe we can keep our Great Lakes-the crown jewel of the Midwest – clean and safe,” Sen. Kirk said. “Not only does Lake Michigan provide millions of us with our drinking water, it is a vital economic engine to the entire region.”

“Our duty to future generations of Illinoisans is to protect the environment in which we live,” Rep. Dold said. “There is much we can do right here at home by protecting Lake Michigan and its ecosystem. I’m proud to join with Congressman Lipinski and Senators Kirk and Durbin to work in a bipartisan manner to ensure our Great Lakes remain the crown jewel of the Midwest.”

Great Lakes beaches had over 3,000 days worth of closings and advisories last year, and Illinois beaches had warnings or closings 10 percent of the time. Chicago has taken many steps to limit sewer overflow, including such projects as the Deep Tunnel. Other cities dump directly into the Great Lakes. Detroit traditionally has been one of the worst offenders, dumping an estimated 13 billion gallons of sewage into the Great Lakes annually, figures show.

“On Monday, I invited Rep. Dold to cross the aisle and sit with me during the State of the Union next week, and he readily agreed,” Congressman Lipinski said. “That same spirit of unity and bipartisanship is what brought us all together to work on this bill. The American people want to see partisan bickering replaced with productive debate and problem-solving. Democrats and Republicans will always have their differences, but we must find ways to work together for the good of the country. This bill shows that bipartisan cooperation on substantive issues is very much possible.”

(January 21, 2011)

###

Article source: http://www.waterworld.com/index/display/news_display/1344233772.html

Devices to monitor lake water quality

January 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Dumping

BANGALORE: In its efforts to check the deteriorating quality of water in the lakes across the city due to indiscriminate dumping of waste and discharge of sewerage into the catchment areas, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) is exploring the possibility of installing programmed devices to monitor the water quality in the lakes round the clock.

At present, the KSPCB is testing the accuracy of the devices offered by a private agency in Ulsoor lake, Sankey Tank and Bellandur Lake. According to the sources the cost of each device is expected to vary from `515 lakh according to the parameters that the device is expected to monitor. At present, the devices installed are monitoring the temperature, pH value, dissolved oxygen, total dissolved solids and turbidity. According to the readings obtained from these devices the water quality is acceptable in Ulsoor Lake and Sankey Tank and bad in Bellandur lake.

The KSPCB Member Secretary M S Gouder said, “We are also thinking of testing these devices for more parameters like E.coli [bacteria] and heavy metals. After the accuracy of these devices are proved, we will consider them in the lakes and coordinate with the other governmental agencies to maintain them in good condition as these devices will help us understand if anything is going wrong.”

According to Gouder these devices will be useful in monitoring the water quality automatically round the clock in the newly rejuvenated lakes as most of them are situated in the outskirts or the newlyadded areas of the city. They are also expected to help the concerned authorities to prevent the flow of sewerage or dumping of waste into the lakes by alerting them when the quality of water starts deteriorating.

Programmed sensors are inserted into the lakes and each sensor monitors a particular parameter and transmits the data to the centralised server every fifteen minutes. The data is later processed and updated on the website and transmitted to the concerned officials periodically.

Article source: http://expressbuzz.com/cities/bangalore/devices-to-monitor-lake-water-quality/241452.html

Oregon poised to adopt the strictest standard for toxic water pollution in the US

January 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Water Quality

Published: Thursday, January 06, 2011, 7:53 PM Updated: Thursday, January 06, 2011, 9:43 PM

Scott Learn, The Oregonian


By

Scott Learn, The Oregonian

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Tribes have pushed for decades for stricter pollution rules, and Oregon is poised to implement the stricted standard for toxic water pollution in the United States.

Oregon is poised to adopt the strictest standard for toxic water pollution in the United States, driven by concerns about tribal members and others who eat large amounts of contaminated fish.

The Department of Environmental Quality proposed the new standard Thursday, nearly two decades after concerns about contamination in fish prompted studies that showed tribal members along the Columbia River eat far more fish than the general population.

The new rule, scheduled for approval in June, would dramatically tighten human health criteria for a host of pollutants, including mercury, flame retardants, PCBs, dioxins, plasticizers and pesticides.

Industry and cities worry about the costs of complying with the new rules and controlling pollution, likely to run in the millions.

“There are potentially a lot of manufacturing jobs being put at risk,” said John Ledger, an Associated Oregon Industries vice president. “It could put (businesses) in a terrible position, where they can’t locate here or expand.”

Environmental groups say the change is long overdue, but exceptions built into the proposed rules and a lack of focus on pollution from farms, timberlands and urban stormwater mean they might not reduce pollution significantly.

“We can change standards on paper, but how it plays out on the ground and whether we’re really ratcheting down pollution is what matters,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, Columbia Riverkeeper’s executive director.

The proposal presses some big hot buttons: regulating industry in a down economy; DEQ’s authority over farms and forests; protecting tribal members who have seen their health compromised and their traditional diet degraded by pollution.

Oregon’s current water quality standard is built on an assumption that people eat 17.5 grams of fish a day, about a cracker’s worth. The proposed standard boosts that to 175 grams a day, just shy of an 8-ounce meal.

That could boost cost for industry such as paper mills and for sewage treatment plants, increasing rates.

It could also lower the health risks for those who eat a lot of local fish — an estimated 100,000 Oregonians, including 20,000 children, according to a committee set up to consider the health effects of the new standard.

Two years ago, sewage treatment and business groups predicted millions in costs for industry and potentially billions for sewage treatment plants if they had to install state-of-the-art treatment systems.

A more recent study commissioned by DEQ came up with much lower estimates, about $400,000 a year in incremental compliance costs statewide. DEQ officials say they’ve built in a variance to make sure polluters can cut releases over time at a reasonable cost.

Measures could include public education campaigns, implementing “best management practices” to reduce pollution and pursuing sewer users who put pollution into sewer systems.

Janet Gillaspie, executive director of the Oregon Association of Clean Water Agencies, said she thinks DEQ has underestimated the impact of the changes, including the costs and paperwork necessary to comply with the new rule.

Kathryn VanNatta, governmental affairs manager for the Northwest Pulp and Paper Association, said variances are likely to be hard to get: “Oregon has never issued a variance,” she said, “and this proposal does not make a variance any easier.”

The variance provision could also be modified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has to approve the new standard, or challenged in court, business advocates warn.

Environmental groups, including some that have filed lawsuits over implementation of the federal Clean Water Act in Oregon, say the proposal doesn’t go far enough.

Variances and other exemptions could water down the rules to the point “there may not be much there,” said Nina Bell, executive director of Northwest Environmental Advocates.

The proposal is out for public comment through Feb. 18, with seven hearings scheduled statewide Feb. 1-10. Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission is scheduled to approve a final standard in June.

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation led the move for a tougher standard. Carl Merkle, acting manager of the tribes’ environmental rights and protection program, said he’s still evaluating the draft.

“We don’t want to see exceptions swallowing up the rule,” Merkle said. “But we also understand that, for some dischargers, meeting these heightened standards is not going to happen overnight.”

— Scott Learn

Article source: http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2011/01/oregon_poised_to_adopt_the_str.html