Garbage from Washington state’s booming pot industry clogs gutters, sewers and landfills

Garbage from Washington state’s booming pot industry clogs gutters, sewers and landfills

SOURCE: Spokesman Review DATE: August 14, 2018 SNIP: Washington state’s penchant for getting high is trashing the place. Plastic “doob tubes” and small Mylar bags used to package pot are moldering in gutters, bleaching out in landfills and bobbing in waterways. Concentrated nutrients and fertilizers left over from cannabis growing operations are being dumped in public sewers and making their way past wastewater treatment plants into Puget Sound. And millions of pounds of weed harvest waste that could be composted are instead getting trucked to landfills. “We’re seeing a lot of marijuana packaging in our public spaces,” said Heather Trim, executive director of Zero Waste Washington, which organizes litter cleanups. “Cannabis packaging is adding to our load, which then gets washed into our lakes and Puget...
Greenpeace: Plastic pollution has spread to Antarctica

Greenpeace: Plastic pollution has spread to Antarctica

SOURCE: PRI DATE: June 7, 2018 SNIP: Plastic waste and toxic chemicals found in remote parts of the Antarctic this year add to evidence that pollution is spreading to the ends of the Earth, environmental group Greenpeace said on Thursday. Microplastics — tiny bits of plastic from the breakdown of everything from shopping bags to car tires — were detected in nine of 17 water samples collected off the Antarctic peninsula by a Greenpeace vessel in early 2018, it said. And seven of nine snow samples taken on land in Antarctica found chemicals known as PFAs (polyfluorinated alkylated substances), which are used in industrial products and can harm wildlife. The United Nations’ environment agency says plastic pollution has been detected from the Arctic to Antarctica and in remote places including the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the world’s oceans in the Pacific. “Plastic stays around for hundreds of years,” said author Ilka Peeken of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine...
Melting ice could unleash hazardous waste from abandoned Cold War project

Melting ice could unleash hazardous waste from abandoned Cold War project

SOURCE: Grist DATE: February 23, 2018 SNIP: The creation of Camp Century, from the outset, was an audacious scheme. Under the thick ice of Greenland, a scant 800 miles from the North Pole, the U.S. military built a hidden base of ice tunnels, imagined as an extensive network of railway tracks, stretching over 2,500 miles, that would keep 600 nuclear missiles buried under the ice. Construction began in 1959, under cover of a scientific research project, and soon a small installation, powered by a nuclear reactor, nested in the ice sheet. In the midst of the Cold War, Greenland seemed like a strategic point for the U.S. to stage weapons, ready to attack the USSR. The thick ice sheet, military planners imagined, would provide permanent protection for the base. But after the first tunnels were built, the military discovered that the ice sheet was not as stable as it needed to be: It moved and shifted, destabilizing the tunnels. Within a decade, Camp Century was abandoned. When siting the secret ice base, the military chose a spot where dry snow kept the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet from melting, and when the base was abandoned, its creators expected the remains to stay encased in ice forever. But decades later, conditions have changed, and as a team of researchers reported in a 2016 paper, published in Geophysical Research Letters, the now-melting ice sheet threatens to mobilize the dangerous pollutants left behind. This hazard-in-waiting is a new kind of environmental threat: In the past, there was little reason to worry about water-borne pollution on an ice sheet 100,000 years old. “We’re...
Power Plants’ Coal Ash Reports Show Toxins Leaking into Groundwater

Power Plants’ Coal Ash Reports Show Toxins Leaking into Groundwater

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: February 7, 2018 SNIP: Toxic substances including arsenic may be leaking from unlined pits and contaminating groundwater at hundreds of coal ash storage facilities nationwide, according to an analysis by the environmental law organization Earthjustice. The analysis, an initial review of recently released data from 14 power plants in eight states, comes as the Environmental Protection Agency is weighing whether to revise recently enacted groundwater monitoring rules at coal ash storage facilities. Nine of the 14 power plants noted “statistically significant increases” of toxic substances in groundwater near coal ash containment ponds, Earthjustice found. The ponds store coal ash, the ash left after a power plant burns coal. Under a 2015 rule governing coal ash disposal, utility companies were required to complete initial monitoring of groundwater near such sites by Jan. 31, 2018, and they are required to make their data publicly available by March 2. Earthjustice reviewed the reports of the first 14 power plants to post their data. About 1,400 such sites exist nationwide, according to Earthjustice. Last year, USWAG petitioned the EPA to weaken monitoring and remediation requirements in the coal ash rule. The May 2017 written request described the 2015 rule as “burdensome, inflexible, and often impracticable.” In September, the EPA announced it would reconsider certain provisions of the coal ash...
Climate Change and the Ohio River Basin

Climate Change and the Ohio River Basin

SOURCES: DeSmog Blog, Courier Journal, Army Corps of Engineers Report DATE: February 6, 2018 SNIP: From DeSmog Blog: Over the past year, oil and gas industry plans to build a petrochemical refining and storage hub along the Ohio River have steadily gaining traction. Proponents hope this potential hub, which would straddle Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky, could someday rival the industrial corridor found along the Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana. Those plans center around creating what is known as the Appalachian Storage Hub, which received a major boost on November 9 during a trade mission to China attended by President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. At that trade mission, also attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the China Energy Investment Corp. announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to invest $83.7 billion into the planned storage hub over 20 years. For comparison, West Virginia’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016 was $72.9 billion. Though called the Appalachian Storage Hub as a broad-sweeping term, in practice the hub could encompass natural gas liquids storage, a market trading index center, a key pipeline feeding epicenter, and a petrochemical refinery row. Its prospective development has been spurred by the current construction of a $6 billion petrochemical refining facility in Pennsylvania owned by Shell Oil. A “major concern we have about the whole complex is that it will encourage a second or third wave of gas fracking in our region, from the Marcellus, the Utica, and the Rogersville field, which is a much deeper layer of shale gas and oil and has been recently tested...