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...
The Arctic has inversions just like Utah, and they could be making climate change worse

The Arctic has inversions just like Utah, and they could be making climate change worse

SOURCE: The Salt Lake Tribune DATE: February 5, 2018 SNIP: The atmosphere over the Arctic is highly sensitive to air pollution and inversions much like Utah’s, scientists have discovered in a study that could help them understand why global warming is so much worse in one of the coldest places on Earth. Tiny particulate pollution blowing north from population centers in Asia and Europe appears to alter cloud formation over the Arctic region, said University of Utah professor of atmospheric sciences Tim Garrett, co-author of the study published earlier this month in Geophysical Research Letters. The pollutants become trapped over the Arctic when warm air flows over the region’s icy surface, in much the same way winter inversions set up over the Wasatch Front, accumulating a combination of moisture and air pollution that can mix into a soupy smog. Arctic clouds form whether or not pollution is present, Garrett said, but the pollution makes it “a more effective blanket” by creating clouds made of smaller droplets of water than most naturally forming clouds. These pollution-spurred clouds trap even more heat than usual, possibly contributing to rising temperatures in the Arctic. What surprised Garrett and colleagues in their research, he said, was the degree to which pollution appeared to affect the Arctic clouds. Using satellite imagery and air-quality data to track cloud patterns and pollution, Garrett and others found the Arctic clouds were two to eight times more sensitive to the presence of pollution than previous studies...
Plastic fibres found in tap water around the world, study reveals

Plastic fibres found in tap water around the world, study reveals

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: September 5, 2017 SNIP: Microplastic contamination has been found in tap water in countries around the world, leading to calls from scientists for urgent research on the implications for health. Scores of tap water samples from more than a dozen nations were analysed by scientists for an investigation by Orb Media, who shared the findings with the Guardian. Overall, 83% of the samples were contaminated with plastic fibres. The US had the highest contamination rate, at 94%, with plastic fibres found in tap water sampled at sites including Congress buildings, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters, and Trump Tower in New York. Lebanon and India had the next highest rates. “We have enough data from looking at wildlife, and the impacts that it’s having on wildlife, to be concerned,” said Dr Sherri Mason, a microplastic expert at the State University of New York in Fredonia, who supervised the analyses for Orb. “If it’s impacting [wildlife], then how do we think that it’s not going to somehow impact...
Climate change, sewage and fertilisers could trigger mass extinction of life in oceans, scientists warn

Climate change, sewage and fertilisers could trigger mass extinction of life in oceans, scientists warn

SOURCE: Independent DATE: Aug 9, 2017 SNIP: The ocean is slowly being suffocated with levels of oxygen falling at a similar rate to 94 million years ago when there was a mass extinction of marine life, scientists have warned. While that event was caused naturally, humans are responsible for several different factors driving the increase in “dead zones” in our seas. Writing in the journal Science Advances, the researchers said that current rates of deoxygenation were similar to those 94 million years ago during what is known as Oceanic Anoxic Event-2 (OAE-2). OAE-2, which developed over about 50,000 years, is believed to have caused the extinction of about 27 per cent of marine invertebrates. One of the researchers, Dr Sune Nielsen, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the US, said: “Our results show that marine deoxygenation rates prior to the ancient event were likely occurring over tens of thousands of years, and surprisingly similar to the two per cent oxygen depletion trend we’re seeing induced by anthropogenic activity over the last 50 years. “We don’t know if the ocean is headed toward another global anoxic event, but the trend is, of course,...