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  • MargaretThibo
    Santa Barbara Faces Devastating Oil Spill
    Entry posted May 26, 2015 by MargaretThiboSuper Contributor in Current Environmental Issues > Current Environmental Issues Blog public
    Title:
    Santa Barbara Faces Devastating Oil Spill
    Entry:

    It has been about a week since a devastating oil spill hit the Santa Barbara coastline. An underground pipeline burst and leaked an estimated 105,000 gallons of oil into the surrounding area, about 21,000 gallons of which found its way to the Pacific Ocean.

    The Santa Barbara area has a rich marine life consisting of whales, dolphins, birds, fish, as well as many other plants and animals. The water contamination resulting from this oils spill has placed all of these creatures in grave danger. Cleanup crews have reported dead fish and shellfish washing ashore. Pelicans and other sea birds are becoming covered in oil and dying on the beaches. Similarly sea mammals like seals are dying after becoming covered by the toxic goo. Long term effects on the entire ecosystem are anticipated, but difficult to predict.

    Seventy-three crews consisting, of 300 government responders and contractors sprang into action shortly after the spill was discovered. Several volunteers also joined and are currently working to remove as much oil from the beaches as possible. There are also nine boats with booms collecting oil and preventing it from spreading. So far crews have cleaned up approximately 6,090 gallons of the oil spilled. The cleanup process is expected to be tedious, manual, take some time to complete.

    Campers at two state beaches were also evacuated along with beach closures. Shellfish gathering and traditional fishing have also been banned within a mile of the coastline.

    The Plains All American Pipeline Company out of Texas has taken responsibility for the leak in their pipe and assures the public that they will rectify the situation as quickly as they can. Critics feel that the pipeline spill should come as no surprise since the Company had a history of violating environmental regulations. Since 2006 the company has had 175 safety violations, usually regarding the maintenance of their equipment and pipelines. The Department of Transportation is in charge of the investigation and states that the pipe that leaked had not had any previous infractions or issues. The cause is still being actively investigated.

     

    Keywords:
    water contamination, environmental regulations
  • MargaretThibo
    Bellingham, WA makes Important Cleanup Decision
    Entry posted May 25, 2015 by MargaretThiboSuper Contributor in Current Environmental Issues > Current Environmental Issues Blog public
    Title:
    Bellingham, WA makes Important Cleanup Decision
    Entry:

    The Port of Bellingham Commission has recently voted to approve a plan that would clean up the contaminated Whatcom Waterway. The site located in Bellingham, Washington was once the home of the Georgia-Pacific Corporation, a pulp and paper manufacturer. The 137 acre factory property is now owned by the city and no longer in use, but the water contamination that resulted from it operation remain. The paper plane had released mercury, heavy metals, as well as other hazardous waste materials into the Whatcom Waterway.

    The cleanup plan is anticipated to cost about $35 million and take about two years to complete.  The Washington Department of Ecology has dedicated $20 million toward the project, mainly using funded by the Model Taxes Control Act. The money generated by this Act comes from taxes collected by the state on all crude oils and other pollutants that are brought into the state. The remainder of the Whatcom Waterway project will be paid for by a private insurance policy that the Port of Bellingham took out.

    The project would be headed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well as consulting group, Anchor QEA. The majority of the work would be done under water, with over 160,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment being removed. A layer of sand and rocks will be added to filter out any further contamination. Many timbers in the waterway will also be removed as they are contaminated after years of soaking up polluted water. In total about 265 tons of timbers will be removed.

    There will be some work done to the shoreline, especially on the Southeast end of the waterway. The shores will be sloped to be more natural at the old Georgia-Pacific site. An old Chevron dock as well as other debris will also be removed.

    The cleanup plan does face some opposition as officials are concerned over the removal of a hydraulic barge ramp. The ramps removal could affect the shipping trade that the local economy relies on. The cleanup plan has plans to create a temporary barge ramp, but has not yet indicated if it will include a permanent replacement.

    Keywords:
    water contamination, hazardous waste materials
  • MargaretThibo
    Florida's Pine Rockland may be Rocked by Developers
    Entry posted May 23, 2015 by MargaretThiboSuper Contributor in Current Environmental Issues > Current Environmental Issues Blog public
    Title:
    Florida's Pine Rockland may be Rocked by Developers
    Entry:

    Pine Rockland is a rare and important ecosystem located only in South Florida, the Bahamas, and Cuba. The ecosystem consists of slash pines growing on large limestone slabs in higher elevations. The pines create a canopy with a diverse mixture of plants and animals below. The higher elevation keeps the forest unique from other marshland and coastal ecosystems in Florida.

    Pine Rockland is home to a variety of plants and animals that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Currently there are only about 20,000 acres of Pine Rockland forests left in the world due to deforestation and the introduction of invasive species. The majority of the forests are now located in the Everglades National Park and are conserved under federal environmental regulations.

    One South Floridian developer wishes to build a Walmart and other shops on a large parcel of Pine Rockland that they purchased from the University of Miami for $22 million. This is the second attempt by Ram Realty Services and developer, Peter Cummings at getting the plan approved by federal wildlife officials. The newest plan would conserve 52 acres of the 138 acres and include a “green corridor” connecting the remaining acreage so that animals can travel back and forth. The corridor would be the width of a two lane road. Wildlife experts state that a corridor is essential for the animals to have adequate habitat to roam for food and shelter. A green corridor is also essential to ensure mating diversity and a deep gene pool.

    Environmentalist opposed to the development of a shopping center feel that the corridor created as well as small amount of Pine Rockland preserved is not enough. They feel Cummings should not be approved for any development. A campaign was created to fight the development, with thousands of individuals signing petitions and protesting. The Miami-Dade County Mayor even offered to purchase the land from Peter Cummings in order to ensure its protection. The Mayor was informed the land was not for sale.

    The Pine Rockland area at risk for development may be saved due to the protected species that reside on it. A few of these endangered species include the Bartman’s hairstreak, Florida leafwig butterfly, Florida bonneted bat, and the Florida Indigo Snake. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are looking to add more species to that list in the near future. Conversationalists hope they may be able to show that land development would be harmful to the survival of these protected species.

    Cummings responds to all concerns by stating that his development team has done its legal due diligence by coming up with a detailed plan that will only help, not harm the precious Pine Rockland. Aside from the aforementioned green corridor, the plan includes periodic controlled fires to help keep the pine canopies open and prevent overgrowth. The plan also includes doing the majority of the construction on areas that the developers claim is overrun with the Burma reed which is an invasive species.

    Conversationalists remain skeptical that this development plan will do anything other than destroy an already endangered ecosystem.

    Keywords:
    environmental regulations, legal due diligence
  • MargaretThibo
    The Sunshine State is Going Solar
    Entry posted May 23, 2015 by MargaretThiboSuper Contributor in Current Environmental Issues > Current Environmental Issues Blog public
    Title:
    The Sunshine State is Going Solar
    Entry:

    The sunshine state is taking a new stance on sustainable energy by investing in solar energy. The Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) has put forth a major effort to build a large solar plant on the site of a defunct coal burning plant. The site would include thousands of solar panels over about 30 acres of land. Half of the panels would be placed where the coal plant once stood. The other half would be built on a hill nearby that was formed from decades of coal ash waste.

    The Orlando Utility Commission states that this solar project is just one of many they have planned in the near future. The OUC wishes to keep its utility crews busy building solar power plants. Florida Power & Light Co. has made a similar bid in the city of Tallahassee that would triple the amount of solar energy in the area.

    The project would ultimately produce about 12 megawatts of power, which is the equivalent of power for hundreds of Floridian homes. While this is only a fraction of the energy produced by even the smallest natural gas plant, it is still a step in the right direction. The solar energy produced is also expected to cost the same rate for residents, making it an attractive option. Currently the OUC already has more than 100 customers interested in signing up for a solar energy option.

    All of the momentum towards developing solar energy plants stems from The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan was instituted to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from electric companies. Rules for the Clean Power Plan are expected to be issued in the summer, so the solar plant would be a proactive step for Florida. The other driving force behind the solar energy movement is the local community’s desire to have sustainable energy, long term construction jobs, and the government’s financial incentives associated with green energy.

    Keywords:
    sustainable energy, green energy
  • jthomas
    What are the most common RECs4
    Topic posted April 10, 2015 by jthomasMember in Discussions > Environmental Due Diligence public
    Title:
    What are the most common RECs
    Content:

    I recently had a client ask me what the most common Phase I RECs.  I rattled off my list that I've assembled from personal experience and some EPA sources.  I'd like to know what your top 10 most common RECs.  If anyone is especially motivated, tell me your top 100.   

    I’d also like to know what frequency of Phase I ESAs result in a Phase II recommendation.  I know use plays a huge factor.

    Thank you.

    JT

  • Geoman
    Unknown Aerial Photo feature Texas 19382
    Topic posted May 12, 2015 by GeomanContributor in Discussions > Environmental Due Diligence public
    Title:
    Unknown Aerial Photo feature Texas 1938
    Content:

    I have an unusual feature on my aerials in Houston Texas area.  Will try to attach to photos.  One from 1939 jpg and one from the 50s as a pdf.   Agricultural area, could be some type of water holding structure as that later has grown in.  New photos show it totally grown over with woods but still visible like there is some remaining topography from the feature.  Have not been onsite yet.

    Image:
  • MargaretThibo
    Tribe Raises Questions Over Radon Levels
    Entry posted May 10, 2015 by MargaretThiboSuper Contributor in Current Environmental Issues > Current Environmental Issues Blog public
    Title:
    Tribe Raises Questions Over Radon Levels
    Entry:

    The Ute Indian Tribe of Utah has recently reached out to the Utah Air Quality Board over concerns that the uranium ponds at a local mill are emitting radon gas at dangerously high levels.

    The tribe has calculated a formula developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that estimates the amount of radon that will be emitted. The formula predicted that the White Mesa Uranium Mill’s uranium ponds would release levels over 50 times the EPA’s allowance.

    The EPA has not responded to the concerns yet, but the mill’s owner Energy Fuels Resources has. The company stated that they monitor the radon levels emitted at all times and they are completely within legal limits. They believe that the Ute Tribe has been calculating the formula incorrectly, over stating the numbers.

    The White Mesa Mill is the only uranium mill in the U.S., producing up to 8 million pounds of uranium a year. The uranium produced is then sold to nuclear power plants across the country. The Mill also houses radioactive waste from around the country in its five containment ponds.

    Critics of the White Mesa Mill like the Ute Tribe feel that the state and EPA have been unfair in enforcing the environmental regulations surrounding acceptable radon levels for years. For instance, the EPA states that periods of higher than allowed radon may result during periods of time in which the Mill is shut down or not in heavy production. During these breaks in production things may dry out and be more concentrated. They state that this increase is inevitable and allowed even if it exceeds limits.

    Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that is created when radioactive materials like uranium decay. Exposure to high levels of radon can result in serious health problems like cancer. Lung cancer is the most common result since exposure to radon gas comes from inhalation.

    Keywords:
    environmental regulations
  • MargaretThibo
    No If, Ands, or Butts About It
    Entry posted May 10, 2015 by MargaretThiboSuper Contributor in Current Environmental Issues > Current Environmental Issues Blog public
    Title:
    No If, Ands, or Butts About It
    Entry:

    Tobacco use is a controversial topic when it comes to policy making decisions and healthcare, but it is also an important current environmental issue. The litter associated with cigarette smoking is staggering.  Approximately a trillion cigarette butts (which is the equivalent of about 1.69 billion pounds) end up as land pollution each year globally.

    The littering of cigarette butts may be so prevalent due to the incorrect assumption that they are made of cotton and will biodegrade quickly. The truth is that they are made of cellulose acetate, which is completely non biodegradable. The butts litter public places like beaches, trails, campgrounds, and parks, often times ruining otherwise picturesque environments.

    Littered cigarette butts are not only unsightly; they are also dangerous to the environment. Animals, like birds, fish, and small mammals often consume these butts mistaking them for food. The animals can choke or have their digestive system blocked, resulting in death. Butts have been discovered amongst the stomach contents in many animals that had been studied.

     If the cigarette butts are successfully digested by the animals then they have been exposed to dangerous toxic chemicals. Research has shown that the chemicals in butts can even affect the development of fish embryos. One environmental group in Virginia did extensive research on how the toxins in the cigarette butts can leach into local waterways and affect aquatic insect populations. The group discovered that as little as one butt per two gallons of water can be devastating to certain aquatic isencts. A decrease in insects due to water contamination can have serious consequences in a local food chain.

    Animals are not the only ones in danger, the American Association of Poison Control reports thousands of incidents a year in which young children accidently ingest cigarette butts and require medical attention. Children who swallow discarded butts can experience choking, vomiting, nausea, and many other unpleasant symptoms.

    There is also a fire danger associated with the littering of cigarette butts. Many devastating forest fires have directly resulted from improperly disposed of butts. Fires caused by cigarette butts also result in an estimated 900 deaths and 2,500 injuries annually. Property damage due to fire can reach the hundreds of millions of dollar mark each year.

    Municipal and state governments spend a lot of money on the cleanup of littered butts. Some of the cost is offset by taxes added to the price of pack, but much of the cleanup is paid for by the general fund. Private companies are also spending on extra employees to pick up litter in their parking lots and on their property.  They do so to keep a clean appearance and comply with environmental regulations.

    There is one extremely simple solution to prevent almost all of these environmental and human disasters from occurring. All people have to do is properly dispose of their cigarette after they finish smoking.  Many individuals feel that bans on public smoking are not fair and unconstitutional, but one doesn’t even have to delve into that controversy to make a difference. Smokers can continue on as they are as long as they do not flick their butt, but rather extinguish it in an ashtray or other receptacle.

    Keywords:
    current environmental issue, land pollution, water contamination,environmental regulations
  • Robert
    Interesting find on a Fire Insurance Plan75.0
    Topic posted September 16, 2014 by RobertMember in Discussions > General public
    Title:
    Interesting find on a Fire Insurance Plan
    Content:

    This plan, dated January 1930, shows two 100-gallon gas tanks associated with a tiny cleaner at the back of a residential property and another cleaner in the dwelling's basement.

    In 1930, the site was all single family residential.

    The proprietors must have had a pick-up drop off location and brought the clothes here for cleaning.

    Image:
  • R Scott Powell
    Time to dispose of this issue!183.0
    Entry last edited January 19, 2012 by R Scott PowellElite Contributor in Blogs > R. Scott Powell's - Watch The Language public
    Title:
    Time to dispose of this issue!
    Entry:

    English is our version of written and verbal communication in the USA (for the most part).  We speak it every day and most of us write in the English language every day.  Yet through all the practice we mess it up constantly.  Most of us here on CG review reports of one type or another.  Over time I have noticed a misunderstanding of a basic English language concept, verb phrases, particularly prepositional verb phrases.  It is a scourge across all levels of writers.  I am even an offender of multi-word verb use.  

     
    More:

    This blog is not just about general verb use, but in particular the verb “dispose.”  This is a very important word in the environmental industry, and its proper use is, at least to me, important.  The on-line dictionary Dictionary.com defines “dispose” for us.  In particular, look for the two definitions of “disposed of,” the first is just a definition, the second gives examples.  I have debated the proper grammatical use of this word with many people over the years, so I decided to write it down this time.  I hope the following helps you in your professional writing. 

     

    There are three general types of multi-word verbs.  If your interested in learning more about the different types follow this link to Englishclub.com.  I’m interested in discussing prepositional verb phrases and its grammatical layout. 

     

    Prepositional verb phrases have a basic formula:  verb + preposition + direct object.  I will use my favorite example - J - “dispose of.”  Read the following few examples and guess which are correct and which are incorrect.

     

    1. The soil was disposed of in the landfill.
    2. After excavation activities, the soil was disposed of.
    3. The contractor disposed of the soil in the landfill.
    4. Before the project was completed, the soil was disposed.
    5. The soil was disposed of quickly. 

     

    Did you answer correctly?  Here are the answers:

     

    1. Remember the basic equation for a prepositional verb phrase?  How many prepositions are after the verb “disposed?”  Two.  Therefore, this example is incorrect.  The correct verb phrase would have been “disposed in …”
    2. Again, return to the basic equation.  Where is the direct object?  There isn’t one.  The sentence is incorrect.  The correct phrase would be “… the soil was disposed.”  This is not the best sentence to use.  I would suggest making it a prepositional verb phrase and give it a direct object (incorporate the location where the soil was disposed), “… the soil was disposed in Timmy’s back yard.” 
    3. We have a winner.  The prepositional verb phrase has a direct object, with a bonus prepositional phrase stating where the contractor took the soil.
    4. Again, winner.  Examples 2 and 4 also show one of my other pet peeves, starting a sentence with a preposition.  It is not incorrect grammatically; however, it is not the best show of “technical writing.”  I would suggest switching the main body of the sentence and the preposition, which would also create the verb phrase “… disposed before the project was completed.” 
    5. No, sorry.  An adverb is not a direct object, but drop the “of” and you have “… disposed quickly,” an intransitive verb phrase, which would be correct. 

     

    I’m going to admit, I’m not an English professional, and I do not know all the rules and exceptions in English grammar.  If you can refute my examples, please do so, just provide a reference so I can review it and learn more myself. 

     

    This was just one example of many we find in technical writing.  What have you found?  Do you have a word phrase (verb phrase, noun phrase, or prepositional phrase) that you feel incorrect but do not know the answer?  Post it, lets find out.

     

    Scott

     

     

     

    Keywords:
    grammar, dispose, verbs