Tag Archives: water pollution

‘Mind-bogglingly Dangerous’: Trump EPA Rolls Back Water Pollution Limits for Coal Plants

“A bold-faced gift to the coal industry at the expense of the health of families everywhere”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-14-2017

The EPA placed a delay on a rule that would have limited wastewater pollution from coal-fired plants. (Photo: pennjohnson/Flickr/cc)

In a move that critics are calling “deeply disturbing,” the Trump administration announced on Wednesday a two-year delay to an Obama-era rule limiting wastewater pollution at coal plants.

In 2015 the Obama administration developed new limits on metals including lead, mercury, and arsenic in coal-fired plants’ wastewater, set to go into effect in 2018. The pollutants in question “can cause severe health problems, including cancer and lowered I.Q. among children, as well as deformities and reproductive harm in fish and wildlife,” according to the Center for Biological Diversity, which fought against the rollback of the limits. Continue reading

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Monsanto Chemical May Leave Orca Pod ‘Doomed to Extinction’

By Carey Wedler. Published 5-10-2017 by The Anti-Media

An orca whale that washed up on the coast of Scotland last year was poisoned by environmental pollutants, according to a report released last week.

The Guardian reported last Tuesday that Lulu, the full-grown whale who died, “was a member of the UK’s last resident pod and a postmortem also showed she had never produced a calf. The pollutants, called PCBs, are known to cause infertility and these latest findings add to strong evidence that the pod is doomed to extinction.Continue reading

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Flint Residents Barred From Closed-Door Water Quality Meeting

Advocates and residents are concerned that officials are rushing to declare the city’s water supply safe

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-10-2017

“My eyes are still burning. I can’t breathe when I get out of the shower…we’re still melting here,” Flint resident Tony Palladeno said. (Photo: Flint Rising/ Facebook

Residents of Flint, Michigan who traveled to Chicago were barred from attending a private meeting Tuesday between Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and other officials, who advocates say are rushing to declare the city’s water supply safe.

Outrage over the closed-door meeting prompted protests in Flint and Chicago, where residents held signs outside the Water Quality Summit asking for their detailed water quality report. Continue reading

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In a World Made Toxic, Nearly a Quarter of All Human Deaths Caused by Pollution

Contaminated water, polluted air, chemical waste, climate change, and UV radiation kill 12.6 million people annually, says a new report from the WHO

By Nika Knight, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-15-2016

A child scavenges for coal scraps in a slum in Manila. One in four children's deaths around the world are caused by unhealthy environments, the WHO has found. (Photo: Adam Cohn/flickr/cc.)

A child scavenges for coal scraps in a slum in Manila. One in four children’s deaths around the world are caused by unhealthy environments, the WHO has found. (Photo: Adam Cohn/flickr/cc.)

Nearly a quarter of all deaths around the world are caused by living and working in toxic and polluted environments, and the worst affected are children, the poor, and the elderly, a new report (pdf) released on Tuesday by the World Health Organization (WHO) has found.

“If countries do not take actions to make environments where people live and work healthy, millions will continue to become ill and die too young,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO director-general, according to Business Insider.
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Rejecting Snyder’s Claim, Experts Say Poisoning of Flint Blatant Racial Injustice

Meanwhile, research suggests Flint crisis ‘is not an isolated incident of poor public policies endangering the health of residents living in economically distressed communities.’

By Andrea Germanos and Deirdre Fulton, staff writers for Common Dreams. Published 1-22-2016

Photo: Jillian Hurley/Twitter

Photo: Jillian Hurley/Twitter

Experts are voicing strong disagreement with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who on Friday tried to argue that the lead poisoning plaguing the water of the majority-black city of Flint was “absolutely not” a case of environmental racism.

The Republican governor made the comment in an interview with MSNBC, adding that he’s “been devoted to helping” the city.

But that’s quite different from the way Paul Mohai, a professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, whose work focuses on racial and socioeconomic factors in pollution, see it. Continue reading

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The Looming Environmental Disaster in Missouri that Nobody is Talking About

By Claire Bernish. Published 1-2-2016 at AntiMedia

West Lake Landfill. The canal is filled to the brim and the canal to the right where the brown grasses are growing is being fed the overflow from the filled canal. Photo: Facebook

West Lake Landfill, 12-26-2015. The canal is filled to the brim and the canal to the right where the brown grasses are growing is being fed the overflow from the filled canal. Photo: Facebook

St. Louis, MO — What happens when radioactive byproduct from the Manhattan Project comes into contact with an “underground fire” at a landfill? Surprisingly, no one actually knows for sure; but residents of Bridgeton, Missouri, near the West Lake and Bridgeton Landfills — just northwest of the St. Louis International Airport — may find out sooner than they’d like.

And that conundrum isn’t the only issue for the area. Contradicting reports from both the government and the landfill’s responsible parties, radioactive contamination is actively leaching into the surrounding populated area from the West Lake site — and likely has been for the past 42 years.

In order to grasp this startling confluence of circumstances, it’s important to understand the history of these sites. Pertinent information either hasn’t been forthcoming or is muddied by disputes among the various government agencies and companies that should be held accountable for keeping area residents safe.
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Dam collapse in Brazil destroys towns and turns river into muddy wasteland

By Bruno Weis. Published 22-17-2015 at Greenpeace

On Thursday, November 5th, two dams holding millions of cubic meters of mining waste gave way – launching one of the worst environmental disasters in Brazilian history.

Over 25,000 Olympic swimming pools worth of mud – contaminated with arsenic, lead, chromium and a variety of other heavy metals* – quickly overtook the nearby mining community of Mariana in Minas Gerais state. At least seventeen people were killed. Hundreds more have been displaced by the wall of sludge released in the dam collapse. Continue reading

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Nuclear Waste Site Whistleblower ‘Vindicated’ With $4.1 Million Settlement

Walter Tamosaitis a ‘hero’ who helped stave off disaster, says Tom Carpenter of Hanford Challenge

Written by Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-14-15.

Sunrise at the Hanford nuclear site in Washington.  (Photo: Scott Butner/flickr/cc)

Sunrise at the Hanford nuclear site in Washington. (Photo: Scott Butner/flickr/cc)

Ending years of legal wrangling, a whistleblower who raised safety concerns regarding operations at the Hanford nuclear waste site in Washington has won a $4.1 million settlement, his lawyer announced Wednesday.

Walter Tamosaitis, an engineer, worked over four decades for Hanford subcontractor URS (now AECOM), a subcontractor to Bechtel. Tamosaitis, the LA Times explains,

had been leading a team of 100 scientists and engineers in designing a way to immobilize millions of gallons of highly toxic nuclear sludge as thick as peanut butter. The sludge, which could deliver a lethal dose of radiation to a nearby person within minutes, is stored in leaking underground tanks near the Columbia River in Washington state.

The radioactive waste at the site “is legacy of the Cold War, when the site housed nuclear reactors churning out radioactive plutonium for thousands of American atomic bombs,” the Center for Public Integrity explains. Now, the site is “the largest environmental cleanup project in the world.”

Tamosaitis’ problems erupted in 2010, when, as the Tri-City Herald reports, he

raised a concern that technical issues, including some related to keeping waste well-mixed within the plant, had not been resolved as Bechtel National was working to meet a deadline, according to court documents. At risk was an incentive payment of $6 million to be split between Bechtel and URS, with much of it dependent on resolving the mixing issue by the end of July 2010.

[…]

A few days after Tamosaitis discussed his concerns, he was removed from the project and escorted from vitrification plant offices, according to court documents.

Fifteen months later, he was fired.

“I was fired because I raised nuclear safety issues about the Hanford site,” Tamosaitis has said.

“We are very pleased that Walter can get on with his life after five years of litigation, and that he has been vindicated,” stated Jack Sheridan, the attorney representing Tamosaitis. “This settlement sends a message to whistleblowers everywhere that integrity and truth are worth fighting for, and that you can win if you don’t give up.”

Tom Carpenter, Director of Hanford Challenge, which advocates for safe cleanup of the site, said following the settlement that Tamosaitis is “a hero who staked his career to raise nuclear safety issues that could have resulted in a catastrophe down the road.”

“His concerns have led to the Department of Energy to abandon a dangerously defective design, and to call attention to the abysmal treatment of employees who bring forward safety issues,” Carpenter added. “The public owes Walt a debt of gratitude for his sacrifices.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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With Final Stamp of Approval, White House Places Fate of Arctic in Shell’s Hands

The permit comes days after President Barack Obama announced an upcoming Alaska visit to highlight what he said was ‘one of the greatest challenges we face this century: climate change.’

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-17-2015

Activists in Seattle protest against Shell's Arctic drilling plans. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

Activists in Seattle protest against Shell’s Arctic drilling plans. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

Placing the “fate of the Arctic” in the care of Big Oil, the Obama administration on Monday granted Shell the final permit to drill deep into the waters off the Alaskan coast.

The permit, issued by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), comes days after President Barack Obama announced an upcoming Alaska visit to highlight what he said was “one of the greatest challenges we face this century: climate change.”

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The Great Grief: How To Cope with Losing Our World

In order to respond adequately, first we may need to mourn

Written by Per Espen Stoknes, Published 5-14-15 in CommonDreams.

‘To cope with losing our world,’ writes Stoknes, ‘requires us to descend through the anger into mourning and sadness, not speedily bypass them to jump onto the optimism bandwagon or escape into indifference.’ (Photo: Nikola Jones/flickr/cc)

Climate scientists overwhelmingly say that we will face unprecedented warming in the coming decades. Those same scientists, just like you or I, struggle with the emotions that are evoked by these facts and dire projections. My children—who are now 12 and 16—may live in a world warmer than at any time in the previous 3 million years, and may face challenges that we are only just beginning to contemplate, and in many ways may be deprived of the rich, diverse world we grew up in. How do we relate to – and live – with this sad knowledge?

Across different populations, psychological researchers have documented a long list of mental health consequences of climate change: trauma, shock, stress, anxiety, depression, complicated grief, strains on social relationships, substance abuse, sense of hopelessness, fatalism, resignation, loss of autonomy and sense of control, as well as a loss of personal and occupational identity. Continue reading

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