Environmental remediation

Redevelopment in Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley: What Worked and Why?

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The revitalization of Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley as an industrial, recreational, and entertainment district has been lauded both locally and nationally as a successful and sustainable urban redevelopment project. In this report, the Public Policy Forum explores how the Valley’s major improvements over the last 15 years were achieved, including an examination of the public policies, financial resources, and partnerships that were crucial to the redevelopment effort.

The purpose of this research effort is not to evaluate the success of Valley redevelopment. Indeed, we start with the premise that Valley redevelopment has been successful. Our objective, instead, is to identify and analyze the ingredients of success so that consideration can be given to replicating them elsewhere. Through analysis of Valley data and documents, and through an extensive series of interviews with public and private sector leaders, we are able to cite the major barriers that inhibited Valley redevelopment, and examine the policies, activities, and strategies that helped to overcome those barriers and facilitate private sector investments.

The report begins with a brief overview of the economic, environmental, and community improvements that have occurred in the Menomonee Valley since the late 1990s. We then explore the work that brought about those outcomes by examining five “success factors” deemed critical to the Valley’s revitalization, and by presenting four major Valley projects as case studies.

U.S. EPA Approves Carbon Sequestration Permit in Decatur, Illinois

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a permit allowing the Archer Daniels Midland Company to inject carbon dioxide deep underground in Decatur, Illinois. This process – known as “carbon sequestration” – is a means of storing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

ADM plans to capture carbon dioxide produced by an ethanol manufacturing facility. ADM’s goal is to capture and inject 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. Sequestering 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year is the equivalent of eliminating carbon emissions from over 230,000 cars.

U.S. EPA completed a technical review of the Class VI permit and responded to over 100 public comments before approving the permit. ADM can begin drilling the well in November in preparation for injecting liquefied carbon dioxide. ADM must demonstrate the integrity of the well before injecting carbon dioxide and conduct extensive monitoring at the location.

ADM is the second facility in the nation to receive a Class VI underground injection permit for carbon sequestration. In August, U.S. EPA issued four Class VI permits for a FutureGen Alliance facility in downstate Illinois.

For more information: http://www.epa.gov/region5/water/uic/adm/.

Google names winners of annual Google Science Fair

Read the full story at ZDNet.

After whittling down a pool of contestants that numbered in the thousands, Google said it has chosen the winners of its annual Google Science Fair.

Google hosts the science and innovation competition for students between the ages of 13-18, and in recent years upped the ante for winners with cash prices and school rewards…

Additional winners include…

Hayley Todesco, 17-18 age category – This Canadian student won for her project Waste to Water: Biodegrading Naphthenic Acids using Novel Sand Bioreactors.

 

EPA Adds Five, Proposes Three Hazardous Waste Sites to Superfund’s National Priorities List

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is adding five hazardous waste sites that pose risks to human health and the environment to the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites. In addition, the agency is proposing to add three additional sites to the list. The Superfund program, a federal program established by Congress in 1980, investigates and cleans up the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country and converts them into productive local resources by eliminating or reducing health risks and environmental contamination associated with hazardous waste sites.

“Cleaning up hazardous waste sites protects our country’s most vulnerable populations, prevents diseases, increases local property values and facilitates economic restoration of communities across America,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “By listing a site on the Superfund National Priorities List, we’re taking an important action to protect human health and encourage economic restoration of communities.”

Recent academic research, from the study Superfund Cleanups and Infant Health, demonstrated that investment in Superfund cleanups reduces the incidence of congenital abnormalities for those living within 5,000 meters (or 5,468 yards) of a site. Another study conducted by researchers at Duke and Pittsburgh Universities, concluded that making a site final on the NPL may increase housing prices by signaling that a site has been placed on the path towards remediation. Furthermore, the study found that once a site has all cleanup remedies in place, nearby properties have a significant increase in property values as compared to pre-NPL proposal values.

The following five sites have been added to the NPL:

  • Indiana – North Shore Drive (ground water plume) in Elkhart, Ind.;
  • Louisiana – Delta Shipyard (former boat cleaning and repair) in Houma, La.;
  • New Jersey – Pierson’s Creek (chemical manufacturer) in Newark, N.J.;
  • Pennsylvania – Baghurst Drive (ground water plume) in Harleysville, Pa.; and
  • Vermont – Jard Company, Inc. (former capacitor manufacturer) in Bennington, Vt.

The following three sites have been proposed for addition to the NPL:

  • Alabama – 35th Avenue (residential soil contamination) in Birmingham, Ala.;
  • Indiana – Kokomo Contaminated Ground Water Plume (ground water plume) in Kokomo, Ind.; and
  • Michigan – DSC McLouth Steel Gibraltar Plant (steel finishing operation) in Gibraltar, Mich.

The sites announced today have characteristics and conditions that vary in terms of size, complexity and when the contamination occurred, with some sites involving recent contamination, among other factors. But as with all NPL sites, EPA first works to identify companies or people responsible for the contamination at a site, and requires them to conduct or pay for the cleanup. For the newly listed sites without viable potentially responsible parties, EPA will investigate the full extent of the contamination before starting substantial cleanup at the site.

Past and current site uses include lead smelting, solvent handling, small capacitor and motor manufacturing, and maritime-related activities. Site contaminants are numerous with lead, arsenic and other metals; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and volatile organic compounds such as trichloroethylene (TCE), as well as others. Contamination affects residential yards, wetlands, surface water and groundwater, and soil.

For example, EPA added the Jard Company Inc. to the NPL. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), used in the manufacturing process, were released into the former building structure and soils on the property which contaminated area groundwater. At the Delta Shipyard site, heavy metals and other hazardous wastes were released from disposal ponds which contaminated area soils, groundwater and surface waters. Without NPL site listing and cleanup, contamination would continue to pose a risk to human health and the environment.

The Superfund program uses remedy effectiveness information to actively manage site operations and refine remedial strategies in order to efficiently move sites to completion. Today, more than 800 Superfund sites across the nation support some type of continued use, active reuse or planned reuse activities.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the law establishing the Superfund program, gives EPA the authority to clean up releases of hazardous substances and directs EPA to update the NPL at least annually to protect human health and the environment with the goal of returning these sites to communities for productive use. The NPL contains the nation’s most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites. The list serves as the basis for prioritizing both enforcement actions and long-term EPA Superfund cleanup funding; only sites on the NPL are eligible for such funding.

Now available: Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) Wastes LibGuide

This guide was developed as a companion to a University of Illinois workshop entitled PCBs and Their Impact on Illinois, to be held in Chicago, IL on September 17, 2014. The structure of the guide is based on the workshop agenda. Topics covered include:

  • Background on PCBs and their impacts
  • Managing PCB Containing Wastes
  • Alternatives to Landfilling PCB Wastes
  • Clean-up Success Stories
  • Glossary

Waukegan reaches milestone in harbor cleanup

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

Waukegan Harbor has reached a pivotal moment in its history — one that city leaders hope will revive its sagging economy — with the culmination of a 30-year, $150 million cleanup to rid the shoreline of contamination left by the city’s former industrial giants along Lake Michigan.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that the harbor has met requirements to be removed from a list of 43 polluted sites dubbed the “Great Lakes Areas of Concern.” The federal agency will continue to monitor the site for an unspecified amount of time, possibly a few years, before it is officially “de-listed,” officials said.

Texas Tech Researchers Discover Low-Grade Nonwoven Cotton Picks Up 50 Times Own Weight of Oil

Read the full story from Texas Tech University.

Texas Tech University researchers recently discovered that low-grade cotton made into an absorbent nonwoven mat can collect up to 50 times its own weight in oil.

The results strengthen the use of cotton as a natural sorbent for oil, said Seshadri Ramkumar, professor in the Department of Environmental Toxicology at Texas Tech who led the research. The results were published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.