Day: November 11, 2013

EPA Completes Cleanup of Former Lead Smelter Site in Pilsen

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy today announced that EPA has finished cleaning up Loewenthal Metals, a former lead smelter site in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. In response to community concerns, EPA removed high concentrations of lead in the soil to ensure that the property is safe for residential use in the future.

Last June, EPA began the removal of 4,800 tons of contaminated soil and debris from the Loewenthal site. Today, EPA announced that the contaminated soil has been replaced with clean soil that is seeded to prevent erosion.

“I’m proud of EPA’s work, partnering with city and state officials, to clean up the former Loewenthal Metals site,” said McCarthy. “Cleaning up dangerous levels of lead in Pilsen is just one example of how EPA is making a real difference for families and communities across the country—especially those most vulnerable to environmental hazards.”

Earlier, Administrator McCarthy toured the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods to see first-hand the progress of EPA efforts to reduce pollution in the area.

“The example of the Loewenthal cleanup shows why EPA’s work is so important to all working communities,” said Rosalie Mancera, Board President,Pilsen Alliance. “We hope we keep addressing Pilsen’s industrial footprint.”

“Over the past couple of years PERRO has developed a good working relationship with the U.S. EPA,” said Jerry Mead-Lucero, Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO.) “We have regular meetings with U.S. EPA staff to stay on top of multiple sites of concern in the community. The increased cooperation between U.S. EPA and PERRO has already resulted in the remediation of contaminated sites in the neighborhood and we expect more sites to be addressed in the near future.”

“It is a great day when a toxic site such as Loewenthal no longer poses a threat to a frontline community like Pilsen,” said Antonio Lopez, Executive Director, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. “LVEJO congratulates PERRO for their steady commitment to Environmental Justice in Pilsen and the EPA Region 5 for the remediation work they performed. We look forward to seeing this and other former industrial sites transform and contribute to the surrounding community’s health and wellness through green infrastructure projects, and to the economic strength of the area through living-wage renewable energy jobs.”

Loewenthal Metals is a half-acre site in a largely residential part of Chicago. Historical records indicate that the facility operated as a lead and zinc smelter, as well as a scrap metal dealer during the 1940s. In December 2011, the Illinois EPA referred the site to U.S. EPA for potential cleanup. After obtaining a warrant to access the site, EPA began sampling soil for lead in November 2012 and started the cleanup last June.

More information about EPA’s activities in the Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods is available on the EPA Web site:

Household Food and Drink Waste in the United Kingdom 2012

New WRAP research reveals a substantial reduction in the amount of household food and drink waste arising between 2007 and 2012. However, the research also highlights the scale of the opportunity remaining.

The results show that avoidable household food waste has been cut by an impressive 21% since 2007, saving UK consumers almost £13 billion over the five years to 2012.

However, despite this significant drive to reduce food waste, UK households are still throwing away 4.2 million tonnes of household food and drink annually; the equivalent of six meals every week for the average UK household.

The main report and executive summary contain estimates of the quantity and types of food and drink waste generated by UK households in 2012, and compares these to 2007 estimates. It includes details of the types of food and drink wasted, why it is thrown away, and where the material goes.

To support the report the following documents are also available:

  • Infographic: illustrating the key data from the report
  • Synthesis of Food Waste Compositional Data 2012: a report providing estimates of household food and drink waste collected by local authorities. The research synthesises information from waste audits undertaken by local authorities and waste statistics from the waste data repository WasteDataFlow.
  • Methods Annex Report: detailed descriptions of the research methods and analyses that were performed to obtain these estimates. This annex also includes statements by the peer reviewers of this research.

Green Gridirons: Rutgers University

A football stadium may have green grass but does it have green habits? Each week, Great Lakes Echo highlights a Big Ten football stadium’s attempts to do the most to impact the environment the least. This week, they feature High Point Solutions Stadium at Rutgers University.

Poplars modified for ethanol production still fight bugs

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.

Insects could help decide what fuel goes in your vehicle’s tank.

A recent University of Wisconsin study looked at whether genetically modifying poplar trees to more easily produce ethanol could also make them vulnerable to insect pests. The findings, published on, may bring genetically engineered poplar trees one step closer to commercial use for a biofuel made from the cellulose in plant cell walls.

Creating Bio-Oil from Wood Chips a Reality at Battelle

Via Battelle.

Waste to bio-oil? It’s a reality at Battelle.

Battelle engineers and scientists have developed a mobile device that transforms unwanted biomass materials such as wood chips or agricultural waste into valuable bio-oil using catalytic pyrolysis. As currently configured, the Battelle-funded unit converts one ton of pine chips, shavings and sawdust into as much as 130 gallons of wet bio-oil per day.

This intermediate bio-oil then can be upgraded by hydrotreatment into a gas/diesel blend or jet fuel. Conversion of the bio-oil to an advanced biofuel is a key element of Battelle’s research. Extensive testing of the bio-based gasoline alternative produced by Battelle suggests that it can be blended with existing gasoline and can help fuel producers meet their renewable fuel requirements.

An alternative use of Battelle’s bio-oil is its conversion to a bio-polyol that can be substituted in chemical manufacturing for polyols derived from petroleum. Battelle’s bio-polyols have been validated by a third-party polyurethane producer as a viable alternative.

Battelle is evaluating this one-ton-per-day system at its West Jefferson, Ohio facility. The pilot-scale system is the culmination of Battelle’s second-stage development of the mobile pyrolysis technology. In the first stage, which took place over the past four years, Battelle created a bench-scale machine that converted 50-pounds of woody waste per day, demonstrating the novel concept. The next step will be to work with a strategic partner/investor to produce a tenth-scale demonstration unit.

Currently, Battelle experts are using mainly pine waste in the transportable pyrolysis unit, although the high-tech machine can be modified to use other types of unwanted agricultural field residue known as stranded biomass, including corn stover, switch grass and Miscanthus.

Additionally, all of the waste materials produced by the unit’s process-liquid, solid and gas-have been taken into account. The liquid waste stream is water that can be safely recycled or disposed of, the solid char contains inorganics that can be used in fertilizers and the venting gas is monitored for safety.

Because of its small size, the pyrolysis unit is installed on the trailer of a flat-bed 18-wheel truck, making it mobile and thus transportable to the waste products. This feature makes it ideal to access the woody biomass that is often left stranded in agricultural regions, far away from industrial facilities. It’s potentially a significant cost advantage over competing processes represented by large facilities that require shipment of the biomass from its home site.

“We have something quite compelling,” said Kathya Mahadevan, Business Line Manager in Battelle’s Energy and Environment at business. “We’ve got it producing oil and have proven viable applications for it. As we increase scale, we will be able to further refine efficiencies such as thermal consumption and yield.”

The Battelle bio-oil created by the mobile pyrolysis unit is similar to naturally occurring fossil oils harvested from underground. The hydrotreated, upgraded fuel from machine meets the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

FY 2015 Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) Solicitation

The Department of Defense’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) is seeking environmental research and development proposals for funding beginning in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. Projects will be selected through a competitive process. Details are available on the website under Funding Opportunities at

The Core Solicitation provides funding opportunities for basic and applied research and advanced technology development. Core projects vary in cost and duration consistent with the scope of the work proposed. The Statements of Need (SON) referenced by this solicitation request proposals related to the SERDP program areas of Environmental Restoration (ER), Munitions Response (MR), Resource Conservation and Climate Change (RC), and Weapons Systems and Platforms (WP). All Core pre-proposals are due Thursday, January 9, 2014.

The SEED Solicitation provides funding opportunities for work that will investigate innovative environmental approaches that entail high technical risk or require supporting data to provide proof of concept. Funding is limited to not more than $150,000 and projects are approximately one year in duration. This year, SERDP is requesting SEED proposals for the Environmental Restoration and Weapons Systems and Platforms program areas. SEED proposals are due Tuesday, March 11, 2014.


Webinar for the SERDP Solicitations: The SERDP Executive Director will conduct an online seminar “SERDP Funding Opportunities” on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, from 2:00-3:00 PM EST. This “how to play” briefing will offer valuable information for those interested in new SERDP funding opportunities. During the online seminar, participants may ask questions about the funding process, the current SERDP solicitations, and the proposal submission process. Pre-registration for this webinar is required. To register, visit If you have difficulty registering, please contact the SERDP Support Office at 703-736-4547 or by e-mail at

Composting for Businesses and Organizations

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

While the recycling of paper, plastic and glass is common across the country, composting remains the final frontier of recycling, especially in dense East Coast cities. But recent citywide composting efforts launched in Boston and New York are showing that it can be done, even in the most challenging urban environments with tight space constraints. Since 30% of waste generated in the US is made up of organic and food waste, many organizations are starting to realize that composting might be one of the few ways left to improve corporate sustainability goals or to achieve zero-waste ambitions.

But how do you know if you are ready to conquer the final frontier of recycling?  Here is a quick guide to help you decide:

Shop Towels Hold Risk for Factory Workers

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

US and Canadian manufacturing workers who use laundered shop towels may be inadvertently exposed to lead and other metals, according to a peer-reviewed study by Gradient.

The Kimberly-Clark Professional-commissioned analysis, Evaluation of Potential Exposure to Metals in Laundered Shop Towels, found a worker using an average 14 laundered shop towels a day may ingest an amount of lead 400 times higher than the health-based criteria for reproductive effects set by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and more lead than that associated with the EPA’s action level for drinking water.

Note that Kimberly-Clark, the company that funded the study, manufactures paper towels.

Is there business value behind changing consumer behaviour?

Read the full story in The Guardian.

A new tool, the Business Case Builder, is designed to help companies build a business case for sustainable lifestyle programmes, but why should brands bother?

Submetering fuels $3.1M energy efficiency fight

Read the full story in the Hartford Business Journal.

One of the state’s most energy efficient buildings has been denied millions of dollars in energy efficiency incentives for four years, the result of a fight between a prominent Connecticut developer and United Illuminating with far-reaching impacts on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s energy policy.

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