The ‘extremely flammable’ chemical behind the fire in the flooded Texas plant

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Early Thursday, while Texas wrestled with Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath, a powerful reaction belched fire and black smoke from a chemical factory in Crosby, Tex., 30 miles northeast of Houston. The factory, operated by French chemical company Arkema, lost power in the flood. The refrigeration system used to cool tractor-trailer tankers full of chemicals failed. So did the backup generators. There was a popping noise, officials said. Then a warm tanker, full of liquid organic peroxides, erupted into flames.

Organic peroxides are “extremely flammable,” noted the company in a statement on its website Thursday. Arkema said it expected more fires to start and planned to allow the chemicals to burn themselves out…

If there is a silver lining to the peroxide accident Thursday, the chemicals’ reactivity means that they won’t stick around in the environment. The chemicals will burn too quickly for floodwaters to sweep any of the liquid away. “This is an acute event, not a chronic one,” Carroll said.

IDNR issues first fracking permit in Illinois

Read the full story in the Southern Illinoisan.

In a historic move, regulators from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Department of Oil and Gas Resource Management on Thursday approved the state’s first fracking permit.

Approval of the permit, issued to Wichita, Kansas based Woolsey Operating Company, comes more than four years after former state governor Pat Quinn signed the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act into law, opening the way for the controversial oil-drilling practice to begin in the state of Illinois.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Wasted Food Assessment with the Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging Toolkit

This webinar series, part of U.S. EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Web Academy, provides comprehensive guidance on conducting a tracking assessment using EPA’s Reducing Wasted Food & Packaging Toolkit. The toolkit includes a guide and a tracking spreadsheet to assist commercial and institutional food services in tracking and reducing their food and packaging waste by implementing reduction strategies. Reducing food and packaging waste saves money, reduces the environmental impacts of waste, and improves organizational image.

For more resources on reducing food waste, visit EPA’s Sustainable Management of Food site. The Tools for Preventing and Diverting Wasted Food page is particularly useful.

Food Loss Prevention Options for Grade Schools, Manufacturers, Restaurants, Universities and Grocery Stores

Businesses and organizations can learn to effectively prevent wasted food by taking source reduction steps such as inventorying supplies, changing processes and buying less. EPA has developed tip sheets for grade schools, food manufacturers, restaurants, universities and grocery stores that provide suggestions for ways these sectors can prevent food loss and waste.

ASHRAE Participates in Second Annual Energy Efficiency Day

Energy Efficiency Day is a collaborative effort of regional and national organizations that promote energy efficiency and is set for October 6, 2017.  More than 175 government agencies, companies, utilities, cities, and other organizations were official supporters in 2016. This year efforts are being amplified with a website, a Facebook account, more official declarations, and a challenge to save energy in homes and businesses.

Here are four ways ASHRAE Chapters and members can spread the word about the benefits of energy efficiency.

  • Visit the website and sign up. Individuals or organizations may participate. More information will be provided as EE Day gets closer.
  • Take the Lightbulb Challenge or the Office Lighting Challenge. By taking the challenge, you agree to replace at least one light bulb with an LED.  If each US household purchases just one LED bulb, consumers could save $500 million annually. Share your experience with friends and colleagues.
  • Encourage mayors/governors to officially proclaim. In 2016, Hawaii Governor David Ige did so and, this year, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has already followed suit. Check the link above for a sample proclamation that you can share with your mayor and governor.
  • Share news about Energy Efficiency Day and the benefits of saving energy–and money–through blog posts, emails, newsletters, and social media. Telling an energy efficiency success story with videos, photos, graphics, or other content is very powerful. Or share this blog post. When signing up on the EE Day website, the material you can use will be provided.

EPA Launches 6th Annual Campus RainWorks Challenge

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is launching its sixth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a design competition that is open to colleges and universities across the country. EPA seeks to engage with students to foster a dialogue about responsible stormwater management, and showcase the environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure practices.
Registration for the 2017 Challenge is open from September 1 through September 30. Student teams must register in order to submit their entries by December 15. Winners will be announced in the Spring of 2018. Each first-place team will earn a student prize of $2,000 to be divided evenly among student team members and a faculty prize of $3,000 to support green infrastructure research or training. Second-place teams will win $1,000 for student teams and a $2,000 faculty prize.
Water pollution associated with stormwater runoff requires infrastructure solutions that are innovative, resilient, and affordable. Today’s scholars are tomorrow’s design professionals. The Campus RainWorks Challenge will harness their creativity and knowledge to jointly advance the agency’s mission to protect public health and water quality.

Natural drainage: More bioswales coming to Waukegan lakefront

Read the full story in the Lake County News-Sun.

Waukegan’s Sustainable Shoreline Plan received a $375,000 boost from a federal grant that will be used to construct bioswales — drainage systems aimed at using nature as a natural filter for rainwater runoff — along the Waukegan Municipal Beach parking lot and Sea Horse Drive.