EPA head says he wants to ‘prioritize’ Superfund cleanups

Read the full story from the Washington Post.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt says he plans to prioritize the agency’s Superfund cleanups, even as the Trump administration seeks deep cuts to the program responsible for restoring the nation’s most polluted sites.

University of Minnesota researchers invent nano-sponge to soak up pollution

Read the full story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota reported recently that they have developed a way to use one of the most common of all cleaning tools to remove one of the most toxic and widespread pollutants from contaminated water. Their breakthrough: They permeate the sponge with the natural element selenium by growing it inside from the atom level on up. Soak the sponge in contaminated water, the mercury binds with the selenium, and the water is essentially purified.

EPA Principles for Greener Cleanups

EPA’s Principles for Greener Cleanups serve as the foundation for the Agency’s greener cleanup policy. Among other things, the Principles establish a policy goal to evaluate cleanup actions comprehensively for the purpose of ensuring protection of human health and the environment and reducing the environmental footprint of cleanup activities, to the maximum extent possible.

For more information, visit EPA’s Greener Cleanups web site.

The Latest Solution For Cleaning Up Oil Spills? It’s A Sponge

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Oil spills are catastrophic for marine environments, especially if they’re not cleaned up quickly. That can be difficult when a spill occurs in the middle of the ocean and crews can’t reach the area until hours after the oil has started to spread and sink deeper into the water. Scientists at the Argonne National Laboratory have engineered a new material called the Oleo Sponge that uses foam and oil-absorbing molecules to soak up oil both on and below the water’s surface—and after the sponge is wrung out, both the sponge and the recovered oil can be reused.

At least 3,000 geese killed by toxic water from former Montana copper mine

Read the full story in The Guardian.

At least 3,000 geese were killed by a toxic stew formed by a former copper mine in Butte, Montana, this weekend, raising questions about how the new Trump administration will handle the largest Superfund site in the country.

EPA Gives $3.8M to Help 19 Communities Plan New Uses for Former Brownfield Sites

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected 19 communities for approximately $3.8 million in funding to assist with planning for cleanup and reuse of Brownfield sites as part of the Brownfields Area-Wide Planning (AWP) program. Each recipient will receive up to $200,000 to engage their community and conduct planning activities for brownfield site reuse.

The grants will help communities plan improvements such as housing, transportation options, recreation and open space, education and health facilities, social services, renewed infrastructure, increased commerce and employment opportunities.

“The Area-Wide Planning grant program is an innovation initiated by the Obama Administration to empower communities to transform economically and environmentally distressed areas, including communities impacted by manufacturing plant closures, into vibrant future destinations for business, jobs, housing and recreation,” said Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management. “These grants provide the opportunity for communities to determine for themselves revitalization plans that best meet their vision and needs based on a rigorous analysis of market and infrastructure in a manner that benefits and does not displace long-term residents.”

Assistant Administrator Stanislaus announced the new AWP recipients for funding at a community event in Norfolk, Va.

EPA’S AWP program was modeled after New York State’s Brownfields Opportunity Area (BOA) Program, which was developed by communities – particularly lower income communities – to enable them to drive development that meets their needs without displacing them. Studies have shown that residential property values near brownfields sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15 percent. Data also shows that brownfields clean ups can increase overall property values within a one-mile radius. Preliminary analysis involving 48 brownfields sites shows that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments in a single year after cleanup.

This year’s selected recipients for funding are:

  • Eastern Maine Development Corporation, Bucksport, Maine
  • City of Providence, R.I.
  •  Isles, Inc., East Trenton, N.J.
  • City of Wilmington, Del.
  • Redevelopment Authority of the City of Harrisburg, Pa.
  • City of Norfolk, Va.
  • University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla.
  • City of Middlesborough, Ky.
  • Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, Charleston and North Charleston, S.C.
  • Near East Area Renewal, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Wayne County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, River Rouge, Mich.
  • Lorain County, Lorain, Ohio
  • Port of New Orleans, New Orleans, La.
  • City of Burlington, Iowa
  • Resource Conservation and Development for Northeast Iowa, Inc., Postville, Iowa
  • City of Glenwood Springs, Colo.
  • City of Orem, Utah
  • Trust for Public Land, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • City of Grants Pass, Ore.

More information on the funding recipients: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding

To apply for Brownfields Grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/apply-brownfields-grant-funding

More information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities: http://www.sustainablecommunities.gov/

Sawdust reinvented into super sponge for oil spills

Read the full story at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Lowly sawdust, the sawmill waste that’s sometimes tossed onto home garage floors to soak up oil spilled by amateur mechanics, could receive some new-found respect thanks to science.

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have chemically modified sawdust to make it exceptionally oil-attracting and buoyant, characteristics that are ideal for cleaning oil spills in the icy, turbulent waters of the Arctic. The nontoxic material absorbs up to five times its weight in oil and stays afloat for at least four months.