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.

A Plan to Clean Up DePue: Academia Meets Advocacy

Read the full story from Northwestern University.

For over 20 years, the citizens of DePue, Illinois—a relatively quiet town about 100 miles southwest of Chicago—have been engaged in an environmental legal battle with some of the largest corporations in the United States. The Environmental Advocacy Center (EAC) at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law has represented the community members since 2010 and is determined to see the remediation of the contamination sites in support of the health and well-being of residents. To support its advocacy work in DePue, the EAC is leveraging academic expertise from across the university—ranging from chemistry to journalism. And the center has made marked progress in recent months: a clean-up plan for a large residential zone in DePue may be on the horizon.

FY 2017 Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup Grants

Proposals due December 22, 2016.
More information available at https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/apply-brownfields-grant-funding

Assessment Grants (funded over three years)

Community-wide or Site-Specific Applicants: Applicants may apply for up to $200,000 in hazardous substances funding or up to $200,000 in petroleum funding.

Community-wide Applicants: Applicants applying for both hazardous substances funding and petroleum funding may request a combined total up to $300,000; however the request for hazardous substances funding or petroleum funding cannot exceed $200,000 for any one individual type of grant funding. For example, an applicant may apply for $200,000 in hazardous substances funding and $100,000 in petroleum funding.

Assessment Coalition Applicants: Applicants may apply for up to $600,000 in hazardous substances funding and/or petroleum funding.

Cleanup Grants (funded over three years)

Applicants can apply for up to $200,000 per brownfield site and can submit up to three separate, site-specific cleanup proposals.

Functional textiles clean pollutants from air and water

Via Cornell University.

A stark and troubling reality helped spur Juan Hinestroza to what he hopes is an important discovery and a step toward cleaner manufacturing.

Hinestroza, associate professor of fiber science and director of undergraduate studies in the College of Human Ecology, has been to several manufacturing facilities around the globe, and he says that there are some areas of the planet in which he could identify what color is in fashion in New York or Paris by simply looking at the color of a nearby river.

“I saw it with my own eyes; it’s very sad,” he said.

Some of these overseas facilities are dumping waste products from textile dying and other processes directly into the air and waterways, making no attempt to mitigate their product’s effect on the environment.

“There are companies that make a great effort to make things in a clean and responsible manner,” he said, “but there are others that don’t.”

Hinestroza is hopeful that a technique developed at Cornell in conjunction with former Cornell chemistry professor Will Dichtel will help industry clean up its act. The group has shown the ability to infuse cotton with a beta-cyclodextrin (BCD) polymer, which acts as a filtration device that works in both water and air.

Their work is detailed in a paper, “Cotton Fabric Functionalized with a β-Cyclodextrin Polymer Captures Organic Pollutants from Contaminated Air and Water,” published online Oct. 24 in Chemistry of Materials, an American Chemical Society journal.

First author Diego Alzate-Sánchez and Dichtel are now at Northwestern University. Other contributors are former postdoctoral researchers Brian J. Smith (now an assistant professor at Bucknell) and Alaaeddin Alsbaiee (now at Arkema Inc.).

Cotton fabric was functionalized by making it a participant in the polymerization process. The addition of the fiber to the reaction resulted in a unique polymer grafted to the cotton surface.

“One of the limitations of some super-absorbents is that you need to be able to put them into a substrate that can be easily manufactured,” Hinestroza said. “Fibers are perfect for that – fibers are everywhere.”

Scanning electron microscopy showed that the cotton fibers appeared unchanged after the polymerization reaction. And when tested for uptake of pollutants in water (bisphenol A) and air (styrene), the polymerized fibers showed orders of magnitude greater uptakes than that of untreated cotton fabric or commercial absorbents.

Hinestroza pointed to several positives that should make this functionalized fabric technology attractive to industry.

“We’re compatible with existing textile machinery – you wouldn’t have to do a lot of retooling,” he said. “It works on both air and water, and we proved that we can remove the compounds and reuse the fiber over and over again.”

Hinestroza said the adsorption potential of this patent-pending technique could extend to other materials, and be used for respirator masks and filtration media, explosive detection and even food packaging that would detect when the product has gone bad.

And, of course, he hopes it can play a role in a cleaner, more environmentally responsible industrial practices.

“There’s a lot of pollution generation in the manufacture of textiles,” he said. “It’s just fair that we should maybe use the same textiles to clean the mess that we make.”

This research – an offshoot of work done last year at Cornell by Dichtel and his group, which included Alsbaiee and Smith – was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, and made use of the Cornell Center for Materials Research Shared Facilities, which is supported by the NSF’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers program.

 

Greenland calls for clean-up of toxic U.S. Cold War bases

Read the full story from Planet Ark.

Greenland’s government urged the United States and Denmark on Monday to clean up 30 rusting Cold War-era U.S. military installations there, saying it was losing patience over risks of radioactive and chemical waste.