Cost of Everglades restoration could double to $16 billion

Read the full story in the Miami Herald.

Restoring America’s River of Grass is getting expensive.

In a five-year update from the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers released Wednesday, federal officials estimated that the cost of the massive restoration effort launched in 2000 and expected to cost $8 billion has doubled to $16.4 billion. And that’s in today’s dollars.

Much of that is due to inflation, although changes in design and the addition of some projects also drove up costs, according to the report.

Effects of biochar and marble mud on mine waste properties to reclaim tailing ponds

M. A. Muñoz, J. G. Guzman, R. Zornoza, F. Moreno, A. Faz, andR. Lal (2016). “Effects of biochar and marble mud on mine waste properties to reclaim tailing ponds.” Land Degradation and Development online ahead of print. DOI: 10.1002/ldr.2521.

Abstract: The effects of biochar addition in improving soil physical properties are not clearly understood in mining tailings. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of 3 different types of biochars, in addition to marble mud (MM) and their mixtures, on the structural stability and water retention of mine wastes in Cartagena, Spain. Biochars were produced at 500 °C from pig manure (PM), cotton (Gossipium hirsutum L.) residues (CR) and municipal solid waste (MSW). Biochars were added to the mine waste along with marble mud and a control (no amendments added). These mixtures were incubated in cores for 90 days (25 °C). PM and CR mixed with MM decreased soil bulk density (from 0.98 g cm-3 to 0.89 and 0.84 g cm-3, respectively). Amendments had no significant effect on total porosity whereas they increased gas diffusion by 100%, except for MSW.Marble mud improved the plant available water from 0.59 to 2.56 cm as its combination with biochars, extremely relevant in water scarce climates. The micropores were likely replaced by mesopores when application of PM, CR, MM and biochars + MM and they improved water retention. Total carbon (TC) and total nitrogen (TN) increased by using biochars and MM and no significant effects were assessed on aggregates. In general, MM mixed with PM and CR derived biochar improved the structural stability and exhibited a strong impact in reclaiming physical quality on mine tailings.

How a Polluted Industrial Site Became Amsterdam’s Most Interesting Neighborhood

Read the full story in CityLab.

Just across the River IJ from central Amsterdam’s waterfront sits an old industrial area that once was left for dead.

The area known as Buiksloterham was home to a Fokker airplane factory, a Shell oil laboratory, a large shipbuilding industry and other manufacturing. Over time, most of the companies here either died or moved out of the area. They left behind a waterfront wasteland where the soil in some areas was polluted. After years of hoping for an industrial revival that never quite came, city leaders concluded about 10 years ago that it was time for Buiksloterham to move on.

That’s when things got interesting—and when Buiksloterham became a model for any city wrestling with what to do with a decaying industrial zone.

Lentils to battle arsenic poisoning from Bangladesh well water in new study

Read the full story from the CBC.

A professor at the University of Calgary is studying whether Saskatchewan-grown lentils can counteract chronic arsenic poisonings from well water that affect up to 77 million people in Bangladesh.

Flushed Resource Restores Ecosystem

Read the full story from the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), Soil Science Society of America (SSSA).

Every city has abandoned industrial sites. Encouraging life to return to these barren areas is a challenge. It requires a healthy topsoil for plants and animals to flourish. Cities, with their heavily compacted and often contaminated soils, often struggle to restore blighted spaces. Quality soil is necessary—but not abundant in cities. Enter biosolids…

Read more about the “dream treatment” in a special section of the Journal of Environmental Quality, “Soil in the City.”

Outdoor activities that boost economy can influence restoration

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

Ecosystem assets in the Great Lakes region, such as sport fishing, boating, beach use, park visits and birding, contribute significantly to the tourism economy of shoreline communities and can help shape restoration priorities for the lakes, according to a new study that incorporates highly detailed maps.

Superfund: Trends in Federal Funding and Cleanup of EPA’s Nonfederal National Priorities List Sites

Download the document.

What GAO Found

Annual federal appropriations to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund program generally declined from about $2 billion to about $1.1 billion in constant 2013 dollars from fiscal years 1999 through 2013. EPA expenditures—from these federal appropriations—of site-specific cleanup funds on remedial cleanup activities at nonfederal National Priorities List (NPL) sites declined from about $0.7 billion to about $0.4 billion during the same time period. Remedial cleanup activities include remedial investigations, feasibility studies, and remedial action projects (actions taken to clean up a site). EPA spent the largest amount of cleanup funds in Region 2, which accounted for about 32 percent of cleanup funds spent at nonfederal NPL sites during this 15-year period. The majority of cleanup funds was spent in seven states, with the most funds spent in New Jersey—over $2.0 billion in constant 2013 dollars, or more than 25 percent of cleanup funds.

From fiscal years 1999 through 2013, the total number of nonfederal sites on the NPL annually remained relatively constant, while the number of remedial action project completions and construction completions generally declined. Remedial action project completions generally occur when the physical work is finished and the cleanup objectives of the remedial action project are achieved. Construction completion occurs when all physical construction at a site is complete, all immediate threats have been addressed, and all long-term threats are under control. Multiple remedial action projects may need to be completed before a site reaches construction completion. The total number of nonfederal sites on the NPL increased from 1,054 in fiscal year 1999 to 1,158 in fiscal year 2013, and averaged about 1,100 annually. The number of remedial action project completions at nonfederal NPL sites generally declined by about 37 percent during the 15-year period. Similarly, the number of construction completions at nonfederal NPL sites generally declined by about 84 percent during the same period. The figure below shows the number of completions during this period.

Why GAO Did This Study

Under the Superfund program, EPA places some of the most seriously contaminated sites on the NPL. At the end of fiscal year 2013, nonfederal sites made up about 90 percent of these sites. At these sites, EPA undertakes remedial action projects to permanently and significantly reduce contamination. Remedial action projects can take a considerable amount of time and money, depending on the nature of the contamination and other site-specific factors. In GAO’s 2010 report on cleanup at nonfederal NPL sites, GAO found that EPA’s Superfund program appropriations were generally declining, and limited funding had delayed remedial cleanup activities at some of these sites.

GAO was asked to review the status of the cleanup of nonfederal NPL sites. This report examines, for fiscal years 1999 through 2013, the trends in (1) the annual federal appropriations to the Superfund program and EPA expenditures for remedial cleanup activities at nonfederal sites on the NPL; and (2) the number of nonfederal sites on the NPL, the number of remedial action project completions, and the number of construction completions at nonfederal NPL sites. GAO analyzed Superfund program and expenditure data from fiscal years 1999 through 2013 (most recent year with complete data available), reviewed EPA documents, and interviewed EPA officials.