Read the full story in the Rockford Register Star.
Neighbors who were displaced for days after a Chemtool industrial plant exploded last week have filed a class action lawsuit in Winnebago County court.
Read the full story at Treehugger.
From the signing of the Kyoto Protocol to a surge of interest around An Inconvenient Truth, climate activists have had cause for fleeting bursts of optimism over the years. Yet so far, those bursts of good news have too often been tempered by backsliding, pushback, or at very least, inadequate levels of progress.
This isn’t simply a case of missed opportunities that can be “made up for” later. Each time we fail to act on climate, it dramatically steepens the scale of ambition at which later action will be necessary, limits what we can actually achieve, raises how much it will cost, and it narrows the window of time in which we can still make a meaningful difference…
The latest example comes from risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft, whose 2021 Environmental Risk Outlook warns investors and policymakers alike that “disorderly transition” to a low carbon economy is now all but inevitable for G20 nations. Most strikingly, even better-than-most countries like the United Kingdom—which has cut emissions to Victorian-era levels, and recently upped its ambition—is still facing the prospect of a huge shortfall between its stated goals and the policies it is willing to enact…
Read the full story from the University of Missouri.
To help environmental agencies battle the toxic threats posed by landfills, researchers have developed a system that ranks the toxins present in a landfill by order of toxicity and quantity, allowing agencies to create more specific and efficient plans to combat leachate.
Read the full story from U.S. EPA.
The Tox21 10K Compound Library brings together a wealth of chemical testing methods, samples and data from EPA, partner agencies and other science institutions to help scientists evaluate chemicals for potential health effects. The 10K Compound Library is the largest of its kind, specifically intended to be used in high-throughput in vitro assay screens to advance the understanding of chemical toxicology.
The library is the result of a decade-long effort and acts as the foundation for Toxicology Testing in the 21st Century (Tox21). The Tox21 consortium is a federal collaboration between EPA, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) headquartered at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
A paper written by EPA researcher Dr. Ann Richard and colleagues, The Tox21 10K Compound Library: Collaborative Chemistry Advancing Toxicology, describes how the library has advanced scientific understanding of chemical toxicology. The paper was recognized as an American Chemical Society (ACS) Editor’s Choice in November 2020.
The next step in the process required by TSCA is risk management. EPA will propose and take public comments on actions to address the unreasonable risks identified in the risk evaluation. According to TSCA, the agency must finalize those actions within two years of completing the final risk evaluation. EPA’s proposed regulations could include requirements on how the chemical is used, or limiting or prohibiting the manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce, use, or disposal of this chemical substance, as applicable.
There will be additional opportunities for public participation. Just like the risk evaluation process, there will be opportunities for public comment as EPA works to propose and finalize risk management actions for TCE. You can stay informed by signing up for EPA’s email alerts or checking the public dockets at http://www.regulations.gov.
Read the full story from NPR.
A growing body of research suggests that the lack of transparency and growing flood risk due to climate change are leading millions of Americans to put their safety and their financial futures in jeopardy.
Sun, Y.; Bi, K.; Yin, S. (2020) Measuring and Integrating Risk Management into Green Innovation Practices for Green Manufacturing under the Global Value Chain. Sustainability 12, 545. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020545 [Open access]
Abstract: How to solve the contradiction between economic growth and ecological environmental protection is a practical problem that should be solved urgently at present. The development of green technology in the manufacturing industry must rely on technology innovation. However, the process of implementing green innovation in the manufacturing industry is full of high uncertainty and risk. First, the green innovation risks were divided into global green R&D risk, global green manufacturing risk, global green marketing risk, and global green service risk from the perspective of the process. Then, this study established a management criteria system of green innovation risk identification in the manufacturing industry under the global value chain (GVC). Furthermore, three methods were applied to identify the green innovation risk of the manufacturing industry under the GVC. Finally, this paper put forward the countermeasures to the green innovation risk of the manufacturing industry under the GVC. The empirical research results of this paper are as follows: From the perspective of the green innovation process, four risks are classified in this study, namely, global green R&D risk, global green manufacturing risk, global green marketing risk, and global green service risk. Among the four stages of green innovation risk, green marketing risk is the highest, followed by green service risk, and green R&D risk and green manufacturing risk are the least. Global green service risk and green R&D risk can be reduced mainly through risk diversification and risk reduction. Global green manufacturing risk and green marketing risk can be reduced mainly through risk diversification and secondary through risk reduction.
As part of EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment, the agency has completed a final risk evaluation for HBCD under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In the final HBCD risk evaluation, EPA reviewed 12 conditions of use, including as a flame retardant in building materials, solder paste, recycled plastics, and automobile replacement parts.
As part of EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment, the agency has completed a final risk evaluation for 1-bromopropane (1-BP) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In the final 1-BP risk evaluation, EPA reviewed 25 conditions of use, such as a solvent in vapor degreasing, dry cleaning, spot cleaners, stain removers, adhesives, sealants, and automobile care products.
The 1-BP risk evaluation contains the agency’s final determinations on which conditions of use present unreasonable risks to human health or the environment based on a robust review of the scientific data. To prepare the final risk evaluation, EPA reviewed extensive scientific literature, conducted modeling and other risk assessment activities, and collected toxicity, exposure, and hazard information from many sources.
Releasing a final risk evaluation is the last step in the scientific evaluation process required by TSCA and will guide the agency’s efforts to reduce harmful human exposure to this chemical. EPA will now begin the process of developing ways to address the unreasonable risks identified and has up to one year to propose and take public comments on any risk management actions.
At the time of writing at least 100 people have lost their lives and a further 4,000 have been wounded following an explosion in the Port of Beirut. While the actual cause remains uncertain, the tragedy calls to attention the tremendous consequences of a lack of port security.
The explosion, on August 4, at around 6pm local time, appears to have been fuelled by 2,750 tons of the highly reactive chemical ammonium nitrate. The chemical had been the cargo on a ship, the the MV Rhosus, which entered the port at Beirut in 2013 due to a lack of seaworthiness and was prohibited from sailing. After the ship’s owner abandoned the vessel soon afterwards, the ammonium nitrate remained in a storage facility in Beirut’s port.
While the disaster itself was exceptional, the events leading up to it were not. Hazardous material is shipped across the world’s oceans on a daily basis. It is often mishandled or illegally traded. Abandoned containers of hazardous goods are found regularly in ports.
While maritime security tends to focus on preventing high-profile events such as piracy, terrorism or cyber-attacks, all too often it is daily mishandling that makes disasters possible. Part of preventing disasters such as what has happened in Beirut will mean strengthening port management and addressing crimes such as smuggling and corruption.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has recorded 97 cases of abandoned ships and crews since 2017. Ships are abandoned by their owners if a vessel is no longer lucrative to maintain, or perhaps if the ship has been stopped by authorities and fined. While the situation of the seafarers aboard these ships is often tragic, as they may receive little pay or even food for months, what happens to the load of the vessels is often unclear.
And the IMO number only reflects the cases of ships – we know little about how many containers stand abandoned in ports around the world.
A UN report indicates that this number may be large. Containers often lie abandoned within ports, sometimes even by design, fuelled by criminal activities such as waste smuggling and corruption. Despite some efforts to counter this, the issue remains widespread and there are continued obstacles to tackling it.
Shipping companies often sail to Asia with empty containers, as much of the flow of trade is from Asia to Europe. As a result, they are willing to take low-value and high-volume bookings on the initial leg.
This has facilitated a burgeoning waste trade and with it a smuggling sector, where illegal forms of waste such as unrecyclable plastics are shipped from western countries to countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia. Thousands of these containers lie abandoned once they reach the port.
Much of the waste is less dangerous than the ammonium nitrate that fuelled the Beirut explosion, but it can still have dreadful effects. Plastics, for example, can cause hazards if not properly disposed of. Much of it ends up in the ocean, fuelling the ocean plastic crisis.
In 2019, Sri Lankan authorities discovered more than 100 abandoned containers in the port of Colombo. They contained clinical waste, potentially including human remains, and were leaking fluids. The risk that the containers had contaminated the ground and surface water in the two years they had lay in port unnoticed fuelled public health concerns. Sri Lanka has been able to investigate this problem – but it is likely that, in many cases, abandonment goes undiscovered.
The abandonment of dangerous containers in ports is not a new problem. Since the 2000s there have been significant efforts to increase security levels in ports through surveillance, training and safety protocols. In light of the continuing abandonment problem, we know that these measures – and their implementation – are insufficient.
First, we have to start seeing the smuggling of waste and the abandoning of ships and containers as major offences. They should be seen as important parts of the blue crime and maritime security agenda. Appropriate legislation is needed to criminalise them. An international database for such crimes is required, as is transnational cooperation to address them.
Second, corruption in ports plays a key part in ensuring that abandonment goes unnoticed. It needs to be addressed with a concerted international effort.
Finally, increased efforts in building the capacity of ports to deal with hazardous waste, to detect smuggling and to deal with abandonment cases are needed. In particular, this will be necessary for ports which have limited resources and are common destinations for abandoned containers, such as ports in Asia and Africa.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the International Maritime Organization and the European Union already conduct port security capacity building work, in particular in Africa. More of this kind of work is needed.
Beirut has shown us the kind of impact a port disaster can have on a city and its inhabitants. Lessons must be learned to make sure a tragedy like this does not happen again.