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Entries in pollution (43)

Monday
Jul272015

Early Warning System Created for Harmful Algal Blooms

Lake Erie algal boom. Photo by Michigan Sea Grant

Four federal agencies have joined forces to create an early warning system for toxic and nuisance algal blooms (HABs) in the Great Lakes and other freshwater systems.

Harmful algal blooms have emerged as a significant public health and economic issue that requires extensive scientific investigation,” said Suzette Kimball, acting director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

USGS, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will use satellites to gather color dates from freshwater bodies during scans of the Earth. They then will share the findings with state and local agencies so they can provide public health advisories when needed.

“In addition, the project will improve the understanding of the environmental causes and health effects of these cyanobacteria and phytoplankton blooms in the United States,” NOAA said in a press release.

NOAA added that these blooms are a global problem. “Cyanobacteria (blue-green alga)  is of particular concern because it produces toxins that can kill wildlife and domestic animals and cause illness in humans through exposure to contaminated freshwater and consumption of contaminated drinking water, fish, or shellfish,” it said.

HABs have been on the increase since the mid 1990s, according to Michigan Sea Grant College Program. In the Great Lakes, malfunctioning septic systems, products with phosphates (dishwater detergent) and nitrogen (lawn fertilizers), and urban and agricultural runoff likely have contributed.

“Some scientists also link the increase of harmful algal blooms to the invasion of zebra and quagga mussels in the Great Lakes and the ability of the mussels to filter feed,” Sea Grant said. “Essentially, they eat the good algae and phytoplankton but release organisms like blue-green algae back into the water intact.”

HABs annually cost the nation about $64 million because of loss of recreational usage, additional treatment for drinking water, and decline in waterfront property values. In August 2014, Toledo, Ohio, an algal bloom in Lake Erie forced Toledo, Ohio, officials to temporarily ban consumption of drinking water supplied to more than 400,000 residents.

The new collaborative network will build on previous NASA ocean satellite sensor technologies created to study microscopic algal communities in the ocean, which play a role in climate change, ocean ecology, and the movement of carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and ocean.

Monday
Jul132015

Noise Pollution Can Hinder Fish Reproduction

We know that water pollution can harm the ability of fish to reproduce. But noise?

Yes, noise pollution can as well, according to scientists at the University of Auburn who looked at blacktail shiners spawning in tributaries of the Chattahoochee River.

To attract mates, male shiners emit bursts of sounds, similar to a cat’s purr, and, to help protect eggs in the nest, they make popping sounds that warn away intruders. They do so in streams that already are “noisy” with water flowing over rocks and down small waterfalls.

And nearby road traffic noise can mask shiner communication even more, reported Daniel Holt and Carol Johnston in Biological Conservation.

Using hydrophones, the researchers determined that the shiners, similar to other species, have developed an ability to communicate via a “quiet window” in the spectrum of natural noise. But road traffic noise, especially trucks crossing nearby bridges, overlap that window and potentially drown out the fish talk as far as 12 kilometers away.

“In order for an acoustic signal to be an effective source of communication, the signal must be successfully detected and interpreted by the intended receiver. One potential barrier to acoustic communication is background noise,” the scientists said.

“Our calculations suggest that road traffic noise propagates to an extent that virtually entire watersheds are impacted by this noise pollution, especially in urban areas.”

Monday
Jul062015

BP to Pay $18.7 Billion for Gulf Oil Spill

BP will pay $18.7 billion in penalties and damages for its role in the largest oil spill in U.S. history, which polluted the Gulf of Mexico five years ago.

“Today‘s settlement moves the wildlife and habitat of the Gulf Coast forward on the road to recovery. It’s time to look ahead to the future and work toward getting real, on-the-ground restoration projects done," said Steve Bender, director of Vanishing Paradise, a coalition of more than 800 sportsman and outdoors groups, organizations and businesses working on Gulf Coast and Mississippi river Delta restoration.

“Because Congress passed the RESTORE Act in 2012, 80 percent of the money BP pays as a result of the Clean Water Act penalty will be returned to the Gulf Coast for much needed restoration and to improve the region’s long-term resiliency. Repairing the ongoing damage from the oil spill is also of utmost importance going forward, and the settlement dollars BP pays through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment will help the areas devastated by the spill – including habitat that supports world-class hunting and fishing."

The Gulf Coast region is an ecological and economic driver for the entire nation, and sportsmen and women care about ensuring this national treasure is restored for future generations to enjoy. With as many as 14 million waterfowl migrating to the Gulf’s warm shores annually, and salt and freshwater fishing unlike anywhere else on the planet, we must make sure this entire region – including the endangered Mississippi River Delta – is on the path forward to long-term health and recovery. We look forward to working with federal and state officials and the RESTORE Council to make sure every dime of oil disaster money goes to meaningful, comprehensive restoration.”

Background

Since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, ongoing findings deliver truths omitted by BP’s ads: the oil disaster’s negative effects are increasingly clear, present and far from resolved.

A recent infographic depicts ongoing impacts of the Gulf oil disaster five years later. And over the past year alone, new scientific research has surfaced:

A 2014 study found evidence of a 1,250-square-mile area of oil contamination on the ocean floor around the Macondo wellhead in deep Gulf sediments.

A previous NOAA study found a large number of dead dolphins in heavily oiled places, including Barataria Bay, La.

Recent studies estimate 1,000,000 birds died as a result of being exposed to BP oil.

Modeling for a recent stock assessment projected that between 20,000 and 60,000 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles died in 2010 as a result of the spill.

A 2014 study found concentrations of PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon) – which can cause harmful effects in many birds, fish and wildlife – in Barataria and Terrebonne marshes, which may persist for decades.

A 2012 study found that oiled marshes in Barataria Bay eroded at double the rate of non-oiled marshes.

A recent survey found that 70 percent of Americans believe BP should pay maximum fines under the Clean Water Act for its role in the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

VP has identified 19 projects from Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast that have the greatest potential to restore our coast. 

Thursday
Jun112015

EPA Plans to Force More Ethanol Into Fuel

Despite the negative effects and abject failure of ethanol, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to force more of it into our fuel in 2015 and 2016.

The only ones who will benefit from this are those who grow corn and produce ethanol, and possibly their political friends in Washington, D.C. who receive something under the table. Ethanol-blended fuel is less efficient than regular gasoline. It’s also harmful to the environment and has caused millions of dollars in damage to outboard and other internal combustion engines.

And by mandating that more ethanol be used in gasoline, EPA increases the likelihood that even more engines will be destroyed.

Go here to speak out against the decision.

And check out this posted at Boating:

  • Corn ethanol does not lower CO2 compared to gas.
  • Corn ethanol causes a larger dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Corn ethanol leads to nitrogen fertilizer polluted ground water.
  • Corn ethanol leads to pollution from pesticides.
  • Corn ethanol leads to plowing of grass lands to add corn fields.
  • Corn ethanol leads to destruction of forest lands to add corn fields.
  • Corn ethanol is increasing the Ogallala Aquifer depletion.
  • Corn ethanol pollutes the air with formaldehydes and acetaldehyde.
  • Corn ethanol use leads to higher levels of ozone pollution.
  • Corn ethanol is often distilled using coal as a heat source.
  • Corn ethanol distillers exhaust high levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) pollution.
Tuesday
May192015

Settlement Reached for Rock River Fish Kill

Officials finally have reached a settlement with the railroad company responsible for a fish kill on the Rock River, one of the best smallmouth rivers in northern Illinois.

The Chicago, Central, and Pacific Railroad (CCPR) will pay $570,000 for alleged pollution violations during an ethanol spill nearly six years ago, as well as restoration of the fishery.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will receive $270,000 to fund rehabilitation of two nature areas and another $$150,000 for general restoration in the affected area.

“This settlement ensures funding is in place to complete efforts to restore the natural areas damaged by the ethanol leak,” said Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Additionally, CCPR will pay $150,000 to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and Winnebago County to settle alleged violations of the state’s Environmental Protection Act.

“This derailment caused significant impacts to the air, land, and water, which required a thorough investigation, substantial research and extensive environmental remediation,” said IEPA Director Lisa Bonnett.

“The coordinated efforts of state agencies have completed the investigation and cleanup of the release. And this final consent order brings closure to one of Illinois’ largest environmental emergencies.”

Since the derailment, CCPR also has worked with IEPA to remediate the contaminated areas.

In June 2009, an explosion and fire following a train derailment killed one person, as well as caused the discharge of up to 75,000 gallons of an ethanol and gasoline mixture. It flowed onto the surrounding land and into a creek which flows into the Kishwaukee River, a tributary of Rock River.

Two days later, Sauk Valley residents noticed large numbers of smallmouth, sunfish, and other species washing up on shore along a 54-mile stretch from Grand Detour to Prophetstown. The fish died of suffocation, as the ethanol breakdown burned up dissolved oxygen.