10 Sites Added to EPA Superfund List ... Do You Live Near One?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) named 10 sites to the Superfund program's National Priorities List, reaching nine states plus Puerto Rico.
Leading the list is the Bonita Peak Mining District in Colorado, where the EPA by accident spilled 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater from the abandoned Gold King Mine into the scenic Animas River. The river turned bright orange due to heavy metals in the spill, which included lead, iron and aluminum. The disaster has already cost $29 million for initial response and ongoing water-quality monitoring. About 880,000 pounds of metals were released into the Animas River according to EPA estimates.
The disaster affected drinking water and irrigation water for farms in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. Flowing downstream from the mine in scenic Silverton, Colorado, at an elevation of 9,300 feet, the hazardous flow also contaminated the San Juan River in New Mexico and caused the Navajo Nation to declare a state of emergency. They, along with the state of New Mexico, are suing the EPA.
The Gold King Mine accident was an embarrassment for the EPA, as it occurred while they were working on the site and accidentally struck a dam. The area was already under investigation, as its many old, abandoned mines—some of which date to the 19th century—have been leaking hazardous waste for years. The Superfund site designation includes 35 mines, seven tunnels, four tailings sites and two additional study areas. They include sites along tributaries that flow into the Animas River. The cleanup will be complex and could take years or even decades.
EPA announces #superfund designation for Columbia Falls Aluminum Company https://t.co/UPrBhCyZOG #mtnews https://t.co/Lyyk0pMG5Y— Montana Public Radio (@Montana Public Radio)1473287028.0
A former California gold mine in Amador County was also added to the Superfund list, along with a dormant shipyard in Jennings, Louisiana. In Dutchess County, New York, a portion of Wappinger Creek was designated for cleanup as a result of industrial waste. A closed aluminum plant in Montana, which contaminated the Flathead River with cyanide and other manufacturing byproducts, has also been listed.
In Puerto Rico, groundwater contamination in the town of Dorado has impacted drinking water for 67,000 people with the industrial solvents tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene, which can have serious health impacts including damage to the liver and increasing the risk of cancer, states the EPA. It is considered one of the country's most hazardous waste sites.
Another groundwater contamination site in Indiana has also been added to the Superfund list. There, organic solvents have been found in residential drinking wells. Additional sites include the Eldorado Chemical Co. Inc. in Live Oak, Texas; North 25th St. Glass and Zinc in Clarksburg, West Virginia; and Valley Pike VOCs in Riverside, Ohio.
Currently, more than 1,300 sites are on the EPA's Superfund National Priorities List.
Do You Live Near One of the 1,300 Most Toxic Sites in America? http://t.co/GXiDvQNjaT @greenpeaceusa @foe_us— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1444165839.0
Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.