Category Archives: Environmental remediation

Arsenic: out of groundwater and into concrete

Read the full story from Smart Planet.

Researchers have invented a system that filters arsenic out of water cheaply. They’re now working with cement and concrete companies to figure out a way to embed the resulting sludge in building materials.

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Posted by on April 1, 2014 in Environmental remediation, Water


Spill response ‘inadequate’ for tar sands crude on Great Lakes

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.

Oil that sinks is hard to clean up.

That was the big lesson after energy giant Enbridge’s pipeline burst, causing oil to flow into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010, some 75 miles from where it empties into Lake Michigan. After more than three years and a billion dollars, oil remains in the river.

So a refinery’s proposal to ship heavy crude oil from Superior across the Great Lakes has emergency responders gearing up to bolster gaps in current oil spill response plans.

And the gaps are substantial, according to a June 2013 report from the U.S. Coast Guard’s research and development division.


Rebuilding the Natural World: A Shift in Ecological Restoration

Read the full story in Yale Environment360.

From forests in Queens to wetlands in China, planners and scientists are promoting a new approach that incorporates experiments into landscape restoration projects to determine what works to the long-term benefit of nature and what does not.

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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Environmental remediation


On Ravaged Tar Sands Lands, Big Challenges for Reclamation

Read the full story at Yale Environment360.

The mining of Canada’s tar sands has destroyed large areas of sensitive wetlands in Alberta. Oil sands companies have vowed to reclaim this land, but little restoration has occurred so far and many scientists say it is virtually impossible to rebuild these complex ecosystems.


From mines to megawatts: The promise of ‘conflict-free Big Solar’

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Arizona startup Green Energy Storage wants to transform an abandoned open-pit copper mine 45 miles south of Phoenix into a large-scale solar power and pumped-hydro storage facility.

Although still in the early days of development, the project (PDF), first pitched to federal energy regulators two weeks ago, could become a model for conflict-free Big Solar.

After all, contaminated former industrial sites and other degraded lands represent a relatively untapped opportunity for developers to steer clear of the litigious environmental conflicts and tradeoffs associated with large-scale solar power in ecologically sensitive and pristine areas.

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Posted by on March 12, 2014 in Brownfields, Publications, Solar


China deploys drones for ‘war on pollution’

Read the full story at Smart Planet.

Numerous solutions have been suggested for fighting China’s notorious air pollution: sprinklers on top of skyscraperssmog-sucking vacuums, air-cleaning bikes.

Now, with scientists comparing China’s smog problem to a nuclear winter, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is declaring a “war on pollution.” According to state media, that will include shutting down 50,000 “small coal-fired furnaces;” retrofitting coal-fired power plants to spew out less pollution; removing high-polluting vehicles from roads; and cleaning up water pollution.

Also, drones.


Chemists on a mission

This article in ChemistryWorld includes projects that are using biochar in environmental remediation.

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Posted by on February 27, 2014 in Biochar, Environmental remediation


For a greener firing range, try oyster shells and ash

Read the full story in SmartPlanet.

About 9,000 non-military outdoor shooting ranges exist in the U.S. alone, with millions of pounds of lead from bullets shot every year. Some of the world’s most heavily contaminated soils can be found at firing ranges, Science reports, and researchers have now found a way to sop up those metals using cheap waste byproducts.

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Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Environmental remediation


Green gavel: taxpayers stuck with $3.7 million tab for hazardous waste cleanup

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection  can’t recoup the more than $3.7 million it spent cleaning up a hazardous waste dumpsite in Westmoreland County because it missed the deadline for suing those responsible for the contamination, the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has held.


EPA Completes Cleanup of Former Lead Smelter Site in Pilsen

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy today announced that EPA has finished cleaning up Loewenthal Metals, a former lead smelter site in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. In response to community concerns, EPA removed high concentrations of lead in the soil to ensure that the property is safe for residential use in the future.

Last June, EPA began the removal of 4,800 tons of contaminated soil and debris from the Loewenthal site. Today, EPA announced that the contaminated soil has been replaced with clean soil that is seeded to prevent erosion.

“I’m proud of EPA’s work, partnering with city and state officials, to clean up the former Loewenthal Metals site,” said McCarthy. “Cleaning up dangerous levels of lead in Pilsen is just one example of how EPA is making a real difference for families and communities across the country—especially those most vulnerable to environmental hazards.”

Earlier, Administrator McCarthy toured the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods to see first-hand the progress of EPA efforts to reduce pollution in the area.

“The example of the Loewenthal cleanup shows why EPA’s work is so important to all working communities,” said Rosalie Mancera, Board President,Pilsen Alliance. “We hope we keep addressing Pilsen’s industrial footprint.”

“Over the past couple of years PERRO has developed a good working relationship with the U.S. EPA,” said Jerry Mead-Lucero, Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO.) “We have regular meetings with U.S. EPA staff to stay on top of multiple sites of concern in the community. The increased cooperation between U.S. EPA and PERRO has already resulted in the remediation of contaminated sites in the neighborhood and we expect more sites to be addressed in the near future.”

“It is a great day when a toxic site such as Loewenthal no longer poses a threat to a frontline community like Pilsen,” said Antonio Lopez, Executive Director, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. “LVEJO congratulates PERRO for their steady commitment to Environmental Justice in Pilsen and the EPA Region 5 for the remediation work they performed. We look forward to seeing this and other former industrial sites transform and contribute to the surrounding community’s health and wellness through green infrastructure projects, and to the economic strength of the area through living-wage renewable energy jobs.”

Loewenthal Metals is a half-acre site in a largely residential part of Chicago. Historical records indicate that the facility operated as a lead and zinc smelter, as well as a scrap metal dealer during the 1940s. In December 2011, the Illinois EPA referred the site to U.S. EPA for potential cleanup. After obtaining a warrant to access the site, EPA began sampling soil for lead in November 2012 and started the cleanup last June.

More information about EPA’s activities in the Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods is available on the EPA Web site:

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Posted by on November 11, 2013 in Environmental remediation, Illinois


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