OTI Environmental News 2016
05 MARCH 2016, Issue 854
In this issue:
SPILL
"Mississippi River Reopens Near St. Louis After Fuel Spill." Reuters, March 4, 2016.
"Dozens of Homes Evacuated After Train Derails in New York." Reuters, March 2, 2016.
AGENT ORANGE
"New Plan to Clean River Polluted Where Agent Orange was Made." Associated Press. March 4, 2016.
COMPLIANCE
"Circus Operator Contesting Fine over Deadly Tent Collapse." Associated Press, February 25, 2016.
SPILL

"Mississippi River Reopens Near St. Louis After Fuel Spill." Reuters, March 4, 2016.

The Mississippi River reopened to shipping traffic near Granite City, Illinois, on Friday as the cleanup from a fuel spill on Thursday at Lock and Dam 27 was completed, officials said. About 1,800 gallons of fuel had spilled into the main chamber of the lock after the towboat Gregory David passing through the lock ruptured a 20,000-gallon fuel tank, the U.S. Coast Guard said. The fuel was believed to have been contained within the lock and not released into the river. Lock 27 is one of the busiest locks on the U.S. inland waterways system and is just upriver from St. Louis, a key port for loading grain barges bound for export terminals along the U.S. Gulf Coast. A queue of delayed vessels had grown to 10 southbound barge tows and 9 northbound tows since the closure on Thursday, said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokeswoman Amanda Cruse. The backlog was beginning to pass on Friday afternoon, initially via the lock's auxiliary chamber. The lock's main chamber, where the accident occurred, was not damaged and will reopen later on Friday, she said. view news article

"Dozens of Homes Evacuated After Train Derails in New York." Reuters, March 2, 2016.

Dozens of residents in western New York town were evacuated from their homes early on Wednesday after a train carrying hazardous liquid derailed, local officials said. Sixteen cars of the 34-car Norfolk Southern train went off the tracks late on Tuesday in the town of Ripley, on Lake Erie, the company said. Two of the derailed cars were carrying ethanol and were leaking, it said. More than 50 homes near the derailment were evacuated, the Chautauqua County Sheriff's office said. Broadcaster WGRZ-TV reported many other residents in the area were told to shelter in place. No injuries were reported, the sheriff's office said. A spokesman for Norfolk Southern, Dave Pidgeon, said an undetermined amount of ethanol leaked from the two cars after they derailed. One spill emanated from a puncture that has since been patched. The other car was leaking ethanol through a gasket, he said. A third derailed car carrying plastic pellets also spilled some of its contents, Pidgeon said. A train car carrying propane derailed but did not leak, he said.Crews would haul away all soil that had been contaminated, he said. Crews would haul away all soil that had been contaminated, he said. He added that it was not yet clear how long that would take. It was not yet known what caused the derailment. view news article

AGENT ORANGE

"New Plan to Clean River Polluted Where Agent Orange was Made." Associated Press. March 4, 2016.

The federal government has unveiled a revised plan to clean up a heavily contaminated stretch of a river where Agent Orange was made. The plan, unveiled Friday by the Environmental Protection Agency, calls for about 20 percent less contaminated Passaic River mud to be removed compared with a proposal introduced two years ago. The change led to complaints from environmental groups. The river runs through northern New Jersey and the heart of what was one of the nationís busiest industrial areas, and its sediment bears witness to the history. The material includes several dangerous chemicals that were put into the water by more than 100 factories that were on the banks of the river over a century, including the Diamond Alkali facility in Newark that produced Agent Orange, a highly toxic herbicide used during the Vietnam War to remove vegetation that provided enemy cover. The riverís sediment is seriously contaminated with dioxin, polychlorinated biphenyl, heavy metals, pesticides and other contaminants. Under the plan, cleanup costs will be reduced from $1.7 billion to about $1.38 billion. The plan involves removing 3.5 million cubic yards of toxic sediment from the lower eight miles of the river, where 90 percent of the contamination lies. The entire stretch of river bottom would then be capped, trapping the remaining contaminated sediment. The cap would prevent much of the contamination from flowing into the rest of the river and Newark Bay. The sediment would be transported to facilities in another state or Canada. Material containing dioxin would be incinerated, and the rest would be buried in a hazardous-waste landfill Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker cited the "greed and evil" of companies that had polluted the river. "Iím happy that a pittance of $1.4 billion is being put in to resurrect this river, but the crime that has been done to this city, someone should pay for that," Booker said. The 11-year cleanup would still be one of the most expensive Superfund site cleanups in history. Negotiations with the 100 companies that polluted the river or inherited the liability of past polluters are continuing over the costs of the cleanup, officials said. "The EPAís cleanup plan will improve water quality, protect public health, revitalize waterfront areas and create hundreds of new jobs," EPA regional administrator Judith Enck said. "This plan is one of the most comprehensive in the nation and will help restore a badly damaged river." Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said the environmental group continues to urge the EPA to completely remove the contamination. He said the EPAís latest plan is more about "political expedience" than whatís best for the river. "This plan is not cleaning up the contamination and is keeping communities held hostage to toxic pollution," Tittel said. "This cleanup plan is more about political science than real science and will continue to poison communities along the river." view news article

COMPLIANCE

"Circus Operator Contesting Fine over Deadly Tent Collapse." Associated Press, February 25, 2016.

A Florida-based circus operator is contesting more than $33,000 in fines proposed by federal safety officials for a tent collapse that killed two people and injured dozens in New Hampshire last year. Robert Young, 41, and his 6-year-old daughter, Annabelle, died Aug. 3 when a storm with winds up to 75 mph blew through the Lancaster Fairgrounds, toppling the tent just minutes after about 100 people had settled in to watch a show. Young and his daughter were from Concord, Vermont. Fifty other people were injured, including two circus employees. Ted Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said the meeting between agency representatives and Walker International Events took place Wednesday. "They did not reach a resolution, so the company is contesting the citation," Fitzgerald said. The companyís notice will be forwarded to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, which would assign it to an administrative law judge who would hear the case if a settlement canít be worked out. OSHA said that Sarasota-based Walker International Events failed to properly erect the tent and ignored severe weather and high-wind warnings from the National Weather Service. Inspectors determined that the company failed to use required tent stakes, properly anchor the stakes or replace damaged stakes. The agency also found hazards that put circus employees at risk of electric shock, burns and cuts, such as the use of inappropriate electrical equipment in wet areas and a lack of fire extinguishers in areas where employees worked with open flames. view news article