Posts tagged ‘Waste’

Oil spill waste raises concerns in the gulf

Even though BP‘s busted well has stopped spewing oil, the disaster is still generating tons of soiled boom and other oily waste that federal and state laws allow to be buried at specially designated dumps, some near residential neighborhoods.

Officials in one Mississippi area, however, raised concerns about the magnitude and safety of the oil spill waste being buried nearby. On Thursday, Harrison County officials blocked it from being dumped in their community — potentially opening the door for others in the region to do the same.

County supervisors voted in June to stop BP from dumping waste at subcontractor Waste Management Inc.‘s Pecan Grove landfill in Pass Christian, Miss. When Waste Management balked, the county board commissioned independent testing of the waste and subpoenaed the company’s test results that reportedly showed it was not hazardous.

But rather than prolong the dispute, BP and Waste Management decided to stop dumping at Pecan Grove. The county, however, has continued with its waste testing and results are pending, said Tim Holleman, the county board’s attorney.

“Ultimately, I think people will raise the same issue elsewhere,” Holleman said.

A BP spokesman confirmed the agreement but defended the company’s waste management plan.

“This is industrial waste, and it’s suitable for industrial landfills,” said BP spokesman Mark Proegler. “If the localities have concerns about that, we’re certainly willing to talk with them.”

Spill waste is hauled from beaches and the ocean to more than 50 regional storage sites in all four gulf states, where it is packaged for shipment to recyclers, liquid waste processors and landfills. So far the spill has generated about 35,600 tons of solid waste.

In Louisiana, the formerly abandoned Grand Isle Shipyard has been transformed into a waste storage site, where about 150 workers pump oil from skimmer boats into storage tanks. More than 7.7 million gallons of oily liquid waste have been collected. At the docks, workers dump plastic bags of oily debris into dozens of dumpsters.

The sprawling operation is indicative of the cleanup industry that has grown out of the nation’s worst oil spill disaster. The now-capped well was spewing as many as 60,000 barrels of oil a day since the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

“Typically with a spill you’d have a bell-shaped curve where you deploy the boom, recover it and go home,” said Joe Kramer, project manager with BP subcontractor Miller Environmental Services Inc. “It’s more of an ongoing operation here.”

Waste samples are tested at storage sites by BP subcontractors to ensure they are, by law, nonhazardous. Much oil industry waste is not considered hazardous under a 1980 exemption carved out of the federal law.

Oil waste can be dumped in industrial-graded landfills, which are more strictly monitored than municipal dumps but not as isolated or restricted as hazardous waste sites.

“These are the type of facilities you want this waste to go to,” said Sam Phillips, solid waste permits administrator for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. “If something goes wrong, there are things we can do to prevent it from getting into a drinking-water aquifer.”

Members of the Gulf Coast congressional delegation said they intended to hold BP accountable for the health and safety of communities where spill waste was dumped.

“Gulf Coast residents have a right to be concerned about the waste placed in their landfills, and BP and its agents should do everything they can to work with local officials to address these concerns,” said Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) after a trip to spill-affected areas this month.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson said tests by BP and her agency had shown that oil spill waste was not hazardous.

“The constituents of most of it are industrial waste, not hazardous, man-made chemicals, and it’s testing that way,” said Jackson, a chemical engineer by training. To reassure residents, Jackson ordered more EPA testing last month and required BP to release more information about waste testing, tracking and disposal.

But many gulf residents still worry.

“Anything that’s man-made can fail,” Harrison County Supervisor Marlin Ladner, a Mississippi lawmaker, said of the landfills. “The rig shows us that.”

Source: LA Times


July 30, 2010 at 10:02 AM Leave a comment

Plastic, pants and even a golf ball were found in dead whale

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A gray whale that died after getting stranded on a West Seattle beach had a large amount of garbage in its stomach — ranging from plastic bags to a pair of sweat pants and even a golf ball.

Most of the whale’s stomach contents was algae — typical of the bottom-feeding mammals. But Cascadia Research Collective, whose experts were among those who performed the necropsy, said “a surprising amount of human debris” was found, including “more than 20 plastic bags, small towels, surgical gloves, sweat pants, plastic pieces, duct tape, and a golf ball.”

On top of all that, the whale “also had cuts on the head possibly from a boat propeller,” the group said in a statement. It added, though, that “these did not appear fresh or deep enough to have been involved in the death of the animal.”

Cascadia emphasized that no evidence suggested the trash was responsible for the whale’s death, but added: “It did clearly indicate that the whale had been attempting to feed in industrial waters and therefore exposed to debris and contaminants present on the bottom in these areas.”

“Gray whales are filter feeders that typically feed on the bottom and suck in sediment in shallow waters and filter the contents to strain out the small organisms that live there,” Cascadia said. “They have been known to accumulate material including rocks and other debris from the bottom ingested in this process. While debris has been found in the stomachs of some previous gray whales found dead in Puget Sound, this appeared to be a larger quantity than had ever been found previously.”

Cascadia co-founder John Calambokidis, a biologist, said the debris was a reminder of human impacts below the water.

“Even with all our awareness and attempts to improve the Sound, there is still quite a legacy of our past behavior and current behavior that still exists down there on the bottom,” NBC affiliate KING TV reported him as saying.

Testing of samples collected from the whale could shed light on the cause of death but results will not be know for several weeks.

A local community college hopes to preserve the skeleton.

The 37-foot-long male beached itself last Wednesday. It was the fifth gray whale to have died this year in Washington state and the fourth in Puget Sound in April.

click HERE for source

April 21, 2010 at 9:38 AM Leave a comment

26,617 condoms and one global mess

More than 10 million pieces of trash were plucked from the world’s waterways in a single day last year — ranging from 2,189,252 cigarette butts to 26,617 condoms.

For Philippe Cousteau, the beach sandals that washed up in the Norwegian arctic symbolized the global nature of the problem of marine debris.

“We saw flip-flops washing ashore on these islands in far northern Norway near the Arctic Circle,” said Cousteau, a conservationist and grandson of famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau.

Cousteau was commenting on marine debris statistics released Tuesday by the Ocean Conservancy group.

“People don’t wear flip-flops in the Arctic, at least not if they’re sane,” Cousteau said. “I think people are starting … to realize that this is a global problem.”

The report detailed the amount and kind of trash that volunteers gathered on one day in 2009 along coastlines of six continents and the banks of inland waterways, stressing that as much as 80 percent of marine litter starts on land.

“Trash travels, and no beach, lakeshore or riverfront is untouched — no matter how remote,” Vikki Spruill, Ocean Conservancy’s CEO, wrote in the report’s introduction.

Last year, 10,239,538 pieces of junk were retrieved from shorelines on one day, Sept. 19, by about half a million volunteers in the conservancy’s 24th annual International Coastal Cleanup. This year’s cleanup day is Sept. 25.

More than 40 percent of that total was collected in the United States, including everything from bottle caps and plastic six-pack holders to cigarette butts, washing machines, construction materials, diapers, condoms and medical waste.

The United States had the most volunteers, nearly triple the number in the Philippines, which had the second-most. Overall, volunteers covered 14,827 miles.

Nearly 20 percent of the items collected threaten public health, including bacteria-laden medical waste, appliances, cars and chemical drums, the report said.

Some debris is a threat to marine animals, which can become tangled in dumped fishing nets and line or ingest floating plastic junk.

In fact, volunteers on Sept. 19 found 336 marine animals, including 138 birds, entangled in marine debris. Of those, 120 were still alive and freed.

Moreover, as plastics break down in the oceans, they look a lot like organisms called plankton that form the base of the food chain, Cousteau said.

Many plastics contain high levels of dioxins, PCBs and other chemicals that can affect hormones, he added, so marine creatures can die with stomachs full of plastic.

“Fish and other animals are ingesting them and in so doing ingesting the toxins that these plastics absorb,” Cousteau said. “And then guess who eats the fish?”

Click HERE for article

April 14, 2010 at 8:49 AM Leave a comment

Turning Waste into Resource

Our trash, our waste, takes up precious and expensive space. Our communities all to often have to buy land just to fill it up with our throwaways.

Slowly we’re getting better at dealing with our junk. Recycling programs do their best to collect valuable materials like aluminum and glass and put it back in the production chain: old cans and bottles become new cans and bottles. While the bulk of our trash may be thrown in a hole in the ground to be covered with dirt, slowly, project-by-project, the methane gases created by the rotting of our garbage is being captured and used as fuel to generate electricity in landfill gas operations. At least our trash is useful when it’s used to make energy. Some of our trash is burnt too creating a new source of energy and a renewable one at that. (There will always be a steady flow of trash.) But, conventional waste-to-energy projects have emissions that are not really clean thus those projects are not exactly the darlings of environmentalists.

I don’t expect our consumptive economy to go away anytime soon. But eventually we could get very sophisticated, and clean, in coping with our waste. Surely recycling efforts will continue. The value of the recycled goods, particularly metals, will ensure that these programs will go on. Further, in a more high-tech version of a waste-to-energy plant the bulk of our waste could be tapped as a new cleaner source of energy. Trash, known professionally as Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), might in a decade or two be regularly turned to fuel or directly into electricity at local, community facilities eliminating the need for landfill dumps.

The technology to do that is emerging today.

For More click HERE

November 17, 2009 at 12:50 PM Leave a comment

University of San Francisco: unplugged

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