Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Coal Ash Disposition The Alternative for North Carolina / SIGN THE PETITION: Don't Dump Coal Ash Petition


Coal Ash Disposition  The Alternative for North Carolina

March 24, 2014: Today the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League released a technical report which details the dangers of landfilling coal ash and recommends the proven saltstone technology for the coal ash at Duke Energy's fourteen power plants. The report entitled "Coal Ash Disposition: The Alternative for North Carolina," describes the saltstone technology which would encase the coal ash waste and isolate the toxins from the soil, air and water.

Read BREDL Press Release | View BREDL Technical Report





BREDL Demands: "Don't Dump Coal Ash on our Communities"

March 20, 2014: The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League has announced a new campaign to block the landfilling of coal ash from Duke Energy's plants. Staff and volunteers are working with county commissioners and environmental justice advocates to prevent this hazardous waste from contaminating groundwater and drinking water in the state’s mega-dump communities.The League warns that landfilling would endanger public health and the environment. The League's Executive Committee has determined that the full liability for the coal ash should be borne by Duke Energy.

For over twenty years the League has identified the dangers of waste landfilling. Cary Rodgers, BREDL's NC Environmental Justice Organizer who resides in Anson County, said, "The people who live near this mega-dump are primarily African American and many of them are poor. Handing coal ash over to a commercial company which dumps for dollars is a grave danger to our groundwater and nearby residents." Lou Zeller, Executive Director, added, "The League has shared our formal position against coal ash landfilling with other NC organizations and hopes that they will join us in opposing this quick and dirty solution."

Read BREDL Press Releasehttp://www.bredl.org/


SIGN THE PETITION
Help BREDL hold Duke Energy accountable for the responsible management of their toxic waste. Please sign BREDL's petition to tell NC Gov. McCrory: "Don't Dump Coal Ash on Our Communities!"
http://www.credomobilize.com/petitions/keep-toxic-coal-ash-out-of-our-communities?source=facebook-share-button&time=1396704989

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day!



Happy Earth Day!  Protect Mother Earth!





McCrory’s coal ash plan is roiling debate in his own party
Posted: April 21, 2014
Gov. Pat McCrory miffed some leaders in his own party earlier this week when he unveiled what he termed a "comprehensive plan" for dealing with the state’s coal ash crisis.



Fish sampling to continue in Dan River
Posted: April 21, 2014

It’s too soon to gauge the long-term impacts of the Feb. 2 coal ash spill on fish in the Dan River, said Virginia and North Carolina regulatory officials during presentations Monday afternoon
Report: Water OK for animals

Sunday, April 20, 2014 12:00 am

Surface water from the Dan River following the Feb. 2 coal ash spill is suitable for irrigation and drinking water for livestock, according to an assessment from a team of professors at North Carolina State University.
 
 

Duke: Coal ash spill won't affect bottom line

Thursday, April 17, 2014 8:00 pm

Duke Energy told shareholders Thursday that cleanup costs resulting from its massive coal ash spill into the Dan River won't have a material effect on the $50 billion company's bottom line.

McCrory proposes new plan after spill

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 3:11 pm

North Carolina's governor says he will propose new legislation aimed at strengthening government oversight of coal ash dumps following the massive spill at a Duke Energy plant that coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic sludge.

Coal ash deposits headed to N.C. dry landfill

Monday, April 14, 2014 8:00 pm

A spokesman for Duke Energy said the utility plans to take the coal ash accumulated near the Schoolfield Dam to a dry landfill in Roxboro, N.C.

http://www.godanriver.com/search/?t=article&s=start_time&sd=desc&d1=1+year+ago&q=coal+ash

Nuclear Power is the Problem, Not a Solution

 
 
 
 
 
Published on Friday, April 15, 2005 by the Australian
Nuclear Power is the Problem, Not a Solution
by Helen Caldicott
 


There is a huge propaganda push by the nuclear industry to justify nuclear power as a panacea for the reduction of global-warming gases.

In fact Leslie Kemeny on these pages two weeks ago (HES, March 30) suggested that courses on nuclear science and engineering be included in tertiary level institutions in Australia.  I agree. But I would suggest that all the relevant facts be taught to students. Mandatory courses in medical schools should embrace the short and long-term biological, genetic and medical dangers associated with the nuclear fuel cycle. Business students should examine the true costs associated with the production of nuclear power. Engineering students should become familiar with the profound problems associated with the storage of long-lived radioactive waste, the human fallibilities that have created the most serious nuclear accidents in history and the ongoing history of near-misses and near-meltdowns in the industry.  At present there are 442 nuclear reactors in operation around the world. If, as the nuclear industry suggests, nuclear power were to replace fossil fuels on a large scale, it would be necessary to build 2000 large, 1000-megawatt reactors. Considering that no new nuclear plant has been ordered in the US since 1978, this proposal is less than practical. Furthermore, even if we decided today to replace all fossil-fuel-generated electricity with nuclear power, there would only be enough economically viable uranium to fuel the reactors for three to four years.  The true economies of the nuclear industry are never fully accounted for. The cost of uranium enrichment is subsidised by the US government. The true cost of the industry's liability in the case of an accident in the US is estimated to be $US560billion ($726billion), but the industry pays only $US9.1billion - 98per cent of the insurance liability is covered by the US federal government. The cost of decommissioning all the existing US nuclear reactors is estimated to be $US33billion. These costs - plus the enormous expense involved in the storage of radioactive waste for a quarter of a million years - are not now included in the economic assessments of nuclear electricity.  It is said that nuclear power is emission-free. The truth is very different.  In the US, where much of the world's uranium is enriched, including Australia's, the enrichment facility at Paducah, Kentucky, requires the electrical output of two 1000-megawatt coal-fired plants, which emit large quantities of carbon dioxide, the gas responsible for 50per cent of global warming.  Also, this enrichment facility and another at Portsmouth, Ohio, release from leaky pipes 93per cent of the chlorofluorocarbon gas emitted yearly in the US. The production and release of CFC gas is now banned internationally by the Montreal Protocol because it is the main culprit responsible for stratospheric ozone depletion. But CFC is also a global warmer, 10,000 to 20,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide.  In fact, the nuclear fuel cycle utilises large quantities of fossil fuel at all of its stages - the mining and milling of uranium, the construction of the nuclear reactor and cooling towers, robotic decommissioning of the intensely radioactive reactor at the end of its 20 to 40-year operating lifetime, and transportation and long-term storage of massive quantities of radioactive waste.  In summary, nuclear power produces, according to a 2004 study by Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen and Philip Smith, only three times fewer greenhouse gases than modern natural-gas power stations.  Contrary to the nuclear industry's propaganda, nuclear power is therefore not green and it is certainly not clean. Nuclear reactors consistently release millions of curies of radioactive isotopes into the air and water each year. These releases are unregulated because the nuclear industry considers these particular radioactive elements to be biologically inconsequential. This is not so.  These unregulated isotopes include the noble gases krypton, xenon and argon, which are fat-soluble and if inhaled by persons living near a nuclear reactor, are absorbed through the lungs, migrating to the fatty tissues of the body, including the abdominal fat pad and upper thighs, near the reproductive organs. These radioactive elements, which emit high-energy gamma radiation, can mutate the genes in the eggs and sperm and cause genetic disease.  Tritium, another biologically significant gas, is also routinely emitted from nuclear reactors. Tritium is composed of three atoms of hydrogen, which combine with oxygen, forming radioactive water, which is absorbed through the skin, lungs and digestive system. It is incorporated into the DNA molecule, where it is mutagenic. The dire subject of massive quantities of radioactive waste accruing at the 442 nuclear reactors across the world is also rarely, if ever, addressed by the nuclear industry. Each typical 1000-megawatt nuclear reactor manufactures 33tonnes of thermally hot, intensely radioactive waste per year. Already more than 80,000 tonnes of highly radioactive waste sits in cooling pools next to the 103 US nuclear power plants, awaiting transportation to a storage facility yet to be found. This dangerous material will be an attractive target for terrorist sabotage as it travels through 39 states on roads and railway lines for the next 25 years.  But the long-term storage of radioactive waste continues to pose a problem. The US Congress in 1987 chose Yucca Mountain in Nevada, 150km northwest of Las Vegas, as a repository for America's high-level waste. But Yucca Mountain has subsequently been found to be unsuitable for the long-term storage of high-level waste because it is a volcanic mountain made of permeable pumice stone and it is transected by 32 earthquake faults. Last week a congressional committee discovered fabricated data about water infiltration and cask corrosion in Yucca Mountain that had been produced by personnel in the US Geological Survey. These startling revelations, according to most experts, have almost disqualified Yucca Mountain as a waste repository, meaning that the US now has nowhere to deposit its expanding nuclear waste inventory.  To make matters worse, a study released last week by the National Academy of Sciences shows that the cooling pools at nuclear reactors, which store 10 to 30 times more radioactive material than that contained in the reactor core, are subject to catastrophic attacks by terrorists, which could unleash an inferno and release massive quantities of deadly radiation -- significantly worse than the radiation released by Chernobyl, according to some scientists.  This vulnerable high-level nuclear waste contained in the cooling pools at 103 nuclear power plants in the US includes hundreds of radioactive elements that have different biological impacts in the human body, the most important being cancer and genetic diseases.  The incubation time for cancer is five to 50 years following exposure to radiation. It is important to note that children, old people and immuno-compromised individuals are many times more sensitive to the malignant effects of radiation than other people.  I will describe four of the most dangerous elements made in nuclear power plants.  Iodine 131, which was released at the nuclear accidents at Sellafield in Britain, Chernobyl in Ukraine and Three Mile Island in the US, is radioactive for only six weeks and it bio-concentrates in leafy vegetables and milk. When it enters the human body via the gut and the lung, it migrates to the thyroid gland in the neck, where it can later induce thyroid cancer. In Belarus more than 2000 children have had their thyroids removed for thyroid cancer, a situation never before recorded in pediatric literature.  Strontium 90 lasts for 600 years. As a calcium analogue, it concentrates in cow and goat milk. It accumulates in the human breast during lactation, and in bone, where it can later induce breast cancer, bone cancer and leukemia.  Cesium 137, which also lasts for 600 years, concentrates in the food chain, particularly meat. On entering the human body, it locates in muscle, where it can induce a malignant muscle cancer called a sarcoma.  Plutonium 239, one of the most dangerous elements known to humans, is so toxic that one-millionth of a gram is carcinogenic. More than 200kg is made annually in each 1000-megawatt nuclear power plant. Plutonium is handled like iron in the body, and is therefore stored in the liver, where it causes liver cancer, and in the bone, where it can induce bone cancer and blood malignancies. On inhalation it causes lung cancer. It also crosses the placenta, where, like the drug thalidomide, it can cause severe congenital deformities. Plutonium has a predisposition for the testicle, where it can cause testicular cancer and induce genetic diseases in future generations. Plutonium lasts for 500,000 years, living on to induce cancer and genetic diseases in future generations of plants, animals and humans.  Because nuclear power leaves a toxic legacy to all future generations, because it produces global warming gases, because it is far more expensive than any other form of electricity generation, and because it can trigger proliferation of nuclear weapons, these topics need urgently to be introduced into the tertiary educational system of Australia, which is host to 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the world's richest uranium.  Helen Caldicott is an anti-nuclear campaigner and founder and president of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute, which warns of the danger of nuclear energy.

http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0415-23.htm

Monday, April 21, 2014

UPDATE 2-French prosecutor investigates Areva's 2007 UraMin buy


Areva SA
€18.31
-0.19

UPDATE 2-French prosecutor investigates Areva's 2007 UraMin buy

Thu Apr 10, 2014 9:00pm IST


Paper says state auditor to hear former Areva CEO
* Lauvergeon says UraMin deal was approved by authorities
* Her lawyer says she did not oversee the UraMin deal (Adds Lauvergeon, Cour des Comptes reaction)
PARIS, April 10 (Reuters) - France's financial prosecutor has opened a preliminary investigation into state-controlled nuclear group Areva's $2.5 billion acquisition of Canadian uranium mining company UraMin in 2007, a judicial source said on Thursday.
French daily Le Monde reported that the prosecutor is investigating possible "presentation or publication of inaccurate or untrue accounts", "distribution of false or misleading information", and "forgery".
Areva declined to comment.
The newspaper said the French Cour des Comptes, a quasi-judicial auditor that oversees state accounts, had referred the case to the prosecutor following its own audit of Areva's accounts between 2006 and 2012.
It added that the audit body is set to publish a report about Areva after questioning its former chief executive Anne Lauvergeon, who ran the firm from 2001 to 2011, in coming days.
The Cour des Comptes declined to comment.
Lauvergeon said in a statement that the UraMin acquisition had been approved by all of Areva's decision-making bodies and that the rules of good governance had been respected.
She said that Areva's board, state holding company APE and the industry ministry had received complete information about the operation and that Areva's accounts for 2007 to 2010 had been approved without reservations by the company's auditor.
"The depreciation that took place at the end of 2011 was mainly due to the impact of the March 2011 Fukushima accident on uranium prices," Lauvergeon said.
She added that, under her leadership, Areva had become a global leader in the nuclear sector and that its stock price had strongly outperformed the French CAC40 index.


Areva's shares traded around 23 euros when Lauvergeon was appointed as CEO. They soared to more than 80 euros before the 2008 financial crisis but fell back to around 23-24 euros when Lauvergeon left.
They were down 1.35 percent at 18.25 euros at 1518 GMT, while the CAC 40 index was down 0.6 percent.
At the time of the 2007 acquisition, Lauvergeon described the deal as "a major step in Areva's ambitious plan to increase its uranium production".
Uranium prices subsequently fell and UraMin's reserves, mostly in southern and central Africa, turned out to be lower than initially estimated, forcing Areva to take a writedown of close to 1.9 billion euros over the years 2010 and 2011.
Areva did an internal audit into the deal after the departure of Lauvergeon, who was replaced by Luc Oursel in June 2011. The audit pointed to shortcomings in corporate governance and information but did not reveal fraud or question the reliability of the company's accounts.
It did underline that Areva had paid dearly for UraMin, that management had underestimated the risks linked to the acquisition and that presentations made to state holding company APE and to Areva's board had not given enough prominence to the doubts that the internal technical teams had expressed.

Le Monde also wrote that the ongoing investigation was a key reason for the fact that Lauvergeon - a former aide to the late socialist President Francois Mitterrand - had not been selected to be part of the new socialist government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
At the time of the acquisition, Oursel was a member of Areva's board and the head of its nuclear reactor unit.
At the presentation of Areva's 2013 earnings in February, Oursel told Reuters that UraMin's uranium mines in Africa had been mothballed, awaiting a recovery in uranium prices.
Uranium prices have fallen from all-time highs near $140 per pound in 2007 to as low as around $33 this year. (Reporting by Chine Labbe, Benjamin Mallet and Geert De Clercq; writing by Geert De Clercq; editing by Jane Baird)

Friday, April 18, 2014

UPDATE 2-French prosecutor investigates Areva's 2007 UraMin buy

Areva SA
€18.31
-0.19

UPDATE 2-French prosecutor investigates Areva's 2007 UraMin buy

Thu Apr 10, 2014 9:00pm IST


Paper says state auditor to hear former Areva CEO
* Lauvergeon says UraMin deal was approved by authorities
* Her lawyer says she did not oversee the UraMin deal (Adds Lauvergeon, Cour des Comptes reaction)
PARIS, April 10 (Reuters) - France's financial prosecutor has opened a preliminary investigation into state-controlled nuclear group Areva's $2.5 billion acquisition of Canadian uranium mining company UraMin in 2007, a judicial source said on Thursday.
French daily Le Monde reported that the prosecutor is investigating possible "presentation or publication of inaccurate or untrue accounts", "distribution of false or misleading information", and "forgery".
Areva declined to comment.
The newspaper said the French Cour des Comptes, a quasi-judicial auditor that oversees state accounts, had referred the case to the prosecutor following its own audit of Areva's accounts between 2006 and 2012.
It added that the audit body is set to publish a report about Areva after questioning its former chief executive Anne Lauvergeon, who ran the firm from 2001 to 2011, in coming days.
The Cour des Comptes declined to comment.
Lauvergeon said in a statement that the UraMin acquisition had been approved by all of Areva's decision-making bodies and that the rules of good governance had been respected.
She said that Areva's board, state holding company APE and the industry ministry had received complete information about the operation and that Areva's accounts for 2007 to 2010 had been approved without reservations by the company's auditor.
"The depreciation that took place at the end of 2011 was mainly due to the impact of the March 2011 Fukushima accident on uranium prices," Lauvergeon said.
She added that, under her leadership, Areva had become a global leader in the nuclear sector and that its stock price had strongly outperformed the French CAC40 index.


Areva's shares traded around 23 euros when Lauvergeon was appointed as CEO. They soared to more than 80 euros before the 2008 financial crisis but fell back to around 23-24 euros when Lauvergeon left.
They were down 1.35 percent at 18.25 euros at 1518 GMT, while the CAC 40 index was down 0.6 percent.
At the time of the 2007 acquisition, Lauvergeon described the deal as "a major step in Areva's ambitious plan to increase its uranium production".
Uranium prices subsequently fell and UraMin's reserves, mostly in southern and central Africa, turned out to be lower than initially estimated, forcing Areva to take a writedown of close to 1.9 billion euros over the years 2010 and 2011.
Areva did an internal audit into the deal after the departure of Lauvergeon, who was replaced by Luc Oursel in June 2011. The audit pointed to shortcomings in corporate governance and information but did not reveal fraud or question the reliability of the company's accounts.
It did underline that Areva had paid dearly for UraMin, that management had underestimated the risks linked to the acquisition and that presentations made to state holding company APE and to Areva's board had not given enough prominence to the doubts that the internal technical teams had expressed.

Le Monde also wrote that the ongoing investigation was a key reason for the fact that Lauvergeon - a former aide to the late socialist President Francois Mitterrand - had not been selected to be part of the new socialist government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
At the time of the acquisition, Oursel was a member of Areva's board and the head of its nuclear reactor unit.
At the presentation of Areva's 2013 earnings in February, Oursel told Reuters that UraMin's uranium mines in Africa had been mothballed, awaiting a recovery in uranium prices.
Uranium prices have fallen from all-time highs near $140 per pound in 2007 to as low as around $33 this year. (Reporting by Chine Labbe, Benjamin Mallet and Geert De Clercq; writing by Geert De Clercq; editing by Jane Baird)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

NC governor proposes new coal ash plan after spill



Last night, Gov. McCrory released a proposal to address NC’s toxic coal ash. This weak proposal is woefully inadequate, and represents yet another gift to Duke Energy from a governor who was employed by the company for nearly 30 years.

TAKE ACTION: Tell your legislators to reject the Governor’s bill and pass legislation that closes all coal ash ponds quickly and moves the toxic ash to safe, lined storage away from our waterways: http://bit.ly/1j8q5n2


Last night, Gov. McCrory released a proposal to address NC’s toxic coal ash. This weak proposal is woefully inadequate, and represents yet another gift to Duke Energy from a governor who was employed by the company for nearly 30 years.

TAKE ACTION: Tell your legislators to reject the Governor’s bill and pass legislation that closes all coal ash ponds quickly and moves the toxic ash to safe, lined storage away from our waterways: http://bit.ly/1j8q5n2

or


Coal Ash Disposition  The Alternative for North Carolina

BREDL Demands:  "Don't Dump Coal Ash on our Communities"

March 24, 2014: Today the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League released a technical report which details the dangers of landfilling coal ash and recommends the proven saltstone technology for the coal ash at Duke Energy's fourteen power plants. The report entitled "Coal Ash Disposition: The Alternative for North Carolina," describes the saltstone technology which would encase the coal ash waste and isolate the toxins from the soil, air and water.

Read BREDL Press Release | View BREDL Technical Reporthttp://www.bredl.org/

The articles: 

NC governor proposes new coal ash plan after spill


By MICHAEL BIESECKER and GARY D. ROBERTSON, Associated Press : April 16, 2014 : Updated: April 16, 2014 7:09pm
 
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's governor says he will propose new legislation aimed at strengthening government oversight of coal ash dumps following the massive spill at a Duke Energy plant that coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic sludge.
Gov. Pat McCrory said Wednesday that his plan would result in the "conversion or closure" of the dumps and close legal loopholes that allowed the nation's largest electricity company to avoid cleaning up groundwater contamination leaching from unlined ash pits at 14 coal-fired power plants across the state.
But environmental groups quickly criticized the governor's plan, which would not require Duke to move its leaky coal ash dumps away from rivers and lakes.
McCrory declined to discuss key details about his proposal at an event in Raleigh on Wednesday, but called it "innovative" and "aggressive." The governor said his plan would address an issue unresolved for decades.
McCrory said he will propose adding more employees at the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to ensure dam inspections statewide are done on a more routine basis. Positions at the state agency have been cut sharply in recent years.
Environmentalists are pushing McCrory's administration to use what they say is the state's existing legal authority to require Duke to haul more than 100 million tons of the toxic ash away from waterways to lined landfills licensed to handle hazardous waste. Coal ash contains numerous chemicals that are harmful to people and wildlife, including arsenic, mercury and lead.
In a letter to the state last month, Duke CEO Lynn Good said the company would remove the ash from its dumps at the Dan River plant and another plant while the company studies options at its remaining sites. Among those options is draining contaminated water from the pits and then covering the remaining ash with soil and giant tarps.
"Duke Energy looks forward to working constructively with the governor, lawmakers and regulators to determine the best coal ash management policies for North Carolina," company spokesman Dave Scanzoni said Wednesday. "Duke Energy has proposed a comprehensive ash management plan with both near-term and long-term actions that will address all retired sites, as well as pond management at active sites, in an environmentally sound way."
McCrory's written proposal, a copy of which was released Wednesday evening, would provide Duke with at least three options: remove the ash, cover the ash and leave it in place, or a combination of the two.
"This plan recognizes there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach for the 33 coal ash ponds in North Carolina," said Josh Ellis, McCrory's spokesman. "The governor's preference is that these ponds are moved. The end result will be moving many, if not all, coal ash ponds. That will be a decision made by scientists and engineers based on what is most environmentally sound."
McCrory, a Republican, worked for Duke Energy more than 28 years prior to retiring to run for governor. The company and its employees have remained generous political supporters to McCrory's campaign and groups that support him.
Peter Harrison, a lawyer with the environmental group WaterKeeper Alliance, said McCrory's plan largely adopts Duke's position when it comes to removing the coal ash away from waterways.
"The governor has left plenty of room for Duke to do nothing more than empty the water out of its ash ponds and cover them with dirt," Harrison said. "This approach is unacceptable because it would allow these toxic dumps to continue leaking and poisoning our rivers and groundwater supplies with toxic heavy metals for many years to come."
Also on Wednesday, N.C. Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway denied a motion from Duke asking for a stay of his March 6 ruling finding that current state law gives state regulators direct authority to require Duke to clean up its coal ash pollution. The state Environmental Management Commission said last week it will join Duke in appealing Ridgeway's ruling.
McCrory appointed eight of the commission's 15 members. His staff has denied the governor played any role in the board's decision to side with Duke on the issue, but also declined to say whether he agreed with the action taken by his appointees.
Federal prosecutors have issued at least 23 subpoenas seeking records and grand jury testimony as part of a criminal investigation into the state's oversight of Duke's coal ash dumps. McCrory has denied that his administration gave any special treatment to his former employer.
 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hormones in Land-Applied Biosolids Could Affect Aquatic Organisms / Household Chemicals and Drugs Found in Biosolids from Wastewater Treatment Plants


Hormones in Land-Applied Biosolids Could Affect Aquatic Organisms

A USGS scientist prepares a tracer solution in a gas-tight bladder
Scientists setting up equipment used to apply artificial rainfall to a small test plot on a field that received an application of biosolids. The scientists captured the runoff from the plot for later chemical analysis. Photo credit: V. Cory Stephens, USGS.
(Larger version)
Hormones from biosolids applied to fields may be present in rainfall runoff at concentrations that are high enough to impact the health of aquatic organisms if the runoff reaches streams, report scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Colorado State University in Environmental Science and Technology. Artificial rainfall runoff from agricultural test plots where biosolids were applied as fertilizer contained several different hormones (estrogens, androgens, and progesterone). The occurrence of natural and synthetic hormones in streams is a growing concern because low part-per-trillion concentrations of these chemicals have caused endocrine disruption in aquatic organisms. The study results could help wastewater-treatment-plant, water-resource, and wildlife managers design management practices that limit the impacts of biosolids application on streams and aquatic organisms.
Biosolids are created from the sludge generated by the treatment of sewage at wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and are known to contain natural and synthetic hormones. Biosolids are frequently applied to agricultural fields to manage the large quantities of biosolids generated by WWTPs and to improve soil nutrient and water retention characteristics. The team of scientists collaborated with a local farmer to assess the potential for seventeen different hormones (including androgens, estrogens, and progestogens) and two sterols (waxy compounds such as cholesterol) to occur in the rainfall runoff from a winter wheat field in eastern Colorado where biosolids were applied. Small test plots (6 by 6 meters) were identified both before and after biosolids application. The scientists then created artificial rain events and collected the rainfall runoff from the test plots for later chemical analysis. The winter wheat field with the test plots had no prior history of biosolid applications.
Runoff samples collected prior to biosolids application had low concentrations of two hormones (estrone as much as 2.23 nanograms per liter (ng/L) and androstenedione as much as 1.54 ng/L). In contrast, significantly higher concentrations of multiple estrogens (as much as 25.0 ng/L), androgens (as much as 216 ng/L), and progesterone (as much as 98.9 ng/L) were observed in runoff samples taken 1, 8, and 35 days after biosolids application. The observed concentrations, if they reached streams without being diluted or absorbed, are high enough to impact the health of susceptible fish. These results demonstrate that rainfall has the potential to mobilize hormones from agricultural fields where biosolids have been applied.
The USGS's Toxic Substances Hydrology Program and National Water Quality Laboratory, the Colorado Water Institute, the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program, and Colorado State University funded this study.

References

Yang, Y.-Y., Gray, J.L., Furlong, E.T., Davis, J.G., ReVello, R.C., and Borch, T., 2012, Steroid hormone runoff from agricultural test plots applied with municipal biosolids: Environmental Science and Technology, v. 46, no. 5, p. 2746-2754, doi:10.1021/es203896t.

More Information

Related Headlines

http://toxics.usgs.gov/highlights/biosolids_runoff.html

Household Chemicals and Drugs Found in Biosolids from Wastewater Treatment Plants

Biosolids are the sludge generated by the treatment of sewage at wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). WWTPs produce a variety of biosolids products for agricultural, landscape, and home use. Depicted in the diagram is an activated sludge tank at a wastewater treatment plant (upper left) and a holding area for biosolids (lower right). (The two photos are not from the same facility.)
Biosolids are the sludge generated by the treatment of sewage at wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). WWTPs produce a variety of biosolids products for agricultural, landscape, and home use. Depicted in the diagram is an activated sludge tank at a wastewater treatment plant (upper left) and a holding area for biosolids (lower right).
(The two photos are not from the same facility.)
(Click on photo for larger version)
Biosolids, the treated sludge generated by the treatment of sewage at wastewater treatment plants, is something that most people don't think about as they flush everyday chemicals and drugs down the drain. However, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists found that biosolids contain relatively high concentrations (hundreds of milligrams per kilogram) of the active ingredients commonly found in a variety of household products and drugs.
Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in the United States generate approximately
7 million dry tons of biosolids each year. Since biosolids are rich in plant nutrients, farmers, landscapers, and homeowners use about 50 percent of the annual production of biosolids as fertilizer for plants. Biosolids must meet standards for nutrient, metal, and pathogen content before it can be used to fertilize plants and to improve the quality of soil. Because a variety of pharmaceuticals and other household chemicals have been found in the wastewater discharged from WWTPs, questions have been raised about the presence of these chemicals in biosolids. To help answer the questions the scientists purchased or obtained nine different commercially or publicly available biosolids and analyzed them for 87 organic chemicals found in cleaners, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, and other products. They found:
  • Fifty-five of the 87 organic chemicals measured were detected in at least one of the nine biosolids collected, with as many as 45 chemicals found in a single sample.
  • Twenty-five of the chemicals were present in every biosolid sample including compounds that are pharmaceutically and hormonally active, such as an antimicrobial disinfectant (triclosan), a musk fragrance (tonalide), an antihistamine (diphenhydramine), and an antiepileptic drug (carbamazepine).
  • A scientist (now with Colorado State University-Pueblo) preparing samples of biosolids for extraction using accelerated solvent extraction. The samples were analyzed for a broad suite of emerging contaminants.
    A scientist (now with Colorado State University-Pueblo) preparing samples of biosolids for extraction using accelerated solvent extraction. The samples were analyzed for a broad suite of emerging contaminants.
    (Click on photo for larger version)
    Total summed concentrations ranged from 64 to 1,811 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg or parts-per-million), with many individual contaminants in the hundreds of mg/kg range.
  • The biosolids were more similar than they were different, even though they were produced by a variety of treatment processes from plants serving vastly different sized cities and towns. The types of contaminants and their relation to each other did not vary greatly between the biosolids tested.
This is the first comprehensive examination of biosolids, and the results indicate that biosolids have high concentrations of these emerging contaminants compared to treated liquid wastewater effluent. What is not known at present is the transport, fate, and potential ecological effects of these contaminants once biosolids are applied to agricultural fields, garden plots, and landscaped plants and shrubs.

Reference

Kinney, C.A., Furlong, E.T., Zaugg, S.D., Burkhardt, M.R., Werner, S.L., Cahill, J.D., and Jorgensen, G.R., 2006, Survey of organic wastewater contaminants in biosolids destined for land application: Environmental Science and Technology, v. 40, no. 23, p. 7207-7215, doi:10.1021/es0603406.

http://toxics.usgs.gov/highlights/biosolids.html

More Information

Related Headlines

http://toxics.usgs.gov/highlights/biosolids.html

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

USGS at Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry: From Pharmaceuticals in Groundwater to Mercury in High U.S. Mountains

Photo of worms - caption below


Released: 11/6/2006 12:12:41 PM
Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Catherine Puckett 1-click interview
Phone: 352-264-3532
        
USGS at Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry: From Pharmaceuticals in Groundwater to Mercury in High U.S. Mountains
  The 27th Annual Meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) is being held November 5-9, 2006, at the Palais de Congrès in Montréal, Québec, Canada. Additional information about the conference can be found online at http://montreal.setac.org/home.asp  While the conference is occurring, please contact Catherine Puckett for information about specific presentations.
A Happy Medium?  Antidepressants in Aquatic Systems:  But recent USGS studies have shown that a wide range of pharmaceuticals and other human-caused waste compounds remain despite wastewater treatment and are discharged to receiving waters across North America.  Antidepressants are a commonly used class of pharmaceuticals whose pharmacological effects may extend beyond humans to aquatic organisms present in surface water systems that receive treated wastewater discharge.  

Yet few methods exist to detect antidepressants in the environment, and their effects on aquatic organisms are only beginning to be understood.  

Recently, USGS researchers developed a method to study the distribution and fate of antidepressants and their breakdown products in aquatic environments, including municipal wastewater and surface water.  Venlafaxine (Effexor) was the predominant antidepressant researchers found in wastewater and river-water samples from Colorado, Iowa, and Minnesota, though other antidepressants were found as well. Typical concentrations of individual antidepressants ranged from a few nanograms per liter to thousands of nanograms per liter (for Venalfaxine) in wastewater.  

This indicates that wastewater is a point source of antidepressants into the environment, at concentrations that may impact aquatic life. For more information, please contact Edward T. Furlong, USGS, at efurlong@usgs.gov or 303-236-3941; or Melissa Schultz, College of Wooster, Wooster, OH at mschultz@wooster.edu or 330-263-2645. SETAC presentation is Monday, Nov. 6, 8:20 a.m., Room 517A, Palais de Congrès.

Pharmaceuticals in Long Island's Groundwater: Pharmaceuticals can infiltrate groundwater systems in areas susceptible to wastewater contamination. In studies by Stony Brook University and the U.S. Geological Survey of ground-water wells in Suffolk County, Long Island, NY, near permitted wastewater treatment facilities discharging to ground water, scientists detected pharmaceuticals in concentrations generally 1-200 ng/L (parts per trillion).These vanishingly small concentrations are several orders of magnitude below the concentrations where any effects have been observed or predicted for the compounds measured in this study. Acetaminophen, caffeine, carbamazepine (anti-epileptic), cotinine (human metabolite of nicotine), paraxanthine (human metabolite of caffeine), and sulfamethoxazole (antibiotic) were found most often in both studies. However compounds were more frequently detected in the shallower wells.  These occurrences, and laboratory studies, suggest that of these compounds, caffeine, carbamazepine, paraxanthine, and sulfamethoxazole are more persistent in groundwater and have the most potential for transport in the subsurface.

For more information, contact Mark J. Benotti at mbenotti@usgs.gov or 631-736-0783 x126. SETAC presentation is Thursday, Nov. 9, 4:50 p.m., Room 516AB, Palais de Congrès.

After the Hurricanes - The Contaminants Left Behind in New Orleans: USGS researchers measured numerous semivolatile organic compounds in street floodwater mud and Lake Pontchartrain sediment samples collected in September and October 2005 after the levee breaches caused by Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flooding from Hurricane Rita. These compounds include compounds organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, PAHs, current-use pesticides, anthropogenic indicator compounds (AICs), and pharmaceuticals (in the mud only). Contaminant concentrations in street mud varied substantially and for some - including PAHs, some AICs, and four termiticides - were highest at several sites near downtown New Orleans when compared with other locations (Chalmette, Ninth Ward, Slidell, Rigolets). USGS researchers found that the highest concentrations of urban-related compounds (such as chlordane and PAHs) in lakebed sediments exceeded average concentrations in U.S. urban lakes and sediment quality guidelines, but were not markedly dissimilar to historical values or to those reported from other urban areas. The highest concentrations were limited to within a few hundred meters of the 17th Street Canal outlet into the lake. This research suggests that the impacts of the hurricanes on the sediment history of Lake Pontchartrain are most likely transitory and confined to a relatively small geographic region. For more information, contact W. T. Foreman at wforeman@usgs.gov or 303-236-3942. SETAC presentation is on Thursday, Nov. 9, 10:40 a.m., Room 516C, Palais de Congrès.

Rocky Mountain High -- Mercury in Cold Environments of the Western United States: Atmospheric deposition of mercury in remote areas in the Western United States is sufficient to pose a risk to human and ecosystem health at sites favorable for methylation, a process in which mercury in the environment is converted into a highly toxic form that accumulates in organisms and is amplified up the food chain. USGS researchers and partners measured mercury in snowpack samples during 2003-2005 as part of the National Park Service Western Airborne Contaminants Assessment Project. Eight high-altitude, high-latitude sites were selected for study in or near national parks in Colorado, Montana, California, Oregon, and Alaska. Mercury levels were lowest in the North Cascades, highest in the Rocky Mountains, and were related to the amount of particulate carbon in the snow, with both found at higher levels in forested sites than in open meadows. Seasonal variations were lowest in Denali National Park and highest in Olympic National Park.  Mercury concentrations were higher during the warm season than the snow season. Total annual fluxes of mercury were as high as 10 mg m-2 at some sites in the Rocky Mountains, which receive mercury deposition equal to that in the Upper Midwest or Northeast.  Global and regional sources of mercury emissions contribute to its deposition, with regional sources likely contributing more in the Rocky Mountains, where there are more upwind sources of emissions. For more information, contact Don Campbell at Donald.Campbell@usgs.gov or 303-236-4882, ext. 298. SETAC presentation is on Thursday, Nov. 9, 8 a.m.- 7 p.m., Exhibit Hall, Palais de Congrès. Poster #934.

Contaminants Lower Reproductive Health of Gila River Fish: Downstream of Phoenix, southern Arizona's Gila River is primarily recharged by irrigation return water, storm water, and wastewater treatment plant effluent, and fish and aquatic invertebrate habitats are degraded. Largemouth bass, common carp and channel catfish from the Gila had elevated levels of organochlorine pesticides, many of which have been associated with estrogen-like effects in fish. Reproductive biomarkers, including gonad size and hormone concentrations, were notably different in fish from the Gila River when compared to fish from the Colorado River, indicating that organochlorine contaminants may be affecting the reproductive health of fish populations in the Gila River downstream of Phoenix. For more information, contact Jo Ellen Hinck at jhink@usgs.gov or 573-876-1808. SETAC presentation is  on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2:30 p.m., Room 517B,  Palais de Congrès.

Aquatic Herbicides May Benefit Invasive Aquatic Species: Aquatic plants are frequently exposed to low-levels of agricultural herbicides at concentrations less than those known to cause adverse effects in the laboratory. Laboratory studies have shown that low levels of herbicide exposure can actually increase growth rates of aquatic plants due to physiological stress adaptations. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Manitoba studied whether low levels of herbicides in aquatic systems may actually aid non-native invasive aquatic plants, allowing them to out-compete or displace more desirable native aquatic plant species. Researchers studied the effects of atrazine herbicide on both native and non-native, invasive aquatic plants in experimental ponds over a period of 42 days. Results confirmed that lower levels of atrazine could actually stimulate growth of some invasive species. Some invasive aquatic plant species were less sensitive to atrazine than a common native aquatic plant species. Although the invasive species did not totally displace the native species, the results indicate that some herbicides may have the unintended consequence of benefiting non-native invasive species that may compete with native aquatic plant species. Aquatic plants are critical components of aquatic ecosystems by providing habitat and energy sources for many fish and invertebrates. For more information, contact James F. Fairchild at jfairchild@usgs.gov or 573-876-1871. SETAC presentation is on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 10:20 a.m., Room 516AB, Palais de Congrès.

Wastewater Issues Get Wormy:  Recent research indicates that earthworms may be an important initial step by which organic contaminants could enter the terrestrial food web. Wastewater treatment plants process millions of gallons of mixed solid and liquid human waste daily, returning treated effluent to surface and ground water and disposing of the residual sludge.  Roughly half of the many thousands of dry tons of treated sludge (usually referred to as biosolids) generated annually in the U.S. are applied to agricultural soils as a nutrient-rich soil amendment.  Recent USGS research has identified a wide variety of organic contaminants (such as disinfectants, pharmaceuticals, synthetic fragrances, and plasticizers) that can be present in biosolids, often in concentrations tens to thousands of times higher than found in treated liquid waste.  One concern related to the practice of land application of biosolids is whether any of these organic contaminants find their way into soil-dwelling organisms.  To address this concern, USGS and Eastern Washington University scientists collaborated on a study of earthworms collected from agricultural soils in the Midwest and Western United States that had been exposed to land-applied biosolids.  The samples were  analyzed for a diverse array of pharmaceuticals and other organic contaminants (77 target compounds were measured).  Soil and earthworm samples were collected from select agricultural fields early and late in the growing season.  Thirty-one compounds including triclosan (household disinfectant), several fragrances, caffeine, and fluoxetine (the antidepressant Prozac) were detected in earthworms from biosolid-applied fields, with tissue concentrations ranging from 100's to 1000's of micrograms per kilogram (parts per billion). These results demonstrate that earthworms can accumulate a range of these chemically diverse organic contaminants within their tissues, and may be an important initial step by which these compounds could enter the terrestrial food web.  For more information contact Ed Furlong, USGS, at efurlong@usgs.gov or 303-236-3941, and Chad Kinney, Eastern Washington University, at ckinney@mail.ewu.edu or 509-359-7932. SETAC presentation is on Thursday, Nov. 9, 4:10 p.m., Room 516 AB, Palais de Congrès.

Toxicity Tests for Endangered Mussels: The United States is home to more mussel species than any other country in the world. Despite the diversity of mussels found in the country, no other widespread group of animals in North America is as imperiled or has faced as many extinctions. The abundance and variety of mussels have declined sharply over the past century, but the cause of mussel decline is not well understood. Researchers at the USGS-Columbia Environmental Research Center, in cooperation with other government agencies, academia, and private industry, are developing the first standardized toxicity tests using several life stages of freshwater mussels to assess the effects that pollution may have on these declines. Mussels are filter feeders that readily accumulate toxins. Results of this ground-breaking work indicate that water quality criteria for individual chemicals established for the protection of aquatic organisms may not be adequately protective of sensitive stages of freshwater mussels. For more information, contact Ning Wang, nwang@usgs.gov or 573-441-2946. SETAC presentation is on Thursday, Nov. 9, 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Exhibit Hall, Palais de Congrès. Poster # 1056

Toxic Tango: Interactions of Mercury and Selenium on Bird Embryos: Mercury and selenium are common environmental contaminants that sometimes occur together at elevated levels in bird eggs. Both have been associated with reproductive impairment in birds, in particular by embryonic death and deformities. Although a lot is known about the toxicity of these two contaminants by themselves in eggs, little is known about potential toxic interactions when they occur in the same egg. USGS research indicates that combining the contaminants had a worse effect on mallard embryos than either one did separately. Follow-up studies, however, revealed that combined effects of these two contaminants may vary by species and exposure amount. For more information, contact Gary Heinz at gary_heinz@usgs.gov or 301-497-5711. The SETAC presentation is on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 10 a.m., Room 511AD, Palais de Congrès.

Contaminants Affect Over-Winter Survival of Swallows: The effects of chronic contaminant exposure on over-winter survival of birds are largely unknown. These studies are difficult to carry out because suitable bird species may not occur in contaminated locations, there may be insufficient number of breeding birds, they may be difficult to capture, or the species may to too long-lived to study within a reasonable time.  Tree swallows overcome many of these research problems.  Large numbers of breeding birds can be attracted to a site because they will readily nest in man-made nest boxes.  They are also relatively easy to capture, return to the same breeding site year after year, and are short lived.  The Housatonic River in western Massachusetts is extremely contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and PCB concentrations in swallow eggs are associated with decreased reproductive success.  USGS researchers studied the effect on over-winter survival of chronic exposure to PCBs for 5 years on the Housatonic River to determine if adult swallow survival was reduced in this highly contaminated environment. Researchers found that annual over-winter survival was reduced significantly by about 5 percent in females that nest at the most contaminated sites.  For more information contact Christine M. Custer, ccuster@usgs.gov or 608-781-6247. SETAC presentation is on Monday, Nov. 6, 2:10 p.m., Room 517 B, Palais de Congrès.

Fungicides: Analysis, Fate, and Toxicity: The recent spread of Asian soybean rust to North America has increased interest in fungicides to combat this scourge. Despite decades of agricultural and urban use, relatively little data are available on the fate and effects of fungicides in the aquatic environment. One of the most used fungicides in the United States, chlorothalonil, has been used for over 50 years for a variety of applications. Other fungicides (azoxystrobin, myclobutanil, propiconazole, pyraclostrobin, and tebuconazole) have been recently registered for treatment of soybean rust and are rapidly increasing in use. Some of these fungicides are highly toxic to fish and other aquatic life. Fungicides are often not included in monitoring programs, although fungicides and their degradates have been detected in water, sediments, air and rainfall at concentrations that can cause adverse effects to aquatic organisms. Effective monitoring of fungicide concentrations is required to understand if increasing use will result in increasing stream concentrations.  The focus of this session will range from older fungicides such as chlorothalonil to newer fungicides such as the triazoles and strobilurins. Topics will include analysis of fungicides and their degradates, environmental occurrence, degradation pathways, modes of action, and toxicity to aquatic organisms. For more information, contact Kathryn Kuivila at kkuivila@usgs.gov or 916-278-3054. The symposium, which is sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey and Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory, will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 8, in room 510 BD, Palais de Congrès, from 8:00 - 11:40 a.m.

How Much is Too Much? Mercury Thresholds for Common Loon Eggs: Assessing the ecological risk of mercury exposure to fish-eating wildlife is a priority issue for federal and state resource management agencies. Atmospheric mercury deposition has increased due to industrial activities exposing fish-eating wildlife populations in New England, coastal Atlantic states, the Southeast and the Upper Midwest to elevated mercury in their prey. The USGS, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the University of Wisconsin have conducted research to generate a scientifically defensible common loon/mercury risk assessment model. The work focused on the common loon because this species is sensitive to the toxic effects of mercury and has the greatest risk of mercury exposure among wildlife species on inland (non-marine) North American aquatic systems. A critical component of the model is determining the level of mercury in loon eggs that poses a population level risk.  In 2005 and 2006, researchers conducted a study to better characterize methylmercury exposure in eggs of Wisconsin common loons and to determine the level of exposure in eggs that reduces fitness and survival of loon embryos and resultant chicks. Blood mercury levels in a sample of Wisconsin loon chicks indicated mercury exposure in some chicks rivaled that of adult birds during the breeding season. Blood mercury concentrations rapidly declined in growing chicks, such that by six weeks of age blood mercury levels were about 6 percent of levels at hatch. Reduced embryo survival was evident at an egg content concentration of mercury that is representative of what is often found on low pH lakes in northern Wisconsin, although sample sizes are small.  For more information, contact Kevin Kenow at kkenow@usgs.gov or 608-781-6278. SETAC presentation is on Wednesday Nov. 8 at 8:40 a.m., Room 511 AD, Palais de Congrès.

http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=1578#.U0cWNP9OU2w

State And Federal Agencies Talk To Citizens About Coal Ash

WSET.com - ABC13


State And Federal Agencies Talk To Citizens About Coal Ash Posted: Apr 14, 2014 5:30 PM EDT

EPA holds open forum on cleaning coal ash from Dan River

Posted on: 10:06 pm, April 14, 2014, by
 
DANVILLE, Va. — The Environmental Protection Agency held an open forum Monday to discuss removing coal ash from the Dan River near the Schoolfield Dam.

Duke Energy is focusing cleanup efforts in Danville after teams found a 2,500-ton deposit of coal ash near the Schoolfield Dam.

Abreu Grogan Park will be closed while crews work to vacuum sediment out of the water and then move it to lined landfills in Virginia and North Carolina.

Representatives from several agencies including the U.S. EPA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia Department of Health, City of Danville and U.S. Coast Guard attended the meeting to answer questions.

Dredging is expected to begin by May 1. EPA officials say cleanup should be completed by July.

http://myfox8.com/2014/04/14/epa-holds-open-forum-on-cleaning-coal-ash-from-dan-river/