In The News: PCBs Down, Water Quality Up

In The News: PCBs Down, Water Quality Up

Hey there, readers! It’s about that time again where we give you our weekly update on environmental news you probably didn’t catch in media headlines last week. Here at ecoSPEARS, our core values revolve around generating awareness and educating people just like you on the issues and changes in our environment we all must be privy to. If you have any articles, headlines, or other news you want us to cover or think more people should be aware of, be sure to email us at info@ecospears.com!

 

Earlier last week, news broke that Steven D. Cook was picked to lead the US EPA’s Superfund Task Force: Scott Pruitt’s initiative to expedite cleanup for over 1,300 toxic sites across the US. This news caused a buzz of controversy across media airwaves and websites as Cook’s career as in-house legal counsel for LyondellBasell Industries, “one of the world’s largest plastics, chemicals, and refining companies,” led many to believe that his assignment to head the Task Force is one more of many fishy ties to industry within the 45th Presidential Administration.

A NJ man walks past the Martin Aaron Superfund site.

EPA’s own records have listed LyondellBasell as a potentially responsible party (PRP) for “at least three dozen” contaminated Superfund sites in the United States. However, an EPA memo signed by Cook from April showed that the new head of Pruitt’s Superfund Task Force had and will recuse himself from any regulatory matters regarding or otherwise involving his former employer.

Our second article of the week comes from the Canadian end of the Detroit River, where environmental scientists and researches have found a decrease in levels of PCB contamination in snapping turtles, one of the region’s “species of special concern” due to widespread contamination in and around the Great Lakes Basin. The Detroit River was targeted as one of the region’s areas of concern more than 30 years ago; however, comparisons in PCB concentration levels found from 2001-2002 and 2014-2016 have shown drops in contamination rates in native snapping turtles, natural predators higher up on the Great Lakes’ food chain.

 

We know that PCBs and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs) accumulate and biomagnify as they climb their way up the food chain. A decrease in contamination levels found in wildlife species higher on the food chain of the Great Lakes’ wildlife system could be a good indicator that environmental measures and regulations in the region regarding contamination are moving in the back direction and steering nature back towards equilibrium. These findings will be discussed at a free public hearing this coming Thursday evening at Mackenzie Hall in the City of Windsor, Ontario, Canada at 6:30pm.

Snapping turtles are one of the nature’s most efficient predators in the Great Lakes Basin.

Just south of the Detroit River, back across the Canadian border, EPA announced last week that it will award three grants worth a total of $149,000 to “protect air and water quality in Ohio.” EPA Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp said in the Agency’s press release on the matter that the grants demonstrate EPA’s committal to, “reduce air pollution and protect underground water sources…[to] provide better environmental results.”

 

The first portion of the total grant was awarded to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), which will use this portion of the grant to uphold the quality of underground water sources, primarily permitting for and maintaining injection wells. The second grant, awarded to the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency (RAPCA) will be used to conduct comprehensive studies of air quality across six counties in the region. Finally, the third grant was awarded to Hamilton County to improve and maintain air quality control as well as address airborne toxins in the county.

 

And that’s all for this week, readers! Please be sure to check ack to our blog every Tuesday for weekly news updates on articles and headlines in the environmental world you may have otherwise missed. Remember: if you have any news you want to share or believe we may have missed, too, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at info@ecopears.com! Until next time!

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