Hello again, ecoSPEARS readers! It’s Tuesday so that means it’s time for our weekly news blurb update on otherwise overlooked environmental news you probably didn’t see in major headlines last week. Our regular blog readers will be more familiar with some of the issues and areas we bring up this week, but if you are a new reader to the ecoSPEARS blog page – don’t worry! You can find more information, news, and blog posts on the information for today’s blurb by doing a quick search through our blog history.
Today’s first article comes out of the home of the modern environmental awareness movement – New York City. The US EPA announced last week a milestone $100M decision and agreement for the cleanup of the Gowanus Canal Superfund site in Brooklyn by National Grid. The agreement is focused on the cleanup of the Canal, as well as the Douglass and DeGraw Pools and the nearby Thomas Greene Park. The plan is to dredge areas of the Gowanus Canal contaminated with PCBs, PAHs, and several heavy metals and to install caps in the dredged areas, with expectation to begin the full-scale cleanup sometime in 2020.
Dredging machinery along the banks of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York City
“This agreement will enable the remediation and revitalization of a heavily contaminated waterway and one of the neighborhood’s most popular recreational areas,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in response to the agreement decision.
Home retailer giant Lowe’s say its name in the news last week as it became public that the Home Improvement chain would start the process of eliminating all products from its global inventory containing the chemical methylene chloride.
Methylene chloride used to be more commonly found in paints, paint thinners, and metal cleaners, however studies on the chemical have shown that long-term exposure can result in cancer and health defects to the nervous system. Officials from Lowe’s executive management board have likewise declared their company will be working more closely with the EPA to find safer alternative products for customers in its global market, saying, “As a home improvement leader, we recognize the need for viable paint removal products and remain committed to working closely with suppliers to further innovate in this category.”
Lowe’s has released a public statement declaring it is phasing out stock containing methylene chloride.
Methylene chloride was one chemical proposed to ban by the EPA during the final days of the Obama administration. The ban was then dropped by EPA last December before doubling back on this decision this past March, claiming that significant data findings on the harmful effects of the chemical did indeed constitute a ban on its place in the consumer market.
Lastly, readers of our blog in or around the West Virginia area may be interested in attending a public listening session this coming Thursday, June 7th from 7:00-8:30pm at 179 McKinley Road in Minden. The session – which will be led by EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio – will provide residents an update to EPA’s measures regarding contamination in the area. Citizens will also be able to voice concerns or questions they may have regarding environmental contamination to officials in the region.
Soil samples being collected in Minden, WV for PCB testing
This session comes on the heels of reports of Oak Hill city officials stating that contaminated soil from the Shaffer Equipment Site – the source of many of Minden, WV’s PCBs and a consistent community candidate for the Superfund NPL – will not be hauled away for off-site disposal due to findings that PCB contamination levels “do not pose a direct threat to human health.”
EPA has said its measures to monitor, sample, and analyze soil and sediment samples from areas around the Shaffer Equipment Site in Minden are ongoing alongside work from the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (WVDEQ). Minden residents in the past have expressed frustration in sentiments brushing against those of the EPA and DEQ in their struggle to get the town’s environmental contamination listed under the Superfund NPL.
And that’s all for this week, readers! Please be sure to check back to our blog every Tuesday for weekly news updates on articles and headlines in the environmental world you may have otherwise missed. Until next time!
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