Hein blasts state for leaving Lower Esopus out of watershed pact | Watershed Post

Article on New York city release of turbid waters into the Esopus and negotiating new terms of FAD without local input. What are implications  to the MOA (memorandum of agreement) between city and local communities? Lissa Harris reporting for the Watershed Post, an excerpt follows:

“State health officials say they have no authority to force New York City to take action in the Lower Esopus — at least not in the FAD, a document meant to satisfy the federal Environmental Protection Agency that the city’s watershed is pristine enough to stay unfiltered.

Hein is seeking to restore the Lower Esopus programs to the FAD, and is calling on the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to release a separate document that will govern the DEP’s actions in the Lower Esopus. But the county executive is also seeking some bigger changes in upstate/downstate relations: Hein wants to renegotiate the hard-fought agreement that has governed the watershed since 1997, a much more substantial undertaking.

“The fact that the people of our community do not have a seat at the table in the negotiation of the FAD is unconscionable,” Hein said. “What impacts our community is being negotiated in New York City and Albany, with the people of our community having absolutely no say in the matter.”

The Lower Esopus has been a hot political issue since the city began muddying the creek with turbid water releases in in 2010. This latest spat illustrates just how complicated watershed politics can be.

New York City spends millions of dollars a year on its upstate watershed, but the price of clean water is cheap compared to what the city could be forced to spend if regulators decide that the city is not properly protecting its water supply. If the city violates the terms of the FAD, the DOH could force it to build a massive filtration plant, with a price tag of more than $10 billion.

And the FAD isn’t the only document making waves in the Lower Esopus. New York City will soon be required to take action in the creek under an entirely separate consent order with the state DEC. But with both documents delayed, and emotions running hot in southeastern Ulster County over the DEP’s actions in the creek, the FAD has become a lightning rod for long-held local frustration with the city.

A (muddy) river runs through it

The Ashokan Reservoir was created by damming the Esopus Creek a century ago, forever separating the creek into an upper and a lower portion. In 2010, the DEP began releasing turbid water into the lower portion of the creek after heavy rainstorms, in an effort to cut down on the use of alum — a settling agent that causes silt to clump and sink — in the city’s Kensico Reservoir almost 100 miles away.

Because the city controls when and how much water flows into the Lower Esopus via the Ashokan Release Channel, the DEP’s discharges of turbid water into the creek are considered water pollution by regulators, even when the water in the creeks upstream from the Ashokan is equally muddy. The city’s turbid releases have earned the Lower Esopus a designation as an “impaired waterway” from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. And they have infuriated local residents, who have watched a creek beloved by flyfishers, swimmers and boaters run brown for weeks on end.

The New York City DEP’s water releases have been both a curse and a blessing for Ulster County residents. When heavy rains are in the forecast, the releases create extra space in the reservoir, helping to prevent flooding along the banks of the Lower Esopus. Local officials along the Lower Esopus who have been fiercely critical of the muddy water coming from the Ashokan Release Channel are sometimes in the awkward position of beseeching the city to release water into the creek for flood protection.

According to DEP officials, it has been many months since the agency released turbid water into the Lower Esopus. Over the last year, releases have been clear or slightly cloudy, they say.”

For entire article go to:


Historic Healing Power of the Beach – Atlantic Mobile

Interesting read on history of the sea as medicinal. Excerpt from Atlantic Monthly:

“In the Judeo-Christian biblical tradition, the boiling sea is where great awful beasts come from,” says Dr. Robert Ritchie a senior research associate at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, who is researching a book on the history of beach-going and seaside resorts. “The fear of the sea has biblical origins with the great flood destroying all creatures. As it retreats, it rips away the land leaving all kinds of detritus behind.”

In fact, no one thought of the sea as a particularly friendly place. And, as the gateway to the sea, the beach wasn’t so appealing either. In modern Europe, only peasants sought refuge from the heat in the cool seawater. And so the beach remained mostly empty until the English looked around and began to consider the medicinal potential of their chilly national shoreline.

Eighteenth century British high society suffered from a mess of maladies. Fevers, digestive complaints, melancholia, nervous tics, tremors, and even stupidity were the epidemics of the day. The pressures of urban life, pollution, and the general deterioration of society were obviously to blame. Enlightenment physicians began to consider new remedies for old ailments spurred by the new emphasis on science and experimentation. Their new wonder drug was… water. Cold sea water, specifically.

For book references and further reading go to:


Climate change could make Greenland green by 2100 – Climate Change – Environment – The Independent

Reporting by John Van Radowitz on the greening of Greenland:

Today only four indigenous tree species grow on the large island, confined to small areas in the south. Three-quarters of Greenland, the world’s most sparsely populated country, is covered by a barren ice sheet.
But by the year 2100 swathes of verdant forest could be covering much of its land surface. “Greenland has…the potential to become a lot greener,” Professor Jens-Christian Svenning, from Aarhus University in Denmark, said. “Forest like the coastal coniferous forests in Alaska and western Canada will be able to thrive in fairly large parts of Greenland… with trees like sitka spruce and lodgepole pine. It will provide new opportunities for the Greenlanders.”
Research showed that with expected levels of warming, a majority of 44 species of North American and European trees and bushes will be able to thrive in Greenland.
The transformation is likely to alter Greenland’s ecosystem, leading to the loss of Arctic animals and plants. On the other hand there could be significant commercial possibilities linked to forestry, agriculture and tourism.


Feds should pursue stronger EA on Ring of Fire | Sudbury Star

Proceeding with mining development is beung questioned in Northwest Ontario, Ring of Fire, Sudbury. Bullying not way to bring diverse stakeholders together. Excerpt from The Sudbury Star:


The extraction of mineral resources in the remote Ring of Fire represents a multibillion-dollar enterprise, potentially creating thousands of jobs throughout the North. The challenges are significant –but the boost to the North’s economy (and the province) may be worth the investment of public dollars on capital projects, such as a rail or road access.

With comparisons being made between the Ring of Fire and Alberta’s oil sands, it’s no wonder that environmentalists and First Nations communities are wary of runaway development decisions being made by governments without due consideration of future impacts. While bitumen mining in northern Alberta has brought economic growth, it has also created significant social and environmental issues that will likely remain for centuries. To avoid similar negative impacts, a truly comprehensive and consultative environmental assessment process needs to be priority number one.

However, until now, the Conservative government has seemed content to put itself at odds with environmental organizations and First Nations. As a result, the government has needlessly contributed to the delaying development in the Ring of Fire.


‘Serious radiation incident’: Japan to radically raise the severity level of Fukushima leak — RT News

This story is not going away. Excerpt from RT NEWS:


TEPCO reported that another tank with highly radioactive water had leaked at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant. The NRA first classified the leak as a Level One “anomaly.”

The contaminated water contains an unprecedented 80 million Becquerels of radiation per liter – compared to the normal level of around 150 Bq/l.

This is considered to be the most serious setback to date for the clean-up of the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

The increase to ‘Level Three’ will be formally adopted later on Wednesday after a meeting that is currently under way, a spokesman for the agency told Reuters by phone.

This is the first time Japan has issued an INES rating for Fukushima since the accident, which was caused by a massive earthquake and tsunami, took place in 2011.

The most dangerous ‘Level Seven’ has only been applied twice – for the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986 and for the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima plant.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, each increase on the INES scale represents a 10-times increase in radiation severity.


Congress’ evaporating support puts Great Lakes — and our fresh water — at risk – Opinion – Crain’s Chicago Business

Do not let Congress drop restoration programs for the Great Lakes. We are responsible for 1/5 of the world’s fresh water. Don’t waste this precious resource.

“Last week, a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee voted to gut Great Lakes and clean water funding. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative received a disproportionate 80 percent slash to $60 million from $300 million. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund, used for loans that pay to stop sewage overflows, suffered a cut of 75 percent. Under this stinging proposal, much work to protect and restore the Great Lakes will halt next year. The numbers have sparked indignation and disbelief, and Congress should eliminate the cuts, double-time.

We have more than 20 percent of the Earth’s fresh surface water in the Great Lakes, providing drinking water to 7 million Illinoisans. But our Great Lakes are troubled by sewage overflows — like the nearly 11 billion gallons that hit Lake Michigan from Illinois in April.

We face a legacy of chemical contamination and marauding invasive species like Asian carp. Algae blooms in Lake Erie are so bad that the Great Lakes landed on the front page of the New York Times in March, including a picture of bright green muck — not exactly a tourism brochure. These problems don’t go away by hoping for the best, but they do get worse and more expensive to fix.

The good news is that the fix is starting to work. Illinois and Indiana toxic sites in Lake Michigan and along the Grand Calumet River are being cleaned and restored so adjacent communities can benefit again from these fresh water assets. Gov. Pat Quinn has leveraged revolving fund dollars to create the state’s Clean Water Initiative, making it easier for communities to finance long-term loans for critical water infrastructure. And Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has signaled that a revitalized Chicago River and connected pipes are right for the planet, public health and Chicago’s future.”

Read more about Chicago and cleanup efforts for the Great Lakes at:


International Coastal Cleanup

Clean up your local waterway. Message from NOAA:

“Worried about the amount of trash on our coasts? Do gyres of bobbing plastic whirl through your head each night? Help wipe these worries from your mind and the beach by joining the International Coastal Cleanup on September 21, 2013.

With more than 550,000 volunteers scouring beaches, rivers, and lakes last year, this event is the biggest one-day cleanup of marine debris in the world. In the past, volunteers have turned up everything from bottle caps and plastic bags to toilet seats and cyborg sea-kitties. But each year cigarette butts take home the prize for most common item of debris found on the beach, with 2,117,931 of these toxic pieces of plastic turning up during the 2012 global cleanup alone.

To volunteer at a location near you, visit Ocean Conservancy online. The NOAA Marine Debris Program is a proud sponsor of the annual event, and last year NOAA volunteers cleaned up more than 2.8 tons (nearly 5,700 pounds) of debris from waterways and beaches in DC, Seattle, and Oahu.

Even if you can’t make it to your nearest waterway on September 21, you can still help reduce how much trash makes it to the ocean by planning your own beach cleanup and considering these 10 suggestions from Ocean Conservancy.”

Northern Territory nuclear waste dump ‘contravenes UN declaration’

Oliver Milkman reporting on Austrailan policy makers crafting terminal policy on disposal of low level nuclear waste. Apparently they are backing off original plan to dump it on indigenous peoples’ territory. Here is an excerpt from The Guardian:

“The government risks breaching an international agreement if it goes ahead with a controversial nuclear waste dump in a remote part of the Northern Territory, conservationists say, with Labor Senate candidate Nova Peris calling for the plan to be dropped.

Conservationists claim that the Muckaty dump, near Tennant Creek, would be in contravention of the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, which states that nations must “ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent”.

The basis of this consent is currently being challenged in the federal court, with a directions hearing set to take place in Melbourne on 26 August.

Opponents of the dump have waged a lengthy battle against the Northern Land Council, responsible for nominating the Muckaty site, which they claim didn’t have the full consent of Indigenous communities before striking a $12m deal to choose the location eight years ago.

Gary Gray, the resources minister who recently visited the site, told Guardian Australia that the government would not push ahead with the Muckaty site until the case was resolved. Anti-dump campaigners have welcomed this, given that the case could take several years to conclude.

However, Gray added: “The government is not considering the viability of other sites. Under the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012, only volunteer nomination sites may be considered for a facility.”


nuclear waste disposal solutions? The Orange County Register


Excerpt from Orange county register:

“Unlike the reactor cores, the spent fuel pools are not protected by redundant emergency makeup and cooling systems and/or housed within robust containment structures having reinforced concrete walls several feet thick,” Dave Lochbaum, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Nuclear Safety Project, told senators.

“Thus, large amounts of radioactive material – which under the (Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982) should be stored within a federal repository designed to safely and securely isolate it from the environment for at least 10,000 years – instead remains at the reactor sites.”

These “spent fuel pools” were initially designed to hold about one reactor core’s worth of fuel, Lochbaum said. But since the feds have failed miserably to fulfill their promise to permanently dispose of this dangerous waste, some pools are holding up to nearly nine times that amount.

Finally, there is a glimmer of hope that – more than 30 years after the Nuclear Waste Policy Act passed, and 15 years after the feds guaranteed they’d start accepting the waste – paralysis and dithering might give way to action.

In June, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and three other senators introduced the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013, “a bipartisan, comprehensive plan for safeguarding and permanently disposing of tens of thousands of tons of dangerous radioactive nuclear waste currently accumulating at sites dispersed across the country,” including areas at risk of earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters, they said in a prepared statement.”


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