A new marker for human pollution contaminating surface and ground waters? Pepper virus.

It is common for E. Coli to be used as a marker for the potential presence of human waste in surface and ground waters. The pepper mild mottle virus is widespread in raw sewage, treated wastewater, reclaimed wastewater, and seawater exposed to wastewater. Thus, sampling for the pepper virus could...

Flame retardants found in butter

Researchers found very high levels of the flame retardant PBDE in one of ten samples of butter. The researchers believe the butter wrapper was the source of contamination, and they speculate that Deca-PBDE, which is being phased out of U.S. production, somehow got into the wrapping. Although the toxicology...

Amphibians face threats from chemicals across the landscape

Numerous prior posts have noted various theories and evidence for the reduction in number of frogs found in various environments. Taking a step back from focusing on agricultural lands and practices, some researchers are surveying the presence of frogs, including intersex frogs (those with both male...

Amoebas in drinking water: An untreated threat to health

EPA recently announced they are moving forward, contrary to the policy of the Bush Administration, with setting standards for various toxics in drinking water. Unfortunately, attention is not being given to a serious health threat, amoebas in drinking water. Amoebas (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki...

Where is the methane from the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout?

Natural gas in various forms comprised approximately 2/3 of the hydrocarbons emitted from the Deepwater Horizon well blowout. Methane is believed to compose an estimated 87.5% of that natural gas. Sampling in June 2010 found no microbial breakdown of methane. [See http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330...

Even toxics can act as a generic selection factor in the environment

One of the themes of this blog has been that virtually anything present in the environment can act as a selection factor influencing the course of evolution. A recent study on fish and PCB's and dioxins illustrates this point. Unfortunately for humans, the end result is not necessarily positive or...

9th Circuit upholds California's Vessel Fuel Rules in face of constitutional challenge

Prior posts have noted that California issued Vessel Fuel Rules designed to reduce air pollution created by ships moving along the coast. The Pacific Merchant Shipping Assoc. sued, alleging that it was unconstitutional to apply such rules to shipping more than 3 miles from the California Coast. The District...

NRDC challenge to EPA approval of California CAA SIP fails

California submitted a Clean Air Act State Implementation Plan to the EPA for approval. Pursuant to the "conformity rule" under 40 C.F.R. Section 93.118, the EPA conducted a review to determine whether the SIP's motor vehicle emissions budgets were adequate for transportation conformity...

Smoke from fires can travel thousands of miles impacting weather, climate, and air quality

Prior posts have noted the impact of fires in Southeast Asia on air pollution throughout the region. While it has been known for decades that large wildfires can create or enhance thunderstorm clouds, leading to what are called pyrocumulonimbus clouds ("pyroCbs"), only recently have researchers...

Eighth Circuit "clarifies" issues left unresolved in U.S. Supreme Court's Atlantic Research and Cooper Industries opinions

In 1983, the City sought to restore a long closed well for use as a drinking water resource. It received complaints re taste and odor. The State of Nebraska and EPA investigated, and ultimately the site was added to the NPL in 1986. EPA determined that the VOC contamination originated from seven source...

Diversity not only provides increased stability to ecological communities, it is more efficient for remediating contamination

It has long been an axiom of environmental science that a diverse ecological community (aka biodiversity) is more resilient and productive because it stabilizes the ecological system as a whole. This should not be confused with a focus on an individual species for which the complex interactions within...

Some bacteria found on grocery store meat are resistant to antibiotics, often many antibiotics

Prior posts have noted the unfortunate tendency in much of the world, including the U.S., to over prescribed antibiotics (even for conditions in which antibiotics are of no use whatsoever [e.g., viral infections]), resulting in disease-causing organisms that are resistant to many (if not almost all)...

Humans can transmit diseases to gorillas

Prior posts have noted and described a number of human diseases that had their origin in animals. Now it appears that some diseases can be transmitted from humans to gorillas. Ecotourism has been seen as a boon for countries with "interesting" biota; it provides funding for protection of...

Fracking, Methane and Drinking Water

By Dianne Saxe, Ontario Environmental Lawyer The Ernst v. Encana fracking lawsuit gained strength last month with the publication of Rob Jackson's peer-reviewed paper: Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing . Jackson is a professor at Duke...

Under California's Polanco Act, owners of a right-of-way to property are not owners or operators for subsurface contamination they did not cause and had no duty to investigate

California's Polanco Act provides a powerful (some would say one sided) tool for Redevelopment Agencies to force the remediation of a site subject to redevelopment, or to cause PRP's to reimburse such agencies for the remedial cost outlays. [As an aside, it should be noted that Governor Brown...

The manufacturer of PCE dry cleaning machine filtering system is not a CERCLA arranger

Since 1980, Team Enterprises, LLC leased space in a shopping center in Modesto, California, where it operated a dry cleaning store. From 1980 to 2004, Team used PCE in its dry cleaning equipment, and the machines generated wastewater containing PCE. Team used Puritan Rescue 800 filter-and-still combination...

More Thinking About Smith v Inco – A Videocast Analysis by Dianne Saxe

Noted Canadian environmental lawyer Dianne Saxe has prepared an excellent video analysis of a recent Canadian appellate decision, Smith v. Inco , that looks at the application of the famous strict liability case from England , Rylands v. Fletcher, [1868] UKHL 1, (1868) 3 L.R. 330 , in an environmental...

A Videocast on the Application of Rylands v. Fletcher In Nuisance Actions

Noted Canadian environmental lawyer Dianne Saxe has prepared an excellent video analysis of a recent Canadian appellate decision, Smith v. Inco , that looks at the application of the famous strict liability case from England , Rylands v. Fletcher, [1868] UKHL 1, (1868) 3 L.R. 330 , in an environmental...

Ongoing Cleanup Precludes Plaintiff From Establishing RCRA Imminent and Substantial Endangerment

By Steven M. Siros, Partner, Jenner & Block A recent decision from the Eastern District of Wisconsin rejected plaintiff's efforts to demonstrate RCRA imminent and substantial endangerment, notwithstanding the presence of benzene in indoor air in the basement of a facility. In Tilot Oil, LLC...

Lake Erie contains substantial quantities of tiny pieces of potentially toxic plastic

Prior posts have noted the great Atlantic and Pacific garbage patches. [See, for example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_garbage_patch ; http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/translating-uncle-sam/stories/what-is-the-great-pacific-ocean-garbage-patch ; &, http://news.discovery.com/earth/oceans...

Cascades/Superior Paper Mill Cleanup: Final Settlement?

Going after individuals for cleanups of historic contamination continues to pay off for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment . The MOE Director issued a section 18 Order to five companies and three individuals to cleanup outstanding environmental issues at an old paper mill in Thunder Bay. The...

Supreme Court: CERCLA Does Not Preempt State’s Statute Of Repose

WASHINGTON, D.C. — (Mealey's) A U.S. Supreme Court majority today reversed a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel’s ruling reinstating a lawsuit brought under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) against a company accused of contaminating...

Contractor Sentenced To Prison For Contaminating Beach With Asbestos From Condo Renovation

As a result of beach contamination that occurred from illegally pressure washing siding on a high rise condo in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, David Braswell has been sentenced in federal court in Florence, South Carolina, for violation of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. § 7412, [ enhanced version available...

New Report Concludes Water Will Impact Business Growth

A new report "Bridging Concern with Action: Are U.S. Companies Prepared for Looming Water Challenges?" by VOX Global and Pacific Institute concludes 60% of companies surveyed believe water is poised to affect business growth and profitability within five years. In addition, more than 80% say...

Millions For Offsite Gasoline Contamination

The Ontario Superior Court has awarded millions to a neighbouring property owner for historic offsite gasoline contamination. The decision in Canadian Tire Real Estate Ltd. v. Huron Concrete Supply Ltd . illustrates, and will perpetuate, the continuing confusion over liability for off site groundwater...