Archive | Water Pollution

Drugs Seen As 'new' Pollutants

DENVER, Sept. 10 (UPI) — U.S. authorities say water pollution by “emerging contaminants” — antidepressants, antibiotics, birth-control pills and cosmetics — threatens public health.

Scientists who trace urban contaminants entering water supplies through human waste, bathing and flushing are concerned they may harm people, The Denver Post reported Friday.

In Colorado several years ago, Denver Water officials discovered trace amounts of antibiotics and pharmaceuticals in water sources used to supply 1.3 million metro-area residents with drinking water.

“The fact that some compounds were detected surprised us and shows that even the best watersheds are experiencing the impacts of consumer products,” Denver Water spokeswoman Stacy Chesney said.

This summer, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency teams began testing at Denver Water’s Dillon Reservoir and the South Platte and other rivers.

The EPA is making emerging water contaminants a top national research priority, agency spokesman Rich Mylott said.

Colorado, with EPA funding, is expanding a pharmaceutical take-back program launched in 2009.

Colorado is one of several states with take-back programs aimed at preventing improper disposal of harmful chemicals in sewers and trash.

“We recognize that pharmaceuticals and medications have greatly improved the health of Americans,” but we need to deal with the consequences, EPA toxicologist Kristen Keteles told the Post. “We want to do what we can — eliminate the improper disposal.”

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Posted in Chemicals, Consumer Products, Drinking Water, Other, Water Pollution0 Comments

Weedkiller Causes Worse Weeds

DYERSBURG, Tenn., May 4 (UPI) — U.S. farmers in the Midwest, South and East say their widespread use of the weedkiller Roundup and its generic equivalents have led to hardier weeds.

To compensate, farmers must resort to less environmentally friendly methods, such as spraying fields with toxic herbicides and regular plowing, The New York Times reported Monday.

“We’re back to where we were 20 years ago. We’re trying to find out what works,” said Eddie Anderson, a Dyersburg, Tenn., farmer, who for 15 years used environmentally friendly farming techniques including no plowing.

But Anderson said he will plow about one-third of his 3,000 soybean acres this spring.

The new measures may lead to lower crop yields, higher farm costs and food prices, and more land and water pollution, the Times reported.

“It is the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen,” said Andrew Wargo III, president of the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts.

Roundup was originally made by Monsanto, but also is sold by its generic name, glyphosate, the Times said.

Currently, Roundup-type crops comprise about 90 percent of the soybeans and 70 percent of the corn and cotton grown nationwide, the newspaper said.

The superweeds evolved quickly in a survival response to the weedkillers.

“What we’re talking about here is Darwinian evolution in fast-forward,” said Mike Owen, an Iowa State University weed scientist.

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Posted in Conservation, Other, Water Pollution0 Comments

Weedkiller Causes Worse Weeds

DYERSBURG, Tenn., May 4 (UPI) — Farmers in the Midwest, South and East say their widespread use of the weedkiller Roundup and its generic equivalents has led to hardier weeds.

The farmers must resort to less environmentally friendly methods, such as spraying fields with toxic herbicides and regular plowing, The New York Times reported Monday.

“We’re back to where we were 20 years ago. We’re trying to find out what works,” said Eddie Anderson, a Dyersburg, Tenn., farmer, who for 15 years used environmentally friendly farming techniques including no plowing.

But Anderson said he will plow about one-third of his 3,000 soybean acres this spring.

The new measures may lead to lower crop yields, higher farm costs and resultant food prices, and more land and water pollution, the Times reported.

“It is the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen,” said Andrew Wargo III, the president of the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts.

Roundup was originally made by Monsanto, but is also available generically, also sold by its generic name, glyphosate, the Times said.

Currently, Roundup-type crops comprise about 90 percent of the soybeans and 70 percent of the corn and cotton grown nationwide, the newspaper said.

The superweeds caused by the weedkiller quickly evolved to survive.

“What we’re talking about here is Darwinian evolution in fast-forward,” said Mike Owen, an Iowa State University weed scientist.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Conservation, Other, Water Pollution0 Comments

Italian Oil Spill Deliberate

MILAN, Italy, Feb. 25 (UPI) — A spill that sent massive amounts of oil into the Po River in northern Italy was a deliberate act of vandalism, officials said Thursday.

Investigators said someone opened a valve on an oil tank Tuesday at a former refinery near Milan, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. An amount of oil equivalent to the load carried by 125 tanker trucks spilled into a tributary of the Po.

Roberto Formigoni, the governor of Lombardy, described the spill as a “criminal act” after flying over the affected area Thursday.

“They need to find out who did this and apply the harshest penalties possible,” he said.

Cleanup teams have been using floating barriers to slow the progress of the oil slick, with limited results. The oil reached the Po on Wednesday and is expected to traverse the river delta near Venice and flow into the Adriatic Sea within three or four days.

The Po, the longest river in Italy, flows more than 400 miles from the Cottian Alps to the Adriatic, passing through major cities, including Turin, Ferrara and Piacenza. It is connected with Milan by a series of canals.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Water Pollution0 Comments

Contaminated Public Water Wells Studied

RESTON, Va., Feb. 11 (UPI) — U.S. Geological Survey scientists say they have discovered how and when contaminants might reach public-supply wells.

The researchers said public wells that supply drinking water to more than 100 million people in the United States are not equally vulnerable to contamination because of differences in three factors: The general chemistry of the aquifer, groundwater age and direct paths within aquifer systems that allow water and contaminants to reach a well.

The wells, however, can be vulnerable to naturally occurring contaminants such as radon, uranium, arsenic and man-made compounds, including fertilizers, septic-tank leachate, solvents and gasoline hydrocarbons.

The USGS study tracked the movement of contaminants in groundwater and in public-supply wells in four aquifers in California, Connecticut, Nebraska and Florida. The researchers said they found the importance of each factor differs among the various aquifer settings, depending upon natural geology and local aquifer conditions, as well as human activities related to land use and well construction and operation.

“Our findings can help public-supply well managers protect drinking water sources by prioritizing their monitoring programs and improving decisions related to land use planning, well modifications or changes in pumping scenarios that might help to reduce movement of contaminants to wells,” said Sandra Eberts, who led the research.

The full report as well as additional information is available at http://oh.water.usgs.gov/tanc/NAWQATANC.htm.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Drinking Water, Water Pollution0 Comments

Report: Water Around Bhopal Plant Polluted

BHOPAL, India, Feb. 7 (UPI) — Water around the long-closed Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal, India, contains high levels of toxic pollutants, researchers say.

The plant was the site of an accidental release of toxic gas in 1984 that killed thousands of people and exposed an estimated half-million to airborne poisons.

The Central Pollution Control Board reports that underground aquifers around the plant are contaminated with benzene and chloroform, the Hindustan Times reported. Both chemicals can cause headache, nausea and, with high exposure, respiratory problems and coma.

“In some cases, the toxins were found to be several hundred times more than the permissible limits in drinking water,” the agency said.

Chemicals remain stored in the plant. Environmental activists like Sunitra Narain, director of the Center for Science and the Environment, accuse the government of failing to deal with the problem.

“The study shows that the site is highly contaminated,” Narain said. “The focus of the government is to dispose of the stored waste and ignore the site’s contamination. This will not solve the environmental problems from emanating from the UCIL factory.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Chemicals, Drinking Water, Toxic Substances, Water Pollution0 Comments

Radioactive Water Leaks at Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant Raise Safety Concerns

VERNON, Vt., Jan. 31 (UPI) — Radioactive water leaks at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant and other such facilities are raising doubts about nuclear safety, The Boston Globe reported Sunday.

The newspaper said such incidents at more than 20 U.S. nuclear plants in recent years have created doubts about the viability of nuclear power at a time when President Barack Obama has called for “a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country” along with alternative energy sources.

The Globe said a controversy over the Vermont Yankee leak in Vernon, Vt., could scotch plans to extend its operating license for 20 years. It said such leaks could stand in the way of resurgence for nuclear energy as memories of accidents at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island recede.

Critics cite the integrity of underground pipes that carry the contaminated water, the report said. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., this month called for the U.S. Government Accountability Office to probe the state of buried pipes at nuclear plants.

But nuclear proponents say that while leaks of water containing tritium are serious, those that have contaminated groundwater have not exceeded regulatory limits or harmed any plant’s structural integrity, the Globe reported.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Toxic Substances, Water Pollution0 Comments

Storms Dump 170 Million Gallons of Sewage into San Francisco Bay

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 31 (UPI) — The recent series of California storms dumped about 170 million gallons of partially processed sewage into the San Francisco Bay, an environmental group says.

The San Francisco Baykeeper group says this was in addition to 630,000 gallons of raw sewage the storms dumped into the bay in 47 locations, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday.

The “under-treated” 170 million gallons of sewage was discharged from three East Bay Municipal Utility District overflow plants on the bay’s east side, the newspaper reported.

Those “wet weather” plants process overflow during storms, but the facilities can get overwhelmed during big storms like the recent ones, and what goes into the bay can be raw sewage from toilets, kitchen sinks, creeks, cracked sewer lines or overflowing manhole covers.

Although mixed with rainwater, the partially treated sewage from the “wet weather” plants still contains pesticides and metals such as mercury, which can sicken people, fish and birds, the Chronicle said.

Baykeeper points to outdated infrastructure, in which pipes and processing plants leak, break or simply can’t handle the load. The group wants the city to assess its processing systems and figure out how to fix them.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Birds, Fish, Waste Disposal, Waste Management, Wastewater & Runoff, Water Pollution0 Comments

Water May Have Caused Mass Illness

MOSCOW, Jan. 25 (UPI) — Russian officials said Monday approximately 50 people in eastern Siberia could have become ill using water taken from wells during a religious celebration.

The regional Investigation Committee, which is probing the matter in Irkutsk, said the victims all complained of “symptoms of acute intestinal infection” and high temperature, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported. Forty people were hospitalized.

Rospotrebnadzor, a consumer watchdog organization, said the source of the mass illness could have been water drawn from two wells near a church Jan. 19, during the celebration of the feast of the Epiphany, or the baptism of Jesus. Some faiths believe water becomes holy and imbued with healing powers during the Epiphany.

“All the victims are known to have taken water from two wells near the Archangel Michael Church and from an ice hole made in a nearby lake,” local officials said.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Water Pollution0 Comments

Metro Detroit Sewage Polluting Waterways

DETROIT, Jan. 19 (UPI) — Sewage from Metro Detroit’s aging waste-treatment systems are causing record levels of bacteria in waterways used for drinking and recreation, records show.

Treatment plants in more than three dozen communities dumped a total of 80 billion gallons of raw and partially treated human sewage in waterways in and around Detroit during the last two years, the Detroit Free Press reported after analyzing state records.

Bacteria from the waste forced bans on fishing, swimming and kayaking on Lake St. Clair and the Clinton and Rouge rivers.

“We still treat the Great Lakes and their tributaries as open sewers,” Hugh McDiarmid Jr., of the Michigan Environmental Council, told the Free Press in a story published Tuesday.

Communities lack the hundreds of millions of dollars it would take overall to update their sewage systems, said Chuck Hersey, spokesman for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

“It is very hard to take out a loan when you are struggling to pay for police and firefighters,” Hersey said of the cash-strapped communities.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Wastewater & Runoff, Water Pollution0 Comments

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