Category Archives: Clean water


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5.  Dzershinsk, Russia—population 300,000:  The largest chemical weapons site in Russian history.   Between 1930 and 1998, 300,000 tons of toxic waste was improperly disposed of within the borders of this town.  Some pollutants exceed safe limits of exposure by 17,000,000 times.

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6.  Niger Delta, Nigeria—population 31,000,000–Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill 2010:  In the last 50 years, there have been more than 6800 oil spills in the region, totaling from 9,000,000 to 13,000,000 barrels since oil drilling began in Nigeria.  The 700,000-square-kilometer Niger Delta is one of the largest and most significant wetlands in the world, with most of the Delta’s 31,000,000 population depending on the land for their livelihood.

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7.  Lake Karachai, Russia:  Decades-long dumping ground for the Soviet Union’s nuclear waste.  Dubbed one of the most polluted sites on Earth, Lake Karachai is so toxic that standing on its shores for only one hour delivers a lethal dose of radiation.

Despite thousands of concrete blocks dumped into it to prevent the shifting of radioactive sediment, the lake and its area will continue to be toxic for hundreds of year.

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8.  Linfen, China:  A city dubbed China’s Chernobyl where laundry hung out turns black before it dries, though it had been known for its clean spring water and fertile farmland in the 1980s.   A booming coal industry producing inefficient power plants and employing legal and illegal coalmines changed the city from an ecological paradise into a pile of ash.

Source:  Discovery News, August 8, 2013



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1.  Fatberg:  A 15-ton blob of congealed fat in a London sewer.  It’s a byproduct of the lasting damage to the environment a single community can cause.

It’s a threat to human life as well because there’s plenty of Fatberg waddling around above the sewers.

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2.  The Great Ocean Garbage Patch:  An accumulation of 13,000 pieces per square kilometer of plastic over an area some calculate as twice the size of Texas.  As it breaks down into confetti-size bits, it releases chemicals into the water and then enters the food chain, where it’s a threat to marine and avian wildlife.

It’s also a threat to the human life that eats the wildlife because basically, we’re eating our own pollution.

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3.  Jiapingtang River, China:  A river outside of Shanghai supplying drinking water to over 23,000,000 people.  Last April 16,000 rotting pig carcasses had to be removed.  After the removal, about 1,000 dead ducks surfaced and were also removed.

Since April, the river has turned an inky black with a thin layer of slimy algae on its surface and smells like a backed-up drain.

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4.  Blood-red Trinity River, Dallas TX:  A river fed with pigs’ blood originating from the nearby Columbia (meat) Packing Co, Inc.

Source:  Discovery News, August 8, 2013  And other sources


2013_0612-4The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) held a press conference Tuesday with makers of the documentary Triple Divide as a “cautionary tale” for oil and gas fracking in Ohio. OEC said the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has yet to begin monitoring of the industry under 2012 legislation that could address at least part of the filmmakers concerns over water contamination

OEC’s director of water policy and environmental health, Melanie Houston, hosted a webinar and answer session with investigative journalists Josh Pribanic and Melissa Troutman of Public Herald, who say Pennsylvania’s history with horizontal hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” of Marcellus shale shows “Americans suffering in the wake of shale oil and gas development.” They offer those experiences as a warning to Ohio.

Pribanic and Troutman, both originally from northern Ohio, say the state still has a chance to learn from its neighbor. “Ohio is really in the infancy stage in shale gas development, compared to Pennsylvania,” said Troutman.

Triple Divide is named after a unique continental transition zone and network of rivers in northwestern Pennsylvania where its fracking industry is concentrated. The film documents what they claim are various regulatory anomalies in the state, including an alleged failure by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to compare certain pre- and post-drilling water tests that could have exposed the effects of fracking on potable water.

“When tests are dismissed, it changes the water quality history of an area, saying a pre-existing condition, not fracking, caused the water contamination,” they said.

In one case, Chesapeake Energy Corp. ignored a pre-drill test with the complicity of DEP, said Pribanic.

In another, the “blow-out” of a fracking well into nearby waterways produced a 10-fold increase in methane, sodium and other contaminants. Guardian Exploration was also found to have buried fracking waste not approved by DEP, Pribanic said.

In fact, he said, only half of all fracking waste is ever extracted from shale formations, proliferating the number of disposal wells.

In Pennsylvania, pre-drill testing is technically required, post-drill testing only occurs in response to complaints, and even then is not well monitored by authorities, Pribanic said. In Ohio, Houston said Gov. John Kasich’s energy legislation in Mid-Biennium Review measure 129-SB315 (Jones) included a provision for pre-drill water testing, but no requirement for post-drill testing.

“While that is a step forward, we are nowhere near where we need to be in the regulation of this industry,” Houston said, noting it’s still

not clear who will monitor testing. “We don’t have rules in place yet. My understanding so far is that Ohio EPA is not involved.”

Troutman and Pribanic were asked whether they believe there is any way to perform horizontal hydraulic fracking without endangering nearby inhabitants.

“According to the information that we found, they have a lot of complaints when it comes to wells, they have a lot of spills, and they have a lot of failures,” Pribanic said. “I can’t say that hydraulic fracturing at this point is being conducted in a safe way.”

Troutman questioned the notion of safety, saying hydraulic fracking uses such intense pressure that it moves substructures underground. “Any statement like that would be very risky.”

They said their documentary is different from “hearsay” exposes on horizontal fracking.

“We’re not giving you our views in the film. We’re not giving you our bias. We are giving you the evidence,” said Pribanic.

OEC issued a follow-up statement following the press conference. “Through thorough investigative journalism, Triple Divide presents a compelling case that the gas land communities of Ohio may be in for more than clogged roads and a temporary surge in retail dollars from itinerant oil and gas workers. They may be in for a real rude awakening,” said Houston.

She provided the following screening dates for Triple Divide in Ohio: Sept. 10, 7 pm, Columbus – Gateway Film Center Sept. 12, 6 pm, Mansfield – Relax, It’s Just Coffee Sept. 19, 7 pm, Granville – Denison University

Sept. 20, 7 pm, Springfield – Senior & Community Center Sept. 21, 7 pm, Rocky River – West Shore UU Church Sept. 22, 6 pm, Youngstown – B&O Banquet Hall Sept. 23, 6 pm, Salem – The Memorial Building

Sept. 24, 7 pm, Bowling Green – Grounds for Thought Sept. 25, 5:50 pm, Toledo – Maumee Branch Library Sept. 27, 7 pm, Sandusky – Harlequins Community Theatre

More information on Public Herald is available at Also, see:

Film Festival Gags Fracking Documentary as Radiation is Discovered in Local Waterway

SOURCE:  Ohio Environmental Press Conference, September 3, 2013


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For the first time since 2011, Japanese regulators declared “a radiological release incident” because 300 tons of radioactive water had leaked from a Fukushima Dailchi storage tank.

Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) stated the release of radioactive cesium and strontium is many hundreds of times as high as legal safety limits.  Accordingly, workers raced against a forecast of heavy rain to stem the spread of the contaminated water by placing sandbags around the tank.

The leak first became apparent last Monday when workers noticed contaminated water around the tank.  Upon measuring the contents of the 1,000 ton tank’s capacity, they found the tank held only 700 tons of radioactive water.

Tepco spokesman, Masayuki Ono, said much of the contamination had seeped into the soil, necessitating it being dug up and removed.  Eventually, the contaminated water will reach the ocean.

The plan was to clean the water using a filtering system before releasing it into the ocean, but protests by Japanese fishermen are delaying the project.

Desperate to stem the leaks, the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority suggested building a huge underground ice wall around the plant.  One of the problems with that plan is the enormous amount of electricity required.

Earlier this month rats chewed through exposed wires and caused a blackout of the plant’s cooling system.

Source:   Smart Planet Daily, August 22, 2013   The New York Times, August 21, 2013


We, the people have spoken and have been heard.

The Northeast Ohio Sierra Club chair of the Water Committee talked to William Smith, the point man at the US Army Corps of Engineers, then followed up the conversation with a strong letter, which she’d sent me a copy of.

She also had this to say about her phone conversation:  “I also called him and left a message, and he called me right back.  He said they’ve been getting a lot of comments, and that they are early in the process of review themselves.

“They have already issued their first round of comments to the applicant, and the applicant is working on making changes to the permit.  He said that there is a good chance that there might be a public hearing, so we should definitely keep the pressure on for that, and I think a position letter signed by a lot of groups would be a very powerful statement.”

Even if you were one of the first-rounders, please review the link below to see what new requests we need to make to assure that the Mentor Marsh returns to good health.  The requests are those considered priorities by the Mentor Marsh Board, by the City of Mentor and by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Let’s give the applicant a few more changes to make in the permit application.

You can find the issues, the requests and the contact information for the USACE below:

Deadline for information is May 30th.



The .74 wetlands acre filled in (stories high) at Diamond Center by Shamrock Business Center (SBC) without a permit and for which SBC asks permission to maintain and fill in more acres of wetlands.  Photo (c) Carole Clement.

The Mentor Marsh is a designated Important Birding Area, a designated National Natural Landmark, portions of which are dedicated State of Ohio Nature Preserve, and a City of Mentor Nature Preserve and Marina.

Development is an important component of a community’s long-term health and growth.  Development can exist side by side with healthy ecosystems if planning enacts options that have little or no negative impact on adjacent areas.

As proposed, Phase II of the development of Diamond Center upstream from the Marsh could have deleterious impacts on the Lake Erie/Mentor Marsh watershed. 

There are options, presently not under consideration, that could mitigate impacts of Phase II.

Studies (Rand Corp, 1969; Jones, 1975; Whipple, 1997) document the sensitivity of the Mentor Marsh to activities upstream of the Marsh watershed. 

Shamrock Business Center, Ltd. (SBC), applied to the US Army Engineer Corps (USACE) on April 15, 2013, regarding further development of land adjacent to Diamond Centre Dr and Brookstone Blvd, an area which is the headwaters of Blackbrook Creek and upstream of the Mentor Marsh.

For the sake of the Marsh’s fragile ecosystem, residents and persons concerned about the area need more time to review, understand and comment on the work proposed by SBC’s Application #1997-5010004.

Here are some of SBC’s proposals that can have an impact on areas upstream from Blackbrook Creek, the Mentor Marsh and the entire Lake Erie/Mentor Marsh Watershed:

!.)  SBC seeks authorization to maintain .74 acres of on-site fill (filled between 2004-09 within Wetland 14 without proper Department of the Army authorization).   

2.) SBC seeks permission to fill an additional 14.9 acres of on-site wetlands; to fill 8486 linear feet of the remaining 14, 809 feet of on-site streams; to create a 7501 linear feet long channel along south, east and north sides of the SBC site for stream mitigation,

THE PROBLEM:  Changing the natural drainage system of the area increases the volume and velocity of upstream water flow, Increasing the potential for flooding and adverse alterations in stream form and function.   In the storm of 2006, the modified area of Blackbrook Creek and overflowed into the south end of Headlands State Park, flooding the parking lots.  When the fast-moving waters hit the sandy beach, they ripped a wide, deep channel down to the lake.

3) In keeping with the law, SBC seeks permission to mitigate their wetland destruction at Diamond Center by creating equal acreage of wetlands off-site in Leroy Township.

THE PROBLEM:  Additional wetlands in Leroy are a net gain for the Grand River watershed but do nothing to mitigate the potential for flooding or erosion in areas downstream of Diamond Center in the Lake Erie/Mentor Marsh watershed. 

To be effective, mitigation should occur on-site, preferably at the north end of SBC’s proposed expansion.  Instead, SBC filled in .74 acre of wetland and seeks permission to fill in an additional 14.9 wetland acres of the area.

Please lend your voice to protect the voiceless, fragile ecosystem of the Mentor Marsh.

Contact the US Army Corps of Engineers at the address below by May 14, 2013, with your comments on SBC’s proposed development plans.

Shamrock Business Center’s application + pertinent maps are at


Michael W. Smith, (716) 879-4262     OR


Michael W. Smith

US Army Corps of Engineers,                                                           

Buffalo District, Regulatory Branch                                                                

1776 Niagara Street

Buffalo NY 14207-3199

 MUST INCLUDE:  Re. Application #1997-5010004


Because a public hearing isn’t a given, please request a public hearing re. the above Application #.

Because the deadline for submitting comments is May 14, 2013, please request an extension of that deadline.

Because some comments slip through the cracks, please state that you want your comments to become part of the public record re. the above Application #.

Neither honey nor vinegar will gain your argument any points, so please talk nicely but firmly and keep your commentary brief and to the point.

 Please direct questions to the Mentor Marsh at 440 257-0777.      


dnews-files-2013-01-cow-in-Japan-jpgOne of abandoned cows in Fukushima Prefecture, April 2011          Photo Credit:  Voice of America, Steve Herman, Wikimedia Commons

In March of 2011, cattle were abandoned in the evacuated zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after the earthquake and tsunami released the plant’s radioactive materials.

A research team led by Tohoku University engineer Tomokazu Fukuda examined 79 cattle and found traces of radioactive cesium, silver and tellurium.

The cattle’s fetuses and calves conceived after the disaster had radioactive materials concentrations up to 150% higher than the mature cattle’s readings.  The team found that radioactivity was most heavily concentrated in the muscles (aka meat) of the cattle.

The level of radioactivity differed according to what the cattle had been fed.  A group of cows kept in a pen and fed uncontaminated grass were less radioactive than those allowed to freely graze in the 20-kilometer area around the plant.

During some of the first tests of the atomic bomb at the Trinity site in New Mexico, cattle were accidentally exposed to radioactive fallout.  Scientists studied the cows to establish their ability to stand up to radiation.

A sad footnote to the radioactive cattle—a couple weeks ago, a fish caught near the Fukushima plant had over 2,500 times Japan’s legal limit for radiation in seafood.

Source:  Discovery, January 30, 2013  Drovers CattleNetwork, January 2013     Study published in PLOS ONE, January 2013