Testing drinking water for toxic chemical C8 urged farther down Ohio River

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There is no measurable amount of C8 flowing from taps in the six Ohio River water districts that settled a lawsuit with DuPont over the toxic chemical that the company used to make Teflon.

Along 75 miles of the Ohio River – from Parkersburg, West Virginia, to Pomeroy, Ohio – water from wells contaminated with C8, or perfluorooctanoic acid, is being filtered through granulated activated carbon before reaching taps in homes and businesses.

That’s good. The chemical has been tied to a number of cancers and health disorders.

But what about the homes and businesses downriver from DuPont’s Washington Works plant south of Parkersburg? For more than 50 years, the plant spewed tons of the chemical directly into the river or into the air through its smokestacks.

Some water-district managers along those 230 river miles say they will wait to see what regulations are added, or cut, by the Trump administration. Other managers say they don’t think their water is contaminated, or they have more important things to worry about.

But Dr. Paul Brooks said of those districts, “We believe they are in danger of C8 contamination.”

Brooks is a retired general practitioner who helped start a community health study to measure the level of C8 in the blood of Ohio and West Virginia residents living near the company’s Washington Works plant. The study found that, in general, area residents had a median level of 38 parts per billion of C8 in their blood – 7.6 times more than the average American.

The $70 million study, financed by a DuPont settlement in 2005, was the foundation of a science panel’s investigation that concluded a “probable link” existed between C8 and six diseases: kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension and high cholesterol.

Brooks said of areas farther downriver: “We were strongly recommending that these local water districts test for contamination in their drinking water, not just based on its bio-persistence, but the logic that it would flow down.”

To read more about this story:  http://www.dispatch.com/news/20170122/testing-drinking-water-for-toxic-chemical-c8-urged-farther-down-ohio-river

FPL Wins Battle to Store Radioactive Waste Under Miami’s Drinking Water Aquifer

South Florida sits atop two gigantic underground stores of water: the Biscayne and Floridan Aquifers. Miamians get most of their drinking water from the upper Biscayne Aquifer, while the government has used the lower portion of the Floridian to dump waste and untreated sewage — despite the fact that multiple studies have warned that waste could one day seep into the drinking water.

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So environmentalists are concerned that Florida Power & Light now wants to dump full-on radioactive waste into the that lower water table, called the Boulder Zone. A small group of activists called Citizens Allied for Safe Energy (CASE) tried to stop FPL’s plan, but their legal petition was shot down this past Friday.

According to NRC documents, CASE’s petition was dismissed for being filed “inexcusably late” in FPL’s application process.

“This was thrown out on procedural grounds,” says CASE’s president, Barry J. White. “The science is still there.”

CASE had filed a petition with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but the NRC on Friday threw out CASE’s complaint, saying the environmental group had filed too late in FPL’s approval process.

The fight stems from the energy company’s plan to build two nuclear reactors at the controversial Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station south of Miami by roughly 2030. The towers might not be operational for a decade or two, but that doesn’t mean the public should stop paying attention to them. FPL is submitting numerous proposals about the project to the government.

As part of that package, FPL told the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it plans to store contaminated water used to clean the reactors, as well as radioactive waste (“radwaste”) in the Boulder Zone. In October, the NRC issued a report, stating FPL’s plan would pose “no environmental impacts” to the South Florida environment.

Roughly a month later, on November 28, CASE filed a legal petition demanding that the NRC hold a hearing on FPL’s radioactive waste plan. CASE alleges the government failed to address a host of concerns about the power company’s plan.

“Everything will be put into a supposedly ‘hermetically sealed’ Boulder Zone,” White told New Times in December. “But anybody who lives in South Florida knows nothing below us is hermetically sealed.” Environmentalists say the plan could leak carcinogens such as cesium, strontium 90, and tritium right into the drinking-water aquifers.

An FPL spokesperson Friday provided the following statement to New Times:

After an exhaustive and comprehensive review of the proposed Turkey Point Units 6 & 7 project, including the plans to safely use reclaimed water for cooling, the independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s staff concluded ‘…there are no environmental impacts to preclude issuing Combined Licenses to build and operate two reactors next to the existing Turkey Point nuclear power plant.”

But CASE’s November complaint cited both government data and FPL’s own engineers, who admitted in separate hearings that waste could leak upward from the Boulder Zone into the Biscayne Aquifer.

For one, the United States Ground Water Atlas, a government document, warns the Boulder Zone “is thought to be connected to the Atlantic Ocean, possibly about 25 miles east of Miami, where the sea floor is almost 2,800 feet deep along the Straits of Florida.” CASE’s petition says the NRC failed to address this issue.

Likewise, “an upward hydraulic gradient from the Floridan [Aquifer] to the Biscayne [Aquifer],” an FPL engineer testified in January 2016. “The Floridan is under pressure. Therefore, you have flow from the Floridan into the Biscayne and not vice versa.”

Since filing that complaint, CASE also uncovered yet another government study, which confirms the Boulder Zone can leak into “underground sources of drinking water” in South Florida.

The 2015 study, from the United States Geological Survey, says that numerous tectonic faults and other fissures exist under Biscayne Bay and the “Miami Terrace,” the seafloor immediately east of the Miami shoreline.

The report states flatly:

Recent studies by the U.S. Geological Survey of seismic-reflection profiles acquired in onshore canals and offshore in Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic continental shelf have indicated the presence of tectonic faults (one strike-slip fault and multiple reverse faults) and karst collapse structures, and these studies substantiate the utility of this approach for locating feasible vertical-fluid flow pathways. The strike-slip fault and karst collapse structures span confining units of the Floridan aquifer system and could provide high permeability passageways for groundwater movement. If present at or near wastewater injection utilities, these features represent a plausible physical system for the upward migration of effluent injected into the Boulder Zone to overlying U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designated underground sources of drinking water in the upper part of the Floridan aquifer system.

“The evidence is so strong that it’s doubtful the zone is ‘hermetically sealed,'” White says.

FPL contends that any radioactive-waste discharges will be carefully monitored to ensure they won’t leak. But the company’s credibility with the public is not in good shape. Early last year, Miami-Dade County officials said cooling canals from Turkey Point were already leaking waste into Biscayne Bay — the ordeal, and FPL’s alleged refusal to take proper responsibility for the damage, led to a lawsuit.

Now, White says, he and CASE plan to lobby state lawmakers to try to outlaw injections into the Boulder Zone through state law. To put things mildly, CASE is fighting an uphill battle: FPL is one of the largest campaign donors in Florida politics.

For the NRC’s full rejection letter go here:  http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/fpl-wins-battle-to-store-radioactive-waste-under-miamis-drinking-water-aquifer-9059210

Sabal Trail Pipeline Construction Blockaded on MLK Day

[UPDATE: There were 8 arrests today, two were charged with felonies and will see a judge in Suwannee County at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning. Supporters are invited to attend the hearing at the courthouse, located at 200 S Ohio Ave, Live Oak, FL 32064.]

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…They say that violations of state and federal laws occurring during the pipeline’s construction warrant the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) revocation of the permit granted to Sabal Trail. This can be done at any time the DEP or the Governor’s cabinet decides to act on its obligation to protect the public from harm occurring by the pipeline’s construction and operation.

“This pipeline is a threat to all of our drinking water. Lives are at stake,” says Makeda Meeks an activist from Live Oak, Florida.

In particular, this pipeline threatens “environmental justice” (EJ) communities along its route, from Alabama across Florida, where 83% of the population impacted are reported to be low-income and/or communities of color. The environmental review process failed to assess these impacts…

To learn more:  http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire/2017/01/16/breaking-news-sabal-trail-pipeline-construction-blockaded-on-mlk-day/

Wyoming Town Struggles With Selenium

By Peak Johnson

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Work on lowering levels of selenium in water for Casper, WY, will be put to the test in 2018 when the city’s wastewater treatment plant will have to apply for a new permit from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

According to the Casper Star-Tribune, if the agency finds that selenium levels are higher than normal, then Casper will have to construct a new facility in order to remove the chemical, which could cost the city nearly $50 million.

“We have been very concerned about pending potential EPA regulations that might require us to make some major upgrades,” Councilman Charlie Powell told the Tribune at a council meeting last month.

Though DEQ gives permits to wastewater plants, the agency relies on U.S. EPA guidelines. Small levels of selenium can be healthy, however, while high levels of the metal can be toxic, not only to humans but aquatic life as well.

To learn more:  http://www.wateronline.com/doc/wyoming-town-struggles-with-selenium-0001

OXBRIDGE STUDENTS ROCKED IT!!! The SWFL Water Research Conference at Florida Gulf Coast University 2017

The Oxbridge Research Team performed very well today at FGCU!

For the undergraduate research poster competition:

  •   1st  Place                        $400

Quantifying Heavy Metals in Public and Private Drinking Water Systems:  Testing South Florida’s Public and Private Water Systems Using a Community-Based Environmental Monitoring Program

  • 2nd Place                       $300

 Necrosis in the Caloosahatchee Watershed and Lower Can Carlos Bay:  Using Computer Models to  Compare Precipitation Runoff to Lake Okeechobee Releases

  • 3rd  Place (tie)            $200

Evaluating the Knowledge of Self-Reported Environmentalists’ Regarding Incentives and Enforcements of the Everglades Federal Mandates

  • 3rd  Place (tie)            $200

Using the RamTest-APP™ Handheld Raman Identifier Gun (BioTools, Inc) to Detect Contaminants in Public and Private Water Systems

Once again we were the ONLY high school there and for the third year in a row beat all the undergraduates to take home all the awards!

Well done!

Also very well received were:

  • (Quantification of the Herbicide Atrazine in the Canals of the Eastern Everglades and in the Caloosahatchee Watershed),
  • (Surface Water Quantification of a Carcinogenic Herbicide (2,4D) in Water Hazards on Public Golf Courses and the Subsequent Exposure Awareness of the South Florida Junior PGA),
  •  (Quantifying Fish Populations of the Grassy Waters Preserve to Determine Overall Health of the Drinking Water Source for West Palm Beach, FL),
  •  (The Potential for Carbon Sequestration in Grassy Waters Preserve: Quantifying the Carbon Sequestration Ability of the Hydric, Incepticols, and Calcitic Mud Soils in the Drinking Water Source of West Palm Beach, FL)

SAVING WATER THROUGH PASSION AND EDUCATION!

State poised to allow aquifer pumping near Silver Springs

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In the most divisive controversy in years over aquifer waters, Florida authorities have reversed their previous opposition to an irrigation permit sought for a cattle operation near the ailing Silver Springs.

The irrigation permit was scheduled for a final vote of approval Tuesday, but a coalition of environmental groups filed legal action Monday, meaning the matter will go to a state hearing judge for further action.

“They are allowing politics to drive the science,” said Lisa Rinaman, who heads St. Johns Riverkeeper, one of the groups staunchly opposed to increased pumping from the Floridan Aquifer by Sleepy Creek Lands ranch in Marion County.

In 2014, the St. Johns River Water Management District said an irrigation permit sought by Sleepy Creek to pump 1.1 million gallons a day from the aquifer would harm “the ecology of Silver Springs and the Silver River.”

Near Ocala, the springs is one Florida’s original tourist attractions and is now a state park.

But recently revamped analysis, according to the district, shows that Sleepy Creek can temporarily boost pumping by 1.2 million gallons a day, which would be in addition to other water rights the ranch holds.

To read the entire story:  http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/os-controversial-ranch-water-approval-20170109-story.html

GET WET! Has a new Interim Executive Director!

20170106_0846113-copyKaitlyn Rivers  is a Biology/Environmental Studies Major at Oberlin College.  She will be working on the transition from GETWETH2OED.ORG to GETWETPROJECT.ORG 

Kaitlyn is also directing and guiding research developing in Martin County relating to the Okeechobee River dump and algae growth. Although studies have been done, only three groundwater wells have been used to indicate plume movements. Using the GET WET! program, Kaitlyn will assist student researchers in increasing sampling sites and modeling plume movement to determine a watershed response to precipitation events and nitrate plume movement.

Welcome Kaitlyn!  We need your energy on this very important work!