Sunday, July 27, 2014

In warmed Chesapeake Bay waters, a deadly virus lurks

Rodney Donald, at MedStar Washington Hospital Center
"The last thing Rodney Donald was expecting during his family’s vacation on the Chesapeake Bay was to almost lose a leg to an aggressive bacteria growing in the brackish waters," Caelainn Hogan writes today in the Washington Post.
 
“I've grown up on the bay my whole life, and I’m 66,” said Donald, propped up in a bed at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, his right leg stretched out, swathed in bandages. “I’d never even heard about it.”

Vibrio vulnificus, of the same family as vibrio cholera, is a rapid-spreading flesh-eating bacteria that naturally occurs in saltwater or estuaries, particularly from May to October."
 
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Two strains of the pathogen, vulnificus and parahaemolyticus, can be picked up from eating raw seafood, particularly oysters, causing symptoms similar to food poisoning. In high-risk areas, thorough cooking of all shellfish is recommended.
Vulnificus can cause an invasive infection of the skin when even a small cut or graze is exposed to water containing the bacteria. The first symptoms include redness or swelling of the skin, followed by lesions.
Those who harvest oysters are particularly at risk because they frequently cut their hands and legs on the sharp shells and rocks.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Honey, I shrunk the inverter and Google paid me $1M

That energy gizmo you've been tinkering with in the garage might be worth a cool $1 million.

ZD Net
reports today that Google 
announced the Little Box challenge in May, encouraging the development of a solution to transform a power inverter into something suitable for home use.


"The tech giant challenged innovators and engineers to take a power inverter, a device used to convert renewable energy including solar and wind before transforming it into suitable current for the home and vehicles, and shrink it. Entrants into the contest are asked to take a power inverter and map out a solution to make these large devices into the size of a small laptop, roughly a tenth of its current size."


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"In other words, Google wants someone to build a kW-scale inverter with a power density greater than 50W per cubic inch. In return, the tech giant and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Power Electronics Society will give you $1 million as a reward," says ZD Net.
Sound like something you might want to take a crack at? Read the full story here.
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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NJ Sierra Club blasts extension for coal-power plant

B.L. England coal-burning power plant in Beesleys Point, NJ


The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has approved an administrative consent order allowing the coal-burning B.L. England Generating Station in Beesleys Point, Cape May County, to continue to operate for up to two years beyond its ay 2015 shutdown date.

“It very simply extends the air permits for the plant for another one to two years to give the operator time to consider options for re-powering the facility,” Larry Ragonese, spokesman for the DEP told the Atlantic City Press.

The Sierra Club reacted with a statement today calling the approval a "unilateral action (that) violates the EPA Mercury Air Toxic Standards (MATS) and nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide limits."  

The statement continued:


"This plant was supposed to close years ago and the DEP cannot just extend without EPA approval because it is the result of a settlement under a New Source Review challenge.  Sierra Club is also concerned as this will give the plant operators time to continue pushing for a new gas pipeline to connect to the facility, even though the Pinelands Commission rejected the proposal in January.   

"In addition to the air pollution produced by the plant, billions of fish and aquatic organisms that are killed by the once through cooling system used at the plant’s Unit 4 each year. Sierra Club and other groups are currently challenging the DEP New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NJPDES”) permit for the plant because DEP did not require the plant operators to install cooling towers as the plant is being repowered and rebuilt. 

“Great Egg Harbor Bay’s waters are significantly impacted by the discharge of super heated water by the BL England plant, resulting in significant dissolved oxygen problems.  The discharges from the plant have resulted in the Bay failing to meet state and federal water quality standards.  Cooling towers would reduce these impacts and bring the facility into compliance with the Clean Water Act.”


Recent posts: 
Fear of contamination shuts frack waste injection well 
One South Jersey project follows another another  
Coming: The pensions, The Rock, The Christie Rescue 
Does PJM need to run new line through wildlife refuge? 
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Friday, July 18, 2014

Fear of contamination shuts frack waste injection well


The award-winning investigative journalism publication, ProPublica, reports today:

"California officials have ordered an emergency shut-down of 11 oil and gas waste injection sites and a review more than 100 others in the state's drought-wracked Central Valley out of fear that companies may have been pumping fracking fluids and other toxic waste into drinking water aquifers there.
"The state's Division of Oil and Gas and Geothermal Resources on July 7 issued cease and desist orders to seven energy companies warning that they may be injecting their waste into aquifers that could be a source of drinking water, and stating that their waste disposal "poses danger to life, health, property, and natural resources." The orders were first reported by the Bakersfield Californian, and the state has confirmed with ProPublica that its investigation is expanding to look at additional wells.
"The action comes as California's agriculture industry copes with a drought crisis that has emptied reservoirs and cost the state $2.2 billion this year alone. The lack of water has forced farmers across the state to supplement their water supply from underground aquifers, according to a study released this week by the University of California Davis.
"The problem is that at least 100 of the state's aquifers were presumed to be useless for drinking and farming because the water was either of poor quality, or too deep underground to easily access. Years ago, the state exempted them from environmental protection and allowed the oil and gas industry to intentionally pollute them. But not all aquifers are exempted, and the system amounts to a patchwork of protected and unprotected water resources deep underground. Now, according to the cease and desist orders issued by the state, it appears that at least seven injection wells are likely pumping waste into fresh water aquifers protected by the law, and not other aquifers sacrificed by the state long ago."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

One South Jersey project follows another another

Gov. Christie (left) and Senate President Stephen Sweeney speak about the Holtec deal in Camden, which leads to  a new marine terminal in Paulsboro finally being completed. (Tom Gralish – Inquirer Photo)























The Philadelphia Inquirer reports today that:

The $260 million tax incentive that lured a power-plant supplier to Camden's waterfront is sending a ripple effect down the Delaware River.
Officials on Monday confirmed that Holtec International, now based in Evesham, will build its manufacturing plant at the Port of Camden's Broadway Terminal - sparking another company now working there to partner with a long-anticipated port in Paulsboro.
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Holt Logistics has struck an agreement with the South Jersey Port Corp. (SJPC) to become the operator of the Port of Paulsboro, also called the Paulsboro Marine Terminal. SJPC, which oversees the Camden terminal, had asked Holt to vacate some of its space on Pier 5 to make room for Holtec's 600,000-square-foot development.
The state Economic Development Authority approved the tax credits, among the largest of awards given in the state, to Holtec on Thursday, the same day SJPC directors accepted the Paulsboro deal.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Coming: The pensions, The Rock, The Christie Rescue

 
NJ Gov. Chris Christie, whose pre-Bridgegate fame was in no small measure due to skillful use of entertainment media, was forced to scale back his big PR machine when the traffic cone scandal was daily, front page and TV news.

Now that the issue has waned, he's back on the tube, call-in radio, Twitter and today offered up a slick YouTube parody on action-packed Hollywood disaster movies. The point of it (besides portraying the governor as New Jersey's bulwark against impending chaos (unsustainable public employee pensions and benefits) is to lay the emotional groundwork for his yet-to-be disclosed solution.
 

All we know for sure from the faux trailer is that the Christie solution is going to involve a heck of a lot of 'pain.'

Could the design of the video be to instill such anticipatory anxiety in the average taxpayer that his or her support for the solution will immediately follow (after an enormous sigh of relief) when it finally is revealed that public workers will be the primary recipients of that pain?
 
Check out the YouTube teaser and let us know what you think. Is this a winner? Or something that could backfire as badly as a cone-handler joke?
 

Does PJM need to run new line through wildlife refuge?

Section of letter from the NJBPU to PMJ questioning route of proposed new power line



NJ Spotlight today reports on a letter from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to the regional electricity grid operator, PJM Interconnection, questioning why PJM staff is recommending a preferred route for a proposed new transmission line that would cut through a national wildlife refuge and state-run wildlife management areas.

NJ Spotlight’s Tom Johnson writes:

“The 18-mile high-voltage line will run from the Hope Creek nuclear power plant in Salem County to neighboring Delaware, a project designed to address potential reliability problems in the region. The current transmission lines are pushed to the limits of how much power they can deliver from the facility, according to the PJM.

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“The proposed route, one of nine projects under consideration, may affect the Supawana Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Pennsville, the Alloway Creek Watershed Wetland Restoration site, the Abbots Meadow Wildlife Management Area in Elsinboro, and the Mad Horse Creek Wildlife Management Area in Salem, according to the BPU letter mailed in early June.

“In expressing concerns over the preferred route, the BPU compared the proposal with the highly contentious Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line now under construction, which also crosses federally protected land.”

Read the full story here

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Raritan Bay Superfund site lawsuit allowed to proceed 
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Funding for open space hangs by a thread in New Jersey   

 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

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Monday, July 7, 2014

No, they won't tell you where the ginseng is growing

In Pennsylvania a few plant species - valuable and, in some cases, at risk of extinction -
are in a sort of plant "witness protection program," their identities and precise locations
kept secret as poachers hunt them for sale on the black market.

The Associated Press reports that, across the state, the plants are stolen for foreign markets, high-end restaurants or backyard gardens.

Harvested ginseng in Germany (Wikipedia photo)
"When there's something rare or special in a place, someone, unfortunately, is going to try and take it," said Donald Schwartz, Bedford County's planning director.
In Bedford's current Natural Heritage Inventory, which land developers follow for permitting, at least eight locations feature secret species. The county isn't alone: Across the state, government agencies avoid publishing the locations of sought-after plants like ginseng and rare orchids.

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