clean up

Promoting Redevelopment in Communities

By Rafael DeLeon

As coach of my son’s youth soccer, baseball, and basketball teams, I not only get to spend time with my son, but I also get to give back to my community. When the teams gather on the courts and fields, I know that I’m providing a meaningful service for my community.
Watching my son, I also remember my own childhood growing up in New York City. While my son plays on grassy fields, my neighborhood playgrounds lacked adequate green space. My friends and I would play baseball on asphalt fields and scrape our jeans as we slid into home.

As the Deputy Office Director of the EPA’s Office of Site Remediation Enforcement, part of my job is to help communities clean up and redevelop contaminated lands by addressing liability concerns associated with redevelopment projects. Contaminated land shouldn’t be neglected or ignored. In fact, by putting land back into productive use, it can revitalize a community by adding jobs, renewing resources, supporting economic growth, and creating green space for recreational activities.

To assist parties involved in revitalizing a property, my office recently issued the Revitalizing Contaminated Lands: Addressing Liability Concerns (The Revitalization Handbook). This handbook is a great way to understand how the cleanup enforcement program can help facilitate and support revitalization.

The Revitalization Handbook discusses how formerly contaminated lands may be turned into recreational spaces for the whole neighborhood to enjoy. For example, in downtown Orlando, Florida, the Former Spellman Engineering Site was once largely vacant due to groundwater contamination. Through the use of an innovative property owner agreement, EPA and the City of Orlando were able to facilitate the cleanup and redevelopment of the site, on which much-needed sports fields and other community facilities were built.

The Former Spellman Engineering Site in downtown Orlando, Florida is now home to a sports fields and other community facilities.

 

The Former Spellman Engineering Site in downtown Orlando, Florida is now home to a sports fields and other community facilities.

The Former Spellman Engineering Site in downtown Orlando, Florida is now home to a sports fields and other community facilities.

The Revitalization Handbook also highlights our work with the Arlington Blending and Packaging Site in Arlington, Tennessee. In that case, EPA worked with the city to make sure the site had been cleaned up to a standard that would permit recreational use. Where there was once a Superfund site, there is now Mary Alice Park where children can play.

As a parent and coach, I know just how important these parks are and the role they play in a community. I’m proud of the Agency’s work to take blighted areas and make them into places neighborhoods and communities can enjoy.

About the author: Rafael DeLeon grew up in the Bronx and now is the  Deputy Office Director of the Office of Site Remediation Enforcement.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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EPA Homeland Security Research

This week, EPA is hosting the 7th annual international conference on decontamination research and development in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

To help spread the word about the conference, which brings top experts from around the world to advance collaboration and share information on cleaning up contamination—especially chemical, biological, and radiological agents—we will be posting “EPA Science Matters” newsletter feature stories.

EPA Homeland Security Research

By Gregory Sayles, Ph.D. 

The images that most people associate with homeland security are immediately dramatic: the flashing lights of emergency vehicles, biohazard-suit-clad decontamination teams, and the now iconic scenes that unfolded during the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

EPA homeland security researchers participate in a emergency collaborative response exercise.

EPA homeland security researchers participate in an emergency response exercise.

Since that time, EPA scientists and engineers, working collaboratively with Agency emergency response and field personnel, water utility professionals, and research partners from across the federal government and beyond, have been working vigilantly to focus our collective response on making the nation more secure, better prepared, and increasingly resilient.

Together, this great team is helping advance national security in ways that greatly enhance our capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents and other catastrophes.  And we are doing so in ways that not only advance homeland security, but build a scientific foundation that helps local communities become more resilient in the face of disruption, be it a deliberate act or unwelcome natural occurrence.

EPA plays a critical role in protecting the nation’s drinking water and the related water distribution and treatment infrastructure, and in advancing the capability to respond to, and clean up from, large-scale incidents involving chemical, biological, or radiological contamination agents.

Such responsibilities include developing the tools, methods, and techniques needed to: determine whether an attack has happened, characterize the impacts of environmental disasters, and control contamination. In addition, EPA researchers work to develop ways to assess environmental and health risks related to these incidents and clean up operations, and to effectively communicate those risks with decision makers, affected community residents, and other stakeholders.

Much of that work will be highlighted this week as we host our partners and collaborators from across the globe at the 7th annual international conference on decontamination research and development in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. To mark the conference, we will be highlighting just a small sampling of EPA’s homeland security research here on our blog, It All Starts with Science.

I invite you to check back over the next few days to learn more about how EPA researchers and their partners are exploring ways to decontaminate buildings from the bacteria that causes anthrax, how to better support large-scale clean up and waste disposal operations following a large area contamination incident, and much, much more to support homeland security.

Those projects and others are improving the nation’s response capability and helping replace pictures once dominated by tragedy and destruction into an ongoing story of resiliency and preparedness. Learn more about EPA homeland security research on our web site: http://www.epa.gov/nhsrc/index.html.

About the Author: Gregory Sayles, Ph.D., is the national program director for EPA homeland security research.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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TEAM ECK H20

student

The Great Lakes are a Midwest treasure, and the students at Harper Woods Middle School in Michigan know it.  That is why they were recently recognized in a national competition for their environmental stewardship of the Great Lakes.

Team ECK H20 , as they’re called, wanted to research the unseen threats to human and environmental health in water sources, specifically the Milk River and the 10 Mile Drain which is in their community.  This team of 13 year old girls built and deployed water sampling buoys that contained plates designed to use a chemical called EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) to extract harmful chemicals that may be in the water.  They then collected the sample plates to measure the levels of pollution and toxic chemicals in each water location.  With the assistance of a lab team from University of Connecticut, the girls uncovered that there were lower levels of pollution in the 10 Mile Drain when compared to the Milk River location.  The girls’ think that the EPA’s recent clean up of the Ten Mile Drain is contributing to the lower pollution levels.

When asked about their efforts, one team member, Emily, said, “It just tells us that we have to be more careful; with how we treat our lakes and water sources.” This project has opened up Emily’s eyes to a future in environmental law.  The girls hope that they can continue their research next year as 8th graders.  In the meantime, they have coordinated beach clean-up teams and have presented their project findings to local government agencies.

Great things are happening in Michigan. Team ECK H20 is just one example.

Yvonne Gonzalez is a SCEP intern with the Air and Radiation Division in Region 5.  She recently received her dual graduate degree from DePaul University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Roll Up Your Sleeves and Have Fun!

by Lina Younes

River-CleanupHow many times do you want to do something special on the weekend to enjoy the great outdoors? How many times do you want to volunteer to give back to the community? How often do you look for special outings where the entire family can have some fun while enjoying the fresh air? Well, this Saturday, September 25th, there will be numerous opportunities throughout the country, including Puerto Rico, to volunteer. There are two major events, National Public Lands Day (NPLD) and International Coastal Cleanup Day (ICC) taking place at a park or waterfront near you, I’m not talking exclusively about big expansive lands with majestic vistas. These public lands can be at an urban park in your very neighborhood.

This year, EPA will be joining forces with the National Environmental Education Foundation to encourage employees to volunteer for these park cleanups and plant some trees. For those of us living the Washington metropolitan area we will have an added bonus. Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will be joining us this Saturday morning at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington, DC. I had been meaning to go to this park for quite some time, but never actually ventured there. Now I will have a chance to roll up my sleeves and have some fun doing something positive for the environment.

Also this Saturday, not far from Kenilworth Park, some of my colleagues will be volunteering at another event in Anacostia as part of the International Coastal Cleanup Day effort. For that occasion, EPA will be partnering with the Ocean Conservancy to remove debris from our waterways. We urge you to search both sites to find events where you can take the whole family.

Coincidentally, yesterday I attended a meeting on environmental education where EPA’s Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe spoke about the importance of hands-on activities to instill the values of environmental stewardship and conservation among our youth. I would like to share the quote with you: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Hopefully these volunteer events this weekend will serve as opportunities to make our children environmentally responsible citizens at an early age

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.


Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Cleaning Up Our Urban Waterfronts

The third Saturday in September is recognized across language and cultural barriers as a day to support and protect our waters as the International Coastal Clean-up (ICC). At last year’s Cleanup, nearly 400,000 volunteers collected over 6.8 million pounds of trash in 100 countries and 42 US states; the largest volunteer effort of its kind. Beginning 23 years ago in Texas, the event has grown into a premiere service event around the world and echoes President Obama’s call to service. Many of the locations are located directly in the heart of large urban populations and serve as sources of education on important water issues. The events’ impact is evidenced by the reduction of trash in the waterways that participate and demonstrates how other clean up efforts around the country can help revitalize the water.

I joined the EPA several summers ago as an intern, while a student at Howard University in Washington, DC. This is when I was first introduced to this annual event, and more importantly the cleanup was my first real experience with water issues and the concept of protecting America’s urban waters. At the time my sole job was managing the partnership EPA had with Howard University, and one of my areas of focus was community service. The two seemed like a perfect a fit since one of the sites designated for a cleanup was here in DC at the Anacostia River. The first year in 2008, we lead a group of about 20 students. With a great response, they were able to develop a sense of ownership responsibility for the waters in their community. In 2009, the amount of support more than doubled, with a little over 50 volunteers from the University and presence at two sites within the city.

I have witnessed the impact that clean ups like this have on our water and in the hearts of the volunteers through my work with EPA and Howard University firsthand. It also brought Environmental issues and more importantly issues with urban waters (like trash and runoff) to both students at Howard and the general population of DC. As this particular event approaches its 25 year anniversary there is still more that can be done especially on our urban waterfronts. Unfortunately trash may always find its way into our waters, but our clean up efforts make a large difference to communities that leave in these areas.

Link about the coastal cleanup.

About the Author: Jarred McKee is a Fellow in the Oceans & Coastal Protection Division in the Office of Wetlands, Oceans & Watersheds. He has been with the EPA for several years now and annually works on the Agency’s Partnership with the Ocean Conservancy and International Coastal Clean Up.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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A Tale of Two Phases

go to EPA's Hudson cleanup site
In 2009 dredging began in the Upper Hudson River to remove sediments with PCBs. Read more.

Phase 1 of the Hudson River dredging project provides a chance to evaluate whether the equipment and methods being used are adequate to meet the project’s cleanup goals. This phase is underway and will continue until the beginning of November. So far, dredging has removed more than 16,000 cubic yards of the river bottom. You can follow the project’s productivity at the following website: www.hudsondredgingdata.com/

That website also provides information about the various types of monitoring being done to ensure the project is performed in a way that is protective of human health and the environment.

The design elements to be scrutinized during Phase 1 include the equipment selected for dredging sediment and transporting dredged materials to the sediment processing facility, PCB resuspension control and monitoring equipment, the processes and equipment used for dewatering and stabilizing the dredged material and for treating water generated during sediment processing, the rail infrastructure designed for transport of processed dredged materials to the final disposal location in Texas, and the methods and equipment used to backfill dredged areas and, in certain areas, to reconstruct habitat. EPA will be watching all of these project components closely.

At the end of Phase 1 dredging and prior to the start of Phase 2 dredging, EPA and an independent scientific panel will separately evaluate the project to determine whether the dredging design or dredging operations should be modified for the final phase. If all goes according to plan the entire project will be complete by November of 2015.

About the author: Kristen Skopeck is originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She is an 11-year Air Force veteran and was stationed in California, Ohio, Texas, Portugal, and New York. After working for the USDA for three years, Kristen joined EPA in 2007 and moved to Glens Falls, NY to be a member of the Hudson River PCB dredging project team. She likes to spend her time reading, writing, watching movies, walking, and meeting new people.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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