Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Original Story: freep.com

In less than two weeks, the Mighty Marysville power plant is coming down.

Public Safety Chief Tom Konik said the city granted a blast permit for Nov. 7 for the implosion of the former DTE Energy power plant. A Michigan environmental lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

Konik announced the implosion date during the city’s Monday council meeting.

Crews began to dismantle the plant in spring 2014 to make way for new development at the site. Commercial Development Company purchased the plant from DTE Energy in May 2014.

The 12-story plant operated from 1932 through 2001. It was decommissioned in 2011.

Last week, Marysville unveiled conceptual plans for the site — plans that included a multi-floor hotel, condominium housing, shops, outdoor seating, a park and riverfront promenade. A Cleveland environmental lawyer is following this story closely.

In September, the city set conditions that had to be met before the building could be imploded.

Konik said nearly all of those requirements have been met, and the remaining ones will be met prior to the implosion.

Conditions included an independent confirmation that hazardous material had been removed from the site, a model displaying post-blast dust dispersal, and safety assurances from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Konik said experts have researched potential issues that might arise because of dust or vibrations created by the roughly 8.5-second implosion. While dust is unavoidable, Konik said, officials have mapped out areas that could be impacted and will spray water on the building and grounds to mitigate potential issues. A Greenville environmental lawyer represents clients in all areas of general environmental law, including but limited to toxic torts and air pollution allegations.

Water trucks and other cleanup equipment will be standing by in the event of any issues.

Konik said the city’s water intake will be closed just prior to the implosion as a precaution, but he doesn’t expect the anticipated dust to affect downriver intakes.

“We’ve done all of the modeling of the potentials to show that none of those structures appear to have any risk,” Konik said.

“We’ve talked about planning for worse case scenarios and we think we’re prepared for the worse case scenario.”

The implosion is scheduled for 8 a.m. Nov. 7, but Konik said roadways will be shut down in the “exclusion zone” from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Gratiot Boulevard from Ravenswood Road to St. James Street will be shut down as part of the exclusion zone. Busha Highway from Gratiot Boulevard to Huron Boulevard also will be closed during that time.

Konik said, while the implosion is not a “spectator’s sport,” the best view of the implosion would be at Market Square on Gratiot Boulevard in Marysville, across the river in Canada, or by boat outside the exclusion zone on the St. Clair River.

Businesses within the exclusion zone _ Blue Water Aggregate, Linwood Bar, and All State Insurance – will make other accommodations during the implosion.

Residents within the exclusion area must either leave the area during that time or stay indoors as the noise of the blast will reach high levels.

Konik said Sitetech Inc. will have an area for residents in the exclusion zone to stay if they wish to leave their homes during the implosion.

Residents in the exclusion zone will be contacted before the implosion.

Mike Brehse, project manager with Sitetech Inc., said he expects the cleanup after the implosion to take about six months.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Original Story: aol.com

FAIRFIELD, Oh. (WLWT) -- A giant crater was left behind after a lightning strike Monday evening caused an explosion of an underground fuel storage tank near Dixie Highway.

Police said told WLWT that lightning struck and ignited a 10,000 gallon underground fuel storage tank at the Gas Depot at 4871 Dixie Highway.

The blast left behind a crater 40 feet in diameter by 8 feet deep. Firefighters said there were two customers at the station when the bolt hit, but luckily no one was pumping gas at the time. FRP piping is designed for aggressive chemical environments.

"Very loud! Like I said, the concussion when I was sitting there, it threw me back and I looked up and saw as soon as it came up there was an instant puff of black smoke that came up and I knew it was close," said Roger Tucker, who watched from his porch about a half a mile away.

Even seasoned firefighters were wowed after they say lightning hit the fill dome of a 10,000 gallon underground diesel fuel tank at Fairfield's Gas Depot.

"I can tell you in my 45 year career, I have never seen anything like this. Underground storage tanks are put there to reduce the potential for fire," said Fairfield Fire Chief Donald Bennett.

Fearing two other 10,000 gallon fuel tanks could be compromised, firefighters ordered evacuations for anyone in a 2,000 foot radius.  An environmental lawyer is following this story closely.

"We erred on the side of caution. Obviously, the training we have, we talk about what potentially could happen if 30 thousand gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline would go up. It's a fairly large fireball," Chief Bennett said.

Firefighters kept their distance and blanketed the blaze with foam. After an hour and a half, they let people back in their homes.

Staring at the aftermath just a stone's throw from her house, Chris Schluter said her nightmare came true on Monday afternoon.

"This is always your fear and now, you know, it kind of makes you a little nervous," Schluter said.

Firefighters said there was a slight diesel vapor still lingering on Monday night. Police were standing guard throughout the overnight hours. Firefighters said the two other tanks would be dug up on Tuesday to see if either was compromised.


Original Story: marketwatch.com

More than 138 million people — nearly 44% of the U.S. population — live in areas where air pollution reaches dangerously high levels during parts of the year. While exposure to low quality air has declined in recent years, some cities still experience alarming levels of pollution. Based on “State of the Air,” a report released annually by the American Lung Association (ALA), 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 leading metro areas with the highest levels of year-round particle pollution. The report considers two types of pollution: ozone pollution and particle pollution, which can be measured both in short and long-term. Speaking to 24/7 Wall St., Janice Nolen, assistant vice president of national policy at the ALA, explained the three measures. Ozone is a gas formed in the atmosphere through heat, sunlight, and certain gases that can attack lung tissue. Particle pollution is tiny pieces of matter so small that they can bypass the body’s defenses and be inhaled into the lungs. The long-term particulate measure is the average, daily pollution generated by factories, fires, and transportation. Long term particle pollution is measured in micrograms per cubic meter (ug/M3). The short-term particulate measure represents how many days of extreme air pollution occur, and usually reflects how extreme conditions such as fire or drought are creating abnormally high levels of unhealthy particles.

These are America’s 10 most polluted cities.

10. Cleveland-Akron-Canton, Ohio
Average year-round particle pollution: 12.5 ug/M3
People with asthma: 339,464
Population: 3,501,538
High ozone days per year: 10.8
Home to more than 3.5 million people, the Cleveland metro area has some of the most polluted air in the country. Cleveland was actually one of five cities that yielded its lowest yearly average particle pollution in the ALA’s 2015 report. Despite the improvement, the metropolitan area still had a much higher than acceptable level of particle pollution. Particle pollution is often the byproduct of the burning of fossil fuels in such places as factories, power plants, and personal vehicles. Manufacturing activity — a long time major economic engine in the Cleveland area — has certainly contributed to the city’s poor air quality. Nearly 340,000 Cleveland residents suffer from asthma, and 232,000 area adults have been diagnosed with COPD. Especially vulnerable to pollution related health risks are the area’s more than 1.3 million residents younger than 18 or older than 65.

9. Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, Penn.-Ohio-W.Va.
Average year-round particle pollution: 13.4 ug/M3
People with asthma: 256,406
Population: 2,659,937
High ozone days per year: 12.5
During the golden age of steel production in Pittsburgh, the area was one of the most polluted cities in the U.S. By many accounts, between the factories and the smoke from the coal that was used to heat residents’ homes, the sky was black with smoke before 9 a.m. every morning. While Pittsburgh is a much less industrial city today and the air quality has improved somewhat, the city remains one of the most polluted cities in the country. According to Nolen, the biggest source of pollution in the area is the U.S. Steel plant. The city received failing grades in ozone pollution as well as in long-term and short-term particle pollution. More than a quarter of a million Pittsburgh residents have asthma, a condition which can be exacerbated by air pollution. Above, Randy Geracitano works on a home near the Mitchell Power Station, a coal-fired power plant built along the Monongahela River, 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh in 2013. The plant has since been shut down. A Pittsburgh environmental lawyer is following this story closely.

8. Cincinnati-Wilmington-Maysville, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.
Average year-round particle pollution: 13.6 ug/M3
People with asthma: 213,812
Population: 2,196,629
High ozone days per year: 12.2
Like most cities with high particle pollution, the Cincinnati metro area also has a problem with severe ozone pollution. The greater Cincinnati area has been under several air quality advisories this past summer due to dangerously high ozone levels. Similar to California’s Central Valley, high traffic volumes in the Cincinnati area contribute to high pollution levels. In addition, the city is located in a valley, which, like the mountains surrounding Central Valley, helps trap emissions. Above, a coal plant on the Ohio River near Cincinnati.

7. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, Calif.
Average year-round particle pollution: 13.8 ug/M3
People with asthma: 744,481
Population: 8,469,854
High ozone days per year: 8.8
The San Francisco Bay Area, which includes the cities of Oakland and San Jose, has the third-largest combined population at risk of illness due to air pollution, at close to 8.5 million. The metro area reported the most days with high particle pollution on record because of the addition of San Joaquin county to the region. The county was the only one in the metro area to fail the ALA’s test for ozone levels and short- and long-term particle pollution. San Joaquin county had an average of 54 days a year in either orange-level conditions, which are unhealthy for people with sensitive respiratory tracts, or in red conditions, which are unhealthy for everyone. A San Francisco environmental attorney represents clients in environmental law matters.

6. El Centro, Calif.
Average year-round particle pollution: 14.3 ug/M3
People with asthma: 15,439
Population: 176,584
High ozone days per year: 16.2
Like many of the most polluted metro areas in California, El Centro residents suffer from high levels of both ozone and particle pollution. Located in Imperial County, El Centro residents have experienced an average of 16 high-ozone days a year, which is sixth-worst in the country. Known more commonly as smog, high ozone levels occur when fumes from burning fossil fuels are exposed to sunlight. Prolonged exposure to high ozone levels can exacerbate existing respiratory conditions and contribute to early death. More than 15,000 El Centro residents live with asthma, and 5,700 adult residents have been diagnosed with COPD. Above, the Naval Air Facility in El Centro.

5. Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif.
Average year-round particle pollution: 15.1 ug/M3
People with asthma: 1.6 million
Population: 18.4 million
High ozone days per year: 117.7
Los Angeles port’s cargo volume this past July was the highest ever in its over 100-year history. According to the EPA, high traffic through the port creates higher emissions that contribute to poor air quality throughout the region. High concentrations of power plants, including numerous oil and gas, petroleum, and electricity plants, release tens of millions of metric tons of carbon emissions each year. While the area is among the nation’s most polluted, Los Angeles reported its lowest pollution levels since the ALA started producing this report. Still, in Los Angeles, residents have experienced an average of 117.7 days of high ozone levels each year, the most of any U.S. metropolitan area. A Los Angeles environmental lawyer provides professional legal counsel and extensive experience in many aspects of environmental law.

4. Modesto-Merced, Calif.
Average year-round particle pollution: 15.7 ug/M3
People with asthma: 69,027
Population: 788,719
High ozone days per year: 22.3
Modesto residents have experienced an average of 22 high ozone days per year. Only seven metro areas in the country had a greater number of high ozone days. Located almost directly in the center of California’s Central Valley, an area surrounded on three sides by mountains that limit wind and annual rainfall, polluted air stagnates in Modesto. The city was one of six in the country that failed to meet federal air quality standards and where particle pollution worsened since last year’s report. Nearly 70,000 Modesto residents suffer from asthma, and over 25,000 area adults have been diagnosed with COPD.

3. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif.
Average year-round particle pollution: 17.0 ug/M3
People with asthma: 52,749
Population: 605,103
High ozone days per year: 82.7
Visalia is located almost directly in between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The city had an average of nearly 83 high-ozone days a year, the second highest rate in the country. The Visalia metro area was one of six California metros to break the top 10 for ozone pollution, ranking second in the nation despite this year reporting the fewest days of unhealthy ozone levels in its reporting history. On the other hand, the city, like many other valley cities, experienced its worst year for particulate pollution.

2. Bakersfield, Calif.
Average year-round particle pollution: 17.3 ug/M3
People with asthma: 75,406
Population: 864,124
High ozone days per year: 69.7
Bakersfield residents have endured nearly 70 high-ozone level days a year, the third highest rate compared with other U.S. cities. Still, this was a considerable improvement for the area when compared with years past since the ALA began reporting on air quality. As in other California metro areas, however, particularly those in the state’s Central Valley, annual particle pollution worsened last year, partly due to the severe drought conditions in the region. Also, the topography and industrial composition of the Valley is conducive to air pollution problems. Adding to the region’s especially poor air quality is pollution generated by cars and trucks traveling through the region’s major thruways and the toxic gases from manure on the millions of acres of the area’s farmland. Above, oil pumping jacks and drilling pads at the Kern River Oil Field where the principle operator is the Chevron Corporation CVX, +1.07%   in Bakersfield.

1. Fresno-Madera, Calif.
Average year-round particle pollution: 18.1 ug/M3
People with asthma: 96,760
Population: 1,107,661
High ozone days per year: 68
Air pollution improved in Fresno-Madera, but the metro area is still the most polluted in the country, as it was in the ALA’s 2014 report. As in other parts of California, the statewide, multiyear drought has likely worsened air quality in the area over the past several years. Hot and dry weather can promote dust storms and wildfires, which trap particulates generated by power plants and other carbon emitters. Fresno residents have experienced an average of 68 high-ozone days a year, the sixth highest rate in the country. A Fresno environmental lawyer is following this story closely.

Monday, October 5, 2015


Original Story: cnbc.com

A company backed by billionaire Elon Musk on Friday said it will produce the world's most efficient solar panel.

The new panel by SolarCity, the biggest US home solar power installer, will convert sunlight into electricity at a 22.04 per cent rate, topping the 21.5 per cent made by rival SunPower, the company said. The industry average stands around 16 to 17 per cent. A Houston energy lawyer is following this story closely.

SolarCity, which was conceived by Mr Musk and his cousin Lyndon Rive while on their way to the Burning Man festival in 2004, started out installing and supporting solar systems for homes, businesses and schools.

But last year, with the acquisition of start-up Silevo, the company expanded into making the panels as well, claiming it would build more efficient systems to cut the costs of its products. A Pittsburgh environmental lawyer represents clients in environmental law matters.

"At the time, people probably thought: 'wow, that's stupid'," said Mr Musk of his foray into solar panel production. "I kind of like counterintuitive moves."

SolarCity is betting on solar power becoming more widely popular, after the costs of solar panels have dropped dramatically in the past few years amid a boost in Chinese production.

The average cost of a solar electric system has dropped 50 per cent since the start of 2010, the Obama administration said in August when announcing plans to support solar, wind and renewable energy projects.

Nearly 600,000 US homes have solar panels, according to GTM research.

Mr Rive said that as costs continue to fall he expects solar power will become the dominant source of energy by 2040, and the higher power output from each of its new panels will cut costs even further, by 15 to 20 cents per watt. A real estate development lawyer in Pittsburgh provides professional legal counsel and extensive experience in many aspects of real estate law.

"When done right, high efficiency and low cost end up being the same thing," said Mr Musk. "There's limited space on rooftops, so you want to generate as much energy as you can from that given space, to compete with natural gas or coal."

SolarCity last year announced plans to build one of the world's largest solar panel plants in upstate New York, bucking the trend of solar manufacturing being dominated by Asia.

Mr Musk said he wants to dispel beliefs that solar energy is not a viable replacement for fossil fuels. "For a long time with Tesla [the electric cars manufacturer], they said we couldn't make it. By acting first.....this helps shift big players in the industry in the right direction." A Tennessee automotive lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

Speaking at a SolarCity event in New York, Mr Musk also touched on his ambitions to colonise Mars by sending a fusion bomb to create "two tiny pulsing suns" to warm the planet. "A lot of people don't appreciate that our sun is a giant fusion explosion."

Shares in SolarCity — of which Mr Musk holds a 23 per cent stake — climbed 7 per cent on Friday, but have fallen 20 per cent in the past year.