Officials at the Department of Homeland Security are considering removing hazardous material placards from freight trains. They say doing so will help protect people from terrorists. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mark Brush has more:
Officials at the Department of Homeland Security are considering removing
hazardous material placards from freight trains. They say doing so would help
protect people from terrorists. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mark Brush has more:
Because of the September 11th terrorist attacks, officials see the potential for a
lot of things to be used as weapons. One of their latest fears is that shipments of
hazardous materials could be used by terrorists. In order to protect people from this
threat, the Department of Homeland Security says it might require the removal of the
diamond shaped placards from rail cars. Emergency workers use the placards to quickly
identify a hazard after an accident.
Richard Powell is the Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs.
He says while the Department of Homeland Security is well-intentioned, removal of the
placards would put more people at risk:
“We need to protect our citizens. We need to keep that system in place. If we don’t know something is there, our people could not evacuate perhaps, as quick as we normally would.”
Homeland Security officials say they’ll consider other options that would help disguise the rail cars, but would still allow emergency workers to know what’s inside.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Mark Brush.
Believe it or not, this is the hot new trend in seafood. The Patagonian Toothfish was given a more marketable name: Chilean Sea Bass.
(Photo courtesy of National Environmental Trust)
A popular fish at restaurants has become too popular. According to one environmental group, Chilean Sea Bass is being illegally overharvested. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
A popular fish at restaurants has become too popular. According to one environmental
group, Chilean Sea Bass is being illegally overharvested. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
Chilean Sea Bass has been the fish of choice for many chefs’ signature dishes. That has
driven up prices for the fish. Andrea Cavanaugh is with the environmental group the National
Environmental Trust. She says the group has found evidence that illegal Chilean Sea Bass is
ending up on your plate.
“Pirate boats that are out on the high seas flaunt the guidelines, [do] not listen to quotas,
they can take fish where they’re not supposed to take fish and nobody is out there monitoring
what’s going on on individual vessels.”
Cavanaugh says besides needing tighter international and national guidelines on fishing, the best
way to deal with the problem is to get people to stop ordering Chilean Sea Bass.
“There’s such a wide range of fish to choose from for American consumers that there should
be a healthy balance out there.”
Cavanaugh says the Chilean Sea Bass is only the latest species to be overharvested to meet a
hot trend in food.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
Like this Honda Insight, the new hybrid Accord will have electricity and gas working in harmony. What's different is that it will have a V6 engine. (photo by Paige Foster)
As gas prices hover around two dollars a gallon, auto manufacturers are starting to roll out more environmentally friendly hybrids that appeal to mainstream buyers. Hybrids conserve fuel by using both electricity and gasoline to power the car. The latest offering comes from Honda. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Julie Halpert filed this report:
As gas prices hover around two dollars a gallon, auto manufacturers are starting to roll out
more environmentally friendly hybrids that appeal to mainstream buyers. Hybrids conserve fuel
by using both electricity and gasoline to power the car. The latest offering comes from
Honda. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Julie Halpert filed this report:
Honda is bringing a hybrid engine to its best-selling car, the Accord. Unlike other
hybrids on the market, like Toyota’s Prius, this one will be roomier and higher performing.
Anthony Pratt, with J.D. Power & Associates, says those features may woo buyers who typically
have nixed the tiny hybrids currently on the market.
“What they’re trying to do is break the conception that if you’re going to drive a hybrid,
you have to sacrifice performance. in this case, you don’t. They use a three liter, V6 that
has 240 horsepower, so it’s just as powerful as the non-hybrid V6 and you get the fuel efficiency
of a Civic.”
The hybrid Accord hits dealer showrooms in December and will cost $30,000. It will join the
ranks of another hybrid adopted in a popular model, the Ford Escape. And next year,
Toyota’s Highlander and the Lexus RX400H.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Julie Halpert.
Groups like the Pembina Institute worry about water sustainability as the Great Lakes receive little new water and government officials both in Canada and in the U.S. discuss Annex 2001. (photo by Jenn Borton)
Canadian environmental groups are concerned that a new plan to regulate water withdrawals from the Great Lakes basin would allow too much water to be removed. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly reports:
A Toronto researcher says most communities are underestimating a potential source
of cheap electricity – raw sewage. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly reports:
University of Toronto professor David Bagley collected waste water at a North
Toronto water treatment plant. He took the sewage into his lab, dried it and
then burned the solids to see how much energy they produced. He estimates the
energy produced from sewage at three treatment plants could produce more than
100 megawatts of electricity. That could be enough to keep a small town going
for a year. But Bagley says few take advantage of this resource.
“Our measurements show that there’s enough energy that we should be able to
completely offset the electricity needed to run the plant, and have extra
left over the send back to to the grid.”
Bagley finds communities are reluctant to invest in the equipment they’d
need to convert sewage into power. But he’s hoping to to design a cheaper
and more efficient system so more people can get the most out of their sewage.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Karen Kelly.
Lilies like these reside in the Reinstein Nature Preserve. Environmentalists worry about natural life in the preserve as the state of New York considers opening it up without restrictions.
Imagine a suburban, backyard wilderness where 200 year-old trees still stand. That’s exactly what you’ll find at the 300 acre Reinstein Nature Preserve. It meanders right through the heart of a bustling suburb. The preserve has been limited to small groups led by a nature guide. But there’s a new plan to give unrestricted access. Some environmentalists worry that would ruin the preserve. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Joyce Kryszak takes us to the woods – and to the debate:
Imagine a suburban, backyard wilderness where 200 year-old trees still stand.
That’s exactly what you’ll find at the 300 acre Reinstein Nature preserve.
It meanders right through the heart of a bustling suburb. The preserve has been limited
to small groups led by a nature guide. But there’s a new plan to give unrestricted access.
Some environmentalists worry that would ruin the preserve. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s
Joyce Kryszak takes us to the woods – and to the debate:
A Great Blue Heron perches lazily in the distance above an expanse of pink water lilies.
At first Bob Reinstein doesn’t see the bird.
“I should’ve brought my field glasses.”
But then its giant wings spread wide, laboring to clear the water in this serene Monet-like setting.
“The lilies were a gift from two different environmental organizations…”
The man and the majestic heron both seem oblivious to the rush of cars and people just
beyond the edge of the woods. This is the Reinstein Nature Preserve. It’s framed on all sides
by a sprawling suburb of houses and shopping plazas in Western New York. Like his parents before
him, Bob Reinstein says he’s risked his life for nearly sixty years defending this scene; he guards it against trespassers – and sometimes trespassers with guns.
“Their lives were threatened several times, in fact, mine was also. I was unarmed at the time,
but he had pointed his shotgun at me and threatened to shoot. Realizing it was pointing at my face,
I stopped following him.”
But Reinstein never stopped trying to protect the nature preserve his father created half a century ago.
By the time he died in 1984, the elder Reinstein had dug nine ponds, planted thousands of trees,
rare ferns and flowers to compliment the ancient scene. The younger Reinstein says it’s like a
“Where else can schoolchildren walk back through history a hundred and fifty years and see
samples of what existed then, that are still here today?”
Reinstein says his father bequeathed the preserve to the state to keep it from being trampled.
He stipulated that it must stay forever wild. People could visit, but only for educational
purposes. And only with a trained nature guide. That could all be changing. A proposal by the
State Department of Environmental Conservation would give the public unrestricted access.
Jane Wiercioch lives in the nearby suburb and loves visiting her backyard wilderness. But today
Weirchioch is handing out petitions here. She hopes to stop the DEC from opening the preserve. She
says it would leave the woods vulnerable.
“I know I came in here the other day for a walk around that lily loop with my great granddaughters
and, of course, they were chasing frogs. So, I’m with them, I’m yelling at them, ‘don’t do anything.’ But can you imagine having people just coming in here and doing what they want?”
State conservation officials say bringing in more people is the whole point. Meaghan Boice-Green
is a spokesperson for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. She says all
other department-run properties are open to the public. Boice-Green says unrestricted access would be good for both the public and for the agency.
“We’re not talking about property that hasn’t touched by the hand of man, and in order for us
to obtain the funding to do the habitat maintenance that’s going to be necessary to maintain
this manmade habitat, we have to provide some public access. We’re not going to be able to
access funds to support a property that the public isn’t allowed to access.”
But the state has never had any trouble finding money to maintain the preserve before.
And Boice-Green couldn’t offer specifics about any extra funding.
Terry Boyle has volunteered as a guide at the preserve for eight years. But he agrees the
preserve should be unrestricted. Boyle says visitors can’t have a truly natural experience
if someone’s watching their every move.
“A lot of those people who do want to come in, they want to take photographs, they want to sit
down and reflect for a little bit about what they’re looking at, and that kind of stuff. So,
they can’t go at their own leisurely pace with tour guides, because we have to push them through a little bit
But the head of a local environmental group sees it differently. Larry Watson says if the
preserve is opened, there won’t be anything left to look at anyway. He believes the state is
just tired of policing the woods. But Watson says it was Dr. Reinstein’s wish that the
preserve be kept wild. And he should know. As a young boy sixty years ago, Watson spent many
long hours in the woods, helping Reinstein plant the saplings that now tower overhead.
“If they turn this into what they want to, it will be nothing more than a state park.
And we’d rather see it kept as an individual showpiece and a place New York state can be quite
proud of and show the rest of the country what can be done in the way of environmental
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says it hasn’t made a final
decision. It will consider the wishes of those who want access to the preserve to remain
restricted. But many people are also demanding it be opened. Ultimately, the state says
it will likely let people come to the preserve whenever they want – and trust them
to be good caretakers.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Joyce Kryszak.
Source: The Humanure Handbook. Jenkins Publishing, PO Box 607, Grove City, PA 16127
Books can be powerful. Sometimes they can even change your life. As part of our ongoing series on individual choices that impact the environment— “Your Choice; Your Planet”—the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Curtis Gilbert brings us the story of one book that changed his mother’s life… a book that so profoundly affected her that she felt compelled to share its teachings with strangers. It wasn’t the Bible or the Koran… or “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” And the part of his mother’s life that it changed is one so exceedingly private that most people don’t even like to talk about it. He’ll explain:
Books can be powerful. Sometimes they can even change your life. As part of our ongoing
series on individual choices that impact the environment — “Your Choice; Your Planet” —
the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Curtis Gilbert brings us the story of one book that
changed his mother’s life…a book that so profoundly affected her that she felt compelled
to share its teachings with strangers. It wasn’t the Bible or the Koran… or “Chicken Soup
for the Soul.” And the part of his mother’s life that it changed is one so exceedingly private
that most people don’t even like to talk about it. He’ll explain:
There’s a sound — something familiar to everyone who lives in a Western, industrialized
country — but it’s a sound you’ll almost never hear at my mother’s house.
(sound of toilet flushing)
Five years ago, my mom turned off the to water to her toilet. She put a house plant on top
of the seat and opposite it built a five-gallon bucket in a box that took over all the duties
of its porcelain counterpart.
“Well I had seen ‘The Humanure Handbook’ in the FEDCO Seed catalog — and it just sort of
intrigued me. And I decided one year that I would read it since I was curious about it year after
year. And I read it and then I began to feel really bad every time I flushed the toilet.”
That’s because every time my mom flushed the toilet she was rendering undrinkable several
gallons of otherwise perfectly good water. And what’s more, she was whisking away valuable
nutrients that she could have just as easily returned to the earth.
That’s right… Humanure is a contraction consisting of two words: human and manure.
Here’s how it works: You use the humanure bucket in pretty much the same way you’d use a flush
toilet. Everything’s the same, except that instead of flushing when you’re done, there’s another
bucket right beside the humanure bucket and it’s filled with sawdust. You use a little cup to
scoop up some sawdust and then you just dump the sawdust in the humanure bucket when you’re
finished using it. That’s it. And the crazy thing, the thing that always surprises people when
I tell them about my mother’s humanure project is that it doesn’t smell bad.
“Anytime anything’s stinky in the humanure, you just cover it with sawdust and it doesn’t stink
anymore, except of course what is already in the air, which is like any toilet.”
Once a day my mom takes the bucket brimming with sawdust and humanure and dumps it into her
massive compost pile. There, it mingles with her kitchen scraps, weeds from the garden, and
just about every other bit of organic matter she can find… and in two years time the humanure
cooks down into dark, rich, fertile soil.
For the first couple of years, my mom was content just to operate her own humanure compost
heap and let her garden reap the benefits — but the more she did it the more of a true believer
she became. Strict adherence to the faith wasn’t enough for her anymore. She had to become a
missionary. She bought a case of Humanure Handbooks and set up a booth at an organic gardening
festival called Wild Gathering.
“And I think I sold one at that Wild Gathering. And then after that I was giving them away right
and left to my sisters and nieces and friends and whoever! And I used them all up and then this
last year I decided that not only was I going to get another box of Humanure Handbooks, I was
going to collect humanure at Wild Gathering!”
My mom knew she’d a lot of buckets for the project, so went door to door at the businesses
in town. She didn’t say what she needed them for, and luckily they didn’t ask. She collected eight
buckets full in all — not quite the payload she was hoping for. Attendance at Wild Gathering was
pretty low that year, due to rain, but relatively speaking, sales of the Humanure Handbook were
“I sold more at this last Wild Gathering. I think I sold five or six. And I gave one away for
Christmas this year to Natasha, who had been having plumbing problems. And I started my spiel and
she was really quite interested. And, I think we may have a convert there before long.”
Conversion. The ultimate goal of any evangelist. My mom admits that she doesn’t know of anyone
she’s actually brought into the fold — but she likes to think she’s planting seeds. Just
introducing people to the idea that there’s a alternative to flush toilets, she says, is a huge
“This is really a shocking idea to a lot of people and a lot of people who come to the house will
not use it. I have to make the water toilet available to them.”
My grandmother won’t use it. Neither will my mom’s friend, Rochelle. And then there’s my
girlfriend, Kelsey. Last summer the two of us spent several days at my mom’s house in Maine
before taking a road trip back to where we live in Minnesota. After quietly weighing the
ramifications of sawdust versus water toilets, Kelsey finally decided to brave the humanure…
well, sort of.
Curtis: “So you used it for some things, but you’ve told me before that there were some things
that you couldn’t bring yourself to do.”
Kelsey: “No, I couldn’t. I did not have a bowel movement during our entire visit to your
house, over the course of four days.”
I’d like to think that Kelsey’s physical inability to make full use of the sawdust toilet
was an anomaly, that most people would have no problem going to the bathroom at my mom’s house
in Maine… But I doubt that’s the case. And that’s not the only reason I’m a little skeptical about
my mom’s vision of a world humanure revolution.
Curtis: “It occurs to me, and I’m about 100 pages into the book at this point, that this is
all well and good for people living in rural areas, but I live in a city. Where am I going to
put a compost heap?”
Mom: “You know, there could be chutes in buildings. There would have to be temporary storage.
Trucks would come in and take it out. Great huge compost piles would be built and it would work
down very… I think that where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
I’ll admit it; I’m still skeptical. I mean I believe in humanure, sure. But I also haven’t
put a house plant on top of the toilet in my big city apartment…and I probably never will.
Call me a summer soldier in the humanure revolution if you will, but when I go home to my
Mom’s next Christmas, I’ll be flushing with sawdust and I’ll be proud.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Curtis Gilbert.
Scientists have known for years that streamside forests help stop certain pollutants from entering the waterway. But new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that those forests have added benefits. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chris Lehman reports:
Scientists have known for years that streamside forests help stop
certain pollutants from entering the waterway. But new research
published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
shows that those forests have added benefits. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Chris Lehman reports:
Steams that flow through forests tend to be wider and slower than those
that flow through meadows or urban areas. Scientists say that creates
an environment that can actually help clean up a polluted waterway.
Bernard Sweeney is the director of the Stroud Water Research Center in
Pennsylvania. He says their research points to a direct relationship
between woods and water.
“You put a forest along a small stream, it creates a more natural and
wider stream channel; that in turn provides more habitat, more
available ecosystem which in turn enables a stream to do more work for
us like processing nitrogen and organic matter.”
Sweeney says government programs that offer incentives to create
natural streamside buffers should do more to specifically encourage
reforestation. He says grass buffers don’t have the same cleansing
effect on waterways.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Chris Lehman.
Sewage overflows during heavy rains have long been implicated in illnesses in people. For the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency has come up with an estimate of just how many people are getting sick from swimming at contaminated beaches. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tracy Samilton reports:
Sewage overflows during heavy rains have long been implicated in
illnesses in people. For the first time, the Environmental Protection
Agency has come up with an estimate of just how many people are getting
sick from swimming at contaminated beaches. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Tracy Samilton reports:
The EPA estimates that somewhere between 3,500 and 5,500 beachgoers get sick
every year when untreated sewage is flushed into rivers, streams and lakes
by heavy rains. The EPA’s Ben Grumbles says the report is another reason
for cities to fix their aging sewage systems – despite the high cost.
“And it can literally add up to hundreds of millions, a couple of billion dollars, for
very large cities, to fix the problem for the long-term.”
Grumbles says many communities can avoid that bigger expense by investing
in new technologies to better manage existing systems – and keeping pipes
well-maintained and free of debris.
Environmental groups say they hope legislators are listening. Congress just reduced
the fund from which communities can get loans for sewer projects by 500 million dollars.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Tracy Samilton.
Great Lakes water has become an issue in this year’s presidential campaign as both candidates try to pick up valuable votes in the swing states. Both of the major party candidates say they’re against diverting the water to other states, and both say their opponent has been inconsistent on the issue. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Michael Leland has more:
Great Lakes water has become an issue in this year’s presidential campaign as
both candidates try to pick up valuable votes in the swing states. Both of the
major party candidates say they’re against diverting the water to other states,
and both say their opponent has been inconsistent on the issue. The Great
Lakes Radio Consortium’s Michael Leland has more:
President Bush says he favors keeping Great Lakes water in the Great Lakes.
He said so this summer during a campaign stop in Traverse City, Michigan.
“My position is clear. We’re never going to allow diversion of Great
And John Kerry says he is against diverting Great Lakes water. It’s one of six
points included in his recently-released plan to clean up and preserve the lakes.
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm discussed that plan in a conference call
“They are adamantly opposed to diverting water from the Great Lakes
basin. They will institute a no diversions policy for the Great Lakes.
They will block any water diversion.”
And while both the Bush and Kerry campaigns are promising not to let other
states tap into the Great Lakes, they’re accusing each other of going back and
forth on the issue. Bush says back in February, Kerry referred to the diversion
issue as a “delicate balancing act.” The next day, Kerry’s campaign said the
Democrat was “absolutely opposed” to diversions. The Kerry campaign
says back in 2001, President Bush expressed support for diverting Great Lakes
water to the Southwestern United States. The president wasn’t that specific
about it, though he did say he’d be open to discussions about water with
Canada’s prime minister.
Michigan’s Governor Granholm says there’s no immediate threat that Great
Lakes water would be diverted, though she says it has to be a concern as the
dry, Southwestern part of the United States continues to add people, and
members of Congress who might one day vote on such an issue.
But some experts say diversion of Great Lakes water is much more likely to happen
in areas closer to the Lakes. They say diverting water to the arid Southwest
would cost too much.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Michael Leland.
The latest report on the overall health of the Great Lakes shows mixed progress in cleaning up the lakes. The International Joint Commission says there have been some improvements, but there are still many areas that need to be worked on. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Stephanie Hemphill reports:
The latest report on the overall health of the Great Lakes shows
mixed progress in cleaning up the lakes. The International Joint
Commission says there have been some improvements, but there are
still many areas that need to be worked on. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Stephanie Hemphill reports:
The IJC is an agency made up of Canadian and U.S. officials who
monitor the overall health of the Great Lakes. Every two years, the
agency issues a report.
This year’s report says the two governments have made progress in
cutting releases of many toxic chemicals. And scientists are closer to
understanding how global climate change is likely to affect the Great
But the report says other issues require urgent attention. It calls for
government action to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired
power plants. Mercury can cause nerve and developmental damage
when it’s eaten in fish.
And U.S. Co-Chair Dennis Schornack says the governments should
do more to stop invasive alien species from getting into the Great
“We still don’t have measures in place that would stop ballast water
mediated transfers of species from abroad; we’ve still got a threat
with the Asian carp coming up the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal
and incomplete funding for the barrier to stop that invasion there.”
The report also urges scientists to figure out why Lake Erie’s water
quality is degrading again, after years of improvement.
And there are always new challenges, according to Canadian Co-Chair Herb Gray.
“There are new families of chemicals getting into the water. The fire
retardants, which are great for your furniture, but not great in drinking
This was the 12th biennial report on Great Lakes water quality. The
report says it’s now time for a comprehensive review of the
agreement between the U.S. and Canada to clean up and protect the
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Stephanie Hemphill.