Still No Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Sites

A new government report finds that twenty-four years after the federal government told the states to find ways to dispose of low-level radioactive waste, not a single site has been built. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:

Transcript

A new government report finds that 24 years after the federal government told the states
to find ways to dispose of low-level radioactive waste, not a single site has been built.
The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:


In 1980, the states became responsible for providing disposal sites for most of the low-
level radioactive waste. Low-level waste includes things such as clothing and tools
exposed to radiation in medicine, research and at nuclear power plants. But to date… not
one disposal facility has been built by a state. The investigative arm of Congress, the General
Accounting Office, reports that an older facility in South Carolina is the only
site still accepting waste… but it’s expected to restrict shipments by the middle of 2008.
The GAO’s Robin Nazzaro says it’s not a crisis situation yet…


“The bottom line fall back, though, is that sites can also store this waste at their facilities.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission does allow for storage of waste as long as it’s safe
and secure.”


The GAO says a few states have plans to build facilities in the future… but nothing is
under construction right now.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.

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Utilities Obstructed in Long-Term Planning Efforts

Municipal water and sewer plants are gathering better data on how their systems are used, for better planning. But a government report finds that short-sighted local governments sometimes end up derailing the utilities’ long-term plans. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:

Transcript

Municipal water and sewer plants are gathering better data on how their systems are used for
better planning, but a government report finds that short-sighted local governments sometimes
end up derailing the utilities’ long-term plans. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester
Graham reports:


A lot of federal money is used to build local drinking water and wastewater facilities. So, the
Congress asked its investigative arm, the General Accounting Office, to see if the money is used
wisely. The GAO found that many municipal utilities are using comprehensive asset
management for planning purposes. That’s closely looking how systems are used, where the
demand is growing, and how best to plan for future growth.


But the utilities are running into some problems. Collecting and managing all of that data is a bit
overwhelming. The GAO recommends the Environmental Protection Agency help municipalities
share data on an EPA website so that every utility is not gathering the same kind of information
over and over.


There’s still one more problem. Even with better information, the GAO found… often the local
politicians who oversee the utilities have short-term goals that hamper long-term planning by the
utilities.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.

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States Say Feds Falling Short on Invasives

State officials say the federal government is failing to do enough to stop invasive species of plants and animals from damaging the environment and the economy. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:

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State officials say the federal government is failing to do enough to stop invasive species of plants
and animals from damaging the environment and the economy. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:


The investigative arm of Congress, the General Accounting Office, surveyed state officials about
invasive species, the non-native plants and animals that sometimes stow away in shipments to the
U.S.


Many of the pests get loose in the wild and do a lot of damage, such as the zebra mussels that are
harming the ecosystems of lakes and rivers and emerald ash borers that are killing ash trees.


State officials say there are gaps in federal legislation, leaving no money or no requirements to
control the invasive species that have been here for a long time. State officials also say that
international trade agreements can make it difficult to regulate products that might harbor
invasive species because the trade agreements don’t address the problem.


The end result is often cheap imported goods that don’t consider or factor in the cost of the pest
that can be brought in with the cheap goods. Some state officials also noted that it would be more
effective to prevent the species from getting here in the first place instead of fighting them later.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.

New Air Pollution Rule Under Fire

Environmentalists are protesting a new air pollution rule from the Bush Administration. They say it will make it easier for the industry to continue to pollute or even pollute more. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:

Transcript

Environmentalists are protesting a new air pollution rule from The Bush administration. They
say it will make it easier for the industry to continue to pollute or even pollute more. The Great
Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:


Despite the 1970 Clean Air Act, some factory owners have kept polluting at the same rate for
more than 30 years. That’s because plants only were required to add pollution controls when
making significant updates. Environmentalists say a new rule put in place by the Bush
administration makes that loophole even bigger.


Eric Schaeffer is a former EPA official who quit, protesting the weakening of environmental
rules.


“What this rule says is if you’re sitting on an old plant that’s pretty dirty, that’s uncontrolled, that
isn’t meeting the Clean Air Act standards, you can go in and piece by piece, you can continue to
rebuild these plants and keep them alive and keep them going without putting on pollution
controls.”


The new rule comes in the wake of a General Accounting Office report that found the Bush
White House made the decision based almost entirely upon anecdotes from factory owners rather
than from hard data collected by the EPA.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.

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Trust Fund for Great Lakes Restoration?

Some members of Congress feel the timing is right for the long-anticipated federal legislation to help restore the Great Lakes. A bill introduced in the Senate recently proposes EPA monitoring of Great Lakes water quality. Now, a bill being introduced in the House proposes a four billion dollar Great Lakes Restoration Fund. And it has strong political support. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Joyce Kryszak reports:

Transcript

Some members of Congress feel the timing is right for the long-anticipated
federal legislation to help restore the Great Lakes. A bill introduced in the
Senate recently proposes EPA monitoring of the Great Lakes water quality.
Now, a bill being introduced in the House proposes a four billion dollar
Great Lakes Restoration Fund. And it has strong political support.
The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Joyce Kryszak reports:


A critical report by the General Accounting Office prompted
Congress to start a coordinated recovery plan. The bipartisan
bill on the Senate side would pay for more reliable monitoring of
water quality. And the House bill now being introduced – also bipartisan –
would supply four billion dollars to help restore the environmental health of the lakes.


The Great Lakes Trust Fund is modeled after a multi-billion dollar
federal plan to rehabilitate Florida’s Everglades. Congressman Thomas Reynolds of New York
is one of the bill’s co-sponsors.


“We’ve seen, from increased levels of toxins and bacteria that are
killing wildlife and closing beaches, to invasive species that are
attacking an ecosystem. The Great Lakes need more than help – they need funding.”


Reynolds says he believes the backing is there to pass the legislation –
and that federal help is long overdue.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Joyce Kryszak.

NEW JET ENGINES EMIT MORE NOx

Although commercial airlines have been replacing their fleets with jets that are quieter and more fuel efficient, the engines actually emit more of certain pollutants. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham explains:

Transcript

Although commercial airlines have been replacing their fleets with jets that are quieter and more
fuel efficient, the engines actually emit more of certain pollutants. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Lester Graham explains:


The federal government’s watchdog agency, the General Accounting Office, issued a report that
finds many airports have worked to reduce air pollution. Some have converted airport ground
vehicles to cleaner burning fuels. Newer jet engines emit less carbon monoxide and
hydrocarbons. But, they produce higher amounts of nitrogen oxides than engines on the older
models. As much as 40-percent more during landings and take offs. Those emissions contribute
to ozone pollution. That’s helping to keep more than half of the nation’s major airports in
violation of the federal ozone standards.


The General Accounting Office noted there are technologies available to limit nitrogen oxides
emissions from some of the newer aircraft models. Many government officials indicate that will
likely have to be the next step if ozone pollution around the airports is to be reduced.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.

Feds Fall Short on Animal Disease Warnings

A recent report finds that the U.S. Department of Agriculture needs to work more closely with Customs inspectors in order to stop foreign animal diseases from hurting livestock in the U.S. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:

Transcript

A recent report finds that the U.S. Department of Agriculture needs to work more closely
with Customs inspectors in order to stop foreign animal diseases from hurting livestock
in the U.S. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham has this report.


When foot and mouth disease hit livestock in Britain, the U.S. Department of
Agriculture quickly notified its various agencies, state and local governments and even
veterinarians. They received notices and guidance on prevention of outbreaks of foot
and mouth disease in case the disease found its way to U.S. shores.


But the USDA did not notify Customs inspectors. In fact, according to a report by the
General Accounting Office, Customs received the information only after formally
requesting it, more than a month after the British outbreak. The GAO reports that many
Customs inspectors said they felt ill equipped to adequately process international cargo
and passengers at U.S. ports of entry. The GAO report noted that the Department of
Agriculture has taken steps to improve notification to Customs, but the USDA still needs
to establish clear procedures and find a more permanent solution.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.

Epa Criticized for Slow Cleanup Progress

A recent federal report states that the EPA is not doing what it should to clean up polluted areas around the Great Lakes. And as the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mark Brush reports – it’s not the first time the agency has been told about the problems:

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A recent federal report states that the EPA is not doing what it should to clean-up polluted areas around the Great Lakes, and as the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mark Brush reports… it’s not the first time the agency has been told about the problems:


More than ten years ago the General Accounting Office said that the EPA should better coordinate it’s efforts to clean-up pollution hot-spots known as “Areas of Concern,” and three years ago the EPA’s Office of Inspector General also said that better coordination is needed.


So far, of these 26 polluted areas located within the U.S., none have been completely cleaned up. The most recent GAO report says that the slow progress is due increasing budget cuts, and the lack of a clearly defined department within the EPA that’s responsible for the program. Gary Gulezian is the director of the EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office.


“I think that when the program was originally established people didn’t realize just how complicated, and complex, and expensive the problems would be to address. I think that we realize that now, and we realize it’s going to take new efforts and new coordination to get the job done.”


Gulezian
says that the EPA will lay out its roles
and responsibilities for the project in the coming months.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Mark Brush.