Exelon has gotten an Early Site Permit to build a nuclear reactor in Illinois. (Photo by Lester Graham)
Exelon, the nation’s largest operator of
nuclear power plants, has won clearance for a site
where it could build a new nuclear reactor…
someday. It’s the first time federal regulators
have awarded the new type of advance permit. Jim
Exelon, the nation’s largest operator of nuclear power plants, has won
clearance for a site where it could build a new nuclear reactor…
someday. It’s the first time federal regulators have awarded the new
type of advance permit. Jim Meadows reports:
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted its first-ever Early Site
Permit this month for Exelon’s Clinton nuclear power station in central
Illinois. The permit authorizes a location at the Clinton plant for a
second nuclear reactor in the future.
Exelon spokeswoman Krista Lopykinski says they would have to apply
again to actually build and operate a reactor there:
“Should we decide to build a power plant, the next step would be to
apply for a combined operating license. But as of right now, we have no
plans to build a power plant in the near future.
Lopykinsky says before they seek to build another reactor at Clinton,
they’d want to be sure they have the right reactor technology on hand,
and that the nation has a workable solution to storing its spent
The EPA says tighter controls are coming for hundreds
of companies that burn hazardous waste. But the changes didn’t come without a fight. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
The EPA says tighter controls are coming for hundreds of companies that burn hazardous waste, but the changes didn’t come without a fight. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
The new regulations apply to large boilers, incinerators, cement kilns, and other devices that burn hazardous waste. The EPA says it’s trying to reduce emissions of several toxic pollutants.
A few years ago, environmentalists won a legal fight to force tougher controls than the Clinton Administration had originally proposed. Earthjustice attorney Jim Pew says the EPA was told to do its job right.
“Now EPA really hasn’t done it right this time, but it’s done it better, and as the result of the work of environmental groups, we’re seeing less toxic pollution going into peoples’ homes and schools and communities.”
A group representing cement kiln owners says it’s generally satisfied with the new EPA rules, but warns that some kilns may have trouble reaching the tougher targets. The case could wind up back in court.
A government watchdog group says a slew of recent court rulings against the U.S. Forest Service show that the agency isn’t doing its job. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Sarah Hulett reports:
A government watchdog group says a slew of recent court rulings
U.S. Forest Service show that the agency isn’t doing its job.
The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Sarah Hulett reports:
The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility – or
PEER – cites 44 cases over the last two years in which the Forest Service violated
environmental laws it’s supposed to enforce. PEER cites an internal Forest Service memo. It details instances in which the agency had to pay attorney fees to environmental groups that
successfully sued over issues like illegal logging and over-grazing on forest lands.
Jeff Ruch is the executive director of PEER. He says during the
Administration, there were only a handful of adverse rulings each year.
“And they’re now losing these cases at a greater rate than two a month. So
roughly every 10 days, the Forest Service is found guilty of violating a law
they’re supposed to be implementing, in a federal court.”
But a spokeswoman for the Forest Service says a closer look at the
shows a different picture. She says almost half the cases cited by PEER were
based on decisions the Forest Service made prior to President Bush taking
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Sarah Hulett.
The pesticide diazinon is being phazed out by the EPA for being hazardous. Some gardeners are still buying it despite health warnings. (Photo by Scott Schopieray)
A powerful pesticide that’s popular with gardeners
and homeowners will no longer be sold starting in January, but that
hasn’t stopped people from stocking up on the chemical before it’s
pulled from shelves. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chris Lehman reports:
A powerful pesticide that’s popular with gardners and homeowners will no longer be
sold starting in January. But that hasn’t stopped people from stocking up on the
chemical before it’s pulled from the shelves. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s
Chris Lehman reports:
Diazinon, at one time, was the most widely used pesticide on lawns. It can
still be sold through the end of the year. But there’s no deadline for homeowners
to use up their supplies. So that’s led some people to stockpile the product. The
decision to ban diazinon was made during the final weeks of the Clinton Administration.
But the Environmental Protection Agency gave diazinon producers four years to phase it out.
Jay Feldman is director of the environmental group Beyond Pesticides. He says the EPA
should have banned diazinon outright instead of phasing it out gradually.
“When the agency identifies a hazard such as this, one that is particularly problematic
to children, it ought to institute a recall, get the product out of commerce, make sure
that people do not continue to use the product unwittngly.”
Officials at the EPA say over-exposure to diazinon can affect the nervous system. They
also say it poses a risk to birds.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Chris Lehman.
Carl Pope is the Executive Director of the Sierra Club. (Photo courtesy of the Sierra Club)
Lynn Scarlett is the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Interior's Office of Policy, Management and Budget.
As the political campaigns get into full swing this presidential election year, the environmental record of George W. Bush is being scrutinized. The big environmental groups are very critical of the Bush administration. In the first of two interviews about the Bush White House approach to environmental protection, the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham talks with the Executive Director of the Sierra Club, Carl Pope. Pope and the Sierra Club are critical of the Bush administration’s record on environmental protection:
As the political campaigns get into full swing this presidential election year, the
environmental record of George W. Bush is being scrutinized. The big environmental
groups are very critical of the Bush administration. In the first of two interviews about
the Bush White House approach to environmental protection, the Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Lester Graham talks with the Executive Director of the Sierra Club, Carl Pope.
Pope and the Sierra Club are critical of the Bush administration’s record on environmental
POPE: “The biggest environmental problem this country faces right now is the policies of this
administration. It’s kind of stunning too, when you add it all up, just how much damage they
have quietly managed to set in motion in only three years.”
LG: “Now, we’ve listened to folks in the Bush administration who indicate that what they’re
really doing is bringing some balance to dealing with the economic issues the nation faces and
how it relates to the environmental issues that we face.”
POPE: “Well, let’s look at three trends. In 1980, when Ronald Reagan was President, we began
cleaning up toxic wastes dumps in this country with the Superfund. In 2003, for the first time
because the Bush administration both allowed the Superfund to run out of money and allowed
companies to start dumping new kinds of toxins on the landscape, the American landscape
became more polluted. We started going backwards after 20 years of progress.
1972, under Richard Nixon, another Republican, we made a national commitment under the
Clean Water Act to clean up our rivers and lakes. In 2003, because the Bush administration cut
funding for clean water clean-up and because they exempted large factory feedlots from clean
water regulation, EPA had to report for the first time in 30 years America’s waterways had gotten
And finally, in 1902, Theodore Roosevelt, a third Republican, created Grand Canyon National
Monument. And every president since Theodore Roosevelt left us with more of the American
landscape protected than he found it. And in only three years uniquely, singularly and in the
violation of the entire trend of the entire 20th century, this President Bush has stripped
environmental protection from 235 million acres. It’s an area as big as Texas and Oklahoma that
is now open to development which was protected when George Bush became President. I don’t
think that’s balance.”
LG: “I assume that you’re not all that chummy with everyone in the White House these days….
POPE: “That’s a safe assumption.”
LG: …but I’m trying to get an insight into what you think the thinking might be behind some of
the decisions that the Bush administration makes.”
POPE: “Well, in 1970 we made a national compact in this country. It was a national
environmental compact which was: we were environmental optimists and we believed that as a
nation that we could clean up every waterway, we could modernize every power plant and we
could remedy every toxic waste dump. We said as a nation ‘You know, everybody in this country
is going to have water that’s safe to drink. Everybody is going to live in a community where the
air doesn’t give their kids asthma. And we’re going to take time to do it. The federal government
is going to help everybody. And we’re all going to do it as a community.’ I think the fundamental
problem with that compact from the point of view of this administration is the ‘everyone’ part of
it. They really don’t believe that the community should do very much. They believe individuals
should take care of themselves. If you want to have safe drinking water, get yourself your own
supply; buy bottled water. If you want to breathe clean air, move somewhere where the air is
cleaner. They really don’t believe in the idea that every American ought to enjoy certain basic
environmental amenities simply as a consequence of being an American.
And, I think what motivates them is their concern that if it’s the federal government that
is cleaning up our toxic waste sites, then people will have faith in the federal government. And
they don’t have faith in the federal government. In fact, one of their chief advisors says he wants
to shrink the federal government down to a size where he can drown it in a bathtub. And I think
it’s the fact that the environmental compact in this country was based on the idea of an
environmental safety net for everyone that they find antithetical to their view that we all ought to
be tough, we all ought to be competitive, we all ought to be self-reliant and on our own. And
they don’t like the fact that the environmental compact says wait a minute, we’re all in this
together and we’re going to solve it together.”
HOST TAG: Carl Pope is the Executive Director of the Sierra Club.
It’s been almost a year since terrorists attacked the United States. But the repercussions of that morning continue to ripple across the country. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Ann Murray looks at how security concerns are impacting the country’s 50,000 small drinking water systems. These utilities now find themselves scrambling for money, security training and equipment to keep their facilities and water supplies safe:
It’s been almost a year since terrorists attacked the United States. But the repercussions of that morning continue to ripple across the country. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Ann Murray looks at how security concerns are impacting the country’s 50,000 small drinking water systems. These utilities now find themselves scrambling
for money, security training and equipment to keep their facilities and
water supplies safe:
The federal government started thinking seriously about domestic
security well before last September. Four years ago, the Clinton
administration examined the country’s infrastructure. And the results were
sobering. Water and wastewater systems were found to be vulnerable to
physical damage, computer hacking, chemical spills and radiological
Recent CIA reports place large metropolitan water systems on alert as
potential targets for terrorist attacks. But some small system operators
think their plants are vulnerable, too.
(sound of water plant)
“I feel that they could make an example out of a small system that says,
‘Look here, we could do that to a small one. We could do it to a larger
Barry Clemmer has run public water systems in western Pennsylvania for the
past 25 years. Before September 11th, he says his main concern was
vandalism – still the most likely scenario for a security breach. He walks
the fenced perimeter of his facility and points out new security devices.
“We have a camera on the side of one of our buildings that focuses
on the entrance gate. We monitor 24 hours a day. It’s hard to keep someone
out but it’s a deterrent and might slow them down from getting in.”
(sound of key in lock)
Although the front of the plant is now more secure, Clemmer continues
to worry about the intake system. That’s where raw river water is piped
into the treatment plant.
Clemmer: “Excuse me, I’ll open the gate.”
The river flows about 30 feet below the gated back of the facility. Clemmer walks down a wooden stairway to the unguarded riverbank. He shakes his head and says that terrorists could attack his plant from here.
“They could come up the river on a boat and hop out and go right
there and drop something in. It’d only take five minutes and our water
could be contaminated.”
Plans are in the works to secure the area where raw water is
taken into the plant. But Clemmer says that he still needs a security camera to
keep a close eye on the river. That will require additional grant dollars
because there isn’t money in the budget for security equipment and the
local community says it can’t afford the extra expense.
John Mori is director of the National Environmental Services Center, a federally funded technical assistance group. He says budget constraints are nothing new to small communities. It’s just that financial limitations have taken on an added dimension in this past year.
“Small systems historically have never gotten a share… an appropriate
share of federal dollars under the various loan programs. The point is there
are hundreds of thousands of Americans in small communities, medium size
communities and they need equal assurance that their water is safe and protected.”
Unlike metropolitan areas, Mori says smaller communities just don’t
have a big pool of qualified water personnel. So already overburdened
operators must now take on the responsibility of keeping their facilities
safe from terrorism.
“These are hardworking men and women who may have two or three or four
jobs in a community trying to do everything at once and make sure their
customers get good, safe water. So I think they’re determined about this. I
just think they need some help.”
Since September 11th, most help – in the form of new federal dollars
and security training – has gone to large water utilities. Metropolitan
water plants serve about 80 percent of the U.S. population. But Andy
Bielanski, with EPA’s newly formed Water Protection Task Force, says that the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving slowly but deliberately to also
help small water systems.
“What we’re doing is taking input and feedback from states, other
technical assistance organizations and agencies, on how best to approach
this problem. And we’ve been taking this all into consideration in trying
to provide security assistance to small systems.”
EPA and other agencies now face the daunting task of reaching more than
50,000 small water utilities. These utilities vary in size, customer base
and technical sophistication.
This past May, Congress mandated water utilities with more than 3,300
customers to conduct vulnerability assessments. Operators must then create
emergency response plans to address not only terrorism but vandalism or
natural disasters. Before September 11th, many small systems didn’t have
workable emergency plans in place.
(sound of conference)
At a pilot seminar for small system security, Tom Sherman with Michigan’s
Rural Community Assistance Program says Michigan’s systems are just like
many other small water utilities: they’re beginning from scratch.
“It’s kind of like ground zero. We’re just starting out. It’s something we knew we
had to address and you just need the input to know you’re going in the right direction.”
To make sure that small water operations are heading in the right direction, the federal government is trying to improve its outreach to small and medium size communities. Some funds have already been distributed to help these communities evaluate the safety of their water systems and upgrade their security. More than $70 million additional dollars await the approval of Congress and the President.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Ann Murray.
The National Park Service says it’ll go ahead with a ban on water scooters at some National Park shores, but it might later reconsider the ban on some of them. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham has more:
The National Park Service says it’ll go ahead with a ban on water scooters at some National Park shores, but it might later reconsider the ban on some of them. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham has more:
As part of a court-sanctioned agreement, the National Park Service will comply with a Clinton-era rule that banned Jet-Skis, Ski-Doos, Wave Runners and other such personal watercraft from 21 national park shores. Many of the parks, such as Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, will implement the bans immediately. Others will ban the small boats in September. Kristen Brengel is with the environmental group Natural Trails and Waters Coalition.
“That’s fine, but what was hidden in their announcement was the fact that three parks that had previously decided to ban Jet-Ski use are now going to be forced to study the issue more and potentially re-open their waters to Jet-Skis.”
Environmentalists say the water scooters are loud, dangerous, and polluting. The riders say they’re being singled out by the government just as the industry is beginning to manufacture quieter, more environmentally friendly models.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
The most toxic hot spots around the Great Lakes would receive an extrafifty million dollars in clean-up funds, if a Clinton administrationbudget proposal goes through. But some environmental groups don’t wantthe money dribbled out in small doses. They argue the best thing to dowould be to spend all the cash on comprehensive clean-up projects atjust a few sites. The idea is controversial, as the Great Lakes RadioConsortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
The most toxic hot spots around the Great Lakes would receive an extra fifty million dollars in
clean-up funds, if a Clinton Administration budget proposal goes through. But some environmental
groups don’t want the money dribbled out in small doses. They argue the best thing to do would be
to spend all the cash on comprehensive clean-up projects at just a few sites. The idea is
controversial, as the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’ s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
The most polluted parts of the Great Lakes are known as Areas
of Concern. There are over 40 of these hot spots in harbors and
bays, or in rivers that dump into the lakes. At many sites, the
pollution has led health agencies to tell people to be careful
about eating certain types of fish.
But that hasn’t stopped some anglers from doing their thing.
“That was the best cast I’ve
Marl and his buddy Paul are standing underneath an elevated
freeway in Milwaukee. They’re casting their fishing lines into
Lake Michigan for brown trout, perch or whatever wants to bite.
Through Milwaukee’s estuary, that’s the harbor and nearby rivers, is a toxic hot spot, Marl says he
pays little attention to fish consumption warnings.
“Whatever I catch I eat, I eat it on whatever basis I feel like eating it. If I want to eat fish
every night for a week, I eat it… doesn’t seem to affect me in any way.”
But nearby in the Milwaukee harbor, researchers point to pollution that seems to make the casual
approach to fish consumption here quite risky.
(sound of horn)
This tugboat is pushing a barge that’s about to take a load of coal from a huge coal pile at the
water’s edge. The pile is uncovered and during heavy rains or snowmelt, there’s runoff from the
coal into the harbor. Great Lakes researcher Jeffrey Foran says that’s hardly the only pollutant in
“It’s a virtual alphabet soup of pollution and we can name a few. PCBs, PAHs, contaminants from
Foran heads the Great Lakes Water Institute at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. He says
there’s actually been some improvement in the surface water quality over the last couple decades.
But Foran warns the sediment in the Milwaukee harbor by and large remains toxic muck, and those
toxins make their way into the food chain. Foran says Milwaukee’s problems aren’t unique.
“If you took the problems and simply dropped the name Milwaukee harbor, you could insert those
problems into probably the majority of areas of concern throughout the Great Lakes basin.”
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on cleanup work at the various sites, but only one
project – at Waukegan, Illinois – is largely done. So environmental groups hope Congress during its
EPA budget deliberations this spring will approve the extra 50 million dollars in cleanup funds
President Clinton proposed. But Great Lakes United executive director Margaret Wooster says the
money should be targeted to just a few hot spots.
“And do the complete cleanup right. From soup to nuts kind of thing. That is the initial making
sure if there’s a polluter, polluter pays their fair share as has happened in many cases, to good
Wooster also says there needs to be good places to dump the dredged material. Then should come
monitoring to make sure the water body doesn’t become fouled again, if there are more
success stories around the Great Lakes, environmentalists believe
lawmakers will then allocate additional money to finish work on
the other sites. But the Great Lakes community isn’t completely
sold on the targeting of funds. William Smith is a citizen
advisor to the Clinton river area of concern north of Detroit.
He wonders how fast news of complete clean-ups would spread.
“And when these one demonstration projects are done,
they’re distant. You hear about them the transfer of information
is long is coming. And sure it’s nice for some harbor to go after
this. But if you’re looking across the board on the Great Lakes
it would be much better used to go after problems in individual
Areas of Concern instead of 2 to 3 separate sites.”
funneling just a million or two dollars to some of Michigan’s
smaller hot spots would move clean-up of those sites forward in a
big way. That’s because state officials would probably match the
federal funds. But whether the federal money is targeted to a
couple sites or divided evenly in all the areas, Smith does agree
with the large environmental groups on one thing. He says the
recreation and drinking water needs of Great Lakes citizens
should prompt Congress to approve the president’s plan.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Chuck Quirmbach in Milwaukee.
It’s been called a domestic version of the PeaceCorps. AmeriCorps is a
service learning program that puts young people to work in communities
around the country. It was an early priority of the Clinton
administration, and since the project was established four years ago,
more than 100-thousand people have participated. AmeriCorps members
work in schools, churches and for non-profit groups, such as Habitat for
Humanity and the Red Cross. One of the newest AmeriCorps chapters was
established last fall in the middle of the Adirondack Park in New York
State. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Todd Moe reports:
The appointment of a congressional aide from California to head up the Saint Lawrence Seaway system has drawn fire from all of the Great Lakes’ Port Authorities. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mike Simonson reports that critics are calling the appointment process a sham