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Environmental News


Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Monday, February 13, 2017
Plastic litter on Great Lakes beaches
What do cigarette butts, takeout containers, straws and water bottles have in common? They're some of the most common litter found on Lake Michigan and Lake Erie beaches, according to a recent study published in Science of the Total Environment. Source: Great Lakes Echo, 2/13/17

Researchers invent a breakthrough process to produce renewable car tires from trees and grasses
A team of researchers, led by the University of Minnesota, has invented a new technology to produce automobile tires from trees and grasses in a process that could shift the tire production industry toward using renewable resources found right in our backyards. Source: University of Minnesota, 2/8/17

Friday, February 10, 2017
Chemicals from Air Force base seep into wells, Lake Huron
Residents near an abandoned military base in Michigan are worried about an unseen invader: toxic chemicals that have contaminated wells in the town of Oscoda. Now the chemicals are spreading farther -- and have even reached Lake Huron. Source: WBFO, 1/27/17

Samsung's Note 7 recycling center catches fire, company blames faulty batteries
On Wednesday, 19 fire engines and 110 firemen reported to a fire at Samsung SDI's Chinese manufacturing facility in Tianjin. The fire was put out without widespread damage to the plant, which mostly remained on a normal manufacturing schedule. As for where the fire started and what caused it, there's some confusion in that regard. According to Samsung SDI spokesperson Shin Yong-doo, the fire began in a part of the facility used for waste and faulty batteries -- and, of course, the Samsung SDI subsidiary in China was responsible for manufacturing many of the batteries in the Note 7 that failed under stress. There's no indication that it was actually Note 7 batteries, specifically, that caused the failure -- but the Wuqing branch of the Tianjin fire department had a rather different explanation for what had happened. According to them (and Reuters) the "material that caught fire was lithium batteries inside the production workshops and some half-finished products." If that's true, it implies some other problem at the plant -- which may be precisely why Samsung SDI put the blame on the recycling division. Source: Extreme Tech, 2/9/17

Thursday, February 9, 2017
Comment Period Extended for Two Rules on TCE
EPA is extending the comment period for two proposed rules on Trichloroethylene (TCE), a toxic chemical with human health concerns identified by EPA in a 2014 risk assessment. EPA proposed these rules in December and January to ban certain uses of the chemical in aerosol degreasing, as a spot cleaner in dry cleaning facilities, and in commercial vapor degreasing.

The comment period for the proposed ban on TCE as an aerosol degreaser and for spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities is extended to March 16.

The comment period for the proposed ban on TCE as a commercial vapor degreaser is extended to April 19. Source: U.S. EPA, 2/9/17


Milwaukee bans coal-tar sealants after study shows they pollute streams
Milwaukee banned coal-tar sealants Tuesday after a study blamed them for contaminating streams. Source: Great Lakes Echo, 2/8/17

Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Bacardi Circular Economy Initiative Diverts Fruit Waste from Bars, Produces Soap
Bacardi's 42Below Vodka brand's circular economy initiative -- the project collects used lemons, martini olives and other fruit waste from bars, turns it into liquid soap and sends it back to the bars for free -- has diverted 400 kilograms of fruit waste from landfills since it launched in December 2016. Source: Environmental Leader, 2/6/17

Friday, February 3, 2017
In America's Heartland, Discussing Climate Change Without Saying 'Climate Change'
In north-central Kansas, America's breadbasket and conservative heartland, the economic realities of agriculture make climate change a critical business issue. At the same time, politics and social pressure make frank discussion complicated. This is wheat country, and Donald J. Trump country, and though the weather is acting up, the conservative orthodoxy maintains that the science isn't settled. So while climate change is part of daily conversation, it gets disguised as something else. Source: New York Times, 1/28/17

Chemical Challenge Targets Technologies to Overcome Environmental Management Hurdles
The aim of the AkzoNobel Chemicals Startup Challenge, launched in conjunction with KPMG, is to identify interesting startups and solutions that have a strategic fit with AkzoNobel's businesses and develop partnerships with them. The challenge will give the winners the chance to see their ideas become a commercial reality. Source: Environmental Leader, 2/3/17

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