Environment

Luckey cleanup could take $244 million and 12 years

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG  Independent News   Cleaning up the contaminated beryllium site in Luckey is expected to cost $244 million and take up to 12 years to complete. “It will be one of the larger in the nation,” David Romano, deputy district engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers, said of the Luckey project. Removal of contaminated soil and possibly structures from the 40-acre site is expected to start late this year or next year. Representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers, which is in charge of the cleanup, met with the Wood County Commissioners on Tuesday. The cleanup of the site at the corner of Luckey Road and Ohio 582, is part of the federally funded Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program. Between 1949 and 1958, the Luckey site was operated as a beryllium production facility by the Brush Beryllium Company (later Brush Wellman) under contract to the Atomic Energy Commission. In 1951, the site received approximately 1,000 tons of radioactively contaminated scrap steel, to be used in proposed magnesium production at the site. The Corps of Engineers has identified beryllium, lead, radium, thorium, and uranium as problems in the soil. The cleanup calls for the excavation and off-site disposal of FUSRAP-contaminated materials. The excavated soils will be shipped off-site for disposal at a facility licensed to take such hazardous materials. Groundwater wells near the site are being sampled annually for beryllium, lead, uranium and gross alpha/beta until sampling results show a progressive trend that indicates safe drinking water standards have been met. During the site soils remedial action, more frequent monitoring will be conducted. The cost…


“Rolling back state renewable energy standards will threaten future job growth” – Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton)

House Democratic lawmakers today criticized the passage of House Bill (HB) 114, saying legislation that changes the state’s advanced energy standards to unenforceable “goals” will harm consumers and jeopardize thousands of manufacturing and development jobs in Ohio’s advanced energy industry and other industries that increasingly want and rely on advanced energy sources. “If Ohio’s economy is on the ‘verge of a recession,’ as the governor has claimed, rolling back state renewable energy standards will threaten future job growth and could harm consumers, workers and the environment,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Advanced energy technologies are helping create the manufacturing jobs of the future, and we would be wise to invest now to become a leader of this emerging industry instead of falling behind the rest of the nation.” The nation and world’s leading companies are increasingly turning to advanced energy sources to power their businesses. On Tuesday, global home furnishing retailer Ikea announced it has completed a 213,000 square foot solar array on its soon-to-open store in central Ohio, one of the largest such arrays in the state. “We owe it to future Ohioans to make sure we leave behind a state that is thriving, healthy and safe,” said Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “Rolling back the opportunity to be a leader in the emerging renewable energy industry is not only harmful to our environment but also our economy.” Some of the largest corporate brands – including Apple, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Facebook, General Motors, Google, Microsoft, Nike, Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble, Starbucks, Walmart and more – have all publicly pledged to procure 100 percent of their electricity from renewable…


Market holds the key to a sustainable future, Lamb Peace speaker contends

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Speaking on the day that Donald Trump started reversing the country’s commitments to combat global warming, author and entrepreneur Hunter Lovins had some news for him. “The era of fossil fuel is over,” she said. “I don’t care what Mr. Trump does.” Lovins, the founder of Natural Capital Solutions and author of 1 books with another in the works, is a proponent of using capitalist solutions to combat global warning. Tuesday night she took the stage at Bowling Green State University as the Edward Lamb Peace lecturer to promote her views. In his introduction, political scientist professor Mark Simon noted that the lecture series originally started dealing with military threats to world peace. When the Cold War ended, it was determined that environmental issues now posed the greatest threat to world peace. Lovins was the latest in a long line of noted environmentalists to speak. Climate change has already sparked or contributed to conflicts in Darfur and Syria, and driven 65 million people from their homes, Lovins said. That will only get worse as the global temperatures rise. The Middle East is projected to become too hot to live in by the year by 2040. A study funded by NASA found that “total system collapse will be difficult to avoid” if current patterns of resource depletion and economic inequality continue. That means no water, no food, and no money. Lovins cited a survey that found that the eight richest individuals on the planet control more wealth that the bottom 50 percent. As bleak as that picture is, she took a different tack, inspired in…


Farmers warned they need to do more to stop algae

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A hundred or so farmers listened to the grim reality last week that they need to do more to prevent algal blooms in Lake Erie. A panel discussion hosted by the Ohio Farmers Union at Otsego High School stressed that while some farmers are voluntarily reducing the phosphorus that creates the harmful algae, their efforts are not likely to be enough to meet the federal goal of a 40 percent reduction. And that means if farmers don’t make the necessary reductions on their own, they may be forced to do so. “We know that farmers need to do more,” said Joe Logan, president of the Ohio Farmers Union. “Farmers need to stand up. They always have before, and I believe they will again.” The alternative is that the Environmental Protection Agency will get involved and set stricter requirements. “If we don’t achieve that, there will be additional regulation,” Logan said. “Farmers need to up their game in terms of the environmental repercussions.” Jeffery Reutter, retired director of the Ohio State Stone Lab, said the 40 percent reduction is only possible if extensive changes are made, and if problem fields are identified. But he also predicted that one-third of farmers are not likely to take needed action without “more aggressive encouragement.” When asked by moderator Jack Lessenberry about the best ways to reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie, the panel had varied answers. Meindert Vandenhengel, who owns a 5,000-head hog farm in Van Wert County, said the only problem is distribution of manure. There is plenty of farmland to handle all the manure, it…


BG planning pipeline panel to clear up questions

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials want to dig deeper into the Nexus pipeline proposed near the city water treatment plant. On Monday evening, Mayor Dick Edwards talked about his continued efforts to contact people with geological expertise about the project. And he supported a suggestion by council member Daniel Gordon to host a public forum with experts on the topic. Gordon noted the different perspectives presented to city council by various geologists, and the need to find facts. “We will proceed on that basis to look at the science and the facts,” Edwards said to city council. “There are a bunch of unknowns out there.” No date or location has been set yet for a pipeline panel discussion. Council member Bruce Jeffers asked if Nexus officials might attend the meeting. Edwards said the pipeline company has had ample opportunity to make its pitch for the natural gas line. He added that “it’s been frustrating,” getting information from the company. “They’ve had every opportunity to make their case in Washington,” the mayor said, adding that the purpose of the panel discussion will be to sharpen the focus on facts. “They’ve had every opportunity to come in and share information.” Council member Bob McOmber echoed that inclination. “I’m not particularly inclined to want them” at a panel discussion, he said. The public event is not intended to be a debate between advocates of opposing sides, but a panel discussion to get to the facts, McOmber said. Edwards suggested that an impartial moderator be used for the discussion. “I think we need to be open and objective,”…


Trail sealant to last longer, seal faster, be less slippery

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Slippery Elm Trail will soon be sealed with a product that promises to last longer, seal faster, and be well, despite the trail’s name, less slippery. The Wood County Park District Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to pay $119,552 to seal the 13-mile trail from Bowling Green to North Baltimore. The price includes striping of the trail at intersections along the route. The product being used this time is called Onyx, by Strawser Construction in Columbus. Ned Fairbanks, the park district maintenance specialist, said the product has a proven record of creating a stronger surface that will last longer. The sealing product also remains black since it does not fade in the sun like other sealants used in the past. That will help with melting the snow, since the district does not salt or plow the Slippery Elm Trail. The Onyx also has a quick setting time, meaning less time that the trail would have to be closed to users, Fairbanks said. “Within a matter of hours, it’s usable,” he said. That’s a real plus, said Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger. “As soon as they sealcoat it, we’ve got people chomping at the bit to use it,” he said. And unlike some other sealants, the Onyx provides a non-slick surface. “We wanted to make sure we weren’t using something that if someone is rollerblading and it’s wet, that they’re down,” said Jeff Baney, assistant director of the county park district. The sealant also comes with a one-year warranty. Baney said sealants used in the past on the 12-foot wide…


Falcon Cam update: One egg visible

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS At least one more falcon is getting ready to call Bowling Green home, as a new peregrine falcon egg has made its appearance on the Falcon Cam, www.bgsu.edu/falconcam. One egg is visible on the camera, which is provided by a partnership between the Wood County Commissioners and Bowling Green State University. Last year, three eggs hatched in the Wood County Courthouse tower. “It is great to see people get excited about our falcon family,” said Andrew Kalmar, Wood County administrator. “This is the seventh year we’ve gotten to watch the falcons grow their family – I know many people will be anxiously awaiting the hatching a month from now.” The peregrine falcon is BGSU’s official mascot. A pair of the raptors took refuge in the clock tower — just two blocks west of campus —seven years ago. “We’re happy they’ve made a habit of calling Bowling Green home,” said Dave Kielmeyer, chief marketing and communications officer of BGSU. “It’s fitting that the falcons have bonded with the town and University.” Peregrine falcon eggs typically have a 33-day gestation period, so the eggs are expected to hatch in mid-April.


Efforts underway to find leaking septic systems

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Though sewer lines are inching their way across Wood County, there are still an estimated 14,000 homes that continue to rely on septic systems. An estimated half of those are failing and leaking raw sewage. By later this year, all 26 municipalities in Wood County will have public sewers. But many homes in rural areas don’t have that option.  And many may not be aware their septic systems are failing. “’Working fine’ is they flush the toilet and it goes away,” said Lana Glore, Wood County Health District environmental division director. But the question is – where does the sewage go? Since the average life expectancy of a septic system is 30 years, Glore said it’s possible that as many as 7,000 septic systems are sending sewage into public waterways. “In an ideal world, we’d have everybody sewered,” she said. Because aging and failing septic systems are a problem statewide, the Ohio Department of Health wants local health departments to examine every system. The Wood County Health Division already has a septic system operation and maintenance plan, but it is on a much smaller level, Glore said. Inspections of systems are complaint-driven or prompted by real estate sales. Since many older septic systems were installed without permits, they have likely never been inspected. “The first step is going to be playing catch up,” Glore said. “Where are our critical areas?” The health district consults with the Northwestern Water and Sewer District to see if plans exist to extend sewer services to problem areas. The health district works with the county building inspection…


Spring Into Action event set for April 19 in honor of Earth Day

From the PERRYSBURG AREA DEMOCRATIC CLUB Perrysburg Area Democratic Club has announced a special evening of guest speakers, live music and inspiration in honor of Earth Day, focused on what it will take to save Lake Erie.   The event, named “Spring Into Action,” will be held Wednesday, April 19, 2017 from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.at Carranor Hunt & Polo Club (502 East 2nd Street, Perrysburg).   The speakers will include: Rick Rettig, Perrysburg City Council; Laura Schetter, Local Clean Water Advocate, Teacher and Traveler and Dr. Robert Michael McKay, BGSU Professor of Biology. Music will be performed by local up-and-coming musician Anthony Beck. Tickets are $40 per person for grazing stations and cash bar. Tickets may be purchased online (https://tinyurl.com/SpringIntoAction2017PADC) or at Gathering Volumes (196 E South Boundary St., Perrysburg). No tickets will be available at the door. Tickets must be purchased by April 16, 2017. “We are looking forward to welcoming many new faces as well as longtime Club members at this exciting new event!” stated Rachel Zickar, President, Perrysburg Area Democratic Club. “A special thank-you to our members who are volunteering to put this together. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than among friends who are also looking to make a difference.” For more information, please visit www.perrysburgareademocraticclub.org.


Lawmakers pan Trump proposal to unplug Great Lakes initiative

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Two Republican lawmakers are condemning a Trump Administration proposal to drain funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Ohio Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), the Ohio Senate Majority Floor Leader, in a statement Tuesday (March 7) stated: “If federal officials have new ideas to make sure our healthy Lake Erie efforts are more efficient and effective, then let’s get together and have that discussion. But a reduction of this magnitude is just not explainable and defensible unless it is replaced with a new strategy that can truly make a difference. Lake Erie is one of America’s great natural assets. I join many members of Ohio’s bipartisan congressional delegation in support of restoring these funds.” The president’s proposed budget cuts funding for the initiative from $300 million to $10 million. The initiative, which first received funding in 2010, supports projects aimed at reducing runoff from cities and farms, clean up toxic pollution in the lakes and combating invasive species, including the Asian carp The reduction in funding for the initiative goes along with dramatic decreases in appropriations for the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. U.S. Rep. Bob Latta issued a statement: “Protecting our Great Lakes is not only critical to the region, it’s important to the entire country. That’s why I authored the Drinking Water Protection Act, which was signed into law last Congress. It’s also why I’m also continuing to work on legislation to improve water infrastructure. “While Congress still hasn’t received the President’s official budget, it’s important to note that the document is the start to the Congressional…


Large farms must meet strict regs, ODA official says

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Commissioners often hear about problems with CAFOs – concentrated animal feeding operations.  So last week, they met with the person in charge of keeping track of those large farms and the manure produced by them. Kevin Elder, chief of the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Division of Livestock Environmental Permitting, gave the county commissioners an overview of CAFOs in Ohio, including the regulations and the numbers in the state. Wood County has three dairy cow CAFOs and one chicken CAFO. Dairy cattle statistics for Ohio show the greatest number of operations with dairy cows as 39,000 farms in 1950. Those farms had more than 1.1 million dairy cows. “That was back when my grandpa taught me how to milk cows,” Elder said. And that was back when it was common for most farms to have their own dairy cows, Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said. “Everybody had cows.” By 2016, the number of farms with dairy cows had dropped to 2,671, and the number of dairy cows in Ohio had decreased to 266,000. Wayne County leads the state in dairy cows, followed by Mercer and Holmes counties. Ohio ranks 11th in milk production and first in Swiss cheese production. Ohio has the most robotic milkers, Elder said, with one dairy in Wood County being robotic. Cows are also producing so much more milk than in the past, with an average per cow output in the past of 4,000 pounds a year, increasing up to 40,000 pounds a year, he said. The only livestock group that has expanded in the last…


BG solar field can power up to 3,000 homes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Mayor Dick Edwards was beaming as he announced that the recent sunny days have led to some good numbers at the Bowling Green solar field – the largest solar installation in Ohio. On the best day so far, the solar field generated 19.6 megawatts of energy. “The sun is cooperating,” Edwards said during Monday’s City Council meeting. The 165-acre solar field, located at the corner of Newton and Carter roads, northeast of the city,  consists of more than 85,000 solar panels and is capable of producing 20-megawatts of alternating current electricity. In an average year, the solar field is expected to produce an equivalent amount of energy needed to power approximately 3,000 homes. It will also avoid approximately 25,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year since the energy is generated from a non-fossil fuel resource. “That’s an amazing factoid there,” Edwards said. Along with sustainable benefits, the project will also have economic benefits for the city, according to city officials. By having the generation supplied “behind the meter,” the city will see lower capacity and transmission charges, as well as on-peak energy delivered at times when customer demand for electricity is highest. “We are excited to see this project come online and start delivering power to our customers,” Bowling Green Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said. “Like the wind turbine project, we are looking forward to many years of a local and renewable resource.” The site was built and is owned and operated by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources LLC. The power generated will be sold to American Municipal Power…


BG seeks scientific facts surrounding pipeline

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials would like to dig into the facts around the Nexus pipeline but have no interest getting tangled in a lawsuit. City council was presented with some unsettling scientific information Monday evening, and was asked to file a motion to intervene with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – which is on the edge of approving the pipeline plans. “We still have the right to insist that the dangerous situation at the pipeline river crossing be fully analyzed,” Lisa Kochheiser, of Bowling Green, said to council. “Time is of the essence here.” A grassroots group opposed to the Nexus pipeline as it crosses Wood County has worked with a Bowling Green State University professor who is a geologist and environmental policy expert. Based on the information found by Dr. Andrew Kear, the group filed a formal motion to intervene with FERC. Kear spoke directly to city council. “I’m not an advocate against natural gas,” he said, noting his appreciation for hot showers. However, the route of the Nexus pipeline, “poses unnerving public health and safety risks.” The initial report submitted to FERC said the Bowling Green Fault Line is deep below the surface, so it is not a concern. However, the fault is so close to the surface that it is visible in places, and is even pointed out by a marker in Farnsworth Park on the other side of the Maumee River. “The pipeline crosses the fault right near the Bowling Green drinking water supply,” Kear said. While the fault line is not active, drilling and lubrication can cause earthquakes,…


Scientists worried about Trump’s impact on science

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Trump Administration antipathy toward the Environmental Protection Agency has scientists at Bowling Green State University worried. Of particular concern to the region is how changes at the EPA could affect efforts to protect and restore the Great Lakes. Trump views environmental protection regulations as a hindrance to economic growth and has appointed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has sued the EPA on numerous occasions, to head the agency. “There’s a lot of uncertainty and a lot of worry,” said George Bullerjahn, a professor of research excellence in biological science. Bullerjahn has been heavily involved in studying the cyanotoxins in Lake Erie that closed down the Toledo water supply in 2014. He and colleague Robert Michael McKay worked with Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Latta’s staff to draft the Drinking Water Protection Act. The legislation was the rare law that made it through a Congress deeply divided along partisan lines. Bullerjahn said that he felt that Latta was “swimming upstream” in backing the legislation when many of those in the conservative legislator’s fellow Republicans wanted to see the EPA abolished. Much of his funding comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation. Sientists there are also nervous. But, Bullerjahn said, “EPA is the whipping boy.” McKay shares Bullerjahn’s concern. “Our new administration is very unpredictable.” That was evident when just after the Inauguration the administration ordered a freeze on all grants and contracts. The Washington Post reports that has been lifted, but uncertainty remains on other fronts. In an email, McKay wrote: “Also unclear how the actions of the…


Peace Lutheran powers Christian mission with light from the sun

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Peace Lutheran demonstrates its faith by the cross that rises high atop its steeple. The solar panels that were installed recently are also a demonstration of the congregation’s faith. “Here’s a faith expression that God is resourceful and generous,” said Pastor Deb Conklin. The solar panels fit in its Creation Care ministry. The solar panels were paid for by a behest from long-time neighbors Leonard and Margaret David. On Sunday, Feb. 5, at 10:30 a.m. the church will dedicate and give thanks for the solar panels and donation as part of its 10:30 a.m. worship experience. The donation was a surprise, Conklin said. The Davises were not members of a congregation, though Mrs. Davis did attend some of the church’s many community functions. Conklin had already been considering what environmental action the church could do and had attended an Ohio Interfaith Power & Light conference. She’d also discussed the environment and what the church could do with local activist Neocles Leontis. Then in 2014 the lawyer handling the Davis estate stopped by the church with a $5,000 check. That was, he informed her, just the start. She wasn’t at the church, she said, when the rest came. A check for $120,000. Conklin said the church already had a vision fund in place and that’s where the money was put. Working with Harvest Energy Solutions of Jackson Michigan, the solar panels were installed this winter, and have been operating for several weeks. The contractor also provided an app that allows the congregation to monitor how much electricity is being produced. Conklin said the church expects…