Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  DOE’s Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee (BERAC) announced its next meeting dates: October 18 & 19; the 2nd day is a half-day session, in Rockville, MD.  The BERAC meets two to three times each year.  It met last in April.  The purpose of this Advisory Committee is to “provide advice on a continuing basis to the Director, Office of Science of the Department of Energy, on the many complex scientific and technical issues that arise in the development and implementation of the Biological and Environmental Research Program.”  A regular part of the Agenda is a report from the “Biological Systems Science and Climate and Environmental Sciences Division.”  BERAC’s work includes a focus on DOE’s “Grand Challenges” Report, last published in November 2017.  These grand challenges guide the fundamental research, from climate to biochemical systems, funded by DOE throughout its labs and within university programs.

*  The US Forest Service is seeking comments on preliminary work to revise the Mining Law of 1872.  The focus is on the need to clarify or otherwise enhance regulations covering environmental impacts, within the National Forest System, resulting from prospecting, exploration, development, mining, and processing operations linked to what is called “locatable” minerals, e.g., gold, silver, platinum, copper, lead, zinc, magnesium, nickel, tungsten, bentonite, barite, fluorspar, uranium, and uncommon varieties of sand, gravel, and dimension stone.  This set of regs hasn’t been updated since 1974.  Comments are due on a range of substantive issues by October 15.

*  EPA announced the final version of the updated National Priorities List (NPL), adding five sites – commonly called “Superfund sites.”  The NPL is intended to guide EPA in determining which sites warrant further investigation to assess the nature and extent of public health and environmental risks.  Eventually, of course, the hope is that these Superfund sites get cleaned up, that uncontrolled releases of toxic and hazardous materials are stopped and that these properties are returned to safe and productive use.  The five sites are Broadway Street Corridor Groundwater Contamination, Anderson, IN; Rockwell International Wheel & Trim, Grenada, MS; Donnelsville Contaminated Aquifer, Donnelsville, OH; Southside Chattanooga Lead, Chattanooga, TN; and Delfasco Forge, Grand Prairie, TX. Remember Valley of the Drums?  Hard to believe that was 40 years ago, in Kentucky, Bullitt County, near Louisville… 23 acres, 100,000 waste drums corroding, deteriorating… The rest is, well, modern environmental history – from RCRA to CERCLA to LUST to NPL to Superfund…

Tom Ewing
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