Connect with us

Environment

US Mining Sites Unleash 50 Million Gallons Of Toxic Water Into Lakes & Streams Every Day

Published

on

US Mining Sites Unleash 50 Million Gallons Of Toxic Water Into Lakes & Streams Every Day
Photo Credit: www. weather.com

Elias Marat, TMU

A new Associated Press report has blown the lid off the mining industry’s toxic effect across the United States, revealing that over tens of millions of gallons of contaminated water tainted by arsenic, lead and other dangerous metals are flowing into lakes, streams and other drinking water sources on a daily basis.

The report reveals the horrific cost the public has been forced to bear for private corporations’ pursuit of raw material wealth, specifically in terms of the cost of the disposal of toxic waste – a responsibility that has been ignored by wide swathes of the mining industry. The mining industry has instead allowed such toxins and contamination to flow unimpeded into precious water sources in states like California, Colorado, Montana and Oklahoma. Companies that mined for gold, silver, lead and other minerals were given free license to strip the earth in search of these raw materials. Once the mining projects failed to yield further profits, the companies were allowed to relocate to previously unutilized areas with no regard for the toxic waste they left behind.

In effect, these companies were externalizing the costs of mining to taxpayers — who unknowingly footed the bill for the clean-up – or to future generations who are now forced to suffer the health consequences and ecological damage resulting from the unwillingness of companies to pay for the cost of toxic disposal and the detoxification of former sites.

Water colored from a mine waste spill is seen in the Animas River near Durango, Colo., Aug. 7, 2015.
Water colored from a mine waste spill is seen in the Animas River near Durango, Colo., Aug. 7, 2015.

The AP investigation entailed looking at public data and research on 43 mining sites under federal oversight, including complexes that included anywhere from dozens to hundreds of mines.

On average, over 50 million gallons (189 million litters) of contaminated wastewater has been flowing from the sites on a daily basis.

Oftentimes, the untreated wastewater trickles or flows into nearby ponds, rivers, soil and groundwater, comprising about 20-million gallons (76 million litters) of polluted water that could fill over 2,000 tanker trucks, according to the report.

The remaining water which is actually treated comes at a great cost to taxpayers, who will likely be forced to capture the waste or treat polluted streams for thousands of years, if not indefinitely, long after the mining firms have profited from ruining the environment.

In many cases, the pollution has persisted despite these sites being listed as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund clean-up sites – among the country’s most hazardous, which have been frequently linked to cancer, birth defects, and rare, deadly diseases.

The Superfund program has seen sharp cutbacks under the Trump administration, which has installed EPA administrators like Scott Pruitt and former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler who have been close to such major polluters as the big banking, oil, and agriculture industries.

An example of such sites suffering extreme groundwater pollution is the town of Rimini, which lies just outside of Helena, Montana’s capital, where 150 gold, lead and copper mines operated from the 1870s until 1953.

The community was added to the Superfunds list in 1999, allowing the EPA to replace contaminated soil in yards and deliver bottled water for a decade. However, the community is still piping-in tap water that’s contaminated with the metals, forcing them to wash their clothes, dishes and bathe in toxic wastewater.

Many of the polluted sites across the country are simply beyond the pale of recoverability, such as Northern California’s Iron Mountain Mine, east Oklahoma’s Tar Creek, and Colorado’s San Juan Mountains — the site of the catastrophic Gold King Mine blowout of 2015.

The AP report notes:

“Estimates of the number of such abandoned mine sites range from 161,000 in 12 western states to as many as 500,000 nationwide. At least 33,000 have degraded the environment, according to the Government Accountability Office, and thousands more are discovered every year.

Officials have yet to complete work including basic risk analyses on about 80% of abandoned mining sites on federal lands. Most are controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, which under Trump is seeking to consolidate mine clean-ups with another program and cut their combined 2019 spending from $35 million to $13 million.”

It remains unclear whether the U.S. government will ever have the political will to deal with the toxic legacy of the U.S. mining industry, especially given that the rules governing pollution and runoff from mining sites come from the antiquated 1872 Mining Act.

In the meantime, efforts by Democrats to force the mining industry to foot the bill for a special clean-up fund for old hard rock mining sites have faced concerted resistance from the industry and their Republican allies in Congress.

Montana Mining Association director Tammy Johnson unrepentantly told the AP:

“Back in the day there really wasn’t a lot known about acid mine drainage … I just don’t think that today’s companies bear the responsibility.”

The Trump administration has also bent over backwards to protect the polluters, halting a proposed 2017 EPA rule that would force mining firms to post clean-up bonds or otherwise pay for the clean-up rather than push the costs onto taxpayers. Environmental groups are suing to ensure that the EPA rule is revived, and will appear in federal court next month.

It remains clear that someone has to pay for what will amount to a vast clean-up campaign and campaign for the renewal of land that is effectively being destroyed on a daily basis. But who will that “someone” be – the taxpayers and residents living in the effected land, or the mining industry who perpetrated the widespread pollution of the land and tainting of the water?

And the question also remains about whether business as usual – the sacking of the land for private gain – will be allowed to proceed, even if the cost from a massive clean-up comes out of taxpayer pockets or industry profits.

This article (US Mining Sites Unleash 50 Million Gallons of Toxic Water Into Lakes and Streams Every Day) was originally featured at The Mind Unleashed and is re-posted here with permission.

Continue Reading

Environment

Heineken Replaces Plastic Rings And Shrink Wrap With Cardboard

Published

on

Heineken
West Wind Heineken

Plastic pack rings, also known as hi-cones or yokes, are a standard packaging device used around the globe for more than 50 years already. These rings are used to hold together multipacks of canned drinks, particularly beer. They have profoundly contributed to the growing amount of plastic pollution in the oceans and are a significant threat to marine life.

Thankfully, Heineken is closing its doors to single-use plastic rings and shrink wrap from billions of multipack cans. Now, the company is replacing all of the plastic with eco-friendly cardboard!

A spokeswoman from the Marine Conservation Society said:

“This is an interesting development (from Heineken) and will help cut down the amount of plastic on our beaches and in our seas. These kinds of can yokes are regularly found on our beach cleans.”

Eliminating Plastic Packaging
The packaging has a finger hole to make it easier to carry the multipack. Photo credit: Heineken
The packaging has a finger hole to make it easier to carry the multipack. Photo credit: Heineken

These new can holders are made of recycled cardboard and are strong enough to take on the weight of a multipack. Heineken’s adoption of this cardboard alternative will lead to over 517 tones of plastic eliminated from the packaging of its brands.

The Dutch company has already invested £22m in new technology and production facilities at their sites in the UK. By April 2020, these sites should be ready to start rolling out the changes across the company’s most popular brands, including Heineken, Foster’s, and Kronenbourg 1664. Following after, all its other brands in multipack cans will change to the new material as well, such as Strongbow, Bulmer’s, Red Stripe, and John Smith’s. The company aims to accomplish this all by the end of 2021.

Out of the brewer’s 190 world markets, the UK is the first to introduce this new packaging. This change is a big step towards a less polluted future. The UK produces 530 million cans per year across all its brands; among these, Foster’s accounts for 150 million and Heineken 39.5 million.

The Demand For An Eco Alternative
Photo credit: Heineken
Photo Credit: Heineken

After BBC One’s Blue Planet II series highlighted marine litter, the majority of the public has backlashed over plastic packaging. The public’s reaction has prompted manufacturers and supermarkets to take action and convert to eco-friendly products.

The head of marketing at Heineken, Cindy Tervoort, said:

“It’s what our customers want and expect, and we have been working on and testing this innovation for three years.”

Additionally, Heineken claims that with the introduction of their new eco-friendly materials, carbon emissions associated with producing multipack cans will be cut by one third.

Other Brewers Finding Alternatives

In 2018, Carlsberg announced plans about replacing their rings with recyclable glue. Diegeo started to phase out plastic packaging from multipacks of its Guinness, Harp, Rockshore, and Smithwick’s beers and replaced it with cardboard packs.

In September 2019, Budweiser said that by the end of 2020, it would remove all single-use plastic pack rings from its entire selection of UK produced beer. This selection includes Budweiser’s bestselling brands such as Stella Artois, Budweiser, and Bud Light.

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to see more like this one, we’d be humbled if you would help us spread the word and share it with your friends and family. Join us in our quest to promote free, useful information to all!

Continue Reading

Sustainability

Austria Poised To Become First EU Nation To Fully Ban Glyphosate

Published

on

Photo Credit: Getty

Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams

Austria is on track to become the first country in the European Union (EU) to fully ban the world’s most commonly used herbicide after the nation’s lower house of parliament passed a bill Tuesday that would outlaw all uses of glyphosate, which researchers and global health experts have tied to cancer.

The scientific evidence of the plant poison’s carcinogenic effect is increasing,” the leader of Austria’s Social Democrats, Pamela Rendi-Wagner, said in a statement. “It is our responsibility to ban this poison from our environment.”

Glyphosate is a key ingredient in Roundup — a product of Monsanto, a U.S. company that merged with German pharmaceutical giant Bayer last year. Reuters noted that “it is now off-patent and marketed worldwide by dozens of other chemical groups including Dow Agrosciences and Germany’s BASF.”

In 2015, glyphosate was classified as a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. Despite that designation, mounting public concerns, and a series of ongoing legal battles launched by cancer patients in the U.S., Bayer has maintained that Roundup is safe — and regulators in both the U.S. and EU have continued to permit the widespread use of the weed killer.

Katharina Rall, a researcher with the Environment and Human Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, welcomed Austrian lawmakers’ move as “good news.”

Following the lower chamber’s vote Tuesday, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported that “unless Austria’s upper house chooses to object the glyphosate ban, the bill will be signed into law by the country’s president, Alexander Van der Bellen.”

DW pointed out that the ban, if it takes effect, will put Austria at odds with the EU policy on glyphosate.

“This ban would apparently clash with E.U. rules, as, in 2017, the bloc cleared the herbicide for use for the next five years. The E.U. relies on the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency which did not classify glyphosate as carcinogenic. However, reports from earlier this year indicated that some European regulators were copying and pasting from studies conducted by Monsanto itself.”

A spokesperson for Bayer told the Wall Street Journal, “We expect the European Commission to review this decision critically, as it may be inconsistent with mandatory legal and procedural requirements and scientific reasoning.”

The bill was also criticized on legal grounds by Austria’s right-wing People’s Party (OVP), which opposed the ban as “a slap in the face to farmers,” as well as the country’s sustainability ministry, which is responsible for agriculture and the environment.

However, Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) joined with the liberal Neos party and the Social Democrats Tuesday in passing the bill. Putting that vote into context, Reuters explained that the country “is currently led by a provisional government of civil servants ahead of a parliamentary election expected in September. Political parties are forming shifting alliances to pass laws that appeal to their voters before parliament goes into recess this week until the election.”

Erwin Preiner, a member of the Austrian parliament for the Social Democrats who worked on the ban, told the Journal, “We want to be a role model for other countries in the E.U. and the world.

As of 2017, Austria had the highest portion of organic farmland among all EU member states — 23.4 percent, compared with the bloc’s average of just 7 percent. Though Austria’s action targeting glyphosate may be the boldest yet in Europe, the country is not alone in considering strict regulations of the weed killer.

Among Austria’s EU partners, France said in 2017 it hoped to ban glyphosate within three years, but President Emmanuel Macron has since said such a move could not be ‘100 percent,’” reported Agence France-Presse. “In May 2018, the French government pledged to ban glyphosate ‘for its main uses’ by 2021, and ‘for all of its uses’ within five years. In January 2019, French authorities banned the sale of Roundup Pro 360.”

About the Author

Jessica Corbett is a staff writer for Common Dreams. Follow her on Twitter: @corbett_jessica.

Continue Reading

Sustainability

Coconut Husk Waste Can Replace Wood And Save Millions Of Trees

Published

on

Coconut Husk Waste Can Replace Wood And Save Millions Of Trees
Photo Credit: CocoPallet

The planet is home to 3 trillion trees. Although, according to a study published in Nature that number is falling. Every year 15.3 billion trees are chopped down, and around 46% of the world’s trees have been cleared out over the past 12,000 years. Unfortunately, humans have been slow to develop sustainable alternatives, partly because wood is necessary for manufacturing many goods. Thankfully, a Dutch start-up called CocoPallet is one of the companies that are taking action to change this!

What Is CocoPallet?
CocoPallet
Photo Credit: CocoPallet

CocoPallet produces 100% bio-based, durable transportation pallets out of recycled coconut husk waste. The process used by CocoPallet is cheaper than using wood and they don’t require the highly toxic methyl-bromide fumigation that some countries still use in wood pallet manufacturing. They also don’t require any glue because the coconut husk has its own natural glue called lignin. This natural glue is activated when they grind the coconut husk and press them together at high temperatures. It’s estimated that CocoPallet saves more than 200 million trees from being chopped down every year. Since shipping pallets are used all around the world, it’s no surprise.

Hardboards Made Of Coconut Husk Waste

The technique was originally developed by researchers at Wageningen University but was later on commercialized by Michiel Vos, entrepreneur, and founder of CocoPallet.

Jan Van Dam is a plant scientist at Wageningen University, who specializes in creating materials out of plant fiber. Although it never occurred to him to craft objects out of coconuts until an Indonesian man entered his office at the college 20 years ago with a piece of wood board. “It looked like a normal piece of hardboard. But according to this man, it was not made out of logged trees, but completely made out of coconut bark, the outer shell of the fruit. Rock hard, wood-like board material from coconut husk? That was new to me” said Van Dam.

Van Dam explained that he saw a huge potential with the coconut husk, especially in Asia where coconut waste is abundant. He said:

In many tropical countries, the coconut waste is rotting away or is set on fire. If you make raw materials out of the husk, you will hit several birds with one stone: you prevent deforestation, because less wood will be produced, you give farmers an extra income, because their waste is worth money, and you prevent the material from slowly rotting away, reducing pollution and climate change.

85% of coconut husks go to waste
85% of coconut husks go to waste

In 2005 the researcher attempted to manufacture this technique in the Philippines where he opened a pilot factory. However, due to circumstances such as an insufficient local power supply, the project was short-lived.

How CocoPallet Was Born

Luckily, the clever technique was revived in 2010 when Michiel Vos found Van Dam. Vos was making a hardwood alternative from bamboo fibre and needed natural glue, so he asked Van Dam for advice about alternatives that he could use. Van Dam suggested that he use coconut husk instead because the glue was part of the coconut husk. He also mentioned that anywhere in Asia it could be found basically for free off the side of the roads. Amazed, Vos left his office with a final report. He concluded that pallets were the perfect use case for this technology.

Vos explained:

“Asia produces more than a billion pallets every year. They require softwood, which does not grow in the tropics, thus is imported from Canada, New Zealand or Eastern Europe on a large scale. Complete forests are being shipped to Asia to make pallets that are mainly used to ship products back to America or Europe. It is clearly a lot more efficient to make them in Asia with local materials.”

CocoPallets have important advantages: they are stronger and lighter than the old-fashioned pallets, they are fire retardant, and thanks to an adjusted design, also easier to stack, so they take up less space. Above all, they are cheaper, and a lower price is always the best sales argument for a sustainable product,” Vos added.

Van Dam says the coconut alternative is also moisture resistant and termite resistant, which is an important factor for tropical use. Vos and CocoPallet have won entrepreneurial and innovation awards and now have a factory in Indonesia. CocoPallets are a win-win solution that saves millions of trees while also recycling a waste product. It doesn’t get any better than that!

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to see more like this one, we’d be humbled if you would help us spread the word and share it with your friends and family. Join us in our quest to promote free, useful information to all!

Continue Reading

Nature

Report Shows Corporations And Bolsonaro Teaming Up To Destroy The Amazon

Published

on

Report Shows Corporations And Bolsonaro Teaming Up To Destroy The Amazon
Photo Credit: Mint Press News

Joe Catron, Mint Press News

As deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest reaches the highest level in a decade, the rainforest’s indigenous peoples and their supporters have called for action against the political and business interests they blame for a spike in illegal logging and other resource extraction.

report released by Amazon Watch as part of its ongoing “Complicity in Destruction” campaign aims not only to spotlight the role of North American and Western European financiers, importers, and traders in the ongoing destruction of the Amazon, but also to mobilize support for a boycott launched by the National Indigenous Mobilization (MNI) against the Brazilian agribusiness and mining interests encroaching on the threatened region. The report says:

“The MNI requests solidarity from the international community to support these efforts, which aim to leverage global markets in order to moderate the behavior of the agroindustrial sector, as a means to halt [Brazil President Jair] Bolsonaro’s assault, ultimately protecting and restoring environmental safeguards and human rights.”

Christian Poirier, Amazon Watch’s Program Director, told MintPress News that the inauguration of right-wing strongman Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil’s president on January 1 lent fresh urgency to the campaign.

Bolsonaro has overseen the most significant rollback of, and full-on assault on, human rights and environmental protection in Brazil since the fall of the country’s military dictatorship and the reinstallation of democracy in 1985,” Poirier said, adding:

“He’s hearkening back to an era of rampant environmental destruction and rights abuses that some would call genocide of indigenous peoples, by attacking socio-environmental policy that is responsible for indigenous land rights, that is responsible for the protection of forests in the country, and he’s doing so at a very rapid pace.”

Among his first moves as president, Bolsonaro stripped Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) of its authority to create new reserves for indigenous nations and transferred control of both it and the country’s forest service to its agriculture ministry.

“Human rights abuses and environmental rollbacks”

Satellite data released by INPE, Brazil’s space agency, earlier this month showed the clear-cutting of 285 square miles, or 739 square kilometers, of the Amazon in May, the highest level of deforestation in a decade and more than twice the rate two years ago.

Observers cite an escalation in illegal logging and land theft during the Bolsonaro administration, with the first raid on an indigenous reserve occurring December 30, two days before Bolsonaro took office.

Poirier added that the MNI campaign intended to target corporate interests culpable not only for their own abuses, but also for Bolsonaro’s presidency:

“The ‘Complicity in Destruction’ campaign works to pressure the most important sectors in Brazil’s economy — which are also responsible for human-rights abuses and environmental rollbacks, and also bringing Jair Bolsonao to power.

By targeting these sectors, we also intend to influence the behavior of the Bolsonaro regime, because we are targeting a strategic economic actor that is also a strategic political actor behind Bolsonaro’s rise to power, and that is responsible for his socio-environmental policy.”

In April, Bolsonaro — who once paid a fine of $2,500 for illegally fishing in a forested coastal reserve — announced the dissolution of Brazil’s National Council of the Environment (CONOMA), a government body with over 100 members, including independent representatives of environmental groups, tasked with protecting the Amazon.

He proposed replacing it with a new committee of six: Ricardo Salles, his nominee for environment minister and a close ally, along with five other presidential appointees. Poirier noted:

“These are a wish list of Brazil’s agribusiness sector and its mining sector, to penetrate into protected areas, and that’s precisely what Bolsonaro’s doing, to the detriment of the human rights of indigenous peoples and traditional peoples in the Amazon, and to the detriment of global climatic stability.”

As one of the world’s largest non-oceanic “carbon sinks,” the Amazon plays a significant role in tempering climate change, absorbing a large — though declining — amount of the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide, while also emitting 20% of its oxygen.

“By ‘worst actors,’ I’m talking about environmental criminals”

Despite their staunch backing of Bolsonaro and the ruralista caucus supporting him from within Brazil’s Congress, the companies profiled by Amazon Watch had achieved notoriety well before Bolsonaro’s rise to power. Poirier told MintPress:

“He specific corporate targets in the report are commodity importers, traders, and financial institutions that are doing business with the worst actors in Brazil’s agro-industrial sector.”

By ‘worst actors,’ I’m talking about environmental criminals, those who have been found guilty and fined by Brazil’s environmental agency, Ibama, for environmental crimes ranging from illegal deforestation, to improper paperwork for wood, to even slave labour in their supply chains, since 2017.”

While an earlier report also analysed Brazilian mining interests and their international ties, the most recent focuses on agribusiness, particularly its beef, soy, leather, timber and sugar sectors. Poirier stated:

“The corporate actors internationally — the 27 importing companies and commodity traders that we list, and the dozens of financial institutions — are essentially enabling the behavior of these actors, which we consider to be emblematic behavior of these industries.”

Through their campaign, Poirier added, Amazon Watch and the MNI hope to “call on these companies to become agents to moderate the behavior of the worst actors, which is to say that they should carry out their own due diligence with their supply chains, and cut ties with the worst actors.”

About the Author

Joe Catron is a MintPress News contributing journalist. He covers Palestine and Israel and other human rights issues. Catron has written frequently for Electronic Intifada and Middle East Eye, and co-edited The Prisoners’ Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag, an anthology of accounts by detainees freed in the 2011 prisoner exchange.

This article (Report Shows Corporations and Bolsonaro Teaming Up to Destroy the Amazon) was originally published at Mint Press News and is re-posted here with permission.

Continue Reading

Our Facebook Page

Trending Now

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Censorship is hiding us from you.

Get breaking conscious news articles sent directly to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!