It's gotta be annoying and confusing for a city that's already been through enough.
For more information, go to www.epa.gov/flint
In a follow-up email, she went on to state the U.S. EPA “credited Ohio for taking steps that go beyond what is required in responding to Sebring’s water issue, but we recognize that situations like these are ripe for those seeking political opportunities.”
That statement was in response to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) going on the attack against Republican-led administrations and state legislatures in both Michigan and Ohio for the respective crises in Flint and Sebring.
“Our goal is to help Sebring fix this issue and make sure that this doesn’t happen again, and thanks to the help of the federal EPA yesterday [Tuesday] in Sebring, we are fine tuning the water chemistry to make that happen,” Griesmer wrote.
The village didn’t notify children and pregnant women to avoid drinking Sebring's water until Jan. 21, the same day Sebring Village Manager Richard Giroux was warned in a letter that the village’s failure to comply with seven actions Butler had outlined in correspondence that day “will result in escalation and evaluation of the agency’s enforcement options.”
The Ohio EPA also provided me with a Sept. 25, 2015 email to Bates.
In it, Chris Maslo, Ohio EPA environmental specialist, warned Mr. Bates he would “certainly violate the spirit, if not also the letter of the law” if he had the village do repeats of bad samples to see if it could get its overall numbers down for lead and copper enough to come back into compliance.
“I would not recommend any additional sampling at this time as it appears you have a corrosion control problem based upon the first 30 samples collected,” Maslo wrote.
On a brighter note, tap water issues with lead being experienced by Flint and Sebring have brought a renewed focus to other sources of lead contamination, such as lead paint in homes.
According to Brown, that will require more money for rehabilitation or demolition from the U.S. Department of Housing and Rehabilitation.
The federal government has shown it can be effective at protecting health when it wants, such as when it acted eight years ago to get lead removed from toys and other consumer products manufactured overseas.
That effort included products manufactured in China for “U.S. companies that didn’t know enough or didn’t care enough,” Brown said.
It's hard seeing ultralight-led whooping crane migrations from Wisconsin to Florida come to an end, even if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintains the numbers don't add up.
The first time I met Susan Hedman was inside a crowded briefing room of Marshall (Mich.) High School in the summer of 2010, when that school complex and Marshall itself were under siege by a million-gallon spill of thick bitumen, one of the heaviest types of crude oil from Canada's Athabasca oil sands.
...and, now, massive lead poisoning that has made Flint's tap water unhealthy. Photo credits: Associated Press (upper 2) and (above) The Blade/Katie Rausch.
Hedman did not respond to a request for an interview.
Requests were deferred to the agency's headquarters, which said in a two-page, single-spaced response that it had tightened procedures, taken action to help agency employees come forward, and accepted Hedman's resignation. A key message was its commitment to improve procedures "on elevation of critical public health issues."
"It includes specific parameters for staff to elevate critical public health and/or environmental issues so that the agency can properly assess them and respond at appropriate policy and governmental levels," the statement said.
The week of Jan. 18 began with U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy telling me during a short interview I had with her at the University of Toledo that she stood by Hedman and the agency's actions.
By that Friday, Hedman was gone.
In reality, though, Hedman was gone a long time ago as an effective leader.
For at least the past couple of years, she rarely appeared except for events the public usually perceives as soft and non-controversial, such as announcements of grant money for research projects.
U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D., Mich.) said Hedman's resignation "is an appropriate step in order to allow the community of Flint and its residents to get the help they need and move forward."
Once in the water, microbeads - like larger forms of plastic - can absorb toxic chemicals and be mistaken as eggs or food by fish and wildlife.
The beads have no nutritional value and toxins in them can get passed up to humans if they ingest fish and wildlife that have been feeding on them.
They don't dissolve or break down.
Microbeads "are devastating to wildlife and human health," according to U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio), shown in a 2014 file photo. Photo credit: Associated Press.
Americans flush an estimated 8 trillion microbeads down the drain each day.
Barely large enough to be seen by the human eye, microbeads are by most definitions now no gigger than 5 millimeters in diameter.
In reality, though, most are 2 millimeters or less and many of them are a fraction of 1 mm - small enough that dozens could occupy a human fingertip or cover a penny.
A tube of facial cleanser may have about 330,000 of them.
We now take a moment out of our busy schedules for this important public service announcement:
It's Bat Week.
Holy Oversight, Batman! It began Sunday and who remembered?
It's Bat Week. Do you know where your bats are? Photo credit: Associated Press.
Certainly the fine folks at Bat Conservation International did. The Austin-based group has worked in tandem with Audubon Society's birders as a check-and-balance in the system to help energy regulators develop siting rules for giant wind turbines.
Being trick-or-treat week, it makes perfect sense to have Bat Week now - except, of course, when one realizes that stereotyping bats is largely what led to their demise.
But let's not overthink this.
In fact, this is a good time for me to step aside and yield to a really cool video produced by the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Organization for Bat Conservation, based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. You also can learn more by joining the #BatWeek conservation on Twitter.
A couple of cool bat facts:
--Bats can eat their own body weight in insects before sunrise, saving farmers billions of dollars and the rest of us a lot of misery (not to mention mosquito bites).
--They pollinate certain plants, such as the agave plant that's used to make tequila.
--Vampire bats are the only ones that attack people and drink their blood. But there are 1,300 known species of bats and only three of them are vampire bats.
--Many bats are imperiled or threatened by extinction because of a disease called white-nose syndrome, which is caused by an invasive fungus.
If that's too much to remember, then remember this:
Without bats, there would be a lot more mosquitoes and a lot less tequila.
Yes, bats are indeed cool.
"Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads."
- Henry David Thoreau
About Ripple Effect
Every pollution battle ultimately comes down to mankind's desire to better itself while protecting its sense of home. In this blog, Blade Staff Writer Tom Henry looks at how Great Lakes energy-environmental issues have a ripple effect on our public health, our natural resources, our economy, our psychological well-being, and our homespun pride.
About Tom Henry
Tom Henry is an award-winning journalist who has covered primarily energy and environmental issues the past two decades. He is a member of the national Society of Environmental Journalists, one of North America's largest journalism groups.
Address: c/o The (Toledo) Blade,
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