EPA Reaches $1.6M Settlement
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached a $1.62M settlement with 47 parties for contamination at the Operating Industries, Inc. (OII) Superfund Site in Monterey Park, Calif. Each of these parties was responsible for sending a relatively small volume, between 4,200 and 110,000 gallons, of liquid hazardous waste to the OII landfill during decades of operation.
This is the last settlement EPA expects to sign for the OII site, paving the way for the community to restore this site to productive use. Over the last 25 years, EPA has secured $600M worth of cash and commitments for cleanup work from the parties responsible for contamination at the site. Environmental problems included toxic gas emissions, contaminated surface water runoff, and pollution of the local groundwater.
“With this final settlement for the OII landfill, we’ve reached a key milestone,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Now we are working with the responsible parties to ensure that a portion of the site can be developed for the benefit of the local economy.”
OII is a 190-acre site divided into two parcels by the Pomona Freeway, the 45-acre North Parcel and the 145-acre South Parcel. Most of the OII’s landfill activities took place on the South Parcel. Most of the North Parcel is currently being remediated in preparation for potential redevelopment.
EPA finalized the cleanup plan in 1996 which selected a comprehensive site-wide remedy. The final plan prevents migration of liquids and gases beyond the landfill perimeter. In addition, a landfill cap and cover has been installed that prevents rainwater from seeping into the landfill and gas from leaking out. These measures will prevent exposure to contaminated groundwater and ensure that contamination levels meet federal cleanup standards.
EPA has entered into a total of nine consent decrees and eight smaller “de minimis” settlements with more than 1,150 responsible parties. EPA will receive $812,000 from the settlement announced today as reimbursement for federal response costs related to the site. The remaining funds will be used by the potentially responsible parties to fund cleanup work at the site. The settlement was published in the Federal Register on January 28, 2013, opening a 30-day public comment period.
The OII Site operated as a landfill from 1948 to 1984. EPA identified the OII Site as an environmental problem in the early 1980s and placed it on the National Priorities List in 1986. Over the course of its operation, the landfill accepted industrial solid, liquid and hazardous wastes, as well as municipal solid waste. The landfill has received more than 300 million gallons of manifested waste from approximately 4,000 entities.
SOURCE: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
£12.9M Investment Promises Stronger, Greener UK
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is investing £12.9M in the UK Catalysis Hub, a UK-wide research programme into catalytic science focused on supporting UK economic growth while helping reduce CO2 emissions, produce cleaner water and generate more sustainable energy.
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science said: “Catalysis science is vital for many areas of the UK economy, from food production to pharmaceuticals. This investment will provide a focal point for the UK’s leading expertise in this area, helping scientists further develop their skills and undertake cutting edge research to drive sustainable growth.”
Catalysts speed up chemical reactions making them possible on useful timescales. Catalysis science is at the heart of key industrial processes both current and in the future and virtually all manufactured goods at some point in their manufacture involve the use of a catalyst.
Key examples are:
• Environmental applications – the clean-up of transport and industrial emissions
• Product synthesis – e.g. fertilisers, explosives, fuels, drugs, fibres, polymers
• Efficient production of clean fuels, biofuels and clean water.
Companies based in the UK play a big role globally in all these areas and generate wealth of £50 billion per annum as well as intellectual property for UK plc. Catalysis is critical to the country’s chemical, energy, pharmaceutical, food, personal care and materials sectors; development of catalysis is also key to emerging sectors such as industrial biotechnology.
The UK has world-class strength and capability in catalysis and process engineering, with EPSRC having funded £28.5M of catalysis research from 2006-2011. The new research programme builds on this expertise and support.
David Delpy, Chief Executive of EPSRC, said: “The UK has some outstanding researchers in the field of Catalysis, and it is a vital field for UK industry with a major role to play in the creation of new or improved processes. That is why EPSRC is strategically investing in this Catalysis Hub. Building on our previous initiatives, it will draw academics and institutions together to further enable cross-disciplinary research, and create a critical mass of activity which will enhance the international standing of the UK catalysis community and help it address the major challenges faced in the Physical Sciences, Energy, Manufacturing and Healthcare themes.”
The UK Catalysis Hub, based at the Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH) in Oxfordshire, will coordinate multi-disciplinary scientists and chemical engineers from over 30 different universities. The Hub will enable scientists to collaborate on projects, share insights, expertise and developments; facilitate world-class research and attract new funding streams. Researchers will work at different universities, and the RCaH will offer training and research. “It’s this combination of ideas from multi-disciplinary teams and across projects that will lead to breakthroughs,” said co-project leader Professor Christopher Hardacre of Queen’s University, Belfast.
Co-project leader, Professor Graham Hutchings, from Cardiff University, said: “Catalysis is a key area of science which can tackle the big problems. We will use catalysts in non-traditional ways and in new innovative areas.”
Four inter-related themes will be addressed with teams interacting between projects to advance catalytic science:
Led by Professor Richard Catlow, University College London, based at the Research Complex at Harwell Oxford Science Park. Awarded £3.7M.
Professor Catlow said: “The overall theme of the research is to develop how catalysts work at a molecular level and, from that knowledge, to design new and improved catalysts. The molecular understanding of catalytic processes will lead to an optimisation of catalytic processes that will feed into the other projects.”
Catalysis for Energy
Led by Professor Christopher Hardacre, Queen’s University Belfast. Awarded £3M.
This project will develop technologies for transforming fossil fuel resources such as remote natural gas, coal bed methane and shale gas; develop new sustainable energy sources; improve energy efficiency and storage; and reduce energy costs.
“We need greater sustainability and efficiency in energy use.” said Professor Hardacre. “Our research will focus on converting renewable sources such as solar and biomass into chemical and electrochemical energy for use in power generation via, for example, fuel cells for applications from cars and mobile phones to domestic and commercial combined heat and power systems. By studying the overall processes involved we will be able to see how making changes to them can improve efficiency and develop systems for clean, reliable energy.”
Led by Professor Graham Hutchings, Cardiff University. Awarded £3.19M.
Professor Hutchings said: “We will look at how to take ‘waste’ materials such as carbon dioxide and use them to make useful materials, with specific focus on cleaning up atmospheric pollutants, water purification for re-use, protecting the environment and cleaner manufacturing.”
Catalysis for Chemical Transformations
Led by Professor Matthew Davidson, University of Bath. Awarded £2.9M.
Professor Davidson said: “We aim to develop new catalysis for sustainable chemical transformations central to the manufacturing processes of bulk chemicals, fine chemicals, polymers and materials. Our goal is to develop new catalytic processes as well as make existing processes more sustainable in order to give the UK a competitive edge. Chemistry-using industries are vital for the UK and world economies, and catalytic science is the cornerstone of a sustainable chemical industry. Catalysis is used to make pharmaceuticals and is fundamental to the manufacture of fuels, solvents, plastics and foodstuffs from a wide range of fossil-based resources and biomass.”
Total investment in the four themes is £12.9M.
Collaborating universities and institutions for the initial projects are:
Cardiff University, University College London, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Bath, AstraZeneca, Diamond Light Source, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson Matthey, Imperial College London, ISIS, London South Bank University, STFC Laboratories, Syngenta, Newcastle University, Pfizer, Research Complex at Harwell, Queen Mary University of London, University of Aberdeen, University of Bath, University of Birmingham, University of Bristol, University of Cambridge, University of Edinburgh, University of East Anglia, University of Glasgow, University of Hull, University of Kent, University of Leeds, University of Leicester, University of Liverpool, University of Manchester, University of Nottingham, University of Oxford, University of Sheffield, University of Southampton, University of Teesside, University of Warwick, University of York, University of St Andrews.
Other collaborating universities and industries are expected to join the Hub team over the course of the project.
Case study 1: Catalysis with gold and gold palladium nanoparticles.
Cardiff Catalysis Institute, School of Chemistry, Cardiff University.
Researchers at the Cardiff Catalysis Institute have discovered new catalysts incorporating gold palladium nanoparticles that improve the synthesis of a range of fine and bulk chemicals. These discoveries have been reported in the journal Science. These catalysts are able to multi task and are equally effective for the direct synthesis of hydrogen peroxide, which is a powerful disinfectant, the oxidation of alcohols to aldehydes that are important as fragrances and the oxidation of toluene to benzyl benzoate which is a valuable pharmaceutical for skin care. It turns out that as few as 7-10 metal atoms are required for activity which represents a remarkable example of real nanotechnology and the trick now will be to prepare new materials that just have these small cluster. This will enhance the activity and decrease the costs of the catalysts and the overall products.
Case Study 2: Alkanes
One of the central aims of current catalytic science is the conversion of hydrocarbons, particularly alkanes, into a range of higher added value products. Recent work by teams at University College London and Cardiff has made major progress, both by using advanced computational techniques to model the fundamental molecular processes involved and by developing new catalytic materials which can effect these key transformations.
The Research Complex at Harwel
The Research Complex at Harwell was established in 2010 and has world-class facilities and labs for catalytic research. Facilities for laser research, neutron scattering and synchrotron radiation are powerful tools for catalytic research. The Research Complex will act as a training and outreach hub for UK research into catalysis.
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800M a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.
SOURCE: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Water Rates Highlight Strategies For Success
Water service providers face key challenges in forecasting and preparing for future water demand, staying fiscally solvent while providing fair prices, incorporating conservation and efficiency, and communicating clearly to customers about rates and service. The Pacific Institute conducted an extensive survey and series of workshops on water rates and finances to better understand how water is priced by more than a thousand different water service providers in California, both public and private – and to help agencies identify effective rate-setting strategies. The resulting “Need To Know: Water Rates” series includes four briefs: Conservation and Revenue Stability, Demand Forecasting, Affordability, and Communication and Education.
Comprehensive water supply planning is required by law in California. Supplying water to customers is a business, and as in any business, water sales revenues need to be accurately forecasted and balanced against current and long-term future water supply and treatment costs. California water service providers must be particularly diligent when planning a rate-setting process. The Pacific Institute “Need To Know: Water Rates”
series, released in partnership with the Alliance for Water Efficiency and the Community Water Center, highlights strategies that help water service providers cope with the “new normal” or an era of decreased water demand due to a variety of factors from weather to the economy to increased conservation and efficiency.
“For California, guaranteeing long-term, sustainable delivery of safe, reliable drinking water includes prioritizing conservation and efficiency, a recognized way to effectively reduce long term costs, and often the most cost-effective ‘new water supply’ option available,” said Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith of the Pacific Institute. “However, for water agencies, reconciling a conservation message with revenue stability, as well as concern about costs from customers, are key issues.
”The “Need To Know: Water Rates” series includes pointed information and strategies to help water managers plan water rates for conservation pricing and affordability – and to communicate with their customers for best results. Of primary importance is considering the ability of different customers to pay for water. The brief on affordability highlights strategies a number of agencies are already successfully employing to ensure service to low-income customers – such as using existing eligibility requirements from other utilities to automatically enroll customers into assistance plans, with a number of ways to cover the cost of such assistance.
“A commitment to water affordability is rooted in both human rights and public welfare,” said Christian-Smith. “But water is a rising cost industry as a result of expanding regulations, deteriorating infrastructure and water quality, and the increasing operations and maintenance costs. Effectively communicating to customers about the reasons and implications of their water usage and water rates is critical.”
The “Need To Know: Water Rates” series of briefs on Conservation and Revenue,Demand Forecasting, Affordability, and Communication and Education can be downloaded free of charge from the Pacific Institute website at www.pacinst.org/reports/water_rates. A full report on the Water Rates Survey and research will be available in spring 2013.
About Pacific Institute
The Pacific Institute, based in Oakland, California, is a nonpartisan research institute that works to create a healthier planet and sustainable communities. Through interdisciplinary research and partnering with stakeholders, the Institute produces solutions that advance environmental protection, economic development, and social equity – in California, nationally, and internationally.For more information, visit www.pacinst.org
About Community Water Center’s
The Community Water Center’s mission is to create community-driven water solutions through organizing, education, and advocacy in California’s San Joaquin Valley. For more information, visit www.communitywatercenter.org.
About Alliance for Water
The Alliance for Water Efficiency is a North American-based non-profit organization dedicated to the efficient and sustainable use of water. For more information, visit www.allianceforwaterefficiency.org.
SOURCE: Pacific Institute