Environment & Science

Environment & Science
5:33 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Study links cancer risk, plastics work

National health and safety director for the Canadian Auto Workers union Sari Sairanen says some women are reluctant to raise health concerns in the workplace.
Center for Public Integrity

A new study links workplace exposure to plastics to a dramatically increased risk of breast cancer.

A team of researchers compared the work histories of women in the Windsor, Ontario area who had breast cancer against a group of women who did not.

They factored in things like smoking, exercise habits, and family history.

And they found that pre-menopausal women who worked in automotive plastics factories were nearly five times more likely to develop breast cancer.

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Environment & Science
10:00 am
Wed November 14, 2012

Five things to know about early childhood brain development

A baby forms 700 neural connections per second in the first years of life
http://developingchild.harvard.edu Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

There's a lot of research that shows just how important the first few years of a child's life are to their cognitive development. But for those of us who aren't medical doctors the information can be rather confusing. 

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Environment & Science
5:02 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Palisades safety rating gets upgraded from one of the worst in the country

Inside the control room at Palisades.
Mark Savage Entergy

On Friday Federal regulators upgraded the safety rating at the Palisades nuclear plant from one of the worst in the country to one of the best. That’s after Palisades passed a major inspection following a number of safety problems last year.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the poor safety culture among workers at Palisades has improved. That culture was blamed for the biggest safety issue that happened in September 2011 when a worker caused an electrical short that resulted in half the control room indicators going dead.

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Environment & Science
1:46 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

DNR restricts numbers of antlerless deer hunters in southern Michigan can take

Hunters will only be able to get a certain number of anterless deer tags this season.
mwanner_wc creative commons

Hunters in much of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula will have a cap on the number of deer they can take home this season. A disease that’s killing thousands of deer has prompted the state to enforce new hunting restrictions.

Last winter was unusually warm and that’s helped create fertile breeding ground for the biting fly that spreads Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease. It has infected deer in a record 30 Michigan counties; killing at least 13,000 deer this year. EHD does not affect humans.

Brent Rudolph runs the deer and elk program at the Department of Natural Resources.

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Environment & Science
2:08 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Army Corps projects record low water levels for Lakes Michigan and Huron

Water levels are nearing record lows on Lakes Michigan and Huron. Northport Bay on November 4, 2012.
Clare Brush

You can listen to today's Environment Report segment (the John Allis interview starts about a minute in), or read a similar version below.

Lake Michigan and Lake Huron could hit record low water levels in the next six months.  That’s according to a projection by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are functionally one body of water – they’re connected at the Straits of Mackinac. They’ve been below their long-term average for more than a decade.

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10:54 am
Thu November 8, 2012

Fermi 2 nuclear power plant shutdown

Fermi 2 nuclear power plant on Lake Erie

DTE Energy's Fermi 2 nuclear power plant was shutdown yesterday morning after workers discovered excess hydrogen in a generator cooling system.

From the Detroit News:

DTE spokesman Guy Cerullo said Thursday that workers will be checking equipment to find the root of the problem. The company would not provide a timetable for the power plant to be back online.

"Customers won't see any difference," Cerullo said. "We are always are able to get additional power from other plants."

No one at the plant or in surrounding areas was in any danger, Cerullo said.

The Fermi 2 nuclear power plant is near Monroe, Michigan and it sits on Lake Erie.

There are 38 nuclear power plants operating in the eight Great Lakes states. Four are in Michigan. Five nuclear power plants are operating in Ontario.

4:50 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

Palisades fixes latest leak, plant now returning to service

Mark Savage Entergy Corporation

The Palisades nuclear power plant is gradually returning to service after a brief shutdown this week.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimates between 5 and 50 gallons of water leaked in the form of steam from a broken valve at Palisades. The slightly radioactive leak was contained and regulators say there was no risk to public safety.

On Sunday the plant shut down when workers discovered steam leaking from the valve. In a written statement, Palisades spokesman Mark Savage says the valve has been replaced.

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4:48 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Palisades nuclear plant shuts down to repair steam leak

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant

Palisades nuclear power plant has shut down yet again.

The latest shutdown is the result of a steam leak inside the plant’s auxiliary building, the Associated Press reports.

From the AP:

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11:38 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

Palisades nuclear plant passes emergency drill this week with no violations

Palisades sits on Lake Michigan in Covert, Michigan.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Officials from both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission shared their preliminary results Friday of an emergency drill at Palisades earlier this week. During the two-day drill officials from the plant in Covert Township had to react to a simulated release of radiation into the environment. Agencies from several counties in Michigan and Indiana took part in the drill as well.

NRC Senior Emergency Preparedness Inspector Bob Jickling evaluated how the licensee, Entergy, responds.

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Environment & Science
5:50 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

Planning the ultimate Lake Michigan trail

The 1,640 trail would stretch across four states
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

What's being billed as the Midwest version of the Appalachian trail (albeit a…flatter version) is the subject of a conference in Saugatuck next week.

Planners will discuss a multi-state, 16-hundred-mile trail route along Lake Michigan.

Representatives from Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois say a lot of the needed trails and roads are already built or in the planning process.

What's missing are camp sites, access points, and marketing. Dave Lemberg is a geography professor at Western Michigan University. He’s also  the conference organizer. 

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Environment & Science
4:48 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Stateside: The renewable energy question

DTE expects to build around 50 wind turines in Sanilac and Huron counties. The company is reviewing bids from turbine makers now.
Tim Wang Flickr

Continuing our examination of the six proposals on Michigan's ballot, we turn to Proposal 3: The renewable energy question.

 Michigan Radio's Rebecca Williams, host of "The Environment Report," spoke with Cyndy about how the proposal would affect the state if passed.

Listen to the segment above.

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Environment & Science
11:30 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Sandy's arms and wind reaching out to mid-Michigan

Sandy's current location.

Update, October 31, 11:30 a.m.

Hurricane Sandy's winds have weakened but its effects linger.

About 40,000 of DTE's customers were without power Wednesday morning, the utility reports. The company expects to have power back to 90 percent of their customers by the end of the day.

CMS Energy says about 600 of its customers remain without power.

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Environment & Science
4:11 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Scammers follow in the wake of Hurricane

Hurricane Sandy may be creating new business for scam artists.

Websites and phone solicitors can mimic legitimate charities that change where the donations are sent.

In the wake of Hurricanes, scammers try to snare people with claims that sound great like “all proceeds go to the charity.”  Or they'll set up what appear to be legitimate Email and websites asking for contributions to help victims, but that actually go directly into their pockets.

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Environment & Science
10:39 am
Mon October 29, 2012

Michigan utilities preparing for Hurricane Sandy

Michigan utilities are making their own preparations for Hurricane Sandy.

The storm is expected to strike the East Coast later today, but the hurricane's outer bands are being felt as far west as Michigan.

“Well, right now we’re monitoring the storm….and seeing how it might impact our southeast Michigan service area,” says Scott Simon, a DE Energy spokesman.

DTE has already freed up about a hundred contract linemen to help restore electric power in the Mid-Atlantic States that are expected to take the brunt of Hurricane Sandy.

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Environment & Science
8:58 am
Mon October 29, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff & MSU's FRIB project

Congress is expected to tackle the ‘fiscal cliff’ after next month’s election.

The “fiscal cliff’s” combination of programmed tax increases and spending cuts have many people concerned, including officials at Michigan State University.

The federal government is supposed to pick up most of the cost of MSU’s new nuclear physics research lab known as the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. FRIB is expected to cost more than 600 million dollars.

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Environment & Science
6:45 pm
Sun October 28, 2012

Tracking Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on the east coast. You can track the storm with WNYC's map:

3:29 pm
Sun October 28, 2012

A year of eating an indigenous diet

Eating a native diet
Credit NMU Center for Native American Studies

Imagine eating the same foods that Native Americans in the Great Lakes region ate before European settlers arrived. That’s the idea behind a one-year study at Northern Michigan University.

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Environment & Science
5:50 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Worried about fracking, citizens group sues the DNR

Steve Losher lives in Barry county, and he's worried. So worried, he and the rest of the citizens in the non-profit group called the Michigan Land Air Water Defense are suing the state. 

They're upset about what they believe could happen once the Department of Natural Resources auctions off the mineral rights to gaming areas in Barry and Allagen counties. It's a totally typical auction - the DNR does this kind of thing twice a year since about 1920. 

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Environment & Science
2:44 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

New study looks at cancer risk near nuclear facilities, including one in Michigan

The Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant in Charlevoix, Michigan. The plant was decommissioned in 1997.

A new federal study will look at cancer risk around nuclear facilities.

The National Academy of Sciences study will look at cancer types in infants and the general population near six nuclear power plants and one nuclear-fuel plant for the Navy.

The sites being studied are in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and Tennessee.

Researchers will look at the area around the decommissioned Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant in Charlevoix, Michigan.

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Environment & Science
4:06 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Stateside: A fungus threatening Michigan's bats

Michigan bats are at risk of being infected by white-nose syndrome.
By Jim Conrad [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There is a disruption in our caves. Hibernating bats across the United States are suffering from white-nose syndrome. Named after the white fungus that grows on bats’ muzzles, the disease has killed millions of bats across North America.

Allen Kurta, a biology professor at Eastern Michigan University, spoke with Stateside’s Cyndy Canty about the future of Michigan’s bat population.

“We are dealing with a disease that is potentially going to wipe out numerous species of bats,” said Kurta.

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