Environment & Science

Environment & Science
9:00 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Operators of Palisades nuclear power plant to hold open house

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant near South Haven, MI
Entergy Corporation

The Palisades nuclear power plant is hosting an open house tonight in South Haven. It’s a rare opportunity for people to ask detailed questions about the plant.

It’s impractical to host the open house at the plant because of security reasons. Instead, it’ll take place at the same conference center where the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has held a number of public hearings this year about the plant’s poor safety rating. In fact, the NRC will host a public meeting next week at the same place to discuss those safety concerns in detail.

Palisades spokesman Mark Savage says the open house tonight will be informal… kind of like a science fair.

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energy
8:49 am
Wed September 5, 2012

Team of federal regulators prepare for major inspection at Palisades nuclear plant

Some electrical equiptment at the Palisades plant.
Mark Savage Entergy

New documents show a team of nuclear regulators will begin a major inspection of the Palisades nuclear power plant this month. The inspection is a direct result of the plant’s downgraded safety rating that was issued earlier this year.

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Environment & Science
4:43 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Lake Michigan approaching record low water level

A chart showing historic water levels on the Great Lakes.
GLERL NOAA

Just about a half a meter less, and the record will be beat.

That's how much the water level in Lake Michigan would have to drop to reach the record low level set in March of 1964.

In that month, the Lake Michigan water level was measured at 175.58 meters above sea level.

This past July, it was measured at 176.04 meters above sea level.

You can explore historic Great Lakes water level data on this NOAA website.

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Environment & Science
1:02 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Sounding off on Holland, Michigan's long-term energy plans

One consultant says Holland should convert its coal plant to natural gas.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

People and interest groups are expected to weigh in on the City of Holland’s long term energy plan at two public hearings tonight and Wednesday.

Angela Badran, with Holland’s Board of Public Works, says the city is trying to figure out the best way to supply residents and industry with baseload energy for the next few decades.

"It’s very complex sort of situation that we’re looking at in, how can we best fit the needs of Holland for the next 25 years," says Badran.

The biggest decision facing the city-owned utility is what to do with its aging coal plant.

An independent consultant says the city would get the best return on investment if it converts the coal plant to burn natural gas instead.

Holland is taking input on several proposed plans at this week's public hearings.

Environment & Science
11:01 am
Tue September 4, 2012

Battle Over Michigan's New Swine Rules Goes Hog Wild

A Russian sow on Mark Baker's farm. Four other parties have joined Baker's lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Courtesy of Long Haul Productions

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 4:33 pm

It's estimated that as many as 3,000 wild pigs are on the loose in Michigan. Nationwide, they cause more than $1.8 billion in damage to farms each year. So recently, the state's Department of Natural Resources put Russian boar on the state's invasive species list.

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The Environment Report
9:00 am
Tue September 4, 2012

State lawmakers propose changes to how land is preserved in Michigan

The Headlands in Emmet County
emmetcounty.org

by Peter Payette for The Environment Report

For decades, communities in Michigan have been preserving land with help from the Natural Resources Trust Fund.  The Mackinac Headlands, Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area and William Milliken State Park in Detroit were all purchased with the help of these grants.  But now some state senators want to change the way the system works.  Some of the groups that use the trust fund say the changes are radical. 

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Environment & Science
4:30 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

Pipeline construction project protected by off-duty Livingston County deputies

Enbridge Energy has posted security guards along a pipeline project that cuts through some private property in Michigan.
Logan Chadde Michigan Radio

Some Livingston County residents who live near a pipeline project say they don't understand why off-duty sheriff's deputies have been hired to provide security.

Enbridge Energy says its contractor hired the Livingston County Sheriff's Department to ensure public safety while the pipeline is replaced.

A few weeks ago, a resident said Enbridge clear-cut trees on her property without permission.  A judge has ordered work to stop until a property rights issue can be sorted out.

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Environment & Science
3:28 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

'Blue moon' will coincide with Neil Armstrong's funeral

user earl53 MorgueFile.com

There will be a "blue moon" tomorrow night, a fitting wink to Neil Armstrong by the cosmic calendar.

That's the day of a private service for Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, who died last Saturday in Ohio at age 82.

A blue moon occurs when there's a second full moon in one calendar month. The lunar cycle is 29.5 days long, so a blue moon is rare.

This will be your last chance to spot the phenomenon until July of 2015.

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Environment & Science
2:00 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

Hundreds of Michigan deer may be dying in disease outbreak

WordPress.com

Update 2:00 p.m. Aug. 30

State wildlife officials say more deer have died across the state, reaching almost 2,000 casualties, reports the Associated Press.

More from the AP:

More than 1,700 white-tailed deer have been killed this summer by a disease affecting several counties in the southern half of Michigan's Lower Peninsula.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources say the outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, has been worst in Ionia County, where more than 1,100 deer have died.

DNR officials say 225 deer have been killed in Branch County, followed by 153 in Clinton County and 101 in Calhoun County.

12:20 p.m. Aug. 16

The AP reports that the disease has turned up in eight Michigan counties and killed hundreds of deer.

More from the AP:

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said Thursday that deer infected with epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, have been found in Barry, Calhoun, Cass, Clinton, Eaton and Montcalm counties. Experts previously confirmed the disease had killed deer in Ionia and Branch counties.

EHD outbreaks have happened in isolated sections of Michigan repeatedly since 2006. The number of cases is rising nationwide because of hot, dry weather.

Wildlife biologist Tom Cooley says there are reports of more than 900 dead deer across the eight counties. But he said the die-off probably will be confined to local areas and won't affect the wider deer population.

2:30 p.m. August 5, 2012

State wildlife officials are trying to get a handle on the scope of a disease outbreak that's killing deer in large numbers in southern Michigan.

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energy
11:31 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Palisades returning to service after repairing another leak

Control room operators began brining the plant back online this morning. It takes about a day to get up to full power and sync up with the electric grid. This photo is from April 2012.
Mark Savage Entergy

This post has been modified to correct language from the NRC.

The Palisades nuclear power plant is returning to service. It was shut down earlier this month to repair a water leak in the building where the actual reactor is located.  

Workers found water was leaking through several cracks in a device that sits atop the nuclear reactor. Palisades Spokesman Mark Savage says they completely replaced that control rod device.

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Environment & Science
9:00 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Crews find 20 new positive eDNA hits for Asian carp in Lake Erie

A bighead carp at the Shedd Aquarium.
Rebecca Williams Michigan Radio

There’s new evidence that Asian carp could be in western Lake Erie.

Last month, crews took 150 water samples from Sandusky Bay and the Sandusky River.  They were testing for traces of genetic material from Asian carp. The results just came back this week.  20 of those samples tested positive for the presence of silver carp.

Now, these positive samples could indicate there are live carp in the lake.  But biologists say the genetic material could’ve also come from dead carp, or fish-eating birds or boats that came into contact with Asian carp.

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Environment & Science
10:47 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Gas pipeline company proposes switch to crude oil transport

A pipeline that supplies much of Michigan's natural gas could be shut down ... and converted to carry crude oil. That's sparked a number of concerns from business and government.

Natural gas is plentiful and cheap right now.

That's why a Texas company filed a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission -- or FERC --  in July to shut down 770 miles of transmission lines across several states. It would either abandon them ... or eventually use the pipes to carry crude oil.

And that could affect how much a lot of people in Michigan will pay to heat their homes and businesses.

The pipeline owned by Trunkline Gas Company crosses into Branch County from Indiana. That's where Consumers Energy connects to it ... and distributes the natural gas to 45 counties in the Lower Peninsula.

Dan Bishop is a Consumers Energy spokesman. He says Consumers depends on Trunkline for 60 percent of the gas it supplies to 1.7 million customers in Michigan.

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Environment & Science
10:57 am
Wed August 29, 2012

Students ask, 'Could alien superbugs cure disease on Earth?'

Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma from Troy High School.
YouTube

Science experiments from two Michigan high school students and a young man from Egypt are expected to be performed next month aboard the International Space Station.

Organizers of the competition to have experiments done by astronauts 250 miles above Earth announced Wednesday that TV personality Bill Nye will host a live online video stream of the experiments Sept. 13.

Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma were named winners in March in the 14- to 16-year-old age group.

The Troy High School students' experiment asks the question: "Could alien superbugs cure disease on Earth?" Amr Mohamed from Egypt won the 17- to 18-year-old age group for an experiment about spiders.

They're expected to watch the online stream.

YouTube, Lenovo, and private space exploration company Space Adventures organized the competition.

Environment & Science
9:00 am
Tue August 28, 2012

Life in Delray

The Delray neighborhood in southwest Detroit hopes to benefit from the New International Trade Crossing.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

You can listen to the Environment Report segment here or read Suzanne Jacob's story below.

Delray is a neighborhood in southwest Detroit.  People who live here are surrounded by heavy industry. A proposed new bridge to Canada is planned to land in the Delray neighborhood.  The construction could change how the neighborhood looks.  It’s estimated that thousands more trucks will pass by the neighborhood every day.

When we visited one recent summer evening, a bunch of kids were climbing on a playground. Two of them were playing tag, laughing and running themselves breathless.

But just past the red and yellow playground are two tall smoke stacks. If you look closely, you can see a green haze creeping out of them.

Simone Sagovac is with Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision. The non-profit group has been working to clean up southwest Detroit for 20 years.

“People who come to visit here from the EPA, from around the country, say that it's one of the worst places they've ever been to.”

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Environment & Science
4:46 pm
Fri August 24, 2012

Expert: West Nile conditions worst he's seen

MSU bug expert Ned Walker says the intensity of this year's West Nile conditions are "very alarming."
GammaMan flickr

The scope of the West Nile Virus problem continues to grow in Michigan.

There have been 57 confirmed cases in the state, as well as a third death from the disease spread by mosquitos.

"The intensity of this is very alarming," said Michigan State University entomologist Ned Walker. "I haven't seen anything that is this intense in my career."

Walker says Michigan is at the peak of transmission of West Nile right now, and it could last through October.

"So the question is, how many human cases will we be counting three weeks from now?" he said.

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Environment & Science
9:40 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Which is greener? A gas grill or charcoal?

Which is greener, a charcoal grill or a gas grill? The answer, "it's complicated."
Magnus Manske wikimedia commons

(Editor's note: This story was originally published in July 2009)

Neal Fisher thinks he’s an environmentally friendly kind of guy. He and his wife recycle, they use compact fluorescent light bulbs in the house, they walk most places and hardly ever use their car.

But when it comes to outdoor grilling... it’s charcoal all the way.

“It may be a little decadent when you’re taking the environment into consideration, but I do it.”

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Environment & Science
9:26 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Landowners celebrate a small win in court against Enbridge Energy

The orange stake marks the site of the new pipeline going through this homeowner's land. Most homeowners along the pipeline have a 60ft. easement on their land. The easement gives Enbridge the right to build a second pipeline.
Logan Chadde Michigan Radio

Enbridge Energy plans to build a bigger oil pipeline across the state. The company says, not only will it be bigger and move more oil. They say it will also be safer than the line that broke in 2010.

The Michigan Public Service Commission approved the first phase of the project last May, but some landowners have sued. They say they weren’t properly notified that the construction work could force them to give up more land. And that Enbridge could remove more trees.

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Environment & Science
9:00 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Biologists look for answers to pine marten mystery in Michigan (PHOTOS)

Pine martens are elusive creatures.
Robert Sanders Courtesy of Jill Witt

by Bob Allen for the Environment Report

Nearly a hundred years ago a small animal that most people have never heard of was wiped out of the northern forest. In the mid-1980’s, wildlife biologists reintroduced the pine marten in two locations in the Lower Peninsula. They thought the population would take off and spread but it hasn’t. And now researchers are trying to find out why.

The pine marten is the smallest predator in the northern forest. It’s a member of the weasel family… related to otters and ferrets. It weighs roughly two to two-and-a half pounds, has big furry ears, a pointed nose, a bright orange patch on its chest and a bit of a temper.

“I don’t know how big of an animal they would take on but they do have a reputation for being quite fierce.”

Jill Witt is a wildlife biologist with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. She has a marten caught in a wire cage tucked next to a fallen log, half buried in twigs and leaf litter.

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Environment & Science
8:14 am
Mon August 20, 2012

DTE to start pollution cleanup in Ann Arbor this week

Kevin Lund, a senior geologist at the MDEQ's Department of Remediation, kicks over gravel to reveal the pollution along the Huron River in Ann Arbor.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Starting today, DTE plans to bring in the heavy equipment needed for the pollution cleanup along the Huron River west of the Broadway Bridge in Ann Arbor.

Black, oily coal tar pollution has been underground for decades.

It was left behind by an old manufactured gas plant owned by the utility company. Two years ago regulators discovered the coal tar was getting into the river. Now, DTE plans to spend between $2-3 million digging it out.

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Environment & Science
4:39 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

Enbridge, property owner spar over felled trees

A Livingston County homeowner says Enbridge cut down about 50 trees on her property without permission. The energy company is replacing about 65 miles of oil pipeline.

The owners of the property near Fenton say they were surprised to find the trees bulldozed Wednesday morning.

Chris Christenson is the attorney for Debora and David Hense.

He says the Henses had been in negotiations with Enbridge to extend an easement on their property to allow work space for heavy equipment as the pipeline is replaced.

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