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environmental protection agency

Dredging on the River Raisin. A mechanical dredge removing material on July 11, 2012.
USEPA

State and federal officials are celebrating the completion of a twenty-year river cleanup effort in southeast Michigan.

The River Raisin was once one of the most polluted rivers in Michigan. It will soon be clean enough for both commercial navigation and recreational use.

The Environmental Protection Agency says the cleanup effort is in its final stage, which is set to be finished by the end of October.

Cameron Davis is senior advisor to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

A report shows areas surrounding the decommissioned Wurtsmith Air Force Base are contaminated and have caused severe health issues for some area residents.
Mike Fritcher / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Wurtsmith Air Force base in Oscoda Charter Township has served as home to B-52 bombers and F-106 fighter jets.

During the height of the Cold War, there were even plans to turn it into one of the few American military installations to house trains capable of launching intercontinental ballistic missiles. 

The base closed in 1993. Now, according to an MLive report, it might become known for something else.

Flint River and water plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency says Flint’s water system still faces major problems. EPA chief Gina McCarthy sent a warning to Governor Rick Snyder and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.

The letter says the city’s water treatment plant is understaffed – and the water distribution network is too large and sprawling.

Inside the Flint water treatment plant.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint has met an EPA deadline to upgrade equipment at the city’s water plant.

The EPA sent the city of Flint a letter one week ago saying the city had until today to install and have operational equipment to add additional chlorine and other chemicals to the city’s water supply.

Flint gets its tap water from Detroit already treated with chemicals to impede the growth of bacteria and other organisms. But chemicals, like chlorine, lose their effectiveness the longer they are in the system.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint may have equipment in place by the end of the week to improve chlorine levels in city water.   

But it may not be operating.

The Environmental Protection Agency sent the city of Flint a letter last week saying there is an “urgent need” to have the ability to boost chlorine levels in the city’s water supply. They set a date of Friday June 10th to have equipment “installed and operational.”

Chlorine and other chemicals are added to water supplies to kill bacteria, like Legionella.  Warm summer weather helps bacteria to grow. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Flint residents are being urged to run water in tubs and kitchens each day to flush any lead and coat the pipes with chemical protection.

  The announcement was made Saturday at a forum attended by state and federal officials. The state of Michigan says it will pay for the extra water use, which starts May 1 and lasts for two weeks.

  The cost is expected to be $300,000.

  Flint still is recovering from using the Flint River for 18 months without corrosion control. The water leached lead from old plumbing.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency outlined a number of concerns in a letter to Flint and Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality.

Two of these lingering issues were deemed “critical” or “significant.” 

Those have to do with the city’s comprehensive plan to prevent lead from leaching into drinking water and “inadequate number of qualified personnel” at the city’s water department.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

Gov. Rick Snyder joined Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy today to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Washington today. This was the third Flint water hearing by this House panel.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes tells us that of all the people the panel has questioned, Snyder has come the closest to admitting and accepting his mistakes.

screengrab/YouTube

A U.S. House committee held a second hearing on the Flint water crisis Tuesday, taking testimony from some key players in that disaster.

Former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley, former mayor Dayne Walling, former EPA official Susan Hedman, and Virginia Tech engineering professor Marc Edwards – whose independent research team helped reveal the high levels of lead in Flint water late last year – all testified.

But the hearing was defined largely by blistering criticism leveled at the U.S. EPA for failing to step in sooner.

Flint's records of where its lead service lines are located were on hundreds of index cards until February 2016.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. EPA is stepping up enforcement of the federal rule designed to prevent people from being exposed to too much lead in their drinking water. Today, the agency is sending letters to 49 states responsible for implementing the federal rule. The EPA already has the primary responsibility for overseeing the Lead and Copper Rule in Wyoming and Washington D.C.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The US Environmental Protection Agency says it will conduct an inspection of Detroit’s wastewater treatment plant.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the EPA confirmed plans to do a “performance inspection audit” next month.

“Staff from the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality will also be involved in this audit, to assess current lab procedures and compliance with federal requirements under the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program,” the statement reads.

The Flint River
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A 2010 federal audit of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality showed concerns with the state agency’s ability to monitor for clean water.

The audit, conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, depicted struggles in the MDEQ due to budget cuts, staffing issues, and shortfalls in meeting federal standards for safe drinking water.

A sewage main for the Detroit sewer and water system.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency says communities in the eight Great Lakes states will need close to $80 billion to update and replace wastewater infrastructure in the next 20 years.

The recently released 2012 Clean Watersheds Needs Survey says national waste water management needs total $271 billion. 

That includes general water treatment plant infrastructure, storm water management systems, and aging sewage systems.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

New tests suggest filters work even in Flint homes with high levels of lead in the drinking water.

EPA officials say 50 homes have tested at 150 parts per billion of lead, well above the federal action level, and at the filters’ posted limit.

But the EPA’s Mark Durno says tests at 10 of those homes show filters can still remove the lead.

“Even at those higher levels, even the ones that came back still over 150, when you pass them through the filter they are non-detect,” says Durno.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new bill would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to let the public know if their water contains dangerous levels of lead.

Right now, that responsibility lies with state and local officials.

The new bill would give the EPA authority to notify residents of high lead levels if the state fails to act.

Michigan Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Dan Kildee announced the new legislation Wednesday.

Peters said the bill would help ensure situations like the Flint water crisis don't happen again. 

The Snyder administration is now in over-drive to create both the perception and the reality that the state is engaged in making rapid progress in dealing with the Flint water crisis.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

I’ve been trying to interview the EPA’s Miguel Del Toral since early July, 2015, when a copy of his interim report on high lead levels in Flint’s water landed in my inbox.

Andrea Miehls / USGS

There's a new tool available to control the sea lamprey population in the Great Lakes.

For the first time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a synthetic mating lure to help trap sea lampreys before they spawn.

The mating pheromone is a scent released by male sea lampreys to lure females to nesting sites. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s contaminated drinking water is now the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

Gina Balaya is a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Michigan. She confirmed the investigation today. 

“(The U.S. Attorney’s office) is working closely with the EPA” on the investigation "to address the concerns of Flint residents," says Balaya.  

She declined to comment further on the investigation.

Tap water in a Flint hospital on Oct. 16, 2015.
Joyce Zhu / Flintwaterstudy.org

Preliminary findings from Michigan’s independent Auditor General give more details about the Flint water crisis.

Oil in a Shiawassee County drain.
EPA

More than 500 gallons of of used motor oil spilled into a county drain in Shiawasee County, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's on-scene coordinator Tricia Edwards.

The EPA is heading the cleanup process.

A hunter discovered the spill on November 26.

Edwards said the cost of clean up will be paid from the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Reimbursement is sought from a responsible party, if one is identified.

Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint leaders want the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen its regulation of public drinking water systems.

U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint, and seven others testified today in front of the EPA's National Drinking Water Advisory Council. The Council is developing recommendations to the EPA about changes to its rule on lead and copper in water.

Kildee said the agency needs to tighten up its regulations to make sure what happened in Flint never happens again.

A pair of Eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes, the only venomous snake native to Michigan.
Steven Parrish / Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, the University of Michigan

The Eastern Massasauga — the sole rattlesnake to inhabit the state of Michigan — is facing rapid population loss that's prompting national concern for Michigan wildlife.

In September 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list the snake as a "threatened species" under the Endangered Species Act, which would qualify the snake for national funds to help preserve the species. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A meeting this week may help produce an update into a possible federal probe of Flint’s water problems.

Congressman Dan Kildee says he plans to meet this week with Regional EPA director Susan Hedman to discuss the status of an investigation into Flint’s drinking water problems.

Kildee says the investigation has to look beyond just assessing blame.

Wikipedia

The US Environmental Protection Agency has pledged almost $20 million dollars to help clean up the Clinton River in southeast Michigan.

The river, which flows largely through Macomb County into Lake Saint Clair, has been designated a Great Lakes Area of Concern for many years.

EPA officials announced Monday that more federal money is coming through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will conduct a full review of the actions taken to address drinking water quality issues in Flint. It is expected to be completed by the end of this week, with results released next week.

EPA regional administrator Susan Hedman said in a Nov. 3 letter to U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, that she was asked by the head of the federal agency to carry out the review.

Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says Flint did not follow federal regulations for large water systems when it switched its source for drinking water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal task force will help the city of Flint with its drinking water problems.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been criticized for not being more involved in solving Flint’s water crisis.  

VW showed off their Gold TDI Clean Diesel at the 2010 Washington Auto Show. The company has since admitted to evading emissions standards for the last seven years.
wikimedia user Mariordo / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Today Volkswagen’s top U.S. executive is facing the wrath of Congress.

The hearing before a congressional oversight panel is in response to VW’s admission that is has been cheating on U.S. diesel emissions tests for the past seven years.

Last year General Motors CEO Mary Barra was lambasted by a congressional panel over GM's ignition recall scandal, and the Detroit News’ Daniel Howes expects today will be no easier for VW U.S. chief Michael Horn.

Protesters in Flint.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

In Flint, lead levels in some children's blood have spiked dramatically, and scientists believe a new drinking water source is to blame. They're pointing to lapses in oversight from state regulators, who they say should’ve seen the problem coming.

Flint’s water problems began about a year ago, not long after the city stopped drawing water from Detroit’s system. To save money, Flint began getting its water from the Flint River.

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