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Environment & Science

Stop the Shoot sign
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Ann Arbor will shut down eleven of its city parks and nature areas after 3:00 p.m. every day from January 2-26, to permit sharpshooters to cull its abundant population of deer.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The ground is getting warmer at one of the state’s most contaminated sites.

The Environmental Protection Agency is using a process called thermal remediation to heat the soil and remove harmful chemicals at the Velsicol Chemical Corp. Superfund site in the town of St. Louis.

U.S. EPA

State environmental regulators say there's no risk to drinking water from contaminated water that spilled onto Interstate 696 last week.  

The green liquid that gushed onto the highway in Madison Heights on December 20th came from a closed factory, Electro-Plating Services. 

PFAS foam along the Huron River.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Good news for the city of Ann Arbor's drinking water - and the residents who drink it.

The city's Drinking Water Quality Manager, Sarah Page, says tests have detected no PFOS and PFOA compounds in the past five months.  PFOS and PFOA are two of the most worrisome PFAS compounds.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Some Detroit lawmakers and residents are keeping up the fight against the proposed expansion of a hazardous waste facility.

A state permit to allow U.S. Ecology to expand its Detroit operation ten-fold has been pending for years. The facility has stored and processed hazardous waste there for decades.

Darwin Smith Jr. / CC by SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)

A popular state campground in West Michigan has put a hold on reservations for next year, over fears the campground could be flooded.

The Channel Campground sits on Muskegon Lake in Muskegon State Park.

Greg Sherburn is the supervisor of the park. He says normally, the campground would open up for Memorial Day weekend reservations about now. But he says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is forecasting high Great Lakes water levels into the spring.

Eva Blue / Unsplash

Wolves on Isle Royale have begun to hunt and travel as a group. 

It’s part of a process park officials say could eventually lead to the formation of the island’s first new pack.

Aerial view of the Detroit River
Wikimedia Commons

The partial collapse of a dock once contaminated with uranium into the Detroit River did not put dangerous levels of chemicals into the waterway, according to new test results from a southeast Michigan water utility.

The Great Lakes Water Authority tested both raw and tap water from its intake site near where the dock collapsed.

PFAS foam along the Huron River.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week, the state began collecting PFAS-containing firefighting foam, known as Class B AFFF, that has been held in inventory by fire departments and commercial airports across Michigan.

According to Scott Dean, the spokesman for the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART), the effort is part of the state's $1.4 million plan to collect and dispose of about 35,000 gallons of the foam.

Running faucet
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

Wolverine Worldwide says it will pay nearly $70 million to build municipal water systems in two communities affected by PFAS contamination. 

The company used the chemicals to waterproof its shoes for years. The harmful chemicals contaminated the ground and entered into local wells.  The company says it will now pay to build the water systems to connect more than 1,000 properties to municipal water in Algoma and Plainfield Townships. It says the plan is part of a tentative agreement to resolve lawsuits involving the state and townships.

PFAS foam along the Huron River.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Congress has reached a final agreement on the annual national defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act. This year’s bill includes a number of provisions to regulate the chemical family PFAS.

migrating birds
Photo by Barth Bailey on Unsplash

A new study out of the University of Michigan finds the bodies of migratory birds are shrinking - and it could be due to climate change.

The data was collected in Chicago over roughly 40 years. Researchers collected the bodies of birds that collided with buildings. The study uses some 70,000 birds covering 52 species as its data set.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

State environmental regulators say tests done Friday show below-background levels of radiation at the site of a partial shoreline collapse into the Detroit River. 

Pet coke piles on Detroit riverfront in 2013.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A Windsor politician is calling for a bi-national investigation - and an environmental group is calling for the restoration of Michigan's "Polluter Pay" laws.

That's after part of a property owned by Detroit Bulk Storage collapsed into the Detroit River last week.  The collapse is initially being blamed on the weight of massive piles of sand, gravel and other construction materials the company is storing on site.

Group of men sitting on a hill
U.S. Library of Congress

Today on Stateside, an old industrial site contaminated with uranium since the World War II has partially collapsed into the Detroit River. Plus, a group of West Michigan musicians have brought old Michigan folk songs once sung by sailors and lumberjacks back to life.

Tyler Petroelje / SUNY-ESF

Scientists say gray wolves relocated to Isle Royale National Park are adjusting nicely to their new surroundings and finding plenty of prey.

Officials released findings Monday from observations of wolves that were captured on the mainland and taken to the Lake Superior park during the past year.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Officials from the federal, state and county government will be at a public meeting in Manistee on Tuesday to talk about shoreline erosion.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Little River Casino Resort in Manistee.

High water levels on the Great Lakes have caused flooding and erosion all along the Michigan coastline this year.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, we hear about the plan for a unique “net-zero” community in Ann Arbor. Plus, dispelling the stereotype that Michigan wine can't compete on the world stage. 

aeiral view of flooded Grand River
City of Grand Rapids / Facebook

A majority of Michigan’s rivers have more water than usual for this time of year. That’s according to measurements from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Elevated water levels are causing issues for water infrastructure in the state.

City of Howell

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy has discovered a toxic chemical in the air near a manufacturing plant in Howell.

Groceries, including milk, eggs and produce, sitting on a counter.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, what newly-released emails between state officials reveal about the behind-the-scenes negotiations that allowed federally-protected gray wolves to be killed in the Upper Peninsula. Plus, on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination, a look into the former president's long list of health problems and why they were hidden from public view.

Running faucet
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

In the past several years, dozens of communities across Michigan have learned their drinking water is contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. This group of chemicals, commonly referred to as PFAS, are “forever chemicals.” They persist in the environment and in the bodies of people regularly exposed to them without breaking down.

Velsicol Chemical operating on the banks of the Pine River in St. Louis, Michigan.
Pine River Citizen Superfund Task Force

According to a report by the federal Government Accountability Office, 60% of Superfund sites nationwide are threatened by floods, wildfires, and hurricanes that are becoming worse due to climate change.

In Michigan, twenty toxic sites are at a high risk of spreading due to increased flooding. The sites are scattered across the state, but most are located near former industrial hubs, including the Velsicol Chemical Company in St. Louis

Photo courtesy Tom Dykstra

Bouncing along a sodden farm pasture, Brad Johnson stopped his state vehicle when he came upon the newborn calf, or what remained of it.

The veteran wildlife handler had been to this patch of farmland in the western Upper Peninsula several times the previous fall, when a dozen calves from the Dykstra beef ranch were reported missing.

Jeff Reutter / Ohio State University

Scientists have concluded it's going to be more difficult than they initially thought to reduce phosphorus loads into Lake Erie by 40%.

That's the target set by Great Lakes states.

Phosphorus is a crop fertilizer that also encourages cyanobacterial blooms. 

Rebecca Muenich worked on a study to evaluate ways to control the blooms. 

Meunich is a former researcher at the University of Michigan's Graham Sustainability Institute, and now an assistant professor at Arizona State University.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The swirling liquid rushes into concrete channels behind a black chain-link fence.

“That is what sewage looks like,” says Nicole Pasch, who works in Environmental Services for the city of Grand Rapids.

Pasch is showing off the wastewater treatment facility, along with the various stages the sewage has to pass through before it can be sent back into the nearby Grand River, which flows into Lake Michigan.

"Here we are again:" Decades after PBB crisis, echoes seen in current PFAS crisis

Nov 18, 2019
Dale Young / Bridge Magazine

In 1973, an accident at a chemical plant in the small town of St. Louis in the middle of Michigan’s mitten triggered one of the largest mass poisonings in American history.

PFAS clean-up costs are increasing. Michigan taxpayers may have to foot the bill.

Nov 18, 2019
Terry and Tom Hula exit a shed that contains a 1,500-gallon water tank on their property in Belmont.
Steve Jessmore / Bridge Magazine

Terry Hula loves Christmas. So much so, she and her husband, Tom, bought a home 28 years ago that was surrounded by a Christmas tree farm.

PFAS foam on lakeshore
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The state of Michigan is a step closer to establishing the limits of PFAS in drinking water. PFAS is a family of chemicals that have been discovered in high levels in drinking water at sites across the state. Yesterday the Environmental Rules Review Committee voted to move the draft regulations forward. If approved, the new regulations will be among the strictest in the nation. The next step is a public comment period along with public hearings, which are expected to be announced before year's end. 

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