Here’s a new feature, in case you aren’t a subscriber or just happened to miss last week’s Bakersfield Environmental News articles. We wrote about a variety of things – reformulated gasoline, hazardous waste disposal, recycling grants, indoor air pollution at gyms, and vernal pool destruction.
Below are short briefs of each topic, with a link to each article for further reading.
Remember, to ensure you don’t miss any future articles, just hit the SUBSCRIBE TO AUTHOR button below and you will be notified of every new one. It’s absolutely free too!
Here is what we reported on last week:
Modesto almond farmer learns the hard way not to ignore environmental laws
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this week that it has penalized the owner of a proposed almond orchard for destroying nearly 33 acres of wetlands near Merced, California. Edward Lynn Brown, from Oakdale, California, who did business as California Healthy Harvest, a wholesaler of canned foods and nuts in Modesto, Stanislaus County, California, was fined $160,000. According to EPA’s press release, he was also ordered to purchase and endow a conservation easement worth $1 million as part of the settlement.
The wetlands, known as vernal pool complexes (vernal pools, vernal swales, and seasonal wetlands), were located on 850 acres of land that Brown had leased in 2012 from Merced Ranch. He intended to convert the property into an almond orchard from a previous cattle grazing operation. Before the violations occurred, Brown was told by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that protected vernal pools were present. The Corps instructed him to apply for a federal Clean Water Act permit before making any physical changes to the property.
Apparently, Brown ignored the instructions, made no such application, and proceeded to alter about 380 acres of the ranch to plant almond trees. Using a process known as “deep ripping,” in which six-foot long metal shanks are dragged through the ground, Brown or others operating on his behalf, generated large volumes of dirt, rocks, sand, and vegetative matter which were then incorporated into 32.7 acres of vernal pool complexes, effectively destroying them.
New study warns of unhealthy indoor air pollution at the gym November 20, 2014
Many residents of Bakersfield and the San Joaquin Valley, concerned about their health and physical fitness, hit the gym several times a week to get into or maintain their shape. Be it running on a treadmill, trudging up and down on a stair climbing machine, taking a spin class, or simply lifting weights, going to the gym has become a frequent habit for the healthy minded. However, except for the occasional turned-up nose when encountering a fellow gym member who, shall we say, has less than perfect personal hygiene, most people give little thought to the quality of the air that they breathe inside the gym when they work out.
A new study, to be published next month in the journal, Building Environment, raises questions about just how healthy the air in many gyms is. Entitled, “Exposure to indoor air pollutants during physical activity in fitness centers,” researchers tested the air inside 11 different fitness centers in Lisbon, Spain. Their findings were somewhat disturbing and should cause many to question how management at their own gyms is addressing indoor air quality (IAQ).
Valley recycling firms to get CalRecycle grants to reduce GHG emissions November 21, 2014
Three San Joaquin Valley recycling businesses and five other state firms will share $19.5 million in newly established greenhouse gas reduction (GHG) grants, according to an announcement from the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) this past week. The monies will be used to construct or expand new and existing facilities, and to upgrade equipment to allow the processing of more recycled materials.
California’s Budget Act of 2014 authorized CalRecycle to issue the grants, which use proceeds from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, for projects resulting in reduced GHG emissions. Those projects also will help California reach its statewide goal of 75 percent recycling, composting, and source reduction by 2020. The fund is part of California’s Cap-and-Trade program, administered by the California Air Resources Board (ARB). CalRecycle worked closely with ARB in determining who would get the grants. The grants were issued under two different funding programs. CalRecycle’s Organics Grant Program and CalRecycle’s Recycled Fiber, Plastic, and Glass Grant Program.
Telecom giant AT&T penalized $51.8 million for hazardous waste violations November 21, 2014
Telecommunications giant AT&T agreed to a $51.8 million settlement with the State of California to resolve charges that employees at hundreds of its California facilities illegally disposed of hazardous waste and other materials for nine years. The settlement was jointly announced this week by California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley. This is the first enforcement action in California against a telecommunications company for its management of electronic waste.
Several of the facilities are located in the San Joaquin Valley, including three here in Bakersfield. The Bakersfield facilities were located at 101 V St., 3221 S. H St., and 5650 Aldrin Ct.
ARB fines 3 more companies for illegal gasoline November 21, 2014
California’s Air Resources Board (ARB) announced this week that it has fined three gasoline suppliers for gasoline that did not comply with California’s air quality regulations. Houston-based Vitol, Inc., Petro-Diamond of Irvine, and Shell Oil Products US were fined $70,000, $50,000, and $45,000 respectively.
The fines resulted from violations of California specifications for Reformulated Gasoline Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending, known as CARBOB. In order to make the final blend, an oxygenate such as ethanol is added to the CARBOB to make the final product sold at gasoline stations. In each case here, the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) of the CARBOB was too high, exceeding state standards.