AmeriScan: January 4, 2002

WORLD TRADE CENTER CLEANUP HIGHLIGHTS NATIONAL MEETING

WASHINGTON, DC, January 4, 2002 (ENS) - The terrorist attacks of September 11 created challengers not just for counter terrorism experts, but also for solid and hazardous waste managers.

The World Trade Center cleanup will be a prominent topic of discussion at the 2002 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) national meeting in Washington, DC this month.

On January 18, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will present "The World Trade Center Cleanup and Implications for the Future" as one of three plenary sessions and more than 70 topics on the meeting agenda. All sessions will be fully open to the public.

The special Trade Center session will include an industry and government expert discussion of the solid waste implications of the Trade Center collapse. The discussion will include topics on how authorities can develop plans to manage the debris from natural or human caused disasters, as well as on innovative, environmentally friendly approaches to making buildings safer while standing and when demolished.

An example of a green approach would be using indoor paint with less toxic solvents.

The other two plenary sessions scheduled for the meeting are titled "Leading Partnerships for Cleaner Communities" and "Improving the Quality of Life through RCRA." Topics in the regular sessions will include corrective action cleanups, brownfields redevelopment, permitting, municipal solid waste, non-hazardous industrial and special waste, waste minimization and federal, state and tribal programs.

Exhibits of environmental initiatives of various federal waste programs and their state, industry and environmental group partners will be on display. The meeting will take place January 15-18 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Avenue NW.

Attendance is free, but pre-registration is required. For admittance to meeting sessions, all attendees must present photo identification and wear badges issued by the EPA.

More information is available at: http://www.epa.gov/osw/meeting

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SUMMER FLOUNDER CATCHES TO INCREASE

WASHINGTON, DC, January 4, 2002 (ENS) - The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has increased fishing quotas for summer flounder by 36 percent, calling the fishery a "management success story."

When the fishing season for summer flounder opened on January 1, a 24.3 million pound quota went into effect on the Atlantic coast. The new quota, with 60 percent (14.58 million pounds) allocated to the commercial industry and 40 percent (9.72 million pounds) allocated to anglers, represents a 36 percent increase over the 2001 quota of 17.9 million pounds.

"Summer flounder is a fishery management success story, as the fishery continues to thrive while stock abundance is growing," said NMFS Director William Hogarth. "This outcome is what we strive for in every fishery and is what can be accomplished with sound management rebuilding programs."

"The commercial and recreational fishermen, in partnership with state and federal fishery managers and environmental groups, should be applauded for their efforts in helping the summer flounder fishery rebound," added Hogarth. "The hard work by all involved has allowed us to increase catch limits for the coming year."

While the recreational allocation is coastwide, each coastal state is given a percentage of the commercial quota. During 2001, commercial fishermen in both Maine and Delaware harvested more summer flounder than their share of the commercial quota. Therefore, commercial vessels are barred from landing the species in these states during the 2002 calendar year.

The summer flounder stock has been managed since 1989 and has been rebuilding under a quota system since 1993. Though fishery managers have been steadily rebuilding the fishery, it has encountered a bumpy road along the way.

Lawsuits were filed at the outset of quota management, challenging quota accuracy, late season adjustments and stock management targets.

"Lawsuits are no longer distracting us from our primary responsibility of managing the resource," Hogarth said. "Summer flounder is showing significant signs of recovery. I believe our management partnerships and current regulations will allow the stock to continue rebuilding."

During roundtable workshops last year, Hogarth listened to the concerns of stakeholders in the summer flounder fishery and began taking steps to improve the process of implementing regulations and communicating with fishermen, law enforcement and the environmental community. The new regulations were developed cooperatively with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

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INCINERATION ALTERNATIVE HEADED FOR FIELD TESTS

BOISE, Idaho, January 4, 2002 (ENS) - A promising alternative to waste incineration, developed by a Virginia company, has been approved for further testing at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL).

AEA Technology Engineering Service's Silver II method oxides waste molecules. The process operates at low temperature, is easy to control, treats most organic wastes, reduces waste volume, produces no dioxins or low emission volumes containing polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and does not require pretreatment for small solids, slurries or liquid wastes.

The U.S. Army was already testing Silver II at the Aberdeen Proving Ground to destroy chemical weapons agents, and has tested other waste types for the DOE to help the agency find effective and affordable alternatives to incineration.

"We jumped at the chance to test this technology because the pilot plant is already built," said Vince Maio, INEEL's manager of the Alternatives to Incineration program. "That enables us to do a quick, cost effective test of one of the top technologies we identified as an alternative to incineration."

If Silver II is successful in treating mixed wastes, the process will be tested on several hazardous waste types containing organic materials and other combustible wastes. The wastes are produced by operations at the DOE's Savannah River Site and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Several years before the INEEL began managing the national Transuranic and Mixed Waste Focus Area (TMFA) program for the DOE in 1995, INEEL scientists and engineers began looking into methods of treating waste without the need for incineration. Research efforts to find alternatives intensified in the late 1990s after DOE announced plans to close two of its incinerators - including one at the INEEL.

Finding alternatives to incineration continues to be at the forefront of the DOE's research efforts. More than a half dozen technologies are in various stages of development at other DOE labs and universities. The multimillion dollar effort also involves private companies.

Research alternatives range from biodegradation, thermal desorption and super critical water oxidation to low temperature stabilization.

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CALIFORNIA RIVER HABITATS WIN ENVIRONMENTAL GRANTS

SACRAMENTO, California, January 4, 2002 (ENS) - State and federal funding will support restoration and conservation projects along four California rivers and streams, officials announced this week.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has awarded $70,000 for two community level restoration projects designed to improve northern California coastal stream habitats. The projects, announced Wednesday, will improve and restore waterways important to salmon, steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout.

One coastal California project will repair several fish migration barriers on Widow White Creek in Humboldt County, allowing native fish to reach their historic spawning grounds. The other project is focused on reducing stream sedimentation caused by roads in the Klamath River watershed of Siskiyou and Humboldt Counties.

"We are delighted to support the efforts of northern California coastal communities in restoring these areas," said Rod McInnis, acting regional administrator for NOAA's Southwest region. "These restoration projects, and the community participation they provide, will be essential components in the recovery of these species on the north coast."

Earlier in the week, California Governor Gray Davis announced eight grant awards totaling almost $10 million to federal, state and local agencies for restoration projects and acquisitions along the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers.

"Clean water is critical to maintaining a healthy quality of life for Californians," Davis said.

In a break with previous water bonds, funds from the "Safe Drinking Water, Clean Water, Watershed Protection, and Flood Protection Act of 2000" were earmarked for urban and recreational projects and acquisitions.

Along the Los Angeles River, grants will help preserve and protect existing watershed and riverside habitats, acquire new properties for protection and restore stream corridor, river stream trails and adjacent lands along the only two unchannelized sections of the Arroyo Seco stream in Pasadena's Central and Lower Arroyo reaches.

Along the San Gabriel River, grants will create a recreation area landscaped with native California vegetation, and buy and protect areas of riverside habitat.

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$2.8 MILLION FUNDS RENEWABLE ENERGY RESEARCH

GOLDEN, Colorado, January 4, 2002 (ENS) - The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has received contracts worth $2.8 million to develop new energy efficient technologies.

NREL will perform three research projects funded by Xcel Energy as part of a program to advance renewable energy. The awards are part of NREL's ongoing effort to seek out new and needed areas of research and development and extend the lab's reach through partnerships with companies, universities and other organizations.

One project is to develop a filter that can remove potential pollutants from systems that produce energy from biomass. NREL will manage that $639,000 contract, with Community Power Corp. of Littleton, Colorado, and MagStar Technologies of Hopkins, Minnesota, working as subcontractors.

A second project is for $935,000 in NREL research on a solid state Titania solar cell.

A third project, in which the Colorado School of Mines is prime contractor and NREL is the subcontractor, is to develop new electrocatalysts for proton exchange membrane fuel cells. That contract totals $1.1 million.

"Xcel Energy is excited about the potential for these research projects to result in significant leaps forward in our understanding of new renewable energy technologies," said John Lupo, manager for Xcel's Renewable Development Fund.

A 1994 Minnesota state law established the Renewable Development Fund, which seeks to benefit research and development of renewable energy through payments from utilities with nuclear power facilities in that state.

"Our national lab is pleased to have this opportunity to work with Xcel, the Colorado School of Mines and innovative research and development companies in these important endeavors," said Stan Bull, NREL associate director.

NREL is managed by Midwest Research Institute, Battelle and Bechtel, and is a leading center for research into wind, solar, biomass and other renewable energy technologies.

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CHANNEL ISLANDS EELGRASS BED WILL BE RESTORED

SANTA BARBARA, California, January 4, 2002 (ENS) - A $31,757 grant will aid a community based eelgrass restoration project in California's Channel Islands

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) awarded the grant to Santa Barbara's ChannelKeeper, via its Community-Based Restoration Program.

"We are very excited to support communities in their efforts to restore eelgrass beds to Coastal California," said Rod McInnis, acting Southwest regional administrator for NMFS. "This project is a key component in the rehabilitation of habitat essential to the health of our fisheries, and would not be successful without the support and participation provided by the local community."

The ChannelKeeper project is focused on restoring an historic eelgrass bed to Frenchy's Cove on Anacapa Island. Eelgrass, a type of seagrass, grows in beds in shallow bays and lagoons, supporting complex food webs, filtering nutrients and stabilizing sediments.

In California, eelgrass beds are nurseries for many common fish such as giant kelp fish, six species of surfperch, senoritas, rockfish and kelp bass. Eelgrass populations have declined along the mainland due to development, high nutrient levels and increased water cloudiness.

At the Channel Islands, eelgrass is less affected by pollution. However, after the strong El Nino in 1983, a bed at Frenchy's Cove on Anacapa Island was devoured by a population explosion of sea urchins.

To date, eelgrass has failed to return to this site, even though urchins have returned to normal densities. The goal is to restore the historic eelgrass bed at Frenchy's Cove, which will help support marine food webs and enhance fish habitat.

Santa Barbara ChannelKeeper will recruit and train volunteer community divers to conduct restoration and ongoing monitoring of the eelgrass bed at Frenchy's Cove. The project will test two methods of eelgrass restoration: transplanting healthy plants from donor beds and sprouting seeds collected from donor beds and planting them at the site.

Volunteers will be trained to monitor the success of the two methods by measuring eelgrass and sea urchin abundance, and performing fish counts.

"I'm really excited by the prospects for the eelgrass restoration project at Frenchy's Cove," said Kathy Ann Miller, the education officer at the University of Southern California's Wrigley Marine Science Center, on Santa Catalina Island. "It's a great opportunity to involve the public in a hands on conservation project, to restore essential, historical habitat, and to do some good science that will serve similar projects in the future."

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PENNSYLVANIA GETS 343 ACRE CONSERVATION GIFT

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania, January 4, 2002 (ENS) - A 343 acre tract in Wayne County, Pennsylvania has become the state's third official conservation area to be managed under Pennsylvania's state park system.

Located along Route 296 in both Lake and South Canaan townships, the nine parcel tract near the village of Varden was deeded to the state late last month by owner Dr. Mead Shaffer, a veterinarian and resident of Boothwyn, Delaware County.

"This magnanimous gift of land will be protected and used for future generations as a respite from daily life, and a place to learn about our wonderful natural history," said state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) secretary John Oliver. "This tract is a pristine area in a once-remote section of the state that now is beginning to feel the pressure of development."

Designated the Varden Conservation Area, the property will be managed through Promised Land State Park.

"Environmental education always has been a primary concern of mine," said Dr. Shaffer. "I trust this land will allow present and future generations to observe and study the diverse ecology found in the Varden Conservation Area."

Once access points and parking are created, the land will be made available to the public for environmental education, hiking, bird watching, hunting and other passive outdoor recreation, Oliver said.

"DCNR has asked Dr. Shaffer to assist us in managing the Varden Conservation Area by advising the Promised Land manager of future needs and concerns about the area," Oliver said. "The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources looks forward to many years of cooperative work with Dr. Shaffer and others as we provide a green, open space area with abundant diversity for the citizens of Pennsylvania."

The Varden tract is the third conservation area to be accepted and managed by DCNR's Bureau of State Parks. The areas are distinguished as large tracts with few improvements; no through roads; minimal active recreational facilities and resource management efforts; and no major development planned.

The Joseph E. Ibberson Conservation Area was the first such tract established in the state. Dedicated in 1999, it encompasses 350 acres in Dauphin County, and was named in honor of the land's donor, a retired forester.

A second conservation area, the 914 acre Boyd Big Tree Preserve, also in Dauphin County, was donated and dedicated in 2000. The land was deeded to the state by real estate developer Alexander Boyd.

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WEBSITE OFFERS HOT INFORMATION ABOUT WILDFIRES

WASHINGTON, DC, January 4, 2002 (ENS) - American Forests and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have teamed up to educate the public about wildfire and the role it plays in forest ecosystems.

Their new website, http://www.wildfirereleaf.org, also includes information on how people and communities can reduce the threat of catastrophic wildland fire, and how they can plant trees to restore scorched areas.

American Forests, a leader in planting trees for environmental restoration, and the USFS created the site to educate people about Wildfire ReLeaf, a cooperative effort designed to restore forest ecosystems by planting trees on national forest systems and adjacent lands and watersheds damaged by wildland fire. Every tree planted by American Forests' Wildfire ReLeaf campaign will be matched tree for tree by the Forest Service.

The joint effort will help the USFS meet the restoration component of the National Fire Plan, which is funding the partnership.

"We encourage parents, teachers, and school administrators across the country to utilize www.wildfirereleaf.org as an educational tool and as a way to help restore and regenerate our nation's forests," said Deborah Gangloff, executive director of American Forests. "Whether you live in a fire-adapted forest ecosystem or an inner city, everyone can participate in the tree planting component of the campaign. We invite people of all ages to help American Forests restore thousands of burned acres by planting millions of native trees."

The Wildfire ReLeaf campaign will plant native trees in sensitive forest areas that might otherwise take years to regenerate. These areas include streams banks that shelter wildlife and slopes threatened with erosion.

The planting of trees improves habitat for threatened fish and wildlife species while creating local jobs and infrastructure important for maintaining the long term health of forest ecosystems and communities. Wildfire ReLeaf was created in the fall of 2000 in response to the devastating 2000 wildfire season, which burned close to eight million acres across the United States.

In addition to encouraging people to plant trees, the site educates visitors about fire ecology, forest policy, community based forestry, the National Fire Plan and the agencies and organizations that fight wildfires.

The site, a subsection of American Forests' website, also provides important wildfire related links and information about how homeowners living in fire adapted ecosystems can reduce the risk of wildfire destroying their homes or communities.