You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2010.

One of the most notorious polluters in Massachusetts could close within 5 years. The owner, Dominion Energy of Virginia, says it will not be able to keep up with ever more stringent emissions restrictions. They adroitly skipped over the point that they’ve rarely – if ever – complied with environmental regulations, stringent or otherwise.

The plant has been the target of a steady barrage of complaints about their environmental violations. Dominion and all the previous owners have always made assurances that the will eventually comply, but they always need more time, and those deadlines have been chronically ignored.

While the announcement has been greeted by cheers from various environmental groups, any celebration might be premature. ISO New England, which manages the regional power grid, could step in and claim the power generated by the plant is necessary and shouldn’t be shut down, environmental threats notwithstanding.

ISO New England has already checked in on the possible closing of Vermont Yankee, with dire warnings that wires might overheat and other terrible things could happen if the plant goes off-line. No matter that the place leaks like a sieve, and by its own admission, is riddled with problems dating back to its original construction.

Those people need to get their heads out of dark disgusting places and sniff some fresh air for a change.


An old stone foundation along the Nashua River

It’s been way too long since I’ve been able to take a good long walk out in the woods. So today I put my tasks behind me and headed for a trail I haven’t been on in quite some time. Years, in fact.

Cook’s Conservation Area in Lancaster, Mass., is part of the Nashua River Greenway, a loosely connected network of trails that follow along the different branches of the river, in this case the North Branch.

It’s a bit of a challenge to find. The access point is on the west side of Route 70, about a mile south of Route2, or 1.7 miles north of Route 117, depending on which way you come. The only sign is a faded wooden one, well below the height of the road shoulder. The only thing to mark it is a break in the guard rail.

The main trail is an old cart path. It’s an easy walk, the scenery beautiful, perfect for a late November afternoon. The river here is narrow and fast, popular with kayakers.

I came across some old stone ruins. On two sides of the river, what’s left of a bridge abutments, but then something larger – what seems to be the foundation of an old mill, maybe a sawmill. A grist mill would have required a little more intricate stonework. A narrow channel runs off the river and through the stonework, in what was probably a sluiceway.

Sitting there as the sun was beginning to set, far from the nearest modern roadway and traffic noise, it was difficult to imagine a time when this would have been a bustling intersection. What would they have been doing today? The harvest would already have been in. Getting ready for winter? Would they be worrying if they had enough to carry them through a harsh winter? Would they have had taken the time to pause, and enjoy the last few hours of sunlight?

I’m becoming convinced that the folks at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are not blatantly incompetent, merely malicious.

How else can to explain their latest bright idea: allow habitats to be trashed in the name of “green power” construction.

The Environmental News Service today carries a report that the Corps has drafted a plan to allow fill into streams and wetlands for land-based renewable energy projects, by excluding such projects from review by other agencies.

What are they thinking?

I fully support the government doing everything it can to promote and develop new sources of energy, but not at the cost of causing any form of environmental degradation. We’ve done enough damage as it is.

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power plant in Vernon, Vermont, has sprung another radioactive leak. The plant was forced to shut down last night after workers discovered a pipe carrying water laced with tritium and other isotopes dripping at the rate of a drop per second, according to a report in the Burlington Free Press.

Nothing to worry about!

Spokesmen from both the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the plant were on the job last night assuring everyone that this poses no danger to the public. This is akin to crew members of the Titanic assuring passengers that there’s nothing to worry about even as the ship was going down.

And even as they scramble to plug this most recent leak, the owners of the plant, Entergy Corp. of New Orleans, announced this week that they’ve put the plant up for sale. They say they’re optimistic they’ll find a buyer!

The plant has only 17 months of operation left before its license expires, and there’s not a lot of interest in extending it. It’s more a question of whether to shut it down for good now or in a few months. De-commissioning the plant is estimated to cost between $500 million and $1 billion (not quite an exact estimate but what’s a few hundred million between friends?).

Earlier this year Entergy tried to slide out from under the financial obligation to pay for closing it down by trying to spin-off a new corporation to manage Vt. Yankee and its other nuclear plants. The idea seemed to be to let the plants shut down, then declare bankruptcy and let the taxpayers pay the bill. Luckily regulators in New York saw through the ploy, and shot down the idea.

This sounds like the 21st century equivalent of selling the Brooklyn Bridge.

Nature Blog Network


RSS The Ecocryptic

  • Maine DEP update July 31, 2013
    Maine Department of Environmental Protection has reversed itself and will schedule a public hearing on proposed changes to the state's clean air standards. No date has been set.Environmental groups, legislators, and the general public were outraged when the Portland Press Herald reported yesterday that the state agency had tried to sneak through the cha […]
  • At Maine’s DEP, it’s the fox guarding the henhouse July 30, 2013
    What happens when you put an industry lobbyist in charge of environmental protection? Just take a look at what’s going on in Maine. According to an article in today’s Portland Press-Herald, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection wants to weaken the state’s clean-air regulations, and they don’t want anyone to know about it.No public hearings have […]
  • Northern Pass Rears Its Ugly Head (Again) July 15, 2013
    Despite massive public opposition, significantly over-budget, and three years behind schedule,  the CEO of the Northern Pass Project vows the controversial high voltage transmission line will be built.The project is a 180-mile power line that would bring power from Canada to New England. It first came to the attention of environmentalists and others when the […]
  • Stung by Criticism, Utilities Go on Tree-Cutting Rampage August 11, 2012
    Here in the northeast, we’ve been hit by a succession of “weather events” – ice storms, wind-storms, hurricanes, early snowfall, late snowfall. Each one offered the utility companies serving this area to demonstrate once again that they were completely unprepared. In each case, customers in the most advanced country in the world were left without power for w […]
  • Victory for the Blackstone: Court backs EPA, Worcester must stop dumping sewage into river August 7, 2012
    Score one for the Blackstone River, and all the people who care about it. The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals has lifted a stay of enforcement of an EPA order that will force upgrades at the Upper Blackstone Water Pollution Abatement district sewage treatment plant, according to an article in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.The problem is a simple o […]
  • NH Senate Denies Eminent Domain for Northern Pass – Or Does It? January 30, 2012
    Under intense public scrutiny, the New Hampshire Senate last week approved a bill that supposedly sets limits on the use of eminent domain to seize property for public projects and excludes using it for privately-funded projects. That would seem to exclude the controversial Northern Pass project, a proposed 180-mile transmission line that would bring hydroel […]
  • Northern Pass Developers Pushing State To Take Land By Force January 24, 2012
    Ever since the controversy began over the construction of a new transmission line to bring power from Canada into New Hampshire slicing through some of that state’s most scenic landscape, the backers of the project have been quietly lobbying for eminent domain powers to force reluctant landowners along the proposed route to sell.The issue gets its first real […]
  • The Balsams Landscape Has Been Saved! January 15, 2012
    Every once in a while the good guys win one.The Society for the Preservation of New Hampshire Forests has reached its goal of raising $850,000 to buy a 5,800-acre parcel of land near the famous Balsams Grand Hotel in Dixville Notch, NH. They made the announcement in a statement yesterday on their website.The land was considered a key piece on the proposed ro […]
  • Worcester officials cite city parks to defend continued pollution of Blackstone River December 29, 2011
    I was trying to find a short, pithy way of describing the gist of an article that appeared in today’s Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette.Here’s the story.The Blackstone River has its source in Worcester and flows through Rhode Island into Narragansett Bay. Since colonial times, residents and businesses have regarded it as their personal sewage system. […]
  • Slick media campaign hides the dark side of Northern Pass October 23, 2011
    The campaign to approve the billion-dollar plan to bring hydroelectric power from Canada to New England is in full swing. The home page for the project features pictures of all the things we like about New Hampshire, things like pristine lakes and woods. What it doesn’t show are the 140 miles of transmission lines criss-crossing the White Mountains, with 135 […]

RSS Martin Laine – Digital Journal

  • Giant tortoise species brought back from brink of extinction
    A species of Galapagos giant tortoises that numbered just 15 individuals 50 years ago, now has a healthy breeding population numbering over a thousand. The news is a rare bright spot at a time when the outlook for many species is increasingly bleak.
  • Stockholm’s backseat therapists to help battle ‘winter blues’
    As the months of extended darkness loom in the northern latitudes, so does the lethargy and depression known as “winter blues.” One Stockholm taxicab company is offering to have a therapist talk with their passengers during their ride.
  • New home colon cancer test goes on the market today
    Beginning today, a new home test for colorectal cancer will be available by prescription. The hope is that the millions of Americans who have been avoiding the unpleasant alternative testing methods will take advantage of it.
  • Heart transplant breakthrough could make more hearts available
    Surgeons in Australia have successfully transplanted hearts that had stopped beating, a major breakthrough in the process that had usually used only beating hearts. This could significantly increase the number of hearts available for transplantation.
  • Denmark rolls out the welcome mat for returning Jihadists
    While officials in many western countries are wringing their hands over what to do about those citizens who want to return after fighting with one of the extremist groups in Syria and Iraq, Denmark welcomes its returning Jihadists with open arms.
  • 'Let me survive this' says fugitive cop-killer lookalike
    Pity James Tully who has the misfortune of resembling Eric Frein, the object of a massive manhunt following the ambush shooting of two police officers six weeks ago, and who lives in Canadensis, Pa., the epicenter of the search.
  • Nine in Conn. ordered quarantined, monitored for Ebola
    Nine people, including a family of six, have been ordered to stay in their homes for the next three weeks while public health officials check for signs that they have contracted the Ebola virus. None of them have shown any signs of the illness so far.
  • Mass. stool bank offers donors $40 a poop
    Ever since the discovery that healthy human stool bacteria could be used to cure such debilitating diseases as colitis, the medical profession has struggled with two problems — collecting a sufficient supply and finding a way to get it into a patient.
  • Chinese officials scramble to find Putin’s tiger before poachers
    Kuzya, a 23-month-old orphaned Siberian tiger that Russian President Vladimir Putin helped release back into the wild in May, has crossed into China. The last thing Chinese officials want is for Kuzya to fall victim to poachers.
  • Trial raises questions over Navy's order for silencers
    What started out as an investigation into an alleged contract fraud scheme by a U.S. Navy directorate involving untraceable rifle silencers has raised questions about whether they were part of a secret mission or rogue operation.