“Leeper Act,” lifts Kentucky’s 33-year-old moratorium on nuclear power plant construction

Kentucky United We Stand, Divided We Fall

Commonwealth of Kentucky
Governor’s Office

MEDIA ADVISORY

Contact: Woody Maglinger
502-564-2611
Woody.Maglinger@ky.gov

Gov. Bevin to Ceremonially Sign “Leeper Act”

Wednesday in Paducah

SB 11 lifts 33-year-old moratorium on nuclear power plant construction

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 12, 2017) – Gov. Matt Bevin will join state and local officials in Paducah on Wednesday to ceremonially sign the recently enacted Senate Bill 11. The legislation, known as the “Leeper Act,” lifts Kentucky’s 33-year-old moratorium on nuclear power plant construction.

McCracken County is home to the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, which produced enriched uranium from 1954 until 2013 and employed more than 1,000 local residents at its peak.

Who:

Governor Matt Bevin
Senator Danny Carroll
McCracken County Judge/Executive Bob Leeper

What:

Ceremonial Signing of Senate Bill 11 (“Leeper Act”)

When:

Wednesday, June 14
5:00 p.m. (CDT)

Where:

Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce
300 South 3rd Street
Paducah, Kentucky

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The Forest Service invites public review and comment on potential environmental remediation at the Rock Creek abandoned coal mine sites.(Rock Creek abandoned coal mine sites remediation)

 

Rock Creek

Rock Creek

Rock Creek is a beautiful stream, with magnificent boulders, riffles, glides, and pools. Flowing through southeastern Kentucky on Stearns Ranger District, it is both a Blue Ribbon trout fishery and a Kentucky Wild River. However, highly acidic water flowing from abandoned mine lands left the stream virtually dead from White Oak Junction to the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. The acid mine drainage had killed most of the vegetation and aquatic life in the stream.

The Rock Creek Task Force was formed with the cooperation of ten state and federal agencies and Trout Unlimited to tend to the needs of the Rock Creek watershed. Restoration work began in 2000 to improve water quality, sustain aquatic life, and bring back the beauty of the steam.

Innovative wetlands were constructed to treat the mine flow heading into the stream. Limestone sand was placed in Rock Creek to neutralize the acidic water coming from the mines. Tons of coal refuse material was removed, treated, and relocated to designated storage locations. Limestone rock was placed along the channels as they enter Rock Creek to boost alkalinity.

Monitoring of Lower Rock Creek has shown an improvement in water quality and aquatic life. The charts below show how acidity has been reduced and alkalinity increased at several sites.

Fish surveys at lower Rock Creek have yielded multiple species in good and improving numbers. A July 2001 fish survey collected a brown trout and a blackside dace, each found in different parts of the Rock Creek watershed. The most optimistic sign of all is the presence of anglers who have returned to fish the lower portion of Rock Creek.

Water Tank Hollow, a three-acre site located on the north bank of Lower Rock Creek, was once used for dumping mining refuse. Secondary acid forming minerals were observed in the refuse as shown in the chart below. About 20,000-30,000 tons of coal refuse material was removed, treated and deposited in a safe location.

Water Tank Hollow, Rock Creek

 

 

The Forest Service invites public review and comment on potential environmental remediation at the Rock Creek abandoned coal mine sites.

The Rock Creek Mine Sites are located in the Daniel Boone National Forest, Stearns Ranger District, McCreary County, approximately five miles west of Stearns, Kentucky.

The U.S. Forest Service is examining this site to:

  1. evaluate the environmental impacts;
  2. assess public health risks; and
  3. minimize the impacts associated with historic coal mining activities in this area.

Additional information about this project

Project Fact Sheet (pdf)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service invites public review and comment on potential environmental remediation at the Rock Creek abandoned coal mine sites in McCreary County, Ky. This action is in accordance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidance under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980.                       

An Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA) summarizes possible alternatives to reduce or remove acid mine drainage impacts at the abandoned coal mine locations. This draft document and other project-related reports will be available soon for review at the Daniel Boone National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Stearns District office, and online at www.fs.usda.gov/dbnf/. Office addresses can also be found on that web page.

Public comments on the draft EE/CA will be accepted in the near future for a period of thirty (30) days. Tentative plans are to make this draft EE/CA available for public review and comments sometime in November, 2016. Comments and responses will be summarized and included in open records. Written comments may be sent to the Daniel Boone National Forest Supervisor’s Office or emailed to:

comments-southern-daniel-boone@fs.fed.us with CERCLA as the subject line.

Nuclear waste dumped illegally in Kentucky

This is the entrance to an Estill County landfill where

 

James Bruggers8:26 p.m. EST February 25, 2016

Drilling wastes containing concentrated but naturally occurring radio active materials made their way into Kentucky, state officials confirmed on Thursday.

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After learning in January that low-level nuclear waste from drilling operations had been dumped illegally in Kentucky last year, state officials are warning this week that all landfills be on the lookout and to not accept any of the radioactive material.

Kentucky Division of Waste Management Director Tony Hatton said officials have confirmed that low-level nuclear waste from drilling operations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia was sent to a landfill in Estill County between July and November. Officials are also investigating possible illegal shipments of similar waste to a landfill in Greenup County.

He said the waste comes from rock and brine that’s brought to the surface during oil and gas drilling. Naturally occurring radionuclides concentrate during the process. A West Virginia company that recycles the drilling further concentrates the radionuclides — and that’s the waste that Hatton said made to the Blue Ridge Landfill last year in the small town of Irvine, in Estill County, Ky., he said.

It came in 47 sealed boxes, he said. They believe each box contained 25 cubic yards of materials.

State officials do not believe the drilling waste sent to the Green Valley Landfill in Greenup County near West Virginia had gone through that recycling process, so it would present less risk to landfill workers or the public, Hatton said.

Neither is allowed to be transported into Kentucky from those states for disposal, he said.

Joint investigation

The state began investigating after receiving a tip in January about shipments of the waste.

The advisory letter was intended to put all landfill operators, waste haulers, transfer station operators and local waste management officials on notice so that they can make sure they are following the law, Hatton said.

Hatton said the waste management division is working with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and its Radiation Health Branch on the investigation. He said the health cabinet regulates radioactive materials, radioactive waste and disposal under terms of a compact with the state of Illinois.

He said state officials plan to meet again with the Blue Ridge Landfill’s operators, Florida-based Advance Disposal, to learn more about how the waste was handled and whether any workers or others might have been exposed. He said there is no reason to believe that there is any ongoing exposure at that dump.

“The best we know, the material has been buried since November,” he said.

While the health cabinet is taking the lead, Hatton said the waste division is also investigating potential enforcement actions.

Kentucky does not have a landfill designed to safely accept low-level radioactive waste, which often includes radioactively contaminated protective clothing, tools, filters, rags and medical tubes. Radioactivity of this category can range from just above background levels to very highly radioactive in cases such as parts from inside a reactor vessel in a nuclear power plant, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

No acceptable dump

The drilling waste is called TENORM, from the term technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material. It comes from such activities as manufacturing, mineral extraction or water processing, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA says radioactivity in TENORM can vary greatly.

Dr. Kraig Humbaugh, senior deputy commissioner at the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said authorities do not know the concentration or radioactivity levels of the material brought into Kentucky. Testing in Estill County now shows no radiation beyond normal background levels, he said.

The state health department is working to assess any risk to employees or others at the time of the placement of the material in the landfill, the agency said in a written statement.

“Legal action against the firm that engaged in the illegal dumping and the landfill that accepted the contaminated material is under review,” the statement said.

Louisville attorney Tom Fitzgerald, director of the Kentucky Resources County and an expert on waste disposal, said the notice sent out Monday by the state underscores concerns about environmental consequences from booming oil and gas fracking zones.

Every county in Kentucky with a landfill needs to have agreements with their owners and operators that ban this kind of waste, he said.

The radionuclides in the waste can have a half-life of more than 1,000 years while liners used in municipal solid waste landfills are warranted typically for only 30 years, FitzGerald said. A half-life is the amount of time required for half the atoms in a radioactive substance to disintegrate.

The Estill County High School and Middle School are located across Kentucky Highway 89 from the landfill.

“Our number one concern is for those kids out there,” Ronnie Riddell, Estill County Emergency Management Agency director, said. “It’s concerning.”

He said Estill County is looking to the health and family services cabinet for information and guidance, adding that he only learned of the dumping from a news reporter on Thursday.

Landfill operator reaction

Hatton said West Virginia-based Fairmont Brine Processing produced the waste, which was brought to the Estill landfill by Advanced TENORM Services, based in West Liberty, Ky. Calls to Fairmont were not returned, and the CJ could not reach Jason Hoskins, the West Liberty man identified as TENORM Services sole officer in state business filings. That company’s website was not functioning Thursday.

“We are working with the state and trying to determine who’s on first base,” Charles Law, general manager of Blue Ridge Landfill, said. He said the matter was being handled farther up the corporate ladder, and declined further comment except to say that there were “gray areas” in how the material got to the landfill.

“We accepted it under normal landfill practices,” he said when asked whether his company knew the material was radioactive.

The letter from the waste management division reminded landfill and transfer station operators and haulers, that it’s their responsibility to make sure they comply with state regulations regarding the handling and disposal of radioactive materials.

FitzGerald said state officials need to track down and account for all of these radioactive wastes that came into Kentucky, and then make sure they do not pose a long-term threat to the public. For the Estill dump, that may mean extracting any closed containers and dispose of them in a licensed low-level nuclear waste dump, he said.

Any landfills that accepted the waste will need to extend the length of time that operators are responsible for any pollution to account for the long-lived radionuclides, he said.

Reach reporter James Bruggers at 502-582-4645 and at jbruggers@courier-journal.com.

CONTINUE READING…

Officials hope fiber will replace coal in eastern Kentucky

By ADAM BEAM Associated Press

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HAZARD, Ky.

In the 1970s, as the oil crisis spurred an increase in mining, Victor Justice taught people in eastern Kentucky how to mine coal.

Forty years later, his son is teaching them how to write code to build websites.

As the coal industry disappears across Appalachia, politicians and entrepreneurs have been trying to find something to replace it. On Monday, hundreds of people gathered in Hazard to hear one solution: A 3,400-mile network of fiber optic cables that state and private sector officials say will create one of the country’s fastest networks in one of the nation’s worst areas for access to high speed Internet service.

“We’re betting our future on the coming of this dark fiber,” Rusty Justice said of his company, Bit Source, which builds websites.

State and federal officials christened the network Monday, the product of about three years of negotiation that spanned political and geographic rivalries in a state that has plenty of each. The network will cost about $324 million to build. Taxpayers will pay about $53.5 million, with the rest coming from private investors. Kentucky will own the network, which will begin in eastern Kentucky but eventually reach into all of the state’s 120 counties. But the Australian-based investment firm Macquarie Group and its partners will build the network and operate it for the next 30 years.

On Monday, a packed auditorium watched as the CEO of a technology company demonstrated how he can build networks that can download video in less “five milliseconds.” And in an area that has a shortage of OB-GYNs, people watched a pregnant woman lay down on an exam table while a doctor in Lexington, about 100 miles away, gave her an ultrasound with telemedicine technology.

It’s the kind of benefits officials say the broadband network can bring to eastern Kentucky, which has suffered for years with little cellphone service and limited access to high-speed Internet.

“Broadband is not just about Facebook or HD Netflix,” said Jared Arnett, executive director of the Saving Our Appalachian Region, a group charged with transitioning eastern Kentucky’s economy. “This is about economic opportunity.”

Construction will begin this year and is scheduled to be finished by the middle of 2016 in eastern Kentucky. Other parts of the states will take longer to build. Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear called it the most important infrastructure project in the state’s history, more so than the Interstate highway system. But they cautioned that the network will only help if people use it. The network is just a means for information to travel. Businesses, school districts, hospitals, local governments and others have to build the products that would make the network worthwhile.

Earlier this month, Beshear created a governing board to oversee the construction of the network. And his state finance cabinet has put together a fiber planning guide for local communities to use as they prepare for how to use the network.

“We know that broadband is not a silver bullet. There is none. But it levels the playing field. It gives us a chance,” Rogers said. “It takes away the historic barriers to better jobs: the difficult terrain, the isolation that we’ve endured these generations.”

Bit Source is based in Pikeville, the center of what was once the state’s largest coal producing county. It’s the same county where, 40 years ago, Rusty Justice’s father worked for the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program to train people how to operate heavy machinery and other skills needed in the coal industry.

Now Justice said he is seeing those same workers ask him for a job. Justice offered to hire 10 people, preferably out-of-work coal industry workers, and train them how to code. He got 974 applications. The company opened in March and, after 22 weeks of training, has been building websites for companies and local governments.

“We now have a small, embryonic tech sector alive and well in Pikeville,” he said.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article32973237.html#storylink=cpy

Bats with White Nose Syndrome: An Interview with David Blehert

 

 

 

 

On the outskirts of Madison, Wisconsin at the United States Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center, David Blehert sits in an office that overlooks a prairie restoration project. Swallows—looking to my amateur eyes an awful lot like the bats Blehert studies—nosedive over the tall grass, missing his window by mere inches.

Blehert is the branch chief of the Wildlife Disease Diagnostic Laboratories, where he and his colleagues investigate the causes of death in wildlife brought to their facilities from across the United States. Their goal is to diagnose and minimize the impact of disease on wildlife.

I visited Blehert to talk about his work with bats with White-Nose Syndrome, a fungal disease that’s killed over six million bats in the past nine years. Blehert and his colleagues isolated the pathogen that causes the disease here in 2008. The following is an edited version of our conversation.

JSTOR DAILY: Tell me about your work with bats.

David Blehert: I’ve been at the USGS-National Wildlife Health Center for about 12 years now. White-Nose Syndrome in bats has been a large part of my research program here since 2008, when we described the fungus that causes the disease.

White-Nose Syndrome is a wildlife disease impacting only hibernating bats. An agency like the USGS-National Wildlife Health Center has expertise in wildlife population, structure, and management, so understanding wildlife diseases like White-Nose Syndrome is central to our mission.

White-Nose Syndrome is caused by a fungus called Pseudogymnoascus destructans… Is it coincidental that the species name sounds like destruction?

No.

Why did this disease emerge now?

Think about all the global travel and trade we see today. I believe we’re building a very strong case that this is likely a pathogen of European origin—with which European bats for the most part co-exist—that was inadvertently brought to the US either by a tourist or through trade. It falls under that guise of pathogen pollution or introduction of a novel pathogen into a naïve host ecosystem. Think of it like an invasive species that’s behaving out of check.

In the winter of 2005–2006, a recreational caver took a photograph of a bat that had white fungus around its nose, but he didn’t know the significance of his photograph of it at the time.

In the winter of 2006–2007, New York State biologists were conducting a semi-annual survey of endangered Indiana bats, and they saw in five caves near Albany, New York either that the bats were missing or they were dead and on the floor.

The next winter, in January 2008, we started getting samples. Four or five months later, by April or May of 2008, we identified the pathogen. I think our first publication in Science came out online in October 2008, and then ended up in the Charles Darwin anniversary print issue, in January of 2009.

Here we are a mere ten years later, and you’ve mentioned that six to seven million bats have died.

Yes, it really has been unprecedented in terms of the rapidity with which this disease has spread… I’m very proud of our track record in terms of defining the basic biology of this pathogen and answering fundamental questions to demonstrate in the laboratory that it causes the disease.

We have some ideas now on the mechanisms by which it kills bats. We’ve made great strides in terms of characterizing how the pathogen has the potential to exist perpetually in these caves so that bats pick it up.

We’ve also defined transmission pathways that spread it bat to bat, though they likely also pick it up in the environment as well. That means that if you are a biologist or recreational caver that goes into a cave and steps in soil that harbors these long-living spores of the fungus, you need to decontaminate your shoes so that you don’t track it to a new cave.

So humans spread it around?

Yes. Since we can’t control the movement of wild animals, we’ve looked to what we can do to enact bio-security measures so that a human does not inadvertently transport spores to a site at greater distance than where you would expect bats to gradually move the pathogen on their own. To date, we have not observed or documented any long-distance jumps of the fungus, and so I think that’s good evidence that what management we can enact is working.

You mentioned that White-Nose Syndrome is “unprecedented” in terms of its destructive force. How would it compare to, say, Colony Collapse Disorder in bees?

It’s quite different, actually. First of all, after as many years, I still don’t think we have a clear cause for Colony Collapse Disorder. Numerous causes have been proposed and it could be some combination of those.

The other major difference is that the bees that are most susceptible, honey bees, are a domesticated, non-native bee species. They’re not “wildlife.”

European honey bees were imported to the United States over 100 years ago and are still to this day maintained under husbandry conditions. You’re talking about something that’s raised in captivity and harbored or maintained by humans, so there are direct management applications.

You’ve been able to identify which fungus is causing White-Nose Syndrome in the bats, but how does it actually kill them?

One of the interesting properties and something that makes this fungus unique, is that it cannot grow above 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

A bat’s body temperature is about 98 to a 100 degrees Fahrenheit when it’s metabolically active. But in the wintertime, bats in temperate regions of North America build up fat reserves and go into a hibernation period for about six months of the year from late October through April.

While they’re hibernating, their body temperature is about the same as the inside of your refrigerator, or close to about 44 degrees Fahrenheit. This lower body temperature allows the fungus to grow.

But hibernation is complicated. Bats go into hibernation for a period of about two to three weeks, and then they come out of hibernation for an hour and then they go back into hibernation for two to three weeks, and then come out for about an hour. They even mate sometimes during those arousal periods.

These arousals, even though they’re not well understood, are believed to be essential to their physiological health.

One of the things people have noticed is that when bats get White-Nose Syndrome, they come out of hibernation more frequently. Their hibernation periods are shortened and their arousal frequency increases.

This disruption to the normal rhythms of hibernation causes them to consume the fat reserves required for them to survive winter.

So could they be starving to death when they have White Nose Syndrome?

That’s one theory.

The disease is called White-Nose Syndrome because they get blooms of fungal growth on their noses. But the primary area where the fungus colonizes the bat is on their un-haired wings. Their wings are basically just skin… The scientific Order bat is chiroptera, which means “hand wing.”

That’s where the fungus starts to grow, on the wing?

Right, and the skin that comprises the wing comprises over 80% of all skin on the bat, so it’s this massive surface area and it’s literally two cell layers thick. It’s exquisitely delicate, and it’s full of nerves and blood vessels and muscle. It’s quite a remarkable structure. It’s the only mammal that is capable of self-powered flight, and it’s a very different flight strategy than that used by birds, even in terms of their basic musculature.

The fungus colonizes this exquisitely delicate skin… and causes profound damage, impacting the ability of the animal to fly, which it has to do in order to feed itself. In addition, these wings also mediate functions like release of CO2 while the animals are hibernating and otherwise breathing at very low rates.

They might only be taking two, three, four breaths a minute during hibernation, and so they can passively off-load some percentage of the CO2 that accumulates in their blood through their wing skin.

There are all sorts of complex physiological functions [of the wing membrane], and that’s what we believe is the heart of the issue, that White-Nose Syndrome is disrupting this delicately balanced physiology of an animal that has to survive for six months of every year without eating.

So the fungus colonizes the skin on their wings, interfering with their ability to fly, and therefore to eat. That sounds mighty grim. Is there any hope?

We have shown both through laboratory and animal work that we did in collaboration with a bat rehabilitator that if you take a bat sick with White-Nose Syndrome out of hibernation, give it a warm environment and feed it, it will get better on its own, so further medical intervention is not required. Other people have gone in to caves and put wing-band markers on hibernating bats that visibly had White-Nose Syndrome, and they’ve later recaptured those bats in the springtime, and they’ve apparently healed or not shown signs of the fungus.

It’s not necessarily an easy route for a bat to cure the infection on its own, but it is possible. We’ve seen that European bats commonly have the fungus on them, and they even develop lesions that under the microscope are indistinguishable from those that we see in North American bats, but they just don’t progress to the point that they kill the bat.

That could be a consequence of those bats having some immunological resistance to the fungus or the environmental conditions under which those European bats hibernate being less conducive to rapid growth and progression of the fungal disease.

European bat populations tend to be much smaller than North American bat populations. The bat populations most heavily impacted by White-Nose Syndrome in eastern North America often numbered tens to even hundreds of thousands of bats per large cave system. In Europe those bat populations, instead of being tens to hundreds of thousands are tens to hundreds of bats.

It could be that as our US populations are drastically reduced to similar levels… there’s lesser amplification of the fungus, so that when bats do get infected, they get infected later in the year, with fewer spores, and the disease does not progress to that highly lethal level.

Then, maybe in the future the bat populations will rebound to some point where they reach whatever balance they can maintain with the fungus.

But a big challenge here [in terms of conservation] is that bats are very, very different from birds or even rodents. Some people call them flying mice, but they are not. Unlike birds or rodents, bats have a very low reproductive rate, producing only one offspring per year, so population recovery, if possible, will likely be slow.

Yes, bats have a bad reputation.

I think that genetically, they may be more closely related to marine mammals than they are to mice. You wouldn’t necessarily think this from looking at them… The ones that are heavily impacted in North America, they weigh six to eight grams, which is about as much as two or three pennies.

Oh, wow, these bats are tiny.

Yes, and their bodies are about two inches, total wingspan is approximately 6 to 8 inches.

Two inches? Their bodies are two inches?

Yes.

Everybody’s so afraid of them!

I know. They’re really cute actually. Nonetheless, these animals live 10 to 20 years and they only have one baby per year, so for an animal that has a high level of parental care and low reproductive rates, their populations do not recover quickly.

When you’re managing wildlife, you have to think in terms of the population because you can’t readily manage populations by treating individual animals. That’s something we do for our pets or our kids or ourselves. But if your goal is to find an economically viable solution to maintaining entire species, you have to look towards something that benefits more than individuals.

What are some of the things people are trying to do to counter the devastation of White-Nose Syndrome?

Something that we’re looking at now is to develop a better understanding of how environmental conditions in hibernation sites contribute to the environmental reservoir of the fungus and to progression of the disease. Is there, for example, a way that you could subtly change temperature profiles of underground hibernation sites? You could propose to do this in an artificial mine, for example, which often are occupied by large numbers of bats.

Right here in the state of Wisconsin, the three largest hibernacula in the state are two sand mines that I think have been in operation since the 1940s, and an abandoned underground iron mine that may harbor up to a half million animals each winter.

You mentioned that one way you’ve tried to stop the spread or deal with this, is by changing the temperature of caves…

Actually lowering the temperature. We’re still developing the data to support this idea, but that’s what we are investigating.

Raising the temperature to the point that it would preclude growth of the fungus would also preclude the ability of the bats to hibernate.

A postdoc in my laboratory, Dr. Michelle Verant, has published a paper in PLOSONE about this.

How on earth would you drop the temperature of a cave?

Well, if it’s a mine, you can drill ventilation tunnels to change airflow patterns.

Are there other possible solutions?

Researchers, including people in my laboratory, are also looking at various bio-control or chemical control strategies, but a lot of these are based on novel ideas and the reality is that novel ideas take time to go through testing and approvals and licensing so that they can be released in the environment. … You’re looking at a decade-off solution.

A disease-management strategy that works in humans and in domestic animals, and that has also been proven to work in wildlife is vaccination. Vaccination is currently used to control the spread of rabies in wild carnivores like raccoons, skunks, foxes. They do that by dropping vaccine that’s put in edible baits from airplanes.

Oh, interesting. So you’d basically be trying to feed the bats something that would vaccinate them against White-Nose Syndrome?

I think it also has much broader implications. Bats, especially in the tropics, have been identified as the reservoirs for some of the horrendous viral diseases you read about in the paper like Ebola, Marburg, SARS, and MERS. So there is the potential that you could do widespread vaccination against zoonotic diseases and start to eliminate them just like we’ve eliminated small pox.

In the meantime, bats are still dying at an alarming rate from White-Nose Syndrome?

What we know about high mortality comes largely from the Northeastern United States. There seemed to be a delay in spread over the Appalachian Mountains into the Southern Midwestern areas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio. There was a delay that I think we can define as about three years from when we first detected the fungus in this group of animals until we started seeing mortality. Now we’re definitely, as of last winter, seeing high bat mortality in those areas, but we don’t yet know how it’s going to compare to what we have seen in the Northeast.

We’ve just had our first detection in Wisconsin, but it’s colder, and maybe a little drier here in the winter so we don’t yet fully understand what the ultimate impacts may be. They could be bad, but then again as you move further into the arid West, once you cross the Mississippi River and the 100th meridian, the country starts transitioning to a drier climate, and there’s different population dynamics. The bats become more dispersed as opposed to hibernating in large caves.

My hope is that some of these species, which also exist west of the Mississippi, will be impacted to a lesser degree. That’s just speculation on my part, but there clearly are some environmental differences.

I know little brown bats are affected, but what other major bat species get White-Nose Syndrome?

One called the Eastern pipistrelle (some call it the Tri-colored bat) is heavily impacted. The Northern long-eared bat is a candidate for the endangered species listing because of this disease. The Indiana bat, which is on the endangered species list, is definitely susceptible, and then there’s some other, less common species in which infection has been documented but has not necessarily had adverse impacts, like the Eastern small-footed bat. The Big Brown bat does get infected, but also seems to be somewhat resistant, and it’s also less frequently found in caves. It really is the cave hibernating bats that are most at risk.

What can people do to try to help stop the spread of this?

Following what are called “Universal Precautions” in disease epidemiology—not moving from one cave to another without decontaminating—will help. If you’re a recreational caver, do not bring gear from an infected site to an uninfected site. Also, anything that supports bat habitat will help the bats.

Bats have such a bad reputation. So many people are afraid of them. They think of Dracula or they think of rabies or even Ebola. Some people might say “Good riddance,” what does it matter that bats are dying?

Bats are an integral component of our ecosystem. They consume vast amounts of insects. Those bats consuming insects can be referred to as providing an “ecosystem service,” and people have valued the “ecosystem services” provided by bats to US agriculture in the tens of billions of dollars a year.

We don’t understand all of contributions that bats provide to our ecosystem, but if you take too many bricks out of the bottom course of the wall, eventually the whole wall can collapse. I think it’s important to recognize that bats have intrinsic value in and of themselves as unique element of our world.  CONTINUE READING…


JSTOR Citations

DNA-based detection of the fungal pathogen Geomyces destructans in soils from bat hibernacula
Daniel L. Lindner, Andrea Gargas, Jeffrey M. Lorch, Mark T. Banik, Jessie Glaeser, Thomas H. Kunz and David S. Blehert
Mycologia
Vol. 103, No. 2 (March/April 2011) , pp. 241-246
Published by: Mycological Society of America

Colony Collapse Disorder: Many Suspects, No Smoking Gun
Myrna E. Watanabe
BioScience, Vol. 58, No. 5 (May 2008), pp. 384-388
Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences

Inoculation of bats with European Geomyces destructans supports the novel pathogen hypothesis for the origin of white-nose syndrome
Lisa Warnecke, James M. Turner, Trent K. Bollinger, Jeffrey M. Lorch, Vikram Misra, Paul M. Cryan, Gudrun Wibbelt, David S. Blehert and Craig K. R. Willis
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 109, No. 18 (May 1, 2012) , pp. 6999-7003
Published by: National Academy of Sciences

Use of Temperature-sensitive Transmitters to Monitor the Temperature Profiles of Hibernating Bats Affected with White-Nose Syndrome”
Eric R. Britzke, Price Sewell, Matthew G. Hohmann, Ryan Smith and Scott R. Darling
Northeastern Naturalist
Vol. 17, No. 2 (2010) , pp. 239-246
Published by: Eagle Hill Institute

animalsbatsbats with white-nose syndromeBioScienceDavid BlehertDavid S. BlehertMycologiaNortheastern NaturalistPNASPseudogymnoascus destructanswhite-nose syndrome

ATTENTION KENTUCKY: ANOTHER PIPELINE PLAN FOR NATURAL GAS LIQUIDS

Saturday, 08 November 2014 10:00

 

 

 

 

The alarm is ringing again for Kentuckians who already stopped one potentially hazardous pipeline project. Public backlash plugged plans for the Bluegrass Pipeline, which included building 180 miles of new pipeline to help transport natural gas liquids from the Northeast to the Gulf Coast. Now, less than a year later, another pipeline for the fracking industry is in the works – this time to repurpose the Tennessee Gas Pipeline to move natural gas liquids. Environmental advocate Chris Schimmoeller calls it “a far different beast” from natural gas.

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline system currently travels just over one-thousand miles from Pennsylvania to Louisiana. Installed primarily in the 1950s, it runs 256 miles through 18 Kentucky counties. Campbellsville, Danville, Glasgow, Morehead and Richmond are among the towns near its path.

Energy conglomerates Kinder Morgan and MarkWest want to make the pipeline conversion to natural gas liquids by 2017. Marion County Judge Executive John Mattingly opposes the idea.

With this second pipeline controversy brewing in Kentucky, citizens who united to stop the Bluegrass Pipeline are hosting a summit tomorrow (November 8) in Lexington about fracking. Schimmoeller, one of the summit’s organizers, says there will also be a focus on how to move away from fossil fuels.

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Top ten climate polluters in Kentucky

James Bruggers, jbruggers@courier-journal.com 7:14 p.m. EDT September 30, 2014

 

 

Power plants top Kentucky’s biggest sources of climate pollution, according to just-released data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

There’s no surprise there.

But a prominent chemical plant in Louisville’s Rubbertown area — Dupont Louisville Works — is in the top ten biggest climate polluters in Kentucky for its emissions of hydrofluorocarbons, which the EPA say are actually more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to heating up the atmosphere.

The EPA released its fourth year of Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program data, detailing greenhouse gas pollution trends and emissions broken down by industrial sector, geographic region and individual facilities. In 2013, reported emissions from large industrial facilities nationwide were 20 million metric tons higher than the prior year, or 0.6 percent, driven largely by an increase in coal use for power generation, the agency said.

That figure intrigued me because conventional wisdom is that we’ve been burning more natural gas (which has less impact on the climate) and less coal.

RELATED: Air pollution district, union agree on job cuts

There is a lot of data to look at, and this is just my first crack at it. I started by doing a quick search of top emitters in Kentucky and Indiana, then top emitters in Louisville Metro, or Jefferson County.

Kentucky Utility’s Ghent plant topped all of Kentucky’s largest industrial sources of a several greenhouse gases, with 12.8 million metric tons released in 2013, the most current year for which the data is available. That’s up 12 percent from the year before. LG&E’s Mill Creek plant in Louisville ranked third, with 7.9 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, a 20 percent decrease since 2010, according to the data.

But Dupont, the long-time Rubbertown chemical plant, ranked 7th, emitting 4,1 million tons, nearly all of that hydrofluorocarbons. That number was down from about 6 million pounds in 2011.

So what are hydrofluorocarbons and what impact do they have on the climate?

From the EPA:

Unlike many other greenhouse gases, fluorinated gases have no natural sources and only come from human-related activities. They are emitted through a variety of industrial processes such as aluminum and semiconductor manufacturing. Many fluorinated gases have very high global warming potentials (GWPs) relative to other greenhouse gases, so small atmospheric concentrations can have large effects on global temperatures.

HCFCs can have a global warming potential of between 140 to 11,700 times that of carbon dioxide, EPA says. The larger the global warming potential, the more warming the gas causes, according to EPA. The agency explains it this way: “For example, methane’s 100-year GWP is 21, which means that methane will cause 21 times as much warming as an equivalent mass of carbon dioxide over a 100-year time period.”

Statewide rankings for Kentucky:

1) Ghent power plant, 12.8 million metric tons.

2) Paradise power plant, 12.1.

3) Mill Creek power plant, 7.9.

4) H.L. Spurlock power plant, 7.8.

5) Trimble County power plant, 7.3.

6) Shawnee power plant, 7.2.

7) Dupont Louisville Works chemical plant, 4.1.

8) R.D. Green power plant, 3.6.

9) East Bend power plant, 3.5.

10) Coleman power plant, 3.3.

Two southern Indiana power plants ranked among the top ten greenhouse gas emitters in Indiana:

1) Gibson power plant, 16 million metric tons.

10) Clifty power plant, 5.8 million metric tons.

 

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