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Category Archives: Environmental Risk

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Breaking: Puget Soundkeeper and Others Sue EPA (Again) Alleging Failure to Adopt Water Quality Standards for Washington that Account for Higher Fish Consumption Rates

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Water Quality

Earthjustice, representing a number of environmental groups, sued EPA on Friday alleging that EPA is in violation of the Clean Water Act because it has not finalized the draft rule it published back in September that set water quality standards for toxics in Washington based on higher fish consumption rates. This lawsuit is not a surprise,… Continue Reading

Breaking: EPA Issues Draft Rule Revising Washington’s Water Quality Standards for Toxics to Account for Higher Fish Consumption Rates

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Public Health Policy, Water Quality

Yesterday, following quickly on the heels of Governor Inslee’s withdrawal of Washington’s version of the fish consumption rule, EPA released draft water quality standards for toxics for Washington. These standards, if adopted, are significantly more stringent than those Ecology had proposed. By way of background, the core issue that emerged over the last two years is… Continue Reading

Ecology Files Fish Consumption Rule: What has Changed from Draft Language, and How has it Been Received?

Posted in Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Legislation, Public Health Policy

On Monday, right at the start of this year’s legislative session, Ecology filed its proposed rule that will–if adopted–result in adoption of new Water Quality Standards in Washington that account for high rates of fish consumption in this state. What has changed as compared to the preliminary draft rule? Not much, and nothing of substance…. Continue Reading

Breaking: EPA Issues its Record of Decision for the Duwamish River Superfund Site

Posted in Cleanup & Superfund, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Water Quality

EPA Region 10 just released its Record of Decision (ROD) for the Duwamish River Superfund Site. This is the next step in the cleanup process for the Lower Duwamish River, and documents EPA’s selected remedy for the site. It comes on the heels of EPA’s Proposed Plan for the Duwamish, issued in February 2013.  The… Continue Reading

Guest Post from Integral Consulting: Integral Continues the Conversation Related to Washington State’s Water Quality Standards Revisions

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Guest Posts, Water Quality

Doug’s post on July 23 provided an excellent summary of Ecology’s webinar outlining its revision process for water quality standards (WQSs). Integral would like to point out a few more details of interest in Ecology’s approach. Ecology indicated that it will continue to use bioconcentration factors (BCFs), which estimate concentrations in fish tissue based on… Continue Reading

Friday Morning Link Roundup: Pebble Mine 404(c) Restrictions; Survey Shows Majority of Washingtonians Support Coal Exports and Oil by Rail; Sierra Club Petitions to Ban DOT-111 Rail Cars; Science Communication in the Media and Risk Assessment Explained

Posted in Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Environmental Risk, Geeky Science Stuff, Public Health Policy

Here is the roundup of what has caught my eye over the past week: EPA’s Pebble Mine 404(c) Restrictions First, EPA released its Proposed Determination under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) for the Pebble Deposit Area in Southwest Alaska this morning. The executive summary of the proposed determination is here. In brief, EPA… Continue Reading

Governor Inslee Issues His Policy Brief on Updating Washington’s Water Quality Standards

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Legislation

Governor Inslee held a press conference yesterday morning, where he presented his policy brief on Washington’s ongoing efforts to update its water quality standards to account for higher fish consumption rates. This has been a long time coming, and is a significant development on what is arguably the most important environmental rulemaking effort Washington has… Continue Reading

What Can Washington Learn from Plastics in the Pacific and Mercury in the Midwest?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Geeky Science Stuff, Public Health Policy, Water Quality

Two different scientific papers caught my eye this past week. Neither involve research conducted in the Pacific Northwest, but both are worth reviewing in light of the fish consumption debate raging in Washington right now. The first is an upcoming article by a group of Spanish researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences… Continue Reading

Guest Post from Integral Consulting: Integral Continues the Conversation Related to Doug’s Posts on Fish Consumption Rates

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Geeky Science Stuff, Guest Posts, Water Quality

Note: This is the second guest post by Integral on this subject, it is also worth reviewing their prior post from February on this topic. In addition to the updated national recommended water quality criteria discussed by Doug on May 20, EPA has recently released another document with implications for selection of an appropriate fish… Continue Reading

Particulate Emissions from Trains in Washington: A Cause for Concern?

Posted in Clean Air Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Geeky Science Stuff

Last week, Dan Jaffe’s atmospheric research group at the University of Washington released the results of a study of particulate emissions associated with rail traffic here in Seattle and along the Columbia River. That study was motivated by the controversy over coal exports, and was funded by contributions from the Sierra Club and through crowdfunding…. Continue Reading

Guest Post: Integral Consulting’s Perspective on Washington’s Current Water Quality Standard Rulemaking Efforts

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Geeky Science Stuff, Guest Posts, Water Quality

Note from Doug Steding: This post came about when Randi Wexler from Integral Consulting Inc. sent me an email saying they were working on a comment to one of my previous fish consumption posts. Integral has been tracking this issue closely for a number of years, and I was excited to be able to offer… Continue Reading

The Latest on Fish Consumption Rates and Water Quality Criteria: AWB’s Study on Impacts to Utility Rates and the Futility of Achieving Contemplated Water Quality Criteria for Toxics

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Public Health Policy, Water Quality

The issue of fish consumption rates is something Washington has been wrestling with for years, but is an issue that has received mainstream media coverage only in the past year or so. I think it still is an issue that seems largely esoteric to many–frankly, it is a complex issue from a science, policy, and… Continue Reading

Washington Department of Ecology Intervenes in Lawsuit Seeking to Compel EPA to Adopt Revised Water Quality Standards for Washington

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Water Quality

Not surprisingly, on Tuesday, Ecology intervened in the lawsuit filed in October by a group of environmental organizations seeking to compel EPA to promulgate revised water quality standards for toxics in Washington that integrate a higher fish consumption rate. The motion to intervene is available here. It is opposed by the plaintiffs in this case,… Continue Reading

Breaking: Earthjustice Sues EPA Alleging Failure by EPA to Promulgate Water Quality Criteria for Toxics for Washington State

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Rule Making, Water Quality

With a hat tip to Josh Lipsky over at Cascadia Law for being on top of the latest in filings in the Western District of Washington on a Friday afternoon: Earthjustice and other environmental groups filed a complaint against EPA today alleging that EPA has violated Section 303(c)(4) of the Clean Water Act because EPA… Continue Reading

Happy Halloween: Feasibility Study for the Duwamish Completed, EPA Sends General Notice Letters

Posted in Cleanup & Superfund, Environmental Risk

A one-two punch in terms of the Duwamish Superfund site: First, late Halloween night, the Lower Duwamish Waterway Group posted the Final Feasibility Study for the Lower Duwamish. The entire document is available on LDWG’s site. This past Tuesday, EPA and Ecology had a public meeting where they outlined the changes between the draft feasibility… Continue Reading

Duwamish River Superfund Update

Posted in Cleanup & Superfund, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Public Health Policy

I’ve blogged before on various aspects of the Duwamish Superfund site process, which began in 2001 with the lower 5 miles of the Duwamish River being listed as a federal Superfund site. The last decade has seen a massive study of the river and scoping of cleanup options by the Lower Duwamish Waterway Group, (“LDWG”),… Continue Reading

Transgenerational Effects of Dioxin in Rats: Implications for Human Health Risk Assessments?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Public Health Policy

Researchers at Washington State have put out an interesting study on dioxin exposure in rats. A good summary of that research is in this week’s online version of Scientific American, and the paper itself is available at PLOS One. In brief, the study showed that great-grandchildren of rats exposed to TCDD (think Agent Orange) exhibited a… Continue Reading

Washington’s fish consumption policy efforts take a new turn

Posted in Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Public Health Policy, Rule Making, Water Quality

Ted Sturdevant, head of Washington’s Department of Ecology, just circulated this letter that backs off from the current path Ecology was on with respect to revising water quality standards and cleanup standards by revising fish consumption rates. I’ve written about this issue a few times: background is here, and some of the implications of the… Continue Reading

Will raising default fish consumption rates result in a cleaner environment?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Public Health Policy, Water Quality

There is more coverage on Washington’s efforts to revise fish consumption rates in today’s Seattle Times. I’ve shared my thoughts on this issue before, discussing the potential for regulatory gridlock, and reporting on early rumors during the start of this process a couple years ago. To summarize the issues, Ecology is looking to increase the… Continue Reading

More on getting the lead out: CDC eliminates lead exposure limits in children

Posted in Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Public Health Policy

My previous life as a scientist was largely focused on lead pollution issues–having worked in a lab that traces its roots back to the work of Dr. Claire Patterson. The first chapter of my dissertation involved the response of San Francisco Bay to leaded gasoline phase-out. So, my ears perked up when I heard this… Continue Reading

Environmental Risk Assessment, Fear of Cancer, and the Quincy Data Center Fight

Posted in Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Rule Making

Craig Welch at the Seattle Times authored a good article on the ongoing Quincy Data Center air permit appeal in today’s paper. His article gives a good summary of the background and the issues, which involve Clean Air Act permits issued by Ecology for massive data centers sited in Quincy, Washington. Those data centers rely… Continue Reading

Fish consumption, water quality standards and . . . regulatory gridlock?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Water Quality

Over the past two years, Washington’s Department of Ecology has been working to revise the estimates of daily fish consumption of various populations in the state. When coupled with a risk assessment, these consumption rates dictate what is deemed to be acceptable levels of toxics in surface waters, and, because of food web effects, in… Continue Reading