Environment

Montpelier Sewer Problems Plague Winooski River

Apr 18, 2013

Water and sewer customers in Montpelier will be receiving some advice with their April bill on what is and is not acceptable to flush down the toilet. This comes after a wad of industrial cleaning rags was found to be the cause of a backup in the system on March 11. The result was an estimated 360,000 gallons of effluent discharged into the Winooski River. In his weekly report on Friday, City Manager William Fraser wrote:

A pipeline company needs a state Act 250 land use permit if it wants to ship tar sands oil through northern Vermont, a district environmental coordinator has ruled.

In an eight page decision, District 7 Environmental Coordinator Kirsten Sultan said the land use law applies because reversing the flow of the pipeline to carry the heavy crude would be a substantial change to the existing development.

Environmentalists had called for Act 250 review of the potential tar sands project. Jim Murphy, a senior counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, hailed the ruling.

The Vermont Health Department is launching a research study this month into Eastern Equine Encephalitis - also referred to as "triple E" - a rare disease.

Health officials are asking for volunteers from three towns near where the mosquito-borne disease killed two people last year.

The study will test how many volunteers from Brandon, Sudbury and Whiting are infected with the virus that causes EEE, but have not gotten seriously ill. The blood tests would detect antibodies to the virus.

Erica Berl is an infectious disease epidemiologist with the Health Department.

D.R. McCarthy

Earlier this week officials in New Hampshire said they had found an infestation of emerald ash borer in the Concord area.

Now Vermont officials are reminding the public that the best way to prevent the spread of the insect is to burn local firewood.

The emerald ash borer is an invasive pest from China first detected in this country in 2002. Since then it has been discovered in 19 states, including New York and Massachusetts and the province of Quebec.

A Senate committee is spending much of the week on legislation that would establish new protections for the shorelines of lakes and ponds.

The House passed a version of the bill last month. But the compromise disappointed both environmentalists - who want to see tougher restrictions - and property rights advocates, who oppose new state regulation.

Toby Talbot / AP

A natural gas pipeline planned for Addison County has prompted dozens of individuals and organizations to seek a voice in the upcoming permit hearings. 

The groups include the state Agency of Agriculture, an association of fuel dealers, and towns located along the route.

Vermont Gas Systems wants to extend a pipeline south from Chittenden County to Middlebury and then under Lake Champlain to a paper mill in Ticonderoga, NY. 

Shumlin Announces Release Of New Bird Atlas

Apr 3, 2013
AP File/Toby Talbot / Wild turkeys walk through the snow in Barre in this 2010 file photo. A new resource for understanding Vermont's bird populations

Governor Peter Shumlin helped mark the publication of a new book today that's a new resource for understanding Vermont's bird populations.

Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont, was produced with the help of 350 volunteers who donated thousands of hours compiling the information.

Shumlin says the atlas will help the state protect and build ecosystems where birds will thrive.

The State Public Service Board is hearing testimony on a proposed wood-chip-fired power plant in North Springfield.

The 35 megawatt project would be Vermont's largest biomass plant.

Developers of the proposed plant say it will create jobs and help the state meet its goals for renewable energy.

Winstanley Enterprises is the company behind the plan, and it built North Springfield Industrial Park, where the plant would be built.

Winstanley partnered with Weston Solutions, which specializes in sustainable power projects.

Lynx Sightings On The Rise

Apr 3, 2013

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department says sightings of Canada lynx are on the rise in the Northeast Kingdom.

Officials say there were only four confirmed sightings of the animals in Vermont between the late 1700s and early 2000s but say sightings have been increasing every year since 2003.

The department is doing surveys to determine the extent and distribution of the animal in Vermont.

Lynx are listed as threatened under the federal endangered species act and as endangered in Vermont. They are rarely seen because they are nocturnal and secretive.

AP/Jeannie Nuss / Oil covers the ground around a slide in Mayflower, Ark., on April 1, 2013, days after a pipeline ruptured and spewed oil over

An oil spill in Arkansas may add urgency to Vermont legislation that would regulate oil pipelines.

Environmentalists point to similarities between the pipeline in Arkansas that ruptured and one in northern Vermont that could be used to ship tar sands oil.

The accident last week in Mayflower, AR spilled about 80,000 gallons of oil and forced the evacuation of 22 homes.

The 20-inch, underground line was used to carry tar sands oil from western Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

A bacterial disease spread by tick bites is getting attention this week in the Statehouse.

Lyme disease patients and their advocates are pushing for a bill that requires insurance companies to cover long-term antibiotic care for the debilitating illness.

The bill highlights a debate in the medical community about the most effective treatment, because it sanctions a medical practice that critics say is not recommended by state and federal agencies.

A school in Hanover is being tested for the presence of a chemical that was used as a refrigerant at a nearby laboratory.

Richmond Middle School sits across the road from the U-S Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory.

The chemical trichloroethylene was used as a refrigerant at the lab from the 1960s until 1987.

Officials say TCE has been found at trace levels on the lab grounds, but recent testing hasn't found any unsafe levels of the vapor at the school.

VPR/Melody Bodette / David Marvin holds a fresh bottle of maple syrup at Butternut Mountain Farm in Morrisville. The company handles 50 percent of

Sap is flowing, the buckets are hanging from trees and the steam is billowing from country sugarhouses all over the state.

It's an image that helps sugarmakers market their syrup. But it's no longer a very accurate picture.

Maple has become big business. In the past ten years, the number of trees that aretapped has tripled and technological advancements have doubled the amount of syrup produced for each tap.

http://www.vpr.net/audio/news/regional_news/2013/04/spot-0330-0401-Maple Boom_040113_Melody Bodette.mp3

Welch To Talk About Renewable Energy

Apr 1, 2013

Congressman Peter Welch is planning to announce legislation he says will make it easier to pay for renewable energy projects in Vermont and around the country.

Welch will talk about the proposal today with Vermont renewable energy companies at AllEarth Renewables in Williston.

Welch plans to tour the facility before the round-table discussion at 1 p.m.,which will include representatives from AllEarth, Darker Solar, Northern Power Systems, Encore Redevelopment and other companies.

Hundreds Protest Vermont Yankee

Apr 1, 2013

Hundreds of people who rallied in protest of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant over the weekend, and they say it's time for the 41-year-old reactor to shut down.

More than 500 people marched through downtown Brattleboro Saturday carrying banners and chanting shut it down. Organizers claim the plant, owned by Entergy, has been operating illegally.

The march came five days after the Vermont Supreme Court denied a petition from the anti-nuclear New England Coalition to shut down the plant.

Volunteers Wanted For EEE Study

Apr 1, 2013

Vermont health officials are seeking volunteers for a study of Eastern equine encephalitis.

Matthew Thomas of the state Department of Health says officials hope to learn more about the prevalence of the mosquito-transmitted virus in Vermont. Two men, one from Brandon and the other from Sudbury, died last year in Vermont's first human cases of EEE.

Thomas tells the Rutland Herald that the plan is to draw blood from 150 to 200 volunteers at clinics in Brandon, Whiting and Sudbury.

Moretown Landfill Shuts Down Before Deadline

Apr 1, 2013

A Vermont landfill that was ordered closed has shut down.

The Moretown landfill had until mid-April to close, but it closed on Saturday.

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources this month ordered the Moretown landfill to cease operations, citing odor problem sand groundwater pollution.

WPTZ-TV reported that landfill officials said they closed earlier than required to prepare an appeal of the agency's decision to the state's environmental court.

Vermont now has only one landfill left used for trash disposal, in the northern Vermont town of Coventry.

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