In The Works

Volume 18, Issue 5 - May 2017

In The Works is a monthly newsletter providing Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) news and regulatory updates. The newsletter is provided by Loureiro Engineering Associates, Inc. of Plainville, Connecticut.


Five West Haven, Conn. Students Honored by White House and EPA for Environmental Project

National- Five students and their teacher from West Haven, Conn., were recognized recently as winners of the 2016 President's Environmental Youth Award (PEYA). The program recognizes outstanding environmental stewardship projects by K-12 youth. These students demonstrate the initiative, creativity, and applied problem-solving skills needed to tackle environmental problems and find sustainable solutions.

The students – Arya Bairat, James Rodrigues, Eran Avni-Singer, Sebastian-Morelli Peyton, and Jonathan Yun – started a team at the Engineering and Science University Magnet School (Part of New Haven Public School District) in West Haven. They conducted their project with the support and guidance of their biology teacher, Ginger Meetze, and parent sponsor, Dhanahree Bairat. Their project addressed the problem of excessive plastics in the waste stream and air pollution, and their impact on the environment.

"Today, we are pleased to honor these impressive young leaders, who demonstrate the impact that a few individuals can make to protect our environment," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "These students are empowering their peers, educating their communities, and demonstrating the STEM skills needed for this country to thrive in the global economy.”

Each year the PEYA program honors environmental awareness projects developed by young individuals, school classes (kindergarten through high school), summer camps, public interest groups and youth organizations.

After reflecting on pollution problems in their own community and around the world, the five West Haven ninth graders, calling themselves "PKN," decided to address their concern about air pollution and the large amount of petroleum-based plastics filling landfills. A special concern of the students was people's use of inexpensive masks to filter out particulate matter in the air, and the waste created by the disposal of these masks. The PKN team developed a low-cost biodegradable plastic using pumpkins, a local agricultural product. During the project, PKN partnered with a local farm to repurpose pumpkins that would otherwise be thrown away as waste at the end of the fall season. The team continues to explore options to commercially distribute masks made from this cost-efficient bioplastic. The group is also working to develop biodegradable plastic bags made from their innovative material. The group met with a local environmental technology company to further develop a business model for PKN's products.

These 2016 winners of the annual President's Environmental Youth Awards were among 15 student projects nationwide honored for their efforts. Other students recognized come from states including California, Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation's natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Since 1971, the President of the United States has joined with EPA to recognize young people for protecting our nation's air, water, land and ecology. It is one of the most important ways EPA and the Administration demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by our nation's youth.


Connecticut Joins the United States Climate Alliance

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy recently announced that he has committed the State of Connecticut to join the United States Climate Alliance – a coalition of U.S. states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change. Other participants in the alliance to date include California, Washington state, and New York.

“Connecticut has been a national leader in combatting climate change and we have no plans of slowing down our efforts,” Governor Malloy said. “In the absence of leadership from the White House in addressing climate change, it is incumbent upon the states to take action in order to protect their residents. We remain committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement because it is the right thing to do for not only the future of our state, but for the future of our planet. I am proud to stand with my fellow governors in support of efforts to reverse the harmful effects of global warming and to send a message to the rest of the world that we accept the science of climate change and we will not let the misguided beliefs of a few ruin our planet.”

With input from all participants, the United States Climate Alliance will also act as a forum to sustain and strengthen existing climate programs, promote the sharing of information and best practices, and implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy.


Massachusetts Reaches Partial Settlement with Volkswagen Group of America

Volkswagen Group of America (VW) has reached partial settlements with the State of Massachusetts and other states regarding claims by the U.S. Justice Department and attorneys general of these states of fraudulent emissions practices and software. VW admitted publicly in 2015 that it had secretly and deliberately installed software "defeat devices" designed to cheat state emissions tests in nearly 590,000 model year 2009 to 2016 Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche vehicles with 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesel engines that the company sold or leased to American consumers.

Residents of Massachusetts own or lease about 14,000 of the affected vehicles which, due to VW's actions, have emitted smog-causing oxides of nitrogen (NOx) at levels of up to 40 times higher than allowed.

In response to complaints filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and the attorneys general of several states, including Massachusetts, courts have approved a series of partial settlements resolving some aspects of the case. To date, these partial settlements require VW to:

  • Offer buy-backs, early lease terminations or emissions control modifications to the owners or lessees of at least 85 percent of all affected vehicles.
  • Invest $2 billion to promote the use of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) and related infrastructure across the country.
  • Establish a $3 billion environmental mitigation trust to fund national and state projects aimed at offsetting the excess nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions caused by VW's actions.

Under terms of the court-approved partial settlements, Massachusetts is expected to receive more than $75 million to spend on environmental mitigation projects.

The Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) is inviting public input on how best to invest these funds in better air quality, cleaner vehicles, and healthier communities. Gov. Malloy adds Connecticut to Coalition of States Committed to Upholding the Paris Climate Agreement


NHDES Presents Drinking Water Source Protection Awards

Annual Source Protection Conference Explored Major Challenges and Opportunities to Protect Drinking Water in New Hampshire

Concord, NH – On May 18, 2017, two awards were given by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) at its annual Drinking Water Source Protection Conference at the Grappone Center in Concord. A Source Water Protection Award was presented to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF). SPNHF was recognized for its longstanding efforts to develop and carry out strategic conservation projects that serve to protect lakes, rivers and aquifers that are sources of drinking water. SPNHF is currently involved in permanently conserving 1,870 acres of pristine watershed around Tower Hill Pond in Candia and Hooksett that provide clean water to Lake Massabesic, a primary source of drinking water for Manchester. The University of New Hampshire/Town of Durham water system received NHDES’ Source Water Sustainability Award for developing a water conservation plan, passing local regulations limiting residential water use during drought and creatively expanding its groundwater storage capacity through the development of an artificial aquifer recharge area. Moving forward, when the Lamprey River is experiencing high flows, water can be pumped from the river into recharge basins and “stored” within the aquifer. During the drier summer months, when river flows are low, the stored water is "harvested" to supply the water system.

The NHDES Drinking Water Source Protection Conference is an annual day-long event, which was attended this year by over 240 water suppliers, municipal officials and volunteers, and industry consultants. Conference presentations and discussions included challenges facing public water suppliers today including PFAS (poly and perfluorinated compounds), lead, harmful algal blooms and the risks from large chemical spills. Additionally, NHDES gave a "Year in Review" summarizing important work done in New Hampshire to protect drinking water through strategic land conservation, tracking and responding to toxic algal blooms and expanding use of NHDES' Be Well Informed webtool to help private well users select appropriate water treatment options.