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Storage and Treatment of Liquid Waste from Landfills Doesn’t Remove All Contaminants, Including Pharmaceuticals

USGS Newsroom Technical - Thu, 11/12/2015 - 18:17
Summary: New research from the U.S. Geological Survey details that even after the storage and/or treatment of leachate – liquid waste that moves through or drains from a landfill − it can still contain a multitude of chemicals and reflects the diverse nature of residential, industrial, and commercial waste discarded into landfills in the United States

Contact Information:

Heidi Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 ); Dana Kolpin ( Phone: 319-358-3614 );



Examples of treated and stored liquid waste samples collected for this study. An onsite landfill leachate storage lagoon. (high resolution image)

Manhole access as leachate leaves a landfill and enters a sewer that pipes leachate to a wastewater treatment plant. (high resolution image)

New research from the U.S. Geological Survey details that even after the storage and/or treatment of leachate – liquid waste that moves through or drains from a landfill − it can still contain a multitude of chemicals and reflects the diverse nature of residential, industrial, and commercial waste discarded into landfills in the United States.

The paper, authored by USGS scientist Jason Masoner and colleagues, appears in the latest edition of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and confirms what goes into landfills via human disposal isn’t necessarily trash’s final resting place.

This national-scale study collected and analyzed treated and stored liquid waste samples from 22 landfills across the United States looking for 190 contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) including pharmaceuticals, hormones, household products, and industrial chemicals and follows a previously published USGS landfill study that assessed leachate prior to any storage and/or treatment (i.e. untreated liquid waste).

"The importance of moving our landfill research from examining untreated liquid waste to treated and stored liquid waste is that the treated product provides a much better understanding of chemical concentrations that are actually being put into the environment by landfills," said Masoner. "Such input pathways include discharge to streams, seepage into groundwater, diversion to wastewater treatment plants, and even onsite spraying or irrigation."

Treated and stored liquid waste samples contained 101 of the 190 CECs analyzed for this study, with such CECs being found in every leachate sample collected with as many as 58 chemicals detected in a single sample. Observed concentrations ranged from as low as 2 parts per trillion (ng/L) for estrone (natural hormone) to as high as 17,200,000 ng/L for bisphenol A (chemical with a wide variety of uses such as in plastics and thermal paper).

A detailed comparison of CEC concentrations between landfills that were included in both USGS studies (i.e. untreated liquid waste versus treated and stored liquid waste) found that levels of CECs were significantly less in treated and stored liquid waste compared to untreated liquid waste samples. Nevertheless, treated and stored liquid waste still contained a complex mixture of CECs with the largest levels exceeding 1,000,000 ng/L.

"This research is the first step in understanding environmental exposures to contaminants originating from liquid wastes in landfills," said Mike Focazio, coordinator for the USGS Toxics Substances Hydrology Program.

Map showing states where final leachate was sampled from 22 landfills in 2011 and 2012.  (high resolution image)

Flood Risk Open House to View Maps in Raymondville and Brownsville, Texas -REVISED

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 11/12/2015 - 17:45
Flood Risk Open House to View Maps in Raymondville and Brownsville, Texas

Public Open House Events Scheduled to Share Map Changes and Flood Risk Information
(Please note correction below to address for open house in Willacy County.)

DENTON, Texas –Homeowners, renters and business owners in the Texas counties of Cameron and Willacy are encouraged to look over newly released preliminary flood maps in order to determine their flood risks and make informed decisions.

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Categories: Federal News

Arctic Tundra Fire Causes Widespread Permafrost Landscape Changes

USGS Newsroom - Thu, 11/12/2015 - 13:00
Summary: Large and severe tundra fires cause top down permafrost thaw, playing a major role in altering Arctic landscapes according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey

Contact Information:

Yvette Gillies ( Phone: 907-786-7039 ); Paul  Laustsen ( Phone: 650-329-4046 );



A photo from the study area acquired in August 2015 showing thermokarst development manifest as a network of troughs forming over degrading ice wedges (left). Comparison between the two airborne LiDAR data showing permafrost terrain subsidence in the aftermath of a large and severe Arctic tundra fire. (High resolution image)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Large and severe tundra fires cause top down permafrost thaw, playing a major role in altering Arctic landscapes according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey. 

The study documented widespread thermokarst formation, characterized by subsidence of the land surface as a result of melted ground-ice, in the years following a tundra fire event. Thaw of ice-rich permafrost is known to impact terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems by altering vegetation communities and hydrology as well as releasing carbon that was previously stored in the frozen ground below.   

"Thermokarst development may sound like an esoteric topic, but when ground ice melts it affects everything at the surface, formation or drainage of lakes, how much water runs off the landscape and what kind of plants can grow," said Philip Martin, Science Coordinator for the Arctic Landscape Conservation Cooperative. "This is an essential part of the puzzle for resource managers and Arctic residents to piece together how the land is changing." 

Researchers, led by the USGS, used repeat airborne LiDAR data acquisitions, a remote sensing tool that allows for the creation of highly detailed topographic models of the landscape, to quantify thermokarst development in the aftermath of the 2007 Anaktuvuk River tundra fire. By comparing data obtained two and again seven years post-fire, researchers determined that thermokarst affected more than 34 percent of the studied burned tundra area compared to less than one percent in similar unburned tundra. 

Arctic tundra fires are known to have an immediate and severe impact on the landscape through combustion of vegetation and soil organic layers. However, widespread thermokarst development in the aftermath of an Arctic tundra fire had not been previously measured in detail. 

"With LiDAR data acquisitions, we are able to document landscape changes in a measurable way like never before," said lead author Benjamin Jones, a Research Geographer with the USGS. "It is likely that the impact of fires and other disturbances on permafrost-influenced terrain in the Arctic has been underestimated since highly precise elevation data, such as from LiDAR datasets, are not widely available in these regions."

The paper "Recent Arctic tundra fire initiates widespread thermokarst development" was published in the journal Scientific Reports, the online open access journal from the publishers of Nature.

The work was supported by the Land Change Science and Land Remote Sensing programs at the USGS, the USGS Alaska Science Center, the Arctic Landscape Conservation Cooperative, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research.  

Disaster Recovery Centers Closed Sundays, Thanksgiving

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 11/12/2015 - 10:24

COLUMBIA, S.C.All but two disaster recovery centers will be closed on Sundays beginning Nov. 15. The center at the Sheriff’s Office in Newberry will be closed Sundays beginning Nov. 22. The center located at the Beck Recreation Center in Georgetown remains open on Sunday until further notice.

All centers will be closed Nov. 26 for Thanksgiving.

Survivors can locate their closest center by visiting asd.fema.gov/inter/locator/home.htm.

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Mitigation Advisers Offer Guidance to Flood Survivors in Florence and Horry Counties

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 11/11/2015 - 18:54

COLUMBIA, S.C. – As South Carolinians rebuild and repair after the recent historic floods, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local home improvement stores have teamed up to provide free information, tips and literature on making homes stronger and safer.

FEMA mitigation specialists will be on hand in Horry and Florence counties to answer questions and offer home improvement tips to prevent and lessen damage from future disasters. Most of the information is geared towards do-it-yourself work and general contractors.

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Mitigation Advisers Offer Guidance to Flood Survivors in Charleston County

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 11/11/2015 - 18:49

COLUMBIA, S.C. – As South Carolinians rebuild and repair after the recent historic floods, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local home improvement stores have teamed up to provide free information, tips and literature on making homes stronger and safer.

FEMA mitigation specialists will be on hand in Charleston County to answer questions and offer home improvement tips to prevent and lessen damage from future disasters. Most of the information is geared towards do-it-yourself work and general contractors.

Language English
Categories: Federal News

FEMA Mitigation Advisers Offer Guidance to Flood Survivors in Richland County

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 11/11/2015 - 18:42

COLUMBIA, S.C. – As South Carolinians rebuild and repair after the recent historic floods, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local home improvement stores have teamed up to provide free information, tips and literature on making homes stronger and safer.

FEMA mitigation specialists will be on hand in Richland County to answer questions and offer home improvement tips to prevent and lessen damage from future disasters. Most of the information is geared towards do-it-yourself work and general contractors.

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Categories: Federal News

What to do if you disagree with FEMA’s decision letter

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 11/10/2015 - 18:41

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Categories: Federal News

Lewes waterman arrested for undersized channeled conch violations

DNREC News - Tue, 11/10/2015 - 17:21
DOVER (Nov. 10, 2015) – DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers arrested a commercial waterman from Lewes Nov. 6 after discovering a hidden catch of undersized channeled conch on his vessel during a compliance check boarding.

Resilient Community Partnership available to assist a Delaware town or county

DNREC News - Tue, 11/10/2015 - 16:38
DOVER (Nov. 10, 2015) – Communities throughout Delaware are threatened by inland flooding, coastal storms, sea level rise, and changing climates. To help address these challenges, DNREC’s Delaware Coastal Programs (DCP) is pleased to announce that a Resilient Community Partnership opportunity is now available to assist a Delaware town or county with resilience planning and implementation.

FEMA to Evaluate Readiness of Pennsylvania

FEMA Region III News Releases - Tue, 11/10/2015 - 13:30

PHILADELPHIA – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will evaluate a Biennial Emergency Preparedness Exercise at the Limerick Generating Station. The exercise will occur during the week of November 16th, 2015 to assess the ability of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to respond to an emergency at the nuclear facility.

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FEMA to Evaluate Readiness of Pennsylvania

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 11/10/2015 - 13:30

PHILADELPHIA – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will evaluate a Biennial Emergency Preparedness Exercise at the Limerick Generating Station. The exercise will occur during the week of November 16th, 2015 to assess the ability of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to respond to an emergency at the nuclear facility.

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Categories: Federal News

Severe Weather Mid-Week: Get Ready Now

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 11/10/2015 - 13:20

CHICAGO – With an ominous Wednesday forecast for most of the central U.S. that includes severe storms, heavy rains, strong winds and the possibility of tornadoes, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region V encourages everyone to get prepared.

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Categories: Federal News

Two Weeks Left to Register for FEMA Grants and Apply for SBA Disaster Loans

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 11/10/2015 - 12:09

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The deadline is Nov. 23, 2015, to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for disaster assistance and to apply to the U.S. Small Business Administration for low-interest, long term disaster loans.

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Categories: Federal News

Disaster Assistance Help Remains Available After Disaster Recovery Centers in Myrtle Beach, Neeses and West Columbia Close

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 11/09/2015 - 16:46

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The following three disaster recovery centers will close Thursday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. because of a lack of visitors:

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Categories: Federal News

Fish and Wildlife Natural Resources Police arrest Sussex County manand seek second suspect in deer spotlighting case

DNREC News - Mon, 11/09/2015 - 15:47
DOVER (Nov. 9, 2015) – Following night-time pursuit in the Harbeson area of a poaching suspect who resisted an order to give himself up, DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police arrested a Sussex County man in a Nov. 7 deer spotlighting incident and are now asking the public for help in locating a second suspect still at large.

Las Vegas Holds Key to Abrupt Climate Change

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 11/09/2015 - 15:00
Summary: According to new U.S. Geological Survey research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, springs and marshes in the desert outside Las Vegas expanded and contracted dramatically in response to past episodes of abrupt climate change, even disappearing altogether for centuries at a time when conditions became too warm

Contact Information:

Heidi  Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 );



According to new U.S. Geological Survey research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, springs and marshes in the desert outside Las Vegas expanded and contracted dramatically in response to past episodes of abrupt climate change, even disappearing altogether for centuries at a time when conditions became too warm. This new record, gleaned from dirt and rocks exposed in the desert just outside the city limits, provides an unprecedented look into how climate change can affect fragile desert ecosystems in the American Southwest. 

Kathleen Springer, a geologist with the USGS and former Senior Curator at the San Bernardino County Museum, was the principal investigator and lead scientist for this study showing that desert wetlands are extremely sensitive to climate change.

“This is a story of water,” said Springer. “Water was plentiful in the desert at times in the past, but when climate warmed, springs and wetlands dried up, and the plants and animals living in the harsh desert environment were out of luck.” 

During the Pleistocene, between approximately 100,000 and 10,000 years ago, wetlands dotted the landscape in the area just north of Las Vegas, attracting a plethora of ice age animals, including mammoths, sloths, sabre-toothed cats, dire wolves, and extinct species of bison, horse, and camel, and later, the first human inhabitants to the area. 

Today, existing desert wetlands are home to a number of threatened and endangered species that rely on the ecosystem for water in an otherwise arid landscape. Their fate may lie in the hands of a rapidly changing climate. 

“What we're seeing in the geologic record frames what we are observing today,” said Springer. "The drought that California is currently experiencing is extreme, but droughts are an inherent part of the climate system and have occurred repeatedly in the past." 

The study was initiated by the Bureau of Land Management, which called for an integrative approach to studies that emphasize the geological age and context of fossils, as well as a comprehensive analysis of how local hydrologic systems responded to climate change in the past. 

“Scientists collect fossils all the time,” said Scott Foss, a senior paleontologist with the BLM. "What is remarkable about this work is the vision that Kathleen had of making sure her team understood the intricacies of the deposits in incredible detail, which allowed them to determine how climate affected the local landscape. It was an immense undertaking, and one that will serve as a benchmark for generations to come for those interested in understanding the effects of climate change on desert ecosystems.” 

Studies examining the effects of climate change on springs and desert wetlands will continue through the USGS’s Climate and Land Use Change Research and Development Program, and will build upon the investigations conducted in the Las Vegas Valley, a large portion of which is now protected as Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument

When the monument was established in December 2014, the BLM turned their stewardship over to the National Park Service, who will determine how to interpret the unique land and its former inhabitants for the public. 

“The future of this newly designated national monument and what it can tell us about the effects of climate change is all about the past,” said Springer. “And the past is the key to the present.”

Newly Released Photo Catalog Puts US Landscapes On Exhibit

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 11/09/2015 - 12:30
Summary: The U.S. Geological Survey announced today that it has made part of a huge national repository of geographically referenced USGS field photographs publicly available

Contact Information:

Chris  Soulard ( Phone: 650-329-4317 ); Paul  Laustsen ( Phone: 650-329-4046 );



A cow in a pasture taken in the Central Oklahoma/Texas Plains Ecoregion (TX) in August July 2006. (High resolution image) An abandoned mine shaft taken in the Mojave Basin and Range Ecoregion (NV) in August 2002. (High resolution image)

The U.S. Geological Survey announced today that it has made part of a huge national repository of geographically referenced USGS field photographs publicly available. USGS geographers developed a simple, easy-to-use mapping portal called the