The Science of Sustainability

Tag: pollution

Sewage Spills Increasing

Sewage Spills Increasing

How much sewage makes its way into our water? Plenty. Statewide, it's likely that last year's record number, 20 million gallons of raw sewage dumped in California waterways, is going to be broken this year. Decrepit pipes, lack of money and the growing severity of storms could all add up to a disaster of septic proportions.

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Reporter's Notes: Get the Soot Out

Reporter's Notes: Get the Soot Out

It's not just truckers that will have to spend a lot of money to retrofit their diesel engines. And quite a few trucks on California roads will actually be unaffected by a new California diesel regulation. The California Air Resources Board is expected to vote on a new diesel-emissions regulation when the board meets on December 11 and 12 in Sacramento.

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Reporter's Notes: Fast Trains

Reporter's Notes: Fast Trains

The devil's in the details, so the details aren't entirely in the proposition. There are still many open questions about Prop. 1A on the November ballot, the proposal to bring high speed rail to California – and that makes sense, since there are a billion details, many of them contentious, in any $9.95 billion initiative and $45 billion project.

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Reporter's Notes: Sea of Plastic

Reporter's Notes: Sea of Plastic

It's hard to imagine the scope and breadth of the Great Garbage Patch that lies in the North Pacific Gyre in the Pacific Ocean between the West Coast and Hawaii. It's estimated to be about double the size of Texas.

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Sea of Plastic

Sea of Plastic

When you order your double latte to-go at the corner coffee shop, the empty cup and lid may end up in a giant pit of plastic ocean litter off the coast of California. Some cities and counties are so concerned about the garbage in the so-called North Pacific Gyre that they've passed ordinances to try to limit the amount of plastic in our lives.

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Producer's Notes: Ghost Fleet

Producer's Notes: Ghost Fleet

On the surface of the story, the Ghost Fleet of Suisun Bay is leaking toxic waste in the form of peeling ship paint containing nasty heavy metals into an already stressed bay ecosystem. Bad guys: Mothball Fleet. Good guys: Enviros who are suing. Simple, right?

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Drugs In Our Drinking Water

Drugs In Our Drinking Water

Earlier this year a report came out showing that trace amounts of pharmaceuticals — everything from ibuprofen to birth control pills — are showing up in America's drinking water. Today, water agencies and consumers are still grappling with some unanswered questions: Do these tiny amounts of drugs pose any health risk? And if so, what can we do about them?

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Reporter's Notes: Mercury in the Bay – Part 2

Reporter's Notes: Mercury in the Bay – Part 2

Last week on QUEST, we took a look at the history of the San Francisco Bay's most dangerous toxin: mercury. This week, now that the mercury is here in the bay, how is it affecting us? The obvious place to go was the Berkeley Marina, one of the bay's most popular fishing spots. On the […]

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Reporter's Notes: Mercury in the Bay – Part 1

Reporter's Notes: Mercury in the Bay – Part 1

View Larger Map In honor of Earth Day, we wanted to take a big look at a chronic environmental issue in the Bay Area, tracing it from its origins to the contemporary strategies to solve it. Mercury was the obvious choice: It's been flowing into the Bay since before California joined the union, and it […]

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Cement – A Dirty Business

Cement – A Dirty Business

Thought California has consigned coal-burning to the scrap bin? Think again! California has 11 coal-fired power plants, all used to heat limestone into cement — making us one of the biggest cement-producing states in the country. In addition to cement, these kilns produce 95% of the state's airborne mercury pollution and 2% of its greenhouse […]

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Forgive Me Father, for I Have Polluted

Forgive Me Father, for I Have Polluted

Polluting Makes Vatican List of Grave Social Sins Over the course of a week of working with concrete, this landscaping job produced only one bucket of wastewater. Credit: Ann Hutcheson-WilcoxAs a lifelong Catholic and former Catholic priest, I often find myself wishing that the Church would stick to what it knows best: the Sacraments. I […]

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It's Not Easy Going Green

It's Not Easy Going Green

Image source: Michael PatrickMany Bay Area cities are trying to clean up their acts by putting in place new green initiatives. But from San Jose to Berkeley, some city leaders are finding out it's not always so easy to turn over a new leaf. QUEST looks at the challenges municipalities face with budget constraints, legal […]

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Reporter's notes: Sewage Happens

Reporter's notes: Sewage Happens

photo courtesy of the San Francisco Public Utilities CommissionWe’d had "aging infrastructure" on our story lists for some time when we first heard about the sewage spills in Mill Valley. When news came in that not just one, but two sewage spills had poured five million gallons of partially treated wastewater into Richardson Bay, we […]

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Cleaning Up Oil in the Bay

Cleaning Up Oil in the Bay

It has been nine days since a Chinese freighter hit the Bay Bridge spilling 58-thousand gallons of bunker fuel into the Bay. After a massive effort only 25 percent of the oil has been cleaned up. And experts say they may not be able to recover much more. As clean-up crews in hazmat suits scour […]

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KQED extended coverage: SF Bay Oil Spill

KQED extended coverage: SF Bay Oil Spill

Oil boom at Crab Cove. Credit: gwenOil Spill update: get KQED's news reports, interviews, analysis and photos as well as links to more coverage, photos from the community, and ways to help in the cleanup efforts. Includes coverage by QUEST radio reporter Amy Standen, and QUEST Managing Editor Paul Rogers. Go to: KQED | News: […]

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Below the surface of the spill

Below the surface of the spill

Oil booms at Crissy Field. Credit: fredsharplesJust two days before a container ship hit the Bay Bridge, spilling 58,000 gallons of oil into the waters of San Francisco Bay, QUEST web producer Craig Rosa and I were at Crissy Field beach. We were photographing pelicans and recording dogs playing in the sand for an upcoming […]

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Perilous Diesel

Perilous Diesel

Diesel engines are the durable workhorses of transportation, but as they get older, they spew unhealthy soot. Communities with the highest diesel smog levels, like West Oakland, California, are working hard to reduce the pollution.

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Relaxing the rules on toxic reporting

Relaxing the rules on toxic reporting

For the past two decades, U.S. factories that put toxic chemicals into the air and water had to report them, in detail, to the federal government and the public. The Bush Administration recently lowered those requirements by rewriting Environmental Protection Agency rules. That means, in California alone, as much as 6-hundred thousand pounds of toxic […]

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