In a recent blog post, NRDC's Ann Alexander said U.S. EPA has taken a kid-glove approach to Chicago's CSO problem that contrasts with its actions in similar settlements with cities like St. Louis, Indianapolis and Kansas City.
Will the first line of defense hold?
Rather than impose tough cleanup terms on MWRD, Alexander wrote, EPA "has traded away its strong legal case in exchange for a promise from the District to simply carry on with its grindingly slow work to address the sewer overflows -- without even requiring a showing that the work is going to solve the problem."
MWRD officials acknowledge the work plan allows contractors flexibility in when and where to mine rock. But they maintain construction is moving at the proper pace based on timelines agreed to by the district and the Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for designing and building the reservoirs.
Since 2008, when full-scale mining began at McCook, the district has removed about 7.6 million cubic yards of overburden at the reservoir site, states a Dec. 1, 2011, status report on the TARP project.
On a recent visit to the McCook reservoir site, there was little evidence of a major excavation under way, although the size and scale of the reservoir were evident from the deep-terraced pit. From the rim of the pit, a lone bulldozer chugged along 10 or more stories below the surface. And at the opposite end of the reservoir site, a large hole had been punched through a sidewall where the outfall lines were to be constructed.
Responding to criticisms that construction was happening too slowly, St. Pierre said the schedule "is based on aggressive mining rates."
Time will tell if the solution is aggressive enough.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500