Thursday, August 6, 2020

August 5 Resource Newsletter Now Available From DCNR

The August 5 Resource newsletter is now available from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources featuring articles on--
  For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
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[Posted: August 6, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Dept. Of Health Reports 38 Additional Deaths Due To COVID-19; 807 New Cases

On August 6, the Department of Health reported 38 additional deaths as a result of COVID-19 bringing the total number of deaths to 7,282.
As of 12:00 a.m. August 6, there were 807 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 116,521 in all 67 counties.
Approximately 8,522 of Pennsylvania’s total positive cases are in health care workers.
Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:
-- 1 percent are ages 0-4;
-- 1 percent are ages 5-12;
-- 3 percent are ages 13-18;
-- 9 percent are ages 19-24;
-- Nearly 38 percent are ages 25-49;
-- Nearly 23 percent are ages 50-64; and
-- 24 percent are ages 65 or older.
Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.
In nursing and personal care homes, there are 19,799 resident cases of COVID-19, and  4,071 cases among employees, for a total of 23,870 at 870 distinct facilities in 61 counties. Out of our total deaths, 4,943 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.  Click Here for a county breakdown.
For the latest information on the coronavirus and precautions to take in Pennsylvania, visit the Department of Health’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage, Follow them on Twitter, or Like them on Facebook.
NewsClips/Announcements:
Helpful Links:
-- Responding To COVID-19 In Pennsylvania - General Resource Page All Topics
-- Attorney General - Coronavirus Price Gouging Updates 
[Posted: August 6, 2020]

Lancaster Conservancy Hosts Aug. 10 Clean Water Careers Online Event For Lancaster Water Week

Lancaster Conservancy is holding an August 10 Clean Water Careers online event as part of Lancaster Water Week, hosted by Lancaster Clean Water Partners, from Noon to 1:00 p.m.
We all need clean water but do you know who makes sure it gets to your tap? Or who makes sure that the water going down our drains or off our homes doesn't hurt our neighbor? 
What watershed do you live in, who works to protect it, and what does that even mean? Clean water is a driving force behind so many jobs across Lancaster County, some you would never think of! 
From foresters to stormwater engineers to landscapers and sediment technicians, there are many different career paths to follow.
Join the Conservancy to learn about the inspiring people who live their passion for clean water in many ways. This panel highlights the diverse faces that celebrate the importance of Water Week year round. 
You'll leave with a sense of awe and gratitude plus an inspiration to take action as part of the broad partnership working together for clean water in Lancaster County.
For more information on programs, initiatives, upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the Lancaster Conservancy website.
Lancaster Water Week will be held from August 7 to 15.
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[Posted: August 6, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Delaware River Basin Commission Climate Change Advisory Committee Met For First Time

The Delaware River Basin Commission Climate Change Advisory Committee met for the first time on August 4 to help inform DRBC’s future water resource planning efforts considering climate change and support development of a comprehensive study on climate impacts to the Basin’s water supply and water quality.
"Here in the Delaware River Basin we have some unique challenges. This Basin is prone to droughts and floods. Our main stem river is undammed and open to the ocean, meaning the bay and estuary are subject to sea level rise and storm surges. Bottom line – it’s complex, and we need this regional climate change expert committee’s help," said Steve Tambini, DRBC’s Executive Director.
Among the Committee’s first orders of business was to elect a chair. Howard Neukrug, P.E., Executive Director, The Water Center at Penn, University of Pennsylvania, was unanimously chosen by the members.
"The DRBC staff has assembled a strong team of climate experts who will now work together to share their knowledge and ideas on how to minimize the future impacts of climate change on our region’s water resources," said Neukrug.
The ACCC is one of seven DRBC advisory committees, which are important forums for information-sharing, dialogue and coordination among stakeholders and member state agencies. 
These committees also help inform the Commission’s policy decisions. All advisory committee and subcommittee meetings are open to the public. 
Visit the Climate Change Advisory Committee webpage for more information.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Delaware River Basin Commission website.  Click Here to sign up for regulator updates.  Follow DRBC on TwitterVisit them on YouTube.
[Posted: August 6, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

New Acid Mine Drainage Treatment Turns Waste Into Valuable Rare Earth Minerals

By Matthew Carroll, Penn State News

A new way to treat acid mine drainage (AMD) could help transform the environmental pollution problem into an important domestic source of the critical rare earth elements needed to produce technology ranging from smartphones to fighter jets, according to Penn State scientists.
“Acid mine drainage has been a significant environmental concern for many decades,” said Mohammad Rezaee, assistant professor of mining engineering in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State. “This research shows we can modify existing treatment processes in a way that not only addresses environmental concerns, but at the same time recovers valuable elements and actually decreases the cost of treatment.”
A team of Penn State scientists developed a two-stage treatment process that enabled them to recover higher concentrations of rare earth elements using smaller amounts of chemicals than previously possible, the scientists said.
“This technique represents an efficient, low-cost and environmentally friendly method to extract these valuable minerals that are used in a wide variety of consumer and industrial products,” said Sarma Pisupati, professor of energy and mineral engineering and director of the Center for Critical Minerals at Penn State.
Rare earth elements are a group of 17 minerals widely used in advanced technologies and designated by the U.S. as critical to the country’s economic and national security. The U.S. currently imports nearly 100 percent of these materials, with China producing about 85 percent of the world supply.
AMD from coal mining operations in Appalachia represents a promising domestic source of rare earth elements because it often contains high concentrations of the minerals, and because it is already being collected and treated due to environmental concerns, the scientists said.
“We are currently incurring costs just to treat the water, and in many cases, we are not even collecting all these minerals,” Pisupati said. “Now we are able to turn what had been considered a waste product into a valuable resource.”
AMD occurs when pyrite rock — iron sulfide — unearthed by mining activity interacts with water and air and then oxidizes, creating sulfuric acid. The acid then breaks down surrounding rocks, causing toxic metals to dissolve into the water, the scientists said.
Traditional treatment methods involve collecting the AMD in retention ponds and adding chemicals to neutralize the pH — an indicator of how acidic or basic a substance is. This causes the dissolved metals to precipitate, or form into solids, and settle out of the water. 
Up to 70 percent of rare earth elements can be extracted as a sludge using this process, and the rest are released along with the treated water, according to researchers.
The scientists found they could extract a higher concentration of rare earth elements and other critical minerals by adding carbon dioxide to the AMD and then bringing it to a neutral pH of 7, the target for environmental remediation, in two separate steps.
Using this method, 90 percent of aluminum was recovered at a pH of 5 and 85 percent of rare earth elements were recovered by pH 7, the scientists reported in Chemical Engineering Journal.
Adding carbon dioxide to AMD produces chemical reactions that result in the formation of solid minerals called carbonites, the scientists said. The rare earth elements bond with the extra carbonites and precipitate out of the water at lower pH values.  
The process, called carbon dioxide mineralization, is an emerging technology being used to remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 
This study represents the first time it has been used to recover large concentrations of rare earth elements from AMD, the scientists said.
Recovering the same concentration of rare earth elements from AMD using traditional treatment methods would require adding additional chemicals to increase the pH beyond 7. The scientists said by lowering recovery costs, the new treatment method could make the domestic rare-earth-element market more competitive.
“With a simple modification of existing treatment processes, industry could use less chemicals and get more value out of AMD waste,” Rezaee said. “This is the beauty of this research.”
Behzad Vaziri Hassas, a doctoral candidate at Penn State, also participated in this research.
The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ Energy Institute provided funding.

(Reprinted from Penn State News.)
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[Posted: August 6, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

DCNR Good Natured Pennsylvanians: David Ross, Friends Of State Line Serpentine Barrens

David Ross is a member of the Friends of the State Line Serpentine Barrens who works tirelessly to preserve one of Pennsylvania’s rarest ecosystems [a 60-square-mile, 38,400 acre area located in parts of Lancaster, Chester and Delaware counties.]
After living and working in the Philadelphia area, David moved to the southwest corner of Chester County near the Goat Hill Serpentine Barrens Plant Sanctuary.
David has a wealth of knowledge of the ecosystem; and does a great job at coordinating and documenting volunteer activities at the sanctuary.
Serpentine barrens exist in only a relatively few spots along the east coast, including this parcel of William Penn State Forest.
The rock in serpentine barrens is laden with minerals that are poisonous to most Pennsylvania plant species, but which nicely meet the needs of a hearty few -- such as the fameflower and serpentine aster.
David, a soon to be retired professor of environmental economics at Bryn Mawr College, understands the importance of preserving this special place.
Serpentine barrens require disturbance to survive. It is believed that the grazing of mega-fauna during and after the last Ice Age allowed these grasslands to exist.
Both man-made and natural wildfires have helped these grasslands to thrive.
If fires are suppressed, competitors such as cedar, Virginia pine, and greenbriar can dominate the ecosystem, crowding out other rare species of plants.
“I’ve seen neither mastodon nor buffalo here in Chester County,” says David, “and relying on uncontrolled wildfires would not be a good way to win friends and influence people. So, we turn to felling, mowing, and poisoning invasives; scraping encroaching soils; and, under the right conditions, conducting controlled burns.”
He immensely enjoys the satisfaction of hacking down plants, such as greenbriar, which would displace the small number of serpentine ecosystems hanging on near the southeastern border with Maryland.
With the expertise and knowledge of ecologists, David plans out how to protect certain plants, and remove others. He takes notes at board and planning meetings; and ensures the goals of the Friends group are being acted upon.
When he can, he draws on his academic research on the effectiveness of local environmental programs to fit the activities of the Friends group into the overall effort to protect and restore this rare resource.
“My conservation and volunteer work give me a physical alternative to the desk work that fills many of my hours,” David says. “In the barrens, I get to know a very different group of people than I engage with at the college. I learn that we don’t have to agree about all things to enjoy one another and accomplish great things.”
Know of a good natured Pennsylvanian who is passionate about outdoor recreation and/or conservation that we should feature? Contact DCNR by sending an email to: ra-resource@pa.gov to nominate someone.
  [For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.]
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(Reprinted from the August 5 DCNR Resource newsletter.  Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)
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[Posted: August 6, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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