Monday, May 31, 2010

Local environmentalist learns of flood fuel spill in North End, takes soil samples toward solutions

I received this e-mail 5 days ago from one of the sisters who own ASK Apparel (emphasis mine):

Hello Mike --

I wanted to let you know that I took some soil samples today from along the North End Greenway (in the general vicinity of January Environmental at 91 Van Buren) and from Morgan Park to have them analyzed for heavy metals / organic pollutants. I was clued in to the spills there through your website -- thanks.

I am doing a project called re:seed that will open at Blend Studio on Saturday, June 5th (more info at Basically, I am asking people to help identify sites affected by floodwaters and then scatter seedballs of remediating and soil-building plants (sunflower, mustard, cilantro and soil-building red clover) on them.

I am running soil tests on (at least) six different plots that I have identified that seemed to have some sort of chemical / pollutant spills - the North End Greenway and Morgan Park are two of the sites. I'm going to run follow-up tests once the growing season is over to see what impact (if any) growing the phytoremediating plants has had.

I am approaching this more from an art perspective (getting people involved in their immediate surroundings and in acts of restoring their community), and I recognize that just scattering seeds isn't going to be enough if there is a serious chemical contamination problem. However, there's not a lot of research on on-the-ground, "grassroots" phytoremediation, so this is also an opportunity to see if these sort of efforts actually help to improve soil / remove contamination.

All the results from the soil tests will be posted on the website, but I'll also make sure to send them to you directly as well, if you are interested.

Going by the greenway today, I was really struck by how much dust is still around -- the wind picked up and dust was blowing everywhere -- and by how strong the smell of sewage and petroleum still is :-(

Also, I am not sure if you are aware of this, but there are a series of EPA reports on the Tennessee floods:

The reports enumerate some of the sites where spills were identified, and make for some interesting reading.

Thanks for your informative posts! Hope all is well.

warm regards,
alesandra bellos

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