Mt Fly Ash discovered and scaled at Holly Hill

Town of Greenwich, CT  Holly Hill Resource Recovery Facility-Improvement Plan

Does Mt Fly Ash exist at Holly Hill?  What is this:

Six foot two in height, EarthImage scales the ash mound at Holly Hill. Goodwill trailer on top visible.

The Public Works Dept stores pipes and curbing on top of the pile

Storm Water percolates through the pile and drains into Tom's Brook

Sediments that should be trapped on site now overflow to Armstrong Court and Byram Harbor.


The ashes remain from operations of the municipal incinerator, now replaced with a transfer station.  The old incinerator incompletely burned metals fed into it, and those metals now leech into Tom’s Brook.

The Wetlands Agency requested testing of metals in this sediment pond:

test results reported by DPW to IWWA from October 2011


Note:  mg/L is milligrams per Liter of liquid, or parts per million  (1 Liter is 1000 grams of water.)  Findings are in parts per million of soil (milligrams per kilogram.)




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Sewage Treatment Disks persist along Long Island Sound beaches

From Sound Beacher:  Here are these mysterious daisy wheels washed up along the shore.  Been seeing them since the spring. It’s December and I think I may be seeing more of them:

Disks about the size of a quarter

On the beach they float in with the winds and tides after ten months at sea:

They will persist for years


Storm Water Washes Plastic Disks onto Sound Shore Beaches
March 8, 2011 — Heavy rain on Sunday contributed to a release into the Long Island Sound of thousands of small white plastic disks from the Westchester County Wastewater Treatment Plant in Mamaroneck.

The disks have washed up on shore from Rye to New Rochelle.

The county’s Department of Environmental Facilities is hiring a contractor to retrieve as many of them as possible. The disks, used at the Mamaroneck WWTP to help clean wastewater, are made of HDPE (high density polyethylene). HDPE is a non-toxic plastic that is used in every-day storage of food items. For example, it is the same plastic commonly used for making milk containers.

Thomas J. Lauro, commissioner of the county’s Department of Environmental Facilities, said that the plant is under construction, with two of the six aeration tanks being upgraded for advanced wastewater treatment. The disks escaped from one of the tanks during startup of the process. The disks are used in the process of removing nitrogen from the wastewater to prevent hypoxia (inadequate oxygen) in the Sound.

Dr. Cheryl Archbald, acting commissioner of health, said that the disks pose no health risks to the public. Residents who find the disks on their property can throw them in the garbage. As with any debris, it is recommended that people use gloves or wash their hands after handling the disks.

The county has already retrieved thousands of the disks, which are white, about the size of a quarter and resemble a wagon wheel.

In the wild


“There is no public health concern,” said Mary Ellen Laurain, a spokesperson for
the Nassau County Health Department. Laurain said she received her information
both from Westchester health officials and the NY State Dept. of Environmental

Rather, they remain a litter issue: “Treat them like debris. You should use
plastic gloves to be safe,” Laurain said.

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Even Alligators and Turtles Need a Sunbath

Gator sunbath

Evil eye on you

Turtle warms up too

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Turkey and Deer over-run Westchester County

From near extirpation to recovery to pestilential abundance:

Westchester Lawn Rats

Not shy


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From Sound Beacher at the Beach

How long does a mylar ballon last?  Will it look like food to a sea bird, a seal or a whale?

A hint of trouble

the balloon and ribbon must look like food to a sea creature

the color and shape looks good

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Irene – Lee Impacts on Catskill Region

EarthImage spent the weekend surveying damage to various Catskill creek and stream bridge structures.  Imagine this is the only way into or out of your property:

Common siight

The force of flooding ripped many abutment structures in two:

After the storm


Temporary bridges are in place – but in need of permanent replacements:

Quick repair

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Earth Image – Monday Wednesday & Fridays – Guest postings invited

Earth Image invites readers and guests to post photos or essays along the general themes of better quality in water, earth and sky with related environmental topics.

Email your stuff to MWF@EarthImage.Net and share your views and thoughts.

First up from Sound Beacher —  A Reflection on the New Year:

A Reflection on the New Year

Old Bike:

Old Bike

New Bike:

New Bike

And who is going to ride that bike?  Is that the lock broken and on the ground?  No one will even steal this bike!

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Tom’s Brook Outfall in Byram Harbor – Greenwich – CT

A friend asked me,  how does one clean up a brook that flows through a fly ash pile at the old Town incinerator?  Good question.  The problem is leaching out of heavy metals, especially lead and chromium.  What absorbs those:  well, it turns out that oak trees and various marsh reed grasses do an excellent job.

Here’s the problem:  A 23 ft high pile of old ash leaching into the Brook with no remediation efforts.  This was approved by the Wetlands Agency in 1980.  Do they care yet about water quality in our streams and rivers?  (rhetorical pause…)

Mt. Fly Ash at Holly Hill

After flowing under the Holly Hill Resource Recovery Facility, formerly an incinerator/dump for the Town of Greenwich, CT,  this brook makes its way to Byram Harbor, with the last natural area and opportunity for a bio-filter trap of silt and metals being south of the Turnpike just west of Ritch Avenue.  Note the stream sediments.

The last stilling pool - note the sediments

The brook then “falls out” at Byram Harbor:

The 5 x 10 ft outfall box culvert at high tide elevation

Another opportunity for water quality presents itself in the form of a clean-able forebay.  This would be a berm near the high tide level with a truck ramp access to collect and remove what now flows though to the Sound.  Like ducks in a row (mute swans – forgive me.)  In storms the berm overflows.  In dry weather, the water near the middle to lower third – the cleanest water – leaks out into the harbor slowly.

Clean-able Forebay Option site

And finally, the receiving waters where remaining sediments and metals sink into the Harbor, which the EPA classifies as “impaired” under the Clean Water Act.

Byram Harbor on a January day

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The outfall is the delivery system for all water-borne pollutants – for it all runs down to the sea.

Investigating the outfalls of the Byram River on Nov 1, 2011

EarthImage investigates the outfall from Lyon Park and Port Chester Streets

Both Post Rd bridges are entirely in NY State

The Loire Valley of France it's not - but OK anyway.

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Cos Cob Power Plant Park – Environmental Remediation

What can you buy for $1 these days?  Oh, the obligation to build 24 units of affordable housing, and the bill to remediate a toxic ash site – say $20 Million in taxpayer money.

Again from April 2, 2008

From the website:

Last Public Site Plan

Progress photo:

Progress on Shoreline Stabilization Jan 2, 2012

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Back corners of Byram Park – A Jewel

The Seawall with a mysterious outfall pipe.

Tom’s Brook – Direct from the Holly Hill dump.

Tom's Brook Outfall onto Byram Beach - direct from Holly Hill dump.

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Greenwich Point – World’s best dog park. Canines welcome in 2012!

A long line of cars waiting to get in all afternoon.  Only about 1 in 10 seemed to be there for dropping off trees.  About half were there for the dogs.

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The sun starts its northerly journey home…

Sunsets at latitude N27-55 on the winter solstice and 3.5 days afterward

“Tis the reason for the season” by Robert F. Walsh describes pagan festivals over history, designed to induce the sun to change direction, or afterward to thank it for doing so:

Brumalia, an ancient Roman solstice festival honoring the god Bacchus generally held for a month and ending Dec. 25.

Gheimhridh was celebrated by Druids and Proto-Celtic tribes at Newgrange as early as 3200 BCE.

Babylonians held an annual renewal celebration, the Zagmuk Festival, that lasted 10 days to observe the sun god Marduk’s battle over darkness.

Saturnalia, a Roman feast commemorating the dedication of the temple of Saturn, lasted Dec. 17-23.

The Buddhist celebration of Sanghamitta, honoring the Buddhist nun who brought a branch of the Bodhi tree to Sri Lanka, has been held around the winter solstice for more than 2,000 years.

Polytheistic European tribes celebrated Midvinterblot, a mid-winter-sacrifice.

The Zuni and the Hopitu Indians celebrated Soyal, the winter solstice ceremony held on Dec. 21, the shortest day of the year

But by-and-large, we just know and honor the day as the “Birthday of the Sun” and we are happy to have it coming our way in the northern hemisphere for the next six months.

So let’s keep the Sun in Festivus.

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Is the sea rising or the land sinking?

How does one measure that over time?   With today’s technology, a mathematical ellipse (OK- Clarke’s spheroid of 1888)  in space is used to measure land and water.  At Battery Park at the south tip of Manhattan, the high precision GPS antenna records visible satellite position vectors every second.  The tide station on the pier records water levels every six minutes.  These items are posted on line in near real-time.

Land and Water measured together

The tide data looks like this:

 NOAA tide Station 8518750  The Battery, Lower Manhattan, New York City, NY

Date/      Time           Predic.   Observd.  Diff    Barom.  Air temp  Water temp
(Local Time)               (ft.)    (ft.)    (ft.)    (mb.)    (oF)      (oF)       

10/30/2011 09:36:00  EDT   4.75      4.45     -0.30    1020.0   38.3     56.8
10/30/2011 09:42:00  EDT   4.85      4.54     -0.31    1020.0   38.7     56.8
10/30/2011 09:48:00  EDT   4.94      4.69     -0.25    1020.0   39.2     56.8
10/30/2011 09:54:00  EDT   5.02      4.81     -0.21    1020.2   39.6     56.7
10/30/2011 10:00:00  EDT   5.10      4.90     -0.20    1020.3   39.6     56.7
10/30/2011 10:06:00  EDT   5.17      4.99     -0.18    1020.4   40.0     56.6

(Water level data is referenced to Mean Lower Low Water daily over 19 years)

The daily deviations of the land based GPS antenna look like this:

Daily station deviation from published position

In 1811 the Commissioner’s of the City of New York laid out the street grid system, and established an extensive series of elevation monuments at corner intersections, based on high tide of the era at zero.   EarthImage was asked to calibrate that system in relation to the modern determination of tidal level and land elevations.   Our conclusion was that the City Elevation Zero of 1811, now known as Manhattan Borough Datum, is 4.03 ft over modern mean lower low tide (the average daily low from 1978 to 2001.)  As the daily high today is 4.73 ft higher than that, one can speculate that tides have risen 0.70 feet (8.4 inches) since 1811.

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Global cooling leads to Snowtober wipe-out in Connecticut

This is not your father’s Indian Summer.  Foliage still green – not orange and red – over a foot of snow.  Here’s the big picture, thanks to MODIS (snow and ice in red.)

snow and ice in the Northeast 10/30/2011

Me?  With Connecticut closed for business, I went to Coney Island for the morning.

Looking a little lonely on the boardwalk this morning.

The parachute drop at Coney Island

Or one could drop by the hot dog stand at Not Nathan’s Famous:

Hotdogs on the boardwalk


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Global Cooling in the Stratosphere

Stratospheric temperatures (14 to 22 km / 9 to 14 miles above the surface) have been below average since the warming effects from the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption dissipated in 1993. January-November 2010 was the 18th consecutive year with below-average temperatures (an anomaly of -0.41°C/-0.74°F), the 19th coolest year on record. The below-average stratospheric temperatures are consistent with the depletion of ozone in the lower stratosphere and the effects of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. The large temperature increase in 1982 is attributed to the volcanic eruption of El Chichon, and the increase in 1991 was associated with the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines.







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The Oceans are a Salty Place – from 3% to 4%.

From NASA’s new Aquarius satellite:

Salinity surface mapping

NASA’s new Aquarius instrument has produced its first global map of the salinity, or saltiness, of Earth’s ocean surface, providing an early glimpse of the mission’s anticipated discoveries. Its rich tapestry of global salinity patterns demonstrates Aquarius’ ability to resolve large-scale salinity distribution features clearly and with sharp contrast. The map reveals predominantly well-known ocean salinity features, such as higher salinity in the subtropics, higher average salinity in the Atlantic Ocean compared to the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and lower salinity in rainy belts near the equator, in the northernmost Pacific Ocean and elsewhere. These features are related to large-scale patterns of rainfall and evaporation over the ocean, river outflow and ocean circulation. Aquarius will monitor how these features change over time and study their link to climate and weather variations. Other important regional features are clearly evident, including a sharp contrast between the arid, high-salinity Arabian Sea west of the Indian subcontinent, and the low-salinity Bay of Bengal to the east, which is dominated by the Ganges River and south Asia monsoon rains. The data also show important smaller details, such as a larger-than-expected extent of low-salinity water associated with outflow from the Amazon River. In addition, low salinity values immediately adjacent to land and ice-covered areas are due to proximity to coastlines or ice edges, which introduces errors into the data that will require additional analyses to correct.

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Is it warm in here, or that my imagination?

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What can Shipoke do?

When a city is built at a ferry landing on a flood plain, what should the government be doing to protect its residents?

South Harrisburg, PA aka Shipoke. Site of the John Harris ferry over the Susquehanna River

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Best Farm Soil Flows to Sea

Ct River Valley Farms yield their soil

From NASA  Earth Observatory:

Nearly a week after Hurricane Irene drenched New England with rainfall in late August 2011, the Connecticut River was spewing muddy sediment into Long Island Sound and wrecking the region’s farmland just before harvest. The Thematic Mapper on the Landsat 5 satellite acquired this true-color satellite image on September 2, 2011.

With its headwaters near the Canadian border, the Connecticut River drains nearly 11,000 square miles (28,500 square kilometers) and receives water from at least 33 tributaries in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. The 410-mile river—New England’s longest—enters Long Island Sound near Old Lyme, Connecticut, and is estimated to provide 70 percent of the fresh water entering the Sound.

When Irene blew through the region on August 27-28, substantial portions of the Connecticut River watershed received more than 6 to 8 inches (15-20 centimeters) of rainfall, and several locations received more than 10 inches (25 centimeters). Whole towns were cut off from overland transportation—particularly upstream in Vermont, which suffered its worst flooding in 80 years. Thousands of people saw their homes flooded, if not washed off their foundations, at a time of year when rivers are usually at their lowest.

Preliminary estimates of river flow at Thompsonville, Connecticut, (not shown in this image) reached 128,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) on August 30, nearly 64 times the usual flow (2,000 cfs) for early fall and the highest flow rate since May 1984. At the mouth of the river—where flow is tidal, and therefore not gauged—the peak water height reached 6.9 feet (2.1 meters) above sea level, almost a foot higher than at any time in the past 10 years.

According to Suzanne O’Connell, an environmental scientist from Wesleyan University, the torrent of water coursing through the Connecticut River basin runs over a landscape that was once submerged under Glacial Lake Hitchcock. As it runs down from the highlands and coastal plains to Long Island Sound, the river can pick up fine sediment “that is so perfect for farming or for adding suspended sediment to a river.” In the wake of Irene, the turbidity (muddiness) of the water, as measured at Essex, Connecticut, was 50 times higher than before the storm.

To the east, the Thames River appears to be carrying very little sediment at all on September 2. According to O’Connell, the Thames “drains glaciated terrain, so fine sediment was removed long ago.” Most of the land surface in the Thames basin is “just bedrock, till, and glacial erratics.” Unlike the Connecticut, areas within the Thames watershed only received 2 to 4 inches of rain in most locations.

The flooding that occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene inundated farmland in Massachusetts and Connecticut just before harvest time, the Associated Press noted. Crops were drowned under inches to feet of water. The substantial amounts of soil, sediment, and water deposited on land during the flood could also pose trouble for farmers in coming seasons.

“It’s notable that whole segments of river bank are just gone,” said Andrew Fisk of the Connecticut River Watershed Council. “That’s not just loss of sediment. That’s land disappearing down river.”

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