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  1. A preliminary assessment of avian mortality at utility-scale solar energy facilities in the United States

    Despite the benefits of reduced toxic and carbon emissions and a perpetual energy resource, there is potential for negative environmental impacts resulting from utility-scale solar energy (USSE) development. Although USSE development may represent an avian mortality source, there is little knowledge regarding the magnitude of these impacts in the context of other avian mortality sources. In this study we present a first assessment of avian mortality at USSE facilities through a synthesis of available avian monitoring and mortality information at existing USSE facilities. Using this information, we contextualize USSE avian mortality relative to other forms of avian mortality at 2more » spatial scales: a regional scale (confined to southern California) and a national scale. Systematic avian mortality information was available for three USSE facilities in the southern California region. We estimated annual USSE-related avian mortality to be between 16,200 and 59,400 birds in the southern California region, which was extrapolated to between 37,800 and 138,600 birds for all USSE facilities across the United States that are either installed or under construction. We also discuss issues related to avian–solar interactions that should be addressed in future research and monitoring programs.« less
  2. Mercury-Impacted Scrap Metal: Source and Nature of the Mercury

    The reuse and recycling of industrial solid wastes such as scrap metal is supported and encouraged both internationally and domestically, especially when such wastes can be used as substitutes for raw material. However, scrap metal processing facilities, such as mini-mills, have been identified as a source of mercury (Hg) emissions in the United States. This research aims to better define some of the key issues related to the source and nature of mercury in the scrap metal waste stream. Overall, it is difficult to pinpoint the key mercury sources feeding into scrap metal recycling facilities, quantify their associated mercury concentrations,more » or determine which chemical forms are most significant. Potential sources of mercury in scrap metal include mercury switches from discarded vehicles, electronic-based scrap from household appliances and related industrial systems, and Hg-impacted scrap metal from the oil and gas industry. The form of mercury associated with scrap metal varies and depends on the source type. The specific amount of mercury that can be adsorbed and retained by steel appears to be a function of both metallurgical and environmental factors. In general, the longer the steel is in contact with a fluid or condensate that contains measurable concentrations of elemental mercury, the greater the potential for mercury accumulation in that steel. Most mercury compounds are thermally unstable at elevated temperatures (i.e., above 350°C). As such, the mercury associated with impacted scrap is expected to be volatilized out of the metal when it is heated during processing (e.g., shredding or torch cutting) or melted in a furnace. This release of fugitive gas (Hg vapor) and particulates, as well as Hg-impacted bag-house dust and control filters, could potentially pose an occupational exposure risk to workers at a scrap metal processing facility. Thus, identifying and characterizing the key sources of Hg-impacted scrap, and understanding the nature and extent of associated releases, represent a practical research need that is essential for improving the environmental management of Hg-impacted scrap and assessing measures to protect workers from potential health and safety hazards that might be posed by mercury and Hg-impacted scrap.« less
  3. A preliminary assessment of avian mortality at utility-scale solar energy facilities in the United States

  4. Understanding Emerging Impacts and Requirements Related to Utility-Scale Solar Development

    Utility-scale solar energy plays an important role in the nation’s strategy to address climate change threats through increased deployment of renewable energy technologies, and both the federal government and individual states have established specific goals for increased solar energy development. In order to achieve these goals, much attention is paid to making utility-scale solar energy cost-competitive with other conventional energy sources, while concurrently conducting solar development in an environmentally sound manner.
  5. Mercury-impacted scrap metal: Source and nature of the mercury

  6. Long-Term Monitoring of Utility-Scale Solar Energy Development and Application of Remote Sensing Technologies: Summary Report

    In anticipation of increased utility-scale solar energy development over the next 20 to 50 years, federal agencies and other organizations have identified a need to develop comprehensive long-term monitoring programs specific to solar energy development. Increasingly, stakeholders are requesting that federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM), develop rigorous and comprehensive long-term monitoring programs. Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne) is assisting the BLM in developing an effective long-term monitoring plan as required by the BLM Solar Energy Program to study the environmental effects of solar energy development. The monitoring data can be usedmore » to protect land resources from harmful development practices while at the same time reducing restrictions on utility-scale solar energy development that are determined to be unnecessary. The development of a long-term monitoring plan that incorporates regional datasets, prioritizes requirements in the context of landscape-scale conditions and trends, and integrates cost-effective data collection methods (such as remote sensing technologies) will translate into lower monitoring costs and increased certainty for solar developers regarding requirements for developing projects on public lands. This outcome will support U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Sunshot Program goals. For this reason, the DOE provided funding for the work presented in this report.« less
  7. A Review of Avian Monitoring and Mitigation Information at Existing Utility-Scale Solar Facilities

    There are two basic types of solar energy technology: photovoltaic and concentrating solar power. As the number of utility-scale solar energy facilities using these technologies is expected to increase in the United States, so are the potential impacts on wildlife and their habitats. Recent attention is on the risk of fatality to birds. Understanding the current rates of avian mortality and existing monitoring requirements is an important first step in developing science-based mitigation and minimization protocols. The resulting information also allows a comparison of the avian mortality rates of utility-scale solar energy facilities with those from other technologies and sources,more » as well as the identification of data gaps and research needs. This report will present and discuss the current state of knowledge regarding avian issues at utility-scale solar energy facilities.« less
  8. The Application of Adaptive Sampling and Analysis Program (ASAP) Techniques to NORM Sites

    The results from the Michigan demonstration establish that this type of approach can be very effective for NORM sites. The advantages include (1) greatly reduced per sample analytical costs; (2) a reduced reliance on soil sampling and ex situ gamma spectroscopy analyses; (3) the ability to combine characterization with remediation activities in one fieldwork cycle; (4) improved documentation; and (5) ultimately better remediation, as measured by greater precision in delineating soils that are not in compliance with requirements from soils that are in compliance. In addition, the demonstration showed that the use of real-time technologies, such as the RadInSoil, canmore » facilitate the implementation of a Multi-Agency Radiation Survey and Site Investigation Manual (MARSSIM)-based final status survey program« less
  9. An Assessment of the Disposal of Petroleum Industry NORM in Nonhazardous Landfills

    In this study, the disposal of radium-bearing NORM wastes in nonhazardous landfills in accordance with the MDEQ guidelines was modeled to evaluate potential radiological doses and resultant health risks to workers and the general public. In addition, the study included an evaluation of the potential doses and health risks associated with disposing of a separate NORM waste stream generated by the petroleum industry--wastes containing lead-210 (Pb-210) and its progeny. Both NORM waste streams are characterized in Section 3 of this report. The study also included reviews of (1) the regulatory constraints applicable to the disposal of NORM in nonhazardous landfillsmore » in several major oil and gas producing states (Section 2) and (2) the typical costs associated with disposing of NORM, covering disposal options currently permitted by most state regulations as well as the nonhazardous landfill option (Section 4).« less

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