Commissioner Sarnoff: Toxic Soil at Merrie Christmas Park Will Be Removed Soon

Categories: Environmental

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Courtesy of Ken Russell
After weeks of wrangling, a park protest, and the recent involvement of an attorney, the infamous Merrie Christmas Park toxic soil pile is finally on its way out thanks to funding promised by an anonymous donor.

"I'm pretty sure it'll happen in the next day or two," Commissioner Marc Sarnoff told Riptide Tuesday evening. "If not by the end of the week, then by the middle of next week."

Ken Russell, the resident who has been leading the effort to remove the soil, yelped in excitement when told by Riptide of the plans. "Yes! Wow!" he exclaimed. "If that's really going to be removed ... that is such a victory for what we're trying to accomplish."

See also: Residents Would Have to Pay to Remove Toxic Soil at Merrie Christmas Park, Commissioner Says

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Miami Deep Dredge: Environmentalists Win Court Battle but Not War as Blasting Continues

Categories: Environmental

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Call it a split decision. The latest legal skirmish over the Deep Dredge devolved into an all-day court battle over contracts and language yesterday.

Despite the dredge drudgery, however, environmentalists emerged from federal court claiming important concessions in their ongoing battle against the Army Corps of Engineers, including almost half a million dollars in additional coral conservation.

"We got all of their bad behavior out in court," said Rachel Silverstein of Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, one of the groups to sue the Corps. "The bottom line is that they finally have to clean up their act."

See also: Deep Dredge Critics File Emergency Demand to Stop "Destruction of Endangered Species"

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University of Miami Researcher Finds That Baby Fish Can Talk To Each Other

Categories: Environmental

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via University of Miami Rosenstiel School
The team used a behavior chamber, below, to isolate the fish and record their soudn
Everyone knows that adult fish can produce sounds, right? Well, maybe not, but trust us, they do.

But earlier this month, a team from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School became the first ever -- ever! -- to document that fish larvae, also known as baby fish, can also make noise.

"It's really exciting," said Erica Staaterman, the Ph.D student who led the team. "It's cool to be a part of something that's happening for the first time."

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Could Miami's Condo Boom Actually Help City Battle Effects of Climate Change?

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Photo by Kyle Munzenrieder
Seemingly every discussion of Miami's recent development boom includes someone sneering, "Yeah, and all those condo lobbies will be underwater in 100 years."

And every discussion of the potentially devastating effects of global warming on South Florida comes with someone quipping, "And yet they keep building towers down there."

But a University of Pennsylvania professor Robert Meyer is now making the counterintuitive argument in Bloomberg Businessweek that Miami's condo boom may actually help the area prepare for the effects of climate change.

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Residents Would Have to Pay to Remove Toxic Soil at Merrie Christmas Park, Commissioner Says

Categories: Environmental

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Courtesy of Ken Russell
After days of flyers, signatures, and rising passion among neighbors who want a massive pile of toxic soil removed from Merrie Christmas Park in Coconut Grove, city officials at a hearing last night argued in favor of a much cheaper plan to cover the toxic soil with two feet of clean soil. In fact, one commissioner said, residents would have to pay to remove the soil.

"The process of digging it up and getting it out, we don't have the ability of doing that without allowing some of it to get in the air and knowing the danger," Richard Weisman, director of the Florida Poison Information Center, said at the meeting, the Miami Herald reported.

See also: City Quietly Labels Toxic Parks "Brownfield Sites," Limiting Neighborhood Input In Cleanup

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Study: Miami Beach Will Experience 45 Floods a Year by 2030, 260 by 2045

Categories: Environmental

Photo by Tim Elfrink
Nowadays, the city of Miami Beach finds parts of itself underwater about eight times a year. In fact, a "King Tide," during which flooding is usually the worst, is expected for tomorrow. Right now that's a pain in the butt, but according to a new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists things will only get worse. Much worse.

The study estimated that by 2030 Miami Beach will experience 45 floods a year, an eight-fold increase. By 2045, they expect Miami Beach to be flooded 260 times a year, a 40-fold increase.

See also: Only 3 Percent of Floridians Think Global Warming Is the Biggest Environmental Threat to Florida

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Deep Dredge Critics File Emergency Demand to Stop "Destruction of Endangered Species"

Categories: Environmental

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Courtesy of Capt. Dan Kipnis
Sludge from dredge ships is killing Miami's corals.
The deep dredge could be in very deep trouble. Miami's most controversial public works project has been under the microscope in recent months as environmentalists have complained the dredge is killing precious coral colonies.

This morning, however, those same environmentalists are filing a request for an emergency injunction that could bring the $200 million dredge to a grinding halt.

"The damage is continuing 24/7 since they've been dredging 24/7," said Rachel Silverstein, executive director of Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper. "We can't afford to wait any longer."

See also: Deep Dredge Silt Is Killing Our Coral After All, Admit State Inspectors

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City Ignores Reports of Toxic Soil in Residences, Sidewalks in Coconut Grove, Reports Show

Categories: Environmental

The Miami Herald/John Rogers Partners
Old Smokey, which was demolished decades ago, continues to contaminate Coconut Grove.
Last fall, Miami leaders finally admitted they'd known for years that the long-shuttered Old Smokey trash incinerator in Coconut Grove had poisoned the earth with toxic ash. But they've also insisted contamination is contained within a 4.5-acre, fenced-off facility.

However, new reports obtained by New Times contradict that claim, revealing instead that testing this summer found that residential properties and public rights of way adjacent to Old Smokey had dangerous levels of heavy metals and other highly toxic substances. And though the findings arrived in June, city officials have failed to notify residents, ignored repeated demands from county regulators to fence off dangerous sites and remove the toxin-laced soil, and refused to investigate the extent of the contamination.

See also: Miami's Toxic Parks

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UM Researchers Chased Squirrels on Campus With a Remote-Controlled Cat, for Science

Categories: Environmental

Courtesy of Thaddeus McRae
McRae used this cat on wheels to chase squirrels on UM's campus, all in the name of science.
Listen up, kids. Next time you think science is boring, consider how Thaddeus McRae spent two years of his life: namely, chasing squirrels around the University of Miami campus with a remote-controlled cat on wheels and gliders painted to look like hawks.

"We had some very interesting interactions," McRae tells Riptide. "We had people come up and ask, 'What are you staring at through the telescope? An endangered animal?' When we told them we were watching squirrels, they'd slowly back away."

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Community Gardens Uprooted For New Parking Lot, Development

Categories: Environmental

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Photo via R.Y.P.E's Facebook page
Next Saturday the R.Y.P.E. Community Garden in Buena Vista will host en event. It's a goodbye party -- the garden will soon be demolished so a parking lot can be built in its place. "Pave paradise to put up a parking lot. Sooo sorry," wrote Atiya Guianese on the event's Facebook page.

R.Y.P.E. isn't the only local green space getting the boot by developers. Sam Van Leer, the founder of a nonprofit called the Urban Paradise Guild, tells Riptide that one of two community gardens that his organization runs is also in need of a new home.

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