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The group spent much of its meeting time determining how the three separate lists of problem areas should be condensed into a single mutually-exclusive list. They then exami ned the ecological risk ratings given to the respective problem areas by the Media Teams, and the members added their own judgment concerning the relative risks to Region VII ecosystems. After extensive discussions, the group reached consensus on the prioritization shown in Table 5.

The items are rank ordered within each of the priority categories, providing a list that is ranked from top to bottom. Points made include the following: The group felt that there is little or no basis for this assumption. We need better indicators of effects of many contaminants on different ecosystem classes and a commitment to monitoring those indicators. The loss of agricultural productivity resulting from this type of stress is a potentially severe welfare effect.

The effects of land use decisions should be projected over the same timescale that is being used for studies of large-scale atmospheric pollution e. The group recognized that these issues must be handled carefully, since they are not within EPA's jurisdiction.

The members examined the health risk ratings given to the respective problem areas by the Media Teams, and they added their own judgment concerning the relative risks to human health. After extensive discussions, the group reached consensus on the prioritization shown in Table 7.

The items are not ranked within each of the categories. The group wanted to keep the "High" category fairly small, containing only those problem areas for which there was a clear-cut consensus that they posed the greatest risk to human health in Region VII. This left a large number of problems areas in the "Medium" category. The "Medium Plus" and "Medium Minus" categories were added to enable the group to draw some distinctions between items in this middle-priority group.

To avoid the appearance of placing the blame on the farming industry as a whole, some discussants said, we should examine categories of agricultural practices separately - e. Lead is a stressor of concern in several problem areas, he said, and the group felt that the aggregate threat to human health from this single substance is underestimated by the pro- grammatic breakdown of problem areas adopted in the Comparative Risk Project.

He voiced the group's recom- mendation that future comparative risk and strategic planning activities in Region VII take the stressor-specific approach into account.

Wolfgang described the group's concern that several science and data gaps prevent a better understanding of the major health risks in the Region. He cited five needs as a proposed focus for research and information-gathering not in priority order: On the latter subject, a member of the group explained that the High rating was meant to highlight the potential for enor- mous health effects, even worldwide devastation, from ozone depletion.

The group decided on the basis of these discus- sions to elevate Large-Scale Atmospheric Pollution to the High category as a warning signal to Headquarters and to the public but not as a basis for increased programmatic emphasis in the Region.

Before beginning the task of listing and prioritizing specific science and data gaps, the group discussed the broader need for a uniform framework for using data in comparative risk analyses.

Some members of the group noted that the approach taken by most analysts in the first round of the Comparative Risk Project was unavoidably flawed. Because of the lack of resources and the short timeline for the project, much of the data collection and assessment was cursory, which calls into question the scientific validity of the exercise.

It was suggested that the most important step that could be taken to improve the process is to define systematically: Glen Marotz KU Dept. The group decided to make a strong recommendation to the conference as a whole: The Region should develop a uniform compara- tive risk data frame work. A preliminary concept for the framework, prepared and discussed by the group, is shown in Appendix C. Members of the group also suggested that the informa- tion about comparative risk information should be main- tained in a single designated location in the Regional office - a clearinghouse responsible for pointing risk analysts toward potentially useful sources of data.

Much of the information needed to perform this role would come from the completed "uniform data framework" sheets. The clearinghouse would also be responsible for updating the information about data sources and their characteristics as new sources are found and evaluated. After discussion, the group approved a second general recommendation: The Region should establish a clearinghouse of information on data sources and uses. The group spent the remainder of its meeting time on its main charge - producing prioritized lists of science and data gaps, based on the needs identified by each of the Media Teams in their opening presentations.

The prelimi- nary lists were composed of gaps specifically identified in the risk analysis abstracts prepared by each Media Team. After revising and condensing the lists somewhat, mem- bers of the group determined, by voting, the relative 10 priority assigned to each gap.

The seven items that scored highest are listed in Table 9. See Appendix D for the full lists of gaps and the group's prioritization. This list may be modified after further evaluation by a committee estab- lished after the conference for this purpose.

Lynn Kring, Director of the Office of Integrated En- vironmental Analysis, made the group's formal presenta- tion to the full conference at the plenary session on the final day. The audience agreed in principle with the recommen- dations on the uniform data framework and the risk analysis information clearinghouse. The recommendations concern- ing the high-priority science and data gaps drew most of the discussion.

In general, the participants thought that the top-priority research needs were too broad to be meaning- ful as targets for action. It was pointed out, for example, that the need for research on ecosystem impacts of hazard- ous contaminants should be broken down into more spe- cific needs, such as the need for indicator species for various stressors and receptors. Commenters also urged that certain gaps not on the group's top-priority list should be added: Other discussants suggested that it may be premature to focus on a handful of research needs at this point in the process.

At the close of the discussion, the consensus of the participants was to accept the lists of gaps, as expanded by additions from the audience, as a starting point for future work to zero in on the highest-priority needs. They were also asked to examine how the comparative risk and strategic planning process could contribute to major geo- graphic-based projects undertaken by the Region, such as the Platte River Enforcement Initiative.

The group realized quickly that it would be very difficult to develop action ideas without a clear definition of the strategic planning process. In addition, they encoun- tered the same difficulty that the other groups found with the highly media-specific way many of the problem areas were defined. They spent much of their meeting time, therefore, developing an outline of a recommended ap- proach to strategic planning in the Region and discussing the need to revise the list of problems.

Eric Strauss KU - Arch. He said that they had reached a strong consensus on basic principles for the strategic planning process Table They also had wanted to show how the process might work by applying it to one or more of the problem areas. They found, however, that they spent most of their time discussing what the problem areas should be, concluded that the present breakdown is unworkable, and thus did not produce an illustration of how strategic planning might work with respect to a particular problem area.

Gale emphasized the group's belief that further refine- ment of the problem area list, based on a cross-media approach, is vital to the success of strategic planning. This effort should begin immediately, he suggested, and should not be constrained by the way the problems have been defined up to now in the Comparative Risk Project.

A true multimedia approach is necessary, he said, if we are to conduct strategic planning aimed at reducing risks. We need to gain some efficiencies in the next stage of the risk analysis process by breaking down the organizational barriers to cross-media cooperation. Gale brought up another of the Strategic Decisions Group's main points: State, local, and other federal agen- cies should be an integral part of the entire strategic planning process.

He suggested that a series of workshops or forums be organized to ensure that government organi- zations at all levels have an opportunity to contribute their knowledge and experience to EPA's strategy and to com- ment on plans before they become final.

Gale then made the group's last point - that the Region should specifically dedicate resources to the strategic planning process. The consensus-building process, begun so well in the Comparative Risk Project, should not be sacrificed simply to meet a tight Headquarters deadline for completing an initial strategic plan, he warned.

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Each division should commit some resources for participation in a Regional Planning Committee to ensure a truly cross- media product. Expected risk reduction Measurable goals Resource allocation Data gaps and needs 12 It was then suggested that a committee made up of the Deputy Division Directors be responsible for preparing the strategic plan. The forums for State and local input would be conducted in conjunction with this workgroup's activities.

There was general agreement that this approach to devel- oping the strategic plan should be pursued. Consensus-Building on Risk-Based Priorities and Next Steps Following the small group presentations, the whole body participated in an hour-long session of open discus- sion to fine-tune the prioritized lists of environmental problems that would be one major product of the confer- ence.

The principal short-term use of the lists, explained conference moderator Susan Gordon, Assistant Regional Administrator for Policy and Management, would be to meet the Headquarters request that the Region submit a ranking by the end of September.

More important, however, the lists provide a starting point for the Region's strategic planning initiative, which will be a natural extension of the comparative risk analysis process.

An important objective of the conference, Susan said, is to establish a spirit of cross-media teamwork among all participants by examining the relative priorities of the problems as they were initially defined. Thisprocess is more valuable to the Region than the lists. Tables 12 and 13 show the final consensus on the priority lists, which are subject to substantial revision in the future. The comments during the open discussion revealed a growing sense among the conference participants that, as the Strategic Decisions Group had pointed out, the prob- lem areas used in this initial round of comparative risk analyses are unworkable as a basis for integrated strategic planning.

More work is needed to define problem areas that can be handled consistently by ecological and human health risk analysts.

In some cases, such as lead, it may be better to focus on a single contaminant or contaminant class as a whole instead of handling pieces of it in three or four different pathway-oriented problem areas.

The most important issue is not whether a given problem should be placed in this or that priority category, but rather how the whole risk analysis process can be made into a sounder foundation for strategic planning.

The State Perspective Representatives from each State in Region VII partici- pated in the conference, adding the perspective of State environmental and public health agencies to the breakout groups and the consensus-building process.

These repre- sentatives held a breakfast meeting on the final day of the conference topool their opinions about the Region's compar- ative risk and planning process and where it should go from here.

He made the following major points on which the State representatives had reached unanimous agreement: State department directors should be invited to be members of this group. The Comparative Risk Project has been very fruitful in improving cross-media communication, and it is important to continue this dialogue.

A State agency cannot tackle the issue of "agricultural practices," for example. A more focused approach is needed. What are the priority issues within the broad problem categories?

Faced with tight deadlines in the Comparative Risk Project, we seem to be making a great leap of faith in some cases instead of basing priorities on solid data and rigorous analysis, Gale said. EPA should continue to pursue a broad- er working relationship with State and local agencies, since they will ultimately be the ones who must implement the programs and initiatives.

Such involvement should take two forms.

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First, if the Region redefines the environ- mental problem areas used in the Comparative Risk Project, then a workshop should be held to obtain State input on the new schema. It is important to "take smaller bites" too. The document should not be treated as rigid guidance; it must leave room to accommodate the differ- ences among the four States.

The Region should look for the earliest appropriate point to begin formally soliciting public input. C rea ti ve educational approaches will be needed. He was very impressed, he said, with the extent of the partici- pation in the conference and in the quality of the discussions. He emphasized that the Comparative Risk Project has not been and will not be an exercise in reallocating resources. A main objective is to promote cooperation within the Region in identifying and addressing crucial needs that may otherwise go unmet.

Bill said he was especially pleased with the degree of interchange between people from different divisions, which he sees as a prerequisite for effective strategic planning in the Region. He complimented everyone on their openness and urged them to keep up the momentum of cross-media communication after leaving the conference.

In his wrap-up comments to the conference partici- pants, Morris Kay stated again that the Region is engaged in an important process. We should be looking at what our priorities are for protecting the environment in our States. He said that everyone in the Regional Office should feel that they are making a significant contribution to success in this effort. He stressed, however, that it is a continuing process.

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It will be a useless exercise if we let it end with the confer- ence. We now must use the information generated from the process in two concrete ways to operationalize the good intentions. Second, we must track our progress by "putting a STARS focus" on the priorities that arise from the com- parative risk and planning process.

Morris noted that the ability to measure success is vital to a risk-based approach to environmental protection. He said he hoped that one of the next steps in the comparative risk process will be to begin developing new environmen- tal indicators and other methods of assessing the condition of ecosystems and evaluating the results of efforts to protect or restore them.

This must be an outgrowth of the Comparative RiskProject, he said-a part of implementing its findings. Measuring progress requires a significant investment in data gathering and analysis, he cautioned. If we truly want to use data as a basis for our decisions, then our budgeting process must reflect the need for data collection above and beyond those things that EPA is required by sta- tute to do.

We must communicate this important need to the top managers of our environmental programs, he said. Finally, Morris said that he would like to see the comparative risk process begin to concentrate on how to tackle broad areas that have been identified as high priorities for the Region but which are probably too general as a focus for specific actions.

He encouraged the group to start thinking about implementation methods in the area of Agricultural Practices I Pesticide Pollution, for example. What levers will be most effective in reducing the risk to human health and the environment from this extremely broad set of activities? Participants in the comparative risk process should very soon turn to the task of breaking the problem areas into their constituent sub-areas and making recommendations on how to address specific concerns e.

Next Steps Region VII will take these steps to follow up on the recommendations made during the conference: A Regional Planning Council of Deputy Division Directors will be established to develop the structure for the Region's initial strategic plan, due to be completed by the end of February The Data Coordination Group of the Comparative Risk Project will prepare a proposed Uni- form Data Framework for risk analysis and will explore the idea of a Regional clearinghouse on data sources.

Several conference participants were to take part in a roundtable discussion on science and data needs with Erich Bretthauer, Assistant Admin- istrator for Research and Development, during his visit to the Region the week following the conference.

The Region and Kansas University will co-sponsor a seminar series beginning in the winter of designed to share the results and implications of the Comparative Risk Project. The seminars will be open to the staffs of EPA and other state and federal natural resource agencies, members of the university community, and other interested parties. The Policy and Management staff will organize periodic meetings to keep all interested Regional and State personnel informed about progress and plans in the comparative risk and strategic planning pro- cess.

The Region will bring in nationally- recognized experts in comparative risk and strategic plan- ning to discuss their work and its relevance for the Region's planning process. Numerous incidences have been reported of ground water and surface water contamination and habitat destruction via drift, but data are not readily available to show extent and severity of the problems. With pesticides ubiquitous in the Region, though, the ecological impact is assumed to be great. All risk factors were rated High overall, with highest composite risk to surface waters, wetlands, agrosystems, and ground water.

H H Climate modification due to greenhouse gases and UV-B effects of stratospheric ozone depletion are still being studied, but the long- term risk to all ecosystems except ground water is considerable. Acid precipitation does not appear to damage crops and forests in Region VII. The acid neutralizing capacity of surface waters in the Region is relatively high.

Long-term risk to all ecosystems except ground water was rated High. Confidence in these ratings was Low in each case, due to absence of data on impacts. M Several areas in the Region exceed the national standards for ozone, particulates, sulfur dioxide, lead, and carbon monoxide.

Portions of wetland, forest, grassland, and agricultural ecosystems are exposed to above welfare-based standard levels of one or more of these pollutants. Data on specific impacts are not available.

High intensity of stress and areal extent of response are counter- balanced by Moderate ratings on other factors.

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Greatest impact on forest and wetland ecosystems. H H Data from the Toxic Release Inventory and other sources shows sizable releases of many toxic chemicals into all media. Moderate ratings predominated across the risk factors and across the ecosystem classes.

H M A serious radiation-release accident might contaminate the surrounding ecosystem and prompt its destruction to prevent human exposure, but the probability of serious accidents is considered to be very small. There is no known risk to ecological systems from nonionizing radiation. There is no evidence that radiation from normal operations of nuclear power plants and other radioactive sites has measurable effect on the biosphere.

Composite risk was rated Low on all factors except areal extent of stress. While stressor chemicals are continuously present in the atmosphere, little information is available to document the impact on ecological systems in the Region. Region V studies on air transport of mercury, toxaphene, and PCBs suggest direct effects on surface waters and wetlands.

Moderate extent, intensity, and persistence of stress is offset by Low risk ratings on response factors. Average radon level in the Region is 4. Individual lung cancer risk for the Region is estimated at 1 incompared to national level of 6 in 1, Millions of people are exposed to other indoor air pollutants, with health effects assumed to be the same as national levels.

Highest potential for human exposure occurs during mixing, loading, and application operations. Difficult to quantify risk posed by pesticides in drinking water supplies because of need for better monitoring data and seasonal nature of contamination primarily due to runoff.

Several areas in the Region exceed the national standards for ozone, particulates, sulfur dioxide, lead, and carbon monoxide. Toxic chemicals are widespread in daily life, with the entire Region VII population potentially exposed. Data from the Toxic Release Inventory and other sources shows sizeable releases of many toxic chemicals into all media. Many of these substances are known to have adverse human health effects.

Data from 3 urban air monitors in showed 18 of the 38 toxic chemicals detected exceeded the mean for cities studied. Health effects from acid deposition have not been characterized and are not thought to be significant. Global warming may lead to increases in human mortality and illness and raise ambient ozone levels. UV-B exposure from ozone depletion is estimated to increase cataracts and skin cancers significantly. The entire Regional population is exposed to nonionizing radiation, but dose-response relationships are not known.

Average individual cancer risk associated with each type of radioactive emission source is well below 1 innationally. All risk factors were rated High, driven by risk to agricultural workers and commercial applicators, with Moderate composite risk to other exposed subpopulations. All risk factors except persistence of stress were rated High. High composite risk to all exposed subpopulations.

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