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Mets Mailbag: On team’s chemistry with Yoenis Cespedes and what Marcus Stroman adds –

With the rest of spring training suspended and the start of the regular season pushed back at least two weeks, there's plenty of time to answer some Mets questions ...

I doubt it, though typically any sort of anomaly like this will no doubt involve the MLB Players Union and/or is already is addressed in the contract -- especially given the man injured himself in an incident with a boar.

That said, overall it is an advantage for him and the Mets because it means he'll be needed for fewer games and allows more time for him to rehab, which is a good thing for everyone involved.

I don't think so. The bold play he's known for on field is something he did more toward the early part of his career and in 2015. Since then, he's been much quieter and probably humbled by how he's struggled to get back to where he wants to be in his career.

To be honest, those who know him and cover him repeatedly talk about how soft-spoken and somewhat private he is. For example, the reason you never hear about him partying or getting into trouble is because he's far more likely to have friends, family, and teammates over for a private barbecue in the backyard of his ranch in Florida.

He's described as a nice guy, not the selfish, cocky, 24-and-1 (now 25-and-1) type guy that people seem to think.

The point I'm making, which directly answers your question is that, no, I don't think him being injected into this roster that he has not spent a lot of time with will be any sort of issue. Alonso wants to win and no doubt will welcome anyone, no matter how they act, if it's going to help the lineup. And Conforto and Nimmo have played with Yo, as have most of the pitching staff. They will be fine together...

I mean, you laid it out exactly the same way I see it.

My expectation is he will be fine. He had just one really bad start out of eight last season after the Mets traded for him, the rest of which were worthy of being a mid-to-top-of-the-rotation starter. His time pitching for them extrapolated across a full 30 games would have played out to be a roughly 3.25 ERA, 3.0 WAR and 160 strikeouts in 170 innings. This is also on par with 2020 projections from FanGraphs.

Also, he now knows what it's like to pitch in front of friends and family and deal with the pressure and expectations that come along with it. He has an apartment, knows the reporters, etc., all of which he had to adjust to on the fly, while dealing with the unique experience of returning home and dealing with expectations and pressure from family and friends, all of whom likely called to welcome him, get together and pick up free tickets.

I'm sure it was a lot, but that's all behind him, leaving him able to focus entirely on baseball.

Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is a senior writer of, which he created in 2003. His book,The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime.

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Mets Mailbag: On team's chemistry with Yoenis Cespedes and what Marcus Stroman adds -

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Military sees surge in sites with ‘forever chemical’ contamination | TheHill – The Hill

The military now has at least 651 sites that may have been contaminated with cancer-linked forever chemicals, a more than 50 percent jump from its last tally.

The information was released Friday in a report from the Department of Defense (DOD), part of a task force designedto help the military remove a class of chemicals known as PFAS from the water supply near numerous military bases.

PFAS, used in a variety of household products as well as an AFFF fire fighting foam relied on by the military, has been deemed a forever chemical due to its persistence in both the environment and the human body.

The military has been under increasing pressure to clean up contaminated sites, previously estimated to be as many as 401 locations. Each of those sites where PFAS may have been used must still be evaluated to determine whether it's been contaminated, as well as the extent of the exposure.

This report also makes it clear that we are still learning the full extent of the impact on our communities. The identification of over 250 new sites where PFAS was potentially released is astonishing, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Energy: Military sees surge in sites contaminated by 'forever chemicals' | USDA closes office wing due to coronavirus | Watchdog raises concerns over Trump energy regulator Military sees surge in sites with 'forever chemical' contamination Stock market plunge should incentivize firms to develop a coronavirus cure MORE (D-Wash.) said in a statement.

It is critical that the department provide communities with timely assessment of these sites, communicate transparently with impacted households, and quickly act to protect civilians and service members alike from these forever chemicals.

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark Esper'Endless wars' and political warfare Overnight Defense: 'Tens of thousands' of National Guard troops could be activated for coronavirus response | Hospital ships could take week to deploy | Trump says military to help Americans stuck in Peru Navy hospital ship to deploy in 5 to 10 days to help with coronavirus relief MORE started the PFAS task force on his first day in office in July.

We must approach the problem in an aggressive and holistic way, ensuring a coordinated DOD-wide approach to the issue, Esper wrote in a memo establishing the task force.

The 651 figure is current as of October and includes only sites where DOD is known to be the source of PFAS contamination.

The military has provided bottled water and filters to the affected areas and is prepared to ramp up blood testing for DOD firefighters that regularly apply firefighting foam.

No one on or off base is drinking water above EPAs [health advisory] level of 70 parts per trillion [ppt] where DoD is the known source of PFOS and PFOA, the agency wrote in the report, referring to guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

However, those voluntary EPA standards are in the process of being replaced with a mandatory drinking water regulation something that may fall below the 70 ppt currently being used by DOD.

Many critics have argued that the 70 ppt figure is too high to protect health and have advocated for setting the standard at a lower number, following the move of many states who have more aggressive PFAS regulations than the federal government.

Updated 5:09 p.m.

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Military sees surge in sites with 'forever chemical' contamination | TheHill - The Hill

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The Right Chemistry: In hand washing, role of soap is key – Montreal Gazette

Lady Macbeth is enjoying renewed popularity in light of the current coronavirus situation. Will these hands neer be clean she asks in the famous sleepwalking scene as she mimics washing her hands. She doesnt exactly exercise the right technique, but of course, the action is symbolic. The damned spot she is trying to rid herself of isnt physical, it is guilt.

Today, handwashing has a different kind of guilt associated with it. That guilt descends if we dont sing at least two stanzas of Happy Birthday as we lather with soap, scrub the backs and palms, twist a thumb as we grip it with the other hand or ensure that our nails have received enough attention. Although soap was well-known by 1606 when Shakespeare wrote his classic play, it was not commonly used. Sanitation was not a component of life. Any knowledge that invisible microbes could transmit disease would not emerge until the 19th century. However, even before Louis Pasteur laid the foundations for the germ theory of disease in the 1860s, a Hungarian physician hit upon the importance of washing hands to prevent disease transmission.

As a young doctor, Ignaz Semmelweiss was keenly aware of childbed fever. It was not unusual for a mother to die within a week of giving birth, but he did note that more women were dying after giving birth if they were attended by doctors than by nurses. Semmelweiss became obsessed with this conundrum. He performed numerous autopsies on the dead women in a search of some causative agent, but found none. Then in 1847 came a tragic breakthrough. One of his colleagues cut himself during an autopsy and soon died of symptoms that were remarkably similar to childbed fever. Semmelweiss surmised that some sort of cadaver particles must have gotten into his friends bloodstream and killed him. And perhaps these same cadaver particles were also killing the women! Now the difference between the two obstetrics wards became clear. The doctors who assisted in the births in the infamous death ward, and who performed internal exams on the women before and after birth, often came directly from the autopsy room where they were trying to solve the horrific problem of childbed fever. Could they be infecting their patients with some sort of cadaver particles? This now seemed possible. After all, doctors hands constantly smelled of cadavers.

The conclusion now seemed obvious. Semmelweiss urged all doctors and students to thoroughly wash their hands after performing autopsies. But even with thorough washing, a faint smell of the autopsy room persisted so he decreed that the hands should be rinsed in a hypochlorite solution. Hypochlorite bleach at the time was already known to eliminate smells, although why it did so was not understood.

The results of the hand washing bordered on the miraculous. Within a year, the death rate fell from a high of 30 per cent to 3 per cent. The notorious death ward was no more. Semmelweiss was elated by this result, but he was also troubled by it. He realized that he himself had probably been responsible for many deaths as he rushed back and forth between the obstetrics ward and the autopsy room. His feelings of guilt coupled with his conviction that he had made a major discovery converted Semmelweiss into a hand wash promoting zealot. Still, it took decades before the importance of handwashing took hold in the medical community.

Today, with our extensive knowledge of disease transmission by microbes it is clear why handwashing works. Bacteria and viruses are either inactivated or rinsed away. Soap molecules have one end that is soluble in water and another that dissolves in fatty substances, or lipids. Most dirt is of an oily or greasy nature and attracts the fat-soluble end, leaving the other end to be anchored in water. Rinsing then pulls the oily dirt off any surface to which it is attached. In the case of COVID-19, soap can actually destroy the virus responsible for the disease. Coronaviruses are composed of a core of nucleic acids, either RNA or DNA, surrounded by a protective coating made of proteins and fats. The fat-soluble end of the soap molecule embeds itself in the lipid layer and the virus is then literally pulled apart since the rinsing water is tugging the other end. The reason for the 20-30 second time period is to ensure that the soap makes contact with whatever microbes may be present.

Washing with soap and water is more effective than using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Alcohol can dissolve fats, so it is capable of stripping away the lipid layer of a virus and thereby inactivate it, but the problem is that unlike washing with soap it doesnt remove dirt and may not get at viruses that are stuck in the dirt. Of course, when soap and water are not available, hand sanitizers can step in as long as they contain at least 60 per cent alcohol.

Being urged to stay home because of this virus, why not make use of the opportunity find a version of Macbeth to watch? I dont think eye of newt, toe of frog, wool of bat or tongue of dog are the solution to COVID-19, although equally nonsensical regimens are being peddled by the charlatans who emerge out of the woodwork whenever a crisis such as this presents.

Joe Schwarcz is director of McGill Universitys Office for Science & Society ( He hosts The Dr. Joe Show on CJAD Radio 800 AM every Sunday from 3 to 4 p.m.

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The Right Chemistry: In hand washing, role of soap is key - Montreal Gazette

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DEC to remediate chemical contamination between Oswego’s West Third and Fourth streets – NNY360

OSWEGO National Grid will begin remediation of 90-year-old chemical contamination north of Utica Street between West Third and Fourth streets beginning in April, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The contamination is related to the Niagara Mohawk Oswego West Utica Street Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) site, located at 27 W. Utica St. The plant operated between the 1850s and 1930s.

Remedial activities are expected to last about seven months at an estimated cost to the DEC of $3 million. There will be no cost to the city of Oswego.

On Monday, March 16, the DEC postponed a public informational session regarding the cleanup originally scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, March 26 at the Oswego County Fire Response Training Center, 720 East Seneca St. The DEC will notify the public when the public session has been rescheduled.

According to the DEC, environmental investigations of the Oswego West Utica Street MGP revealed the presence of coal tar in the shallow subsurface of the southern area of the site. Coal tar contains chemical contaminants including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene (BTEX) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Coal tar was found in the shallow subsurface of the southern area of the site. The site groundwater is also impacted from former MGP operations. BTEX and PAH compounds were also detected offsite in bedrock groundwater, generally south of West Utica St. The impacted groundwater will be remediated under a separate remedial plan that is currently being developed. The area is served by a municipal water supply from a water source unaffected by the site contamination.

The DEC plans excavation and disposal of the top four feet of soil in areas that require solidification. The contaminated soil will be mixed in-place with Portland cement and blast furnace slag using an excavator attachment or auger. The result is a low permeability soil that slows groundwater flow and inhibits the migration of contaminants. The solidification will extend to a depth of 22 feet below the surface.

Monitoring wells, in addition to those already present onsite, will be installed, enabling the observation and collection of coal tar in the groundwater.

According to Oswego City Engineer Jeffrey Hinderliter, the remediation that theyre doing is behind the area of the Car Shop. Theyre going to be opening up the pavement, and theyre going to be excavating the contaminated soil. They bring it up, they mix it with a slurry and put it right back down. The slurry is designed to contain the contaminants. Then theyll restore the surface. Theyve installed monitoring wells, and theyll begin sampling in those monitoring wells to see if the contamination is moving.

A lot of times, Hinderliter continued, these are old petroleum sites, or where there was power generation, there are things of that nature. The concern, because of the Clean Water Acts is always of this getting in groundwater. We dont drink our groundwater. We pull it from the lake, but we are close to the river and the lake. Some of this is ongoing work that the DEC does to find these old sites and to try to stabilize them so that they arent moving offsite. There isnt imminent danger or risk to public health just from them doing this work. Theres not something lingering out there that poses that kind of risk. The biggest thing is that when its in the ground like this you start getting cracks in pavement and the water gets into the soil, then as the water moves through the soil, it picks up these contaminants and brings it offsite. Thats what we want to prevent. There are different ways of doing that. Some places, they just pour a slab over it and make the slab big enough so that surface waters not going to get in there. Other times, like this case, theyll go in, and theyll try to stabilize it in-place. Other times, they cant, and they start removing material. Then, anything thats contaminated, is just moved to a landfill. A lot of it comes down to strategy and cost.

When it comes to contaminated soils, right now theyve done sampling, so theyll pop holes through the pavement, theyll bore, and they sample that soil to see where it is, but until they actually open the pavement up and get working, thats whats going to reveal how far the contamination is. So, part of it is a bit of an unknown. Theyre going to cut the ground open, lay it out, and then remediate it and restore. Thats typically how these projects go.

Although this remediation will be in close proximity to and worked on at the same time as the citys scheduled repaving of West Utica Street between West First and West Fifth streets, Hinderliter expects this project will have no effect on it.

As background, Hinderliter, as Ive said before, a virtual encyclopedia on things like this, recounted some of the plants history.

There were coal bins there, he said. Some of it is just the nature of how things were done then, where oftentimes next to power generation you had a slag pile where all the burnoff is just dumped onsite, or when things are abandoned, tanks are left in the ground. Things like that, the way business was done, its just been left. So, where we wouldnt do these things today, thats how it was done.

Now, Hinderliter said, it falls to the DEC to clean it up.

This is what they regulate, and oftentimes they take on the cost, and they manage it. When theres a contaminated site, it becomes their responsibility to oversee it, to clean it up, and to monitor it. Those monitoring wells, the DEC comes annually and checks those. Its part of their program. As far as National Grids involvement, it may be that they inherited some ownership of it. Those utility companies acquired smaller companies as they grew.

Although these kinds of remediations are intended to prevent contaminants from moving into the groundwater or all the way to the river, Hinderliter doesnt believe thats an imminent threat. But this does serve as an example of a philosophy Hinderliter has expressed since the day he came to Oswego.

We have to be good stewards of our resources, Hinderliter said. As much as people dont like to deal with the State Environmental Quality Review, the SEQR process, thats part of it, trying to look at a project and what could be its future impacts on this site, because presumably its not going away in a year or two. If were building something, we want it to be there for a long time. And so, its doing our best to try to look at what impacts are going to happen, and is there anything we can do now to prevent what we used to do from happening again.

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DEC to remediate chemical contamination between Oswego's West Third and Fourth streets - NNY360

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Suncor Refinery Reports Another Malfunction, Chemical Release – Westword

The operator of a Commerce City oil refinery says it has shut down the facility after a malfunction that spewed a chemical byproduct into the surrounding community the second such incident in recent months.

In a statement posted to social media, Suncor Energy said that the refinery, located just north of Denver city limits near the intersection of Brighton Boulevard and Interstate 270, experienced an "equipment malfunction" at around 5:40 p.m. today, March 17. The incident caused the release of catalyst, a clay-like substance used in the refining process.

"As a precautionary measure, we sounded a vapor release alarm and immediately initiated our response plan," the company's statement says. "The unit has been put in safe mode."

Brighton Boulevard was temporarily closed due to the malfunction, but has since reopened. Suncor notified residents on March 9 that it planned to conduct maintenance on the refinery that would last "approximately two weeks" and involve "periods of increased flaring." Visible plumes of yellowish smoke were being emitted from the facility's smokestacks today, according to social media posts from residents.

Suncor's description of today's incident is nearly identical to that of a December 11 "operational upset" that caused a yellowish plume of ash-like material to drift into Commerce City and fall on cars and other outdoor surfaces, leading two nearby schools to be placed on lockdown. The incident caused the refinery to be shut down for nearly a month.

Safety documents released by Suncor in the aftermath of the December 11 incident indicated that its catalyst materials are rated as slight health hazards, according to the National Fire Protection Associations hazard identification scale. The company advised residents at the time to "take standard hygiene practices such as washing hands and/or any affected clothing."

Suncor says that it is "concerned" about today's incident and is monitoring the situation. "All employees are accounted for and community air monitoring is in place," the company's statement reads. "Well provide more information as it becomes available and as response activities allow."

In a statement, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed that Suncor had notified regulators of an equipment failure that resulted in "highly visible opacity emissions" and that the company had been in contact with local emergency services and health officials. The department does not believe there is ongoing risk to the community, according to the statement.

"Suncor security personnel conducted monitoring with handheld devices for a range of materials, including hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide, and observed no elevated levels," CDPHE's statement says. "We will monitor the situation and review data from the air monitors we have placed around the Suncor refinery."

Earlier this month, CDPHE officials announced a record $9 million agreement with Suncor to settle a wide variety of violations identified in recent state inspections of the facility. The Suncor plant would also be subject to the new air-monitoring and reporting regulations outlined in legislation backed by Democratic lawmakers at the State Capitol.

In its apology for the December 11 incident, Suncor assured community members that the company had "already taken a number of steps to help prevent such an incident from happening again."

Chase Woodruff is a staff writer at Westword interested in climate change, the environment and money in politics.

Suncor Refinery Reports Another Malfunction, Chemical Release - Westword

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Vinyl: the plastic found in (almost) everything – Treehugger

What is vinyl?Vinyl is a particular type of plastic that was first created by a German chemist, Eugen Baumann, in 1872. Decades later, two chemists at a German chemical company tried to use the poly-vinyl chloride, or PVC as it's more commonly called, in commercial products but were unsuccessful. It wasn't until 1928 that an American chemist, Waldo Semon, experimenting with a new adhesive for rubber, created the modern PVC as we know it and its now-ubiquitous presence in our daily lives.How is vinyl made?The discovery of PVC was completely by chance. Eugen Baumann had accidentally left a flask of vinyl chloride in the sunlight (as chemists are wont to do). Inside, a white solid polymer polymer had materialized. Though Baumann was a renowned chemist and professor at various German universities, he never applied for a patent for his discovery of PVC.

Decades later, two chemists at a German chemical company called Griesheim-Elektron tried to mold the substance into commercial products, but also had no luck processing the hard substance. It wasn't until American inventor Waldo Semon came along, while working at the B.F. Goodrich Company, that PVC's versatile uses were fully explored.

In 1928, Semon was experimenting with vinyl polymers, a substance that was widely known but considered useless. In his 1999 obituary in The New York Times, he was quoted as recalling in a recent interview, "People thought of it as worthless back then. They'd throw it in the trash.'' Little did they know.

During Semon's many experiments, he created a powdery substance with a texture not unlike flour and sugar. PVC's makeup consists of chlorine, based on common salt, and ethylene, which is derived from crude oil. The powder didn't work as Semon had hoped, but he continued to investigate, this time adding solvents to the powder and heating it to a high temperature.

What emerged was a jelly-like substance that could be tweaked to be both harder or more elastic enter the modern PVC. Semon continued to play in his laboratory, further discovering that this gelatinous substance could be easily molded, would not conduct electricity, and was both waterproof and fire-resistant.

But with the stock market crash of 1929, Semon had to wait a couple more years before anyone was interested in the new plastic. According to the Times obituary, Semon had a "lightbulb moment" in the 1930s while watching his wife, Marjorie, make curtains. Seeing that this vinyl could be manipulated into a fabric, he eventually convinced his bosses to market the material under the trade name Koroseal. By 1933, Semon had received the patent, and shower curtains, raincoats, and umbrellas made out of PVC began rolling out in production. Semon was inducted into the Invention Hall of Fame in 1995 at age 97, with more than 100 patents under his name.

It is predicted that with the rise of electric cars, more and more companies with ties to the oil industry will turn their attention to plastic production. This will undoubtedly put more emphasis on petrochemicals, which now use 15% of fossil fuels as their feedstocks, but are expected to rise to 50% by 2040, according to Bloomberg. As global movements committed to the climate crisis continue to push the message that single-use plastic is a system failure, there is no doubt that the fossil fuel industry will be fighting right back.

But Big Oil doesnt think so; according to Tim Young at the Financial Times, petrochemicals are the only major source of oil demand where growth is expected to accelerate. These forecasts assume a steady, strong demand for plastic will translate into increasing consumption of feedstock. They provide a rare ray of optimism for the oil industry against increasingly dire long-term predictions that growth of other demand sources will slow.

Imperishability, once plastic's greatest asset, is now one of our earth's curses. The current plastic economy sees about 90% of its products used once, then discarded. An editorial in the journal Nature Communications predicts: "We need a fundamental change in order to make a noticeable impact on the plastic waste seeping into our environment. A new plastic future in which biodegradable polymers replace conventional plastics could be the answer."

However, even biodegradable plastic has its challenges. These "green" plastics require industrial composting to break down and continue to encourage the very root of our problem: a disposable culture based on the convenience of living in the moment. The anti-plastic movement continues to grow, but with one of the biggest and most powerful industries behind it, PVC, literally and figuratively, has a long life ahead of it.

TH's Lloyd has a few thoughts on plastics and vinyl; you can view his unfiltered lecture here.

What is vinyl? Let's explore how this ubiquitous and versatile plastic is made, what its uses are, and all of its safety concerns.

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Vinyl: the plastic found in (almost) everything - Treehugger

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