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sydneyst
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 Posted: Wed Jun 20th, 2012 06:13 am

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The Deadly and Costly Realities of Mountaintop Removal 

http://ecowatch.org/2012/mountaintop-removal-is-killing-people/



by Jeff Biggers




In a heroic effort to overcome the theatrics of a Congressional hearing gone wild on Big Coal slogans and anti-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fervor, Goldman Prize-winning activist Maria Gunnoe brought the deadly and costly realities of mountaintop removal mining in the central Appalachian coalfields–and a few moments of sanity–to Washington, DC on June 1.

Testifying at the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Oversight Hearing on the “Obama Administration’s Actions Against the Spruce Coal Mine: Canceled Permits, Lawsuits and Lost Jobs,” where wild-eyed accusations and embellished coal statistics by Republican extremists and coal industry sycophants reduced the hearing to the level of a buffoonish county fair tent show, Gunnoe single-handedly pointed out the well-documented health and human crises from mountaintop removal operations and turned the table with her own poignant question: “Why is it acceptable to depopulate our communities and culture, poison our water and air and leave us to die in a post mining waste land for temporary jobs and energy?”

Dispelling the misinformation over so-called lost jobs from environmental regulatory actions, Gunnoe debunked the hearing’s “war on coal” mania with a reality check on the actual lives and livelihoods at stake. “There is a war in Appalachia, do believe this,” Gunnoe told the members of Congress. “This war is not on coal, coal jobs, or the coal industry. This war is on these mountains, our water and the people who depend on it all.”

Here’s Gunnoe’s statement, along with a link to a slide show she entered into the record:



I am Maria Gunnoe from Boone County WV and I (like 100’s of others) help to represent the stories of the Appalachian Communities where coal mining impacts are killing the people and depopulating our mountain culture. Thank each of you for allowing me the opportunity to speak to you. I appreciate your obligations and responsibilities in protecting and serving all US citizens. My hope is that you listen and hear these pleas for our lives from the Southern Mountains of Appalachia where these atrocious mountaintop removal permits are operating.

The Spruce No. 1 permit is in the headwaters of Pigeon Roost creek. This stream and the people of Blair seem unimportant to most people in this room but to me and the people of Blair this stream is a part of our home. When mountaintop removal is permitted near your home, you will soon be forced to leave what is the birthplace of your family and your children’s birthrights as heirs to your family’s land. You are forced (by destruction) to leave the American dream that our forefathers prepared and fought for. Why is it acceptable to depopulate our communities
and culture, poison our water and air and leave us to die in a post mining waste land for temporary jobs and energy? You should ask yourselves: are we knowingly and willingly flipping on our lights and lining our pockets at the expense of the lives, livelihoods and the health of the people in Appalachia? The answer to this in my opinion is YES you are!

The Spruce No. 1 permit is one of the first examples of steps that the EPA has taken to STOP irresponsible mining practices which were ignored during the Bush Administration. People from all over Appalachia have lobbied the EPA for these protections for the past 15 years. During the Bush Administration the oversight of mountaintop removal permits was non-existent. The Bush Administration sent word to W.Va state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Stephanie Timmermyer to get these permits pushed through as quickly as possible, In George Bush’s words “We need this coal, our homeland security depends on it.” The coal industry was allowed to do as they please during the 8 years of the Bush Administration.

Then in 2009, in steps the Obama administration’s EPA trying to fix the problems that the Bush administration created and then ignored. One of the biggest problems was the lack of enforcement of current regulations on mountaintop removal operation in Appalachia. The coal industry was allowed to run out of control in our mountains and depopulate many of our local communities during this rush to get the coal. In response to this insurgence by the coal industry, impacted community members organized to stop the attack of this industry on us in our homes. The EPA heard from us often and we appreciate that they are listening to the science. We have organized meetings with the impacted community members so that the representatives within the government agencies can see and hear the people’s pleas. Still, most of these decision makers walked away thinking that there is some sort of balance to be found in blowing up the mountains over our homes and shoving them into our streams. In reality the fact is mountaintop removal is killing people. These facts are out and available to anyone who wants to see them.

Please understand that the majority of people in Appalachia are against mountaintop removal coal mining. The only ones who support it are the ones who are making money from it. These are the ones that should be made to live in our communities and suffer the consequences of their actions. If you support mountaintop removal and what it is doing to us, you are supporting the murder of the people of the Appalachian culture that depends on these mountains and their waters for our very lives.

The coal industry has said that the EPA and the Obama administration are “trying to shut down coal.” The coal industry is perpetuating a lie that there is a “war on coal” and that coal mining jobs are under attack. This is the same false crisis that is created by this industry every time they don’t get what they want. According to recent reports by Ken Ward of the Charleston Gazette coal mining jobs have increased by 7.4 percent since 2009 when the Obama Administration took office. Ted Boettner with the WV Center for Budget and Policy looked at mining jobs over the last two decades; annual West Virginia coal mining employment was higher in 2011 than at any time over the last 17 years, according to Workforce West Virginia. Quoting the title and text of Daniel Weiss’s article on climateprogress.com “The War on Coal is a Lie Invented by the Coal Industry.” It is a multimillion dollar misinformation campaign funded by big coal polluters to distract Americans from the deadly effects of coals pollution on public health.” Also Ken Ward reported in the Charleston Gazette the coal industries numbers concerning this “war on coal” simply don’t add up. There is a war in Appalachia, do believe this. This war is not on coal, coal jobs, or the coal industry. This war is on these mountains, our water and the people who depend on it all. Coal is not our King, God is! Coal is only the dictator of some.

Mountaintop removal is not only killing the people who work these jobs but it is also killing the people who live in the surrounding communities. Jobs in any region are important; however ALL of those jobs need to be safe for the workers and for the communities that they operate in.

Mountaintop removal is NOT safe for anyone. Science has repeatedly proven this. The facts that mountaintop removal is killing us are in the 19 health studies that have been compiled.

This committee, Congress, the coal industry and the Obama administration continue to ignore these studies and continue to allow the blowing up of our mountains and poisoning of our waters and air to get to the coal that currently powers about 44 % of America’s electricity.

Expanding any mountaintop removal mining including the Spruce No. 1 permit means the depopulation of yet another mountain community and the sickening of the people who live in these communities.

Living this depopulation has made me more aware of the large-scale impact of this ousting and killing of people on the culture that I love. We will die as a culture as we suffer with the inability to pass this mountain culture on to our children. Not even our historic mountain cemeteries are left intact and accessible. Our people are being mortally impacted by the fallout from mountaintop removal coal mining in our water and air and in our native homes. Do we really need to prove that blowing up mountains over our homes and pushing them into our streams is NOT good for us? It is not as if this Committee, Congress and the coal industry doesn’t know what mountaintop removal does to people. They not only know about it but they are supporting and allowing it and by not ending it. After visiting the central Appalachian communities The UN Women’s Tribunal on climate change jurist recommendations will include that mountaintop removal should be immediately stopped—an immediate moratorium on any mountaintop
removal operations until a full investigation including health related disease incidence rates can be undertaken.

I had hoped that the last time that I came to speak to this committee that someone would have heard our pleas for our lives in Appalachia but our pleas fell on the deaf ears of coal supporters. We had to request that this committee post our comments on their website for others to view days after the industry’s comments were posted. We were timed to the second on our comments, while pro coal supporters were allowed to go minutes over their allotted time to speak. Mountaintop removal cannot be silenced. The more people that are impacted, the more that will continue to stand up to protect all that makes us Appalachians FREE! We will not back down. We know we are doing the right thing in ending this evil that has came in to destroy our very existence. We Appalachians have for many years lobbied the EPA to enforce the laws that are intended to protect our lives in our homes. The coal industry in Appalachia is anti-life and the FIRM enforcement of the laws are the only chance that we have of surviving as a culture after this industry is gone.

Parts of my family first settled this area during the forced removal of the Cherokee known as the “Trail of Tears.” What the coal industry and our government is doing to our native communities in Southern Appalachia feels much like the second silent forced removal of our people.

A few notes from community members:

Selenium discharges downstream from Spruce No 1 are already much higher than EPA standards according to recent water testing. The Spruce 1 permit will allow more selenium to be released into this stream. This is the making for life threatening levels of selenium.

The community of Blair has NO municipal drinking water available to them. The only water in these communities is the well water which in some cases has already been polluted. The community of Blair needs water infrastructure to supply their homes with healthy water before any area permits are even discussed.

From what we see on the ground the coal companies have already moved forward in preparing the permit area as if they had an approved permit. The Spruce permit is in the Coal River watershed. Mountaintop removal is why American Rivers placed the Coal River on our America’s Most Endangered Rivers® list this year–because the river is at a decision point–not because it’s the most polluted. We can save these precious headwater streams that also serve as drinking water to our communities but we must act now before it is too late.

Last edited on Wed Jun 20th, 2012 06:19 am by sydneyst

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 Posted: Sun Jan 1st, 2012 05:55 am

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Fukushima Nuclear Crisis Update for December 27th –December 29th, 2011


Blogpost by Justin McKeating - December 30, 2011 at 15:22
 
(This post is by Christine McCann)


Here’s the latest of our news bulletins from the ongoing crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

State of the Reactors

Some nuclear engineering experts believe that the design of venting pipes at the Fukushima Daiichi plant led to the hydrogen explosions that occurred in Reactors 1, 3, and 4, a hypothesis that Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) has not denied. TEPCO maintains that the explosions that occurred in March were the result of hydrogen travelling between reactors via openings in the lid of the containment vessels, and analysis shows that some hydrogen did escape this way. However, new evidence reveals traces of hydrogen in venting pipes that connect some of the reactors. Some had no backflow prevention apparatus; others did, but valves automatically opened when power was lost in the wake of the tsunami. As a result, hydrogen could have leaked from reactor to reactor. The discovery is significant; all of TEPCO’s nuclear reactors have similar venting pipes, as do boiling water reactors operated by Tohoku Electric Power Company, Chubu Electric Power, Hokuriku Electric Power Company, Chugoku Electric Power Company, and Japan Atomic Power Company.

Former TEPCO employees have revealed that a leaking pipe caused failure in two backup generators in the basement of Reactor #1 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant pipe 20 years ago. An engineer pointed out that the generators were at risk from damage by a tsunami since they were near the sea. Although TEPCO installed doors to prevent leaks, they failed to move the generators above ground. The Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) is revising safety guidelines regarding power sources at nuclear plants.

Contamination (Includes Human Exposure)

Environment Minister Goshi Hosono—who is also Japan’s Nuclear Crisis Minister—met with Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato this week to request sites for nuclear waste disposal in eight districts in Futaba County, near the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Because the areas in question have been contaminated and residents will mostly likely not be able to move back for decades, if ever, the government will buy the land or sign long-term leases. In addition, they are close to the site of the disaster, which means that waste would not have to travel far before being disposed of. However, many residents are expressing anger and disbelief, along with concerns that the “temporary” site will end up being permanent.

A study by the Forestry Ministry has detected high levels of radioactive cesium in cedar pollen taken from trees near the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The study measured samples from 180 locations in Eastern Japan; 87 of those were located in Fukushima Prefecture. The highest level, measured in a sample from Namie, 11km from the plant, measured 253,000 Bq/kg. Wind can carry pollen several hundred kilometers from its source. However, Ministry officials said that even if people were to inhale the radioactive pollen when it is at its highest concentration, they would be exposed to .000192microsieverts of radiation per hour. This amount, they say, is approximately 10times what one would be exposed to in some parts of Tokyo, but the risk to humans is “small.” Scientists are predicting lower than normal pollen counts this year.

Rice Crisis

The Agriculture Ministry announced it will purchase all rice in eight Fukushima districts where rice shipments have been banned after being contaminated by fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. They will also purchase any rice that measures more than 100 Bq/kg of cesium. Estimates place the total amount of rice to be purchased at 4,000 tons. Ministry officials said they will ask TEPCO to cover the cost.

Meanwhile, Japan warned of a possible ban on planting rice in contaminated areas for the next harvest year. Farmers have expressed grave concern that their livelihoods may be forever damaged. Many are frustrated that they have no sense when the crisis will end. Some are banding together to take legal action against TEPCO.

Last edited on Sun Jan 1st, 2012 05:56 am by sydneyst

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 Posted: Wed Nov 16th, 2011 06:27 am

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Effects of Nuclear Accidents on Food Supply

 

http://www.ourfood.com/Radioactivity_Food.html

excerpts:

1] In the region of Fukushima shiitake-mushrooms (Lentinus edodes Sing) with high radiation were found. A total of 16 cities and towns are compromised. The ban was imposed on mushrooms cultivated outdoors. Mushrooms grown in greenhouses are safe and may be sold, according to Kyodo News. The local department of health reports a 1,55 times of the maximum permitted content of Iodine 131 and 1,78 times for Caesium in shiitake-mushrooms.

On April 1, shiitake mushrooms from the city Iwaki had a level of radioactive cesium of 890 becquerels per kilogram against the limit of 500 becquerels, reports Kyodo News.
2] The exposure may result from direct inhalation of contaminated air or ingestion of contaminated water, or from a less direct pathway, the ingestion of contaminated food products. The exposure may result from direct inhalation of contaminated air or ingestion of contaminated water, or from a less direct pathway, the ingestion of contaminated food products. The the contamination of the milk of the cow is a typical example to the incorporation of radionuclides in the food chain resulting of the ingestion of contaminated pasture, the so called the pasture-cow-milk exposure route.

Mushrooms from Bavaria, Germany, are still contaminated with radiating Caesium from the disaster of Chernobyl. German wild boars even after 25 years after Chernobil disaster are excluded from food market because they exceed the German limit on 600 Becquerel/Kg in meat. Wild boars like mushrooms which are highly contaminated by radionuclides. [3]

The contamination of mushrooms with radionuclides depends on the type of mushroom and on the type of soil they grow on. The Cs-137 nuclides can highly be absorbed from forest soil where it is free available for plant roots. In agricultural areas the radionuclides are tightly bound to soil particles and their absorption is diminished. Sweet chestnuts and birch bolete are plant products with highest contamination. [4]

Schwaiger et al. 2004 report that in 2002, the ingestion dose of radionuclides from the accident of Chernobyle in Austria amounts to 2.24 microSv (adult), or 0.88 microSv (5-year infant) respectively, which is less than 0.5% of the ingestion dose of the first year and amounts to 0.7% of the ingestion dose from natural radionuclides. [5]
6] According to Bell and Shaw 2005 initial studies and advices of the UK Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, following the Chernobyl accident, were based on agricultural soils, with high clay and low organic matter contents where the radioiodine decayed and the radiocaesium became immobilised by attachment to clay particles. Other soils, low in clay and high in organic matter, such as the wet and acidic uplands, however favour mobility and bioavailability of the radionuclides. Radiocaesium entered the food chain. Sale of sheep had to be banned over areas of upland. Bans will continue in some cases for some years to come.
The authors stress the importance of a fundamental understanding of biogeochemical pathways in different ecosystems to predict the impact of radionuclides fall-out.
7] Rigol, Vidal and Rauret 2002 report that high 137CS soil-to-plant transfer persists in organic soils over years, which may be related to the low solid-liquid distribution coefficient resulting of the low clay content and high NH4+ concentration in the soil solution, and the low K+ availability, which enhances root uptake.

Chiang et al. 2010 studied the sorption of Caesium and Strontium of soils around nuclear facilities in Taiwan. The amounts of pyrophosphate extractable Fe (Fe(p)) clay minerals and increased temperatures were correlated significantly with the Cs and Sr sorption capacities. The authors concluded that short-range ordered sesquioxides especially Al- and Fe-oxides complexed with organics influence Cs and Sr sorption. [8]
9] Leoniak et al. 2006 report that the air at Chernobyl had been contaminated with about 5300 PBq radionuclide activity, including 1760 PBq (131)I and 85 PBq (137)Cs. The contaminated areas presented 37 kBq/m(2)of (137)Cs.

The highest mean radiation dose per year for the whole body in the first year after the accident was in Poland 932 microSv, in Bulgaria 760 microSv, in Austria 670 microSv and Greece 590 microSv), The lowest radiation dose was observed in Portugal (1.8 microSv) and Spain (4.2 microSv). Actual radiation dose in Poland is close to the limited dose permitted of 1 mSv/year. Australia hosts one of the world's first nuclear research reactors. It was place of British nuclear weapons tests at Maralinga, and is an important supplier of uranium to the world.

Last edited on Wed Nov 16th, 2011 06:32 am by sydneyst

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 Posted: Mon Oct 10th, 2011 09:40 pm

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How Safe is Japanese Shellfish?

Greenpeace warns of radioactive sea life off Japan

http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-greenpeace-radioactive-sea-life-japan.html

May 26, 2011 by Yuka Ito


Enlarge

A fish shop in Tokyo in April 2011. Environmental group Greenpeace warned Thursday that marine life it tested more than 20 kilometres (12 miles) off Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant showed radiation far above legal limits.

Environmental group Greenpeace warned Thursday that marine life it tested more than 20 kilometres (12 miles) off Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant showed radiation far above legal limits.





The anti-nuclear group, which conducted the coastal and offshore tests this month, criticised Japanese authorities for their "continued inadequate response to the Fukushima nuclear crisis" sparked by the March 11 quake and tsunami.

Greenpeace said it detected radiation levels in seaweed 50 times higher than official limits, which it charged raised "serious concerns about continued long-term risks to people and the environment from contaminated seawater".

It also said that tests, which it said were independently verified by French and Belgian laboratories, showed above-legal levels of radioactive iodine-131 and caesium-137 in several species of fish and shellfish.

"Our data show that significant amounts of contamination continue to spread over great distances from the Fukushima nuclear plant," said Jan Vande Putte, a Greenpeace radiation expert, at a Tokyo news conference.

Japan's seafood safety limit for caesium-137 is 500 Becquerels per kilogram (227 per pound).

Greenpeace said it found levels of 740 Becquerels per kilogram in oysters, 857 in a fish species, 1,285 in sea cucumber and 1,640 in seaweed.

The maximum iodine-131 limit is 2,000 Becquerels per kilogram for seaweed, but Greenpeace said it found a level of 127,000 Becquerels per kilogram in the seaweed species Sargassum Horneri.


Enlarge

Greenpeace safety advisor Jan van de Putte of Belgium and Greenpeace Japan executive director Junichi Sato (L) attend a press conference in Tokyo on May 26, 2011. Greenpeace warned that marine life it tested more than 20 kilometres off Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant showed radiation far above legal limits.
The group said that "eating one kilo of highly contaminated seaweed sampled by Greenpeace could increase the radiation dose by 2.8 millisievert -- almost three times the internationally recommended annual maximum".


"Despite what the authorities are claiming, radioactive hazards are not decreasing through dilution or dispersion of materials, but the radioactivity is instead accumulating in marine life," Vande Putte added.

Last edited on Mon Oct 10th, 2011 09:46 pm by sydneyst

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 Posted: Mon Oct 10th, 2011 09:55 am

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InsideClimate News


Did TransCanada Remove Rare Beetles from Keystone XL Pipeline Route Illegally?

Canadian company aims to avoid seasonal construction delays by taking action before receiving U.S. pipeline approval.
By Lisa Song, InsideClimate News
Oct 7, 2011


 


Aberdeen, S. D. —A Canadian company that is waiting for a federal permit to build an oil pipeline through the High Plains has used a technicality in U.S. environmental regulations to begin removing an endangered species—the black and orange American burying beetle—from the proposed route.

A spokesman for Alberta-based TransCanada said the company has done nothing wrong. The beetles were removed as part of TransCanada’s “commitment to protecting the environment and endangered species along the Keystone XL route,” Shawn Howard told InsideClimate News. According to Howard, the beetle is the only endangered species identified along the pipeline’s proposed route from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

But pipeline opponents say that by moving beetles from the Nebraska sandhills and mowing miles of grass where the insects once lived, TransCanada has illegally begun construction on the project. Because the pipeline would cross an international border, the U.S. State Department is in charge of
the permitting process. The agency is expected to make its decision by the end of the year.

On Wednesday three environmental groups filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Omaha against the State Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asking that the beetle removal work be stopped.

Noah Greenwald, the endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the suit was filed under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA makes it clear that "when you're in the process of considering a project, you can't do any work before you have a permit," Greenwald said. "By already doing work on the pipeline route, [TransCanada is] essentially bullying the process."



Last edited on Mon Oct 10th, 2011 10:04 am by sydneyst

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 Posted: Thu Oct 6th, 2011 10:26 pm

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GET UPDATES FROM Rocky Kistner
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rocky-kistner/gulf-spill-natural-resour_b_829507.html
Disaster in the Gulf: So What Are We Doing About It?
Posted: 10/6/11 12:42 PM ET

In the Gulf, new information is confirming fears that fish and wildlife -- and millions of people on the Coast -- are being seriously impacted by the 4.9 million barrels of BP oil spewed from the ocean deep last year.  

A new report from the Waterkeeper Alliance
shows the BP disaster is still unfolding. The report points to ongoing public health problems, long-term damages to the environment, and a growing need for environmental monitoring and restoration programs to fight decades of petroleum industry assaults and the growing impacts of climate change.

According to the Waterkeeper State of the Gulf report, the effects are just beginning:

The oil is not gone, and long-term impacts are still unknown. If past oil spills are used as a barometer we can fully expect the Gulf Coast to suffer continued environmental degradation for decades. Leading scientific studies are showing that three fourths of the oil is still lingering on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, creat­ing an unprecedented and unknown new environmental reality for the Gulf Coast. Oil is also still along the coastal areas in the form of tar balls, strings, and mats as well as in subsurface sandy beach areas. Our gov­ernmental and community leaders must work in concert to find long-term, sustainable solutions for recovery and restoration.
Although federal and state authorities continue to insist all is well with Gulf seafood, questions persist, especially among fishermen who are finding abnormalities in their catches. Experts also question whether FDA is adequately testing seafood and looking for certain toxic chemicals that are associated with crude. The Waterkeeper Alliance also has been sampling seafood in the Gulf and its findings have raised alarms in some circles that hazardous compounds are entering the seafood chain in increasing amounts.

We found petroleum hydrocarbon contamination in all of the areas that were sampled and in the tissue of many of the seafood species. The data that we collected also lead us to believe that Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocar­bon (PAH) contamination in some seafood species may be increasing over time. 









LSU scientist Linda Hooper-Bui samples oiled Louisiana marshes in September. Photos: Mac MacKenzie

Meanwhile, health problems continue to plague many residents of the Gulf, people from all walks of life -- from fishermen and oil clean-up workers to beach lovers and surfers -- who say they continue to suffer ailments from exposure to oil and chemical dispersants. Here's how the State of the Gulf report explains it:

While setting up pathways toward ecosystem restora­tion, the government continues to ignore citizens’ calls for action on public health. Currently there is no government forum for those suffering from and concerned about the short- and long-term health impacts. The impacts extend along the entire Gulf of Mexico states and consist of cur­rent and ex oil cleanup workers and coastal communities. The people of the Gulf Coast are still in need of proper diagnosis, treatment, and medical monitoring.
Scientists are finding disturbing evidence that the fragile Gulf ecosystem has been dealt a serious blow by the millions of gallons of oil that leeched into fertile wildlife breeding grounds and wetland areas critical to coastal fisheries. As Times-Picayune outdoors writer Bob Marshall reported recently, scientists are concerned that low levels of toxic compounds could be damaging fish species like the marsh-dwelling killifish, a key species of the gulf ecosystem:

“I wasn’t surprised we detected responses to an animal that is at high risk to exposure; what surprised me was the responses came at such low levels of the hydrocarbons,” said Andrew Whitehead, lead author of the study, which was published in Proceedings of the National Academies of Science.


“We were detecting cellular responses to toxins that are predictive of impairment of reproduction and embryo development, and we also detected that gills were compromised. We are seeing early warning indicators that would precede any population-level long-term effects.”
Some scientists go even further, concerned that problems they’re finding in fish and wildlife may also be showing up in humans. Here’s what Patricia Williams of the Ponchetrain Institute for Environmental Sciences told WVUE-TV in New Orleans:

“We're talking about a diverse group of chemicals, polcyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, that interact with each other,” said Dr. Patricia Williams. “They are powerful carcinogens and powerful reproductive toxins….I've interviewed tar ball workers and what we're finding is that any problem we're seeing in wildlife, we're seeing in humans, with reproductive and neurological problems.
Meanwhile news from the fisherman community continues to be grim, especially from shrimpers hoping to rebound from the oil blowout last year. That’s not happening apparently. Louisiana Shrimp Association President Clint Guidry told WWLTV in Baton Rouge that crucial white shrimp catches are down 80 percent this year. He said most fishermen blame it on the oil:

"I think you will find the parishes that were most affected by oil are down (in terms of shrimp)," Guidry said. "We are just seeing something (a lower number of shrimp), and what we see on the beaches is a minute fraction of what went on in the Gulf. I don't think we will ever know what it (the oil) killed."
But for the long term health of the Gulf and its people, the most important solution to saving the Gulf -- where coastal erosion represents 80 percent of the nation’s total land loss -- is to put most of the money from BP penalties into restoration projects. A new report from the presidentially-appointed Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force lays out the goals for restoring the severely damaged coast, a Herculean task in a region with a myriad of special interests vying for support.

"One of the results of all the meetings is a real sense of urgency," EPA chief Lisa Jackson told the AP. "Person after person came in and said 'we're losing the Gulf.' None of it is irreversible, but the longer we wait, the harder it will be."

But Congress has yet to act on it. New legislation to direct billions of dollars of future BP Clean Water Act fines to Gulf restoration efforts is still mired in Congress. And lawmakers have yet to pass laws to strengthen oil spill legislation, as my NRDC colleague Nelson Regan blogged recently.

Still, the fact that the health of the Gulf is finally receiving any attention at all is a welcome change for those who complain bitterly that the region is a sacrifice zone for the petrochemical industry. Perhaps it took the largest oil spill in history to wake people up to the fact that the Gulf -- while resilient -- is not invincible to constant man-made assaults.

So the question remains, will we use this oil disaster as an opportunity to heal and protect one of the natural treasures of the world? Or will we squander it and conduct business as usual?

For those who want the Gulf to survive, the latter is not an option.

Last edited on Thu Oct 6th, 2011 10:31 pm by sydneyst

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 Posted: Thu Oct 6th, 2011 10:11 pm

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Gulf Coast Task Force Releases Ecosystem Restoration Strategy For Public Review

October 6, 2011 | 1:15:59 PM EDT

 

http://www.restorethegulf.gov/release/2011/10/06/gulf-coast-task-force-releases-ecosystem-restoration-strategy-public-review


 

Last edited on Thu Oct 6th, 2011 10:14 pm by sydneyst

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 Posted: Mon Sep 5th, 2011 07:07 pm

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NASA Chief Arrested at Oil Sands Pipeline Protests


James Hansen, the 70-year-old renowned climate scientist, was the 112th of 140 arrested on day 10 of the Keystone XL pipeline sit-ins
By Elizabeth McGowan, InsideClimate News
Aug 30, 2011




James Hansen was arrested on Monday, Aug. 29, on day 10 of the anti- Keystone XL pipeline protests at the White House. In total, 521 participants have been arrested. Credit: Tar Sands Action
WASHINGTON—A few minutes after 11 a.m. Monday, climate scientist James Hansen sits down on a patch of sidewalk in front of a green banner proclaiming "Witness for Climate and Creation." The White House looms in the background.

The head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City pulls his tan fedora snug around his ears to block the sun and hugs his knees to his chest. Then he opens his mouth to harmonize with a chorus of 160-plus voices blending on chants that included "Heal the Planet," "Stand Together," "Not in Our Name" and "Keep Your Promises."

Hansen is the center of attention on day 10 of a two-week peaceful sit-in to protest a Canadian company’s proposal to construct a $7 billion, 1,702-mile pipeline to pump diluted bitumen—a particularly dirty type of heavy crude—from the oil sands mines of Alberta to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
 
At 1:20 p.m., a U.S. Park Police officer beckons to the suit-clad Hansen with his index finger. The 70-year-old grandfather arises to cheers and applause from the fellow 30 or so demonstrators still left on the sidewalk and the hundred-plus still singing, hollering and strumming a guitar across the street in Lafayette Park.

Hansen—the 112th of the 140 arrested Monday, many from the faith community—extends his hands behind his back so the police officer can cinch the black plastic handcuffs around his wrists. Then, he stands with his brown dress shoes spread several feet apart while another officer frisks him. At least a dozen photographers document the scene.

Five minutes later, Hansen emerges from a white tarpaulin where his mug shot was snapped. Somebody yelled "Thank you, Jim." As Hansen holds his fedora aloft and cracks a smile, protesters in the park break into a verse of "We love Jim Hansen" and "Don't want no pipeline" to the tune of the traditional gospel song "Down by the Riverside." Then he ducks, climbs into the awaiting paddy wagon and disappears.

Hansen—who has been arrested a couple of times before for protesting the harvesting of fossil fuels—regularly criticizes the Keystone XL pipeline as the "fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet." The Obama administration is expected to issue a decision on the international project by the end of the year.

...At a pre-arrest rally in the park, Hansen reminded the boisterous crowd of then-Sen. Barack Obama's victory speech in November 2008. He and his wife listened to Obama's inspirational words from their Pennsylvania farmhouse. Hansen recounted being so moved that he had turned his face away so his wife wouldn’t see his tears.
 
The president-to-be's campaign promises had led him to believe that Obama had the tenacity and knowledge to make climate change a signature issue. Hansen was hopeful Obama would communicate directly with citizens instead of letting politicians hijack that agenda. It's difficult and rare, he added, to find leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill who are strong enough to tell the truth and courageously commit to a cause.

Now, Hansen fears President Obama will fumble his defining moment on global warming.

"If the tar sands pipeline is approved, we will be back and we will grow," he said. "For the sake of our children and our grandchildren, we must find somebody who is working for our dream."


http://solveclimatenews.com/news/20110830/james-hansen-nasa-arrested-keystone-xl-pipeline-protests-oil-sands-climate-change-obama

Last edited on Mon Sep 5th, 2011 07:10 pm by sydneyst

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 Posted: Sun Aug 28th, 2011 01:21 pm

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U.S. agency approves Shell Arctic oil drilling plan



 


U.S. Coast Guard flight loadmaster Kevin Fox (L) and University of Alaska Fairbanks scientist Rick Steiner survey ice conditions in the Beaufort Sea, about 200 miles from shore, from the window of a Coast Guard C130 in this September 30, 2009 file photo.
Credit: Reuters/Yereth Rosen


By Ayesha Rascoe

WASHINGTON | Thu Aug 4, 2011 6:27pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell's long-stymied Arctic drilling program inched ahead on Thursday, as the U.S. offshore drilling regulator approved the company's oil exploration plan for Alaska's Beaufort Sea.

Shell's plan would allow the company to drill up to four shallow water exploratory wells off Alaska's northern coast beginning in July 2012.

The approval comes more than a year after BP's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico upended Obama administration plans to expand offshore drilling and underscores the White House's plan to streamline permitting for Alaska drilling.

While this is a step forward in Shell's push to tap the Arctic's vast oil and gas reserves, the oil giant still has a long way to go before it can begin carrying out its ambitious drilling plans.

The conditional approval of the exploration plan is contingent upon Shell receiving permits from other government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"The conditional approval of our Revised Beaufort Sea Plan of Exploration is welcome news and adds to our cautious optimism that we will be drilling our Alaska leases this time next year," Shell spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh said.

Opposition from local and environmental groups and regulatory delays have so far hindered Shell from developing offshore Alaska leases the company began picking up in 2005.

A plan to drill at least one Beaufort Sea well this year was scuttled by the revocation of a key air-quality permit.

CONSIDERING LEGAL OPTIONS

Global warming has lowered summer sea ice levels in the Arctic, increasing access for oil and gas developers, but also stoking sovereignty disputes over resources among the countries bordering the Arctic.

Environmental groups say the risks of oil production in the Arctic could be too great, however, arguing that an oil spill would have devastating consequences for the fragile ecosystem.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which regulates offshore drilling, stressed that Shell will have to meet rigorous standards imposed after last year's spill before the agency approves any permits actually to begin drilling.

"We will closely review and monitor Shell's proposed activities to ensure that any activities that take place under this plan will be conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner," said Michael Bromwich, head of the drilling agency.

Environmental groups expressed outrage at the government's decision. Erik Grafe, a staff attorney for Earthjustice, said environmentalists are considering their legal options.

"We're reviewing the agency's analyses to the extent they exist and we're making decisions based on that review of the analysis," Grafe said.

There is a 60-day window for filing a legal challenge to the approval, he added.

In addition to its Beaufort exploration plan, Shell submitted a plan to drill up to six wells in the Chukchi Sea in 2012 and 2013.

(Additional reporting by Kristen Hayes in Houston and Yereth Rosen in Alaska; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Dale Hudson)

Last edited on Sun Aug 28th, 2011 01:22 pm by sydneyst

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 Posted: Tue Jun 21st, 2011 11:20 am

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Japan Running Out of Storage for Radioactive Cooling Water

Report Documents Latest Failure in Cooling Plans

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/japan/index.html

Crisis Timeline

June 19 The Tokyo Electric Power Company said that the filtration system it had struggled to put into operation at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had broken down after just five hours, a disappointing setback in its efforts to cool the reactors. The company is quickly running out of space to store the tens of thousands of tons of water that have been contaminated after being poured into the reactors and spent-fuel pools.

June 13 Behind Japan’s handling of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl lies a story of mutually suspicious relations between the prime minister’s aides, government bureaucrats and company officials that obstructed smooth decision-making. At the drama’s heart was an outsider prime minister who saw the need for quick action but whose well-founded mistrust of alliances between plant operators, bureaucrats and politicians deprived him of crucial information...

Last edited on Tue Jun 21st, 2011 11:27 am by sydneyst

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 Posted: Thu May 26th, 2011 01:16 pm

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Damage to Fukushima Plants Worse Than Previously Reported

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-05-25/fukushima-containment-vessels-may-be-leaking-tepco-says.html

More Fuel Exposure; Breach of Reactor Vessel; Potential Damage from Earthquake


May 25, 2011, 2:47 AM EDT


By Yuji Okada and Tsuyoshi Inajima
May 25 (Bloomberg) -- Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the containment chambers of damaged reactors at its Fukushima nuclear plant were likely breached, identifying additional source of radiation leaks that may exceed Chernobyl.

Computer simulations of the meltdowns of three reactors in March indicates holes formed in chambers, the company known as Tepco said in a report.

The analysis confirms what independent researchers have said occurred after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami hit the plant. The report to the government raises fresh questions about how Tepco, which took more than two months to acknowledge fuel rods had melted, is handling the crisis, a nuclear researcher said.

“Unfortunately I can’t find any consistency in the report,” Hironobu Unesaki, a nuclear engineering professor at Kyoto University, said by phone. “Tepco hasn’t released sufficient radionuclide analysis of leaked contaminated water. Now they’ve confirmed fuel rods melted, they should also release more data including plutonium and uranium readings.”

Containment chambers surround the reactor vessel, which holds the fuel rods, and are meant to stop radiation and coolant leaks in the case of overheating.

Japan’s government in April raised the severity rating of nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant to the highest, matching Chernobyl in 1986. At the time Tepco officials said the crippled plant may release more radiation than the Chernobyl.

...Tepco’s analysis shows the No. 1 chamber has one hole and the No. 2 unit has two breaches, according to a report filed to a Japanese nuclear watchdog. Cooling systems may have been breached at the No. 3 reactor at the site, Tepco said.

“The breaches were created awhile ago, so they won’t cause rapid increases in radiation doses,” said Ken Nakajima, a professor of nuclear engineering at Kyoto University who specializes in reactor safety. “However, I’m concerned about a possible increase in tainted water leaking from the holes, which may lead to contamination of groundwater and seawater.”

Tepco yesterday confirmed meltdowns of fuel rods in the No. 2 and 3 reactors at the station north of Tokyo, which has been emitting radiation since an earthquake and tsunami knocked out power and cooling systems on March 11.

It revised the time the No. 1 reactor melted to within 15 hours of the quake, an hour earlier than it gave last week when it announced the damage to the reactor was worse than thought.

--With assistance from Taku Kato in Tokyo. Editors: Aaron Sheldrick, Peter Langan

also see WS Journal:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703730804576318470827245128.html


By MITSURU OBE and PHRED DVORAK in Tokyo and REBECCA SMITH in San Francisco
One of the reactors at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant likely suffered a substantial meltdown of its core, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday, offering a fresh assessment of the reactor that suggests it came closer than the operator had previously revealed to a catastrophic meltdown.



... It is likely that the fuel rods that form the core of Reactor No. 1 had more than half melted in March, Tepco spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said Thursday. That assessment came after Tepco this week determined that both of the vessels that surround the reactor core may be damaged, leaking water that is supposed to be keeping the core cool.

 
The reactor core is still contained inside those vessels, Mr. Matsumoto said, and the temperature is stable. That indicates the accident didn't reach the most severe level, where fuel rods melt through those vessels and release massive amounts of radioactive material to the outside.






View Interactive

The findings raise a host of questions about the chain of events that led to the damage and have implications for future plant regulation in Japan and beyond. It also suggests that radioactive water has leaked into the reactor's basement in greater-than-believed quantities, likely dealing additional delays to the stricken plant's cleanup.

Tepco's assessment came after workers entered the reactor building this week and fixed a faulty water-level gauge. They determined that the reactor's pressure vessel—the cylindrical steel container that houses the fuel rods—had only about half the level of cooling water as previously thought.

That suggested Reactor No. 1 is likely more severely damaged than Tepco believed and could be leaking large amounts of highly radioactive water. It also shows that the area enclosing the fuel rods wasn't mostly submerged in cooling water, as Tepco had thought, but was instead high and dry.

The finding spurred experts to ask whether leaks or holes could have been caused by the 9-magnitude earthquake that struck Japan's northeastern coast on March 11. Tepco has said the damage at Fukushima Daiichi resulted from the subsequent tsunami, which cut power to the plant's cooling systems, causing reactor temperatures and pressure to rise to damaging levels.

If it turns out that Reactor No. 1's vessels were in fact damaged by the quake, that would lead to a wholesale review of earthquake standards for nuclear plants, warned Ken Nakajima, a professor of nuclear engineering at the Research Reactor Institute, Kyoto University.

In the U.S., 23 reactors have designs similar to the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi site. Findings about possible damage caused by the earthquake, independent of the tsunami, will be incorporated into an analysis of seismic hazards in the eastern and central U.S. being conducted by NRC, said Scott Burnell, spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Some U.S. experts said Tepco simply has acknowledged what U.S. nuclear experts already believed was the case—that severe core damage has occurred which allowed radioactive material to migrate outside the thick steel walls of the pressure vessel. One indication of this breakdown in normal protective barriers has been the high radiation readings in the containment area and reactor building.

 

Last edited on Thu May 26th, 2011 01:47 pm by sydneyst

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 Posted: Sat Apr 30th, 2011 03:18 pm

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IAEA Update for Fukushima

April 28 2011

http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html

excerpts

1. Current situation

Overall, the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains very serious, but there are signs of recovery in some functions, such as electrical power and instrumentation.

2. Management of on-site contaminated water

According to the 25 April evaluation by NISA of the report submitted by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), there is a little less than 70,000 tonnes of stagnant water with high level radioactivity in the basement of the turbine buildings of Units 1, 2 and 3.

Plant status

On 25 April the power supply for the temporary electrical pumps that supply water to the reactor pressure vessel of Units 1, 2 and 3 was switched from the off-site power supply to temporary diesel generators to allow work to enhance the off-site power supply. The power supply has now been returned to the off-site supply.

White smoke continues to be emitted from Units 2 and 3. No more white smoke was seen coming from Unit 4 as of 21:30 UTC on 25 April.

In Unit 1 fresh water was being continuously injected into the reactor pressure vessel through the feedwater line at an indicated flow rate of 6 m3/h using a temporary electric pump with off-site power. On 27 April at 01:02 UTC an operation was initiated to increase the flow rate for injected water gradually from 6 m3/h to 14 m3/h to determine the amount of water required to flood the reactor core.

In Unit 2 and Unit 3 fresh water is being continuously injected into the reactor pressure vessel through the fire extinguisher line at an indicated rate of 7 m3/h using temporary electric pumps with off-site power.

In Unit 4 water continues to be sprayed on to the spent fuel pool using a concrete pump truck. An amount of 85 tonnes of water was sprayed on 27 April.

Nitrogen gas is still being injected into the containment vessel in Unit 1 to reduce the possibility of hydrogen combustion in the containment vessel. The indicated pressure in the reactor pressure vessel is still increasing.

In Unit 1, the indicated temperature at the feedwater nozzle of the reactor pressure vessel is 132.0 °C and at the bottom of reactor pressure vessel is 110.5 °C.

In Unit 2 the indicated temperature at the feedwater nozzle of the reactor pressure vessel is 120.4 °C. The reactor pressure vessel and the dry well remain at atmospheric pressure. On 26 April an amount of 47.5 tonnes of fresh water was injected into the spent fuel pool using the spent fuel pool clean-up system.

In Unit 3 the indicated temperature at the feed water nozzle of the reactor pressure vessel is 72.0 °C and at the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel is 110.7 °C. The reactor pressure vessel and the dry well remain at atmospheric pressure.

There has been no change in the status in Unit 5 or Unit 6 or in the common spent fuel storage facility.

Spraying of anti-scattering agent at the site is continuing. An area of 7500 m2 to the east of the Unit 3 turbine building was sprayed on 27 April.

2. Radiation monitoring

Deposition of Cs-137 was detected in four prefectures on 26 and 27 April, the values reported ranging from 4 Bq/m2 to 29 Bq/m2. I-131 deposition was reported for one prefecture on 26 April, with a value of 3.3 Bq/m2.

Gamma dose rates are measured daily in all 47 prefectures. A general decreasing trend has been observed in all locations since around 20 March. For the Fukushima prefecture gamma dose rates remain at 1.8 μSv/h. In Ibaraki prefecture gamma dose rates were slightly below 0.12 µSv/h. The other 45 prefectures had gamma dose rates of below 0.1 µSv/h, falling within the range of local natural background radiation levels. Gamma dose rates reported specifically for the eastern part of Fukushima prefecture, for distances beyond 30 km from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, showed a similar general decreasing trend, ranging from 0.1 to 13.6 µSv/h, as reported on 26 April.

On-site measurements at the west gate of the Fukushima Daiichi plant indicate the presence of I-131 and Cs-137 in the air in the close vicinity of the plant (within approx. 1 km). The concentrations in air reported since 31 March show a maximum on 14 April of 11.8 x 10−4 Bq/cm3 for total I-131 and 2.7 x 10-4 Bq/cm3 for total Cs-137. The values reported for 26 April are 9.0 x 10−5 Bq/cm3 for total I-131 and 2.4 x 10−5 Bq/cm3 for total Cs-137.

Since 1 April there has been one remaining restriction on the consumption of drinking water relating to I-131 (with a limit of 100 Bq/L), which applies to one village in the Fukushima prefecture and only for infants.



Food monitoring

Food monitoring data were reported by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare on 27 April for a total of 129 samples taken on 21 and 24-27 April from 10 prefectures (Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Miyagi, Niigata, Saitama, Tochigi and Yamagata). Analytical results for 125 of the 129 samples for various vegetables, mushrooms, fruit (strawberry), pork, seafood, fresh milk and raw unprocessed milk indicated that I-131, Cs-134 and Cs-137 were either not detected or were below the regulation values set by the Japanese authorities. In Fukushima prefecture, two samples of spinach from 24 and 25 April and two samples of seafood (sand lance) from 26 April were above the regulation values set by the Japanese authorities for Cs-134/Cs-137.

Food restrictions

On 27 April restrictions were lifted on the distribution of spinach in Tochigi prefecture. In Fukushima prefecture, restrictions were lifted on the distribution and consumption of head type leafy vegetables from 17 locations in the Aizu and Minamiaizu districts (cities of Aizuwakamatsu and Kitakata; towns of Aizubange, Aizumisato, Bandai, Inawashiro, Kaneyama, Minamiaizu, Mishima, Nishiaizu, Shimogo, Tadami and Yanaizu; villages of Hinoemata, Kitashiobara, Showa and Yugawa) and flower head brassicas from nine locations (city of Shirakawa; towns of Hanawa, Tanagura, Yabuki and Yamatsuri; villages of Izumizaki, Nakajima, Nishigo and Samegawa).

3. Marine monitoring

The analysis for almost all sampling positions has shown a general decreasing trend in concentrations of the relevant radionuclides over time. Samples from the coastal positions still show higher concentrations of such radionuclides than samples from the off-shore positions. The radionuclides I-131, Cs-134 and Cs-137 are still detected in most sea water samples, but no longer for some of the off-shore positions.

Last edited on Sat Apr 30th, 2011 03:27 pm by sydneyst

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 Posted: Wed Apr 13th, 2011 10:46 am

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Fukushima Summary as of  Imperiled Reactors

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/energy-environment/atomic-energy/index.html



Here is the status of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant as of April 12:

Reactor No. 1: An explosion on March 12 ripped the top off of the reactor building after a presumed partial meltdown in the reactor core produced hydrogen gas that was vented as part of the struggle to cool the reactor. The primary containment vessel is said to be intact. Radioactive isotopes have been found in its seawater discharge. Power was re-established for the control room lighting, an important first step toward turning on the cooling system, but the reactor's temperature has shown a worrisome increase. On March 27, cesium was found in the water in the turbine building attached to the reactor. On April 6, engineers prepared to inject nitrogen into the containment vessel to reduce the chance of a hydrogen explosion.

Reactor No. 2: On March 14, the pumps sending seawater into the reactor to cool it failed temporarily, leading to a partial meltdown. On March 15, an explosion breached the containment vessel and the torus, an enclosed pool of water surrounding the reactor into which steam is released. The damage meant that radioactive steam was escaping. A high-voltage cable was extended to its pumps on March 20, but was not powerful enough to restore operation. Radioactive isotopes have been found in its seawater discharge. On March 26, a worker measuring radiation in puddles outside the reactor finds levels too high for his instrument to gauge. The highly radioactive water was found to be pouring from a crack in a pit near the reactor. The leak was plugged on April 5 using sodium silicate, which acts as a cement. On April 6, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that some of the reactor core had probably leaked from its steel pressure vessel into the bottom of the containment structure, implying that the damage was even worse than previously thought.

Reactor No. 3: On March 14, an explosion damaged the building surrounding the containment vessel. On March 15, officials made conflicting statements that suggested that the containment vessel had cracked and was releasing radioactive steam. On March 17, efforts focused on its storage pool, where the spent rods may have become uncovered. Water continues to be sprayed by fire cannons. This reactor used a mixture of uranium and plutonium, known as mox, which produces more toxic radioactivity. Power has been turned on, but only for lights, not for the cooling system. On March 22, black smoke belched from the reactor for an hour, forcing a temporary evacuation of workers. On March 25, officials said that there was evidence that the reactor's containment vessel may have been breached; a senior nuclear executive said there was a long crack down one side. Fresh water is now being pumped into the reactor.

Reactor No. 4: Shut before the earthquake, as were Reactors Nos. 5 and 6, its spent fuel rods were stored in a pool within the reactor building. The failure of cooling systems led the rods to overheat, setting off a fire and explosion on March 15. The water in the pool reached the boiling point, releasing radioactive steam and raising the danger of a meltdown and a large-scale release of radioactive gases, as the fuel is outside the containment vessel. The chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on March 17 that the water covering the spent fuel rods may have boiled off. Engineers say the spent fuel pool appears to be leaking as water is disappearing too quickly to be only caused by evaporation.

Reactor No. 5 and Reactor No. 6: Temperatures in their spent fuel pools reached roughly double the normal level of 77 degrees Fahrenheit. But on March 20th both were reported to have cold shut down, meaning that temperatures had returned to normal. Power has been restored to their cooling units.

Last edited on Wed Apr 13th, 2011 10:56 am by sydneyst

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 Posted: Wed Mar 30th, 2011 05:16 pm

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Powerful and Charged Debate on Nuclear Peril
As Fukushima #2 Meltdown Proceeds


March 30, 2011

“Prescription for Survival”: A Debate on the Future of Nuclear Energy Between Anti-Coal Advocate George Monbiot and Anti-Nuclear Activist Dr. Helen Caldicott

]http://www.democracynow.org/2011/3/30/prescription_for_survival_a_debate_on]
The crisis in Japan has refueled the rigorous global debate about the viability of nuclear power. Japan remains in a "state of maximum alert" as the experts scramble to contain radiation that is leaking from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. Nuclear energy remains a controversial topic in climate change discourse, as environmental activists argue how to best reduce the amount of greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere—often the debate pits one non-renewable energy against another as renewable energy technology and research remains underfunded.


Democracy Now! hosts a debate today about the future of nuclear energy between British journalist George Monbiot and Dr. Helen Caldicott. Monbiot has written extensively about the environmental and health dangers caused by burning coal for energy, and despite the Fukushima catastrophe, stands behind nuclear power. Caldicott is a world-renowned anti-nuclear advocate who has spent decades warning of the medical hazards posed by nuclear technologies, and while agreeing about the dangers of burning coal, insists the best option is to ban nuclear power. [includes rush transcript]

http://www.democracynow.org

Last edited on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 05:19 pm by sydneyst

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 Posted: Mon Mar 28th, 2011 05:49 pm

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Greenpeace Answers Questions About Nuke Worst-Case Outcome



excerpt from Q and A:


What is the worst case scenario? How bad can it be? And how close are we (or did we) come to this?


While it is difficult in this situation to rule out further earthquakes and other factors, at the moment the worst case could arguably be ongoing dramatic overheating in reactor number two where the containment vessel is already breached. This could lead to more radioactive material being released into the environment from the nuclear fuel elements. The spent nuclear fuel pools at all four reactors are exposed to the air and in unit four there are reports that the cooling water is boiling. This Scientific American article has more details.

What harmful effects have already happened? What are the possible long term impacts on soil, animals, agriculture etc.?
It is a disaster but the full extent is unknown. The question is not whether this qualifies as a disaster, it's a question of how big, how many people are effected and how long it will take to get under control. Only then can we start talking about remediation.

Already the authorities have reported radioactive contamination outside the reactors site, at the moment most attention is being focused on two radioactive elements: Iodine-129 and Caesium-137 contamination in particular.

Here is
Time magazine on on iodine contamination:

When thyroid cells absorb too much radioactive iodine — either through the air or through contaminated food — it can increase the risk for thyroid cancer, says the American Thyroid Association. Babies and young children are at highest risk as their thyroid glands are most radiation-sensitive. People over 40 are at less risk.

Here is
the US Environmental Protection Agency on Caesium-137 contamination:

People may ingest caesium-137 with food and water, or may inhale it as dust. If caesium-137 enters the body, it is distributed fairly uniformly throughout the body's soft tissues, resulting in exposure of those tissues. Slightly higher concentrations of the metal are found in muscle, while slightly lower concentrations are found in bone and fat. Compared to some other radionuclides, caesium-137 remains in the body for a relatively short time. It is eliminated through the urine. Exposure to cesium-137 may also be external (that is, exposure to its gamma radiation from outside the body).


http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/nuclear/Fukushima-nuclear-disaster/Fukushima-nuclear-crisis-briefing/

also visit crisis page: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/nuclear/Fukushima-nuclear-disaster/

Last edited on Mon Mar 28th, 2011 06:17 pm by sydneyst


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