The public health impact of Hurricane Harvey is worse than we’ve been told

March 22, 2018 by  
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More than six months since  Hurricane Harvey decimated much of Central America and the American Gulf Coast, the public still doesn’t have the answers it needs regarding the full public health impact of the powerful storm. This is of particular concern for Texas, in which the nation’s most substantial energy corridor is based. 500 chemical plants, 10 refineries and more than 6,670 miles of oil, gas and chemical pipelines are located in the impact area of Hurricane Harvey. And investigations by the Associated Press and the Houston Chronicle have found that the toxic impact of the storm is far worse than authorities reported. The investigators documented more than 100 specific instances of toxic chemical release into the water, the air, or land as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Nearly half a billion gallons of industrial wastewater flooded out of one chemical plant outside of Houston alone, mixing with storm water and surging across the sprawling urban environment. Hazardous chemicals such as benzene, vinyl chloride, butadiene and other carcinogens were released into the flood waters during the storm. In the case of two major contamination events, officials publicized the potential toxic impact as less extensive than it actually was. Related: Houston Bike Share offers free bicycles to people who lost cars to Harvey While Texas regulators claim to have investigated at least 89 instances, they have not said whether they will take any enforcement action. Alarmingly, state and federal regulators only tested water and soil for contaminants in areas near Superfund toxic waste sites, ignoring the potential runoff of toxic chemicals during the unprecedented flooding of Houston and surrounding areas. During and after the storm, authorities only notified the public of dangers posed by two events: the explosions and burning at the Arkema chemical plant and an uncapped Superfund site by the San Jacinto River. “The public will probably never know the extent of what happened to the environment after Harvey,” Harris County supervising attorney Rock Owens told the Associated Press, “but the individual companies of course know.” Via NBC San Diego Images via Texas National Guard and  Depositphotos

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The public health impact of Hurricane Harvey is worse than we’ve been told

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing at an exponential rate

March 22, 2018 by  
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Scientists recently found that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – now three times the size of France – is showing signs of exponential growth. In a new study published in the journal Nature , researchers provide a detailed analysis of the garbage patch after a monumental effort that required two planes and 18 boats to complete. “We wanted to have a clear, precise picture of what the patch looked like,” Laurent Lebreton, study lead author and lead oceanographer for the Ocean Cleanup Foundation , told the Washington Post . The study estimates that the mass of the garbage patch is four to sixteen times bigger than previously thought, highlighting the urgency of confronting global plastic pollution. The Ocean Cleanup Foundation worked in collaboration with scientists from New Zealand , the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Denmark . The study provides an in-depth account of the mass concentration within the Garbage Patch. Although the mass of the Garbage Patch appears to be growing, the study concludes that the area of the patch has remained relatively stable. This means that the Garbage Patch is simply becoming more dense. Related: The Ocean Cleanup launches San Francisco base in Pacific trash-busting bid The study also found that 46% of the Pacific Garbage Patch’s mass is composed of disposed fishing nets. “This suggests we might be underestimating how much fishing debris is floating in the oceans,” Chelsea Rochman, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto who studies marine plastic but was not associated with the study, told the Washington Post . “Entanglement and smothering from nets is one of the most detrimental observed effects we see in nature.” For all of the garbage floating in the Patch, scientists expect that much of the world’s plastic pollution is sinking, with much of that damage happening out of sight. + Nature Via the Washington Post Images via Depositphotos (1) and the Ocean Cleanup Foundation

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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing at an exponential rate

Scientists have a plan to cool the Earth with a sprinkle of salt

March 22, 2018 by  
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Could salt help soothe our climate woes? Senior scientist Robert Nelson of the Planetary Science Institute seems to think so. At a recent Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas, Nelson suggested that sprinkling salt above clouds could hold off sunlight and cool our planet, according to Science Magazine . But as with many geoengineering ideas, this one isn’t without controversy. Finely powdered salt injected into the upper troposphere might help humanity stave off some of the impacts of climate change, according to Nelson. His suggestion isn’t too far off those of other scientists who want to introduce microscopic particles into the stratosphere to reflect sunshine into space , imitating the impact of volcanic eruptions that have served to temporarily cool Earth. But his might be more benign than others, Science Magazine said. The senior scientist tossed out alumina or sulfur dioxide: the first could lead to chronic disease, embedding in our lungs if we inhaled it; the second could lead to acid rain or erode the ozone layer. Related: Trump administration could open door to geoengineering Instead, he turned to salt: it’s more reflective than alumina, according to Science Magazine, and harmless for people. Nelson also thinks if salt were crushed into tiny particles in the correct shape and diffused randomly, the mineral wouldn’t block infrared heat the Earth releases. Volcanologist Matthew Watson of the University of Bristol is one scientist who has called out potential problems with Nelson’s approach. He led an ultimately canceled geoengineering experiment, in which his team considered injecting salt in the stratosphere. But the substance contains a lot of chlorine , which he said could help destroy ozone. With limited amounts of water in the stratosphere, and salt so attracted to it, even a small amount could impact the formation of wispy clouds; we have know idea what consequences this would trigger. Nelson might be able to address issues by injecting salt into the upper troposphere instead of the stratosphere — at least, that’s what he hopes. But he said we should still work to curb carbon emissions , saying, “This would be a palliative, not a [long-term] solution.” Via Science Magazine Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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Scientists have a plan to cool the Earth with a sprinkle of salt

Congress rejects Trump’s renewable energy budget cuts

March 22, 2018 by  
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Congress has reached a deal on the $1.3 trillion budget for fiscal year 2018, an agreement that does not include the cuts to clean energy demanded by the Trump Administration. President Trump’s budget proposal would have cut funding from carbon capture and storage technology while increasing funding for new coal technologies. In this instance, Congress pushed back. For example, the omnibus spending bill increases funding for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by $2.3 billion rather than agreeing to the 66 percent funding cut for the office proposed by the Trump Administration. In what may be the last major legislation passed this year, Congress must pass the budget deal by midnight on Friday to avoid a third government shutdown in 2018. If the budget deal is enacted, the United States would likely achieve the 2015 goal set by President Obama of doubling research and development for clean energy within a decade. The bill also protects the EPA from Trump ‘s proposed 23 percent cut, maintaining funding for the agency at $8.1 billion. While funding for renewable energy is protected, Trump did manage to achieve a significant policy victory through the bill’s increased funding for DOE’s fossil energy arm to $727 million. This money will fund the development of low-carbon coal technologies. Related: USDA withdraws Obama-era animal welfare standards for organic meat, eggs and dairy The omnibus spending bill also includes a $868 million increase for DOE’s Office of Science , ignoring the Trump Administration’s proposed 15 percent cut. While those who support renewable energy and environmental protection have reason to celebrate, the current government is nonetheless limiting the potential of the clean energy industry. A large increase in funding for clean energy research and development is unlikely in the near future. However, Congress has found an agreeable equilibrium that ensures the quiet work of transforming the energy economy of the United States can continue, even though Donald Trump sits in the White House. Via Axios and the Washington Post Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Congress rejects Trump’s renewable energy budget cuts

Dangerous super bacteria found in Rio waters before Summer Olympics

July 2, 2016 by  
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Two new academic studies shared with Reuters news show that scientists have found drug-resistant “super bacteria” off Rio de Janeiro beaches – some of which will be hosting Olympic events in August. These deadly microbes, normally only found in hospital settings, have been turning up in the waters near some of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. Though city officials are blaming illegal dumping for the contamination, it more likely has something to do with the fact that Rio pumps literal tons of raw sewage into the ocean with only minimal treatment for safety.

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Dangerous super bacteria found in Rio waters before Summer Olympics

Polish farmers and families blockaded Chevron frackers for 400 days

January 15, 2015 by  
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In July, Chevron abandoned its plans to drill for gas in Zurawlow, Poland, after farmers and families from Zurawlow (and four nearby villages) blockaded a proposed shale drilling site with tractors and other pastoral machinery for 400 days. Now, that victory is inspiring other Poles to fight back against the fracked gas industry. Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Read the rest of Polish farmers and families blockaded Chevron frackers for 400 days Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: agro-tourism , ban fracking , Biodiversity , Chevron , Climate Change , contamination , drilling , earth , ECO:nomics , economy , Environment , environmental assessment , Europe , families , farmers , farming , farms , forests , frack , fracked , fracking , gas , government , grassroots , Health , health issues , law , local , natural , natural resources , oil , Poland , political , politics , protected forests , Radunia River , regulations , resistance , rivers , shale boom , shale drilling , shale gas , silica sand , streams , tourism , u.s. , UNESCO , united states , Zurawlow

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Polish farmers and families blockaded Chevron frackers for 400 days

Radioactive Strontium-90 Found in Fukushima Groundwater

June 19, 2013 by  
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It has been over two years since the catastrophic meltdown at the Fukusima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and the bad news keeps on rolling in. On the heels of an announcement by Tepco that the water at the facility is contaminated with low levels of cesium, the company reported that the groundwater is also polluted with strontium-90 . The highly toxic substance is a by-product of the fission of uranium and plutonium in nuclear reactors. The discovery will no doubt complicate Tepco’s ongoing struggle to contain leaks inundating the basements of reactor buildings. Read the rest of Radioactive Strontium-90 Found in Fukushima Groundwater Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: cesium , cleanup , contamination , fukushima daiichi , groundwater , leak , Pollution , Solar Power , strontium-90 , TEPCO , tritium        

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Radioactive Strontium-90 Found in Fukushima Groundwater

Tepco Admits that Water at Fukushima is Contaminated by Radioactive Particles

June 6, 2013 by  
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The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco , have reversed its earlier statements that the water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is not contaminated. The utility company has detected low levels of radioactive particles in the groundwater flowing into the plant, an occurrence that they had previously dismissed. The admittance stands as one of a growing list of errors that have taken place during the cleanup effort, and has drawn criticism of the government for choosing to place the recovery of the plant into the hands of the company whose failings during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami allowed the disaster to reach catastrophic levels. Read the rest of Tepco Admits that Water at Fukushima is Contaminated by Radioactive Particles Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: cesium , contamination , fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant , groundwater , Japan , radioactive , reactor , TEPCO , tokyo electric power company , united states        

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Tepco Admits that Water at Fukushima is Contaminated by Radioactive Particles

USDA Whistleblowers Warn of Chemical Hazards in Poultry Plants

April 26, 2013 by  
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Recently, states such as New York, Montana, North Dakota, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri have passed  laws that seek to outlaw or limit undercover farm investigations that have been dubbed “ ag-gag bills ” by activists. But there are still many people who refuse to remain silent in the face of animal and human abuse. The Food Integrity Campagin and The Government Accountability Project have this week published a pair of affidavits from USDA inspectors reporting the unsafe use of chemicals in poultry processing plants and their effects on worker safety. Read the rest of USDA Whistleblowers Warn of Chemical Hazards in Poultry Plants Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: affidavit , chemicals , contamination , inspector , iowa , Kansas , Missouri , montana , New York. , north dakota , offline processing , online processing , peracetic acid , poultry , processing plant , the food integrity campagin , the government accountability project , usda , whistleblower , worker safety        

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USDA Whistleblowers Warn of Chemical Hazards in Poultry Plants

We Celebrate Toyota’s New LEED Platinum San Francisco Dealership with a RAV4 EV Test Drive

April 26, 2013 by  
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