Tunnel collapses at America’s most contaminated nuclear waste facility

May 9, 2017 by  
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An emergency was just declared in Hanford , Washington after a tunnel packed full of train cars containing radioactive waste collapsed Tuesday morning. Hundreds of workers were told to “take cover” and local residents warned to stay indoors for fear that nuclear contamination could spread. Hanford, which sits 200 miles north of Seattle, is considered the most contaminated nuclear site in the US. Photo from source: Here is another view of the PUREX tunnel at Hanford. Hole from collapse seen under orange flag. pic.twitter.com/iFhTfIUJ6o — Susannah Frame (@SFrameK5) May 9, 2017 The tunnel at Hanford contained rail cars used to carry the spent fuel to a processing facility. The collapse occurred in the center of the site in what is being called a very “high hazard operation.” According to the Energy Department, the collapse could result in radioactive materials making their way into nearby soil or water. “There are concerns about subsidence in the soil covering railroad tunnels near a former chemical processing facility. The tunnels contain contaminated materials.” Related: America’s most polluted nuclear site is now a national park Photo of massive plutonium finishing plant at Hanford. Tunnel that collapsed led to this building. pic.twitter.com/UG0hmXC78z — Susannah Frame (@SFrameK5) May 9, 2017 An unnamed sourced says that the collapse could have been caused by vibration from work being done at the site. Hanford has been in the process of being cleaned up for nearly three decades. Originally, the site was used to produce plutonium for defense and commercial reactors, but those operations ended in 1980. Via The Washington Post images via Wikimedia and Flickr

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Tunnel collapses at America’s most contaminated nuclear waste facility

Eco artists build gigantic octopus to save coral reefs in the British Virgin Islands

May 8, 2017 by  
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A group of artists working under the name Secret Samurai Productions have installed a massive mesh octopus on top of a defunct Pearl Harbor ship only to push the large barge into the deep ocean waters of British Virgin Islands – all in the name of coral reef research. Now at the bottom of the sea off the coast of Virgin Gorda, Project YOKO is the world’s largest underwater art installation and marine life habitat, and it will raise funds for research into the ongoing destruction of the area’s coral reefs . The hollow rebar and mesh sea monster with 80-foot tentacles holding court at the bow of the Kodiak Queen was actually the last step of the ship’s reformation. The team of artists spent months cleaning the boat and transforming its chambers into an interactive art installation that will be explored by divers from around the world. Related: Rising ocean temperatures are cooking the Great Barrier Reef to death In addition to the artists’ efforts, the project counted on support from various members of Maverick1000 , a group of entrepreneurs who meet annually on Sir Richard Branson’s famed Necker Island. At the 2016 meeting, the founding manager for the nonprofit Unite BVI , Lauren Keil, gave a presentation on the challenges of the BVI community, focusing mainly on the problems caused by global warming and overfishing and their undeniable impact on the health of the area’s beloved coral reefs . During the presentation, Keil also mentioned the Kodiak Queen, a WWII fuel barge that had been discovered in a local junkyard. After Keil’s speech, Aydika James, art director of Secret Samurai Productions had the idea to use the historic ship as a way to bring attention to the growing issues facing the BVI waters. With collaboration from fellow members and Branson himself, the idea for the YOKO BVI Art Reef was born. Thanks to funding from local supporters, the ship was soon being transformed into an artificial dive site that would serve as beacon of hope for the region’s disappearing coral reef populations . The artists and dive specialists worked together to create an interactive diving experience,taking divers through the ship’s many chambers. To convert the installation into a research center as well as diving site, the nonprofit organization, Beneath the Waves , was called in to install an emerging technology called environmental DNA that will be used to collect data on the entire marine ecosystem surrounding the sunken ship. And the giant octopus? Well, it’s more than just a fun sculpture; it actually plays a vital role in the project. Its body and tentacles were designed to form a protected habitat for the repopulation of grouper. The dwindling grouper population is a major cause of coral damage considering the large fish help form an ecosystem in BVI waters, which is essential to the health of the coral reefs. After a long process of fund raising and transforming the boat, Project YOKO is slated to open to divers at a cost of $10 donation. All funds will go towards research into local marine health as well as a program promoting swim education for children. + Project YOKO BVI Art Reef + Secret Samurai Productions Via Fast Company Photography by Rob Sorrenti + Owen Buggy Photography via BVI YOKO Art Reef

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Eco artists build gigantic octopus to save coral reefs in the British Virgin Islands

Several scientists predict the apocalypse will occur uncomfortably soon

May 2, 2017 by  
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Are humans an endangered species ? Some scientists think so. Author Phil Torres wrote a piece for Salon detailing evidence from various sources – from climate change data to a recent article by theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking – showing the possibility of an apocalypse that could occur in some of our lifetimes. Torres said, “We are in a unique moment of human history, one marked by an exceptionally high probability of disaster.” Climate change isn’t the only issue humanity must contend with today. Overpopulation , ocean acidification, antibiotic resistance , and the potential of a global pandemic threaten us. In a December 2016 article for The Guardian , Hawking said, “Now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together…we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it.” And all of this while an anti-intellectual president sits in the White House. Related: Scientists say we have 10 years to save Earth Donald Trump’s election prompted The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists to move the Doomsday Clock’s minute hand 30 seconds closer to midnight – the closest it’s been since 1953. In a New York Times article , scientists Lawrence Krauss and David Titley wrote their organization made the move because Trump had pledged to impede progress on climate change action and nuclear proliferation. They aren’t the only scientists predicting disaster. Microbiologist Frank Fenner, whose work helped defeat smallpox, said in 2010 “humans will probably be extinct within 100 years, because of overpopulation, environmental destruction , and climate change.” Biologist Neil Dawe said it wouldn’t surprise him if the generation following him saw the end of humanity. Ecologist Guy McPherson went so far as to say humanity could be extinct by 2026 . But we don’t have to go the way of the dinosaurs just yet. Hawking said humanity must break down barriers inside and outside nations, and help equip people for a changing economy with training and financial support. He said he is an optimist for our species, but elites must learn lessons from 2016 – and “above all a measure of humility.” Via Salon Images via David Blackwell. on Flickr and Lwp Kommunikáció on Flickr

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Several scientists predict the apocalypse will occur uncomfortably soon

Volkswagen previews I.D. Crozz, its 2020 electric SUV

May 2, 2017 by  
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Volkswagen is on a roll lately with its electric car ambitions. Last fall the automaker unveiled the I.D. hatchback concept and earlier this year it followed it up with the Microbus-inspired I.D. Buzz concept. Now Volkswagen has unveiled its third model from the electric I.D. family – the I.D. Crozz. As its name suggests, the I.D. Crozz concept is a sleek electric crossover that previews an all-electric crossover that will be introduced in 2020. The concept is based on the same MEB platform as the original two concepts, which means that it can also travel over 300 miles on the European Cycle. But under the skin, the I.D. Crozz features two electric motors to give it all-wheel drive capability. Related: VW’s new electric car goes further and costs less than the Tesla 3 or Chevy Bolt The system features a 101-hp electric motor at the front and a 201-hp electric motor at the rear. Under normal driving conditions, the rear electric motor is the main power source, but if the conditions worsen and all-wheel drive is needed, the front motor is powered up instantaneously. Drivers also have the ability to lock it into all-wheel drive if needed. With a total 302 horsepower and an estimated driving range of 311 miles, the I.D. Crozz concept will easily be one of the most efficient SUVs you can buy. VW also estimates that it can be recharged using a 150 kW charger up to 80 percent in a mere 30 minutes. By 2020 autonomous driving technology will be available in many models and VW expects to have its own technology ready by 2025. The I.D. Crozz previews VW’s new I.D. Pilot autonomous driving technology , in which the steering wheel retracts into the dashboard and fuses with the digital instruments. In both automatic and manual modes the driver also receives speed and navigation information via a new head-up display. “By 2025, we want to have sales of pure electric vehicles up to one million units a year,” stated Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management, Volkswagen Brand. “The I.D. Crozz will play a key role in that. Production will start in 2020.” + Volkswagen Images @Volkswagen

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Volkswagen previews I.D. Crozz, its 2020 electric SUV

El Salvador just became the first country to ban metal mining

April 28, 2017 by  
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El Salvador just became the wold’s first country to ban metal mining . In a historic move, the country will no longer allow “prospection, exploration, exploitation, extraction or processing of metallic minerals.” While the US seems to be moving backwards when it comes to environmental protection, El Salvador has made a landmark step towards protecting its environment from the ravages of metal mining . This law “is necessary in the face of an industry which, far from bringing any benefit to communities, brings serious pollution to water sources and the environment,” said Mauricio Sermeno, president of the Salvadoran Ecological Unit. Lawmakers expect the move to protect not only the environment, but poor rural communities that are often threatened by mining projects. Related: Colombian town turns down $35B gold mine – prefers a clean environment Multiple countries in Latin America are engaged in battles with mining interests. Nicaragua, Peru and Guatemala are fighting against Canadian and US mining firms. Other countries thrive on the money mining brings, but struggle with the toxic and environmental problems caused by it. In banning mining, El Salvador is drawing a line between gold and green. President Salvador Sanchez Ceren signed the bill into law on Thursday. Here’s hoping this inspires other countries to do the same. Via Phys.org Images via Wikimedia and Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Ford introduces the first-ever hybrid police car

April 28, 2017 by  
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When you think of police cars, visions of large, powerful and gas-hungry vehicles probably come to mind. Well, that vision of the “dirty” police car may change forever with Ford’s first-ever hybrid police car: meet the Ford Police Responder Hybrid Sedan. Ford currently more police vehicles in the United States than any other car-maker, with 63 percent market share. The Police Responder Hybrid Sedan is expected help cities’ Police departments decrease emissions and save fuel. The hybrid sedan is rated at an EPA-estimated combined gas mileage of 38 mpg – more than twice that of today’s Police Interceptor. The Police Responder Hybrid Sedan is powered by an Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery. The hybrid is calibrated for law enforcement’s unique duty cycle and will run in battery-only mode up to 60 mph. Related: Beijing creates new environmental police force to crack down on smog Police vehicles spend lots of time idling, so the the Police Responder Hybrid Sedan’s lithium-ion battery helps power the high electrical loads of the police vehicle, reducing engine run time and saving an estimated 0.27 gallons of fuel per hour. Ford estimates that Police Responder Hybrid Sedan customers could see nearly $3,900 a year in potential fuel savings per vehicle relative to the Police Interceptor. The Ford Police Responder Hybrid Sedan is making its debut in Los Angeles and New York, but Ford hopes to start delivering them nationwide by next summer. + Ford Images @Ford

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BP oil and gas spill near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge under control

April 18, 2017 by  
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A BP oil and gas well in Alaska blew out late last week, uncontrollably spilling crude oil and gas just around 60 miles away from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge . The well was out of control through the weekend. The Arctic oil spill happened just days before the seven year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Last Friday morning the BP oil and gas well in the Prudhoe Bay area started leaking natural gas from the well while crude oil sprayed out onto the drilling-well pad. On Saturday the oil spray halted, but natural gas continued to spew throughout the weekend. Frigid temperatures made it difficult for teams to shut the well down. Oil service company Boots and Coots finally plugged a damaged pipe and pumped a saltwater solution into the well to kill it – after it had vented natural gas for three days. Related: Alaska gas leak endangering beluga whales won’t be fixed until the ice melts It’s unclear what caused the oil and gas spill. 1.5 acres near Deadhorse were affected, and native communities were notified. No injuries were reported. Natural gas production hasn’t been kind to Alaska recently. Around 210,000 cubic feet of gas per day poured out from a pipeline near Cook Inlet for almost four months; last Friday Hilcorp Alaska said a temporary repair finally halted the leak. And the recent spill doesn’t look good for BP; April 20 will mark the seven year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill which killed 11 people and harmed wildlife. Sierra Club’s Alaska Program Director Dan Ritzman said in a statement, “Oil companies continue to treat Alaska with reckless abandon, threatening its pristine waters, wildlife, and communities. Big Oil has repeatedly proven it can’t drill for fossil fuels safely…It’s past time that Donald Trump and his friends in the fossil fuel industry put Alaska ahead of corporate polluter’s profits which only threaten the state’s beauty and environment .” Via EcoWatch and The Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons and BP Facebook

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BP oil and gas spill near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge under control

Crazy Texas tire fire demonstrates why America needs the EPA

April 18, 2017 by  
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100,000 tires caught fire in arid Odessa, Texas earlier this month. The blaze was too much for local volunteer firefighters to extinguish as the isolated area’s closest fire hydrant is four miles away. So the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came to the rescue. Turns out the government body has some value after all, despite what some politicians and the president think. The Texas tire fire started Sunday, April 9 around 3 PM. Roads were closed and local people were told to shutter their windows because of the toxic black smoke billowing from the fire. West Odessa Volunteer Fire Chief Jimmy Ellis told local news publication OA Online the fire was way beyond their means to extinguish. “We haven’t even been able to get down in the pit where it started because it’s so hot you can’t get down in that pit,” he said. “The rubber just stays hot and it will adhere to your boots and the bunker gear.” YouTube user SF1 captured the massive tire fire with a GoPro Karma drone. Related: Republican senator claims the EPA is brainwashing children Firefighters created a break around the pit to at least prevent the fire from spreading, and then the EPA arrived Monday the 10 to help out. In cases like the Texas tire fire – when a disaster is too overwhelming for local or state resources – the agency can provide strategists, teams, and equipment. GOOD said if the agency hadn’t gotten involved the fire may have raged for weeks. Burning tires can emit hundreds of toxic pollutants into the atmosphere, according to Gizmodo, and breathing in that smoke can lead to negative health effects. Investigators don’t yet know who was responsible for the tire fire. OA Online reported the pit of tires is on private property; their storage could have been against regulation. According to a recent Abilene Reporter-News article , authorities said the fire is finally extinguished. Via GOOD and Gizmodo Images via screenshot

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Crazy Texas tire fire demonstrates why America needs the EPA

Black mountain cabin lights up like a lantern at night

April 18, 2017 by  
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Architect Tomislav Soldo designed a handsome mountain cabin that owes its existence to a fortuitously placed walnut tree. Set on a sloped site in the Croatian mountains, the 100-square-meter home was designed and built as an afterthought following the completion of a terrace beneath the shade of a walnut tree. Clad in Siberian larch painted black, the modern building features a ventilated facade and large windows that allow it to glow like a lantern at night. Located in Ogulin, the two-story compact cabin echoes the local vernacular with its use of timber and simple pitched roof . Two layers of black wood tar were painted onto the facade to protect the building from the elements and to minimize maintenance. The 30-centimeter-thick walls were constructed from aerated concrete blocks, saving the architects from adding extra thermal insulation and allowing for speedy construction. Thermal efficiency is improved with the installation of a ventilated facade made from Siberian larch cladding. Related: Salvaged wood clads handsome mountain cabin in Vermont In contrast to the dark facade, the interior features white-painted walls, light-toned timber floors, and black accents such as the wood-burning stove and window trim. The use of a light color palette, high ceilings, and large windows that overlook the mountains and forests give the home a spacious feel despite the small footprint. An open-plan kitchen, living, and dining room are located on the ground floor. The bedroom is placed on the mezzanine level and overlooks the living room below. + Tomislav Soldo Via ArchDaily Images by Jure Živkovi?

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Black mountain cabin lights up like a lantern at night

Street artist uses reverse graffiti to transform dirty cars into animal art

April 18, 2017 by  
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Moscow’s filthy cars are getting a brand new look thanks to opportunistic street artist Nikita Golubev . Using reverse graffiti, a method of creating temporary art by removing dirt from a surface, Golubev etches amazing images of animals and other figures onto the sides of dirty vehicles. These unlikely works of art are part of his latest works in his “Dirty Art” series. Cars, vans, and large trucks are all fair game to Golubev, who uses his fingers and paintbrushes to wipe, scrape, and embellish images made on each surface. White vehicles encrusted in layers of dirt and grime offer up the ideal canvases for reverse graffiti , also known as “clean graffiti.” Depending on how much Golubev chooses to scrub away, he can create different shades of gray that give surprising depth and realism to his art. Related: REVERSE GRAFFITI: Street Artists Tag Walls by Scrubbing Them Clean These eye-catching pieces are temporary and will disappear over time or whenever the vehicle is cleaned. The prolific Moscow-based artist, who signs with the name ProBoyNick, drew on his ample art repertoire for the Dirty Art series, from his experience in painting to digital art. You can see more of his work on Instagram and Behance . + Nikita Gobulev Via Colossal Images via Nikita Gobulev

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