Hurricane Dorian causes onshore oil spill in Bahamas

September 6, 2019 by  
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Besides demolishing homes, uprooting wildlife and ravaging forests, Hurricane Dorian has also caused an onshore oil spill in the Bahamas. Norwegian energy company Equinor reported it discovered an oil spill at its storage and transshipment terminal. “Our initial aerial assessment of the South Riding Point facility has found that the terminal has sustained damage, and oil has been observed on the ground outside of the onshore tanks,” Equinor said. Related: Hurricane Dorian threatens endangered bird species Before Hurricane Dorian hit, Equinor said it closed all its operations at the South Riding Point terminal on Aug. 31, and no staff was on the premises. “It is too early to indicate any volumes,” the company said. “At this point there are no observations of any oil spill at sea.” Equinor’s terminal contains 6.75 million barrels of crude and condensate storage and provides heavy crude oil blending services. “While weather conditions on the island have improved, road conditions and flooding continue to impact our ability to assess the situation and the scope of damages to the terminal and its surroundings,” the company added. Weather forecasters reported Hurricane Dorian made landfall early Friday morning at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and is now a Category 1 hurricane. Hurricane warnings have been issued for Canada as the hurricane continues moving northeast, and the threat of storm surges in North Carolina and Virginia remains. At the time of writing, at least 30 people have been killed in the Bahamas , the health minister said. More deaths are expected to be announced. Via Reuters , NBC News and The Weather Channel Image via NOAA

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Hurricane Dorian causes onshore oil spill in Bahamas

Recycling Identifying Device takes the guesswork out of figuring out what’s recyclable

September 6, 2019 by  
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The ability to recycle materials has been around for generations, and as an increasing number of residential and commercial facilities take on the metal, plastic and glass, it has become a common task to put your recycling at the curb on garbage pick-up day. But as mainstream as recycling is, the rules are ever-changing, so the Recycling Identifying Device (R.I.D.) was created to streamline the process. The R.I.D, designed by U.K.-based company Cohda, scans materials to let the user know whether an item is recyclable or not. It uses near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy to identify what the item is. Software allows the R.I.D. to match the item with the parameters of accepted items at the local recycling plant. In other words, the software can tell you if the item is accepted locally. Related: Renewlogy turns low-grade plastic into usable fuels The simple-to-use, handheld device is intended for use by waste organizations; the goal is to have the waste facility provide the device to each household. The device will help keep recyclable items out of the landfills and the oceans. Almost as bad as misdirected recyclable items are the materials that end up in the recycling bin where they don’t belong. These disallowed containers can contaminate other items on the recycling line, causing them to be thrown out. Most people have good intentions when it comes to recycling, but every township seems to have its own regulations regarding what is and what isn’t acceptable. Even at that, the list changes frequently. With this in mind, the R.I.D. accepts updates as they are released to keep the consumer informed. The device even has a system in place to release updated information in a way that anyone can access it easily. R.I.D. doesn’t require software, a computer or a smartphone; instead, when an update becomes available, a rewritable RFID card is attached to the household waste bin. Consumers then touch the R.I.D. to the RFID card to transfer the update automatically. Because the entire project is focused on reducing waste and cleaning up waste systems, the R.I.D. can be disassembled and recycled at the end of its lifecycle. + Cohda Images via Cohda

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Recycling Identifying Device takes the guesswork out of figuring out what’s recyclable

Naturalis Biodiversity Center reopens with a sustainable, future-proof renovation

September 6, 2019 by  
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After nearly a year of renovations, the Netherlands’ prized Naturalis Biodiversity Center — a museum and research center with one of the largest natural history collections in the world — has just reopened to the public. The redesign was led by Rotterdam-based architectural firm Neutelings Riedijk Architects , which expanded and renovated the facility to “future-proof” standards that include 100 percent LED lighting , solar panels, green roofs and an energy-efficient climate control system. The complex also better accommodates more than 200 researchers who aim to contribute solutions to global issues such as climate change, the decline of biodiversity and food supply challenges. Located in Leiden, the Netherlands, the Naturalis Biodiversity Center was originally founded in 1820 by King Willem as a museum for natural artifacts. Subsequent mergers with other museum collections over the years has led the museum to amass approximately 42 million specimens that range from insects and fossils to a wide variety of books and photographs. To better serve the public and researchers, the Naturalis Biodiversity Center appointed Neutelings Riedijk Architects with the task of renovating approximately 18,000 square meters of the existing center and adding 20,000 square meters of new construction.  Related: Carbon-neutral science museum in Sweden will be powered by bicycles The renovated Naturalis Biodiversity Center now combines all departments — including the research activities, the collection and the museum — under one roof. The existing buildings and new extensions are connected with a new central hall with an eye-catching, honeycomb-like, white concrete facade inspired by the museum’s collections. Designed by the famous Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen, the curvaceous exterior is fitted with glass to create a sunny atrium that connects the existing offices and depots with the newly built museum and laboratories. In addition to the addition of sustainable features, such as solar panels and geothermal heat pump system, the renovated Natural Biodiversity Center was constructed with a robust natural materials palette to ensure longevity. The highly textured materials — that include natural stone, oak, concrete, glass and steel — will develop a patina over time to show the passage of time. + Neutelings Riedijk Architects Photography by Scagliola Brakkee Fotografie via Neutelings Riedijk Architects

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Naturalis Biodiversity Center reopens with a sustainable, future-proof renovation

Crude oil spill off Newfoundland coast deemed impossible to clean up

November 27, 2018 by  
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The SeaRose FPSO — a floating production, storage and offloading vessel in the White Rose oil and gas field near Newfoundland’s coast — spilled an estimated 66,000 gallons (250,000 liters) of crude earlier this month, making it the largest oil spill in the province’s maritime history. To make matters worse, according to Canadian provincial regulators, the huge spill cannot be cleaned up. The operator responsible for the incident is Husky Energy, and the spill happened when the vessel “experienced a loss of pressure” in an oil flowline. Husky Energy had halted production the day before due to bad weather , and the spill occurred when the company was preparing to restart production. Related: This magnetic wand cleans up oil spills in a snap Three days after the spill, the regulators reportedly did not see any signs of an oil sheen on the water . According to Scott Tessier, chief executive of The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), the absence of a sheen means the oil has broken down so much that it has become impossible to clean up. EcoWatch reported that Husky Energy has shut-in and secured all of its wells , and the company has also halted production and drilling operations. C-NLOPB, which is the federal agency that regulates petroleum production, has launched a formal investigation into the spill, and will release its findings once they are available. The board noted that this recent spill shows that we cannot underestimate the risks in offshore oil activity. It also said that it had deployed four surveillance flights and an offshore support vessel to assess the extent of the spill and look for effects on wildlife . At the time of writing, 14 seabirds have been impacted by the spill. Via EcoWatch , The Canadian Press and The Guardian Image via Catmoz

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Crude oil spill off Newfoundland coast deemed impossible to clean up

Time to put the flame out scented candles can cause disease and poor air quality

November 27, 2018 by  
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Candle season is in full effect as winter days quickly approach. Candles are a great accent to incorporate into home decorations and also to photograph as the little flickering flames in the jar illuminate dark evenings at home. Scented candles are nice to look at and even nicer to breathe in, but your favorite candle can cause more damage than you imagine. In the age of social media influencers and luxury brands promoting their one-of-a-kind scents, it’s no wonder why  candle sales are soaring . But there is a dark truth hidden behind the feel-good aromas and warm coziness that candles convey — disease and  pollution . The majority of manufactured candles are made from paraffin wax, which is a byproduct in the petroleum refining chain. In a sense, it’s the bottom of the barrel or the worst of the worst. When certain candles are burned, they release toluene and benzene, both of which are known carcinogens . Related: Handmade fruit candles look realistic enough to eat In a study by Southern Carolina State University , researchers compared petroleum-based and vegetable-sourced candles to determine their emissions. Researchers let candles burn for up to six hours in a small box and collected and analyzed air quality . The study concluded that candles that are paraffin-based (the most popular kind) emitted toxic chemicals such as toluene and benzene. “The paraffin candles we tested released unwanted chemicals into the air. For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma,” said Ruhullah Massoudi, a chemistry professor at Southern Carolina State University. “None of the vegetable-based candles produced toxic chemicals.” Fragrance is also dangerous, because “over the past 50 years, 80 to 90 percent of fragrances have been synthesized from petroleum and some of the commonly found harmful chemicals in fragranced products include acetone, phenol, toluene, benzyl acetate and limonene,” according to a 2009 study,  Fragrance in the Workplace is the New Second-Hand Smoke by the University of Maryland. A 2001 EPA  report mentions that burning candles indoors can cause air pollution and “may result in indoor air concentrations of lead above EPA-recommended thresholds.” The lead found in the soot comes from the metal-core wicks that help keep the wick upright. If you must keep a candle or two in your home, the safest option is to purchase unscented organic soy or beeswax candles. Essential oil diffusers are also a great way to keep your home smelling fresh this holiday season or year-round. Via Treehugger Images via Tatlin

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Time to put the flame out scented candles can cause disease and poor air quality

Energy company ditches plan to install a possible tar sands oil facility in New York

May 24, 2018 by  
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Environmentalists celebrated a victory in New York state after an energy company tossed out a 5-year-old plan to install a facility that could have handled Canadian tar sands oil. The plan had clear environmental risks and posed a threat to area residents. After resistance from environmental groups and the public,  Global Companies  decided to abandon the plan. Erin Doran, senior attorney at Riverkeeper , an environmental organization devoted to protecting the Hudson River , said in a statement , “The proposal threatened the health of neighboring communities and would have placed the Hudson River at a greater risk for a disastrous oil spill .” Massachusetts-based Global Companies had requested boilers capable of handling heavy crude at the Port of Albany back in 2013 — Times Union pointed out the company did not indicate the facility would be used for tar sands oil, although it could have — and a legal battle ensued. Company spokesperson Liz Fuller told the Times Union, “We are withdrawing that request and plan to resubmit a renewal application with modifications later this year. The changes to the permit will include a reduction in the amount of crude oil handled through the terminal and will not include a system for the heating of crude oil.” Related: Extreme fossil fuel financing has surged to $115BN under Trump Doran said this is the second major victory in 2018 for Hudson River protection, “…coming after the defeat of industry’s request for new anchorage grounds to facilitate the transport of more crude oil.” She said since 2014, together with other partners, Riverkeeper had been battling the plan in court. She called on New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to approach Global Companies’ next submission “as a new application and to ensure that the operations at this facility finally undergo a comprehensive environmental review.” According to the Times Union, Global Companies sued that department back in 2015 for failing to issue a permit for the boilers, and DEC won an appeals court ruling earlier this year upholding its decision that the energy company’s permit application lacked sufficient information. This week, DEC said it was pleased that Global Companies withdrew its plan. Earthjustice lawyer Chris Amato described this development as “a huge victory for the families that live, work, and go to school in Albany’s South End…Global’s proposal would have spewed more toxic pollution into the air, endangering the health of South End residents, including hundreds of children who live and attend [Giffen Elementary] school in the shadow of the Global facility. This has been, and continues to be, a fight for environmental justice .” + Riverkeeper Via the Times Union Images via Bill Morrow and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Energy company ditches plan to install a possible tar sands oil facility in New York

The Keystone Pipeline leak was nearly twice as big as we thought

April 9, 2018 by  
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New reports show that nearly twice as much crude oil leaked from the Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota last November than originally estimated. TransCanada spokesperson Robynn Tysver said that roughly 9,700 barrels of oil leaked instead of the estimated 5,000 barrels. This new information means the leak is among the biggest onshore spills in the United States since 2010. There are 42 gallons in one barrel of oil, so instead of 210,000 gallons as was originally estimated, around 407,700 gallons leaked in what TransCanada refers to as the Amherst incident . This means the spill was the “seventh largest onshore oil or petroleum product spills” reported to the United States Department of Transportation since 2010, according to Aberdeen American News. Related: Keystone 1 oil pipeline leaks 210,000 gallons days ahead of Keystone XL permit decision TransCanada started utilizing the pipeline again 12 days following the leak. Tysver told American News, “The remediation work on the property has been completed. We have replaced the last of the topsoil and have seeded the impacted area.” The Amherst incident cost the company around $9.57 million, according to the news publication, citing an updated pipeline safety administration report. TransCanada said on their website they sampled groundwater at 12 monitoring wells and there “was no impact to groundwater.” The Keystone Pipeline connects oil fields in Alberta, Canada to refineries in the United States; Reuters described it as a 590,000 barrel-per-day pipeline. Aberdeen American News said according to a preliminary report, the pipe may have been damaged in 2008, during construction. Reuters said they had reviewed documents revealing Keystone has leaked far more oil, and more frequently, “than the company indicated to regulators in risk assessments” before operations started in 2010. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration , part of the Department of Transportation, could release the final report on the leak in the upcoming few weeks. Via Aberdeen News and Reuters Images via TransCanada

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The Keystone Pipeline leak was nearly twice as big as we thought

BP revisits clean energy commitment with $200 million solar investment

December 18, 2017 by  
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Oil giant BP has invested $200 million to acquire partial ownership of a solar power developer. BP’s investment in British-based Lightsource is a return to form for a company that once prided itself on progressive commitments to clean energy. Prior to the devastating 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill , the company had invested billions in renewable energy, spoke openly and frequently about the dangers of climate change, and even went so far as to rebrand as “Beyond Petroleum.” After a lull in clean energy action, BP is once again responding to pressure from investors and governments, particularly in Europe, to make the switch from fossil fuels. BP and other oil giants are expanding their renewable energy portfolios not simply because it is good publicity and politics, but also because it is profitable. “The European majors feel under pressure to diversify, to get exposure to different technologies so they are not left out,” said Valentina Kretzschmar, an analyst at energy consultants Wood Mackenzie, according to the New York Times . “It is what a lot of their peer group is doing.” Wood Mackenzie estimates that capital investments in renewable energy offer returns between seven and 10 percent. Related: BP and Shell prepare for catastrophic climate change Under political and financial pressure in the wake of the 2010 oil spill, for which BP has paid $64 billion in damages and fines, BP has primarily focused on reinforcing its oil and gas operations in recent years. Despite returning to its earlier focus on renewable energy, it has learned from its mistakes. Previously, the company had invested in solar panel production, which has since been overpowered by countries like China . Its move to acquire partial ownership of Lightsource demonstrates BP’s embrace of a different kind of company, one that focuses on the installation and operation of solar systems rather than their production. “They need a renewable business to develop over time as part of energy transiting, but were lacking the ability to make solar profitable,” said Oswald Clint, an analyst at Bernstein Research, according to the New York Times . “Lightsource might be the solution.” Via The New York Times Images via Depositphotos (1)

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BP revisits clean energy commitment with $200 million solar investment

BP oil platform in the North Sea leaks and there are no plans to clean it up

October 4, 2016 by  
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There’s more odious news from BP  this week: oil has leaked in the North Sea . About 95 metric tons, or almost 105 US tons, of oil leaked from BP’s Clair platform ” west of the Shetland Islands .” BP plans to allow the oil to “disperse naturally,” but The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Scotland is concerned about the environmental damage the unchecked spill could cause. On Sunday around 10 AM, “oil in water” leaked from the Clair platform into the sea after a “technical issue” with a system that separates “mixed production fluids” of oil, water, and gas, according to BP. They say they halted the leak “within an hour once the issue had been identified” and took the field offline. Related: BP gives top executives a 20% salary hike despite 7,000 recent layoffs Oil Spill Response Limited ; the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy ; and BP “oil spill and environmental experts” worked together to determine the best way to handle the leak, according to the company. In a statement, BP said, “At present, it is considered that the most appropriate response is to allow the oil to disperse naturally at sea, but contingencies for other action are being prepared.” Meanwhile, a RSPB Scotland spokesperson told The Guardian many “sensitive seabird species” could be at risk as they disperse from breeding colonies in Norway and the Shetland Islands out to the Atlantic Ocean. The spokesperson said, “We need to know from BP and the maritime agencies exactly what type of oil has been spilled, if it is breaking up in the water column, and what the statutory conservation agencies are advising. It is critical that there is a full and open report of what has happened, with assurances that the situation will be monitored, and details of seabird concentrations in the vicinity revealed as soon as possible.” BP said in their statement that through surveillance flights and “oil spill modeling,” they think the oil is moving north away from the land, and a recent flight revealed oil is already dispersing. Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons and BP Facebook

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BP oil platform in the North Sea leaks and there are no plans to clean it up

700 barrels of crude oil spill in California as pipeline breaks

June 23, 2016 by  
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An oil pipeline just began to leak in Ventura, California . Early Thursday morning, firefighters rushed to the scene to try and prevent the crude oil from spilling into the ocean . Ventura County Fire Department spokesperson Mike Lindbery originally said the leak could involve as much as 5,000 barrels of crude oil . Crimson Pipeline owns the leaking pipeline. On their website they say they ” safely ” own around 1,000 miles of pipeline throughout California, in Ventura, Orange, Kern County, Los Angeles, and some areas in Northern California. The oil in question belongs to Aera Energy , one of the largest producers of oil and gas in California, who on their website say they “take pride in our excellent safety and environmental performance.” Related: Why didn’t the California pipeline that spilled 101,000 gallons of oil have an auto shut-off valve? NBC Los Angeles reports that the pipe ” burst ” around 5:30 AM local time. Both the Ventura County and Ventury City fire departments initiated investigations . A hazmat team was also dispatched to the scene. Crews saw crude oil spilling ” into the Prince Barranca ,” a water flow that leads to a beach. Firefighters are now working to try and make sure the oil doesn’t reach the ocean. Crews are utilizing bulldozers to build barriers, but also hope a natural basin will help catch the oil as well. Crimson Pipeline shut the pump off, but while the pipe is depressurized, oil continues to flow because of gravity. According to officials, they notified the California departments of environmental health and fish and game about the leak. California has battled oil spills and even an Exxon Mobil oil refinery explosion in the past. Over 100,000 gallons of oil spilled into the ocean near Santa Barbara, California due to a pipeline crack just over a year ago. Via the Los Angeles Times Images via J Brew on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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700 barrels of crude oil spill in California as pipeline breaks

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