Trump administration wants to end uranium mining ban near the Grand Canyon

November 3, 2017 by  
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The Grand Canyon is one of America’s most beloved national parks , attracting over four million visitors annually — but President Donald Trump’s administration doesn’t seem to care about that. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently proposed lifting a ban on new uranium mining near the national park, as part of a broader effort, according to Reuters, to do away with regulations hindering development after a March executive order from the president. The Forest Service , which is under the USDA and manages the land that could be re-opened to uranium mining , prepared a report in response to Trump’s Executive Order 13783 titled “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.” They proposed lifting the mining ban, put in place in 2012 to protect the watershed around the Grand Canyon. Related: Big Oil celebrates Trump’s goal to open up drilling in national parks Uranium mining pollutes water, and impacts animals and plants as it removes water sources, according to Earthjustice . The Center for Biological Diversity reports past uranium mining in the Grand Canyon area “has polluted soils, washes, aquifers, and drinking water.” They said that according to nonpartisan polls, 80 percent of Americans and 80 percent of Arizona voters back permanent protection in the Grand Canyon region from new uranium mining. According to Reuters, global demand and prices for uranium are weak. The new report even says uranium mining doesn’t generate revenue for America, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Havasupai Tribal Chairman Don Watahomigie said in a statement, “This is a dangerous industry that is motivated by profit and greed with a long history of significantly damaging lands and waters. They are now seeking new mines when this industry has yet to clean up the hundreds of existing mines all over the landscape that continue to damage our home. We should learn from the past, not ignore it.” Via Reuters , the Associated Press , Earthjustice , and the Center for Biological Diversity Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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Trump administration wants to end uranium mining ban near the Grand Canyon

Uranium extracted from the oceans could power cities for thousands of years

July 5, 2016 by  
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Over four billion tons of uranium present in the ocean could help provide energy for ” the next 10,000 years ,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The element could be used to fuel nuclear power plants , except extraction poses significant challenges. The DoE funded a project involving scientists from laboratories and universities across the United States, and over the last five years they have made strides towards successfully extracting ocean uranium using special adsorbent fibers. People have attempted to mine ocean uranium for around 50 years. Japanese scientists in the 1990s came close with the development of adsorbent materials, or materials that can hold molecules on their surface. Building on their ideas, U.S. scientists worked on an adsorbent material that reduces uranium extraction costs ” by three to four times .” Related: Scientists develop new way to generate electricity via seawater The adsorbent material is made of ” braided polyethylene fibers ” that have a coating of the chemical amidoxime. The amidoxime attracts uranium dioxide, which sticks to the fibers. Scientists then use an acidic treatment to obtain the uranium, which is collected as uranyl ions. The uranyl ions must then be processed before they can be turned into fuel for nuclear power plants. Chemists, marine scientists, chemical engineers, computation scientists, and economists all worked on the project, and the journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research published several studies in an April special issue . The journal also presented research from Chinese and Japanese scientists. Phillip Britt, Division Director of Chemical Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said, “For nuclear power to remain a sustainable energy source, an economically viable and secure source of nuclear fuel must be available. This special journal issue captures the dramatic successes that have been made by researchers across the world to make the oceans live up to their vast promise for a secure energy future.” What’s next? While the new adsorbent material does reduce costs, the process to gather ocean uranium is still costly. Nor is it efficient yet, but if perfected it could offer an important alternative fuel source. Via Scientific American Images via Krisztina Konczos on Flickr and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

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Uranium extracted from the oceans could power cities for thousands of years

19th century green-roofed Icelandic church is straight out of a fairy tale

July 5, 2016 by  
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Although sod-topped structures may seem like fairy tale buildings straight out of The Hobbit, the architectural practice of building grass-roofed homes actually goes back for centuries – especially in areas with harsh winter weather. Finding these original structures is near impossible, however, visitors to Southwest Iceland can still visit the fascinating green-roofed Hofskirkja church, built in 1884.

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19th century green-roofed Icelandic church is straight out of a fairy tale

New Research Shows that Graphene Oxide Can Easily Clean Toxins from Radioactive Water

January 14, 2013 by  
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Photo via Shutterstock When it comes to cleaning up radioactive materials after a spill, scientists need to get pretty creative. From robots to bacteria , anything that will remove dangerous radiation from the environment is a step in the right direction. Researchers from Rice University and Lomonosov Moscow State University recently discovered a new tool to help with hazardous material removal: It turns out that graphene oxide is able to clump toxins together, making it easy for them to be separated from water. The resulting compound can then later be melted down into a slag and sequestered. Read the rest of New Research Shows that Graphene Oxide Can Easily Clean Toxins from Radioactive Water Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bacteria , calcium , flakes , fracking , fukushima daiichi , graphene oxide , groundwater remediation , isotopes , lomonosov moscow state university , physical chemistry chemical physics , plutonium , radioactive material , radionuclides , rice university , robots , sodium , the royal society of chemistry , toxins , uranium , water issues

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Arizona Uranium Feared to Be Contaminating U.S. Beef Supply

April 5, 2012 by  
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Two years ago, a Navajo cattle rancher found an old uranium mine on his grazing land in Arizona. Even after the rancher  notified federal officials , who discovered that levels of radioactivity were still high, the mine near the town of Cameron is still not closed off . Meanwhile cattle still roam through the area, eat grass that is possibly tainted by uranium and in turn is auctioned off with the result that the meat is in the U.S. food supply. Read the rest of Arizona Uranium Feared to Be Contaminating U.S. Beef Supply Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Arizona , beef , beef industry , Cameron , cattle , epa , Forgotten People , government regulations , Larry Gordy , radioactivity , uranium , usda

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Cleaning Uranium Contamination with Bacteria

September 16, 2011 by  
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Bacteria may be a key in containing radioactive contamination and other environmental pollutants. A naturally occurring bacteria found in soil called Geobacter has been known to be useful in contaminated soil cleanup, but the process by which it prevents the spread of pollutants has not been known until the work of Gemma Reguera and her team of researchers at Michigan State University identified how the the bacteria concentrates contaminants. The bacteria have nanowire structures called pili, which are like fine hair on the exterior of the bacterial cells. In a toxic waste site contaminated with uranium, these nanowires essentially become electroplated by the uranium. This process contains it and renders it insoluble, so that it cannot be dissolved and taken up by groundwater. “This tiny microorganism can play a major role in cleaning up polluted sites around the world,” Reguera says. “Uranium contamination can occur at any step in the cycle of production of nuclear fuel – from mining, processing and enrichment to accidental spills from the nuclear plant. Contamination can spread fast and stay in the environment for many, many years. However, you can stimulate the natural Geobacter community of the soil and groundwater, or feed the improved strains in the environment. The bacteria will oxidize and precipitate the uranium.” The pili also serve to protect the bacteria from the uranium, which is toxic, by keeping it outside the cell. The researchers are now working to develop strains of Geobacter with increased pili production to make it more effective for this type of remediation work. via: MSU News

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Cleaning Uranium Contamination with Bacteria

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