Archive for the 'oceans' Category

States move to limit EPA’s clean water authority

Photo retrieved from: www.msnbc.com

“Florida, Texas and Alaska are nowhere near the Chesapeake Bay. But that hasn’t stopped those states from trying to intervene in the EPA’s cleanup of the mid-Atlantic estuary.

Earlier this month, the attorneys general from those states and 18 others filed an amicus brief [PDF] on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation, which is suing to limit the extent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort. The Farm Bureau argues that the EPA exceeded its authority in regulating the amount of pollutants flowing into the bay, which the federal agency says is severely contaminated.

At question is how far the EPA can go in setting limits to ”the maximum amount of pollution a body of water can receive and still meet state water quality standards.” According to the Farm Bureau, the EPA exceeded its legal authority by trying to determine how much individual polluters would have to cut back, instead of just setting an overall so-called “Total Maximum Daily Load” and allowing the states to determine how it would be parceled out.

“These are uniquely local decisions that should be made by local governments,” said Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman in a statement. “That is why this power is specifically withheld from EPA in the Clean Water Act.”

The amicus brief, which was signed by 18 Republican attorneys general and three Democrats, seconds this line of argument. Although all but one of the 21 signatories hail from states which do not border the Chesapeake Bay, they say that the case has national implications. A legal regime which gives the EPA the power to closely regulate pollution in the bay could give it equivalent power in contaminated bodies of water across the United States.”

Read more: MSNBC

 

Fukushima Wash-Up Fears in U.S. Belie Radiation Risks: Energy

Photo retrieved from: www.bloomberg.com

“Seaborne radiation from Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant will wash up on the West Coast of the U.S. this year.

That’s raising concerns among some Americans including the residents of the San Francisco Bay Area city of Fairfax, which passed a resolution on Dec. 6 calling for more testing of coastal seafood.

At the same time, oceanographers and radiological scientists say such concerns are unwarranted given existing levels of radiation in the ocean.

The runoff from the Japanese plant will mingle with radiation released by other atomic stations, such as Diablo Canyon in California. Under normal operations, Diablo Canyon discharges more radiation into the sea, albeit of a less dangerous isotope, than the Fukushima station, which suffered the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.”

Read more: Bloomberg

 

Nile Delta Disappearing Beneath the Sea

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“It only takes a light covering of seawater to render land infertile, so Mohamed Saeed keeps a close watch on the sea as it advances year after year towards his two-hectare plot of land. The young farmer, whose clover field lies just 400 metres from Egypt’s northern coast, reckons he has less than a decade before his field – and livelihood – submerges beneath the sea.

But even before that, his crops will wither and die as seawater infiltrates the local aquifer. The process has already begun, he says, clutching a handful of white-caked soil.

“The land has become sick,” says Saeed. “The soil is saline, the irrigation water is saline, and we have to use a lot of fertilisers to grow anything on it.”

Spread over 25,000 kilometres, the densely populated Nile Delta is the breadbasket of Egypt, accounting for two-thirds of the country’s agricultural production and home to 40 million people. Its northern flank, running 240 kilometres from Alexandria to Port Said, is one of the most vulnerable coastlines in the world, facing the triple threat of coastal erosion, saltwater infiltration, and rising sea levels.

According to Khaled Ouda, a geologist at Assiut University, a 30 centimetres rise in sea level would inundate 6,000 square kilometres of the Nile Delta. The flooding would create islands out of an additional 2,000 square kilometres of elevated land, isolating towns, roads, fields, and industrial facilities.”

Read more: IPS News

 

Fukushima Ghost Towns Struggle to Recover Amid High Radiation Levels

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“Namie is nobody’s town now. Nobody lives here, and nobody visits for long. Even the looters have stopped bothering, and no one knows exactly when the inhabitants may be allowed to return permanently – or whether they will want to.

The 2011 catastrophe faded from world headlines long ago, but in Namie, Tomioka, Okuma, Futaba and other blighted towns in the 20-mile evacuation zone around the Fukushima plant,  it is a disaster that never ends.

At the plant itself, recent leaks of contaminated water into the sea and a fraught operation to remove fuel rods from one of the damaged reactors have shown how critical the situation still is – and will remain during a decommissioning process that could take up to 40 years.

For Fukushima’s displaced population, the effects of the disaster continue to be deeply felt. The evacuation area was subdivided earlier this year into three zones of higher or lower radiation risk. In the worst affected zone, return will not be allowed before 2017 at the earliest.

In other areas, families and businesses face difficult decisions about whether or not to go back. At present,  no one is even allowed to stay overnight. Locals say that whatever happens, many younger people will not return.”

Read more: AlterNet

 

Jordan, the PA and Israel trade water from the Red and Sea of Galilee

Some good news out of the Middle East region for a change: It was announced at the Israel Business Forum that Israel has signed an historic water-sharing agreement with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. But not all parties are happy with political manoeuvrings around the announcement.

The new project will include a new desalination plant in Aqaba, Jordan, at the northern tip of the Red Sea in order to provide Jordan and Israel with a new source of drinking water. As per the agreement, Israel would release some of its water from Lake Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee), further north, to flow to Jordan, and at the same time provide desalinated water to the Palestinians to use in the West Bank.

In a later phase of the project a 180km pipeline system might transport brine produced in the desalination plant form the Red Sea north to the Dead Sea, but officials on the ground say they don’t have information that it would be part of Monday’s agreement.

Read More: Green Prophet

 

Fukushima Water Radiation Doubles Overnight

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“Water radiation levels at Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant more than doubled in the span of one night to levels 14,000 times the maximum level for safe drinking water, owner TEPCO admitted Thursday, setting new records for drainage ditch contamination as toxic spills and heavy rains continue to ravage the crippled facility.

Water samples taken on Wednesday from a drainage ditch near tanks storing contaminated water found beta radiation levels of 140,000 becquerels per liter. This is more than double the 59,000 becquerels measurement taken Tuesday at the exact same location, TEPCO announced in an email statement reported by Bloomberg.

The spike in radiation appears to be widespread. Water samples from another ditch measured at 15,000 becquerels, as compared to 2,200 becquerels in an Oct. 1 sample from the same location.”

Read more: Common Dreams

 

Disaster Spiraling Out of Control at Fukushima as Japan’s Prime Minister Asks for Global Help

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“Japan’s pro-nuclear Prime Minister has finally asked for global help at Fukushima. It probably hasn’t hurt that more than 100,000 people have  signed petitions calling for a global takeover; more than 8,000 have viewed a  new YouTube on it.

Massive quantities of heavily contaminated water are pouring into the Pacific Ocean, dousing workers along the way. Hundreds of huge, flimsy tanks are leaking untold tons of highly radioactive fluids.

At Unit #4, more than 1300 fuel rods, with more than 400 tons of extremely radioactive material, containing potential cesium fallout comparable to 14,000 Hiroshima bombs,  are stranded 100 feet in the air.

All this more than 30 months after the earthquake/tsunami led to three melt-downs and at least four explosions.

“Our country needs your knowledge and expertise” he has said to the world community.  “We are wide open to receive the most advanced knowledge from overseas to contain the problem.”

But is he serious?

“I am aware of three US companies with state of the art technology that have been to Japan repeatedly and have been rebuffed by the Japanese government,” says Arnie Gundersen, a Vermont-based nuclear engineer focused on Fukushima.”

Read more: Alternet

 

Fukushima radiation readings spike to highest levels

Radiation readings around tanks holding contaminated water at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have spiked by more than a fifth to their highest levels, Japan’s nuclear regulator said Wednesday, heightening concerns about the cleanup of the worst atomic disaster in almost three decades.

Radiation hot spots have spread to three holding areas for hundreds of hastily built tanks storing water contaminated by being flushed over three reactors that melted down at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011.

The rising radiation levels and leaks at the plant further inflamed international alarm, one day after the Japanese government said that it would step in with almost $500 million of funding to fix the growing levels of contaminated water at the plant.

Readings just above the ground near a set of tanks at the plant showed radiation as high as 2,200 millisieverts (mSv), Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said Wednesday. The previous high in areas holding the tanks was the 1,800 mSv recorded Saturday.

READ MORE: Al Jazeera

Climate study predicts a watery future for New York, Boston and Miami

Photo retrieved from: www.theguardian.com

“More than 1,700 American cities and towns – including BostonNew York, and Miami – are at greater risk from rising sea levels than previously feared, a new study has found.

By 2100, the future of at least part of these 1,700 locations will be “locked in” by greenhouse gas emissions built up in the atmosphere, the analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday found.

“The survey does not specify a date by which these cities, or parts of them, would actually fall under water. Instead, it specifies a “locked-in” date, by which time a future under water would be certain – a point of no return.

Because of the inertia built into the climate system, even if all carbon emissions stopped immediately, it would take some time for the related global temperature rises to ease off. That means the fate of some cities is already sealed, the study says.”

“Even if we could just stop global emissions tomorrow on a dime, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Gardens, Hoboken, New Jersey will be under sea level,” said Benjamin Strauss, a researcher at Climate Central, and author of the paper. Dramatic cuts in emissions – much greater than Barack Obama and other world leaders have so far agreed – could save nearly 1,000 of those towns, by averting the sea-level rise, the study found.”

Read more: The Guardian

 

Japan nuclear body says radioactive water at Fukushima an “emergency”

Photo retrieved from: www.americanlivewire.com

“TOKYO, Aug 5 (Reuters) – Highly radioactive water seeping into the ocean from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is creating an “emergency” that the operator is struggling to contain, an official from the country’s nuclear watchdog said on Monday.

This contaminated groundwater has breached an underground barrier, is rising toward the surface and is exceeding legal limits of radioactive discharge, Shinji Kinjo, head of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) task force, told Reuters.

Countermeasures planned by Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) are only a temporary solution, he said.

Tepco’s “sense of crisis is weak,” Kinjo said. “This is why you can’t just leave it up to Tepco alone” to grapple with the ongoing disaster.

“Right now, we have an emergency,” he said.

Tepco has been widely castigated for its failure to prepare for the massive 2011 tsunami and earthquake that devastated its Fukushima plant and lambasted for its inept response to the reactor meltdowns. It has also been accused of covering up shortcomings.”

Read more: Reuters