Showing posts from March, 2017

Fukushima Still Spewing Radiation 6 Years Later

The nuclear power reactor on the east coast of Japan dubbed Fukushima Daiichi has been out of commission for six years. The reactor complex was part of the damage done by a combination of strong earthquake and destructive tsunami that slammed into the beachfront installation.
Radiation is still escaping. In February, a probe was sent into one of the wrecked reactor containers. It recorded a reading of 530 Sieverts. This is more than seven times the previous high level taken in 2012 of 73 Sieverts. An exposure to one Sievert is enough to make a person sick and 5 Sieverts is enough to kill.
A spokesperson for the clean up operation mused that the high reading might be due to a difference in the sampling technique. The person did offer that the probe observed a hole in the metal grating below the containment vessel and opined that the melted nuclear fuel may have run through it. Dark lumps observed by the probe might be remains of nuclear fuel rods.
The clean up of the destroyed electri…

US Congress and Senate Pass Bill to Allow Animal Snuff Films

Soon you might be allowed to kill them in their sleep. Opinion:
It is not too strong an allegation to make. In a vote of 225 to 198 Congress voted in H J Resolution 69 which has been described as “The stuff of wildlife snuff films.”Both sides of the house voted for the bill and both sides against.
If US President Trump signs the bill it will be legal to hunt predators in the Alaska Federal Game Refuges. To use the term ‘hunt’ loosely, it will allow humans to dig wolf puppies out of their den to kill them. It will allow hunters to extirpate whole packs from large areas.
But wait, there’s more. Hibernating bears will be fair game for the ruthless. Female bears denned up with cubs will be a two for one as no cubs can survive without their mother’s care. To ensure an adequate amount of suffering and maiming, the bill also would allow bear traps and snares to be placed in the refuge areas. Both black and grizzlies would be targets. If the bears are reluctant to step into the leghold traps, t…

N. Dakota Oil Spill Dumps Half Million Gallons

Estimates of this spill have now been adjusted to 530 000 gallons. North Dakota has suffered a large oil spill from a ruptured pipeline. Over half a million gallons have seeped out of the soil and into Ash Coulee Creek. The creek is a tributary to the Little Missouri River which in turn flows into the Missouri River.
The company that owns the pipeline has revised its figures on the December spill upward from  176 000 gallons to 530 000 gallons. They have embarked on a clean up exercise by skimming oil floating on the waterway and have assured the public that they will clean it up. It may take a year.
The pipeline company did not elaborate on how they plan to recapture the oil that has already floated down river.
This is not the largest oil spill in N. Dakota. In 2013 a ruptured pipeline released about 840 000 gallons.
The revelation comes hard on the heels of US President D. Trump’s signing an executive order to restart construction of the Keystone XL pipeline which would bring Alber…

Atmospheric Ammonia on the Increase

Air is a shared. Eventually pollutants travel and disperse affecting air quality far from their generation. Scientists at the University of Maryland have developed a way to measure atmospheric ammonia using data generated by NASA satellites. The scientists point out a troubling increase in atmospheric ammonia over the past four years.
The areas showing the greatest increases were the USA, Europe, India and China.
Much of the increase is blamed on agricultural practices which use large amounts of fertilizer, those which generate large amounts of animal waste and climate warming that increases soil temperatures. In the USA some of the increase may be attributed to the vigorous efforts to control acid rain. As the acid rain has come under control, atmospheric ammonia may increase.
Why should we care about ammonia in the air? Because too much can cause a lot of harm. One of the authors of the study, Russell Dickerson, was quoted in the NASA news release – “It has a profound effect on air an…

Future may see the end to ‘gas flaring’ of methane

Gas flaring wastes gas and adds to atmospheric warming The current practise of flaring off methane that is routine in many gas and oil operations may soon be a thing of the past. Researchers associated with the University of Washington, Pullman, have developed a new technique which makes it far less expensive to convert the methane so that it can be used more easily.
Researchers Jean-Sabin McEwen and Su Ha have tweaked the catalytic reaction to make the conversion more economical.
“Right now, we just waste all those gases,” said Ha. “If we can efficiently and effectively convert methane from shale or gas fields to electric power or useful products, that would be very positive.”
A large percentage of the US methane is currently flared off. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and contributes a large percentage of the world’s atmospheric greenhouse gases. One molecule of the gas contributes over 30 times the warming effect of one molecule of carbon dioxide.
Methane is a useful gas, making up…