Environmental Issues

rynner2

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#1
Not sure where to stick this one. It's not Global warming, it's not news, etc, so I'll run it up this brand new flagpole and see if anyone salutes:
Scruffy is the new green

VIEWPOINT
Richard Black


Caring for the environment should mean not caring how you look, our environment correspondent Richard Black argues in The Green Room.

Once upon a time it was easy to spot an environmentalist.

He or she would be the messy shambles of a figure loping along the street, rainbow beanie-hat on head and battered parka held together by peace badges.

Alternatively you could use your nose for identification - washing facilities are necessarily limited in anti-nuclear camps and treetop sit-ins.

How things have changed.

When I go to meetings now on issues like renewable energy, climate change or water resources, not a beanie can be seen.

Men in grey suits and clean shoes sit in serried ranks of serious intent, just the occasional overly green tie or orange sock betraying that this is not a city bankers' clan gathering or old school reunion.

Women - too few - sit in equally serious islands of red, green and peach.

All have gone through that process, mysterious to the true eco-warrior, known as "grooming".

Chairing a TV discussion recently, I saw something I had never expected - the environmentalist wearing a tie, the pro-business libertarian an open-necked shirt.

What is the world coming to?

Same stripes

To some, this smartening is a sign that environmentalism has grown up. The modern green spirit wants to influence politicians and businessmen, to look good in a TV soundbite or on a conference platform.

To do so, they believe they must adopt the same language and the same uniform.

But there is a major downside; and typically it is displayed outside the conference venue, as smart-suited delegate after smart-suited delegate arrives and leaves by taxi.

The reason? Our peacock-brained obsession with looking smart.

Government ministers must have every hair cemented in place, green businessmen must keep their pinstripes parallel, eco-worriers have to remain fragrant under planetary-scale stress.

Which makes the greenest form of urban transport, the bicycle, unthinkable.

So you have 200 people gathering to talk about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and virtually all using a highly-polluting form of personal transport.

Progress? I don't think so.

Taking it by the scruff

Now I am far from being an eco-saint; and as a BBC journalist I am obliged to remain neutral on issues such as the science of climate change, and let the evidence speak for itself.

But I am doing my piffling bit for the natural world; I have released my inner scruff.

When I go to meetings and conferences now, all else being equal, I will cycle, as I usually do on other urban journeys.

I will find a seat among the smart serried ranks and let the sweat evaporate. I might bring a clean T-shirt along; then again I might not.

The secret is simply not to care.

Quite frankly, if they want to find ways of reducing energy consumption, curbing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling urban pollution, they can put up with the sweaty armpits on my T-shirt.

After all, in most parts of the world, most people have to manage without looking smart; they can't afford it.

My great-grandparents had one bath a week and two sets of clothes, one for work and one for Sundays.

Their carbon footprints were a lot smaller than mine.

Suited to purpose

There are many wonderful aspects of progress, and I would not argue for throwing off many of them.

Consumption of proper amounts of food is undoubtedly a good thing; consumption of medicines when you are ill, of books, of CDs, of wooden furniture (sustainably sourced, of course) - fantastic, bring it on.

But fashion we can do without; it is a luxury we do not need, a bauble that blinds, an environmental dead end.

It is fashion which leads a friend of mine to "need" 14 watches so she always has one that matches; fashion which leads a relative to possess more than 40 pairs of shoes.

Let's not even talk about the resource implications.

At the Oscars last week, I learn from elsewhere on this website, "Ziyi Zhang dazzled in a black bustier with a full skirt covered in Swarovski crystals by Giorgio Armani while Jessica Alba sparkled in a gold Versace halterneck".

Now, Ziyi Zhang and Jessica Alba would look gorgeous in my dad's pyjamas - and he hasn't had a new pair since 1979.

I am sure the same goes for George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio.

But you, environment minister, and you, green business person, are never going to look like Ziyi Zhang or George Clooney, however many Armani bustiers (whatever they might be) you wear.

And you know what? You don't have to. Your business is not to look good; your business is to do good.

And for you gold-cluttered youth, you sultanas of bling with your four-wheel drives and well-groomed doglets; a global conscience is not a fashion statement, ok?

So don't bother about how you look. Forget convention, it is there to be overthrown; release your inner scruff, jump out of your taxi and onto your bike.

Scruffy really is the new green. Darling.


[email protected].

The Green Room is a weekly series of opinion articles on environmental issues on the BBC News website

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4791478.stm
 

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Don't smell that sea air: British holidaymakers warned as rotting seaweed gives off lethal fumes
By Peter Allen
Last updated at 10:50 AM on 07th August 2009

Holidaymakers are being warned to avoid beaches in northern France covered in potentially lethal rotting seaweed.
It has washed up in massive quantities in Brittany, where thousands from the UK are currently on their summer break.
As the algae rots it releases a noxious gas that can have the same effect as cyanide.

Environmentalists have warned that the seaweed could soon spread to the UK coast.
The authorities have closed St-Michel-en-Greve beach in Brittany - visited by 800,000 Britons a year - after a rider passed out and his horse died after inhaling toxic gas released by algae 3ft deep.

Pierre Philippe, of the hospital in Lannion, Brittany, said hydrogen sulphide was 'as dangerous as cyanide'.

He said he had treated several cases of poisoning caused by the gas, including a council worker paid to clear beaches of algae who was taken to hospital in a coma.

Known locally as sea lettuce, the seaweed is thriving on the nitrates washed into the water supply from agricultural fertiliser and farm animal waste.

As the seaweed decomposes, it forms a crust under which hydrogen sulphide accumulates. When the crust breaks, the gas escapes.
Marine biologist Alain Menesguen said: 'This is a very toxic gas, which smells like rotten eggs. It attacks the respiratory system and can kill a man or an animal in minutes.
'It is likely to be a feature of any area where intensive farming methods are employed.'
This includes Britain, where such farming techniques are common.

Environmentalist Jean-Frangois Piquot said the toxic algae was definitely spreading further afield. He said: 'There are about five beaches that are unusable in Brittany. The problem is getting worse.

'There is no doubt that farming is to blame. Brittany has 5 per cent of French agricultural land but 60 per cent of the pigs, 45 per cent of the poultry and 30 per cent of the dairy farms.
'As our rivers are not long, the pollution does not have time to clear before the water reaches the sea. It enters a closed bay and the sunlight produces the seaweed.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldne ... z0NUsyqaT1
 

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Seaweed suspected in French death

French investigators are examining whether a lorry driver has become the first victim of a toxic seaweed that is clogging parts of the Brittany coast.

The driver died in July after carrying three truckloads of sea lettuce away from the beaches where it has been decaying, releasing poisonous gas.

His death was originally recorded as a heart attack but prosecutors want to know if it was linked to the seaweed.

France's PM warned of the health risk while visiting the beaches last month.

Francois Fillon announced that the government would pay for cleaning up the beaches polluted by the sea lettuce, ulva lactuca.

Locals had raised the alarm after a horse, being ridden over the sands, collapsed and died. Its rider fell unconscious and had to be dragged off the algae-coated beach.

By then, the lorry driver had already died.

The 48-year-old driver had been working without a mask or gloves and died at the wheel of his vehicle when it crashed into a wall, reports Tim Finan in Brittany for the BBC.

The man had been part of the annual operation to remove 2,000 tonnes of rotting sea lettuce from the beaches at Binic.

His family have so far refused to allow an autopsy to establish the exact cause of his death, but on Monday the local prosecutor ordered a preliminary investigation.

Christian Urvoy, the mayor of Binic, said: "'We want to know if in future we should take precautions to safeguard workers who collect or transport seaweed."

A spokesman for the local authorities has strongly denied they were aware of the death when Mr Fillon visited St-Michel-en-Greve in August.

Researchers from France's National Institute for Environmental Technology and Hazards (Ineris) have visited the same beach and found hydrogen sulphide in such concentration that it could be "deadly in few minutes".

Sea lettuce is harmless in the sea, but as it decomposes on the beach it releases the deadly gas.

Environmentalists say decades of misuse of Brittany's agricultural land is to blame for the explosion of algae, due to the high levels of nitrates used in fertilisers and excreted by the region's high concentration of livestock.

They have called for tighter controls on farming.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8242649.stm
 

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Desert dust storm chokes Sydney

Australia's biggest city, Sydney, has been shrouded in red dust blown in by winds from the deserts of the outback.

Visibility is so bad that international flights have been diverted and harbour ferry traffic disrupted.

Emergency services reported a surge in calls from people suffering breathing problems. Children and the elderly have been told to stay indoors.

Sydney's landmarks, including the Opera House, have been obscured, and many residents are wearing masks.

Traffic has been bumper-to-bumper on major roads.

The dust blanketing eastern parts of New South Wales has been carried by powerful winds that snatched up tons of topsoil from the drought-ravaged west of the state.

One Sydney resident told the Associated Press news agency: "The colour was amazing... I'm 72 years old and I've never seen that in my life before."

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology warned of "widespread damaging winds" in Sydney and other areas, as gusts of 65km/h (40mph) hit the city.

Forecasters predicted the winds would weaken later on Wednesday.

The BBC's Phil Mercer in Sydney says it has been a difficult 24 hours for Australia, which has been hit by earthquakes, hail storms and bushfires.

In parts of New South Wales, huge hail stones whipped up by thunderstorms smashed windows and sent residents running for cover.

Further north in Queensland, officials banned open fires in many areas when bushfires sprang up after a spell of hot, dry weather.

Two minor earthquakes hit Victoria state on Tuesday, and heavy rains that followed led officials to issue a warning of flash floods.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-p ... 270104.stm

TBH, I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often in Oz. Even here in UK we sometimes get 'red rains', when dust gets blown here from the Sahara. This happens every few years (maybe every year?), certainly not at decades long intervals!
 

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Warning over River Trent cyanide

The deadly chemical cyanide and a quantity of raw sewage have leaked into a 30-mile stretch of the River Trent in Staffordshire.

Thousands of fish have died and people are being warned to stay away from the river while the incident is controlled.

The Environment Agency said pollution in the stretch between Stoke-on-Trent and Yoxall made it a health risk.

Farmers, anglers and boaters have been warned that water should not be taken out of the river "for any reason".

Alan Walters, from the Environment Agency, told BBC News the incident had had "a huge impact".

He said they were attempting to use hydrogen peroxide to offset the worst effects of the spillage.

Andrew Marsh, from Severn Trent Water, said a leak of cyanide, which had not been caused by the company, had knocked out a water treatment plant and this had led to a discharge of sewage.

The Environment Agency said the pollution was expected to reach Burton on Trent by late afternoon on Wednesday.

It is thought the risk to the public may then have been reduced but officers were continuing to monitor the situation.

A spokeswoman said an investigation had been launched into the cause but could not give further information for legal reasons.

The cyanide and untreated sewage were at levels to be "cause for concern, especially with regard to fish, wildlife and animals".

Thousands of fish have already died but it was important that farm animals and dogs were kept out of the water.

"We are tracking the pollution as it moves downstream," the spokeswoman added.

The RSPCA said it would be sending a team to the area at first light to assess the situation.

"We expect there will be quite a big clean-up operation involved. For those people with livestock we would remind them to get them away from the area as safely as possible," a spokeswoman said.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/staf ... 293898.stm
 

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Jordan to refill shrinking Dead Sea with salt water
Jordan is to refill the shrinking Dead Sea with salt water despite concerns from environmentalists about the threat to its unique eco-system.
By Richard Spencer in Amman
Published: 6:00AM BST 10 Oct 2009

Water levels in the lowest and saltiest body of water on the planet are falling by more than four feet a year, giving rise to quips that the Dead Sea is dying.

The government in Amman has said it is planning to extract more than 10 billion cubic feet a year from the Red Sea 110 miles to the south, feed most of it into a desalination plant to create drinking water, and send the salty waste-water left over to the Dead Sea by tunnel.

Similar plans are already the subject of a two-year feasibility study agreed by the Jordanians, Israelis and Palestinians in a rare example of cross-border Middle East co-operation.

But the Jordanians have decided they cannot wait any longer. "Jordan will start with the first phase with the help of donor countries and private investors," its minister for water, General Maysoun Zu'bi, said this week.

But environmentalists said the two years allotted to the feasibility study were already too short for a proper assessment of the risks posed to the Dead Sea's unique ecology.

Environmentalists are concerned that the mixing of two different types of salt-water might have serious ecological consequences, including a build-up of algae.

There are allied plans to build up the Dead Sea's roads and hotels for tourism. There are also fears that increased salinity in the Red Sea might damage fish and coral.

"We know the plan's attractive to the Jordanian government because it will bring so much money circulating in the economy," said Munqeth Mehyar, director of Friends of the Earth in the Jordanian capital, Amman. "But the price is too high."

The study for the so-called "Red-Dead Water Conveyance Project", funded by seven donor nations and commissioned by the World Bank, is examining the economic and environmental impact of building the world's biggest desalination plant, running on hydroelectric power.

As well as replenishing water levels in the Dead Sea it would fulfil Jordan's estimated need for drinking water for half a century and supplement supplies for the Israelis and Palestinians, who live on its other side.

The Sea, already the lowest point on earth's land-mass, has dropped by 98 feet in 20 years, and its surface area has shrunk by a third. A recent study showed that the rate of disappearance was increasing as more water was extracted from its feeder source, the River Jordan, by all three authorities for drinking, agriculture and industry.

The Jordanians claim that their own plan, at present more modest, does not contradict the larger proposals being studied.

They have called it the Jordan National Red Sea Water Development Project and say it can "benefit from" the feasibility study. It will start next year, at a cost of an estimated USD2 billion, compared with the USD11 billion cost of the full scheme.

But Gen Zu'bi admitted that it could be considered "the first phase of the Red-Dead project".

The decision to go ahead in advance of the study's findings are said to have upset the Palestinians, though General Zu'bi denied this.

Jean-Pierre Chabal, vice-president of Coyne et Bellier, the French firm carrying out the study, said it was "paradoxical" that it might conclude that the scheme was unworkable after the project had effectively already begun.

"They say they want to use the study but also to go faster than the study," he said. "It is not clear to us how this can be, and I don't think it is clear to the World Bank either."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthn ... water.html
 

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Spanish wetlands shrouded in smoke as overfarming dries out peat
National park which was once a 'paradise' now on fire and churning out tonnes of CO2
Giles Tremlett, Las Tablas de Daimiel, central Spain guardian.co.uk, Monday 19 October 2009 15.36 BST

They are meant to be Spain's most important inland wetlands, but yesterday the lagoons at Las Tablas de Daimiel national park were not just dry, they were burning. Stilted walkways stood on baked earth and rowing boats lay stranded on the ground. Observation huts revealed no birds, just an endless stretch of reeds rooted in cracked mud.

Only 1% of the park's surface remains wet, but the real catastrophe is happening underground. "If you see smoke it is because the dried-out peat under the ground has begun to self-combust," a park worker warned visitors. Occasionally, the fire breaks to the surface, sending up puffs of white smoke.

Scientists warn the wetlands are losing the lining that once retained water, with deep cracks opening up in the worst areas. Park authorities worry the damage may prove irreversible.

Park director Carlos Ruíz believes this is a life-or-death moment for one of Spain's 14 national parks. "We are at a point of no return," he said in a recent report. Spain's environment ministry, which runs the failing park, this week banned Ruiz from talking to the Guardian, but scientists who know the wetlands all agree on what is happening.

The aquifer which once fed the lagoons now lies 50ft below them. Farmers near the park have sunk thousands of wells, some 300ft deep, and have spent years pumping out more water than goes in. Furthermore, the Guadiana river, which used to flow into the Tablas de Daimiel, has disappeared.

"People have been warning that it was going to dry out for 20 years," said Luís Moreno of Spain's Geological and Mining Institute.

As the peat burns, an area that once trapped carbon dioxide has started releasing vast quantities of it. "We saw the first smoke in August but the fires must have been burning for a while," said Moreno. "It is a very difficult thing to control. It could burn for months."

Many worry the political will does not exist to save a park where the last few lagoons are still a refuge for egrets, coots and other waterfowl.

"Daimiel was once a paradise, with thousands and thousands of birds," said Santos Cirujano, of Spain's Higher Scientific Research Council. "If they want to save it, they can, but that requires a will to conserve it."

etc...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2 ... lands-burn
 

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UK’s new marine reserves are threatened by legal loophole
Frank Pope, Ocean Correspondent

Legislation to designate marine reserves around the coast of Britain is likely to contain a loophole that will allow fishermen to damage the fragile areas of seabed without fear of fines.

Conservationists are warning that the Marine & Coastal Access Bill, which has its final reading in the House of Commons on Monday, contains a clause that makes a mockery of calling the areas “protected”.

The poor state of the UK’s seas is largely attributed to the effects of commercial fishing. The new marine reserves, the aquatic equivalent of national parks, are intended to reverse the damage, but barring last-minute intervention, those caught harming protected areas will be able to escape punishment by simply stating that they were “sea fishing”.

Fishermen have defended the loophole, saying that it is necessary to protect them from being prosecuted for causing accidental damage under European environmental law.

The disagreement highlights the gulf that still exists between fishermen and conservationists. Bridging it is seen as being key to the success of the new reserves, which will be known as marine conservation zones. The idea of having such marine parks teeming with life, and off-limits to commercial exploitation, delights most of the public (in a recent poll carried out by the Co-op, 80 per cent of respondents, more than 500,000 customers, said that they were in favour) but the pleasure is not shared by the industries that rely on the sea.

Mention the words “marine reserve” in the headquarters of Plymouth Trawler Agents and the air turns cold. “We’re going to lose a vast amount of ground,” said Dave Pessell, a wiry ex-fishermen with 30 years’ experience. On top of rising fuel prices and quota restrictions, setting aside seabed for conservation reasons is seen as another slap in the face for the industry.

On the bridge of the trawler Wiron 2, moored nearby, the chill warms to anger. “There’s plenty of closed areas already. Nobody’s talking about those,” Andy Pillar, the manager of Interfish, a Plymouth-based fishing fleet, said. “Everyone likes to eat fish, but it seems no one values our fishing industry.”

Although the sea seems a borderless expanse, it is criss-crossed with the competing claims of shipping lines, aggregate dredgers, wind farm developers, oil and gasfields and a dozen types of fishing. Trying to get all sides to agree on which areas of the sea to set aside for conservation is like asking a crowd of farmers, housing developers and open-pit miners where in their area they would like to place a new national park.

etc...

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/e ... 889896.ece
 

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How 16 ships create as much pollution as all the cars in the world
By Fred Pearce
Last updated at 10:13 PM on 21st November 2009

Last week it was revealed that 54 oil tankers are anchored off the coast of Britain, refusing to unload their fuel until prices have risen.

But that is not the only scandal in the shipping world. Today award-winning science writer Fred Pearce – environmental consultant to New Scientist and author of Confessions Of An Eco Sinner – reveals that the super-ships that keep the West in everything from Christmas gifts to computers pump out killer chemicals linked to thousands of deaths because of the filthy fuel they use.

We've all noticed it. The filthy black smoke kicked out by funnels on cross-Channel ferries, cruise liners, container ships, oil tankers and even tugboats.

It looks foul, and leaves a brown haze across ports and shipping lanes. But what hasn’t been clear until now is that it is also a major killer, probably causing thousands of deaths in Britain alone.

As ships get bigger, the pollution is getting worse. The most staggering statistic of all is that just 16 of the world’s largest ships can produce as much lung-clogging sulphur pollution as all the world’s cars.

Because of their colossal engines, each as heavy as a small ship, these super-vessels use as much fuel as small power stations.

But, unlike power stations or cars, they can burn the cheapest, filthiest, high-sulphur fuel: the thick residues left behind in refineries after the lighter liquids have been taken. The stuff nobody on land is allowed to use.

Thanks to decisions taken in London by the body that polices world shipping, this pollution could kill as many as a million more people in the coming decade – even though a simple change in the rules could stop it.

There are now an estimated 100,000 ships on the seas, and the fleet is growing fast as goods are ferried in vast quantities from Asian industrial powerhouses to consumers in Europe and North America.

The recession has barely dented the trade. This Christmas, most of our presents will have come by super-ship from the Far East; ships such as the Emma Maersk and her seven sisters Evelyn, Eugen, Estelle, Ebba, Eleonora, Elly and Edith Maersk.

Each is a quarter of a mile long and can carry up to 14,000 full-size containers on their regular routes from China to Europe.
Waiting game: Tankers moored off Devon waiting for oil prices to rise even further
Emma – dubbed SS Santa by the media – brought Christmas presents to Europe in October and is now en route from Algeciras in Spain to Yantian in southern China, carrying containers full of our waste paper, plastic and electronics for recycling.

But it burns marine heavy fuel, or ‘bunker fuel’, which leaves behind a trail of potentially lethal chemicals: sulphur and smoke that have been linked to breathing problems, inflammation, cancer and heart disease.

James Corbett, of the University of Delaware, is an authority on ship emissions. He calculates a worldwide death toll of about 64,000 a year, of which 27,000 are in Europe. Britain is one of the worst-hit countries, with about 2,000 deaths from funnel fumes. Corbett predicts the global figure will rise to 87,000 deaths a year by 2012.

Part of the blame for this international scandal lies close to home.

In London, on the south bank of the Thames looking across at the Houses of Parliament, is the International Maritime Organisation, the UN body that polices the world’s shipping.

For decades, the IMO has rebuffed calls to clean up ship pollution. As a result, while it has long since been illegal to belch black, sulphur-laden smoke from power-station chimneys or lorry exhausts, shipping has kept its licence to pollute.

For 31 years, the IMO has operated a policy agreed by the 169 governments that make up the organisation which allows most ships to burn bunker fuel.

Christian Eyde Moller, boss of the DK shipping company in Rotterdam, recently described this as ‘just waste oil, basically what is left over after all the cleaner fuels have been extracted from crude oil. It’s tar, the same as asphalt. It’s the cheapest and dirtiest fuel in the world’.
Bunker fuel is also thick with sulphur. IMO rules allow ships to burn fuel containing up to 4.5 per cent sulphur. That is 4,500 times more than is allowed in car fuel in
the European Union. The sulphur comes out of ship funnels as tiny particles, and it is these that get deep into lungs.

Thanks to the IMO’s rules, the largest ships can each emit as much as 5,000 tons of sulphur in a year – the same as 50million typical cars, each emitting an average of 100 grams of sulphur a year.

With an estimated 800million cars driving around the planet, that means 16 super-ships can emit as much sulphur as the world fleet of cars.

A year ago, the IMO belatedly decided to clean up its act. It said shipping fuel should not contain more than 3.5 per cent sulphur by 2012 and eventually must come down to 0.5 per cent. This lower figure could halve the deaths, says Corbett.

It should not be hard to do. There is no reason ship engines cannot run on clean fuel, like cars. But, away from a handful of low-sulphur zones, including the English Channel and North Sea, the IMO gave shipping lines a staggering 12 years to make the switch. And, even then, it will depend on a final ‘feasibility review’ in 2018.

In the meantime, according to Corbett’s figures, nearly one million more people will die.

etc...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/ ... world.html

(The low sulphur zones have been good news for Falmouth. Ships have to call here to take on cleaner fuel before proceeding up-Channel.)
 

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#10
A giant leap for British salmon
Remarkable comeback in South Wales, where coal pollution turned rivers black
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
Thursday, 21 January 2010

The rivers of the South Wales coalfield once ran black with mining waste and were so polluted in places that no life could survive. But, in one of the most remarkable environmental turnarounds Britain has ever seen, a 20-year effort to clean them up has paid off – salmon have returned to all of them.

Watercourses such as the Ebbw, the Rhymney, the Taff and the Rhondda, whose names for many people are still redolent of a blighted landscape of pitheads and slag heaps, now have salmon running up them from the sea to spawn. :D

The revolution has been brought about by 20 years of work by the Environment Agency, local authorities and angling clubs, in the wake of the collapse of the South Wales mining industry at the end of the 1980s.

It is part of a significant improvement in water quality across England and Wales, continuing for nearly two decades, which has seen salmon coming back to once heavily polluted rivers such as the Thames, the Mersey and the Tyne.

But the return of the "king of fish" to the South Wales valleys, confirmed by the Environment Agency, is perhaps the most extraordinary ecological recovery of all.

For most of the 19th and 20th centuries, coal production dominated the region, reaching a peak on the eve of the First World War, when the industry supported 620 mines employing 232,000 men and producing 57 million tonnes of coal a year – a fifth of the entire output of Britain.

This meant that an enormous pollution load was dumped in the region's rivers, especially of coal dust, and it has been estimated that the River Taff alone received 100,000 tonnes of colliery waste in a single year, with equivalent loads dumped in neighbouring rivers and streams. :shock:

In many places the watercourses were devoid of all life, and there is a site on the River Taff called Black Weir, so named because that was the colour of the water carrying its coal-dust load. Yet by last year, the Taff was so clean that it hosted the Rivers International Flyfishing Championships, at Merthyr Tydfil.

etc...

http://www.independent.co.uk/environmen ... 74222.html

All that coal waste must have eventually settled on the sea bed, creating a distinct layer of sediment which may prove a puzzle to geologists in the far future... 8)
 

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#11
Twin threats to fragile undersea colonies of Britain
Squat lobsters, oreo fish and sea fans are among sealife at risk in ecosystems that may never be fully explored
Mark Henderson, Science Editor

Marine life hotspots off the British coast are facing a double threat — deep-sea trawling and acidification of the oceans — a leading scientist warned yesterday.

The rich biodiversity of seamounts (underwater mountains) and cold-water coral reefs, which science has only recently begun to understand, needs urgent protection, Jason Hall-Spencer, of the University of Plymouth, said.

Seamounts are volcanic mountains that rise at least a kilometre above the sea bed. Together with cold-water coral reefs, which often cover seamounts, they are among the most important marine habitats, where new species are regularly discovered.

There are about 50,000 seamounts worldwide but only about 1 per cent have been explored. The ones in British waters include Anton Dohrn off Rockall, home to species such as pollock, cod, hake, monkfish, redfish, squat lobsters and oreo fish. However, these fragile ecosystems are in danger of being lost before they have been properly investigated.

Scientists for the Census of Marine Life, an international project cataloguing ocean organisms, say that many seamounts and cold-water reefs have been damaged by trawling and that others are vulnerable to acidification.

Dr Hall-Spencer, a leader of the census’s CenSeam project focusing on seamounts, said that heavy “rockhopper” trawl nets that roll along the sea floor had ripped apart some reefs, including several at Rockall.

“Almost every coral reef and seamount I’ve been diving on has been severely damaged, particularly those off the west coasts of Scotland and Ireland,” he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in San Diego.

“The main problem is bottom trawling. The gear has got stronger, so the trawler can risk getting closer to reefs. Sometimes they plough straight through. You see trenches ploughed through the sea bed that extend for kilometres. The coral is pulverised. The fish are gone because fish like to hide behind coral heads. It’s more like mining than farming — you’re removing a resource and not allowing it to renew itself.”

Corals that lie on seamount flanks, below the reach of nets, face a different threat: ocean acidification. As the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rises, more gas becomes dissolved in the ocean, making it less alkaline. This reduces carbonate that corals use to build shells and other solid structures. The effect is especially marked in Arctic waters, as low temperatures amplify the effects.

“Many of these reefs look doomed,” Dr Hall-Spencer said, adding that pristine reefs as well as those damaged by trawling need protection. Shallow degraded areas should be included as “they’re all we’ll have left if and when acidification gets worse,” he said.

Recent trawling bans in Rockall Bank and last year’s Marine Act will help, but more reserves were needed to preserve areas such as Anton Dohrn, he said.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 032590.ece

Bottom trawls were first used on smooth (sandy or muddy) bottoms, and an occasional rock or wreck could destroy the net. But, as the article says, the gear has now got stronger and more damaging...
 

rynner2

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Huge island of rubbish floating off California
Oceanographers have found that a vast floating island of rubbish in the Pacific has doubled over a decade and is now nearly six times the size of Britain.
By Nick Allen in Los Angeles
Published: 7:15PM GMT 07 Mar 2010

The giant waste collection, known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” lies between California and Hawaii and has been gradually growing for 60 years.

It contains everything from plastic bags to shampoo bottles, flip-flops, children’s toys, tyres, drink cans, Frisbees and plastic swimming pools.

Older debris has slowly broken down under the sun’s rays into small particles, which settle and are suspended just below the ocean surface.

The soupy water is heavy with toxic chemicals and the broken-down plastic particles are now turning up inside fish. Up to 26 pieces of plastic were recently found inside a single fish and researchers have warned that the chemicals will work their way into the human food chain. :(

Beginning 500 miles off the Californian coast, the affected area, also known as the “plastic vortex”, now constitutes the world’s largest heap of rubbish.

The amount of debris is estimated at up to 100?million tons. Now there are hopes of converting the waste into fuel. A feasibility study will be undertaken using samples to be collected this summer.

Volunteers from Project Kaisei, a conservation project based in San Francisco and Hong Kong, plan to send two ships into the area to bring back some of the waste.

Doug Woodring, a member of the team, compared visiting the area to “going into outer space”.

He said: “This is the 'quiet zone’ in terms of human activity because there is no one out here working, polluting, or wasting things, yet we have still managed to leave our mark in the form of debris.”

Richard Pain, an Australian filmmaker, plans to cross the garbage patch in a craft made of plastic bottles to raise awareness of the problem.

He said: “To the eye as you look across it, it undulates like regular ocean. But when you look down into it, it’s just plastic everywhere. It’s like soup.”

The area is one of the world’s five major ocean gyres – huge systems of rotating currents which draw in waste from thousands of miles away.

Many of the plastic items floating there carry Chinese and Japanese writing, showing how far they have drifted on the currents.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... ornia.html
 

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Caviar at risk as appetite threatens sturgeon extinction
Humankind's insatiable appetite for caviar has pushed the sturgeon to the brink of extinction with many types of the prized fish now officially rated as "critically endangered," a leading environmental group has warned.
By Andrew Osborn in Moscow
Published: 7:00AM GMT 20 Mar 2010

The fish have swum in the world's seas for more than 200 million years but poaching and a huge appetite for black caviar, the fish's unfertilised eggs, risk wiping the sturgeon out altogether, it said.

"Sturgeon have survived dramatic change over the past 250 million years only to face the serious threat of becoming extinct as a direct result of human activities," said Mohammad Pourkazemi, an official at the Swiss-based International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

"Illegal catch, overfishing, the breaking up of the migratory routes and pollution are the key elements that have driven almost all species to the brink of extinction," he said in the statement.

The group estimated that 85 per cent of wild sturgeon are now at a very high risk of becoming extinct and said it had been forced to classify 17 of the 27 sturgeon species as critically endangered.

Experts said the group's gloomy conclusions were a clarion call for urgent action and would increase pressure on countries such as Iran to agree to a ten-year moratorium on sturgeon fishing in the Caspian Sea later this month.

Russia, traditionally a big consumer of the salty delicacy, is said to back such a ban. Black caviar, the most sought-after variety (there is also red caviar), can cost as much as £3,000 per kilogram.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... ction.html
 

amester

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#15
Caviar- blech! :eek!!!!: Maybe my palate is unrefined, but if I had to choose between eating caviar or eating a dead worm I'd probably pick the worm (and not because I eat worms, by the way). I therefore don't contribute to sturgeon extinction.
 

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#16
UK beaches swamped by plastic litter, say campaigners

UK beaches are being ruined by an ever-accumulating tide of plastic litter, the Marine Conservation Society says.

Volunteers at 400 beaches collected 1,849 items of litter per kilometre in the weekend of the MCS's 2009 survey and 63% of it was plastic, it said.

It said the amount of rubbish was 77% higher than in 1994 - its first annual survey - and the proportion of plastic volunteers found had never been higher.

However, the overall amount of litter collected was down on 2008.

The MCS says plastic is unsightly and harmed marine animals.

A spokeswoman said the figures showed plastic makes up an increasing proportion of beach litter - now nearly two-thirds of the total.

She said a 16% drop in litter collected since last year's findings was a small trough in an overall upward trend.

She added there had been calm weather in the run up to September, when the latest survey took place.

The survey involved more than 4,600 volunteers, each of whom went to their favourite beach over one weekend. Altogether, they collected 2,742 rubbish bags of waste.

The haul included 7,393 plastic bags, 16,243 plastic drinks bottles, 17,712 fishing nets and 70,546 small plastic pieces.

Among the rubbish were a laboratory incubator, syringes, nappies, half a boomerang, a message in a bottle from "Sly Sally"; a joke severed finger and a set of fake vampire's teeth. 8)

The biggest source of waste was public littering, followed by both commercial and recreational fishing.

The MCS spokeswoman said the beaches with the most litter were in the South East of England.

She said this because they were closer to shipping lanes and had a higher number of tourists.

etc...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8586920.stm
 

rynner2

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#17
Fishing banned on the Sea of Galilee
Fishing in the Sea of Galilee has been banned, Israel's Ministry of Agriculture has announced, amid claims stocks have fallen to a dangerous low.
By Nathan Jeffay, in Tiberias and Anita Singh
Published: 8:00AM BST 03 Apr 2010

It is the site where Jesus told his disciples: "I will make you fishers of men." As the Bible tells us, four of the Apostles - James, Andrew, John and Peter - worked as fishermen on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

Were they to ply their trade now, however, the Apostles would find themselves in court. Officials at the Ministry announced the fishing ban, claiming that stocks have fallen to a dangerously low level.

The decree ends a tradition which has continued virtually unchanged since Biblical times, and will dismay both local fishermen and Christian pilgrims who flock to the site each year.

The two-year ban comes into effect at the end of this month.

Chaim Anjioni, director of fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said: "We are just before a catastrophe, and that is why we have decided to stop fishing.

"We need to stop fishing to give the small fish a chance to grow, causing fish stocks to increase and the lake to recover."

The Sea - actually Israel's largest freshwater lake - is the site of several miracles from the Bible. It is here that Jesus is said to have walked on water, and it was close to the banks of the lake that He turned two fish and three loaves into the feeding of the five thousand.

According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus joined Peter in his fishing boat after a night which yielded no catch. Told by Jesus to put out into deep water, "they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break".

The area has long been known for its plentiful stocks. The 19th century English clergyman, Henry Baker Tristram, recorded that "the density of the shoals of fish in the Sea of Galilee can scarcely be conceived by those who have not witnessed them".

The most common catch in these waters is known as St Peter's Fish, so named after a Bible passage in which Peter hooks a fish with a coin in its mouth.

Yet recent years have seen a dramatic decline in stocks. Before 2005, 295 tons of St Peter's Fish were caught annually. In 2009, the total was only eight tons.

The government blames fishermen for using nets with smaller holes than are permitted by law, using nets which exceed legal limits - resulting in huge hauls of very young fish which have not had a chance to breed.


Other factors include an influx of birds, which moved to the lake in search of food after steps were taken to scare them away from nearby fish farms. Falling water levels following years of drought have also played a part.

Menachem Lev, a Sea of Galilee fisherman for 31 years, blamed the authorities.

"The government is guilty because it did not maintain the lake properly," he said, arguing that the solution was to introduce more young fish to the lake.

Historians said fishing was intrinsic to the area's Biblical signifance.

Eyal Regev, professor of history and archaeology at Israel's Bar Ilan University, said: "New Testament traditions about the Sea of Galilee flourished because in this area fishing was what kept the economy running so these traditions spoke to the people.

"Several of his disciples were from around the Sea of Galilee and it is very important in their biographies."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... lilee.html
 

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#18
Barack Obama aims to drive gas guzzlers off the road with greener laws
Giles Whittell, Washington

For decades they have thundered along America’s highways and choked up parking lots, a symbol of extravagance unchallenged by politicians, emissions standards or common sense.

They are the four-wheel-drive behemoths known to the US Government as “light trucks” and to consumers as SUVs (sport utility vehicles) — but their easy ride as the world’s most conspicuous mobile polluters ended this week.

In a coup that achieves something President Clinton promised but never delivered, President Obama has forced the big three US carmakers, and their unions, to accept tough mileage rules for cars and SUVs. The rules will cut emissions from vehicles by more than a third over the next four years.

Whether the new rules end America’s love affair with huge cars remains to be seen. But they are being introduced at a time when SUV sales are at a fraction of their peak level five years ago. Their demise coincides with the country’s first mass-produced “plug-in” electric car, which finally rolled off a Michigan production line this week.

From 2016, new cars and SUVs will have to deliver an average of 35.5 miles per gallon (42.6 miles per British gallon), comparable for the first time with European and Japanese requirements.

SUV mileage under the new regime is expected to average 28.8mpg (34.5mpg in Britain), or nearly three times that of the Hummer H1 that Arnold Schwarzenegger once drove into Times Square in New York to begin the vehicle’s transition from armoured personnel carrier into celebrity runabout.

etc

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w ... 086362.ece
 

rynner2

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#19
UK water use 'worsening global crisis'
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News

The amount of water used to produce food and goods imported to developed countries is worsening water shortages in the developing world, a report says.

The report, focusing on the UK, says two-thirds of the water used to make UK imports is used outside its borders.

The Engineering the Future alliance of professional engineering bodies says this is unsustainable, given population growth and climate change.

It says countries such as the UK must help poorer nations curb water use.

"We must take account of how our water footprint is impacting on the rest of the world," said Professor Roger Falconer, director of the Hydro-Environmental Research Centre at Cardiff University and a member of the report's steering committee.

"If we are to prevent the 'perfect storm', urgent action is necessary."

The term perfect storm was used last year by the UK government's chief scientist, Professor John Beddington, to describe future shortages of energy, food and water.

Forecasts suggest that when the world's population soars beyond 8bn in 20 years time, the global demand for food and energy will jump by 50%, with the need for fresh water rising by 30%.

But developing countries are already using significant proportions of their water to grow food and produce goods for consumption in the West, the report says.

"The burgeoning demand from developed countries is putting severe pressure on areas that are already short of water," said Professor Peter Guthrie, head of the Centre for Sustainable Development at Cambridge University, who chaired the steering group.

"If the water crisis becomes critical, it will pose a serious threat to the UK's future development because of the impact it would have on our access to vital resources."

Key to the report is the concept of "embedded water" - the water used to grow food and make things.

Embedded in a pint of beer, for example, is about 130 pints (74 litres) of water - the total amount needed to grow the ingredients and run all the processes that make the pint of beer.

A cup of coffee embeds about 140 litres (246 pints) of water, a cotton T-shirt about 2,000 litres, and a kilogram of steak 15,000 litres.

Using this methodology, UK consumers see only about 3% of the water usage they are responsible for.

The average UK consumer uses about 150 litres per day, the size of a large bath.

Ten times as much is embedded in the British-made goods bought by the average UK consumer; but that represents only about one-third of the total water embedded in all the average consumer's food and goods, with the remainder coming from imports.

The UK is not unique in this - the same pattern is seen in most developed countries.

The engineering institutions say it means nations such as the UK have a duty to help curb water use in the developing world, where about one billion people already do not have sufficient access to clean drinking water.

UK-funded aid projects should have water conservation as a central tenet, the report recommends, while companies should examine their supply chains and reduce the water used in them.

This could lead to difficult questions being asked, such as whether it is right for the UK to import beans and flowers from water-stressed countries such as Kenya.

While growing crops such as these uses water, selling them brings foreign exchange into poor nations.

In the West, the report suggests, concerns over water could eventually lead to goods carrying a label denoting their embedded water content, in the same way as electrical goods now sport information about their energy consumption.

The Engineering the Future alliance includes the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) and the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8628832.stm
 

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#20
BP calls on second rig to contain major oil spill in Gulf of Mexico
Robin Pagnamenta, Energy Editor

BP was today towing a second drilling rig into position as it battled to contain a major oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico.

The British oil giant said that it was moving the new rig to a position close to the Deepwater Horizon, which exploded six days ago leading to the presumed death of 11 workers.

The explosion and sinking of the rig created an oil slick covering 400sq miles (1,000sq km), which is now being fed by 42,000 gallons of oil per day gushing from an uncapped well on the seabed.

The second rig, Development Driller III, will be used to drill a so-called “relief well” to intercept the leak. It will be used to inject cement and mud to block the flow of oil at the site, about 42 miles off the coast of Louisiana.

“We are attacking this spill on two fronts — at the wellhead and on the surface offshore,” said Tony Hayward, ef executive. “The team on the ground and those at sea have the group’s full resources behind them.”

BP had outlined plans for one of the biggest oil spill containment operations in history, with five aircraft and a flotilla of 32 vessels using skimmers, booms and dispersant chemicals to control the spill and limit the damage to marine life. The US Coast Guard described it as a “very serious spill”.

BP and Transocean, the Swiss company that owned and operated the rig, are also attempting to use four subsea robots to activate a device on the seabed, 5,000 feet below the surface, that is designed to automatically clamp shut over the base of the leaking well pipe.

The so-called “blowout preventer”, a series of valves and pipes to contain leaks, apparently failed during the explosion, which is believed to have been triggered by an uncontrolled escape of oil and gas from the well.

Deepwater Horizon, which was leased by BP, had been drilling for crude oil in a reservoir about two miles beneath the seabed. The majority of the 126 workers on board the rig escaped unharmed. Seventeen were airlifted to hospital and 11 are still missing, presumed dead.

The world’s worst oil spill was in 1989, when the Exxon Valdez ran aground off Alaska, leading to a leak of 10.8 million gallons of oil.

The leak on the Gulf of Mexico would take 257 days to reach the same level but an environmental disaster is a real possibility if efforts to stem the leak fail. BP said so far it has collected about 1,000 barrels of an oily water mix.

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/b ... 108085.ece
 

rynner2

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#21
Engineers build underwater dome to contain Gulf of Mexico oil spill
Jacqui Goddard in Miami

Engineers are crafting a giant underwater dome to help to contain an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico after attempts to shut off the leak using robotic submarines failed.

BP, which leased the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded 50 miles (80km) from the Louisiana coast last Tuesday, killing 11 workers, said yesterday that it was pursuing new tactics after failing to prevent its spread by closing a valve in the pipe.

While the robots continued their efforts one mile down and a new rig arrived to drill into the leaking well and plug it in an operation that could take months, BP said that its dome should trap the escaping oil and funnel it to tanks on the surface.

Such devices were tried when Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf in 2005 but have never been used in water this deep. Tony Odone, a spokesman for BP, said: “They have been used in shallow water before. They contain the oil in that dome and then suck it up. “The ROVs [remotely operated vehicles] will continue trying but we are trying to get these other things activated as quickly as possible, too.”

The race was on to contain the spill — which is 48 miles at its widest, 39 miles at its longest and has a circumference of 600 miles — before it reaches the coast of Louisiana. Last night it was 30 miles from shore. A total of 1,000 people are involved in the disaster response, from BP workers and the US Coast Guard to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and oil industry experts.

“We have the world’s experts working with us right now,” said Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer for exploration and production.

There are concerns of a major environmental disaster and potential devastation for the seafood industry should the oil spread faster than it can be cleaned up. Louisiana is one month away from opening its inshore shrimping season, its crab season is just starting and oyster beds could be closed if the oil gets into coastal estuaries. Bird nesting areas on the fragile barrier islands would also be at risk.

“The big question is where is this oil going to go?” said Ed Overton, an environmental science expert at Louisiana State University. Sunlight and bacteria should help to break down some of it, he said but the coast — which is home to 40 per cent of America’s wetlands but loses up to 35 square miles of it a year due to erosion — could become a “God-awful mess for a while”.

“It’s a fragile area already. The good news is that the whole environment down here has had oil exploration for 50, 60 years so the bacterial colonies are already acclimated. Whether it’s a big glob or a small glob, if it gets onshore it covers the grass which will die away and that causes land erosion,” Mr Overton said.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/e ... 108909.ece
 

rynner2

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#22
US to set fire to oil rig leak

The US coast guard has said it will set fire to an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday as efforts to stem a leak after a rig blast are failing.

Officials are concerned that, unless controlled, the leak could cause one of the worst spills in US history.

Coast Guard Rear Adm Mary Landry has said work on sealing leaks using robotic submersibles could take months.

Around 1,000 barrels are leaking every day after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank last week.

Eleven of the rig's workers are still missing and presumed dead in the disaster off the Louisiana coast.

A "controlled burn" would involve setting fire to an area of oil trapped by special containment booms on the water's surface.

Environmental experts say birds and animals are more likely to escape a burning patch of water than an oil slick, although toxic fumes could endanger wildlife.

"We fully understand there are benefits and trade-offs," said Adm Landry.

But she noted that with the spill moving toward land, the impact on Louisiana's coastline, which contains some 40% of the nation's wetlands and spawning grounds for countless fish and birds, had to be considered.

Controlled burns had been tried and tested before, and had been shown to be "effective in burning 50 to 95% of oil collected in a fire boom", she said.

She warned that if the well was not secured soon, "this could be one of the most significant oil spills in US history".

The leaks - about 5,000ft (1,525m) under the surface - were found on Saturday, four days after the Deepwater Horizon platform, to which the pipe was attached, exploded and sank.

About 1,000 barrels (42,000 US gallons; 35,000 imperial gallons) of oil a day have been gushing into the sea since the blast.

The resulting oil slick now has a circumference of about 600 miles (970km) and covers about 28,600 sq miles (74,100 sq km).

The slick is now about 20 miles (32km) off the coast of Louisiana, but wind projections indicate it will not reach land before Saturday.

It would have to continue for more than eight months to match the 11m-gallon spill from the oil tanker Exxon Valdez off Alaska in 1989.

Workers on a nearby oil platform were evacuated by the US authorities on Monday after the oil slick came dangerously close.

British oil company BP, one of the firms operating the rig, has not been able to activate a device known as a blow-out preventer, designed to stop oil flow in an emergency.

Doug Suttles, the chief operating officer for exploration and production at BP, said it had not yet given up on engaging the valve, but was considering other possible solutions.

These include placing a dome directly over the leaks to catch the oil and send it up to the surface, where it could be collected by ships. This has only been done in shallow water before and is still two to four weeks from being operational.

BP will also begin drilling a "relief well" intersecting the original well, but it is also experimental and could take two to three months to stop the flow.

Forty-nine vessels - oil skimmers, tugboats barges and special recovery boats that separate oil from water - were working to round up oil, BP said.

An investigation has been ordered into the cause of the leak by the interior and homeland security departments.

It will have the power to compel witnesses to testify, and will look into possible violations by the operators of the rig, Transocean.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8649862.stm
 

rynner2

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#23
Bad news:

Gulf of Mexico oil slick said to be five times bigger

The US Coast Guard says five times as much oil as previously thought could be leaking from a well beneath where a rig sank in the Gulf of Mexico last week.

Rear Admiral Mary Landry said 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) a day were now thought to be gushing into the sea 50 miles (80km) off Louisiana's coast.

A third leak had also been discovered at the site, Adm Landry said.

Earlier, a Coast Guard crew set fire to part of the oil slick, in an attempt to save environmentally fragile wetlands.

The "controlled burn" of surface oil took place in an area about 30 miles (50km) east of the Mississippi river delta, officials said.

Weather forecasters have meanwhile warned that changing winds could drive the oil slick ashore by Friday night.

The leak now appears so great that it's calculated that in less than two months it could match the 11m-gallon spill from the oil tanker Exxon Valdez off Alaska in 1989.

Adm Landry said experts from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had increased their estimate for the leak based on aerial surveys, applying dispersants, studying the trajectory of the slick, local weather conditions, and other factors.

"This is not an exact science when we estimate the amount of oil. However, the NOAA is telling me now they'd prefer we use at least 5,000 barrels a day," she told reporters in New Orleans.

Adm Landry also said she had been told of "a new location of an additional breach in the riser of the deep underwater well", about 5,000ft (1,525m) under the surface.

President Barack Obama had been briefed on the new developments, and the government had offered to have the defence department help contain the spill, she added.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has requested emergency assistance from the federal government.

"Our top priority is to protect our citizens and the environment. These resources are critical to mitigating the impact of the oil spill on our coast," he said in a statement.

etc...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8650620.stm
 

rynner2

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#24
Oil 'reaches' US Gulf Coast from spill

The US Coast Guard is investigating reports that oil has started washing ashore on the Gulf Coast from a leaking offshore well.

Up to 5,000 barrels of oil a day are thought to be spilling into the water after last week's explosion on a BP-operated rig, which then sank.

President Barack Obama has pledged "every single available resource" to help.
The US navy has been deployed to help avert a looming environmental disaster.
The US Coast Guard said it had sent investigators to confirm whether crude oil had begun to wash up on parts of the Louisiana shoreline.

"This is a very, very big thing," said David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
He told the Associated Press news agency: "And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling."


An emergency shrimping season was opened on Thursday to allow fishermen to bring in their catch before it was fouled by the advancing oil.

The US government has designated the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as an "incident of national significance".
This allows it to draw on resources from across the country to deal with the leak.

Louisiana's governor, Bobby Jindal, has declared a state of emergency and asked for federal funds to deploy 6,000 National Guard soldiers to help with the clean up.
The Louisiana coastline, with its rich shrimp and oyster beds, is the most threatened by the spill. There are also fears of severe damage to fisheries and wildlife in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Navy vessels are helping to deploy booms to contain the spill.

President Obama has dispatched high-level administration officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, to the area.
He has also ordered environmental agency officials to inspect all offshore oil rigs and platforms to make sure they adhere to US safety codes.

Speaking at the White House, Mr Obama said: "While BP is ultimately responsible for funding the cost of response and clean-up operations, my administration will continue to use every single available resource at our disposal, including potentially the Department of Defence, to address the incident.
"And I have ordered the Secretaries of Interior and Homeland Security, as well as Lisa Jackson of the Environmental Protection Agency to visit the site on Friday to ensure that BP and the entire US government is doing everything possible, not just to respond to this incident, but also to determine its cause."

Eleven workers are still missing, presumed dead, after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on 20 April.

The US Coast Guard said earlier that up to 5,000 barrels of oil a day - five times the previous estimate - might now be leaking into the water.

BP's chief operating officer of exploration and production, Doug Suttles, said the company was using remote operative vehicles (ROVs) to try to find out how much oil was leaking into the sea.

"This is very, very difficult to estimate," Mr Suttles told reporters.
"Down below the surface we actually can't meter this oil so we can just observe it... what our ROV pictures show to us on the sea floor hasn't changed since we first saw the leak... but what we can say based on what we're picking up on the surface it looks like it is more."
Mr Suttles estimated something between 1,000 and 5,000 barrels a day was leaking.

A resident of Bay Saint Louis in Mississippi, John Gerger, told the BBC the smell of oil was becoming stronger along the Gulf Coast.
"It's as though a diesel truck is parked in the front yard," he said. "The potential impact of the slick could be devastating on an area that has just recovered from [Hurricane] Katrina.

"Fishing and shrimping is such an important industry here, and could take a massive hit. Local fishermen have been advised to go out and try to recover as much as they can before the slick approaches land."

etc...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8653162.stm
 

rynner2

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#25
In just a few days, this story has moved on from being 'merely' an environmental issue to being big headline news. Let's hope it'll soon be sorted and forgotten, like that volcano whatsitsname....

Pressure mounts on British oil giant to tackle slick

Criticism of BP is mounting in the US over its handling of the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Calls for swifter action were led by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who urged BP to commit more resources to tackling the catastrophe.

The British energy giant was also criticised by President Barack Obama and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

The sprawling oil slick has begun washing up on the Louisiana coast and is threatening three other states.

Up to 5,000 barrels of oil a day are gushing into the sea after the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank last week.

Analysts say it could soon rival the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster as the worst spill in US history.

Mississippi and Alabama have joined Louisiana and Florida in declaring a state of emergency.

Animal rescue groups have been receiving their first patients - seabirds coated in oil.

Worsening weather conditions have been hampering efforts to contain the slick, which is more than 130 miles (200km) long.

Choppy seas were driving oil over inflatable booms set up to protect the coastline.

And forecasters said strong winds could push the oil into inlets, ponds and lakes in south-east Louisiana over the weekend.

The homeland security secretary flew into Louisiana on Friday to deliver a stark message to BP, which had been leasing the rig.

"We continue to urge BP to leverage additional assets to help lead the response in this effort," said Ms Napolitano.

After several unsuccessful attempts to plug the leak, she said, it was "time for BP to supplement their current mobilisation".

Some 1,900 emergency workers and more than 300 ships and aircraft are being sent to the disaster zone, President Barack Obama has announced.

In a White House statement, he said BP was "ultimately responsible... for paying the costs of response and clean-up operations".

etc, etc...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8655683.stm
 

rynner2

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#26
A less grim view:
Clifford Jones, an oil and gas engineering specialist from the UK's Aberdeen University, suggests it should not be considered in the same category as the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989, with which it is regularly being compared.

It is a threat to the ecosystem, he allows: but "Exxon Valdez was a supertanker holding 11 million barrels, and exit of oil from it was simply by gravity.

"Whereas this current incident involves a well that's under the sea, and at most about four million barrels will have leaked out before the pressure within the well drops sufficiently for there to be no further discharge."

Whether or not the estimate of four million barrels turns out to be correct - and it is disputed - there is no doubt that the oil is coming out much more slowly than is normal from a tanker spill.

In principle, this allows the authorities greater time to deal with it - although clearly in this case their efforts have met with mixed success.

Oil breaks down naturally in seawater, and in the warm Gulf of Mexico water, this would proceed much faster than in Alaska's Prince William Sound, where the Exxon Valdez ran aground.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/science_and_ ... 093904.stm
 

rynner2

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#27
US oil spill 'threatens way of life', governor warns

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has warned that the sprawling Gulf of Mexico oil slick threatens the very way of life of people in his state.

As President Barack Obama prepared to fly in to see the devastation for himself, experts said the slick had tripled in size in just days.

Attorneys general from five affected US states will meet to discuss legal options, as pressure mounts on BP.

Choppy seas and strong winds have been hampering the clean-up operation.

The BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig sank on 22 April, two days after a huge explosion that killed 11 workers.

Later on Sunday, Louisiana's Republican governor will meet Mr Obama to discuss the disaster, for which the president has warned BP will be held ultimately responsible.

Mr Jindal told a news conference on Saturday: "This oil spill threatens not only our wetlands and our fisheries, but also our way of life."

Keeping up pressure on the British energy giant, Mr Jindal said he had still not received detailed plans from the firm on how it would stop the spill.

As sheen from the slick began washing up on the shore, the governor said "BP will need to fund these plans" to protect coastal communities.

The energy giant's chief executive, Tony Hayward, is also expected in Louisiana on Sunday. The company has said it will honour legitimate claims for damages.

etc...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8656627.stm
 

rynner2

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S.Korea completes world's longest seawall
Sunday, 2 May 2010

South Korea inaugurated Tuesday the world's longest seawall, the first step in a massive project aimed at reclaiming the ocean for industry, tourism and agriculture by 2020.

The 33 kilometre (21 mile) Saemangeum seawall encloses 401 square kilometres (160 square miles) of seawater, about two thirds of Seoul's land area.

The government has already spent 2.9 trillion won (2.6 billion dollars) on what is billed as the country's largest-ever development project, despite environmental concerns.

Another 21 trillion won in state and private spending is envisaged until 2020 to reclaim land, build infrastructure and create giant freshwater reservoirs.

The project was first mooted in the early 1970s and work on the west coast dike 280 kilometres south of Seoul began in 1991.

Originally, the government planned to use most of the reclaimed land for farming but the country's rice production now outstrips demand.

The plan now is to build a new city focused on logistics, industry, tourism and leisure as well as floriculture.

The reclaimed area and the port city of Gunsan will jointly house an international business complex to be called the Saemangeum-Gunsan Free Economic Zone by 2020.

The project has been dogged by fears of environmental disaster, and was marked by protests and clashes with riot police.

Environmentalists say it will destroy huge mudflats providing habitats for wildlife and serving as natural water purification plants.

Opposition eased somewhat as authorities promised to invest more to address environmental concerns, including tighter control of pollution upstream on the two rivers that flow into the area.

"However, the overall development project must be reviewed in order to preserve the mudflats as much as possible," Jee Woon-Geun, a director of the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement, told AFP.

"Mudflats enable sustainable development. They are also a great tourist attraction."

http://www.independent.co.uk/environmen ... 60507.html
 

rynner2

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#29
California's Schwarzenegger turns against oil drilling
By Rajesh Mirchandani
BBC News, Los Angeles

California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has withdrawn his support for a plan to expand oil exploration off the state's coast.

He said the spill in the Gulf of Mexico had changed his mind about the safety of oil platforms in the Pacific Ocean.

Last year he pushed for more oil drilling off California's coastline.

But he said after seeing television pictures of the Gulf of Mexico spill he asked himself: "Why would we want to take that kind of risk?"

The state already knows the dangers of offshore drilling.

In 1969 a leak from an undersea well just six miles (9.6km) off the coast of Santa Barbara coated pristine beaches with oil and killed thousands of animals.

It led to a ban on new offshore development and helped galvanise the state's environmental lobby into the powerful voice it is today.


Governor Schwarzenegger - who has championed the green economy and environmental protection - angered many when he proposed new exploration as a way to raise $100m (£65.6m) towards the huge state budget deficit.

Now he says he would rather find another way to make up the money.

California was not part of President Barack Obama's recent proposal to increase offshore exploration.

And Governor Schwarzenegger's change of heart almost ensures no new drilling will be allowed in the state's waters.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8658825.stm
 

rynner2

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BP vows to clean up Gulf of Mexico oil slick

Oil giant BP has acknowledged it is "absolutely responsible" for cleaning up a huge oil spill after an explosion at one of its wells off the US coast.

But BP boss Tony Hayward said the firm was not to blame for the accident which sank the Deepwater Horizon rig on 22 April, causing the slick.

He said the equipment that failed belonged to drilling firm Transocean.

Both companies are expecting lawsuits over the slick, which threatens to cause major ecological damage.

US President Barack Obama has described the oil leak as a "potentially unprecedented" environmental disaster.

"BP is responsible for this leak. BP will be paying the bill," he said.

The US government has been putting pressure on BP to act quickly.

In a BBC interview, Mr Hayward dismissed talk of a rift between BP and US officials.

"Despite some of the rhetoric we have established an incredible co-operative relationship with the federal authorities," he said.

"It's clear that we're working very well together. In terms of the responsibility, I want to be clear, this was not our accident but it is our responsibility to deal with the leak and clean up the oil."

etc...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8658081.stm
 
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