Environmental Issues

rynner2

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Giant North Atlantic rubbish island blamed for tide of micro plastic on Cornwall beaches
By G_WIlkinson | Posted: December 09, 2016

An enormous rubbish island in the Atlantic - larger than mainland Europe – has been blamed for a sweeping tide of plastic and rubbish on Cornwall's beaches.

Swirling out to sea is the North Atlantic Garbage Patch – so named by the American scientists who have been mapping its size.

While not strictly speaking 'an island', it's a huge region of the ocean where tiny pieces of plastic collect just below the surface. It stretches from the Caribbean to the edge of Europe and contains plastic in concentrations estimated from 4,000 pieces per square mile to 250,000 pieces.

The bad news is there are others – although they all seem to be bigger, with the largest in the north Pacific Ocean, said to be larger than the US state Texas.
The plastic collects and builds up over time as water sinks in the oceans. Currents and the rotation of the earth naturally create these regions in the seas, known as gyres.

This year, beach clearing groups around the coast of Cornwall have been reporting increasingly large amounts of plastic.

While we tend to think of the larger more visible items of rubbish, such as old bottles or fishing gear, what worries experts is the far smaller micro-plastic pollution. These are tiny fragments of plastic that may come from larger pieces which have broken down or from products such as toothpaste or cosmetics.

In Bude, a high-tide of micro-plastic was left in the autumn. Volunteers had to sift the sand to remove the plastic, prompting fears that the giant rubbish island had brushed against Cornwall.

But Andy Cummins, campaigns director for Surfers Against Sewage, said the problem for Cornwall was closer to home.
He said the so-called 'plastic islands' were unlikely to be responsible for plastic washing up on Cornish beaches. He thinks it's more likely to be coming from the land and being swept back onto beaches.

The North Atlantic Garbage Patch has been mapped by researchers from the Sea Education Association is the US where students on trips towed nets through the water to sample for plastics. The plastic is suspended in the water so it's difficult to spot from the air or by satellite.

http://www.cornwalllive.com/giant-n...wall-beaches/story-29971342-detail/story.html
 

hunck

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I'd heard of the Pacific one but not the Atlantic. Probably all the major oceans develop them to varying degrees.
 

rynner2

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Squid may become favourite UK meal as seas become warmer
By Helen Briggs BBC News

The traditional British fish supper could be replaced by the likes of squid as the waters around the UK's shores grow warmer, say government scientists.
Squid and other fish that thrive in warmer waters, such as sardines and anchovy, are flourishing around the North Sea, according to fisheries data.
Squid are now being caught at 60% of survey stations in the North Sea, compared with 20% in the 1980s.

But the likes of cod are heading north, away from British waters.

Dr John Pinnegar, of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), which has been monitoring North Sea fish populations for more than 100 years, said models for 2025 and beyond suggested that seawater temperatures off the UK may continue to rise.

Fishing boats are now catching species that have not been caught in the area before.
"Twenty or 30 years ago we hardly saw squid in our surveys," he told BBC News.

Dr Pinnegar, programme director for marine climate change at Cefas, said summer squid fisheries had expanded around the Moray Firth in north-east Scotland, as part of efforts to reduce over-fishing of more traditional species such as haddock and cod.

"A lot of the things we see increasing in abundance around the UK are fish that would probably originally [be] thought of as being Mediterranean or characteristic of the Bay of Biscay, or around Portugal or Spain," he added.
"They're now increasing in UK waters because the waters are getting more conducive for those sorts of species, whereas other species are shifting the centre of their distribution towards the north of the UK."

Long-term data shows the centre of distribution of cod has moved north towards Norway, whereas plaice is moving across the North Sea from the Netherlands towards Scotland.

Currently, squid catches off the UK tend to be exported to other countries, but Dr Pinnegar, who is presenting data on trends in fish stocks at the British Ecological Society's annual meeting in Liverpool on Monday, believes that may change.

"Maybe consumers might like to choose species that are distributed in our own waters rather than importing some of this," he said.

"There are quite a lot of species that seem to be increasing - things like red mullet, anchovies, sardines, John Dory, squid - all of these are quite nice to eat but they are the kind of thing you would have normally have eaten on your holiday to Spain or Portugal."

etc...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-38265395

WOT! No cod and chips? Stop the world, I want to get off!
But I have noticed, in photos of landings at Newlyn, how squid has been increasing in numbers...
 

JamesWhitehead

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I'm a fan myself. The price fluctuates - it isn't always painful and it is worth looking in the freezer-section. Morrisons do a lot of it, so they may be cheapest.

I don't find them whole these days; I always felt I should find a use for those quills and ink! :)
 

rynner2

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A novel approach to a big problem:
Can jet engines clean up Delhi's foul air?
Soutik Biswas India correspondent
13 December 2016

Sometime next year, if all goes well, a retired jet engine will be mounted on a flatbed trailer and taken to a coal-fired power plant in Delhi.
With the exhaust nozzle pointed at the sky, the engine will be placed near the smokestack and turned on.
As the engine roars to life, it will generate a nozzle speed of 400 metres per second (1,440km/h; 900mph), which is more or less the speed of sound.
The exhaust will create powerful updrafts that will, to put it simply, blast the emissions from the plant to higher altitudes, above a meteorological phenomenon called temperature inversion, where a layer of cold air is held in place by a warmer "lid" trapping smog.

The jet exhaust will act as a "virtual chimney", drawing in and transporting the smog, which makes Delhi's air some of the most toxic in the world. A single jet engine can deal with emissions from a 1,000 megawatt power plant.
So can jet engines help clean up Delhi's foul air? A team of researchers from the US, India and Singapore believes so.

"This could lead to a successful implementation of a new technology for smog mitigation all over the world," the lead researcher, Moshe Alamaro, an aeronautical engineer and atmospheric scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tells me.
"The programme could use retired and commercial engines and has the possibility of adding value to numerous retired propulsion systems available."

Delhi is an ideal candidate for this experiment. The widespread use of festival fireworks, the burning of rubbish by the city's poor, plus farm waste from around the city, vehicular emissions and construction dust, all contribute to the city's thick "pea-soup" fogs.

Things get worse in winter: last month, schools were shut, construction and demolition work suspended, people wore face masks and were asked to work from home.
The move came after levels of PM2.5 - tiny particles that can affect the lungs - soared to over 90 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organization and 15 times the federal government's norms.

Carrying out the jet engine experiment outside a coal-fired electricity plant makes sense as coal accounts for more than 60% of India's power generation. In two years, the country could surpass China as the biggest importer of thermal coal.
Coal-fired energy may be linked to more than 100,000 premature deaths and millions of cases of asthma and respiratory ailments. Also, emissions from a 1,000-megawatt coal-fired plant are equivalent to emissions from roughly 500,000 cars.

Scientists say that jet engines were used in the Soviet Union 45 years ago to enhance rainfall.
"They achieved some success," says Dr Alamaro. "As far as I know nobody tried using jet engines for smog mitigation."
Farmers have also rented helicopters to hover over their fields to "agitate and disrupt the inversions" to protect their crops.

Next month, Dr Alamaro will join some of India's top scientists and collaborators from government agencies at a workshop to plan the experiment.
There are concerns: noise from the jet engine, for example.
"In the beginning," he says, "the jet engine will be tested in remote location and not necessarily near a power plant, to observe the jet properties and for optimisation."

The scientists say that fears about emissions from jet engines fouling the air are unfounded as their emissions "are much cleaner than that of the power plant per unit of power".
There are reportedly offers of retired jet engines from air forces in India and the US for the experiment.
Scientists are talking to Tata Group, a private power producer, to use one of their plants for a site for the experiment.
Before the test, meteorological data on the area, along with information on frequency of smog will be essential. Drones will be used before and after the experiment.

Critics of the planned experiment doubt whether the jet exhausts will be powerful enough to create a virtual chimney and blow out the smog, and question whether expensive jet engines can be used on a large scale to control air pollution in a vast city such as Delhi.

But Dr Alamaro is optimistic.
"Each new technology should start with the least resistant path for success," he says.
"The concentration of emission from coal is very high near the power plant.
"So a jet engine that elevates this emission is more effective near the power plant than somewhere else in the city that is plagued by smog.

"That said, we also plan to try to elevate the less concentrated smog in and around the city by jet systems.
"For example, the jet system can be placed near highways where vehicle emission is high, so the jet is more effective than somewhere else in the city."

If successful, Dr Alamaro says, this method can be used "anywhere and anytime, away from a power plant and during normal atmospheric conditions" to control air pollution.
Fairly soon, we may know if jet engines can really help to clean Delhi's foul air.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-38285567
 

rynner2

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£1.8bn earmarked for Thames Estuary flood defences
By David Rhodes BBC News

Half of all the money earmarked for new flood defences in England will be spent on protecting London and areas around the Thames, official figures show.
Analysis by BBC News has found £1.8bn will be spent on the Thames Estuary out of a £3.7bn national flood spending programme.

About 16,000 homes were flooded across the North of England a year ago.
The Environment Agency said it invested money "where it will have the most benefit".
The disparity in regional flood defence spending comes as many flood victims remain homeless, 12 months after storms Desmond and Eva devastated parts of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria.

The Thames also flooded last year with riverside areas of central London left under water. And the South East of England was badly flooded three winters ago, with rivers including the Thames, the Darent in Kent and the Ash in Surrey all flooding nearby homes.

"Nothing can prepare you for the destruction of your home. I had to seek help from my GP for depression," said Roger Pierce, who was flooded in York on Boxing Day.
Mr Pierce's home was one of about 400 flooded when the Fosse Barrier, a local flood defence, failed.
"I just don't trust the Environment Agency, it talks mainly about improving flood resilience," he said.
"I don't want my home to be resilient to flooding, I just want the flood defences in my community to work and stop the water ever causing damage in the first place."

The analysis of the flood defence spending was undertaken by BBC Yorkshire.
It found the Environment Agency and local councils have committed to spend at least £3.7bn on a variety of flood defence and coastal erosion projects up to and beyond 2021.

When further developmental projects are accounted for, £6.1bn worth of new defences are earmarked for construction across England.
However whereas the East of England will receive £381 worth of flood defence spending per person, the North West of England will receive just £48 per head of population.
Spending on the Thames Estuary alone is expected to total at least £1.8bn, which is four times as much as will be spent on flood defences in the whole of Yorkshire and The Humber.

etc...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-38343063
 

Waylander

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A novel approach to a big problem:
Can jet engines clean up Delhi's foul air?
Soutik Biswas India correspondent
13 December 2016
Would this not just be a fast track to the Greenhouse effect?! Or worse still, blotting out the sun and lowering global temperatures with smog high in the stratosphere or close to it. Whatever way I look at it, it is not a solution... Just a short term solution for a locally affected area. Which in turn will dump tons of foul air on some other poor unsuspecting country.

Get to the root of the issue guys, not create a mini fix that will, undoubtedly fail, for causing poisonous gases falling on other areas. A land like India, bathed in sun... and this is the "new technological solution", doesn't sound very tech... just a low level solution. Just makes me angry... :mad:
 

rynner2

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Obama bans oil drilling 'permanently' in millions of acres of ocean

Outgoing US President Barack Obama has permanently banned offshore oil and gas drilling in the "vast majority" of US-owned northern waters.
Mr Obama designated areas in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans as "indefinitely off limits" to future leasing.
The move is widely seen as an attempt to protect the region before Mr Obama leaves office in January.
Supporters of president-elect Donald Trump could find it difficult to reverse the decision.

Canada also committed to a similar measure in its own Arctic waters, in a joint announcement with Washington.
The White House said the decision was for "a strong, sustainable and viable Arctic economy and ecosystem." It cited native cultural needs, wildlife concerns, and the "vulnerability" of the region to oil spills as some of the reasons for the ban.

But while Canada will review the move every five years, the White House insists Mr Obama's declaration is permanent.
The decision relies on a 1953 law which allows the president to ban leasing of offshore resources indefinitely.

During the election campaign, Donald Trump said he would take advantage of existing US oil reserves, prompting concern from environmental groups.

But supporters have already suggested that any attempt to reverse the "permanent" decision outlined by the law would be open to a legal challenge.

Reacting to the Arctic declaration, Friends of the Earth said: "No president has ever rescinded a previous president's permanent withdrawal of offshore areas from oil and gas development.
"If Donald Trump tries to reverse President Obama's withdrawals, he will find himself in court."

However, the American Petroleum Institute said "there is no such thing as a permanent ban," and that it hoped Mr Trump's administration would simply reverse the decision.

Boost for fragile waters: Roger Harrabin, environment analyst

The ban is a huge boost for conservation in the fragile waters of the Arctic - and for campaigners urging action against climate change.
The oil industry has a bad safety record in northern waters already. In 1989 the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska, spilling hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil, polluting 1,300 miles of coastline. Some of the oil endures, and some animal species have yet to recover.

In 2014, Shell's drilling rig the Kulluk also ran aground in the Arctic's tempestuous seas. The firm subsequently halted Arctic exploration.

Northern waters are so cold that it takes bacteria much longer to break up oil products than in the warm waters of the Gulf. And the drilling conditions are among the most challenging on Earth.

President Obama is heeding advice from scientists warning that humans have already discovered three times more fossil fuels than we can burn without risking the climate.

Oil firms will still want to explore for further profits, though. And the next secretary of state, Exxon's Rex Tillerson, may offer the industry a route round the ban by paving the way to an Arctic drilling deal with Russia.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-38387525
 

rynner2

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Driverless electric cars could 'cut air pollution to almost zero and make car parks obsolete within 10 years'
'We're likely to see a huge shift in how our cities look and how transport is managed'
Lynsey Bews

Self-driving electric cars could make car parks obsolete within the next 10 years and reduce air pollution to almost zero in Scotland's cities, an expert has predicted.

The vehicles are likely to be commonplace by 2030, said Simon Tricker, of "smart cities" specialist UrbanTide, which uses technology and data to improve city planning.

"Scottish local authorities are already thinking about what city streets will look like in a decade's time - and the answers are pretty astounding," he said.
"Self-driving cars won't need parking spaces in cities - they're likely to be rented rather than owned and will just head off and carry out their next journey after dropping passengers off. Many car parking spaces which we now take for granted will simply become obsolete.

"The pace at which electric vehicle technology is developing means they're also likely to be electric, so will produce zero emissions as they're driven.
"Taken together with an opening up of the data which will enable new services to link with waiting passengers, we're likely to see a huge shift in how our cities look and how transport is managed."
Mr Tricker was speaking ahead of Scottish Renewables first low-carbon cities conference, which will be held in Edinburgh in February.

Other speakers include Asa Karlsson Bjorkmarker, deputy mayor of Vaxjo, Sweden, who will speak about her experiences leading 'Europe's greenest city', James Alexander, of C40, a network of the world's cities committed to addressing climate change, and Professor Jill Anable, of the University of Leeds.

Rachelle Money, director of communications at Scottish Renewables, said: "With the bulk of Scotland's power now coming from renewable energy and a new Scottish Climate Change Bill in the offing, Scotland continues to lead the way in building a low-carbon economy.

"Scottish Renewables' first ever low-carbon cities conference explores the many opportunities for Scotland's cities to embrace the transition to a sustainable, clean, green economy, reducing energy costs and tackling fuel poverty, while attracting low-carbon investment and jobs, and building our industries of the future.

"Cities across Scotland are already forging ahead with ground-breaking projects to decarbonise their energy supplies, and this conference will share the experiences of some of those initiatives.

"But there's still a long way to go if we are to meet our ambitious targets and achieve the goal of cutting carbon at the lowest cost, so we'll look at the emerging ideas across the generation, storage, distribution and use of energy which will transform our urban areas into smart cities for the next generation."

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-s...-parks-obsolete-within-10-years-a7496596.html
 

Ermintruder

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how this would make car parks go awa
Within this imagineering concept, driverless cars would become eternal taxis, constantly transporting isolated singular humans or small groups.

I find it curiously-revealing that driverless buses are rarely mentioned in the futurescope, only ever cars. One must, of course, maintain interpersonal stratification so as to feed consumer gradients and the edgy class alienations so vital for tomorrow's asocial society.
 

Mythopoeika

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Within this imagineering concept, driverless cars would become eternal taxis, constantly transporting isolated singular humans or small groups.

I find it curiously-revealing that driverless buses are rarely mentioned in the futurescope, only ever cars. One must, of course, maintain interpersonal stratification so as to feed consumer gradients and the edgy class alienations so vital for tomorrow's asocial society.
There's a problem with such a scenario.
There are times when people need to transport stuff - i.e. when running a business or moving house. In those situations, people would need to have their own (perhaps larger) vehicle.
 

Ermintruder

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In those situations, people would need to have their own (perhaps larger) vehic
The exoskeletons of two vehicles would then link to form a stretched wheelbase transporter. It'll be drag &drop within the app.
 
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I find it curiously-revealing that driverless buses are rarely mentioned in the futurescope, only ever cars. One must, of course, maintain interpersonal stratification so as to feed consumer gradients and the edgy class alienations so vital for tomorrow's asocial society.
That'll be a big issue. The materialists that dominate urban life will not be able to show everyone else how important they are with this system, so they won't like it. I bet (if this ever happens) they'll be 'classes' of car. Or 'buses' for the proles. Or both.
 

Ermintruder

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Why are you truncating my sentences when quoting?
That's a very-good questio...n:huh:

Inadvertant truncation....bad, biologically. Sometimes even badder, grammatical(ly)

EDIT
I'll cite screen resolution. That's my increasing inability to resolve screens....
 

rynner2

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Man in court charged with killing UK's rarest butterfly
Telegraph Reporters
10 January 2017 • 4:39pm

A man has appeared in court charged with capturing, killing and possessing specimens of the UK's rarest butterfly.
Phillip Cullen, 57, is accused of six offences relating to Large Blue (Maculinea arion) butterflies, which are endangered globally.

He is alleged to have captured and killed one Large Blue from Daneway Banks near Cirencester, Gloucestershire, on June 18 in 2015.
Cullen is also said to have captured and killed a second Large Blue from Collard Hill, near Street, Somerset, between June 17 and 20 that year.

Bristol Magistrates' Court heard the butterflies were found at Cullen's home in Cadbury Heath, Bristol, on Feb 13 in 2016.
He denies six charges, relating to two Large Blue butterflies, and will stand trial at the court on March 16.

Prosecuting, Kevin Withey told the court: "The defendant faces charges in terms of capturing, killing and possession of a protected butterfly.
"The butterfly became extinct in this country in the late 1970s and was reintroduced and is a protected species in certain parts of the country.
"Significant care is given to its wellbeing and its hopeful future flourishing.
"People collect all kinds of things. People collect butterflies and there is a trade in mounted butterflies."

etc...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/10/man-court-charged-withkilling-uks-rarest-butterfly/
 

rynner2

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First images of unique Brazilian coral reef at mouth of Amazon
The discovery of the 600 mile-long reef in 2016 stunned scientists but oil companies are planning to drill in the area
Damian Carrington
Monday 30 January 2017 12.30 GMT

The first images have been released of a unique coral reef that stunned scientists when discovered in 2016 at the mouth of the Amazon.

The 600 mile-long reef is expected to reveal new species as scientists explore it further, but oil companies are planning to drill in the area. The photographs were captured from a submarine launched to a depth of 220 metres from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza. Campaigners say drilling must be prevented to protect the reef.

The discovery of the reef, which stretches from French Guiana to Brazil’s Maranhão state, was a complete surprise to scientists because many of the world’s great rivers have major gaps in reef systems at their mouths. Corals mostly thrive in clear, sunlit water, and the waters near the mouth of the Amazon are some of the muddiest in the world.

But the reef spans the mouth of the Amazon and is already known to be home to more than 60 species of sponges, 73 species of fish, spiny lobsters and stars.
“This reef system is important for many reasons, including the fact that it has unique characteristics regarding use and availability of light,” said Nils Asp, a researcher at the Federal University of Pará in Belém, Brazil, on board the Esperanza. “It has a huge potential for new species, and it is also important for the economic well-being of fishing communities along the Amazonian coastal zone.”

Oil exploration blocks have been granted for the area and the oil companies Total, BP and Petrobras could start drilling if they obtain authorisation from the Brazilian government.

“We must defend the reef and the entire region at the mouth of the Amazon river basin from the corporate greed that puts profits ahead of the environment,” said Thiago Almeida, a campaigner at Greenpeace Brazil. The mouth of the Amazon river basin is also the habitat of the American manatee, the Amazon river’s yellow turtle, dolphins and the river otter.

Scientists revealed the existence of the reef in April 2016 and wrote: “These [exploration] blocks will soon be producing oil in close proximity to the reefs, but the environmental baseline compiled by the companies and the Brazilian government is still incipient and largely based on sparse museum specimens. Such large-scale industrial activities present a major environmental challenge.”

Greenpeace Brazil said 95 wells have already been drilled in the region, none of which found economically or technically viable gas and oil. But the Brazilian government speculates that the area may contain 14bn barrels of oil.

https://www.theguardian.com/environ...ages-unique-brazilian-coral-reef-mouth-amazon
 

rynner2

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Johnson & Johnson ditch plastic cotton buds to save oceans
Sarah Knapton, Science Editor
13 February 2017 • 6:33pm

Cotton buds made by the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson will no longer have plastic handles to prevent toxic waste reaching waterways and seas.
Plastic cotton buds are the number one item of plastic, sewage-related debris found on our beaches and rivers, according to the last year’s Marine Conservation Society's Great British Beach Clean.

The switch to paper handles began on Monday, and the new products will be on shop shelves in Britain within the coming weeks. Johnson & Johnson said it will prevent tens of thousands of tonnes of plastic reaching the seas.
Niamh Finan, Group Marketing Manager, “We recognise that our products have an environmental footprint, and that’s why we’re working hard to continually improve and champion best practice in sustainability, in line with our company’s founding principles.”

The change came following a campaign by Scottish environmentalists Fidra, who have been calling for companies to switch to paper stems since 2013.

Dr Clare Cavers, Research Officer, Fidra, said: "We commend Johnson & Johnson for leading this change in product material, it is an important part of the solution to the growing problem of plastic pollution in our seas.
“A step change in consumer behaviour is needed to ensure people dispose of waste responsibly and only flush toilet paper.”

Each year more than 300 million tons of plastic are produced globally, and 10 per cent will end up in the sea.
It is estimated that there is now a 1:2 ratio of plastic to plankton and, left unchecked, plastic will outweigh fish by 2050.

etc...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/02/13/johnson-johnson-ditch-plastic-cotton-buds-save-oceans/

However...
Johnson & Johnson to pay $72M in talcum powder-related cancer case
USA Today Network Mary Bowerman

Health giant Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $72 million in damages to the family of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer allegedly caused by using the company’s Baby Powder and other products that contained talc for feminine hygiene.

A St. Louis jury reached the verdict Monday night, awarding the family of Jackie Fox, $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages, AP reported.

After her cancer diagnosis, Fox, who lived in Birmingham, Ala., joined dozens of women suing the company for what they said was a failure to inform consumers about the dangers of talc, which is found in baby powder.

During the trial, Fox’s lawyers claimed that the company was aware of the possible risk of using products containing talc for feminine hygienic use.
Studies mixed on link between talcum powder, ovarian cancer

A 1997 internal memo from a company medical consultant said "anybody who denies” the risk of using hygienic talc and ovarian cancer is "denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary,” AP reported.

etc...

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money...y-powder-talcum-ovarian-cancer-link/80845030/
 

rynner2

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'Extraordinary' levels of pollutants found in 10km deep Mariana trench
Presence of manmade chemicals in most remote place on planet shows nowhere is safe from human impact, say scientists
Damian Carrington
Monday 13 February 2017 23.33 GMT
Scientists have discovered “extraordinary” levels of toxic pollution in the most remote and inaccessible place on the planet – the 10km deep
Mariana trench in the Pacific Ocean.

Small crustaceans that live in the pitch-black waters of the trench, captured by a robotic submarine, were contaminated with 50 times more toxic chemicals than crabs that survive in heavily polluted rivers in China.

“We still think of the deep ocean as being this remote and pristine realm, safe from human impact, but our research shows that, sadly, this could not be further from the truth,” said Alan Jamieson of Newcastle University in the UK, who led the research.
“The fact that we found such extraordinary levels of these pollutants really brings home the long-term, devastating impact that mankind is having on the planet,” he said.

Jamieson’s team identified two key types of severely toxic industrial chemicals that were banned in the late 1970s, but do not break down in the environment, known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These chemicals have previously been found at high levels in Inuit people in the Canadian Arctic and in killer whales and dolphins in western Europe.

The research, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, suggests that the POPs infiltrate the deepest parts of the oceans as dead animals and particles of plastic fall downwards. POPs accumulate in fat and are therefore concentrated in creatures up the food chain. They are also water-repellent and so stick to plastic waste.

etc...

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/13/extraordinary-levels-of-toxic-pollution-found-in-10km-deep-mariana-trench


 

rynner2

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Plastic 'nurdles' found on 73% of UK beaches

Almost three-quarters of beaches in the UK are littered with tiny plastic "nurdles", a survey suggests.
The lentil-sized pellets are used as a raw material to make plastic products. A search of 279 shorelines between Shetland and the Scilly Isles found 205 (73%) had industrial pellets on them.

They can cause damage to such wildlife as birds and fish, which eat them.
The survey results will be added to a government consultation on microplastics.
Campaigners estimate that up to 53 billion of the tiny pellets escape into the UK's environment each year.
This happens during the manufacture, transport or use of plastic products.

The nurdles are often spilt accidentally into rivers and oceans or fall into drains where they are washed out to sea.
Experts warn nurdles can soak up chemical pollutants from their surroundings and then release toxins into the animals that eat them.

The Great Winter Nurdle Hunt survey was carried out by 600 volunteers over a weekend in early February.
The largest number recorded were found at Widemouth Bay, Cornwall, where 33 volunteers collected some 127,500 pellets found on a 100-metre stretch of beach.
They are one of the main sources of "primary microplastics" - small pieces of plastic which have come from larger items broken down into little bits - in European seas.

Madeleine Berg of Fidra, a Scottish environmental charity which organised the hunt, said she was delighted so many people took part in the hunt - and says it shows that action is needed.
"Simple precautionary measures can help spillages and ensure nurdles don't end up in our environment," she said.
"We are asking the UK government to ensure best practice is in place along the full plastic supply chain, and any further nurdle pollution is stopped."

Fidra organised the nurdle hunt along with the Environmental Investigation Agency, Fauna and Flora International, Greenpeace, the Marine Conservation Society and Surfers Against Sewage.

etc...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39001011
 

rynner2

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South West Water fined for sewage pollution which forced closure of shellfish beds
By wbchris | Posted: February 21, 2017

South West Water has been told it must pay more than £200,000 after a Bank Holiday spill forced mussel and oyster beds to close in Fal estuary.

The company has been ordered to pay £205,000 in fines and costs for discharging sewage into the Fal estuary in Cornwall in a case which was brought by the Environment Agency.

On August 26, 2013, untreated sewage overflowed from the water company's Newham sewage treatment works near Truro into the Fal, an internationally important shellfishery, Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

The illegal spill occurred after a piece of redundant grating fell and partially blocked an inlet at the works, causing sewage to back up and overflow into the estuary via a storm storage outfall. The spill continued for about 9.5 hours, during which time enough sewage escaped to fill 4,563 bath tubs (730,000 litres).

The discharge occurred close to mussel and oyster beds at Malpas and Grimes Bar. As a precaution, these shellfisheries were temporarily closed by Cornwall Port Health Authority because of the possible risk of contamination by harmful viruses and bacteria such as Norovirus and e.coli.

The decision to close the shellfish beds was taken just before the start of the commercial harvesting season (October 1). Although most harvesting is done during the commercial season, there is a risk small quantities of shellfish may be hand-picked by individuals outside of this time and there would have been a potential risk to those consumers.

Sewage at the Newham treatment works normally undergoes a high level of treatment (tertiary) including ultra violet (UV) that kills bacteria and disinfects effluent. An UV disinfection system is required at this site because of the Fal estuary's designation as a shellfishery.

The sewage discharged over a bank holiday on August 26 was settled and screened, but otherwise untreated and occurred outside of a storm event. This would have resulted in a significant increase in levels of bacteria in parts of the Fal estuary and meant the treatment works was in breach of its Environment Agency permit.

Mark Pilcher, team leader for the Environment Agency in west Cornwall, said: "It is essential large sewage works bordering estuaries with conservation designations and also containing shellfish beds are operated and inspected to a high standard to prevent non-permitted sewage spills posing risks to public health and the environment.
"In this case an inspection programme or removal of a redundant grating structure would have removed the risk of this grating falling into the sewage works and blocking it leading to the spill of sewage."

South West Water Limited was fined £185,000 plus £20,000 costs after pleading guilty to two offences under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010 including, on August 26, 2013, causing pollution of the Fal estuary through the illegal discharge of sewage and failing to maintain a saline tank valve at its Newham sewage treatment works.

The water company was fined £175,000 for the first offence and £10,000 for the second. The case was heard at Truro Crown Court on February 15, 2017.

http://www.cornwalllive.com/south-w...ellfish-beds/story-30149902-detail/story.html
 

rynner2

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'Magical thinking' on Heathrow expansion
By Roger Harrabin BBC environment analyst

Heathrow expansion can only be justified if the government proves it will not breach laws on climate change and pollution, MPs say.
Ministers say a third runway will not exceed environment limits.
However, the Commons Environmental Audit Committee has accused the government of "magical thinking" - wishing the problem away without a proper solution.
They say ministers must show the expansion will not fuel climate change.

Committee chair Mary Creagh told BBC News: "There's plenty of talk about how the government wants to solve environmental problems at Heathrow, but a total absence of any policy guarantees.
"The implication of this is that they think other sectors of the economy like energy and industry are going to have to cut their carbon emissions even more so people can fly more - but the government's been told by its own advisors (the Committee on Climate Change) that's not possible."

The MPs also criticised the government's reliance on a projected increase in electric vehicles on the roads to keep local air pollution within safe limits.
"The government has missed already its targets for electric vehicles," Ms Creagh said. "Our committee has no confidence it will meet its target for 2020 or 2030. Ministers have got to put proper policies in place instead of relying on magical thinking."

The committee previously urged a step change in the way the government tackles environmental issues at Heathrow, but says there is little evidence this has happened.
The UK has already breached EU limits in London for the pollutant NO2 for 2017. The committee says a new air quality strategy is urgently needed to ensure that airport expansion does not harm public health.

The government has said after Brexit that EU environmental laws will be imported wholesale into the UK, but the MPs say they have seen no guarantees that the government will keep pace with future EU air quality laws.
The report calls on the ministers to implement an alert system for nearby residents who are especially vulnerable to short-term exposure to air pollution.

On climate change, the MPs complain that international aviation emissions from an expanded Heathrow will be 15% higher than the level previously set for 2028-32. They say the government must show how the slack will be taken up by other sectors of the economy, which are already struggling to meet their own emissions targets.

etc...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39053172
 
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