Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Three Years Later, Who is Responsible?: Interview with Chiho Kaneko and Arnie Gundersen
‘Nuclear power engineer Arnie Gunderson and journalist Chiho Kaneko discuss a lawsuit to hold General Electric and other reactor manufacturing companies responsible and the Japanese public’s attitude toward nuclear energy.’ (The Real News)
- Nuclear lobby still gagging independent coverage three years after disaster
- Fukushima’s children at centre of debate over rates of thyroid cancer
- Fukushima operator may have to dump contaminated water into Pacific
- Japanese film director turns his camera on Fukushima fallout
- Japan’s Fukushima recovery: What’s been done and what’s still to do
- U.S. Nuclear Agency Hid Concerns, Hailed Safety Record as Fukushima Melted
- Lingering Problems At Fukushima Raise Questions About Nuclear Power Safety In US: Interview with David Lochbaum and Susan Stranahan (Video)
- Wikipedia: Nuclear power whistleblowers
- Fukushima Radiation To Reach West Coast In April, Experts Weigh In On How Dangerous It Is
- Japan Marks 3 Years Since Triple Disaster, 270k Survivors Still Can’t Go Home
- In Pictures: The Fukushima children who have to play indoors
- Hundreds rally in Tokyo against dropped Fukushima crisis charges
- “If She Bleeds, She Can’t Lead” Pro-Nuclear Abe-Loyalist Elected Tokyo Governor
- Meet the Robots of Fukushima Daiichi
- At Fukushima, a radioactive mess wrapped up in plastic with nowhere to go
- Japan’s nuclear regulator raps Fukushima operator over radiation readings
A judge in the US has ruled that lawyers representing Amazonian villagers used bribes to secure compensation worth billions of dollars from oil company Chevron in Ecuador. The latest ruling means that the Amazonian villagers cannot use US courts to enforce the ruling against the American oil company. Chevron had been found guilty in Ecuador of causing environmental damage to the Lago Agrio region. The legal team says they will appeal.
In 2011, an Ecuadorean judge ordered Chevron to pay $18.2bn (£11.4bn) for “extensively polluting” the Lago Agrio region. Ecuador’s highest court last year upheld the verdict against Chevron, but reduced the amount of compensation to $9.5bn. The alleged environmental damage was done by Texaco between 1964 and 1990. Texaco was later acquired by Chevron. The American oil firm has always maintained that it cleaned up the area before handing over the oil field to the Ecuadorean government.
It argued that it only lost the case because the legal team representing the villagers paid nearly $300,000 in bribes in Ecuador. US district judge Lewis Kaplan in New York has now ruled that Steven Donziger’s legal team used “corrupt means” to win the 2011 case. Mr Kaplan described the evidence against Mr Donziger’s team as “voluminous”.
The bodies, when they came, were often mummified. The two soldiers interred last September were blond, blue-eyed Austrians aged 17 and 18 years old, who died on the Presena glacier and were buried by their comrades, top-to-toe, in a crevasse. Both had bulletholes in their skulls. One still had a spoon tucked into his puttees — common practice among soldiers who travelled from trench to trench and ate out of communal pots. When Franco Nicolis of the Archaeological Heritage Office in the provincial capital, Trento, saw them, he says, his first thought was for their mothers. ‘They feel contemporary. They come out of the ice just as they went in,’ he says. In all likelihood the soldiers’ mothers never discovered their sons’ fate. One of the oddities of the White War was that both the Alpini and the Kaiserschützen recruited local men who knew the mountains, which meant that they often knew each other too. Sometimes family loyalties were split. ‘There are many stories of people hearing the voice of a brother or a cousin in the thick of battle,’ Nicolis says.
‘Hundreds of students demand President Obama reject the Keystone XL pipeline deal, but Obama has already fast tracked the southern half of the pipeline which is currently delivering Canadian tar sands to Texas refineries.’ (The Real News)
‘On Sunday, 398 opponents of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline were arrested in front of the White House in what could be the largest youth sit-in on the environment in a generation. Students from more than 80 colleges rallied at Georgetown University and then marched to the White House, wearing mock “hazmat suits” and holding banners with slogans like “Keep your oil out of my soil” and “Even Voldemort Hates Tar Sands.” President Obama is expected to issue a decision in the next few months on the pipeline, which would transport 830,000 barrels of crude every day from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries on the U.S. gulf coast. We speak to American University student Deirdre Shelly about why she was arrested on Sunday and the growing student-led movement to convince universities, colleges and cities to divest from fossil fuel companies.’ (Democracy Now!)
The former UK foreign secretary and president of the New York-based International Rescue Committee, David Miliband, is urging the creation of a seagoing police force to bring order to the “wild west” free-for-all on the high seas that is damaging the health of the world’s oceans. Miliband and the former Costa Rican president, José María Figueres, who together serve as co-chairs of the Global Oceans Commission, will formally unveil their ideas for ocean reform in a report next June. But the two leaders have begun to sound out international reaction to a set of proposals for protecting oceans, from a crackdown on illegal fishing to a clean-up of the vast churn of plastic particles in the Pacific and expanding marine protection zones. The two men will preview their ideas at a high-level gathering in California on Tuesday organised by the Economist and National Geographic.
Bringing order to the high seas is critical to managing existing fish stocks and safeguarding the world’s food supply, Miliband said. ”The high seas are seriously undergoverned,” Miliband, said in an interview. “There are parts of the high seas that are certainly anarchic. There are parts of the high seas that look too much like the wild west.” The commission is understood to be in discussions with Interpol about the deployment of an international ocean-police force. Miliband said his vision of an ocean protection force would lean heavily on the deployment of new surveillance technologies to identify and track fishing vessels operating on the high seas, as well as their catch. ”If you are to have an enforcement regime, it needs to be policed,” Miliband said. But he cautioned: “It is not about having people in boats necessarily.”
As if flooded homes and disrupted power supplies have not created enough misery, Britain’s wettest winter on record has created perfect conditions for sinkholes, 10 of which have been reported this month. Cars, roads and bits of homes have tumbled into the voids created after the ground collapses into subterranean cavities. Sinkholes have occurred at between five and 10 times the normal rate in February, said Tony Waltham, an expert on the phenomenon. He said the increase was unsurprising after three unusually wet months. “It is exactly as extraordinary as this being the wettest winter on record. It is a direct correlation with rainfall,” he said.
Too much water can cause soluble rocks such as gypsum and chalk to dissolve and erode, creating underground shafts. But too little water can also be a cause. If ground water is removed through abstraction or prolonged drought, underground rocks can crumble under the pressure from above. Sinkholes can occur slowly or suddenly, depending on the material that coats the surface. Sand will subside along with the material beneath, meaning a gradual sinking. But a more robust material such as clay can hold together for much longer, leaving a chasm beneath.
Argentina’s fertile lands make it one of the world’s great food-producing nations. But farmers there are in a constant battle against insects with environmentalists worried about the side effects from the heavy use of pesticides. (Al Jazeera)
Elephants not only recognize when a member of their group is stressed, they offer comfort in the form of reassuring touches and chirping noises, reports National Geographic. The “comforting” trait is rare among animals, with dogs, chimps, and we humans among the few to have it. Researchers in Thailand studying Asian elephants saw the pattern time after time: When one elephant showed signs of distress (think flared nostrils and an erect tail), others would gather around to offer support. The supportive elephants would put their trunks in the stressed elephant’s mouth, make noises akin to chirps, and touch the elephant’s genitals (but not in that way), reports Scientific American.
“Genital touching is a way for elephants to identify others, and in this case, it may also be a way for the elephants to identify the behavioral state of the others,” one of the co-authors says in the LA Times. Putting their trunks in the other’s mouth, meanwhile, “seems to be a way of saying, ‘I’m here to help you.’” (National Geographic likens it to a hug.) Researchers hope the insight into the elephants’ behavior could help conservation efforts, as human and elephant habitats move ever closer together.
The Ecuadorian government was negotiating a secret $1bn deal with a Chinese bank to drill for oil under the Yasuni national park in the Amazon while pursuing a high-profile scheme to keep the oil under the ground in return for international donations, according to a government document seen by the Guardian.
The proposed behind-the-scenes deal, which traded drilling access in exchange for Chinese lending for Ecuadorian government projects, will dismay green and human rights groups who had praised Ecuador for its pioneering Yasuni-ITT Initiative to protect the forest. Yasuni is one of the most biodiverse places in the world and home to indigenous peoples – some of whom are living in what Ecuador’s constitution calls “voluntary isolation”.
The initiative – which was abandoned by Ecuador’s government last year– is seen as a way to protect the Amazon, biodiversity and indigenous peoples’ territories, as well as combat climate change, break Ecuador’s dependency on oil and avoid causing the kind of social and environmental problems already caused by oil operations in the Ecuadorian rainforest.
- Nebraska Judge Voids Keystone XL Approval
- Fears grow over shipping oil and gas by train (Video)
- Keystone XL’s Northern Leg: A Fracked Oil Pipeline Along with Tar Sands
- Pollution from oilsands greater than first believed, new research suggests
- Approving Keystone XL Could Be the Biggest Mistake of Obama’s Presidency
- Keystone-Resisting Landowners See Cash Offers Skyrocket
China is exploiting Africa’s resources just like European colonisers did, with disastrous effects for the environment, acclaimed primatologist Jane Goodall has told AFP. On the eve of her 80th birthday, the fiery British wildlife crusader is whizzing across the world giving a series of lectures on the threats to our planet. And the rising world power’s involvement on the continent especially raises alarms when it comes to her beloved chimpanzees and wildlife habitats.
During the last decade China has been investing heavily in African natural resources, developing mines, oil wells and running related construction companies. Activists accuse Chinese firms of paying little attention to the environmental impact of their race for resources.
“In Africa, China is merely doing what the colonialist did. They want raw materials for their economic growth, just as the colonialists were going into Africa and taking the natural resources, leaving people poorer,” she told AFP in an interview in Johannesburg.
Denmark’s government has brought in a ban on the religious slaughter of animals for the production of halal and kosher meat, after years of campaigning from welfare activists. The change to the law, announced last week and effective as of yesterday, has been called “anti-Semitism” by Jewish leaders and “a clear interference in religious freedom” by the non-profit group Danish Halal.
European regulations require animals to be stunned before they are slaughtered, but grants exemptions on religious grounds. For meat to be considered kosher under Jewish law or halal under Islamic law, the animal must be conscious when killed. Yet defending his government’s decision to remove this exemption, the minister for agriculture and food Dan Jørgensen told Denmark’s TV2 that “animal rights come before religion”.
Last Tuesday [Feb 11th], the residents of the small rural community of Bobtown in the far southwestern corner of Pennsylvania woke up to a horrible shock — the sound of a massive explosion in their backyards. The source of the blast and the intensely hot fire that followed was a Chevron fracking well that had been set to begin production, but instead shot orange flames high into the air and gave off loud hissing sounds that could be heard hundreds of yards away.
[...] Of course, living near a fracking rig in Pennsylvania — the state that Gov. Corbett has promised will become “the Texas of natural gas” — isn’t a picnic under the best of circumstances; scores of neighbors have complained about polluted drinking water or foul odors or ailing pets and livestock, of headaches and nausea and skin rashes.
But the people of Bobtown who endured the Chevron blast got a sweet — or rather savory — consolation prize for all that agita.
Pizza, pizza!. OK. actually just…pizza
Toxic chemicals may be triggering the recent increases in neurodevelopmental disabilities among children — such as autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and dyslexia — according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The researchers say a new global prevention strategy to control the use of these substances is urgently needed. The report [was] published online February 15, 2014 in Lancet Neurology.
“The greatest concern is the large numbers of children who are affected by toxic damage to brain development in the absence of a formal diagnosis. They suffer reduced attention span, delayed development, and poor school performance. Industrial chemicals are now emerging as likely causes,” said Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at HSPH.
The report follows up on a similar review conducted by the authors in 2006 that identified five industrial chemicals as “developmental neurotoxicants,” or chemicals that can cause brain deficits. The new study offers updated findings about those chemicals and adds information on six newly recognized ones, including manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos and DDT (pesticides), tetrachloroethylene (a solvent), and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardants).
Secretary of State John F. Kerry, calling climate change perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction, urged developing nations on Sunday to do more to cut greenhouse-gas emissions as he derided climate-change skeptics at home and blamed big companies for hijacking the debate.
Kerry painted a picture of looming drought and famine, massive floods and deadly storms as a result of global warming, and he urged ordinary citizens in developing nations to speak out on the issue and demand more from their political leaders. He labeled those who denied the evidence of climate change as “shoddy scientists and extreme ideologues.”
[...] Global efforts to counter climate change have long foundered on a sharp divide between developed and developing nations. Although developing nations now account for more than half of greenhouse-gas emissions, they have been reluctant to commit to meaningful cuts as they seek a path to Western industrialization and prosperity. They argue the West caused the problem and should fix it.
But Kerry, who has spent much of his long political career calling for more action on the issue, said that every country needed to play a role in cleaner energy or the world would face a calamitous future, calling climate change “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”
Flood-stricken communities, including those visited by David Cameron in the Somerset Levels and Yalding in Kent, have been left without planned defences following government funding cuts, the Guardian can reveal.
Undelivered defences, totalling many millions of pounds, also include schemes on the stretch of Devon coast at Dawlish where the mainline railway fell into the sea and near the nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
Ministers have been heavily criticised for cutting flood defence spending by almost £100m a year after taking power, but this is the first time specific projects affected by the cuts have been identified.
The Duke of Cambridge wants all ivory in the royal collection at Buckingham Palace to be removed and destroyed, it is reported.
Days after the duke gave his backing to a campaign against elephant poaching, the leading primatologist Jane Goodall told the Independent on Sunday (IoS) Prince William had told her he would “like to see all the ivory owned by Buckingham Palace destroyed”.
The royal collection contains about 1,200 artefacts dating back hundreds of years. During the past few years, Prince Charles has reportedly asked for all ivory items at his Clarence House and Highgrove homes to be removed from sight.
[...] Illegal trade in animal parts such as rhino horn and elephant tusks is worth more than an estimated £11.5bn each year.
UK Government releases figures showing badger cull case was exaggerated by flawed bovine TB statistics
The Government’s highly controversial badger cull has suffered a further setback after it released figures which showed it had exaggerated the case for the cull. The Department for Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (Defra) has admitted that an IT glitch meant it had overstated the number of cattle herds infected by tuberculosis in Britain to such an extent that there had actually been a decline in the year preceding the badger cull in September 2013, rather than the rise it had previously announced.
Revised numbers, calculated after an error was found in the system last month, show that the number of herds infected by bovine TB fell by 3.4 per cent in the year to September 2013, rather than rising by 18 per cent, as it previously said. Defra also disclosed that the rate of new infections had been slightly exaggerated in both 2012 and 2013 – again undermining the case for the cull of badgers, which most scientists believe help to spread the disease between cattle.
Take 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors, each 7 feet high and 10 feet wide. Control them with computers to focus the Sun’s light to the top of 459-foot towers, where water is turned into steam to power turbines. Bingo: you have the world’s biggest solar power plant, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System.
The U.S. State Department plans to create an Arctic ambassador position to highlight the growing importance of that region. In a letter to U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, Secretary of State John Kerry said he planned to name a “high-level individual of substantial stature and expertise” to serve as Special Representative for the Arctic Region.
“For a long time now, I’ve shared the view that the Arctic region really is the last global frontier, and the United States needs to elevate our attention and effort to keep up with the opportunities and consequences presented by the Arctic’s rapid transformation,” Kerry wrote in the letter, released by Begich’s office Friday. “Properly managed, this region provides an opportunity for creative diplomatic leadership — but truly establishing and capitalizing on this leadership role will require making the Arctic region a higher U.S. priority; greater attention paid by senior policy makers; and, in keeping with President Obama’s call for ‘national unity of effort’ on the Arctic, coordination of operational departments.”
Hanford’s Dirty Secret: Federal Gov’t Refused To Take Action On Radiation Leak At Nuclear Waste Storage Facility
Water is being rationed to nearly 6 million people living in a total of 142 cities across 11 states in Brazil, the world’s leading exporter of soybeans, coffee, orange juice, sugar and beef. Water supply companies told the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper that the country’s reservoirs, rivers and streams are the driest they have been in 20 years. A record heat wave could raise energy prices and damage crops. Some neighborhoods in the city of Itu in Sao Paulo state (which accounts for one-quarter of Brazil’s population and one-third of its GDP), only receive water once every three days, for a total of 13 hours.
Brazil’s water utility company Sabesp said on its website that the Cantareira water system (the largest of the six that provide water to nearly half of the 20 million people living in the metropolitan area of Sao Paulo) is at less than 19 percent of its capacity of 1 trillion liters. The company described the situation at Cantareira as “critical”: the amount of rain registered in the month to January was the lowest in 84 years. Sabesp said the other five water supply systems in Sao Paulo’s metropolitan area were normal for this time of year, however. The PCJ Consorcio water association said the area would have to see 17 millimeters of rain a day for two months until Cantareira’s water level recovers to 50 percent of its capacity.
Severe flooding threatens to undermine the country’s food security, according to farmers and environmental groups, who today accuse the government of failing to address the effects of climate change on coastal and rural areas.
As gales swept southern and western parts of the UK, with already drenched counties bearing the brunt of the storms, it has emerged that parliament’s select committee on the environment warned in a report last year that “the current model for allocating flood defence funding is biased towards protecting property, which means that funding is largely allocated to urban areas. Defra’s [the Department of the Environment's] failure to protect rural areas poses a long-term risk to the security of UK food production, as a high proportion of the most valuable agricultural land is at risk of flooding.”
“We need a response from government that recognises the importance for our long-term food security of safeguarding high-quality farmland,” said Neil Sinden of the Campaign to Protect Rural England. “We need to view the countryside as more than a place for building, and value it for the food it provides.” Defra has estimated that 35,000 hectares of high-quality horticultural and arable land will be flooded at least once every three years by the 2020s. This could rise to around 130,000 hectares by the 2080s if there is no change to current flood defence provision.