Even the tiniest mistake during an operation to extract over 1,300 fuel rods at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan could lead to a series of cascading failures with an apocalyptic outcome, fallout researcher Christina Consolo told RT.
Fukushima operator TEPCO wants to extract 400 tons worth of spent fuel rods stored in a pool at the plant’s damaged Reactor No. 4. The removal would have to be done manually from the top store of the damaged building in the radiation-contaminated environment.
In the worst-case scenario, a mishandled rod may go critical, resulting in an above-ground meltdown releasing radioactive fallout with no way to stop it, said Consolo, who is the founder and host of Nuked Radio. But leaving the things as they are is not an option, because statistical risk of a similarly bad outcome increases every day, she said.
Federal Brazilian police and military personnel, some wearing United Nations insignia, are forcibly relocating whole communities in Brazil at gunpoint under the guise of returning huge tracts of land to a small group of Indians whose ancestors were allegedly there at some point. Thousands of local residents who have lived in the area for decades or were even born there, however, are fighting back, with critics saying the government’s actions smack of Stalinism and may constitute crimes against humanity.
About 3,000 people lived in Posto da Mata, including 700 school children who will now be homeless if the government gets its way. “Where are we going to stay? Where are we going to live? What are we going to live off of? What are we going to eat going forward?” wondered a tearful girl outside one of the town’s two schools in a TV interview. “I’ve lived here all my 17 years and I’m not leaving.”
Mosquito control officials in the Florida Keys are waiting for the federal government to sign off on an experiment that would release hundreds of thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce the risk of dengue fever in the tourist town of Key West.
If approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it would be the first such experiment in the U.S.
For the people of Bayou Corne, a small community in northern Assumption Parish, the first signs of trouble appeared in late May. Streams of bubbles appeared in the water in nearby Bayou Lofourche. Then in early August a series of tremors led to the discovery of a sinkhole. Since then that hole in the ground has continued to grow along with the concerns of local residents and the officials they are looking to for answers.
Louisiana’s Assumption Parish sinkhole caused the evacuation of 150 homes in early August and continues to threaten the area with possible explosions due to methane gas pockets. Property owners have not been allowed to return home yet, and businesses are at risk.
Texas Brine Co. began burning off natural gas Friday that was trapped in a water aquifer near a sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish, officials said.
This was the first time state, parish or company officials have been able to get gas to flow from four “vent wells” driven into the ground around the sinkhole in order to draw the dangerous gas out of the aquifer.
Located in the swamps between Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou south of La. 70 South, the sinkhole is more than 5½ acres in size at the surface and has prompted authorities to issue a standing evacuation order on Aug. 3 applying to 150 homes.
Fears that the trapped gas, which is colorless, odorless and potentially explosive, could accumulate to dangerous levels at the surface has further justified the evacuation order, parish officials have said.
Is this a surprise? Often, the media and policy wonks discuss the consumer-side effects of environmental protection, but the environmental effects of manufacturing “green solutions” should not be taken lightly.
Electric cars actually harm the environment more than their gas-powered counterparts in many places, a new study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has concluded. That’s in part because electric car production “proved substantially more environmentally intensive,” the report said, according to the BBC. “The global warming potential from electric vehicle production is about twice that of conventional vehicles.”
That higher production cost might pay off if you live in an area powered by clean electricity sources—particularly if the car stays on the road a long time. But if your area gets its power from fossil fuels like coal or lignite, “it is counterproductive to promote electric vehicles,” the report said—they may even wind up causing more carbon emissions than gas burners. In addition, electric car batteries require toxic minerals like nickel, copper, and aluminum, increasing the potential for acidification.
This article appeared on September 10, 2011 in the New York Times, calling for swift action on building disaster-mitigating infrastructure such as “sea walls” around New York City, to prevent Sandy-force hurricane damage post-Irene one year before. As this article shows, one year and almost two months before Superstorm Sandy hit, storm experts were already worried about how vulnerable New York and its environs were to increasingly-violent coastal storm events, now rendered even more so in Sandy’s wake. While some planning experts are calling for 100-year planning horizons, the city had been in the process of spending more than $2 billion over the course of 18 years, clearly a drop in the needs bucket, and too late for Sandy and its aftermath just one year later.
Only a year ago, [city officials] point out, the city shut down the subway system and ordered the evacuation of 370,000 people as Hurricane Irene barreled up the Atlantic coast. Ultimately, the hurricane weakened to a tropical storm and spared the city, but it exposed how New York is years away from — and billions of dollars short of — armoring itself. “They lack a sense of urgency about this,” said Douglas Hill, an engineer with the Storm Surge Research Group at Stony Brook University, on Long Island. Instead of “planning to be flooded,” as he put it, city, state and federal agencies should be investing in protection like sea gates that could close during a storm and block a surge from Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean into the East River and New York Harbor.