Dec 31, 2014

Ukraine Nuke Plant Problems of Grave Concern

(12/31 Eastern Ukraine) Over the last week, more publications including Zero Hedge, have started reporting on the possibility of a still developing nuclear problem at Zaporozhye, the largest nuclear plant in Europe. This news has been widely circulated in Eastern Europe over the last few weeks.

The problem with nuclear concerns inUkraine has been and remains verification. Ukrainian sources have not been forthcoming. When this first occurred I was contacted through a 2ndparty and told directly after the officially reported transformer incident a radiation spike was observed in Crimea which is 140km away from Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. This spike was small against background radiation but noticeable on a geiger counter. I was also given hacked files of the emergency conversation that happened at the plant that day. They are included at the bottom of the article. The closeness to what is coming to light makes them too close to be ignored.

Understanding Geiger Counters

The first thing most people don't realize is that geiger counters are location sensitive. They are calibrated against background radiation for a specific location. This means if you take a geiger counter and move as little as 1 km, the background radiation itself could be different and the measurement inaccurate. Known background radiation is the Zero point on a calibrated geiger counter.

Second and as important is that all sensitive measurement tools need to be calibrated and certified to be useful. Sensitive tools go out of calibration by themselves over time. After Fukashima, a new normal needs to be considered.

What this means to Europe is the possibility of a larger than Fukashima event opening up in its own backyard and without getting a handle on it now- quite literally. Depending on which way the wind blows without verifying anything they are leaving their own countries futures in the hands of Ukrainian nationalists that are in the middle of trying to perpetrate a genocide in Donbas.

Ukraine reported an incident (non-nuclear) which was a transformer short circuiting, not an accident which is used for radiological issues. This was carried across the nuclear industry forums that talked about it. The case was closed on that basis.

As reported at Zero Hedge-Two days ago we reported of the odd coincidence of a 2nd emergency shutdown at Ukraine's Zaporozhye Nuclear reactor - Europe's largest nuclear power plant following our earlier fears of disinformation. Today, we get information of a leaked report sourced from three different place - unconfirmed for now (but RT is trying to verify) - that Ukrainian nuclear scientists misled the public and a radioactive leak has been detected - citing the country's emergency services claiming that levels of radiation are 16.3 times the legally permitted norm.

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Dec 18, 2014

670,000 smog-related deaths a year: the cost of China's reliance on coal

South China Morning Post: Smog caused by coal consumption killed an estimated 670,000 people in China in 2012, according to a study by researchers that tries to put a price tag on the environmental and social costs of the heavy reliance on the fuel.

Damage to the environment and health added up to 260 yuan (HK$330) for each tonne produced and used in 2012, said Teng Fei , an associate professor at Tsinghua University.

The 260 yuan is made up of two parts: the health cost and the environmental damage caused by mining and transporting coal.

"With existing environmental fees and taxes of between 30 to 50 yuan for each tonne of coal, the country's current pricing system has largely failed to reflect the true costs," Teng said.

Tiny particulate pollutants, especially those smaller than 2.5 micrograms (known as PM2.5), were linked to 670,000 premature deaths from four diseases - strokes, lung cancer, coronary heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - in China in 2012, Teng said.

That translated to an external cost of 166 yuan for each tonne of coal consumed. Authorities levied only about 5 yuan as a pollution fee per tonne of coal used by consumers including power companies and iron, steel and cement producers.

Mining and transport add 94 yuan per tonne, including through damage to groundwater resources, subsidence, deaths and occupational diseases.

Beijing is considering replacing pollution charges with more stringent environmental protection taxes, but progress on legislation has been slow.

Li Guoxing , from Peking University's School of Public Health, said the full impact of coal use was still underestimated as the study did not take into account medical costs associated with other pollution-induced diseases such as asthma.

Respiratory patients wait at a Hangzhou hospital. Photo: Reuters

"The health cost [of the study] is only based on the premature death figures due to the limitations of our research data," said Li. "It could be way higher if we also include medical costs for other chronic illnesses."

The study found that in 2012, more than 70 per cent of the population was exposed to annual PM2.5 pollution levels higher than 35 micrograms per cubic metre, the country's benchmark for healthy air quality.

The World Health Organisation sets its PM2.5 safety limit at an annual concentration of 10mcg/cubic metre. That class of particulate was officially recognised as a human carcinogen last year by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, especially its link to lung cancer and a heightened risk of bladder cancer.

In 2012, some 157 million people in China lived in areas where the annual PM2.5 concentration was higher than 100mcg/cubic metre - 10 times the WHO's recommendation.

A previous study published in British medical journal The Lancet said outdoor air pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010, or 40 per cent of the global total. Former health minister Chen Zhu said this year that pollution caused 350,000 to 500,000 premature deaths a year in China.

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Dec 17, 2014

EPA Celebrates 40th Anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act (CA)

Agency tours small drinking water systems, discusses small system challenges in Coachella ValleyLOS ANGELES — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). State, local and community representatives joined EPA Regiona... Please continue reading from: EPA 

11 Trillion Gallons of Water Needed To End California Drought

b Slashdot
 a new study which found that California can recover from its lengthy drought with a mere 11 trillion gallons of water. The volume this water would occupy (roughly 42 cubic kilometers) is half again as large as the biggest water reservoir in the U.S. A team of JPL scientists worked this out through the use of NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites. From the article:GRACE data reveal that, since 2011, the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins decreased in volume by four trillion gallons of water each year (15 cubic kilometers). That's more water than California's 38 million residents use each year for domestic and municipal purposes. About two-thirds of the loss is due to depletion of groundwater beneath California's Central Valley. ... New drought maps show groundwater levels across the U.S. Southwest are in the lowest two to 10 percent since 1949.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Dec 16, 2014

Plastic waste account for nearly 99 % of the marine litter

Plastic kits account for nearly 99 % of the marine litter in coastal waters, said a recent research conducted by Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). The CMFRI study, on the kind of litter that is found in backwaters, said that of the total marine litter, almost 97.51% were plastic materials found in fishing nets. Please continue reading from: Environmental Health News

Could a simple stove save children's lives?

An estimated three billion people breathe in poisonous smoke from open-fire cooking, killing more than four million every year. In Malawi, a research team is conducting the largest-ever study on children into the effects of indoor smoke and hopes its results will save millions of young lives. Please continue reading from: Environmental Health News

Why disaster recovery planning can save lives

Computerworld : From Katrina to Sandy, tornadoes in the plains, flooding in the south and wildfires throughout the west, natural disasters threaten our world with destruction every year. The cost to rebuild and recover is phenomenal, so companies across the globe are investing in disaster recovery solutions to mitigate their losses and protect their data from these cataclysmic events.

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EPA to announce grant funding for Oakland, Calif. health nonprofit to help fight asthma in schools nationwide

SAN FRANCISCO – On December 17, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator will announce a major grant award to the Public Health Institute's Regional Asthma Management & Prevention, in Oakland, Calif. to help school-based health centers nationwid... Please continue reading from:  U.S. EPA News

Dec 15, 2014

Love Canal waste being trucked to Canada for disposal.

A notorious — and noxious — part of U.S. history is being moved to Canada. At least 80 truckloads of toxic waste left over from the infamous Love Canal are being trucked to a facility in Corunna, Ont., near Sarnia, to be burned and buried. Please continue reading from: 1Environmental Health News

More than 16 million children live in states where they can buy e-cigs legally.

More than 16 million children age 17 and under live in the District of Columbia and 10 states that allow them to buy e-cigarettes legally, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Please continue reading from: 1Environmental Health News

Dec 10, 2014

U.S. utilities face up to $48B revenue loss from solar, efficiency

Energy utilities face losing between $18 billion and $48 billion a year in the U.S and up to €61 billion a year in Europe by 2025 as solar power and energy conservation initiatives grow, according to Accenture.

The Accenture analysis, based on extensive modeling and a survey of global utilities executives, estimates that energy demand could be reduced by more than 15% due to new energy technologies by 2025.

For example, researchers at the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics at the University of New South Wales announced that they've achieved 40.4% efficiency in converting sunlight to electricity by using commercially available solar cells combined with a mirror and filters that reduce wasted energy.

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Great Lakes cleanup gets five more years

The U.S. House approved a five-year extension Tuesday of a Great Lakes cleanup program that has pumped more than $1.6 billion into fixing long-standing environmental threats. 
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EPA may remove 72 chemicals from pesticide ingredients

Chemicals such as turpentine oil and nitrous oxide are listed as candidates for removal 
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Hyundai, Kia to pay record $100 million Clean Air Act penalty

Hyundai and Kia gave consumers inaccurate information about the real-world fuel economy performance of many of these vehicles 
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Four DuPont workers suffocated by methyl mercaptan leak in Texas

HazMat Management Gilbert Tisnado was one of the workers who died from the leak, as he was responding to duties for the plant's crop protection division. His family has since launched a $1-million lawsuit against the company and its plant manager 

Dec 9, 2014

Record efficiency for converting solar energy to hydrogen without rare metals

GizmagUsing solar energy to split water into its component parts, thereby allowing the solar energy to be stored as hydrogen fuel, generally involves one of two methods: using photoelectrochemical cells to directly split the water, or using solar cells to produce electricity to power an electrolyzer that separates the water molecules. One problem associated with the latter method is that it currently relies on rare metals. But now scientists from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have managed to do so using common materials, and have achieved a record solar energy to hydrogen conversion efficiency in the process... Continue Reading Record efficiency for converting solar energy to hydrogen without rare metals 

Dec 3, 2014

Nuclear incident in Ukraine, less than 700 km away from Romania’s eastern border, officially announced after five days

An accident had occurred on Friday, November 28, at the Zaporizhye nuclear power plant (NPP) in south-east Ukraine, less than 700 km away from Romania's eastern border, according to Ukrainian officials quoted by international media.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk revealed this during the first session of his new cabinet, on Wednesday, December 3, according to Reuters.

The incident was "a minor accident" and a reactor was switched off and put to maintenance as a result, according to the facility's website, writes Russia Today (RT).

Ukraine's energy minister, Vladimir Demchyshyn, said that the accident posed no risk. "There is no threat, there are no problems with the reactors," Demchyshyn said. He added the accident affected the power output system and "in no way" was linked to power production itself, according to RT.

The accident left several dozen towns and villages without electricity. The reactor will be restarted on December 5.

The Zaporizhye nuclear power plant is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and the fifth largest in the world. It has six nuclear reactors, each with an installed capacity of 1,000 MW. The plant produces one fifth of Ukraine's electricity.

Ukraine has a tragic history with nuclear accidents, following the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, in 1986.

Romanian nuclear reactor also shuts down

Unit number one of the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant, in Eastern Romania, was also shut down, on Wednesday, December 3, due to technical problems. The reactor was disconnected from the power grid.

"The unit's systems operated in compliance with the project, without affecting the nuclear safety of the reactor, the operational staff, the population and the environment. After the remediation works are completed, Unit 1 will be reconnected to the National Power Grid," state-owned Nuclearelectrica, the company which operates the power plant, announced on Wednesday.

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