PNN - Tonight Presents
RWS + Sen. Rockefeller - 7:01 PM
Dr. Ernest Sternglass - 7:20 PM
Staci-lee Sherwood - 7:32 PM
Michele McKenzie - 7:53 PM
Bill McKibben - 8:21 PM
Robert Reich - 8:24 PM
David Hoffman – 8:28 PM
1. To heal Florida springs, hold polluters accountable
January 31, 2014|By David Guest, Guest columnist
To anyone who has spent much time in Florida, the decline of our freshwater springs is heartbreaking.
Clear pools are now choked with algae. The algae gets so thick it shuts down glass-bottom-boat rides because the water's no longer clear enough to see anything. Swimming beaches at the springs are suddenly roped off with health-department signs, warning people of the health threats from polluted water.
When faced with something this sad and overwhelming, there's a tendency to shrug our shoulders and say it is the inevitable result of progress. After all, New York City once had bubbling streams and oyster beds. But, in our case, that is the wrong way to think.
The truth is that springs pollution is both preventable and reversible. We can change this. What we need is political will — a scarce Florida resource but one that each of us can cultivate. It is already starting to happen. People have been rallying throughout the state to protest the decline of our water resources. Recently, people turned out in force to demand clean water at public events in Boynton Beach, Bradenton, Fort Myers, Fort Pierce, Gainesville, Interlachen, Jacksonville, Key West, Palm Bay, Naples, Ocala, Stuart, Tallahassee, Tampa, Vero Beach and Orlando.
They unveiled a new Floridians' Clean Water Declaration, which lists six rights that should be guaranteed to the people of Florida and four responsibilities of our state government, water managers and natural-resource users. The campaign's goal is to get as many individuals, organizations, businesses, and elected and appointed officials as possible to sign the Clean Water Declaration and commit to work together to achieve its principles.
And politicians are responding.
State Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, and state Rep. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, were front and center at the Orlando gathering, and both signed the clean-water declaration.
Even more important, Simmons and Stewart are spearheading important legislation in the statehouse this year to protect springs, and they deserve our support. It is encouraging, too, to see that Gov. Rick Scott earmarked $55 million in his proposed state budget this year for springs protection.
Using public money to protect our shared public resource — water — makes sense. We're way overdue on fixing our outdated public infrastructure.
But let's not lose sight of the main thing we need to do: Demand that our leaders hold polluters accountable. Every day, factory farms send fertilizer and manure into our public waters, when they could be controlling this pollution on-site. These corporations must be required to meet specific pollution limits, and they should face consequences if they exceed those limits and pollute our water.
Instead, we are giving them a free pass, and then the public pays for their mess. Scott and the Legislature have been selling out to polluters like never before. Polluter lobbyists drafted the state's rules on sewage, manure and fertilizer pollution; Scott's administration adopted the weak language; and then the Legislature approved it.
Last year, some lawmakers proposed a common-sense amendment for the state to collect reports of skin rashes and health effects from this pollution, but the Legislature overwhelmingly — and unbelievably — voted it down.
Scott's administration also fired staffers who dared to enforce environmental laws, replacing them with people who come from polluting industries. Environmental enforcement cases have plummeted. State regulators now get bonuses if they pump out permits faster.
Certain categories of major polluters are allowed to operate on the honor system. A big polluter like an industrial plant would be fined if it spilled toxic materials into a river. But that's not true for Florida agricultural operations. Florida allows them to use voluntary goals called "best management practices." All the corporation has to do is say it is implementing a plan to control pollution, and it is exempt from monitoring. It's as if you were allowed to speed on the freeway so long as you gave the highway patrol a speed-limit compliance plan.
It's great for politicians to tell us they want to protect the environment. But we should all make it clear that we want them to set real, enforceable pollution limits. That's the only way we'll reverse this mess and heal our springs.
David Guest of Tallahassee is managing attorney for the Florida office of Earthjustice, a national public-interest law firm.
2. EU has secret plan for police to 'remote stop' cars 29 Jan 2014
The European Union is secretly developing a "remote stopping" device to be fitted to all cars that would allow the police to disable vehicles at the flick of a switch from a control room. Confidential documents from a committee of senior EU police officers, who hold their meetings in secret, have set out a plan entitled "remote stopping vehicles" as part of wider law enforcement surveillance and tracking measures. The devices, which could be in all new cars by the end of the decade, would be activated by a police officer working from a computer screen in a central headquarters.
The anti-fracking activist barred from 312.5 sq miles of Pennsylvania 29 Jan 2014 Vera Scroggins, an outspoken opponent of fracking, is legally barred from the new county hospital. Also off-limits, unless Scroggins wants to risk fines and arrest, is a restaurant where she takes her grandchildren, the supermarkets where she shops, the animal shelter where she adopted her Yorkshire terrier, recycling centre, and lake shore... In total, 312.5 sq miles are no-go areas for Scroggins under a sweeping court order granted by a local judge that bars her from any properties owned or leased by one of the biggest drillers in the Pennsylvania natural gas rush, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation.
4. Fukushima Fallout Damaged the Thyroids of California Babies
by CHRIS BUSBY
A new study of the effects of tiny quantities of radioactive fallout from Fukushima on the health of babies born in California shows a significant excess of hypothyroidism caused by the radioactive contamination travelling 5,000 miles across the Pacific. The article will be published next week in the peer-reviewed journal Open Journal of Pediatrics.
Congenital hypothyroidism is a rare but serious condition normally affecting about one child in 2,000, and one that demands clinical intervention – the growth of children suffering from the condition is affected if they are left untreated. All babies born in California are monitored at birth for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels in blood, since high levels indicate hypothyroidism.
Joe Mangano and Janette Sherman of the Radiation and Public Health Project in New York, and Christopher Busby, guest researcher at Jacobs University, Bremen, examined congenital hypothyroidism (CH) rates in newborns using data obtained from the State of California over the period of the Fukushima explosions.
Their results are published in their paper Changes in confirmed plus borderline cases of congenital hypothyroidism in California as a function of environmental fallout from the Fukushima nuclear meltdown. The researchers compared data for babies exposed to radioactive Iodine-131 and born between March 17th and Dec 31st 2011 with unexposed babies born in 2011 before the exposures plus those born in 2012.
Confirmed cases of hypothyroidism, defined as those with TSH level greater than 29 units increased by 21% in the group of babies that were exposed to excess radioactive Iodine in the womb [*]. The same group of children had a 27% increase in ‘borderline cases’ [**].
Contrary to many reports, the explosion of the reactors and spent fuel pools at Fukushima produced levels of radioactive contamination which were comparable with the Chernobyl releases in 1986. Using estimates made by the Norwegian Air Laboratory it is possible to estimate that more than 250PBq (200 x 1015) Bq of Iodine-131 (half life 8 days) were released at Fukushima.
This is also predicted by comparing the Caesium-137 estimates with I-131 releases from Chernobyl, quantities which caused the thyroid cancer epidemic in Byelarus, the Ukraine and parts of the Russian Republic.
More on this later. At Fukushima, the winds generally blew the radioactive iodine and other volatile radionuclides out to sea, to the Pacific Ocean. The journey 5,000 miles to the West Coast of the USA leaves a lot of time for dispersal and dilution. Nevertheless, small amounts of I-131 were measured in milk causing widespread concern.
The authorities downplayed any risk on the basis that the “doses” were very low; far lower than the natural background radiation. The University of Berkeley measured I-131 in rainwater from 18th to 28th March 2011 after which levels fell. If we assume that mothers drank 1 litre of rainwater a day for this period (of course they didn’t) the current radiation risk model of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) calculates an absorbed dose to the adult thyroid of 23 microSieverts, less than 1/100th the annual background “dose”. The foetus is more sensitive (by a factor of about 10 according to ICRP) but is exposed to less as it is perhaps 100 times smaller.
So this finding is one more instance of the fact that the current radiation risk model, employed by the governments of every nation, is massively insecure for predicting harm from internal radionuclide exposures or explaining the clear observations.
The Fukushima catastrophe has been dismissed as a potential cause of health effects even in Japan, let alone as far away as California. And on what basis? Because the “dose” is too low.
This is the mantra chanted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the World Health Organization (WHO, largely the same outfit), and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). And let’s not forget all the nuclear scientists who swooped down on Fukushima with their International Conferences and placatory soothing presentations.
This chant was heard after Chernobyl, after the nuclear site child leukemias; in the nuclear atmospheric test veterans cases; and in all the other clear situations which in any unbiased scientific arena would long ago have blown away the belief that low level internal exposures are safe.
But this one-size-fits-all concept of “dose” is the nuclear industry’s sinking ship. It provides essential cover for the use of uranium weapons, whether fission bombs or depleted uranium munitions; for the development of nuclear power stations like Hinkley Point; the burying of radioactive waste in landfills in middle England; releases of plutonium to the Irish Sea from Sellafield (where it drifts ashore and causes increases in cancer on the coasts of Wales and Ireland); and most recently, for the British Governments denial of excess cancers among nuclear test veterans.
This new study is not the first to draw attention to the sensitivity of the unborn baby to internal fission products. In 2009 I used data supplied to me when I was a member of the UK government Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters (CERRIE) to carry out a meta-analysis of infant leukemia rates in five countries in Europe: England and Wales, Germany, Greece, and Byelarus.
There had been an unexpected and statistically significant increase in infant leukemia (age 0-1) in those children who were in the womb during the (whole body monitored) increased levels of Caesium-137 from Chernobyl. The beauty of this study (like the TSH study) is that, unlike the Sellafield child leukemias, there is really no possible alternative explanation.
It was the low “dose” of Caesium-137 that caused the leukemias. And the dose response trend was not a straight line: The effect at the very low “dose” was greater than at the very high “dose”. Presumably because at the high doses the babies perished in the womb and could not, therefore, develop leukemia. I published the results and drew attention to the failure of the ICRP model in the International Journal of Environment and Public Health in 2009.
I had published a paper on this infant leukemia proof of the failure of the risk model inEnergy and Environment in 2000, and also presented it in the same year at the World Health Organisation conference in Kiev. It was there that I first really came up against the inversion of science deployed by the chiefs of the IAEA and UNSCEAR. The conference was videofilmed by Wladimir Tchertkoff and you can see his excellent documentary, which made it to Swiss TV, Atomic Lies, re-released in 2004 as Nuclear Controversies (link to youtube, 51 minutes).
For what is done by these people is to dismiss any evidence of increased rates of cancer or any other disease by shouting at it: “the doses were too low”. In this way, reality is airbrushed away. What is this quantity “dose”? It is a simple physics-based quantity which represents the absorption of energy from radiation. One Sievert of gamma radiation is one Joule per kilogram of living tissue.
This might work for external radiation. But it doesn’t work for internal exposures to radioactive elements which can produce huge effects on cellular DNA at low average “doses”. It is like comparing warming yourself in front of the fire with eating a hot coal. Or comparing a punch to stabbing. Same dose, same energy. Very different effects.
This “dose” scam has been used to dismiss real effects since it was invented in 1952 to deal with the exposures from nuclear weapons development and testing. For those who want to dig deeper into the science there is a recent book chapter I wrote in the book New Research Directions in DNS Repair.
The most scary instances of the sensitivity of the foetus to radiation are the sex ratio studies of Hagen Scherb, a German biostatician and member of the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR). With his colleague Christina Voigt he has published a series of papers showing a sudden change in the sex ratio of newborns after various radiation exposure incidents.
Sex ratio, the number of boys born to 1,000 girls is a well accepted indicator of genetic damage and perturbations in the normal ratio of 1,050 (boys to 100 girls) are due to the deaths before birth of radiation damaged individuals of one sex or the other depending on whether the father (sperm) or mother (egg) was most exposed.
We found such an effect (more girls) in our study of Fallujah, Iraq, where there was exposure to Uranium weapons. But Scherb and Voigt have looked at the major catastrophes, Chernobyl, the weapons tests fallout, near nuclear sites in data from many countries of the world. Huge datasets.
They estimate that millions have babies have been killed by these subtle internal radiation exposures. The nuclear military project is responsible for an awful lot of deaths. In years to come I believe this will eventually be seen as the greatest public health scandal in human history.
Of course, the exposure to radio-Iodine is associated with thyroid cancer in children. There was a big rise of thyroid cancer in Byelarus, the Ukraine and the Russian Republic after Chernobyl. The situation at Fukushima seems set to echo this, despite the reassurances from the authorities that there will be no effects.
Our paper reports 44 confirmed thyroid cancer cases in 0-18 year olds in Fukushima prefecture in the last six months (a figure that has since risen to 53). In the hypothyroidism paper we discuss the 44 cases relative to the population and calculate that this represents an 80-fold excess based on national data prior to the Fukushima Iodine releases.
This presents a severe challenge to Dr Wolfgang Weiss of the UN and WHO, who stated last year that no thyroid cancers could result from the Fukushima disaster as the “doses were too low”. How does he explain the 80-fold increase in this normally rare condition?
Or rather, when will he admit that the entire scientific model that underpins his views is fraudulent? And that nuclear radiation is – roughly speaking – 1,000 times more dangerous to human health than he is letting on?
Chris Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk. For details and current CV see www.chrisbusbyexposed.org. For accounts of his work see www.greeenaudit.org, www.llrc.org and www.nuclearjustice.org. This article originally appeared in The Ecologist.
5. ENVIRONMENTAL RADIATION FROM NUCLEAR REACTORS
ENVIRONMENTAL RADIATION FROM NUCLEAR REACTORS
AND INCREASING CHILDREN'S CANCER
IN SOUTHEASTERN FLORIDA
A SPECIAL REPORT ON THE FLORIDA BABY TOOTH STUDY
The Radiation and Public Health Project
March 28, 2001
RPHP Research Associates
Jay M. Gould, Ph.D., Director
Ernest J. Sternglass, Ph.D., Chief Scientist Jerry Brown, Ph.D.
Joseph Mangano, MPH, MBA
William McDonnell, MA
Marsha Marks, ACSW, LCSW
Janette Sherman, MD
Operations at the four nuclear reactors in southeastern Florida (Turkey Point 3 and 4, and St. Lucie 1 and 2) have added considerable radioactivity to the local environment, raising concerns of whether local residents have been harmed. The Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP) research group has investigated this issue, and has documented facts that suggest such harm is occurring. A number of these findings have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals.
Radioactivity Emissions, Environmental Levels, In-body Levels
From 1970-87, Turkey Point and St. Lucie emitted 10.39 trillion picocuries of radioactivity into the air.
From 1985 to 1995, the level of radioactive chemicals in Miami precipitation remained constant, suggesting that a current source of emissions (nuclear power reactors) was supplementing and offsetting the decay of fallout from old atomic bomb tests.
Similarly, concentrations of radioactive Strontium-90 in 86 Dade County baby teeth tested by RPHP have been rising since the early 1980s. The current level is equal to that in the late 1950s, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union conducted large-scale nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere.
Dade County and other southeastern Florida baby teeth have the highest levels of radioactive Strontium-90, a known carcinogen, than anywhere in the U.S. where baby teeth have been studied. In addition, the area also has a rate of childhood cancer that is considerably higher than the US average.
Since the 1950s, breast cancer mortality rose significantly in the counties near the Turkey Point and St. Lucie reactors (up 26% near Turkey Point, up 55% near St. Lucie, compared to a 1% US increase).
From the early 1980s to the early 1990s, cancer incidence in children under 10 rose 35.2% in five southeastern Florida counties, compared to a 10.8% rise in the US Children are especially sensitive to the carcinogenic effects of radioactivity.
.These five southeastern Florida counties are: Broward, Dade, Martin, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie.
In the same period, from the early 1980s to the early 1990s, an enormous 325.3% increase in childhood cancer took place in St. Lucie County, increasing the current rate in this area to more than double the national average.
In the 1990s, the cancer death rate in young adults age 15-34 in these five southeastern Florida counties has risen, in contrast to a decline in the US Increases were particularly large for breast cancer and bone and blood cancers, each especially sensitive to radioactivity.
In Dade County, childhood cancer rises after radioactivity levels in precipitation rise, and declines after levels drop. This is strong evidence that exposure to radioactivity is one cause of childhood cancer in southeastern Florida.
Opening and Closing Reactors
In 1983-84, when the Turkey Point reactors were mostly closed for repairs, infant deaths in Broward and Dade Counties fell 19.1%, compared to only 6.4% in the US The following two years, when Turkey Point returned to full power, the local infant death rate rose 1.2%.
In 1983-84, the first two years that the St. Lucie 2 reactor operated, infant deaths in St. Lucie County rose 35.3%.
These findings are consistent with the large declines in infant deaths near eight out of eight US reactors that closed since 1987.
The recent evidence suggesting that radioactive chemicals emitted from Turkey Point and St. Lucie are one cause of rising cancer rates in southeastern Florida is significant and merits more detailed study.
The Tooth Fairy Project will provide critical data on levels of in-body radioactivity, which will allow researchers to better understand the link between environmental radiation and cancer, especially in young persons. The Project is especially important in southeastern Florida, which has the highest levels of Sr-90 in baby teeth of any US area analyzed to date and above-average childhood cancer rates.
Information on the radiation-cancer link should be considered in federal policies regulating the operation of nuclear reactors, in southeastern Florida and across the US.
Information on the radiation-cancer link should be considered in the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's environmental review of utility applications to renew and extend the licenses of aging nuclear power plants in Florida and across the US.
6. Extent of Freedom site contamination still unknown
By Ken Ward Jr.
By David Gutman
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Federal investigators remain unsure how much chemical contamination there is in the soil and groundwater at the Freedom Industries' tank farm that spilled thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals in the region's Elk River drinking water supply.
So far, state and federal government agencies have provided the public with few details about the long-term plans for cleaning up the site, which is just 1.5 miles upstream from the West Virginia American Water intake.
Officials have also not provided even a description of the process for how that long-term plan will be developed -- or how members of the public can learn the details of it and provide any input.
"I know they are working on the plan right now," said Fran Burns, remedial project manager for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regional office in Philadelphia.
EPA officials made Burns available for an interview to answer Gazette questions about the extent of contamination at the site, what has been done to control any additional runoff, and long-term prospects for remediation of the tank farm.
The state Department of Environmental Protection has not responded to requests for an interview or briefing to address those same issues.
Burns said that EPA believes that cleanup crews -- from a contractor hired by Freedom Industries -- have taken adequate steps to avoid further pollution from the site reaching the Elk River.
"As far as the extent of contamination of the spill, the work that has been going on at the site has contained anything that spilled," Burns said.
"Since the initial response, the material has been collected that could move off the site," Burns said. "There are a series of things in place, there are sumps, there is an interceptor trench, pumping the water that they collect in the trench. There have been booms set up in the river so that any material that would escape from the trench or off site is collected by the booms."
Burns said that some of the material from the Crude MCHM tank that leaked reached the river from surface runoff and some from underground leaching.
"We suspect that some of both happened," Burns said. We don't know how much of it is subsurface. It could be a little. It could be a lot.
"There are things in place now to control anything that may be remaining on the site," Burns said. "It's very hard to say what may be left at this point."
Dennis Matlock, EPA's on-scene coordinator at the Freedom Industries site, said he is "pretty confident" that the contamination has stopped.
"The one thing out there that I think they're still working on is the groundwater issue," Matlock said. "A lot of groundwater is passing under the site, not that its taking any of the contamination with it, but it's just the geology or the makeup underneath the tanks, there's got to be a lot of runoff control."
Matlock said that soon after the leak was discovered, Freedom began digging seven monitoring wells - four on the river edge and three above the tanks - to help them sample groundwater. The riverside wells are 20 feet deep, while the uphill wells are 40 feet.
He said that they'd been dug for a while now, but they will have full access to the wells on Thursday and will be able to do more extensive testing and sampling. Those results are expected in about a week.
Burns said that water and any contaminants that end up in the interceptor trench are being stored on site or transported to Freedom's Poca Blending facility in Nitro.
During Tuesday's interview, Burns said he was not aware of any problems with the storage of those materials at the Poca Blending site.
"I'd have to get back to you," Burns said. "I'm not sure of any of the details of the secondary containment at the Poca facility."
The week after the Elk River spill, the DEP cited Freedom Industries for a broad variety of violations after an inspection of the Poca Blending site. The DEP issued five notices of violation, or NOVs, alleging improper storage of materials that could contaminate groundwater, failure to follow a DEP-issued stormwater permit, failure to provide required pollution discharge monitoring reports.
After the Burns interview, EPA spokeswoman Bonnie Smith said in an e-mail that her agency "is aware of the enforcement actions DEP has taken at the Nitro site. EPA has visited the Poca facility to investigate staging operations of the MCHM-contaminated water."
In a statement issued Tuesday, the DEP promised it would "closely monitor" the situation as Freedom Industries moves chemicals from the from its Nitro facility to a "coal facility" in Pennsylvania. But, DEP warned the process could create more of the licorice-like odors that have become common since the spill.
"During the moving of materials, there is a potential for area residents to detect odors," the DEP statement said. "The WVDEP will closely monitor the activity to ensure that it is done safely and with as minimal of an odor impact as possible."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702. Reach David Gutman at david.gut...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.
7. Officials at odds over safety of water
Thursday February 6, 2014
by Dave Boucher
Daily Mail Capitol Bureau Chief
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Is the water supply safe?
Answers from local, state and national health officials continue to vary.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, head of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, and Dr. Letitia Tierney, state health officer and commissioner of the state Bureau for Public Health, appeared Wednesday morning before a joint legislative committee investigating the Elk River chemical spill.
Later in the day, Dr. Tanja Popovic, acting director of the National Center for Environmental Health within the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spoke at a press conference.
Gupta's information goes against what Tierney and Popovic said. Tierney and Popovic also at times differed.
After the press conference, Tierney reiterated her position that she has provided as much accurate information as she can when it becomes available.
"If I had gone into that room, on the first day, and they had told me to lie, to cover something up, I would have quit," Tierney said, referencing officials with the administration of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
"I don't need this job, I quit a better-paying job to take it. I can make more money in the private sector, I don't need it."
During the committee meeting, Gupta said there was an obvious taste to the water when he drank it. His wife, who is also a physician, wasn't pleased when she found out he was using it, he said.
Tierney — who was left little time to speak during the committee hearing — said she is drinking the water, bathing in it and otherwise using it. Tomblin said the same at a press conference later in the day.
"At the end of the day, people are going to believe what their physician is saying over what the administration is saying," Gupta told lawmakers.
Popovic, who came to Charleston for the day, said during the press conference she understands the basic question West Virginians want answered.
"Is your water safe? What I can say is with all the scientific evidence that we have, and with everything that numerous people have worked on so far, I can say that you can use your water however you like," she said.
"You can drink it. You can bathe in it. You can use it how you like."
Tomblin said "science suggests the water is safe," but that the state can't say it's safe with 100 percent certainty.
After the press conference, Popovic said the CDC doesn't like to use the word "safe," and hedged on whether that means pregnant women can now drink the water.
"What we want them to do is we want them empowered to feel that they can follow their instincts and do what they think is good for them," Popovic said.
The CDC issued an advisory almost a week after the spill telling pregnant women not to drink water that has any level of MCHM. CDC and state officials have said it was made "out of an abundance of caution."
During the hearing, Gupta said the warning "obviously was a little late."
At her presentation earlier in the day, Tierney defended the actions of state health officials during a several "really challenging moments" in the last few weeks.
After the meeting, she acknowledged Gupta's views are different than her own.
"I guess we maybe have different philosophies. I feel that as in public health, we've got to be careful how we craft our statements to provide confidence to the public, especially when we're going on evidencedbased medicine." Gupta, as he did earlier in the week, pointed to two informal surveys conducted by the department that showed 1 percent and 3 percent of those surveyed felt the water was safe for drinking.
Tierney said she's doing the best she can to provide confidence to the public that the water is safe.
"I know I'm being honest, I know I'm being truthful, I know I'm being as transparent as I can. And if that doesn't give confidence, I'm kind of at a loss for where else to go."
People are still reporting symptoms they believe are connected to the spill, Tierney acknowledged. She said some people's skin is more sensitive than others.
That's something Gupta has said as well, although he dismissed the idea of blaming the "flu or something else" for the recent uptick in emergency room visits. Tierney and other state officials have said factors including flu season need to be considered.
After the hearing Tierney said if people continue to smell the telltale licorice odor coming out of their showers, they might want to "start the shower and maybe run the water for a few minutes before they get in. " After the press conference she said that was more of an aesthetic issue. Water that smells like licorice isn't necessarily dangerous, she said.
Gupta said he has received word from doctors locally and nationally advising against using the water.
He said communication — from all aspects of the government, including his department — has faltered at times, leading to lapses in public confidence.
"I find communications is probably always the challenging part of crisis management," Gupta said.
"Crisis management is part science, part art . . . When you have a very limited amount of science backing you up, the art of communication becomes a much bigger deal."
Gupta estimated his department has spent more than $100,000 responding to the crisis. The department has visited restaurants, spoke with those affected, checked out schools and more.
He'd like to see several changes to Senate Bill 373, the legislation recently created in response to the leak. He believes there needs to be more integration of emergency response efforts at the state and local levels; the state needs to create the Hazardous Chemical Release Prevention Program, as recommended by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board; and establish a long-term medical monitoring program.
The monitoring program should last anywhere from 10 to 20 years, he said. He estimated the first year of a "bareboned" study would cost $750,000.
Tierney emphasized the state's commitment to providing safe water, adding the state has monitored possible medical ramifications of the spill "since day 1."
Also as she did last week, Tierney bashed the credibility of testing presented before the same Senate committee concerning formaldehyde and other aspects of the spill. She questioned the testing methods and the ability for MCHM to in any way lead to formaldehyde.
The committee asked Tierney to return Friday.
8.Three Kanawha schools close early for water quality issues
Thursday February 6, 2014
UPDATE: Three Kanawha schools close early for water quality issues
by Shay Maunz
Daily Mail staff
by Marcus Constantino
Daily Mail Staff
A teacher takes students outside Watts Elementary for fresh air as snowflakes fall on Thursday morning.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Three schools in Charleston are closing early this morning due to water quality concerns.
Overbrook Elementary in South Hills will close at noon. Watts Elementary, on the West Side, will close at 11:30 a.m. and J.E. Robins Elementary dismissed students at 10 a.m.
Superintendent Ron Duerring said the closings at the schools were due to the detection of a licorice smell in the schools. It was first reported at J.E. Robbins in the school's kitchen. At Watts it was also in a kindergarten classroom. At Overbrook the smell was faint but in the hot water at several locations.
Duerring said a J.E. Robins cook's eyes were reportedly burning. Burning eyes and a licorice odor are both indicators of the presence of crude MCHM, the coal-cleaning chemical that spilled into the Elk River on Jan. 9 and contaminated West Virginia American Water's Charleston treatment facility that provides tap water to some 300,000 West Virginians.
Duerring said "normal protocol" will be followed, which includes notifying the health department, re-flushing the schools' water pipes and having the water re-sampled for crude MCHM.
State Department of Education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro said the decision to close schools was made out of an "abundance of caution."
"Parents are anxious and apprehensive and rightfully so," she said. "Because of that the county is trying to do all that they can."
The water at both schools was tested after the first round of flushing weeks ago, and the levels of MCHM in each were not detectable at that time.
"You don't know what to do anymore, you don't know what's right and wrong," Duerring said. "If they get that smell then there's a concern about that odor, and it's better to be safe than sorry."
Midland Trail Elementary and Riverside High schools closed early Wednesday after flushing at those schools -- prompted by a water main break in the area -- produced a strong licorice odor in the buildings, causing some students and teachers to become ill.
The two eastern Kanawha schools remained closed today as well.
Contact writer Marcus Constantino at 304-348-1796 or marcu...@dailymailwv.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/amtino.
9. Up to 82,000 Tons of Toxic Coal Ash Spilled Into North Carolina River
Written by Joanna M. Foster
A stormwater pipe under an unlined coal ash pond at a shuttered plant in Eden, N.C., burst Sunday afternoon — draining tens of thousands of tons of coal ash into the Dan River.
Duke Energy, which owns the Dan River Steam Station, retired since 2012, estimates that 50,000 to 82,000 tons of coal ash and up to 27 million gallons of water were released from the 27-acre storage pond. The leak has at least temporarily been stopped, while Duke works on a more permanent solution. Coal ash is a toxic waste byproduct from burning coal, usually stored with water in large ponds.
The closest community at risk from the spill is Danville, Va., which takes its water from the Dan River about six miles downstream of the pond. No water quality issues have been reported so far.
“This is the latest, loudest alarm bell yet that Duke should not be storing coal ash in antiquated pits near our state’s waterways,” Frank Holleman, an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) told the Charlotte Business Journal.
SELC and others have been calling for Duke to remove ash from earthen basins such as the one at Dan River to more secure lined ponds to protect local water sources. Duke has 14 coal-fired power plants in the state, 7 of which have been retired.
In addition to air pollution, coal-fired power plants generate millions of tons of waste every year contaminated with toxic metals including lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium and selenium — more than two-thirds of which is dumped into landfills, storage ponds or old mines.
The Southeast is home to 40 percent of the nation’s coal ash impoundments, and according to the EPA contains 21 of the nation’s 45 high hazard dams.
The nation’s most notorious coal ash spill was in 2008 at a plant operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Just a few days before Christmas, over 1 billion gallons of coal ash burst through a dam at a storage pond and damaged or destroyed two dozen homes and 300 acres of riverfront property.
Late last month, the EPA announced plans to finalize the first-ever federal regulations for the disposal of coal ash by December 19, 2014. The announcement was part of a settlement in a lawsuit brought in 2012, by environmental and public health groups and a Native American tribe.
In October, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the EPA must review and revise its waste regulations under the Resource and Conservation Recovery Act. The EPA has never finalized any federal regulations for the disposal of coal ash — the nation’s second-largest industrial waste stream.
Duke has also garnered negative publicity recently for saying that they believe the utility is paying its customers too much for the surplus solar energy generated on residential rooftops. Duke currently pays solar customers about 11 cents per kilowatt-hour, under a decade-old net-metering standard. Electricity generated by large-scale solar operations costs the utility just 5 to 7 cents per kilowatt-hour.
This post originally appeared on ThinkProgress
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/up-to-82000-tons-of-toxic-coal-ash-spilled-into-north-carolina-river.html#ixzz2sYya7oZq
10. 2 earthquakes near FUKUSHIMA - friday/saturday
TEPCO has revised the readings on the radioactivity levels at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant well to 5 million becquerels of strontium per liter – both a record, and nearly five times higher than the original reading of 900,000 becquerels per liter.
Strontium-90 is a radioactive isotope of strontium produced by nuclear fission with a half-life of 28.8 years. The legal standard for strontium emissions is 30 becquerels per liter. Exposure to strontium-90 can cause bone cancer, cancer of nearby tissues, and leukemia.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. originally said that the said 900,000 becquerels of beta-ray sources per liter, including strontium - were measured in the water sampled on July 5 last year.
However, the company noted on Friday that the previous radioactivity levels had been wrong, meaning that it was also likely reading taken from the other wells at the disaster-struck plant prior to September were also likely to have been inaccurate, the Asahi Shimbum newspaper reported.
The Japanese company has already apologized for the failures, which they said were a result of the malfunctioning of measuring equipment.
TEPCO did not mention the radioactivity levels of other samples of both groundwater and seawater taken from between June and November last year – which totaled some 140.
However, the erroneous readings only pertain to the radiation levels measured in water – readings taken to measure the radiation levels in air or soil are likely to have been accurate.
In the basement of the station, the drainage system and special tanks have accumulated more than 360,000 tons of radioactive water. The leakage of radioactive water has been an ongoing problem in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant.
TEPCO also said on Thursday that 600 liters of contaminated water – which had 2,800 becquerels of beta-ray sources per liter in it, leaked from piping leading to a tank at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
A record high level of beta rays released from radioactive strontium-90 was detected at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant beneath the No. 2 reactor's well facing the ocean, according to the facility’s operator who released news of the measurements mid-January.
TEPCO measured the amount of beta ray-emitting radioactivity at more than 2.7 million becquerels per liter, Fukushima’s operator said as reported in the Japanese media.
In March 2011, an earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit Japan’s coast, damaging the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The catastrophe caused the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the facility, leading to the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
The water used to cool the reactors has been leaking into the soil and contaminating the ground water ever since. Some of the radioactive water has been escaping into the Pacific Ocean.
11. Appalacian Voices
“This is a massive disaster. For two miles downstream, the river is dark and thick, a milky gray. It’s just eerie. The ash has apparently reached about 20 miles downstream to Danville,” said Wasson.
“This spill illustrates why no coal ash ponds should be allowed to remain unlined,” Adams said. “Although Duke has started using dry ash storage in lined landfills at some of its sites, many active and retired coal plants still have wet coal ash storage in large impoundments without liners,” Adams said. “Add to that an aging system of stormwater collection pipes discharging directly to surface waters that provide drinking water downstream, and you have a recipe for disaster. It was just a matter of time.”
12. US response to leaked call confirms US/EU regime-change plot in Ukraine
By Alex Lantier
8 February 2014
Washington’s response has confirmed the authenticity of a YouTube clip of a leaked telephone conversation between US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt that emerged Thursday.
In the call, posted by an anonymous Russian source, Nuland and Pyatt discuss installing a new, pro-US government that will incorporate the fascistic opposition which has been leading street protests against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Even though Washington’s campaign for regime-change has been coordinated with the European Union (EU), and particularly with Berlin, in the phone conversation with Pyatt, Nuland attacks the EU for being insufficiently aggressive, saying at one point, “Fuck the EU.”
Asked about the leaked video, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “I didn’t say it was inauthentic.” She added that Nuland was “in contact with her EU counterparts and, of course, has apologized for these reported comments.”
Psaki also addressed Nuland’s and Pyatt’s discussion of which forces Washington would allow to come to power in Kiev. In the telephone call, the two discuss plans to install an oligarchic regime working closely with fascist gangs. They agree that boxer Vitali Klitschko, who leads the German-backed UDAR party, should stay out of power and “do his political homework and stuff.”
They conclude that Arseniy Yatsenyuk of jailed billionaire oligarch Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland Party should rule, conferring regularly with Oleh Tyahnybok of the fascist Svoboda Party, whose members and neo-Nazi allies provide most of the thugs fighting riot police in Kiev.
Psaki indicated that such discussions are normal for US policymakers. “It shouldn’t be a surprise that at any points there have been discussions about recent events and offers and what is happening on the ground,” she said.
US officials tried to retaliate for the exposure by blaming it on Russia. White House spokesman Jay Carney commented, “I would say that since the video was first noted and tweeted out by the Russian government, I think it says something about Russia’s role.”
The implied criticism that Russian officials are bugging US communications is utterly hypocritical. US intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency carry out massive Internet and telecommunications spying directed at the entire world’s population, including heads of government and international bodies such as the European Union and the United Nations, as NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed.
European officials on Friday were silent or issued brief statements downplaying Nuland’s remarks. A spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Christiane Wirtz, said: “The chancellor finds these remarks totally unacceptable and wants to emphasize that [EU foreign policy chief] Catherine Ashton is doing an outstanding job.”
One EU official told the BBC, “The EU is engaged in helping the people of Ukraine through the current political crisis. We don’t comment on alleged leaked telephone conversations.”
If European officials are tucking their tail between their legs and swallowing Nuland’s call to “Fuck the EU,” it is because they—like Washington—are trying to bury the entire episode, which reveals quite clearly the character of the US/EU intervention in Ukraine.
Far from “helping the people of Ukraine” to establish a democratic government, they are engaged in secret, back-channel maneuvers with far-right parties to violently impose a fascistic, pro-imperialist puppet regime on the Ukrainian people.
The Nuland-Pyatt call provides a glimpse of how Washington organizes provocations to forcibly install authoritarian regimes in strategic countries targeted for regime-change by US corporate and military interests. Their discussion recalls how US and British officials, led by the CIA, organized paid mobs of right-wing protesters in 1953 to topple the elected regime of Iranian President Mohammed Mossadegh and maintain their stranglehold on Iran’s oil fields. They then supported the bloody regime of the Iranian Shah and his sadistic SAVAK political police.
In Ukraine today, as in other countries in the past, US plans for regime-change require organization, discussion and planning. Imperialist operatives have to get on the phone to coordinate operations and funding, make sure subordinates organize the distribution of clubs, chains and Molotov cocktails to their fascist foot soldiers, and so on.
Another key element in such operations is propaganda from key figures in the media and academia, who present such filthy enterprises as noble struggles for freedom and democracy. (See: “Ukraine and the pro-imperialist intellectuals”). The media plays a key role in the campaign, maintaining a complicit silence about Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland’s orders to “Yats” and “Klitsch,” whom the pundits and anchormen hail as great democrats even as US officials discuss them with contempt.
There is little doubt that had this recording not surfaced, publications like the New York Times would dismiss reports of Washington and its allies manipulating the Ukrainian opposition as “conspiracy theories.”
As for “Yats” and “Klitsch,” they are careful not to tell the raving anti-Semites and neo-Nazis fighting their street battles for them that Svoboda is intended to serve only as a tool to shift power from a more pro-Russian faction of oligarchs led by Yanukovych to a pro-EU faction led by Tymoshenko.
Due warnings must be made. Under conditions of deep economic crisis and widespread popular opposition to the bankrupt and corrupt Yanukovych regime, fascist thugs and imperialist operatives can very well, in the absence of an independent mobilization of the working class against US-led regime change, come together and overthrow the current government.
In one sign of the political agenda underlying the US/EU operation in Ukraine, Nuland has called for major changes in the Ukrainian regime in exchange for emergency US loans to fund the country’s debts. She said, “Washington is ready to support Ukraine if it will quickly move towards the path of protecting human rights, dignity, a de-escalation of the conflict, and political reforms.”
Among the “reforms” Western officials have demanded are deep cuts in energy subsidies and other social programs that will have a devastating impact on the Ukrainian working class.
13. PRO NUCKLEAR GOVERNOR ELECTED FOR TOKYO
14. Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) targets set for releasing groundwater into the ocean, tritium less than 1500 Bq/L.
On February 3, TEPCO announced the operating targets for densities of radioactive materials in groundwater to be relased into the ocean. The groundwater is drawn before it enters the reactor buildings and gets contaminated. The targets for cesium-134 and cesium-137 will be less than 1 Bq/L each, all-beta less than 5 Bq/L, and tritium less than 1,500 Bq/L.
The groundwater release is part of the plan to reduce contaminated water. The densities of radioactive materials are less than 1/4 of the legal limits for release into the ocean. TEPCO will talk with the local fishermen to obtain their understanding of [consent to] the release.
If the densities are above the operating targets, the release will be suspended and the water will be purified before the release resumes. For beta nuclides, TEPCO plans to purify until the density is less than 1 Bq/L, lower than the operating target.
And here’s METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry)’s effort in persuading the fishermen.
From Kyodo News (2/3/2014):
Vice Minister of Economy asks National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations for understanding of the start of groundwater bypass.
Vice Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Kazuyoshi Akaba asked National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations for understanding of the start of groundwater bypass, which is part of dealing with the contaminated water at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The groundwater bypass will draw groundwater and release the water into the ocean.
METI will apply the operating standards that are stricter than the existing standards in radioactive material density in the groundwater that will be drawn, in order to mitigate concerns from fishermen.
The groundwater that leaks into the reactor building is one of the causes for increase in contaminated water. According to the groundwater bypass scheme, the water will be drawn before it gets contaminated. However, concerns for baseless rumors remain strong particularly among fishermen, which has prevented the scheme from being implemented.
I wonder how TEPCO is going to “purify” the water to less than 1Bq/L. My guess is dilution, particularly if it is tritium which cannot be effectively removed on a large scale.
But it probably doesn’t matter, as one day later Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry says METI has already obtained “a certain level of understanding” from the fisheries co-op.
From Jiji Tsushin (2/4/2014):
Minister of Economy Motegi says a certain level of understanding from the fisheries co-op in dealing with the groundwater at Fukushima I NPP.
In the press conference after the cabinet meeting on February 4, 2014, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi said [the ministry] has obtained “a certain level of understanding as to the necessity” of the groundwater bypass plan from the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Association in dealing with the contaminated water at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Vice Minister Kazuyoshi Akaba had met with Hiroshi Kishi, Chairman of the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Association on February 3 to explain the outline of the plan and ask for understanding.
So the National Federation of Fisheries C-op Association will bear down on the Fukushima Federation of Fisheries Co-op Association, who will then bear down on the local Fisheries Co-ops in cities like Iwaki. The local Co-Ops will bear down on individual fishermen, who will probably need little persuasion, as they are eager to resume fishing.
TEPCO/METI plan to release groundwater seems to be back on track, as if the ground contamination in the very area where the wells were dug for the groundwater drawing had never happened in August 2013.
Right near where the wells are, there are huge tanks, mostly riveted together and meant to last for no more than 5 years, that contain highly radioactive (mostly beta nuclides, not gamma) waste water after reverse osmosis (desalination) treatment. Several of the tanks in the area were found to have leaked this waste water although no one knows exactly how much waste water leaked or how it leaked, and the leak may be slowly finding its way towards the wells. The elevated levels of tritium have already been measured, although they are well below the operating target of 1500 Bq/L.
Locations of the wells for drawing groundwater for the groundwater bypass scheme, and the sample water analysis (from TEPCO, 1/30/2014): the highest contamination of tritium recorded was 1,000 Bq/L from No.12 well on 12/24/2013.
Worked with Lauderdale- By-The-Sea Chamber of Commerce writing the updated information about what to do when approaching nesting females and disorientated hatchlings and was listed as an emergency contact for 2014 visitor guide Zone 6 Leader Lauderdale by the Sea Sea Turtle Oversight Protection, Inc. MTP # 192 2009 – Present (5 years)|Broward County, FL •Nest monitoring and rescue of disorientated hatchlings •Guarding of nesting females •Education of the public and businesses about lighting issues •Lighting surveys •Disorientation reports *Created pocket guides about sea turtle issues *Worked with Lauderdale- By-The-Sea Chamber of Commerce writing the updated information about what to do when approaching nesting females and disorientated hatchlings and was listed as an emergency contact for 2014 visitor guide
i also spent 4 months in 2010 in gumbo limbo rehab center taking care of the cold stunned and sick sick turtles
i have 20 years of enviro and other animal projects not relating to turtles plus all the political work i don;t list. this should be enough right?