Category: Environmental

Alabama is full of sh*t

(CNN)Right now, dozens of train cars carrying 10 million pounds of poop are stranded in a rural Alabama rail yard. Technically it’s biowaste, but to the 982 residents in the small town of Parrish, that’s just semantics.

They want it gone. The load has been there for almost two months, and it’s making the whole place smell like a rotting animal carcass.

To add insult to injury, it isn’t even their poop. For the last year, waste management facilities in New York and one in New Jersey have been shipping tons of biowaste — literally, tons — to Big Sky Environmental, a private landfill in Adamsville, Alabama. But in January, the neighboring town of West Jefferson filed an injunction against Big Sky to keep the sludge from being stored in a nearby rail yard.

It was successful — but as a result, the poo already in transit got moved to Parrish, where there are no zoning laws to prevent the waste from being stored.

‘God help us if it gets hot’

Parrish Mayor Heather Hall said she is doing everything in her power to get the feculent freight out of her town.

“It’s so frustrating,” Hall said. Last week, Hall met with Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, and she and other Montgomery lawmakers told Hall they would help get it sorted out. “They’re trying to work behind the scenes to get us a little bit of help, but we’ve been told that for weeks, and there’s still no solution.”

Hall said the stench permeates everything. The rail yard is across from a baseball field and next to a softball field. Parrish only measures about 2 square miles, and pretty much everything is within smelling distance.

“It greatly reduces the quality of life,” Hall said. “You can’t sit out on your porch. Kids can’t go outside and play, and God help us if it gets hot and this material is still out here.” On Tuesday, when Hall spoke to CNN, the temperature in Parrish reached 81 degrees.

“You can’t open your door because that stuff gets in your house. It’s really rough,” Parrish resident Robert Hall told CNN affiliate WVTM. Other residents said the waste smelled like dead bodies.

‘Is that not a public health issue?’

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management have both told Hall the material isn’t dangerous, because it’s supposed to be Grade A biowaste, not raw sewage (which is also the reason for the unique smell).

She’s willing to take them at their word, but that doesn’t mean she and other Parrish residents aren’t concerned.

“Other than it smelling absolutely terrible, I have to trust them that it’s not going to hurt you,” she said. “But if you have asthma or COPD or breathing problems, what is that going to do to you? [The rail yard] is probably less than 50 yards away from homes. What happens if flies get into someone’s house? Is that not a public health issue?”

Hall said her colleagues in the capital city of Montgomery have asked her not to file an injunction against the landfill, not that it would be a smart idea anyway; if they went to court over the matter, the other matter would just sit there, stinking up Parrish, until the trial was over.

‘They keep telling us the situation is almost over’

So, in short, nobody knows when the poop will be moved.

“I’m just getting little bits and pieces of information, and I cannot tell you how frustrating it is,” Hall said. “My understanding is, they are really trying to work on the problem, and they keep telling us the situation is almost over.”

Hall hasn’t been in contact with Big Sky for a few weeks. When she first spoke to the company, when the cars of waste were just beginning to be stockpiled in Parrish’s rail yard, they told her it would take seven to 10 days to move them out. That was two months ago.

CNN contacted Big Sky and is waiting to receive comment.

Parrish isn’t the only town on the waste route that has been dealing with the fetid fallout. According to AL.com, residents in Birmingham were livid when at least 80 train cars full of the sludge came to a stop in their city in January.

Hall said, at one point, there were 252 tractor-trailer loads of the stuff stockpiled in her town.

“People need to understand that this waste does not need to be in a populated area,” she said. “There are places to put it, industrial places. We’re a very small town caught in the middle of this, and I feel like that’s part of the issue here. This shouldn’t be happening.”

#GoodCops And Environmentalism

Hey gang.
Phoenix And William are back for the tangent.
We have cops that rob people and cops that remind us why we need Sex Workers Rights.

We also do our best to do good news.
We really tried.
Seriously. We tried.

Trump administration suggests hunting elephants will save them from extinction 

The Trump administration said it will allow the importation of body parts from African elephants shot for sport, contending that encouraging wealthy big-game hunters to kill them will aid the vulnerable species.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service said in a written notice issued Thursday that permitting elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia to be brought back as trophies will raise money for conservation programs. A licensed two-week African elephant hunt can cost more than $50,000 per person, not including airfare, according to advertised rates.

In the Friday notice, FWS said it had determined that Zimbabwe’s conservation efforts for elephants are sufficient to protect the population and that hunting fees benefit conservation, both necessary factors in allowing trophy imports.

“The Service is able to make a determination that the killing of trophy animals in Zimbabwe, on or after January 21, 2016, and on or before December 31, 2018, will enhance the survival of the African elephant,” the agency wrote.

“With the information currently available, applications to import trophies hunted during this time period will be considered to have met this requirement unless we issue a new finding based on available information.”
The Trump administration also lifted the Obama administration’s ban on African elephant trophies from Zambia. But officials are not obligated to publish a Federal Register notice on that.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied Thursday that the policies had been made final.

“There hasn’t been an announcement that’s been finalized on this front,” she told reporters. “Until that’s done, I wouldn’t consider anything final.”

But Interior Department spokesman Russell Newell, whose agency includes FWS, confirmed Friday that both the Zimbabwe and Zambia elephant decisions are now final.

African elephants are considered both by FWS and by international conservation officials to be threatened species.

“By lifting the import ban on elephant trophies in Zimbabwe and Zambia the Trump Administration underscored, once again, the importance of sound scientific wildlife management and regulated hunting to the survival and enhancement of game species in this country and worldwide,” Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s advocacy arm, said in a statement.

Keystone pipeline leak spills 200,000 gallons of oil 

TransCanada, the company that owns and operates the Keystone Pipeline, says that an estimated 210,000 gallons (5,000 barrels) of oil have spilled near the small town of Amherst, S.D.
The cause of the leak is under investigation, according to the company’s website. TransCanada crews detected a drop in pressure at about 6 a.m. CT Thursday morning and shut down the pipeline, which runs from Hardesty, Alberta, to Cushing, Okla., and Wood River/Patoka, Ill.

Amherst is about 200 miles north of Sioux Falls, S.D., and about 25 miles from the state’s border with North Dakota.

The conduit is not the controversial and long-delayed Keystone XL Pipeline that TransCanada is still shepherding through the approval process.

“TransCanada cannot be trusted,” said Jane Kleeb, head of the Nebraska Democratic Party and a longtime activist opposed to Keystone XL, as quoted by the Washington Post.

“I have full confidence that the Nebraska Public Service Commission is going to side with Nebraskans, not a foreign oil company,” she added.

Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist manager at the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said the company was aware of the spill at about 5:30 a.m. CT. But his agency wasn’t alerted until about 10:30 a.m. CT.

“There is a time lag there and I expect that that will be some of the questions we need to answer over the coming months,” he told Jeff.

In its statement, TransCanada said, “The section of pipe along a right-of-way approximately 35 miles (56 kilometres) south of the Ludden pump station in Marshall County, South Dakota was completely isolated with 15 minutes and emergency procedures were activated.”

The spill occurred about 3 miles southeast of Amherst on private land, which Walsh described as a “flat, grassy area for grazing.” The company tweeted a picture of the site late Thursday.

The company says that it is providing state and federal regulators “with accurate and confirmed information on an ongoing basis.”

Radioactive boars found in Sweden after Cherynobl nuclear fall out 

Fears are growing in Sweden over packs of radioactive wild boar moving north across the country.  One animal shot by hunters was found to have more than 10 times the safe level of radiation. 
The high radiation levels — which come 31 years after the Chernobyl disaster sent a cloud of radioactive dust over Sweden — have left hunters afraid to kill and eat the animals. 

Ulf Frykman, who works for the environmental consultancy Calluna, this week issued an alert to local hunters in the country of Gävle, about 100 miles north of Stockholm, warning them of “extremely high” radiation levels among local boar. 

“This is the highest level we’ve ever measured,” he told the Telegraph, after testing an animal in Tärnsjö, a village between the cities of Uppsala and Gävle, with a radiation level of 16,000 becquerel per kilogram (Bq/kg).
Of the 30 samples of boar his team have tested this year, only six have been below the safe limit of 1,500 Bq/kg. 

As the soil in some areas north of Tärnsjö are more than twice as contaminated, radiation levels among boar are only expected to rise. 

Wild boars’ feeding habits mean they have a greater exposure to the iodine and caesium-137 left by the 1986 disaster than other game animals. 

“Wild boar root around in the earth searching for food, and all the caesium stays in the ground,” Mr Frykman explained. “If you look at deer and elk, they eat up in the bushes and you do not have not so much caesium there.” 

The accident at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine released roughly four hundred times more radioactive material than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. 


Areas in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine were the worst hit, but a cloud of radioactive particles also drifted over central and northern Sweden and it was workers at the Forsmark Nuclear Power plant, near Gävle, who were the first to raise the alarm internationally. Wild boar populations in other parts of Europe, such as Germany, have also been contaminated with radioactivity in the aftermath of Chernobyl.

Thousands flee Mt. Agung, as volcanic earthquakes are being reported

Residents, tourists and climbers are being told to stay far away from Mount Agung, a large volcano in Bali where hundreds of shallow volcanic earthquakes have been recorded in recent days. The volcano’s last eruption, in 1963, killed more than 1,000 people.
The Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation raised the alarm on Friday.

“The disaster mitigation agency said 48,540 people had fled and the number was expected to rise because more than 60,000 people lived in the danger zone,” Agence France-Presse reports.

Agung is the highest point in Bali. An eruption would likely bring deadly threats from a rain of heavy ash, as well as from pyroclastic flares (volcanic stones) and pyroclastic flows (lava).

As the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program reminds us, “A VEI 5 eruption during 1963-64 produced pyroclastic flows and lahars that caused extensive damage and resulted in more than 1,100 deaths.”
The government has imposed a 12 kilometer (7.5 miles) exclusion, or “danger zone” around the volcano, according to the Associated Press. People who live in the area are being warned to prepare masks and other gear that could protect their nose, mouth and eyes.

Gas stations on Florida’s west coast are running out of fuel

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) – Gas is becoming harder to find in Tampa Bay, the city on Florida’s west coast that is bracing for impact from Hurricane Irma’s winds and rains.

About 58% of gas stations in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area were without fuel Sunday morning, according to estimates from the crowdsourcing platform GasBuddy.

That’s a 14 percentage point jump from a day earlier.

The latest fuel outages were reported just as Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm.

The storm was initially expected to hit Miami directly. But Irma has shifted, and forecasts now show it moving up the west coast Sunday and Monday, hitting Naples and Fort Meyers before reaching Tampa.

About 49% of gas stations in the Naples-Fort Meyers area were without gas Sunday morning, according to GasBuddy. That’s an improvement over the 61% of outlets that did not have gas Saturday afternoon.

Almost the entire state will feel the storm’s impact. Most of Florida is covered by a hurricane warning that affect about 36 million people.

And gas shortages are happening statewide. Nearly 64% of stations in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area are out of fuel, according to GasBuddy. In the West Palm Beach-Fort Pierce region, that number is about 56%.

Even in Tallahassee, which is about 200 miles northwest of Tampa, more than half of stations don’t have gas.

Some areas of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina are also at risk. GasBuddy says 30% of the stations in Jacksonville, Georgia are dry, as are 26% of stations in Savannah.

The gas shortage problem has been made worse because of “panic buying” earlier in the week. Many Florida residents who were unsure of where the storm was headed raced to fill up their tanks.

Another factor: Hurricane Harvey. That storm disrupted fuel deliveries to Florida and other markets when it knocked out swaths of the Gulf Coast’s oil refineries at the end of August.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has tried to mitigate the shortage problem, according to a report by S&P Global Platts. Scott has encouraged gas stations to remain open as long as possible, and has offered up police escorts for fuel delivery trucks shipping gas to stations along evacuation routes.

Even if Floridians find gas, it will probably cost more than they’re used to paying.

The average gallon of gas in Florida sold for $2.73 as of Sunday morning, according to AAA. That’s up from $2.28 a month ago.

— CNNMoney’s Jackie Wattles and Matt Egan contributed to this report.

Pacific Garbage patch updates for the week of 5/14/17.

Pacific Garbage patch
Engadget

50 floating screens will clean the Pacific garbage patch next year

In a statement released yesterday, the organization has revealed that it plans to start cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in early 2018 using its newly redesigned cleaning system. That garbage patch is the biggest collection of debris in the
Atlanta Journal Constitution

50 plastic-eating machines to clean trash from Pacific Ocean

A Dutch organization is set to install technology systems to remove chunks and chunks of plastic from an infamous part of the Pacific Ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. » RELATED: Can this plastic-eating bug save our planet? The area, also …
Sputnik International

Millions in Donations Allow Ocean Cleanup to Tackle Great Pacific Garbage Patch

… like an artificial coastline, enabling ocean currents to catch and concentrate trash. The company claims the technology, already tested last year in the North Sea, will reduce the theoretical cleanup time of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch from

Great barrier dying due to climate change

Two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier reef has been devastated by back-to-back years of “severe” coral bleaching, aerial surveys have found, raising fears that the natural wonder may not fully recover.

While mass bleaching has been recorded on the Great Barrier Reef before, researchers say two events have never occurred in such close proximity.

Coral bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions — such as heightened sea temperatures — push corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae causing them to turn white.

The damage was recorded by the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, which carried out separate studies over the past two years.

Its 2016 survey found the top third of the reef had experienced the most intense bleaching. But research completed last week recorded more damage along the 1,400 mile long reef’s middle third.

“The combined impact of this back-to-back bleaching stretches for [900 miles], leaving only the southern third unscathed,” ARC director Terry Hughes said Monday.

He said bleaching can be caused by weather patterns such as El Nino as well as higher temperatures driven by global warming.

While the 2016 bleaching was part of a “global event associated with the 2015-2016 El Nino,” this year has more to do with a “very mild winter and [summer] heatwaves” on the east coast of Australia, Hughes said.

Situated on Australia’s north east coast, the Great Barrier Reef was given World Heritage status in 1981.

It is described by the Australian government as one of the world’s natural wonders.

Severe bleaching events have been recorded previously on the Great Barrier Reef in 1998 and 2002.

Bleached corals can recover if the temperature drops and algae can recolonize. But experts warn this process can take up to 10 years.

James Kerry, who was part of the aerial survey team, said: “It takes at least a decade for a full recovery of even the fastest growing corals, so mass bleaching events 12 months apart offers zero prospect of recovery for reefs that were damaged in 2016.”

The researchers also said a section of the reef untouched by the bleaching was damaged by Tropical Cyclone Debbie last month.

But while Hughes said the reef was likely struggling with multiple problems, the most pressing was global warming.

“As temperatures continue to rise the corals will experience more and more of these events. One degree Celsius of warming so far has already caused four events in the past 19 years,” Hughes said. “Ultimately, we need to cut carbon emissions, and the window to do so is rapidly closing.”

Keystone XL pipeline will only create 35 permanent jobs

President Trump hailed the State Department’s approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline as a big win for American workers.
“It’s a great day for American jobs,” Trump said from the Oval Office on Friday after the State Department issued a permit allowing the pipeline proposed by TransCanada to go forward.
“Today, we take one more step towards putting the jobs, wages and economic security of American citizens first,” the president said.

TransCanada (TRP) CEO Russell Girling, standing next to Trump, said Keystone XL will “create thousands of jobs.”
The construction of the pipeline would indeed create thousands of jobs. But they will be temporary.
Keystone pipeline would create about 3,900 construction jobs if it was built in one year, according to a State Department report. That number would drop to 1,950 jobs if the Alberta-to-Nebraska pipeline takes two years to build.
The State Department also estimates that about 16,100 additional jobs will be created during the construction via firms awarded contracts for materials and services.
However, once Keystone is completed, only 35 permanent employees would be needed to operate the pipeline along with 15 temporary contractors.
So, the Keystone XL isn’t expected to be a boom for the job market by any stretch.
In addition, those temporary and limited permanent jobs could come at a significant environmental cost. The Canadian oil that would flow through the pipeline is considered among the dirtiest types of crude.
A 2015 study funded by the Department of Energy found that the oil sands from Canada emit 18% more greenhouse gases when processed into gasoline than that processed from traditional U.S. crude. And diesel fuel derived from oil sands emits 21% more of these harmful gases.
That’s why environmentalists remain fiercely opposed to Keystone.
“The dirty and dangerous Keystone XL pipeline is one of the worst deals imaginable for the American people, so of course Donald Trump supports it,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.

Keystone still needs approval from state authorities in Nebraska, where some landowners oppose the project and have sued TransCanada.
Asked by Trump when Keystone will start, TransCanada’s Girling said, “We’ve got some work to do in Nebraska.”
Trump responded: “Nebraska? I’ll call Nebraska. Nebraska has a great governor.”