Archive | Environmental

Fukushima heats up; ‘nobody sure’ about location of melted fuel

If you’re going to rely on nuclear energy, it’s a very, very bad idea to rely on for-profit companies who have every incentive to cut corners and cover up. Can anyone honestly say they still believe anything TEPCO says? Not a great position for Japan to be in:

Tokyo Electric Power Co. injected boric acid into a reactor at its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to prevent an accidental chain reaction known as re- criticality after temperatures rose in the past week.

The temperature of the No. 2 reactor was 70.1 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit) as of 6 a.m. today, according to preliminary data, Akitsuka Kobayashi, a spokesman for the utility, said by phone. The reading fell from 72.2 degrees at 5 a.m. this morning, and is below the 93 degrees that’s used to define a cold shutdown, or safe state, of the reactor.

Since Feb. 1, temperatures at the bottom of the No. 2 reactor vessel have risen by more than 20 degrees Celsius, according to the company’s data. Tepco, as the utility is known, and the government announced that the Fukushima plant reached a cold shutdown on Dec. 16, nine months after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami wrecked the nuclear station, and caused three reactors to meltdown and release radiation.

“It was too early to say the plant is safe in December. They declared cold shutdown even though nobody is sure about the location of melted fuel,” Tetsuo Ito, the head of the Atomic Energy Research Institute at Kinki University in western Japan. “A similar incident will probably occur again.”

Frackin’ Democrats

Mary Landrieu is almost always a worthless piece of corrupt shit (I throw in that caveat on the off chance that she doesn’t sexually molest children, but confines herself to poisoning their water supply).“>Charlie Pierce:

Landrieu and a Republican senator from Ohio named Rob Portman have joined their oily hands to jack around with an upcoming EPA report on fracking-related groundwater contamination in Wyoming. The EPA already has made it known that the report will be both specific and damning as regards the reckless way the fracking procedures have been used in Wyoming and the terrible consequences that may result:

The EPA found that compounds likely associated with fracking chemicals had been detected in the groundwater beneath Pavillion, a small community in central Wyoming where residents say their well water reeks of chemicals. Health officials last year advised them not to drink their water after the EPA found low levels hydrocarbons in their wells.

Now why should a senator from Ohio and another one from Louisiana want to slow-walk an EPA report about groundwater contamination in Wyoming? Because they’re both a couple of ‘ho’s, that’s why. Landrieu’s been in the pocket of the extraction industries for so long that she probably has dryer lint in her ears, and Portman wants to be re-elected and so needs some of that sweet-sweet crude cash to do so. So the two of them draft a letter to Cass (Middle Ground) Sunstein complaining that the EPA might go too harshly on the frackers in Wyoming:

A false-positive link between hydraulic fracturing and groundwater contamination could form the basis for costly new regulation…. Unwarranted regulation of hydraulic fracturing could have substantial economic impact on the natural gas industry, the consumers and businesses that rely on it, and the millions of jobs that it directly or indirectly supports.  There is little doubt that the regulatory response that this report could generate may exceed the $500 million threshold.

This is a threat, pure and simple. Get the EPA to soft-pedal its report or there will be hell to pay over this during an election year. And to hell with what might be going on right now with the water people are drinking in Wyoming. That a Democratic senator has signed onto this dangerous nonsense should give us all pause, but no real surprise. I’m sure there’s some common ground to be found between the needs of energy companies to make every buck they can and the needs of the people whose tapwater explodes.


This is great news!

Just when you thought it was over, the temperature at reactor number 2 atFukushima’s nuclear plant has soared 26.7 degrees Celsius in the last few hours. Worse: they don’t know why the temperature is increasing after being stabilized for so long.

The reactor reached 164 degrees Fahrenheit (73.3 degrees Celsius) after being stabilized at 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius) since last December. Here’s the latest official update by Tepco, the owner of the plant:

At this moment, temperature indicates approx. 71.0 °C (as of 11:00 am on February 6). We will monitor it continuously.

The reactors were finally shut down cold after ten months of dramatic struggle by company and emergency workers.

Tepco has admitted that they don’t have a clue about what is going on. They have increased the amount of water pumped into the reactor ten percent, but their technicians don’t know what is going on. The change was detected in one of the three thermometers at the base of the reactor.

Fracking fluids

This is a useful step in holding drilling companies accountable. They’ve refused to disclose what they use, claiming it was a “proprietary formula” that could be treated as a trade secret:

(Reuters) – The U.S. government will require natural gas drillers to disclose which chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing on public lands, according to draft rules crafted by the Interior Department.

President Barack Obama pledged in the State of the Union address last week that the government would develop a road map for responsible natural gas production and roll out new rules to ensure drillers protect the environment.

Companies would be required to disclose the “complete chemical makeup of all materials used” in fracking fluids under the Interior Department’s draft rules, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

The industry objected to any rule that would force drillers to reveal the chemicals used in fracking, during which chemical-laced water and sand are blasted deep below ground to release oil and natural gas trapped within rock formations. Fracking has allowed companies to tap a wealth of new natural gas reserves but critics say the procedure has polluted water and air.

Today in climate news

Wouldn’t it be great if we finally had a Democrat in the White House, and could do something RIGHT NOW (All the time in the world! 2020 is plenty soon enough!) about this global warming crisis? Ha ha, just kidding!

MEXICO CITY — A drought that a government official called the most severe Mexico had ever faced has left two million people without access to water and, coupled with a cold snap, has devastated cropland in nearly half of the country.

Reports that the Tarahumara were killing themselves in despair over starvation, later proven false, spurred residents of Mexico City to collect food and clothing donations.

The government in the past week has authorized $2.63 billion in aid, including potable water, food and temporary jobs for the most affected areas, rural communities in 19 of Mexico’s 31 states. But officials warned that no serious relief was expected for at least another five months, when the rainy season typically begins in earnest.

Meanwhile, it turns out that the Little Ice Age of the 1300s wasn’t caused by plain old “climate variations,” but by a series of volcanic eruptions.

Also, your insurance is going up whether you believe in climate change or not:

NPR reported Monday that home insurance premiums are going up across the board in response to the record number of tornadoes, floods, fires, blizzards and other heavy weather that hit the country in 2011.

The piece features insurance executives at major firms such as Allstate and State Farm saying they are raising rates as much as 10%.

The president of the Insurance Information Institute, a New York-based industry association, says the weather caused about $35 billion of insured damages last year in the U.S. in events that caused a total of $70 billion in economic losses.

In the meantime, it’s expected to go up to 65 this week in Philadelphia. In February. And the plants are starting to bud…

Covering their tracks

In keeping with his blatant goal of doing whatever he can to allow unimpeded gas drilling, PA Gov. Tom Corbett ignores any regulatory requirements that might get in the way:

HARRISBURG — The administration of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has cut funding for a wildlife research program by nearly 70 percent, eliminating state money for projects meant to examine the impact of natural gas drilling and climate change, according to a report.

Richard Allan, the secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, eliminated 13 of the 21 projects that staff in the agency’s Wildlife Resource Conservation Program had recommended for funding, StateImpact Pennsylvania reported Wednesday.

Allan failed to consult with program staff about which programs to keep and which ones to cut, and only one drilling-related project — evaluating plant growth along natural gas pipeline routes — remained after last month’s cuts, reported StateImpact, a collaboration of NPR and public radio stations in Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

The program’s budget was cut from $780,000 to $251,683.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources attributed the funding cuts to declining revenue, and said some of the proposed research was duplicative. The Sierra Club’s Pennsylvania chapter on Tuesday criticized the funding reductions as an “attempt to conceal the true environmental impacts of gas drilling.”

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