Category Archives: Environment

Radioactive Tuna migrate from Fukushima Japan quake zone across Pacific to California

Levels of radioactive cesium considered safe to eat

MSNBC | May 28, 2012

By ALICIA CHANG

LOS ANGELES — Across the vast Pacific, the mighty bluefin tuna carried radioactive contamination that leaked from Japan’s crippled nuclear plant to the shores of the United States 6,000 miles away — the first time a huge migrating fish has been shown to carry radioactivity such a distance.

“We were frankly kind of startled,” said Nicholas Fisher, one of the researchers reporting the findings online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Radioactive tuna travels from Japan to US faster than wind

The levels of radioactive cesium were 10 times higher than the amount measured in tuna off the California coast in previous years. But even so, that’s still far below safe-to-eat limits set by the U.S. and Japanese governments.

Previously, smaller fish and plankton were found with elevated levels of radiation in Japanese waters after a magnitude-9 earthquake in March 2011 triggered a tsunami that badly damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors.

But scientists did not expect the nuclear fallout to linger in huge fish that sail the world because such fish can metabolize and shed radioactive substances.

One of the largest and speediest fish, Pacific bluefin tuna can grow to 10 feet and weigh more than 1,000 pounds. They spawn off the Japan coast and swim east at breakneck speed to school in waters off California and the tip of Baja California, Mexico.
Japan: Fukushima nuclear pool not unstable

Five months after the Fukushima disaster, Fisher of Stony Brook University in New York and a team decided to test Pacific bluefin that were caught off the coast of San Diego. To their surprise, tissue samples from all 15 tuna captured contained levels of two radioactive substances — ceisum-134 and cesium-137 — that were higher than in previous catches.

To rule out the possibility that the radiation was carried by ocean currents or deposited in the sea through the atmosphere, the team also analyzed yellowfin tuna, found in the eastern Pacific, and bluefin that migrated to Southern California before the nuclear crisis. They found no trace of cesium-134 and only background levels of cesium-137 left over from nuclear weapons testing in the 1960s.

The results “are unequivocal. Fukushima was the source,” said Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who had no role in the research.

Bluefin tuna absorbed radioactive cesium from swimming in contaminated waters and feeding on contaminated prey such as krill and squid, the scientists said. As the predators made the journey east, they shed some of the radiation through metabolism and as they grew larger. Even so, they weren’t able to completely flush out all the contamination from their system.

“That’s a big ocean. To swim across it and still retain these radionuclides is pretty amazing,” Fisher said.

Pacific bluefin tuna are prized in Japan where a thin slice of the tender red meat prepared as sushi can fetch $24 per piece at top Tokyo restaurants. Japanese consume 80 percent of the world’s Pacific and Atlantic bluefin tuna.

The real test of how radioactivity affects tuna populations comes this summer when researchers planned to repeat the study with a larger number of samples. Bluefin tuna that journeyed last year were exposed to radiation for about a month. The upcoming travelers have been swimming in radioactive waters for a longer period. How this will affect concentrations of contamination remains to be seen.

Now that scientists know that bluefin tuna can transport radiation, they also want to track the movements of other migratory species including sea turtles, sharks and seabirds.

BP oil spill toxins from Gulf of Mexico found in eggs of pelicans nesting in Minnesota

Nearly 80 percent of collected samples contained Corexit, a chemical dispersant used to break up oil spills. Both the petroleum compounds and Corexit are dangerous in small doses, capable of causing cancer, endocrine disruption, and birth defects.

thisdishisvegetarian.com | May 23, 2012

by Jonathan Reynolds

Researchers for the Department of Natural Resources have found evidence of petroleum compounds and the chemical used to clean up the 2010 BP oil spill in eggs of pelicans nesting in Minnesota.

Petroleum compounds were present in 90 percent of the first batch of eggs tested. Nearly 80 percent of collected samples contained Corexit, a chemical dispersant used to break up oil spills. Both the petroleum compounds and Corexit are dangerous in small doses, capable of causing cancer, endocrine disruption, and birth defects.

Pelicans generally spend winters in the Gulf of Mexico, Texas, and Cuba, before returning a full year later to begin breeding.

Mark Clark, an ecologist and faculty member of North Dakota State University, explained on Minnesota Public Radio that any contaminant in the bird is bad, especially when the egg is tampered with, “because that’s where the developing embryo and chick starts, and when things go wrong at that stage, there’s usually no recovery.”

The BP spill, similar to an atomic detonation, took its toll on the unfortunate victims in the immediate area, choking them to death on crude oil. Two years later, and for many more years to come, the chemical fallout is taking its toll, negatively impacting millions of innocent lives in drastic ways for generations to come.

Eyeless shrimp and mutant fish raise concerns over BP use of Corexit


Eyeless shrimp and fish with lesions are becoming common, with BP oil pollution believed to be the likely cause. (Al Jazeera / YouTube)

‘Eyeless fish, and fish lacking even eye sockets, and fish with lesions, fish without covers over their gills….’

– Darla Rooks, Louisiana fisher

Fox News | Apr 18, 2012

NEW ORLEANS –  Eyeless shrimp, fish with oozing sores and other mutant creatures found in the Gulf of Mexico are raising concerns over lingering effects of the BP oil spill.

On April 20, 2010, an explosion aboard the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 people and spewed an estimated 4.9 million barrels into the Gulf, in the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Two years later, scientists and commercial fishers alike are finding shrimp, crab and fish that they believe have been deformed by the chemicals unleashed in the spill, according to an extensive report by Al Jazeera English.

“At the height of the last white shrimp season, in September, one of our friends caught 400 pounds of these,” Tracy Kuhns, a commercial fisher from Barataria, La., told Al Jazeera, showing a sample of the eyeless shrimp.

Darla Rooks, another lifelong fisher from Port Sulfur, La., told the broadcaster she was seeing “eyeless fish, and fish lacking even eye sockets, and fish with lesions, fish without covers over their gills and others with large pink masses hanging off their eyes and gills.”

Rooks added that she had never seen such deformities in Gulf waters in her life — a refrain common to most fishers featured in the report — and said her seafood catch last year was “ten percent what it normally is.”

A survey led by the University of South Florida after the spill found that between two and five percent of fish in the Gulf now have skin lesions or sores, compared to data from before the spill, when just one-tenth of one percent of fish had any growths or sores.

Scientists blamed the mutations on the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) released from the spill’s submerged oil as well as the two million gallons of the dispersant Corexit that BP used in an attempt to clean up the spill.

“The dispersants used in BP’s draconian experiment contain solvents, such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol. Solvents dissolve oil, grease, and rubber,” Riki Ott, a toxicologist and marine biologist explained to Al Jazeera. “It should be no surprise that solvents are also notoriously toxic to people, something the medical community has long known.”

BP has maintained that Gulf seafood is safe, saying in a statement, “Seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is among the most tested in the world, and, according to the FDA and NOAA, it is as safe now as it was before the accident.”

On Wednesday BP sealed an out-of-court, $7.8 billion settlement with lawyers acting on behalf of thousands of individuals and businesses affected by the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Under the deal, the Gulf seafood industry is slated to receive over $2 billion for economic loss.

BP’s Corexit Oil Tar Sponged Up by Human Skin


Corexit® dispersed oil residue accelerates the absorption of toxins into the skin. The results aren’t visible under normal light (top), but the contamination into the skin appear as fluorescent spots under UV light (bottom). Credit: James H “Rip” Kirby III, Surfrider Foundation

motherjones.com | Apr 17, 2012

By Julia Whitty

The Surfrider Foundation has released its preliminary “State of the Beach” study for the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s ongoing Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Sadly, things aren’t getting cleaner faster, according to their results. The Corexit that BP used to “disperse” the oil now appears to be making it tougher for microbes to digest the oil. I wrote about this problem in depth in “The BP Cover-Up.”

Gulf seafood deformities alarm scientists

The persistence of Corexit mixed with crude oil has now weathered to tar, yet is traceable to BP’s Deepwater Horizon brew through its chemical fingerprint. The mix creates a fluorescent signature visible under UV light. From the report:

The program uses newly developed UV light equipment to detect tar product and reveal where it is buried in many beach areas and also where it still remains on the surface in the shoreline plunge step area. The tar product samples are then analyzed…to determine which toxins may be present and at what concentrations. By returning to locations several times over the past year and analyzing samples, we’ve been able to determine that PAH concentrations in most locations are not degrading as hoped for and expected.

Worse, the toxins in this unholy mix of Corexit and crude actually penetrate wet skin faster than dry skin (photos above)—the author describes it as the equivalent of a built-in accelerant—though you’d never know it unless you happened to look under fluorescent light in the 370nm spectrum. The stuff can’t be wiped off. It’s absorbed into the skin.

And it isn’t going away. Other findings from monitoring sites between Waveland, Mississippi, and Cape San Blas, Florida over the past two years:

The use of Corexit is inhibiting the microbial degradation of hydrocarbons in the crude oil and has enabled concentrations of the organic pollutants known as PAH to stay above levels considered carcinogenic by the NIH and OSHA.

  •     26 of 32 sampling sites in Florida and Alabama had PAH concentrations exceeding safe limits.
  •     Only three locations were found free of PAH contamination.
  •     Carcinogenic PAH compounds from the toxic tar are concentrating in surface layers of the beach and from there leaching into lower layers of beach sediment. This could potentially lead to contamination of groundwater sources.

The full Surfrider Foundation report by James H. “Rip” Kirby III, of the University of South Florida is open-access online here.

The “Massive Con” Causing a Suicide Every 30 Minutes

mercola.com | Apr 3, 2012

By Dr. Mercola


I personally visited India when I met with Organic India.

It’s been called the “largest wave of recorded suicides in human historyi.”

Indian farmers have been robbed of their livelihoods, causing them to take their own lives in despair.

Over the past 16 years, it is estimated that more than a quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide.

Who is responsible for this tragedy?

The most obvious culprits are global corporations like Monsanto, Cargill and Syngenta and the genetically engineered seed they have forced upon farmers worldwide.

None are hit harder than those in India, where socioeconomic and environmental factors have magnified the impact, making it almost impossible for these farmers to survive.

In fact, genetically engineered seeds are so fundamental to the problem that it’s been termed “GM Genocide.”ii

The rate of Indian farmer suicides has greatly increased since the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002iii.

This is not a pleasant subject to read about, but it is a necessary one… one that can help you understand why it’s so important to continue fighting seed monopolies with ever-increased resolve.

I experienced the Indian farmers’ plight firsthand while spending two weeks in India, where I saw for myself the devastating effects of GM seed upon the lives and livelihoods of these rural farmers.

I worked closely with Organic India, a company helping more than 150,000 farmers change back to time-honored methods of producing high quality plants and herbs. If you have any doubts about the dire global implications of GM crops, the plight of these farmers should put those doubts to rest.

A Farmer Commits Suicide by Pesticide Every 30 Minutes in India

The statistics are staggering. According to a publication from the New York University School of Lawiv, in 2009 alone (the most recent year for which official figures are available) 17,638 Indian farmers committed suicide—that’s one farmer every 30 minutes. A great number of those affected are cash crop farmers, and cotton farmers in particular.

Cotton exemplifies India’s general shift toward cash crop cultivation, a shift that has contributed significantly to farmer vulnerability. The cotton industry, like other cash crops in India, has been dominated by foreign mega-corporations that promote genetically modified seeds and exert increasing control over the entire agricultural industry. Most farmer suicides are a direct result of overwhelming indebtedness. And the suicide numbers may be grossly underestimated.

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Shocker: dirty electric cars

From the University of Tennessee at Knoxville  comes this surprising bit of research. Taken in entirety, and electric vehicle has a greater impact on pollution than a comparable gasoline vehicle.

wattsupwiththat.com | Feb 13, 2012

UT researchers find China’s pollution related to E-cars may be more harmful than gasoline cars

by Anthony Watts

Electric cars have been heralded as environmentally friendly, but findings from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, researchers show that electric cars in China have an overall impact on pollution that could be more harmful to health than gasoline vehicles.

Chris Cherry, assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering, and graduate student Shuguang Ji, analyzed the emissions and environmental health impacts of five vehicle technologies in 34 major Chinese cities, focusing on dangerous fine particles. What Cherry and his team found defies conventional logic: electric cars cause much more overall harmful particulate matter pollution than gasoline cars.

“An implicit assumption has been that air quality and health impacts are lower for electric vehicles than for conventional vehicles,” Cherry said. “Our findings challenge that by comparing what is emitted by vehicle use to what people are actually exposed to. Prior studies have only examined environmental impacts by comparing emission factors or greenhouse gas emissions.”

Particulate matter includes acids, organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles. It is also generated through the combustion of fossil fuels.

For electric vehicles, combustion emissions occur where electricity is generated rather than where the vehicle is used. In China, 85 percent of electricity production is from fossil fuels, about 90 percent of that is from coal. The authors discovered that the power generated in China to operate electric vehicles emit fine particles at a much higher rate than gasoline vehicles. However, because the emissions related to the electric vehicles often come from power plants located away from population centers, people breathe in the emissions a lower rate than they do emissions from conventional vehicles.

Still, the rate isn’t low enough to level the playing field between the vehicles. In terms of air pollution impacts, electric cars are more harmful to public health per kilometer traveled in China than conventional vehicles.

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Agenda 21: Conspiracy theory or threat? Commissioners to decide

gastongazette.com | Jan 25, 2012

by Michael Barrett

The Gaston County Board of Commissioners will consider a resolution condemning Agenda 21 during its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Gaston County Courthouse, 325 N. Marietta St., Gastonia.

When Gaston County commissioners sound an alarm tonight for Americans to wake up and guard against a subversive, sinister threat of global political control, they know many people will scratch their heads.

Others, said Commission Chairman Donnie Loftis, may consider their warning about the “insidious nature of Agenda 21” to be an overreaction.

“I realize there will be folks who say, ‘You guys are drinking the Kool-Aid,” he said.

But Loftis believes the county’s resolution “to heighten awareness of Agenda 21’s impact on communities in the United States” is necessary to shed light on a nefarious United Nations initiative.

On the surface, Agenda 21 is a 1992 blueprint for communities worldwide to use in achieving “sustainable development.” Critics, however, allege it’s a ploy to strangle the American way of life by reducing private property rights, and instilling harsh zoning restrictions and socialist philosophies into local government planning.

Related

“The point is, this is something people do need to know about because it’s happening in other parts of the country,” said Commissioner Tracy Philbeck, who referred to Agenda 21 as a “Marxist weapon.’”

“More people need to be aware of what could be implemented here if we’re not careful,” Philbeck said.

Commissioners are expected to vote on the resolution during their 6 p.m. meeting, as part of the consent agenda.

Roadmap for growth

The United Nations adopted Agenda 21 two decades ago as a global initiative to combat climate change. It endorses practices such as the preservation of green spaces, the availability of good transportation choices, and the prevention of urban sprawl.

President George H.W. Bush agreed to back the initiative in 1992, and President Bill Clinton signed an executive order in 1995 to create a council on sustainable development. But nothing about Agenda 21 is legally binding.

Today, a Google search on Agenda 21 will turn up any number of websites that broadcast the dangerous headway those philosophies are making into American society. Authors of that fear often come across as conspiracy theorists. But they warn that the nature of Agenda 21 as a dull topic is allowing it to fly under the radar and work its way into public policy, while raising minimal suspicion.

Members of the Greater Gaston Tea Party have become the most outspoken local critics of Agenda 21 in the last two years. They allege that its principles of extreme environmentalism are already showing up in Gastonia’s adopted plans for growth and development.

Philbeck, a Tea Party member, said Agenda 21’s influence can be seen in the concept of using eminent domain not for hospitals or highways, but for things such as greenways — something he opposes. His increasing familiarity with the subject led him to suggest that commissioners formally denounce Agenda 21 in a resolution.

Philbeck was spurred into action after hearing Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich warn that Agenda 21 could be used to seize the private property of American citizens.

“You know it’s huge when a presidential candidate is talking about it in a debate,” Philbeck said.

Valid fear or unfounded fantasy?

Agenda 21’s detractors have critics of their own, who say Gingrich and others are playing on conservative phobias.

Eric Heberlig, an associate professor of political science at UNC Charlotte, said he’s not thoroughly familiar with Agenda 21. But the objections to its principles are typical of conservatives who believe climate change is overblown, he said.

“The environmental movement represents the bad guys,” he said. “So anything they are for is seen as being suspicious, or a threat in terms of what their opponents want to see in public policy.”

To Agenda 21 opponents, terms like “sustainable growth,” “livable cities” and “green environments” seem to represent a shadowy, menacing threat, Heberlig said.

“We’re reacting to symbols here,” he said. “If the hippie environmentalists are for it and the United Nations is for it, it must be a bad thing.”

Philbeck points to websites such as democratsagainstunagenda21.com as evidence that conservative Republicans aren’t the only ones on alert.

“The folks who are pushing this thing want us to look fanatical,” he said. “That’s why I recommend people go and read Agenda 21 for themselves.”

Philbeck and Loftis said they aren’t against planning for growth and development in Gaston County, but doing so requires a delicate balance.

“It’s a fine line to balance growth without it being micromanaged by government,” Loftis said.

The resolution to be voted on Thursday decries Agenda 21 as “insidious” and having “underlying harmful implications, “destructive strategies” and “radical policies.” Its approval would put Gaston County on record and allow a copy to be sent to other county commissions across the state, and governors and agencies across the country.

“If there are not some checks and balances along the way, I think (Agenda 21) has the potential to involve a slow erosion of local control,” said Loftis. “We don’t want to give that authority away to someone away from here who has a bigger agenda.”

NY Times, Big Fix: BP, Gov’t carpet-bombing Gulf people coverup


(Left to right) ‘The Big Fix’ co-director Rebecca Tickell, Gulf Coast local Margaret Curole, Director Josh Tickell Credit: Green Planet Productions/Margaret Curole/Facebook

Examiner | Dec 4, 2011

by Deborah Dupre

The New York Times and ‘The Big Fix’ break deafening silence on Gulf of Mexico catastrophe cover-up through documentary evidence: World now knows Gulf Truth

The New York Times, in its front page review of “The Big Fix” that opened in New York Friday, honed into the film’s documented and damning evidence that Gulf people and their waters, air and food are still being carpet-bombed with Corexit, although government reported discontinuing the poisonous gassing of the area following the April 2010 ‘BP oil spill. ‘ To date, aside from “The Big Fix” and a handful of of related major human rights defenders, most of whom are in the film, there is no “Gulf Truth” movement, despite the Gulf ecocide being the nation’s biggest media and government cover-up to date in terms of direct injuries, death and dying plus environmental destruction.

In its front page Friday review of this year’s most controversial film, “The Big Fix,” that rocked Los Angeles last month just as new waves of oil washed ashore Gulf beaches,  the New York Times highlighted that the dispersant Corexit is still being applied, oil is still leaking (from the uncapped well), and local Gulf Coast people are still suffering in silence from ill health according to interviews in the movie and undercover filming by the movie director, Josh Tickell and co-director, Rebecca Tickell.

“The most serious of the film’s assertions is that BP used tremendous amounts of Corexit, an oil dispersant whose toxic effects on the environment and on human health are as bad, or worse, than exposure to oil,” stated the New York Times.

As Dupré reported in her Examiner article over a year ago, and in her interview last week by New Zealand’s show host Vinny Eastwood’s Guerilla News Republic Broadcast Radio interview, adding the pesticide Corexit (banned in many countries) to the already lethal crude oil made the oil eleven times more deadly. (See: “Scientists find Corexit made BP Gulf catastrophe worse is not news”)

Even tiny amounts of the oil-Corexit witches brew are poisonous.

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Coca-Cola turns can white to help polar bears

MSNBC | Oct 26, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore. — Coca-Cola Co. is turning its red cans white to help draw attention to a campaign to protect polar bears and their habitats.

Coca-Cola is giving $2 million to the World Wildlife Fund to support its work on polar bear protection. The two organizations are encouraging consumers to donate $1 and the beverage maker has agreed to give another $1 million to match these contributions.

The company said 1.4 billion of the white cans, along with white bottle caps on several products, will hit store shelves Nov. 1. The white cans will feature an image of a mother polar bear and her two cubs.

The “Arctic Home” campaign is designed to encourage people to learn about and help protect the polar bear’s Arctic home. Funds raised will support the World Wildlife Fund’s polar bear conservation work, which includes working with local communities, supporting cutting-edge research and carrying out other conservation work.

Coca-Cola has made a push for several years to protect polar bears, which have been a part of their advertising for years. The company, based in Atlanta, donated $1 million to the World Wildlife Fund for polar bear conservation over the last four years.

Dispersants used in New Zealand spill “more harmful than the oil itself”


OIL SLICK: There is concern about the effects on the environment of using dispersant to break up oil from the stranded ship Rena.

Dispersants ‘worse than oil’

Stuff | Oct 11, 2011

by MICHELLE COOKE

The dispersants being used to break up the hundreds of tonnes of oil leaking from the grounded Rena could be “more harmful than the oil itself”.

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) has used Corexit 9500 to help break up the oil, but University of Southampton oceanography lecturer Dr Simon Boxall said using dispersants could cause unnecessary harm.

The UK banned the use of Corexit dispersants in 1998 and Sweden has a blanket ban on all dispersants in the marine environment, Boxall said.

“In their raw form some dispersants can be very toxic and I believe will do more harm than good,” he said.

“They are more harmful than the oil itself and they are not less toxic than dishwashing liquid.

“Dishwashing liquid doesn’t carry hazchem advice and you don’t wear protective clothing and masks to do the washing up. In this case – with limited knowledge of the region – I’d advise caution on use of dispersants.”

But Environment Minister Nick Smith said Corexit was no more toxic than dishwashing liquid and had been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

He said at least 1800 litres of the chemical dispersant had been used with variable results.

In New Zealand, Corexit can be used in sea water but not fresh water.

Boxall has studied the Erika oil spill on France’s Brittany coast in 1999 and the MV Braer oil spill in the Shetland Islands in 1993.

He said oil broke up naturally after the Erika oil spill and “little human intervention took place”.

He estimated last night that it should take between four and six weeks for the oil to be naturally dispersed.

But another 300 tonnes have since leaked into the ocean, which means the natural process could take longer.

He said the stormy weather was “both a pro and con”. While it hindered the salvage operation, it would also help disperse the oil.

MNZ started using Corexit last week to disperse the oil from the Rena, but was also looking at using alternative dispersants.

National on scene commander Rob Service said last week that despite initial indications that dispersant testing had proved effective, further analysis had confirmed Corexit was not dispersing the oil.

MNZ said on its website chemical dispersants were an “important option” and should always be considered in the most effective “first stage” of the response strategy.

A spokesperson for MNZ said results from a trial of Corexit on Thursday and Friday proved inconclusive and while it planned to use it this morning, the weather hindered that operation.

Corexit is dispersed from the air, but it was too cloudy to fly today.

Helicopters have been on standby all day, waiting for a break in the weather so spraying could continue.

The chemical only worked on fresh oil and would not work on oil that had been in the ocean for more than three or four hours.

“If it’s still coming out tomorrow then we’ll continue to use it,” the spokesperson said.

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) research scientist Professor Nic Bax, who leads the Biodiversity Hub at the University of Tasmania, said nature would play its part but dispersants could also be helpful in breaking up the oil.

“Dispersants used to be quite toxic but now are considered to be much less toxic than the oil itself, so the main environmental decision regarding their use is determining where the oil will have least harm.”

“Spilt oil that remains at the surface will gradually be dispersed by natural physical processes at least in high energy environments. Oil that reaches low energy environments or gets buried in sediments may persist for several years.”

The University of Houston in Texas is currently researching new types of dispersants which are more environmentally friendly.