New Mexican Nuclear Facility Leak No Threat to Human Health

Why Don’t I have a good feeling about this? Ever notice the ones that declare an area safe never live there, Just A thought??

Posted: 03/27/2014 2:50 pm EDT Updated: 03/27/2014 2:59 pm EDT

March 11 was the third anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear incident, where cleanup efforts to contain radioactive contamination continue. In a reminder that such problems are not limited to Japan but a worldwide concern, on February 14 the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant facility near Carlsbad, New Mexico, admitted that their first radiation leak in 15 years exposed 17 WIPP workers to radiation, who inhaled plutonium and americium particles. No Threat, hnnn

The Carlsbad WIPP is one of the world’s three deep repositories and the only one in the U.S. for storing nuclear waste left over from the production and testing of atomic weapons, burying the radioactive waste more than a third of a mile underground in tunnels hewn out of salt beds. The Carlsbad WIPP has received up to 212,000 cubic feet of nuclear waste a year since it opened in 1999. It stores waste from U.S. nuclear labs and weapons production facilities. New Mexican state law regulates hazardous waste facilities and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows New Mexico to issue federal permits for the storage of hazardous waste. Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC manages the site.

The problem of the safe storage of nuclear waste has a long history, dating back to the World War 2 Manhattan Project, which built the first atomic weapons, when transuranic (TRU) waste began accumulating. In the 1950s, the National Academy of Sciences recommended deep disposal of long-lived TRU radioactive wastes in geologically stable formations such as deep salt beds. Throughout the 1960s, U.S. government scientists sought an appropriate site for TRU radioactive waste disposal, eventually focusing on a desert region of southeastern New Mexico where, 250 million years earlier, the evaporation of an ancient Permian Sea had created a 2,000-foot-thick salt bed.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy:
Bedded salt is free of fresh flowing water, easily mined, impermeable and geologically stable; an ideal medium for permanently isolating long-lived radioactive wastes from the environment. However, its most important quality in this application is the way salt rock seals all fractures and naturally closes all openings.

As for the nature of the radioactive debris stored at the site, in its WIPP webpage the U.S. Department of Energy notes:
WIPP is the nation’s only repository for the disposal of nuclear… waste. It consists of clothing, tools, rags, residues, debris, soil and other items contaminated with small amounts of plutonium and other man-made radioactive elements. Disposal of transuranic waste is critical to the cleanup of Cold War nuclear production sites. Waste from DOE sites around the country is sent to WIPP for permanent disposal. TRU waste is categorized as “contact-handled” or “remote-handled” based on the amount of radiation dose measured at the surface of the waste container. Contact-handled waste has a radiation dose rate not greater than 200 millirem (mrem) per hour, while remote-handled waste can have a dose rate up to 1,000 rem per hour. About 96 percent of the waste to be disposed at WIPP is contact-handled.

The underground storage facility is closed until all testing is complete and they determine out the source of the radiation leak.

The Carlsbad WIPP incident is not New Mexico’s first radiation leak, accident or spill. In 1979, four months after the Three Mile Island accident, New Mexico experienced a high level spill when a breached dam at a uranium mill operated by the United Nuclear Corporation dumped 94 million gallons of effluent and 1,000 tons of acidic radioactive sludge into the Rio Puerco. The “Church Rock Spill” was eventually declared an EPA Superfund site in 1983 after the New Mexico Governor at the time objected to the Navajo Nation’s request that it be named a federal disaster.

What is certain is that pressure nationwide from the nuclear industry for more facilities similar to WIPP will continue to deal with spent fuel rods from over 100 nuclear facilities around the country, with the industry urging that the long delayed Yucca Mountain repository be funded, finished and fuel recycling initiated there.

On March 20, Energy Department spokesman Brad Bugger said, “We are doing ongoing monitoring of air, soil, water and vegetation, and we are seeing nothing that indicates any health impacts to workers, the public or the environment.”

Local residents are not so sure. Seeking to allay local fears, on March 12 Jose R. Franco, manager of the U.S. Department of Energy Carlsbad Field Office wrote to Eddy and Lea County residents, noting “I have made every aspect of our operations at WIPP open and available to the investigation team” before adding, “I was recently interviewed by a reporter who asked me if I thought WIPP would ever reopen. I told him that WIPP has to reopen, and it will reopen as a safer and stronger operation than it has ever been.”

In the interim, Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC will ship TRU radioactive waste from the federal Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to a dump in Andrews County, Texas, which is operated by Waste Control Specialists LLC.

Source: no threat_b_5036647.html

Check out the latest investigations on The Dick Clippings.


Waste water chemical leak W.V. dumped Hurricane landfill

Posted on March 8, 2014 by  in Dick Clippings

Waste water chemical leak W. V. dumped Hurricane landfill

 Wednesday, March 12, 2014 4:34 PM EST Updated: Mar 13, 2014 10:51 AM EDT

Thursday, March 13, 2014 10:51 AM EST

By Alanna Autler, Reporter  By Jessie Shafer, Reporter

Link to Video:

HURRICANE, WV  UPDATE: Waste water from chemical leak West Virginia dumped in Hurricane landfill 

Hurricane Mayor, Scott Edwards, released a statement at about 9 p.m. March 12 regarding wastewater from the Freedom spill site that is being brought to a Hurricane landfill.

The statement reads: “I was just notified that large amounts of water containing MCHM residue from the chemical leak that affected WV American Water Company’s water source is being transferred by tanker trucks to a landfill in Hurricane, and has been since March 7th.

“From what I’ve heard, the DEP modified the landfill’s permit and do not consider this product hazardous as they are solidifying the MCHM containing liquid prior to it being dumped in the landfill, but I HAVE MY CONCERNS. Not notifying me or others in the county really infuriates me. Folks along Rt. 60 and Rt. 34 have been smelling licorice in the air, which is what brought this to light — if they would not have reported the smell, they would have continued to dump this substance in the landfill without telling local officials, which is just bad practice. 

“I am going to do what I can to stop this from continuing, but I have a feeling that I will be met with deaf ears and it will continue. While I am not a chemist, I know that I do not want this material entering a local landfill, entering into the ground, then the leachate from the landfill entering our waste water treatment plant, then ultimately entering Hurricane Creek.

“The runoff and the leachate CAN NOT reach the city’s public water supply watershed. There is NO DANGER of the runoff or leachate entering into our municipal water system from the landfill, but I do not know what other dangers exist by them dumping this MCHM waste water into a local landfill.  “I would ask each and everyone of you to immediately call the Office of the Governor at (304) 558-2000 and protest this action and ask him to take steps to stop it.”


ORIGINAL STORY, 4:34 p.m. March 12:

A company is transferring approximately 36,000 gallons of waste water to a landfill in Hurricane, WV.

Freedom Industries is transporting the waste water from a massive chemical leak that left 300,000 people without clean drinking water. The company is bringing the waste water to Disposal Services, Inc. in Hurricane, which is owned by Waste Management, according to Tom Aluise, a spokesperson for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

Aluise said crews are mixing the waste water with sawdust before dumping it into the landfill. The DEP approved a modified permit for this process, which the landfill obtained in February. Environmental regulators will allow the practices to continue until October 2014.

The spokesperson said the landfills are lined, equipped with leak detection systems and groundwater monitoring wells.

In addition,  the water that leaches through the landfill, otherwise known as the leachate, collects in underground pipes. Aluise said the waste water is treated before it’s discharged.

Environmental regulators do not classify the waste water as “hazardous waste,” according to Aluise.

So far, crews have transported 36,000 gallons of waste water to DSI, which included:

1 load on March 7

3 loads on March 10

3 loads on March 11

2 loads on March 12

Each load was 4,000 gallons. Freedom Industries is looking for other ways to dispose of this waste water as well.  Several people had called WOWK-TV, complaining about a licorice odor in the Hurricane area. The Division of Air Quality responded to the landfill Wednesday, March 12, walked around the facility and determined the odors were not at objectionable levels. The DEP received only one formal odor complaint March 12




Check out the latest investigations on The Dick Clippings.

Pollution from oilsands greater than first believed, new research suggests


Posted on March 5, 2014 by  in Dick Clippings


EDMONTON – A new study released Monday suggests environmental assessments of oilsands projects have underestimated the impact of pollution, raising questions about the accuracy of data used as part of the approval process. Despite taking into account emissions from industry-related activities, researchers from the University of Toronto found estimates in environmental impact statements submitted to regulators were insufficient to explain existing contamination levels in northern Alberta.

“Our study shows emissions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons estimated in environmental impact statements conducted to approve developments in the oilsands region are likely too low,” a summary document reads. “This finding implies that environmental concentrations estimated using those emissions may also be too low.

“The potential therefore exists that estimation of future risk to humans and wildlife because of surface mining in the region has been underestimated.” Conducted in 2012 and 2013, the research found inconsistencies between recorded emissions and predictions of environmental impacts compiled by consulting companies and listed on the Canadian government’s National Pollutant Release Inventory.

“The main finding is that we need a better accounting of the release of toxic substances in the oilsands region,” said Frank Wania, a professor of environmental chemistry who presided over the study. “Certainly, there is a shortcoming.” Examining the reported level of emissions, Wania and his team concluded that other significant sources of contamination need to be considered, including toxins from tailings ponds that are spread as they evaporate into the air.

The amount of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs that oilsands’ operators dispose in tailings ponds is five times greater than those measured in direct air emissions, the study says, leading researchers to conclude evaporation from containment ponds is a likely source. “The results of simulations reaffirm that emissions estimates that take into account only direct emissions to the air do not appear to be adequate representations of actual emissions in the region,” the report says. “Furthermore, indirect emissions from secondary sources to the atmosphere, such as tailings ponds, may be a more significant contributor of oilsands PAHs than direct emissions to air.”

The study recommends new methods be implemented to estimate emissions of contaminants from other sources during environmental assessments of energy projects. “A comprehensive picture of organic containment sources and pathways in the oilsands region has yet to be elucidated,” the document says. “Our results highlight the need for improved accounting of PAH emissions from oilsands operations, especially in light of continued expansion.” Wania said monitoring is improving through a joint Canada-Alberta effort, but that more work has to be done. “Evaporation from the tailings ponds is one of the possible pathways that hasn’t been looked at in the context of emissions,” he said. Kevin Zahara, spokesman for Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, said the department needs time to analyze the report.

“We rigorously monitor oilsands emissions and set strict emission standards as a part of the approval for any operation,” Zahara said. “Managing Alberta’s environment is not just one policy in isolation, we take a holistic approach which balances environmental protection with economic development, more than what any other jurisdiction is doing.” Simon Dyer, director of Alberta and the north for the Pembina Institute, said the study raises a number of issues.

“Decision-makers need to (consider) this information in determining if it is appropriate to approve new projects,” he said. “Regulatory submissions already show that planned production will exceed legal limits for pollutants which means approvals must be slowed or better technologies implemented.”



Check out the latest investigations on The Dick Clippings.

After leaks, WIPP nuke dump is storing waste in parking area

Posted on March 4, 2014 by  in Dick Clippings

“After leaks, nuke dump is storing waste in parking area.” This Feb. 24, 2014, photo shows the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, N.M.

By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press Published Monday, March 3, 2014 | 5:45 p.m. Updated Monday, March 3, 2014 | 8:07 p.m.

ALBUQUERQUE — The federal government’s only underground nuclear waste dump remained shuttered Monday and state environment officials said they have set deadlines for the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractor to deal with radioactive waste left above ground at the repository.

Dozens of drums and other special containers that have been shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant from federal facilities around the country are being stored in a parking area at the plant and inside the facility’s waste handling building.

From there, the waste is usually taken to its final resting place deep in underground salt beds. However, the repository has been closed since early February due to back-to-back accidents, including a radiation release that exposed at least 13 workers and set off air monitoring devices around the plant.

Under its permit with the state, the dump can keep waste stored in the parking area for only 30 days and up to 60 days in the handling building. Due to the closure, the state is extending those deadlines to 60 days and 105 days, respectively. The federal government would have to develop an alternative storage plan if the underground dump remains off-limits for more than three months.

The Environment Department outlined the deadlines, along with requirements for weekly reports and a mandatory inspection before operations resume, in an administrative order made public Monday.

Jeff Kendall, general counsel for the department, said state officials believe allowing a little more time to fully vet all the options for safely storing the waste is the best bet.

“To require them to begin to systematically ship particular waste units back to points of origin or back to particular locations in a rather expedited fashion was not the best thing as far as environmental health or human health in this instance,” Kendall said in a phone interview.

Kendall added that the order also gives the state more explicit oversight as to what happens with the waste and how things are being handled by DOE and the plant managers.

After 15 years of operating with a stellar record, a truck that officials said was hauling salt in the underground chambers caught fire Feb. 5, shuttering the plant and halting all waste shipments. Nine days later, a radiation alert activated in the area where newly arrived waste was being stored.

Tests are ongoing to determine the health effects for the workers, and officials have yet to determine what may have caused the leak. They have been unable to access the underground portion of the repository.

Donavan Mager, a spokesman for Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC, which runs WIPP, said Monday onsite monitoring and sampling of the surrounding soil, vegetation and water continue. He said new results are expected in the coming days.

WIPP officials confirmed Monday that only 13 employees were onsite when the radiation release occurred late Feb. 14. Another 140 employees showed up for work the following day.

Now, there are only 80 essential workers on site. Mager said they’re working in areas that have been tested and are free of contamination.

Some areas have been designated as “radiological buffers,” where only trained radiological workers can go. Mager said those workers are wearing protective equipment.

Every time workers leave the site, Mager said they are checked for any contamination.

WIPP is the nation’s first underground nuclear repository and the only facility in the country that can store plutonium-contaminated clothing and tools from Los Alamos National Laboratory and other federal nuclear sites.

Since opening, the plant has received more than 11,890 shipments, totaling more than 90,000 cubic meters of waste.

The above-ground material targeted by the state Environment Department’s order includes 145 cubic meters of waste in containers of various sizes and shapes.


Check out the latest investigations on The Dick Clippings.

How to Trigger a Volcanic Eruption on Purpose

Posted on March 4, 2014 by  in Climate ChangeDick Clippings,

• BY ERIK KLEMETTI04.04.121:30 PM

How to Trigger a Volcanic Eruption on Purpose. Over the last few weeks, a number of disparate items converged in my mind. First, in my Petrology and Volcanology class here at Denison, we spent a week talking about what geologists know about triggers for volcanic eruptions. Secondly, I was asked some questions about Richard Branson’s April Fools’ joke regarding the supposed Virgin Volcanic that would send a manned submersible into a volcano. Put these two ideas together, and you get to wondering about that age-old question: Could we trigger a volcano to erupt on purpose? This has been the realm of science fiction and conspiracy theorists for decades (centuries?), the idea that humans could figure out a way to get a volcano that isn’t erupting to start erupting. Mostly, this is in the hands of evil scientists/lunatics who are bent on world domination (paging Dr. Horrible) or some last ditch effort to save the planet (as in Crack in the World).

Wait, I think that rocket is pointed the wrong way. Image: Crack in the World

How do people suggest we could get a volcano to erupt?

The vast majority of fictional attempts to get a large explosive device into a volcano — something like a nuclear bomb — and the explosion from the bomb will cause the volcano to erupt. In most cases, the bomb needs to be delivered deep into the volcano (usually schematically shown as the “big vat of magma” that doesn’t exist) to get the plan to work. The idea is the explosion in the magma will cause it to continue to erupt. No one has ever tried this in reality (although we have bombed lava flows to no effect). I’ve also heard people say that merely drilling into a volcano could case an eruption by releasing the pressure building in the volcano, however, this sort of thing happens a lot without dire consequences (unless you own the drill rig). Interestingly, both of these ideas are also suggested when discussing how to stop a volcano from erupting — again, mostly by lowering the pressure in the volcano or blocking the magma from reaching the surface.

Why do volcanoes erupt in the first place?

Watch out! A supervolcano! Image: e_calamar/Flickr

The name of the game when it comes to starting an explosive volcanic eruption is pressure — or, more specifically, a drop in pressure. A simplified way to think of a volcano is like a champagne bottle with a cork. Keep that cork on and the bubbles in the champagne stay in solution. However, you remove that cork and all the dissolved carbon dioxide comes out of solution and bubbles form. Release that pressure fast enough and the bubbles form so quickly that you get that “pop” from the bottle. Build the pressure up in the bottle by shaking it and release the pressure and all that $500 bottle of champagne comes gushing out the top. That is, in a basic sense, what happens for an explosive eruption of a volcano — volcanic gases come out of solution as the pressure is released, forming bubbles that fragment the magma into ash and tephra. That pressure being released is what we call “lithostatic pressure,” that is the pressure caused by all the rocks above the magma. Lithostatic pressure goes up quite rapidly in the Earth — it takes 10 km of the Earth’s atmosphere to produce 1 “atmosphere” of pressure (what we feel at sea level). It only takes 4.4 meters of rock above you to exert the same force. Release enough of that lithostatic pressure and you release the cork. The ash plume is the “foom!” of champagne coming out of the bottle.

The other way you can get a magma to erupt, usually explosively, is the addition of outside water. Think about the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull — that eruption was made much more explosive by all the melted snow/ice on the volcano that mixed with the magma (however, it was likely triggered by an injection of new, hot magma). If the right ratio of water-to-magma exists, then the explosive mixing of magma and water can be self-sustaining, meaning that the explosive eruption will continue propagating until the supply of water or magma runs out. However, too little water means that you likely don’t sustain the explosive mixing, too much water and you quench (solidify) too much of the magma.

What could trigger an eruption?

There are many theories of what can trigger a volcano to erupt. Some are as simple as the buoyancy of magma — it is less dense than the surrounding rock, so it rises until it intersects the surface. Likely, this is only the dominant process as volcanoes that produce lava flows like Kilauea. If you want an explosive volcanic eruption, you want to produce bubbles (and lots of them) by (1) decompressing the magma, causing gases to come out of solution; (2) crystallizing minerals to concentrate water/volatiles in the remaining magma or (3) heating the magma with a new intrusion. A release in pressure can be accomplished a number of ways, including the failure of the roof above the magma body (a volcanic landslide is a great way), the buoyant rise of the magma or through some less common factors like melting of a glacier (likely too slow a process to trigger a specific eruption), excessive precipitation to erode the volcano, changes in atmospheric pressure or maybe even Earth tides caused by the pull of the Sun and Moon (rare, mostly in already active volcanoes). Once you’ve produced bubbles, you need to concentrate them towards the top of the magma body, maybe through a earthquake — think about shaking an open bottle of soda with bubbles on the side: They all float to the top. However, in all these cases, you likely need a volcano that is “primed” to erupt — that is, one that has eruptible magma that just needs to be “tipped” into erupting.

What you’d need to potentially make it work — and why that likely wouldn’t work either.

Armed with this information, if you want to try to get a volcano to erupt, you’ll need to do a few things:

• Find a volcano that is already showing some signs of magma intruding at shallow depths. This might be high levels of volcanic gases, shallow earthquakes, deformation of the volcano. You want something “primed” to go.

• Figure out a way to release the lithostatic pressure keeping the “cork” on the volcano so that the bubbles can form.

• Figure out how to get a lot of water into the volcano quickly … but not too quickly.

The fictional methods to get a volcano to erupt really don’t help in any of the scenarios. Typically you see the evil genius picking a volcano that isn’t showing signs of activity, so he/she is already showing up to the gunfight without bullets. The “bomb into the volcano” doesn’t really address the pressure issue as the explosions don’t remove enough of the overlying rocks to release that lithostatic pressure. Drilling into a volcano is like trying to bleed to death with a needle prick — not enough pressure release to really make a difference. Sadly, the problem here is that mad scientists need to “think big.”

How I’d try to do it. I’m sorry, I’ve claimed Santorini for my plans for world domination. Image: NASA Earth Observatory

Okay, so, how would I do it? First, I need to find a volcano ready to erupt that doesn’t erupt frequently (so that pressure is already building). Thinking of volcanoes globally that are showing signs of unrest today and likely a decent volume of eruptible magma, my pick might be Santorini in the Aegean Sea. The bonus there is that I have ready access to water. If there is magma rising under the volcano, then what I want to do is catastrophically release the overlying burden of rocks to produce bubbles in the magma, I want those bubbles to form a layer at top of the magma body to concentrate the pressure and I want to get water into that magma chamber to help aid explosivity. However, this is all easier said that done. One strategy would be to do something like mountain-top removal mining to remove a portion of the land surface above the magma body — however, this takes time. What evil genius holds the world ransom while they slowly remove truckloads/boatloads of material (“Sorry, hold on, only 10,000 more loads to go!”). No, to do it quickly you’d many want high explosive charges just below the surface to blast away the land surface. You’d need a lot of them placed as a grid across the volcano, but the goal is to remove material quickly. Now, those explosives should do double-duty, where the shaking caused by the explosions might shake bubbles free in the magma (as more bubbles are produced from the release of the pressure). If the pressure gets high enough, the weakened roof (from the explosives) above the magma body might give away, allowing for a rapid decompression. If you wanted to add to the fun, the cracks you’d developed should allow for percolation of seawater into the magma to help the explosion along (much like may have happened at Krakatau in 1883).

And now, the real problem

Now, you might be thinking “he’s got this whole thing figured out.” Thanks, I try. However, I don’t have it all figured out because there is one more problem I haven’t mentioned. That problem is time. Sure, I could do all these things but one thing that volcanologists don’t have a good grasp on is the timing — how long between the triggers of an eruption and the actual eruption. In some cases, it looks like seconds, like the earthquake and landslide at Mount St. Helens that triggered the 1980 eruption. In some cases, the trigger could take months or even a year as seems to be suggested by some volcanoes in Chile after large earthquakes. So, you might go through all the trouble only to have really no control on when the volcano will erupt — again, not the best plan if you’re planning to shock the world with evil genius. Heck, there is a pretty good chance that the volcano might not even erupt — so many variables go into this that even picking an ideal volcano that is ready to blow might not do it — and all your activity might impede an eruption rather than cause it. This all just shows how little we know about the exact mechanisms that can cause a specific volcano to erupt. So, as you draft your plans for world conquest, cross “hold the world hostage as I cause a volcano to erupt” from the list. You have a better chance at steering an asteroid into the planet than getting Yellowstone to explode at your whim.



Reading List:

Check out the latest investigations on The Dick Clippings.

A step forward in predicting volcanic eruptions

Posted on March 4, 2014 by  in Climate ChangeDick Clippings,

By E. KIRSTEN PETERS March 4, 2014

There are two main things most people would like to know about particular volcanoes: when is the next eruption and how big will that eruption be? A step forward in predicting volcanic eruptions

Scientists in Iceland have taken another step forward in monitoring volcanoes to best predict when they will erupt and even warn people of the size of the coming eruption.

In May of 2011, a volcano in Iceland named Grimsvotn erupted. It generated a 12-mile-high plume of volcanic debris that temporarily grounded airplanes as far away as Great Britain. The problem wasn’t as great, though, as that which had occurred a year earlier, when another Icelandic volcano erupted. That 2010 eruption — from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano — grounded many flights across northern Europe and made major headlines at the time.

The 2011 Grimsvotn eruption was recently written up in the journal Nature Geoscience to illustrate an advance researchers made that may help us with future predictions of volcanic activity. Because scientists knew the volcano was coming to life, they had placed a global positioning system monitor on its flank.

About an hour before Grimsvotn erupted, the GPS device — rigged to send readings to scientists in real time — registered ground movement of a couple of feet.

Data from “a GPS site can tell you not only that there’s unrest at a volcano, but that it’s about to erupt and then how high its plume will be,” said Sigrún Hreinsdottir, speaking to Nature Geoscience. Hreinsdottir is a geophysicist at the University of Iceland and one of the authors of the journal article.

Obviously, the more information that can be known, the better, when it comes to eruptions. Any information about timing can help people evacuate the areas likely to be affected. And knowing how high the volcanic plume may reach can help pilots and air traffic controllers as they try to adapt to a situation that’s rapidly unfolding.

Grimsvotn is a truly active volcano, so inquiring minds may want to know why it’s not thoroughly covered in GPS monitors. The answer is that much of the volcano lies beneath an ice sheet. Ice sheets have their own movement issues, so monitoring them won’t give you good information about a volcano. Researchers did what they could to attach a GPS device on a rare, rocky outcrop above the ice.

Next came a bit of math. The researchers didn’t want to just record ground movement, they wanted to estimate what they could about what such movement meant for changes in pressure in the underground magma chamber. Such pressure tends to correspond to the size of the eventual ash plume.

It’s long been the case that seismic instruments have been used to monitor tremors and give general predictions of when an eruption will occur. But the GPS measurements have the advantage of giving information about the size of the eruption to come, Hreinsdottir explained.

The new GPS approach with the magma-pressure calculations still needs further testing.

“We need another eruption to prove we are right,” Hreinsdottir said.

(E. Kirsten Peters, a native of the rural Northwest, was trained as a geologist at Princeton and Harvard. This column is a service of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University.)



Check out the latest investigations on The Dick Clippings.

Tourism to Guatemala's famous Pacaya volcano cancelled due to powerful eruption

Posted on March 4, 2014 by  in Climate ChangeDick Clippings,

Keep in mind where these eruptions are taking place, This will play into Part 2 of an article in progress. That article is coming soon. Evidence that suggests, might prove interesting. Please notice all the recent stores related to the cooling of earth related to the increased number of volcanic eruptions over the past number of years.

By SARAH GORDON PUBLISHED: 08:06 EST, 3 March 2014 | UPDATED: 09:48 EST, 3 March 2014

Thousands of people could face evacuation in Guatemala after its most active volcano – and popular visitor attraction – erupted, shooting plumes of ash and vapor more than two miles into the air and spewing glowing-hot rocks. The Pacaya volcano, just 24 miles from the tourist town of Antigua and near the capital Guatemala City, erupted early on Sunday, sending an ash plume high into the sky. Flights to the area have been cancelled and an amber alert has been issued, warning the 3,000 people who live nearby to be ready for evacuation.

Pacaya National Park director, Humberto Morales, said: ‘We are assessing with the National Disaster Management Centre (Conred) whether we will need to evacuate the 3,000 people who live in the villages of El Rodeo and Patrocinio. ‘Access to the areas around the volcano has been suspended.’ Pacaya is one of Guatemala’s most active and picturesque volcanoes and is a popular visitor attraction.

Standing at more than 8,000ft high, it has impressive views of the lagoon of Calderas and three neighbouring volcanoes, Agua, Fuego and Acatenango. It is a popular day trip destination from Antigua, the pretty, colonial former capital of Guatemala, which has become a Mecca for adventure travellers.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) warns: ‘Take care if you are near any active volcano. Monitor local media and seek advice from your tour operator in case of possible travel disruption. ‘Four of Guatemala’s volcanoes are currently active and the local authorities issue alerts in response to increased volcanic activity.’ The FCO also warns travellers that there is already a state of orange alert in place for Fuego volcano, near Pacaya.

Pacaya last erupted in January, sending lava flowing down one side of the volcano and leading to evacuations.


Check out the latest investigations on The Dick Clippings.

Climate engineering is, er, not working

Posted on March 3, 2014 by  in Climate ChangeDick Clippings

Monday, 3 March 2014 – 7:53pm IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

is, er, not working. There is only so much that technology can do, and arresting climate change is not one of them, claims a research.
This comes as a spanner in the works of those working night and day to evolve policies and mechanisms to arrest climate change. The implementation of climate engineering technologies as a last ditch effort to combat the escalating effects of climate change could, in fact, make things worse, assert a team of researchers.

According to a modelling study published in Nature Communications recently, climate engineering is likely to be either relatively ineffective or might even result in severe climatic side effects.

With the rate of climate change itself far outpacing mitigation strategies, climate engineering as a potential means of preventing catastrophic climate change has been attracting considerable interest from both climatologists as well as governments. Climate engineering, also known as geoengineering, refers to manmade technologies specifically designed to manipulate global climate. While the potential effectiveness of individual methods has been tested, there have been few attempts to compare them.

David Keller of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, and colleagues used an Earth system model to evaluate the effectiveness and potential negative side-effects of five climate engineering technologies when deployed continuously, and at scales as large as currently deemed possible, under a high CO2-emission scenario.

There was a reason why the team undertook this study. They wrote, ìA previous comparison of the radiative forcing potential of different climate engineering methods addressed the question of how efficient the methods are at preventing global warming. However, the analytical methodology that was used did not allow for the quantification of side effects and the possible feedbacks in the climate system that may cause a method to be more or less effective than predicted.î In other words, there was a need to quantify the side-effects.

Technology just canít do it
The team has shown that, even when several technologies are combined, climate engineering would be unable to prevent mean surface temperatures from rising well above 2∞ C by the year 2100. In addition, they have projected that all technologies are, individually, either relatively ineffective with limited warming reductions (less than 8 per cent), or that they have potentially severe side-effects and cannot be stopped without returning large amounts of stored CO2 to the atmosphere and causing rapid climate change.

The teamsí findings strongly suggest that climate engineering technologies should not be depended upon to prevent future warming and that CO2 mitigation is likely the most effective way to prevent further climate change.

Caution needed
The researchers concluded with a word of caution, ìClimate engineering does not appear to be an alternative option, although it could possibly be used to compliment mitigation. However, if climate engineering is seriously considered as one of the means of preventing climate change, care must be taken when evaluating whether the potential reductions in atmospheric carbon and temperature of a particular method are worth the risks and costs of its side effects.î


Check out the latest investigations on The Dick Clippings.

Water pollution threatens to choke national growth at root

Water pollution threatens to choke national growth at root

Posted on February 26, 2014 by  in Climate ChangeDick Clippings // 2 Comments

Global Times | 2014-3-3 15:58:01 By Lei Xiangping

Water pollution threatens to choke national growth at root. Although China’s air pollution keeps making headlines recently, water pollution is just as urgent a problem.

On February 18, the Xinhua News Agency reported that China plans to spend 2 trillion yuan ($330 billion) on an action plan to tackle pollution

of its scarce water resources, following the 1.8 trillion yuan package for air cleaning.

How severe is the extent of the damage? Since 2011, a series of water pollution cases have been exposed, like the oil leakage in the Bohai Bay, the cadmium contamination along the Longjiang River of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and the dead pigs incident in Shanghai’s Huangpu River.

These are not accidental, but are cumulative outbreaks of the long-standing and deep-seated water problems from our rapid development.

Government figures can show a broader picture of its severity.

One-fifth of the rivers are toxic, while two-fifths are classified as seriously polluted. A 2012 nationwide survey of 5,000 groundwater checkpoints found that 57.3 percent of the samples tested were heavily polluted.

Experts say the three main polluters are the industrial discharge, domestic rubbish, and the agricultural pesticide contamination.

The deteriorating water is not a local threat, but a national presence.

Last year, China’s watchdog for disease control confirmed that water pollution was responsible for the high cancer rates along the Huaihe River and its tributaries.

Xinhua reported that water pollution may be linked to the increase in cancer cases in more than 247 villages nationwide. Over 300 million rural residents cannot drink safe water, and at least 4 million hectares of farmland is irrigated with polluted water.

Water pollution can put our economic sustainability on the line. China has one-fifth of the world’s population but with just 7 percent of its water resources. The limited water reserves cannot tolerate more water pollutions.

Qiu Baoxing, Vice Minister of Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, was quoted by Caixin Magazine as saying that “based on international experience, when the urbanization rate reaches 50 percent, it is highly possible that a peak period of water pollution will be around the corner in the coming years.”

This reliance can cast a big shadow over the future use of water. The international water resource NGO, Circle of Blue, predicts that China’s demand for water will keeps growing to a degree that will outstrip the supply by 25 percent in 2030, and then eight out of the 10 major Chinese rivers will face water shortages.

Without enough water supplies, the possible consequences are that factories shut down, and urbanization stagnates, which in turn will hurt the economy, let alone the aftermath of polluting the limited water sources.

It is not too late to take precautions after suffering losses from the severe water pollution. We need to come out with more concrete policies to spend the 2 trillion yuan effectively, and make the advocate of building a “beautiful China” more tangible.

Lei Xiangping, an editor with the news desk of China Radio International



Check out the latest investigations on The Dick Clippings.