Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα water. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα water. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Τρίτη, Φεβρουαρίου 03, 2015

CA Officials Allowed Fracking to Taint Drinking Water Amid Record Drought

Oil companies in drought-ravaged California are pumping wastewater from their operations into aquifers, potentially contaminating groundwater supplies that have become increasingly important...

State regulators permitted companies to drill hundreds of waste-disposal wells into aquifers that store water for drinking or irrigation, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Companies injected a blend of briny water, hydrocarbons and trace chemicals.

Most of the wells are located in the state’s Central Valley, where residents are pumping so much groundwater to cope with the historic drought that the land has started to sink.

“It is an unfolding catastrophe, and it’s essential that all oil and gas wastewater injection into underground drinking water stop immediately,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.

So far, tests of nearby drinking-water wells show no contamination, state officials said. But the federal Environmental Protection Agency is still threatening to take control of monitoring the waste-injection wells after more than 30 years of state management.

“If there are wells having a direct impact on drinking water, we need to shut them down now,” said Jared Blumenfeld, regional administrator for the EPA. “Safe drinking water is only going to become more in demand.”

The problem dates back to 1983, when the EPA gave state regulators responsibility for enforcing the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The agreement listed aquifers considered exempt, where oil companies could legally inject leftover water.

But there were two signed copies of the agreement, which led to oil companies injecting wastewater into aquifers that were supposed to be off-limits, the Chronicle reported.

The EPA first suspected the problem in 2011, and last summer state officials shut down 11 waste-injection wells that they feared could taint groundwater supplies already feeding homes and farms.

In 2010, cherry trees on Mike Hopkins San Joaquin Valley orchard starting turning brown, a problem that spread the next year.

Tests of the water revealed high levels of salt and boron, both of which can damage trees. Hopkins blames oil companies for tainting the aquifer that used to feed his orchard, and sued four companies that had been injecting wastewater nearby.

In another sign of California's persistent drought, downtown San Francisco recorded no measurable rain in January for the first time in 165 years, the National Weather Service said.

The agency also said Santa Cruz recorded no rain in January for the first time since 1893. Normal rainfall for that city in January is more than 6 inches.

For the Bay Area as a whole, last month was the driest January on record, the weather service said. December brought decent rain to Southern and Northern California, raising hopes for a wet winter, but January turned out to be dry and unusually warm.
sputniknews.com

3/2/15
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Δευτέρα, Ιανουαρίου 19, 2015

Cleanup begins on Yellowstone River for oil leak near Glendive

Cleanup efforts have begun on the Yellowstone River downstream from where an oil leak was reported over the weekend.

According to Paul Peronard, the on-scene coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, crews are using two techniques to cleanup the estimated 50,000 gallons of oil that leaked into the river from the Bridger Pipeline company's Poplar pipeline system on Saturday.

The crews are using a traditional boom, which doesn't work well in the swift water conditions, so it is being backed up by secondary capture point near Crane, which is located between Savage and Sidney about 30 miles away from the spill site.


At the secondary location crews are using what is called an ice slotting technique in which cut holes in the ice and then capture the oil using a boom that is lowered through the ice.

Finding a location where the ice was thick enough was difficult because of the condition of the ice needing to be combined with a location to get trucks and pumping equipment to the river.

Should the oil reach Sidney, there is no water intake in Sidney on the Yellowstone River.

There is a water intake for Savage on the Yellowstone River, and crews have placed a preventative boom there and are making preventative arrangements around the Intake Diversion Dam.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has joined the emergency response team. Both Pallid Sturgeon, which are endangered, and Paddlefish are in the area.

Crews are attempting to keep oil from getting to the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers where both of the fish species spawn.

Meanwhile, authorities said residents in the Glendive area who have smelled petroleum in their water need to call 406-377-3318 ext 16. The number connects to a city office, but they are taking information off an answering machine because the office is closed.

Callers will need to leave their name, number, and the address of where the smell was detected.

Officials are mapping out where the smells are reported.

As of 11:30 a.m. Monday, authorities said they still believe there is not a problem in the water distribution system. They have flown samples out of the water treatment plant in Glendive to a lab in Billings to be tested.

 http://www.kxlf.com/news/cleanup-begins-on-yellowstone-river-for-oil-leak-near-glendive/
19/1/15
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Σάββατο, Δεκεμβρίου 20, 2014

First of four Fukushima reactors cleared of nuclear fuel (VIDEO aljazeera)

One of four heavily damaged reactor buildings at Japan's tsunami-battered Fukushima nuclear power plant has been cleared of radioactive fuel rods, the operator said on Saturday (Dec 20).
It was a significant step in the decommissioning efforts, but workers still have three heavily crippled reactors to clean up after they were sent into meltdown in the 2011 quake-tsunami disaster. The overall clean-up work of the Fukushima plant is expected to take decades.

A total of 1,535 fuel rod assemblies have been now taken out of the building after Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO's) year-long operation, a company spokesman said. "Completion of the removal work is a milestone, but the decommission work will continue," plant chief Akira Ono told reporters.

The nuclear fuel was removed from a pool used to store the rods - which were mostly spent - in the reactor number 4 building, which was offline for regular check-ups at the time of the March 2011 disaster. 

The tsunami battered the plant's cooling system and sent reactors number 1 to 3 into meltdown, setting off the worst atomic accident in a generation.

TEPCO will remove fuel rod assemblies from the pools of other damaged buildings before extracting the melted fuel from the reactors.

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Παρασκευή, Δεκεμβρίου 19, 2014

Ethiopia dam tripartite committee to choose impact study firm in early 2015

The tripartite committee looking into Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is expected to meet by mid-January to choose an international firm to conduct studies on the dam's impact, Egypt's irrigation minister said Friday.

Hossam Moghazi told state news agency MENA that Egypt is committed to completing the study by mid-2015.   
Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia had selected seven international firms in October to prepare technical and financial offers to conduct studies on Ethiopia's $4.2 billion dam project, which Egyptian officials fear could affect the country's water share.

The tripartite committee was expected to have selected the firm by mid-December. However, the deadline to receive offers was extended after two firms withdrew.

After meeting to study the firms' offers, the tripartite committee is expected to meet in Addis Ababa to sign the final contract.

The firm's report — based on a study to be conducted over five months — will include the dam's impact on upstream Nile countries Egypt and Sudan, as well as its environmental, social and economic effects.
An Ethiopian "people's delegation" arrived in Cairo on Tuesday for a three day visit. Delegates met with diplomats, religious figures, university professors and journalists.

 http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/118360.aspx
19/12/14
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Πέμπτη, Δεκεμβρίου 18, 2014

Beijing's thirsty neighbor receives water from the south

Beijing's neighboring province of Hebei began receiving water through the south-north water diversion project Thursday, local authorities said.

The middle route's first-stage project supplies more than three billion cubic meters of water annually to the province, said Yuan Fu, chief of Hebei's office of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project.


It will alleviate water shortage in Hebei and help promote sustainable development in local society and economy, provincial governor Zhang Qingwei said.

The middle route's first-stage project starts at Danjiangkou reservoir in the central province of Hubei. It was officially put into operation on Dec. 12..

It will supply 9.5 billion cubic meters of water per year to the northern regions, including the cities of Beijing and Tianjin, and provinces of Henan and Hebei.

 Sources: Xinhua - globaltimes.cn
18/12/14
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Τρίτη, Δεκεμβρίου 16, 2014

20% of Egypt's Nile water share lost through ‘misuse’

Egyptians waste 20 percent of the country’s share of water from the Nile, a water resources expert has said in comments reported by Al-Ahram Arabic news website.

Diaaeddin El-Qousi, a professor at the National Institute for Water, said on Sunday that Egyptians “misuse” water by leaving taps running and while washing cars, among other reasons.
Political science professor, Mostafa Elwi, called on Egyptian institutions to cooperate in order to find solutions to the Ethiopian dam issue.

The comments were made at a seminar held by the Research and Strategic Studies Institute for Nile Basin Countries.

Ethiopia's construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam has concerned the Egyptian government since May 2013.

The Nile is Egypt's main source of water, with an allocated flow of 55.5 km3/yr, according to the Nile Waters Agreement between Egypt and Sudan in 1959.
 http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/117962.aspx
15/12/14
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Παρασκευή, Δεκεμβρίου 12, 2014

South-north canal starts flowing to ease water woes. (video: South to North Water Diversion Project)

The 1,432-kilometer long artificial waterway diverting water from China's south to solve the water shortage crisis in the north, particularly Beijing, started operation on Friday.

About 9.5 billion cubic meters of water will pass through the newly-built canal each year from Danjiangkou reservoir in Central China's Hubei Province to cities like Beijing and Tianjin, as well as more than 100 cities in Henan and Hebei provinces, according to a report by China Central Television.

The water will arrive in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan in three days, and reach Beijing in 15 days. More than 60 million people along the water channel will be able to drink the high-quality water from Danjiangkou, which is part of the Hanjiang river that flows into China's largest river, the Yangtze.

The project is expected to largely alleviate the pressure of water shortages in the northern regions, where annual precipitation is much lower than the southern areas and years of excessive use have caused underground water to dwindle to a dangerous level.


According to the plan, more than 1.2 billion cubic meters of water will go to Beijing each year. 

The water, after being mixed with local above-ground and underground water at treatment plants, will cover more than 50 percent of Beijing people's daily needs and part of industrial usage.

But experts warned that the situation is still far from optimistic considering the population and the huge gap between the supply of water and North China's needs. 

In Beijing, some 2.1 billion cubic meters of natural water is formed each year, but last year more than 3.6 billion were used. Beijing pumps about 500 million cubic meters of underground water more than is sustainable each year, China National Radio (CNR) Friday quoted the Beijing Water Authority as saying.

It will be impossible for Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei to fix the water crisis "unless they make the best use of every drop of water," Li Yuanyuan, vice director of the Water Resources and Hydropower Planning and Design General Institute, told the CNR.

Sun Guosheng, chief of Beijing's Office of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project, hinted there might be a slight price rise soon to encourage people to save water, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Source: Global Times
12/12/14
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  • VIDEO: China, Sending Water North


The Chinese government has embarked on a massive engineering project to transfer water from the wet south to the dry north.

 

Πέμπτη, Νοεμβρίου 27, 2014

Russian divers plan to reach 100-meter depth in Antarctica

An expedition to the Antarctica started out in Russia on Thursday with divers from the Republic of Tatarstan who plan to dive to a 100-meter depth near the Antarctic coast.
The expedition is organized by the Russian Geographical Society.

The press secretary of the society’s Tatarstan organization, Alina Iskanderova, told TASS that it would be another stage of the Cold Pole project to study Far North, Arctic and Antarctic water environment systems and work out methods for diving under extreme conditions.

The first two stages were devoted to the study of the unique Russian Arctic lakes Labynkyr and Vorota in Yakutia.

Expedition members plan to dive to a depth of 100 metres, which has not ever been done by anybody. In the region, 20-meter diving is considered safe. Divers will take samples of water at the depth to study micro organisms,” the press secretary said.
http://en.itar-tass.com/non-political/763923
27/11/14
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Σάββατο, Νοεμβρίου 22, 2014

Beijing closes 6,900 wells to protect underground water (video:South-to-North Water Diversion Project)

Beijing will gradually shut down 6,900 urban wells in the next five years to protect groundwater and improve drinking water quality.

The wells provide 240 million cubic meters of water annually, one fourth of the Beijing's urban supply, said Zhang Ping, deputy head of the Beijing water authority.

Aging of facilities and poor management mean that the quality of water from wells cannot be guaranteed in some areas, resulting in a steady stream of complaints from citizens, said Zhang.

The middle route of the gigantic south-to-north water diversion project will soon come on-stream, bringing 1 billion cubic meters to Beijing each year from a reservoir on the Hanjiang River, making possible closure of the wells.

Since 1999, Beijing has used too much groundwater: about 6.5 billion cubic meters too much. Long-term overexploitation has led to environmental problems like subsidence. The water table in parts of Beijing has dropped 12.8 meters since 1998 and more than 1,300 sq km of land has subsided over 50 centimeters.
Sources: Xinhua - globaltimes.cn
22/11/14
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  • VIDEO: China, Sending Water North

The Chinese government has embarked on a massive engineering project to transfer water from the wet south to the dry north.

 

Τετάρτη, Οκτωβρίου 29, 2014

Indigenous Peruvians Occupy Airport, Demand Accountability for Pollution

Hundreds of protesters from Peru’s indigenous community occupied a small airport in the country’s largest oil-producing territory on Monday night in response to unheeded demands that an oil producer clean up pollution that has been seeping into their drinking water, Reuters reports. 

Protesters took over the airport, which is situated in the Andoas district in the north of the country in the Amazon rainforest, in connection with a dispute between Argentinian energy company Pluspetrol and the Peruvian government over pollution and resource use.

Tedy Guerra, a protest leader and Chief of the Neuvo Andoas  community, told Reuters that the protest involves about 500 local natives, and that all flights in and out of the airport have been stopped. The airport services mostly planes used by Pluspetrol.

Guerra said that local police have not taken any action against the protesters.
Aurelio Chino, another representative of the protesters and the president of a local indigenous federation, said that the government’s classification of three Amazonian river basins as “environmental emergencies” due to dangerous levels of oil pollution has had little effect on cleanup efforts. “Neither the government nor the company are cleaning up the spills,” Chino told Reuters, adding that “these problems are building up.”

Pluspetrol operates oil block 1-AB, which produces about 15,000 to 17,000 barrels of oil a day, which comprises about a quarter of Peru’s modest output. The protesters are considering seizing wells and valves as well if the company does not agree to cleanup negotiations and compensation efforts.

Representatives of the company have said that they are “making every effort to reestablish a dialogue with the community,” and that they had already signed an agreement with indigenous leaders in September on the use of a local quarry.

Local indigenous communities have already used similar protest tactics in April of this year, taking control of production facilities for about a week. At that time, protesters had complained that Pluspetrol was not complying with a 2006 agreement to clean up decades-worth of pollution, which was causing sickness among the local population due oil seeping into their drinking water.

In the earlier protest, protest leader Carlos Sandi told the Guardian that his protesters weren’t “against oil exploitation or development,” but were only “calling for our rights to be respected in accordance with international laws.”
(RIA Novosti)
29/10/14
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Πέμπτη, Οκτωβρίου 23, 2014

Environmental Watchdog Finds Oil, Gas Companies Using Cancer-Causing Chemicals

WASHINGTON, October 23  - Oil and gas companies are exploiting federal loopholes to frack with cancer-causing petroleum-based products, a report by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) said.

"Despite a federal ban on the use of diesel fuel in hydraulic fracturing without a permit, several oil and gas companies are exploiting a Safe Drinking Water Act loophole, pushed through by Halliburton to frack with petroleum-based products, containing even more dangerous toxic chemicals than diesel," a statement published on the watchdog's website Wednesday said.


The group found that one of the primary ingredients in fluids, used in fracking, contains a highly toxic chemical called benzene, which is more toxic than diesel fuel and harmful to drinking water supplies and public health.

According to the statement, permits are required for fracking with diesel fuel; however, companies can inject other petroleum products even more toxic than diesel without using a permit.

"This double standard illustrates what happens when Congress manipulates environmental statutes for the benefit of polluters, instead of allowing EPA [US Environmental Protection Agency] to make public health decisions based on the best available science," EIP Executive Director and former Director of Civil Enforcement at EPA Eric Schaeffer said in the statement.

Halliburton, the company that pushed for the 2005 loophole which exempts fracking from the requirements of the 1973 Safe Drinking Water Act is one of the largest fracking companies.

The study recommends that Congress should revise and repeal the 2005 loophole by advising the US Environmental Protection Agency to require safeguards for the Safe Drinking Water Act from using chemicals that contain large amounts of benzene and other toxic chemicals.

(RIA Novosti)
23/10/14
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Lake shrinks by third. (The sharp fall of the lake's water level will affect shipping and fishing as well as nearby residents' water supply)

China's largest freshwater lake, Poyang, has shrunk by one third over the last three days due to a reduced water supply from the Yangtze River and little rainfall.

At 8 am Wednesday, the lake's surface area was 1,490 square kilometers, a reduction of 679 square kilometers compared with 2,169 square kilometers on Monday, said the Jiangxi Provincial Hydrological Bureau on Wednesday. 

The water level at the Xingzi hydrological station was 11.99 meters at 4 pm Wednesday, 2.13 meters lower than the average level recorded in recent years. The water level is falling by 30 centimeters every day.


The two major causes for the lake shrinking were the reduced water supply from the upper Yangtze River due to the construction of dams and sparse rainfall over the past month in Jiangxi, said the bureau.

The precipitation was less than 5 millimeters since September 20 in Jiangxi Province.

The lake's flood season began on April 30 and lasted until October 18.

This year's flood period was 33 days longer than last year's.

The sharp fall of the lake's water level will affect shipping and fishing as well as nearby residents' water supply.  

Sources : Xinhua - globaltimes.cn
22- 23/10/14
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Τετάρτη, Οκτωβρίου 22, 2014

In fight against hunger, UN launches initiative targeting threat of desertification

 UN, 22 October 2014 – The growing menace of desertification poses a distinct threat to the world’s agriculture and eco-systems, the United Nations agriculture agency warned today, as it announced a new initiative aimed at curbing the spread of land degradation and building resilience to climate change.

The programme, named Action Against Desertification and launched by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in partnership with the European Union and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP), will devote some €41million to bolstering sustainable land management across the world’s most vulnerable areas in an effort to fight hunger and poverty.


“Desertification and land degradation are very serious challenges. They lead to hunger and poverty, themselves at the root of many conflicts,” FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, said in a press release marking the programme’s launch.

“But recent successes show that these problems are not insurmountable. We can boost food security, improve livelihoods and help people adapt to climate change.”

The FAO reports that more than 70 per cent of people living in drylands and other fragile ecosystems across Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific derive their livelihoods from natural resources. At the same time, an uptick in population growth and climate change has placed increasing pressure on these ecosystems, intensifying degradation and desertification and putting millions of lives at risk.

In an effort to thwart the costly effects of desertification in Africa, the Action Against Desertification will build on an already existing “flagship programme” – the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative – which supports local communities, Government and civil society in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gambia, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal with the sustainable management and restoration of their dryland forests and rangelands.

Two-thirds of the African continent is classified as desert or drylands and climate change has led to prolonged periods of drought; over-intensive farming and over-grazing have caused land degradation; and deforestation has turned once fertile land into desert in many areas.

On that note, the FAO-backed programme it will support agro-forestry while also incentivizing the creation of farmer field schools where farmers can learn about the causes of desertification and the best ways to combat and prevent it.

Meanwhile, in both the Caribbean and the Pacific, the new initiative will target the problems of soil loss and degraded natural habitats by helping local communities adopt improved sustainable land and forest management practices. 

un.org
22/10/14
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Τετάρτη, Οκτωβρίου 15, 2014

82 Million Chinese Live on $1 per Day

Over 82 million of China’s residents are surviving on a daily income of $1 despite China's meteoric economic growth and rising export volumes, the Strait Time reports.

“The poverty-stricken population not only suffer from low income but also face various difficulties in getting drinking water, roads, electricity, education, medical care and loans,” said aChinese official Zheng Wenkai, cited by South China Morning Post.

According to the news source, poverty remains a ever present burden for most of the Chinese population. China's rural residents average 2,300 yuan ($368) a year or about $1 a day.


China’s economic boom has not only resulted in the emergence of private wealth and the middle class, but also has contributed to a widening gap between the rich and poor. The situation in rural areas is especially critical as villagers can get their income only from home-grown supplies and agricultural activities. Incomes of city-dwellers are reported to be three times higher than those of people living in the countryside, as the website of the Borgen project says. Rural areas are also often affected by natural disasters and lack access to electricity, water and healthcare facilities, also having negative impact on its residents’ wealth.

Thus, despite China’s status of the second-largest economy in the world, the Chinese population suffers from poverty and significant income disparities.

The country’s GDP reached only $6,767 in 2013, less than 13 per cent of that of the United States, the Global Times reports.
Read more: http://indian.ruvr.ru/news/2014_10_15/82-Million-Chinese-Live-on-1-per-Day-4531/

15/10/14
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Τρίτη, Οκτωβρίου 14, 2014

Karakoram Glaciers' Secret Revealed

Although the global warming continues to melt glaciers around the world, the ice mass in the Himalaya’s Karakoram region have been expanding, causing a fuss among the scientific community; however, the mystery has been finally revealed by a recent study published in Nature Geoscience on October 12.

“It has been a source of controversy that these glaciers have not been changing while other glaciers in the world have”, said Sarah Kapnick, a researcher at the Princeton University, as quoted by Discovery News.


The study compared a set of climate model simulations, focusing on seasonal cycles and their roles in the climate change in three regions of the Himalayas, including the Karakoram. Scientists found out that the moisture from seasonal monsoons increases a number of rainfalls in the region. Since the mountains are so high up, the moisture turns into snow, protecting the glaciers from reduction, Live Science said.

Scientists looked at 2,018 glaciers between 2001 and 2011 in the Himalayas and concluded that most of them – 1,700 glaciers – were stable and showed the same surface area and did not change their direction, International Business Times reported.

The Himalayan glaciers form the largest body of ice outside the polar caps. The glaciers store about 12,000 km3 of freshwater, according to International Business Times.

(RIA Novosti)
14/10/14
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Σάββατο, Οκτωβρίου 04, 2014

NASA Satellite Images Reveal Shocking Groundwater Loss in Drought-Stricken California

NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) program has released a series of satellite images, taken in June 2002, June 2008 and June of this year, showing the  stunning groundwater loss in California which is in its third year of record drought.... 

“This trio of images depicts satellite observations of declining water storage in California as seen by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites,” says NASA. “Colors progressing from green to orange to red represent greater accumulated water loss between April 2002 and June 2014.”

The prolonged drought has impacted everything from agriculture to fisheries to residential use, worsened and prolonged the wildfire season and created conflicts over the use of water resources.
That has included calls for banning water-intensive fracking and disputes over the diversion of river water for the state’s even more water-intensive agriculture sector, primarily in its fertile Central Valley.

“California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins, including the Central Valley, have suffered the greatest losses, in part due to increased groundwater pumping to support agricultural production,” said NASA. “Between 2011 and 2014, the combined river basins have lost 4 trillion gallons of water each year, an amount far greater than California’s 38 million residents use in cities and homes annually.”

Gov. Brown declared a state of emergency in January after the state had its lowest recorded rainfall in its history.

*** GRACE is a collaborative endeavor involving the Center for Space Research at the University of Texas, Austin; NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; the German Space Agency and Germany’s National Research Center for Geosciences, Potsdam.


Anastasia Pantsios | October 3, 2014
ecowatch.com
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Τρίτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 30, 2014

Water on earth originated outside the solar system, scientists prove

Human beings have always obsessed over whether they are alone in the universe. Now scientists say they’ve proved that at least some of the water on Earth has to have originated from outside the solar system (and they add that it’s older than the sun).
The news has set the flying-saucer-sphere abuzz with the thought that other planets in the universe are therefore more likely to have had water, at some stage at least, and to therefore have developed life.
That however is not claimed by the paper published in Science Magazine on September 26, when life forms in Israel were celebration the new Jewish year.
“It isn’t news that water in the solar system is older than the sun,” explains Prof. Morris Podolak of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geosciences, an expert on planetology and the evolution of comets: it had to be. What is news is that the water on earth cannot have originated in the protoplanetary nebular disk from which the planets, including Earth, formed.
It all started with the big bang
Current thinking is that the universe began with the big bang, which created mainly hydrogen and some helium, Podolak explains. “Things like oxygen and other heavier elements were made in secondary processes, like inside stars, which threw out the material. Our sun is second-generation, made of material that originated with an earlier generation of stars,” he says.
In other words, our sun was formed already including heavier elements such as carbon and oxygen made after the big bang but before the sun’s birth, Podolak explains.
Moreover, the universe has a huge amount of hydrogen, a lot of helium and the third most prevalent element is oxygen, says Podolak. Water consists of hydrogen and oxygen (two hydrogen atoms to one of oxygen, to be accurate).
So the interstellar void in which the solar system, and Earth, formed had water bobbing about that would by definition be older than the sun. We would expect water to be abundant in that void, says Podolak.
The weird thing discovered by the team headed by Ilsedore Cleeves of the University of Michigan’s Astronomy department is that the water on Earth doesn’t have the same chemical signature — deuterium-to-hydrogen enrichment — as primordial water in the solar system. Nor could processes in that disk have created the signature of the water on earth, the team says. So the question is where it came from.
Comet collisions or water-locking rocks
To this day the origin of water on earth remains a mystery. Some believe our oceans are actually the result of a lot of collisions by icy comets with the primordial planet, which eventually brought sufficient ice to create our oceans. Another theory is that the iron and silicate rocks that formed our planet had water in their molecular mesh. The new discovery does not necessarily tie into the comet theory better than the inside-rock-all-this-time theory, says Podolak: Theoretically the primordial water could have combined with silicates to form hydrated minerals.
However water got to earth, it’s older than the sun and solar system — which are believed to be between 4.5 billion and 5 billion years old.
“Identifying the source of Earth’s water is central to understanding the origins of life-fostering environments and to assessing the prevalence of such environments in space,” write the authors, led by Ilsedore Cleeves of the University of Michigan’s astronomy department, who has been researching the origins of planetary systems.
So water is out there in the interstellar void, as a corollary of the universe’s evolution. If our solar system is not unique in this respect, “and there’s no reason to think it is,” says Podolak, then there’s water out there in interstellar space, and theoretically other planetary systems — they have been proven to exist — could have formed with water on board too. And hence, perhaps, maybe, they have life.
Present thinking cannot conceive of life forming in a nonwatery environment, because for molecules to knock about and accidentally create life (if we may oversimplify a tad), they need an environment that enables movement. Think of tossing golf balls into a filled pool as opposed to a sand trap. In the pool, they’ll move around and knock against each other, possibly reacting; in the sand trap they’ll just sit there until a life form from elsewhere lobs them out again.
But it remains a leap to conclude that since there’s water in space, life must exist elsewhere in space too. Maybe it does. Maybe life on Earth is a cosmic accident. Man still has no clear idea how he came about, let alone the proto-ameba that gave birth to all beings, assuming there was only one. For all we know there were multiple proto-amebas and life forms spring up all over the place and some survive and some do not. 

www.haaretz.com
29/9/14

Κυριακή, Σεπτεμβρίου 28, 2014

Fukushima Water Treatment System Fails Again

A water treatment system to decontaminate radioactive water at Fukushima nuclear plant fails again and thus had to be partially shut down, Japan's NHK news agency reported Saturday.

According to the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the trouble could have been caused by faulty filters.

One of the three lines of the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) was turned off after the engineers found out that the water contains calcium, hindering the elimination of radioactive strontium.


Since March, the ALPS system at Fukushima has had a series of similar failures. TEPCO then replaced the filters and resumed the system operations, highlighting company's plans to set up another facility to treat the tainted water.

On March 11, 2011, the Fukushima nuclear power plant was hit by a powerful earthquake and a subsequent tsunami, which caused a partial meltdown of three of the plant's nuclear reactors as radiation leaked into the atmosphere, soil and sea.

The incident was the world's worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.

Several areas within the 20-kilometer (12 miles) zone from the plant are still considered unfit for habitation due to the high levels of radioactive contamination.

TEPCO has been widely criticized for being inadequately prepared for a tsunami and for its slow response to the disaster.

Cleaning the toxic waste from the abandoned nuclear plant and reactors decommissioning have become the principal task of TEPCO, the process of disaster cleanup is expected to take at least 40 years.

en.ria.ru
27/9/14
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Σάββατο, Σεπτεμβρίου 13, 2014

Tibetans enjoy splashing fun on bathing festival

Photo:www.tibettravel.com
Crowds of Tibetans, young and old, bathed themselves in the Lhasa River on Saturday despite the early autumn chill on the Tibet Plateau.

"The water is chilly, so start with your feet. The sun is blazing and the water will soon feel warm enough," said 60-year-old Droma to Deyki, a quiet young woman who was hesitating whether to get into the water. "Come on, you can't afford to miss the fun of bathing."

The bathing festival, known in Tibetan as "Karma Rigkyi", is a week-long holiday that falls in the seventh or eighth month of the Tibetan calendar.


This year, the bathing week lasts from Sept. 9 to 15, or the 14th to 20th day in the eighth month of the Tibetan calendar.

The Tibetans traditionally believe the river water, which comes from the melting plateau snow, has healing effects and can wash away diseases.

Ancient literature on Tibetan herbal medicine also describes the water at this particular time as "sweet", "good for the throat and stomach" and "having cleansing and healing effects".

Throughout the bathing week, therefore, rivers and streams across the plateau region are filled with bathing crowds who swim, splash and pray for good health.

The bathing festival is often a time for massive cleaning, as some people also do their laundries in the river, including their whole family's clothing to bedding.

It is also a social occasion, as many people bring their tents and picnic and spend a whole day by the river, chatting and flying kites after bathing themselves.

"I like the traditional ways of life despite all the modern lifestyles and entertainment," said Dondrup, a 20-something man. "These centuries-old traditions often bring back sweet memories of my childhood and touch the deepest, softest part of my heart."

Dondrup, a driver, was washing his car with the river water after bathing himself.

Sources: Xinhua - globaltimes.cn
13/9/14

Δευτέρα, Αυγούστου 25, 2014

Effectiveness of Fukushima Ice Wall Unclear to Experts

MOSCOW, August 25 (RIA Novosti) - The effectiveness of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) plan to create an “ice wall” to contain the waste water used to cool the failed reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is so far unclear to experts.
"As the water comes down the mountains towards the ocean, it's not clear to me that [TEPCO] really knows how it is going to move around that frozen barrier," former US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman and the head of the international advisory panel to TEPCO Dr. Dale Klein said in an interview with VICE News, published Sunday.

Along with the other experts, Klein is worried by TEPCO not keeping the public informed about the dangers currently posed by the failed reactors. "They give off the perception that they're covering up something, when that isn't what they're doing at all," the analyst said.
TEPCO officials have repeatedly been accused of negligence and not sharing enough information with the public. Three months after the March 2011 catastrophe, The Wall Street Journal released a report based on interviews with TEPCO engineers, saying the company knew some of its reactors were incapable of withstanding a tsunami.
In August 2013, TEPCO admitted that 300 tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from the nuclear power plant, significantly more than the public was led to believe.
And early in August 2014, the company revealed that all the fuel rods in Fukushima Daiichi reactor three have apparently melted down, while in November, 2011, it was estimated that only 63 percent of the reactor’s fuel cord had melted.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was severely damaged after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit the plant in March 2011, leading to the extensive leakage of contaminated water into the surrounding environment.

The negative effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster are still being felt. Last week, Fukushima Prefecture officials announced that the number of young people diagnosed with definitive or suspected thyroid cancer, a disease often caused by radiation exposure, has reached 104. To illustrate the negative effects the disaster has had on animals and insects, researchers cite the example of the pale grass blue butterfly, which has seen a reduction in size and an increased mortality rate in the region.

In June 2014, TEPCO began to erect a mile-long underground wall of ice around the damaged reactors to stop toxic water from leaking into the Pacific. Later that month the company said it was having trouble with the construction of the wall, as the pipes carrying the coolant were unable to freeze the ground. Still, in July TEPCO decided to move forward with the ice-wall plans, hoping to complete construction by March 2015.
 http://en.ria.ru/world/20140825/192327162/Effectiveness-of-Fukushima-Ice-Wall-Unclear-to-Experts.html
25/8/14
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