Posts

N. Dakota Oil Spill Dumps Half Million Gallons

Image
Estimates of this spill have now been adjusted to 530 000 gallons. North Dakota has suffered a large oil spill from a ruptured pipeline. Over half a million gallons have seeped out of the soil and into Ash Coulee Creek. The creek is a tributary to the Little Missouri River which in turn flows into the Missouri River.
The company that owns the pipeline has revised its figures on the December spill upward from  176 000 gallons to 530 000 gallons. They have embarked on a clean up exercise by skimming oil floating on the waterway and have assured the public that they will clean it up. It may take a year.
The pipeline company did not elaborate on how they plan to recapture the oil that has already floated down river.
This is not the largest oil spill in N. Dakota. In 2013 a ruptured pipeline released about 840 000 gallons.
The revelation comes hard on the heels of US President D. Trump’s signing an executive order to restart construction of the Keystone XL pipeline which would bring Alber…

Atmospheric Ammonia on the Increase

Air is a shared. Eventually pollutants travel and disperse affecting air quality far from their generation. Scientists at the University of Maryland have developed a way to measure atmospheric ammonia using data generated by NASA satellites. The scientists point out a troubling increase in atmospheric ammonia over the past four years.
The areas showing the greatest increases were the USA, Europe, India and China.
Much of the increase is blamed on agricultural practices which use large amounts of fertilizer, those which generate large amounts of animal waste and climate warming that increases soil temperatures. In the USA some of the increase may be attributed to the vigorous efforts to control acid rain. As the acid rain has come under control, atmospheric ammonia may increase.
Why should we care about ammonia in the air? Because too much can cause a lot of harm. One of the authors of the study, Russell Dickerson, was quoted in the NASA news release – “It has a profound effect on air an…

Future may see the end to ‘gas flaring’ of methane

Image
Gas flaring wastes gas and adds to atmospheric warming The current practise of flaring off methane that is routine in many gas and oil operations may soon be a thing of the past. Researchers associated with the University of Washington, Pullman, have developed a new technique which makes it far less expensive to convert the methane so that it can be used more easily.
Researchers Jean-Sabin McEwen and Su Ha have tweaked the catalytic reaction to make the conversion more economical.
“Right now, we just waste all those gases,” said Ha. “If we can efficiently and effectively convert methane from shale or gas fields to electric power or useful products, that would be very positive.”
A large percentage of the US methane is currently flared off. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and contributes a large percentage of the world’s atmospheric greenhouse gases. One molecule of the gas contributes over 30 times the warming effect of one molecule of carbon dioxide.
Methane is a useful gas, making up…

Tires are big ocean polluters

Image
Most of us are aware of the part that Styrofoam and plastic bags have played in contributing to the load of plastics in the oceans. Have you ever wondered what happens to the stuff of tires when they wear down? The tiny bits that wear off your tires and those of all those other “rubber” tires around the world mostly ends up in the oceans.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN) has published a report that points to two big polluters – tiny plastic particles from modern tires and synthetic clothing.
Both contribute about 30% of the overall plastic load being funneled into our oceans today. These two sources alone are estimated to add about 9.5 million tonnes annually to our waters.
The IUCN lists the top seven plastic polluters and surprisingly plastic shopping bags don’t make the list. Following are the seven worst polluters according to the group.
·Tires – many are not made of rubber any longer but are a complex mixture including plastics·Synthetic textiles – the gr…

Nanoparticles in your food may alter your gut

Image
Are you ingesting tiny metal particles with your food and candy? Nanoparticles are very tiny particles. They have become ubiquitous over the past few years and not much thought is usually given to them. It may be that we can’t see them, so we ignore them. But our bodies don’t ignore them.
Titanium dioxide nanoparticles are found in many consumer products – cosmetics, agricultural chemicals, processed food and nutritional supplements. It is also a useful thickener for paints. This metal is found in nearly any modern processed food.
Should we worry about consuming it? The FDA lists it as “generally recognized as safe”. Isn’t that a guarantee of safety? That picture may be changing. Recent work conducted at Binghampton University in New York has raised some concerns.
Researcher used tissue cultures of small intestine tissue and subjected the tissues to both acute and chronic doses of titanium dioxide. They found that acute doses did not alter the gut tissue, but chronic exposure did. The…

California pounded by Pacific storms

Image
California dealing with widespread flooding
California can’t catch a break as a series of rain storms is pounding the coast from North to South. Earlier this month the Oroville Dam in northern California was in crisis mode as the regular spillway developed a large hole and started to erode the hillside below the dam. In a rare move, dam officials decided to use the emergency spillway to quickly lower the reservoir. That had to be stopped as water started to badly erode the ground forcing about 200 000 people living below the dam to evacuate.
They have since been allowed to return to their homes. Workers are working 24 hours a day attempting to shore up the ground in case the reservoir will need to be drained.
This past weekend a storm hit the state causing landslides, flooding and loss of life.
Salinas was flooded. A local state of emergency was declared as flood waters coursed through the streets. Adding to the danger were gale force winds which toppled trees and electric wires. 
E…

California dam forces 200 000 from homes

The Oroville Dam in northern California continues to give authorities headaches. Last Tuesday a gaping hole appeared in the spillway. It quickly grew to over 300 feet across and the water further eroded the spillway.
The dam operators could not shut down the spillway as rain storms had filled the dam. Water continued to pour down the broken concrete conduit at the rate of 100 000 cubic feet per second. As more of the surrounding hillside became eroded, it was decided to use the emergency spillway. It allows the water to spill over a concrete lip, down the hill and into the Feather River. The emergency route is not paved.
Sunday as the ground below began to erode badly, an evacuation order went out to communities below the dam. With only a few minutes to leave many were unprepared to stay away for long but many jumped into vehicles, creating a major traffic jam. The jam did not clear for hours during which time some ran out of gas and some filling stations ran out of fuel.
500 inmates…