Environment

Pipeline rupture in Alabama threatens fuel shortages across eastern US

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 12:01pm

The governors of Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina have declared states of emergency following a gasoline spill in an ecologically sensitive area

An interstate gasoline pipeline has ruptured in central Alabama, spilling 338,000 gallons of fuel in an ecologically sensitive area and threatening fuel shortages across the eastern US. So far governors in Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina have declared states of emergency.

The line runs from Houston to the New York harbor, and experts say the line’s owner, Colonial Pipeline, was extraordinarily lucky: the spill happened 500ft from the retention pond for a mining company, and all the fuel flowed into it. That spared the Cahaba river system, one of the most biologically diverse spots in the country, prized by scientists for its concentration of endangered species.

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Categories: Environment

China must wait four years for decision on Bradwell nuclear plant

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 11:26am

After Hinkley Point C go-ahead, Essex reactor would be even more significant for China - and more controversial for UK

China faces at least a four-year wait to find out whether its plans to build a nuclear power station in Essex will be approved.

If it got the go-ahead, Britain would be relying heavily on Chinese investment for its future energy supply after the government approved the construction of an £18bn nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset, which will be 33% owned by China General Nuclear (CGN).

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Categories: Environment

Norway plans to cull more than two-thirds of its wolf population

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 10:53am

Environmental groups criticise plan that will allow hunters to shoot up to 47 of an estimated 68 wolves living in wilderness

Norway is planning to cull more than two-thirds of its remaining wolves in a step that environmental groups say will be disastrous for the dwindling members of the species in the wild.

There are estimated to be about 68 wolves remaining in the wilderness areas of Norway, concentrated in the south-east of the country, but under controversial plans approved on Friday as many as 47 of these will be shot.

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Categories: Environment

Peter Cubbage obituary

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 9:51am

My father, Peter Cubbage, who has died aged 91, was a leading gas forensic research scientist. He led a team that was responsible, among other things, for pioneering the flame-release chamber, a safety innovation used in offshore oil rigs and pipelines, which was compared to the miners’ Davy lamp for its significance.

He was appointed by the crown in 1988 to write the report into what happened during the first two seconds of the Piper Alpha rig explosion.

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Categories: Environment

Senate passes Everglades restoration measure to fight toxic algae blooms

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 9:48am

The Central Everglades Planning Project, hailed as a ‘huge victory’, will redirect water to undernourished Florida wetlands affected by manmade developments

US lawmakers have voiced hopes that the ailing Everglades will start to recover after the Senate overwhelmingly approved a nearly $2bn measure to combat the toxic algae blooms that have devastated Florida’s waterways.

The Central Everglades Planning Project, touted by proponents as landmark legislation, passed the Senate on Thursday as part of a broader $10bn water resources bill by a vote of 95-3. The series of engineering projects are designed to collect water around Lake Okeechobee and channel it south to nourish the Everglades wetlands, America’s largest tropical wilderness, rather than have it run off into the ocean.

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Categories: Environment

Marine life, nuclear power and clever crows – green news roundup

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 9:04am

The week’s top environment news stories and green events. If you are not already receiving this roundup, sign up here to get the briefing delivered to your inbox

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Categories: Environment

Undercover bike cops launch 'best ever' cycle safety scheme in Birmingham

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 8:20am

Campaigners hope the operation, that sees plain clothes police on bikes pull over drivers that pass too close, will be taken up across the country

When Mark Hodson gets on his bike in the morning, like many cyclists in the UK, he has come to expect a few close calls. Perhaps drivers will whizz past him too close, or someone will even try a ‘punishment pass’.

Luckily, Hodson is a West Midlands Police traffic officer, albeit in plain clothes, and just yards up the road a colleague in a police car is waiting to pull over drivers that give him less than 1.5m space when overtaking (a distance that increases for faster speeds and larger vehicles).

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Categories: Environment

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 6:05am

A whale shark, Masai Mara migration and wild boar on a seaside visit are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Categories: Environment

Latest UK flood plans fail to address growing risk of flash floods

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 5:38am

Flash flooding is a far greater threat to homes, railways and roads than river or coastal floods but is completely excluded from government plans to deal with increased rainfall

Flash flooding, which struck a swathe of southern and eastern England on Friday, is a greater threat to homes, roads and railways than river or coastal flooding. Yet it was completely excluded from the government’s National Flood Resilience Review, published last week.

Worse, the risk of flash flooding is rising, as climate change leads to more intense, more frequent rainstorms: the Met Office has shown that extremely wet days have become more common. On Friday, half a month’s rain was dumped in one day.

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Categories: Environment

New inhaler protects lungs against effects of air pollution

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 3:37am

Inexpensive over-the-counter product could help millions of people avoid worst health effects of breathing toxic air, say scientists

An inhaler that protects the lungs against air pollution has been developed by scientists and could help the many millions of people affected by toxic air to avoid its worst effects.

The inhaler delivers a molecule, first found in bacteria in the Egyptian desert, which stabilises water on the surface of the lung cells to form a protective layer. It is expected to be available as an inexpensive, over-the-counter product.

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Categories: Environment

Arctic sea ice shrinks to second lowest level ever recorded

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 2:34am

‘Tremendous loss’ of ice reinforces clear downward trend towards ice-free summers due to effects of climate change

Arctic sea ice this summer shrank to its second lowest level since scientists started to monitor it by satellite, with scientists saying it is another ominous signal of global warming.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado said the sea ice reached its summer low point on Saturday, extending 4.14m sq km (1.6m sq miles). That’s behind only the mark set in 2012, 3.39m sq km.

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Categories: Environment

The day we collared Tim, the great tusker

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 2:32am

Paula Kahumbu: The latest satellite tracking technology is helping to keep elephants safe from poachers—and away from farmers’ crops

On a beautiful sunny day in Amboseli National Park, against the backdrop of snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, a small group of cars was gathered at a safe distance around the prostrate bull elephant. The elephant lay still in the dust, head on the ground, his enormous tusks and trunk stretched out in front of him. Tension rose among the onlookers as the minutes passed.

Then the huge elephant flapped his ear, got up gently, shook his head vigorously in a vain attempt to dislodge the strange object around his neck, and walked off. We all breathed a sigh of relief. The operation to attach a tracking collar to Tim had gone perfectly.

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Categories: Environment

Calls to halt NT light festival over fears for vulnerable rock wallaby

Guardian Environment News - Fri, 2016/09/16 - 1:20am

Parrtjima festival will see art beamed onto a 2.5km area of the MacDonnell Ranges, raising concerns for a struggling species

Concerns that a light festival in central Australia could affect a vulnerable population of rock wallaby has led to more than a thousand people signing a petition calling for it to be stopped, and to the federal Department of the Environment and Energy examining the festival’s plans.

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light is planned to go for 10 days at the end of September. Each night a four-hour light show will project Indigenous art onto a 2.5km stretch of cliff in the MacDonnell Ranges.

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Categories: Environment

Malcolm Roberts to discuss climate science with CSIRO

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/15 - 10:46pm

One Nation senator asks for briefing to see science agency’s proof that carbon dioxide affects climate ‘because they’ve never provided it before’

The CSIRO will meet Malcolm Roberts to discuss global warming after the innovation and science minister, Greg Hunt, intervened to help the One Nation senator obtain a briefing.

Roberts told Guardian Australia he would listen to the evidence, despite having described climate data that contradicted his view as “corrupted”.

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Categories: Environment

BP's own modelling shows Great Australian Bight oil spill could reach NSW

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/15 - 7:59pm

Company’s model shows a spill from its proposed well could have a much more devastating effect on coasts and marine life than previously thought

An uncontrolled oil spill from BP’s planned wells in the Great Australian Bight could affect the coastline as far away as New South Wales, according to previously secret oil-spill modelling uploaded to the company’s website this week.

Within 24 hours of the modelling being uploaded to BP’s website, the regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (Nopsema) announced it would take a further 10 days to assess BP’s plans to drill in the area.

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Categories: Environment

Heathrow expansion must be consigned to dustbin, says Boris Johnson

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/15 - 4:14pm

The foreign secretary has branded much-discussed Heathrow expansion a ‘fantasy’ destined for the ‘dustbin’

The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, has branded Heathrow expansion a “fantasy” destined for the “dustbin”.

The remarks came after the former mayor of London was excluded from the key Cabinet committee that will decide on airport expansion in what was seen as a potential signal that Theresa May will approve a new runway at Heathrow.

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Categories: Environment

Chemicals In Drinking Water Prompt Inspections Of U.S. Military Bases

NPR News - Environment - Thu, 2016/09/15 - 1:30pm

Synthetic chemicals have been found in Colorado water supplies. The Pentagon is examining hundreds of military sites for possible contamination by PFCs, which have been linked to health problems.

Categories: Environment

Oil disaster investigator alarmed by BP Great Australian Bight response

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/15 - 12:00pm

Exclusive: Bob Bea, who investigated Deepwater Horizon, blasts BP and Australian regulators, calling their response to concerns about faulty equipment an ‘early warning sign’ of a potential disaster

A leading global expert on oil disasters has said the response to concerns about potentially faulty equipment in offshore drilling planned for the Great Australian Bight by BP is an early warning sign of problems that could potentially lead to disasters.

Bob Bea, an emeritus professor and founder of the center for catastrophic risk management at Berkeley, said what BP, its subcontractor Diamond Offshore Drilling and the Australian regulator had said in response to concerns about faulty bolts was “very alarming”.

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Categories: Environment

Theresa May accused of avoiding security and cost issues of Hinkley

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/15 - 12:00pm

Vince Cable, former business secretary, says economics of project are unresolved, while Greenpeace chief condemns PM’s review as ‘hot air’

Theresa May was accused of backing down on security concerns about Chinese involvement in nuclear power and failing to drive a better deal for taxpayers, following the announcement on Thursday on building the £18bn Hinkley Point C plant.

May’s surprise decision to review the first planned nuclear power station for a generation when she arrived in Downing Street had been regarded as marking a break with George Osborne’s enthusiastic courtship of China, and a greater willingness to take on big business. But after the Chinese ambassador publicly raised concerns about future trading relationships if Britain pulled the plug on the deal, May gave the go-ahead.

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Categories: Environment

Hinkley Point C is no answer to Britain’s energy needs | Letters

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2016/09/15 - 11:57am

So Theresa May has favourably reviewed the case for Hinkley Point (Report, 15 September). Put out the bunting, Britain will have its first new reactor for 20 years. We can assume therefore that our prime minister has completely satisfied herself that the unproven EPR nuclear technology for Hinkley is viable, deliverable and cost effective. Evidence from Finland (Olkiluoto), France (Flamanville) and China (Taishan, twice) has shown the EPR to be unviable, way overdue for delivery and way over budget. Oh, and EDF is on the verge of financial insolvency. If this is the PM’s attention to detail, happy days.
Nigel Bruen
Martley, Worcestershire

• Damian Carrington (A risky solution from the 20th century, 15 September) states that, according to the government’s own research, energy efficiency could deliver six Hinkleys’ worth of electricity by 2030. Achieving this would require a fundamental alteration to established policy, in favour of greater energy efficiency rather than subsidising endless new supplies of fuel. Even so, you may care to note that since 2010 annual electricity consumption has already fallen by 25 terawatt-hours, coincidentally the amount of electricity we might realistically expect Hinkley C to be producing when/if it is finally built.
Andrew Warren
Chairman, British Energy Efficiency Federation

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