Jan 30, 2015

Oil Hasn't Been This 'Cheap' Since 1988

Oil is the cheapest it has been relative to gold since 1988...

 

"cheap" is relative

Charts: Bloomberg

 


Please continue reading from: Oil Hasn't Been This 'Cheap' Since 1988

Probiotic treatment cures peanut allergy in children

Gizmag Last year, scientists from the University of Chicago found that a probiotic therapy using a common gut bacteria prevented sensitization to peanut allergens – in mice. Now researchers at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, have shown that a similar probiotic treatment, this time involving Lactobacillus rhamnosus, has a similar effect, but this time in children... Continue Reading Probiotic treatment cures peanut allergy in children 

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Jan 29, 2015

One in five American kids on food stamps

Huffington Post - One in 5 American kids got food stamps in 2014, up from 1 in 8 before the recession. About 16 million kids relied on the U.S. government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in 2014, according to Census Bureau data released Wednesday, up from 15.6 million a year earlier. In 2007, before the start of the Great Recession, that figure was only 9 million. Please continue reading from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/28/kids-on-food-stamps_n_6564740.html

Jan 28, 2015

Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever

Yesterday, Apple reported its financial results for the quarter ending December 27, 2014. The company posted $18 billion in profit (on $74 billion in revenue), the largest quarterly profit by any company, ever. The previous record was $16 billion by Russia's Gazprom (the largest natural gas extractor in the world) in 2011. Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones last quarter, along with 5.5 million Macs and 21.4 million iPads.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Jan 23, 2015

China's biggest reactor operator will five nuclear reactors into operation this year

China's biggest reactor operator, China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), will put another five reactor units into operation this year, company executives said, adding that they remain confident in the sector's growth despite approval delays.

The state-owned company, parent of Hong Kong Listed CGN Power, completed three new reactors in 2014, taking its total fleet to 11.

The company had originally planned to complete five reactors in 2014. So they were two short of that goal.

China has 22 reactors in operation and a further 26 under construction, but it will need to approve and build at least another 10 units if it is to meet its 2020 capacity target of 58-gigawatts.

This would account for about 3 percent of expected total electricity generation.

Read more »

Jan 19, 2015

Solar Is Cheaper Than Grid Electricity In 42 Of 50 Largest US Cities

Now a new report called Going Solar in America, prepared by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative, shows how the plummeting costs of going solar could already make it the more economical choice for energy consumers in 42 of the U.S.'s 50 largest cities. It found that in those cities, a fully financed solar system would cost average residential consumers less than they would pay for electricity from their current local utility. "Most Americans are unaware of the true financial value of solar today," said study authors Jim Kennerly and Autumn Proudlove. "Seen by many as a technological luxury, solar energy is not seriously considered as an option by most homeowners in the U.S. However, our analysis shows that, in 46 of America's 50 largest cities, a fully-financed, typically-sized solar PV system is a better investment than the stock market, and in 42 of these cities, the same system already costs less than energy from a residential customer's local utility." The study found that 9.1 million single-family homeowners in the 50 cities live in a place where buying a solar system outright would cost less than their current utility bill over the life of the system, and 21 million would pay less if low-cost financing were available. Please continue reading from: Solar Is Cheaper Than Grid Electricity In 42 Of 50 Largest US Cities

BP’s maximum fine for Gulf of Mexico oil spill is cut by billions

The Guardian: BP will face a maximum fine of $13.7bn under the Clean Water Act for its Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, several billion less than feared.

Federal magistrate Carl Barbier ruled on Thursday that the size of the spill from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, the worst offshore spill in US history, was smaller than the government had claimed.

He said that it amounted to 3.19m barrels, well below the government's estimate of 4.09m barrels, which could have led to penalties of up to $17.6bn.

US-listed shares of BP rose about 1% to $36.20 in after-hours trading as investors worried about the size of potential penalties breathed a sigh of relief.

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Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty - The Washington Post

For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.

The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation's public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.

"We've all known this was the trend, that we would get to a majority, but it's here sooner rather than later," said Michael A. Rebell of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College at Columbia University, noting that the poverty rate has been increasing even as the economy has improved. "A lot of people at the top are doing much better, but the people at the bottom are not doing better at all. Those are the people who have the most children and send their children to public school."

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Jan 15, 2015

Offshore Wind More Profitable Than Drilling on U.S. East Coast, Report Says

Offshore wind would produce twice the number of jobs and twice the amount of energy as offshore drilling
Offshore wind turbines in the Irish Sea
near the U.S. East Coastaccording to a new report from the advocacy group Oceana. The report contends that recent claims by the oil and gas industry about the economic potential of offshore drilling in the region are exaggerated because many of those oil and gas reserves are not economically viable to drill. Plans to build the nation's first offshore wind farm off Cape Cod have repeatedly failed to move forward. But Oceana calculates that over the course of 20 years, offshore wind in the Atlantic could produce nearly twice as much energy as all of the economically recoverable oil and gas. Offshore wind installations also would likely create an additional 91,000 jobs — twice as many as offshore drilling would create, Oceana says. 
Please continue reading from:   Yale Environment 360

Jan 12, 2015

Lithium ion sulfur with polymer membrane safe enough for future car batteries with improved 750 to 2700 Wh/kg energy density but still need longer life cycle []

Greencarcongress reports researchers added a polysulfide to the polymer membranes during their synthesis with the aim to reduce the cathode dissolution during operation. To improve the room-temperature ionic conductivity of the polymer electrolyte, they plasticized the LiS8 added membrane.

The resulting LixSn-C/GPS-Li2S8/S-C lithium-ion sulfur cell is characterized by a high safety level, due to the polymer configuration and the absence of lithium metal anode, and expected low cost. At the lower C-rate, the cell may stably deliver a capacity of about 1500 mAh gS−1 at an average voltage of 1.8 V, while at the higher C-rate, the cell delivers a still relevant capacity of about 500 mAh gS−1 at an average voltage of 1.5 V, hence with a theoretical energy density ranging from 2700Wh/kg to 750 Wh/kg, respectively.

Longer cycle life and further characterizations are certainly required to match the severe targets of the lithium battery community.

Nature Scientific Reports - A lithium-ion sulfur battery using a polymer, polysulfide-added membrane

Researchers report the performances of a lithium-ion sulfur battery characterized by a polymer configuration. The cell, based on a sulfur-carbon cathode, a Li-Sn-C nanostructured anode and a PEO-based, polysulfide-added electrolyte, shows very good electrochemical performances in terms of stability and delivered capacity. The remarkable cell performances are ascribed to the mitigation of the cathode dissolution process due to the buffer action ensured by the polysulfide added to the polymer electrolyte. This electrolyte configuration allows the achievement of a stable capacity ranging from 500 to 1500 mAh gS-1, depending on the cycling rate. The use of a polymer electrolyte and the replacement of the lithium metal with a Li-Sn-C nanostructured alloy are expected to guarantee high safety content, thus suggesting the battery here studied as advanced energy storage system.

Read more » at Next Big Future

Jan 8, 2015

Microbe Found In Grassy Field Contains Powerful Antibiotic

For much of the last decade, a team of researchers in Boston has eagerly exhumed and reburied dirt. It's part of a strategy to access an untapped source of new antibiotics—the estimated 99% of microbes in the environment that refuse to grow in laboratories. Now, their technique has yielded a promising lead: a previously unknown bacterium that makes a compound with infection-killing abilities. What's more, the team claims in a report out today, the compound is unlikely to fall prey to the problem of antibiotic resistance. That suggestion has its skeptics, but if the drug makes it through clinical trials, it would be a much needed weapon against several increasingly hard-to-treat infections.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Jan 7, 2015

ACA Urges OSHA to Collaborate with Health Canada on GHS

ACA submitted comments to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration responding to the agency’s call for input on its proposed Joint Action Plan with Health Canada on cooperation on the adoption and implementation of the Globally Harmonized System on the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). ACA generally supported the goals of further collaboration between OSHA and Health Canada, but it urged OSHA to address the immediate pressing needs of the coatings industry as the final deadline for GHS labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS) in the United States approaches on June 1, 2015. 

On February 4, 2011, the United States and Canada formed the U.S.-Canadian Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) to facilitate closer regulatory cooperation between both countries. Working together under the auspices of the RCC, regulatory agencies in the United States and Canada develop Joint Action Plans to increase regulatory cooperation and their respective regulatory systems into further alignment.

Building off of the Joint Action Plan, OSHA is working to develop a specific work plan to address workplace chemicals and the implementation of the GHS in the United States and Canada. OSHA proposed the following three objectives:

  1. Continue to reduce and prevent U.S.-Canada variances through ongoing collaboration of our guidance materials (following the principles set out in the Memorandum of Understanding with Health Canada);
  2. Coordinate common positions in advance of United Nations (UN) and other international discussions on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS); and
  3. Align U.S.-Canadian positions on future updates and implementation of the GHS (e.g., development and adoption of future revisions of the purple book).

In its comments, ACA supported the agency’s proposed objectives and forward-looking approach to collaboration with Health Canada. However, ACA believes the RCC Joint Action Plan should include a firm commitment by both countries to adopt the same version of the GHS at the same time in the future. ACA noted that if both countries do not adopt the GHS in unison, market disruption and “disharmonization” will occur every time either country adopts and implements an update to the GHS.

In addition to commenting on the objectives, ACA asked OSHA to work with Health Canada to resolve industry’s immediate concerns with the current implementation of GHS. In particular, ACA’s comments urged OSHA to provide clarity regarding its policy to exercise enforcement discretion, considering the flow of hazard communication materials for chemical mixture manufacturers who cannot classify their products due to the lack of flow of SDS in the distribution chain under the 2012 Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 2012). ACA’s comments also noted a number of inconsistences between the U.S. and Canadian regulations for workplace chemicals, and pressed OSHA to coordinate with Health Canada to resolve variances through the use of appropriate guidance. Lastly, ACA asked the agency to release guidance on shipping product into Canada to ensure that products labeled under the GHS scheme may pass freely across the border.

ACA is continuing to work with OSHA and Health Canada, through its counterpart the Canadian Paint and Coatings Association, to facilitate the transition to GHS and resolve inconsistencies between the HCS 2012 in the United States and the Hazardous Product Regulation in Canada.  

Contact ACA’s Stephen Wieroniey or Tim Serie for more information.

Source:

President Signs CFATS Reauthorization Bill

ACA , President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 4007, the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2014. The law reauthorizes the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program for four years. The multi-year reauthorization gives the program a more permanent footing; it had been subject to short-term authorizations in the past. H.R. 4007 passed the House of Representatives on Dec. 11 by voice vote on suspension of the rules; the Senate approved the bill under unanimous consent procedures a day earlier.

Throughout 2014, ACA repeatedly urged Congressional passage of a multi-year CFATS reauthorization bill.

The “Protecting and Securing American Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2014” reauthorizes the CFATS program until 2018, improves management practices and whistleblower protections, and simplifies reporting and information sharing.

ACA believes that the multi-year authorization not only enables DHS to implement CFATS, but also provides industry with the confidence to make important investments, knowing the program will be authorized. ACA believes that the former practice of year-to-year extensions (or worse, short-term continuing resolutions through the appropriations process), is a destabilizing force in the implementation and investment process.

The law addresses some of the major impediments to completing site security plans and full implementation of the program. It restores the principle that facilities have flexibility to choose how to meet personnel surety requirements for access, gives covered facilities the ability to meet site security plans through alternate security plans approved by DHS and an option to use third parties as inspectors, improves Congressional oversight regarding tiering methodology, and ensures better coordination with state and local officials.

ACA believes that multi-year authorization gives DHS just enough guidance to more successfully carry out its duties, while at the same time providing Congress the ability to monitor the program and make any necessary changes to it after the expiration of the multi-year period.

CFATS, which was first authorized under the 2007 DHS Appropriations Act, requires facilities with threshold quantities of particular “chemicals of concern” to complete a “top screen” notifying DHS that they possess such chemicals on site. Once notified, DHS can direct the facility to submit a Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA) and it then might assign the facility to one of four tiers based on the potential security threat on site, an action which triggers a requirement to submit an SSP to DHS for authorization and approval.

ACA’s members own and operate paint, coatings, resin, and chemical manufacturing facilities that are potentially subject to the CFATS provisions, and under CFATS’ statutory authority, many ACA members have submitted top screens identifying chemicals of interest and have been assigned preliminary or final tiers by the department. As a result, a number of ACA member companies have become subject to the CFATS Risk-Based Performance Standards. ACA is also a member of the DHS Chemical Sector Coordinating Council, which provides industry views to the Department of Homeland Security on CFATS and other chemical security issues.

Contact ACA’s Allen Irish for more information.

EPA Finalizes Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) Rule!

On Dec. 10, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final revisions to the Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) Rule, which were initially proposed in 2011, and at which time ACA provided comments to the agency. The regulations amend the 2008 Definition of Solid Waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and concern the management of hazardous materials sent to recycling. Under the regulation, third-party recyclers may no longer exempt themselves from requirements to provide information about their operations and demonstrate their ability to pay for a cleanup of potential contamination.

EPA’s 2014 amendments were based on an EPA environmental justice analysis of the 2008 DSW rule that examined the location of recycling facilities and their proximity and potential impact to adjacent residents. The agency concluded that the analysis indicated “regulatory gaps” in the 2008 DSW rule that could negatively impact communities adjacent to third-party recyclers.

Based on these “gaps,” EPA has amended the 2008 DSW rule to include the following provisions:

  • Replacing the transfer-based exclusion with the verified recycler exclusion;
  • Establishing a uniform recycling standard for all hazardous secondary materials recycling with four mandatory factors: 1) the hazardous secondary material must provide a useful contribution to the recycling process or product; 2) the recycling process must produce a valuable product or intermediate; 3) the hazardous secondary material must be managed as a valuable commodity; and 4) the recycled product must be comparable to a legitimate product or intermediate;
  • Affirming pre-2008 DSW exclusions and reaffirming the legitimacy of in-process recycling and of commodity-grade recycled products; and
  • Defining when hazardous secondary materials are “contained” under the new exclusions.

Although EPA replaced the 2008 transfer-based exclusion with a more stringent verified recycler exclusion, the transfer-based exclusion is still generally less stringent than more onerous subtitle C regulations proposed in 2011. ACA is currently reviewing this lengthy rulemaking and will provide additional materials to its membership in the near future.

Notably, EPA finalized a new “remanufacturing” exclusion that will exempt 18 high-value hazardous materials and solvents that can be made into commercially valuable products from hazardous waste regulations.

Because most states are authorized to administer and enforce the RCRA program, these authorized states will have to adopt the DSW rule before any such changes become effective.

The final rule, press release, fact sheet, FAQs, and Environmental Justice analysis is available at http://www.epa.gov/osw/hazard/dsw/rulemaking.htm.

Source: http://paint.org/news/industry-news/item/1657-epa-finalizes-definition-of-solid-waste-dsw-rule.html

Researchers identify new strain of deadly pig virus in U.S. "The virus is always changing," Marthaler said.

(Reuters) - U.S. researchers have identified a new strain of a hog disease that has wiped out millions of baby pigs, a sign the virus will keep mutating as producers work to contain it.

A third strain of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, or PEDv, was detected in a Minnesota hog herd and found to be at least as virulent as an original strain that emerged in the United States in early 2013, said Douglas Marthaler, assistant professor of veterinary population medicine at the University of Minnesota, on Monday.

Marthaler, who reported on the strain last month in a journal from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, believes the strain is a mutation of the original. A second, less-virulent strain had previously been identified.

The original strain may have mutated in response to increased immunity in herds, Marthaler said. It is also the nature of viruses like PEDv to evolve as they replicate.

"The virus is always changing," Marthaler said.

PEDv has killed at least 8 million pigs, roughly 10 percent of the U.S. hog population, in the past two years. The pork supply reduction was largely responsible for pushing prices to record highs. It is unknown how the virus, which causes extreme diarrhea in piglets, came to the United States. It was previously found in parts of Asia and Europe.

Researchers link air pollution to heart diseases

Responsible for 400,000 deaths each year globally, air pollution has yet to be sufficiently addressed by the world's governments, researchers have warned. EurActiv France reports.

Air pollution damages the heart. According to an expert position paper published in the European Heart Journal, many types of cardiovascular disease are linked to poor air quality.

Not only does air pollution exacerbate existing heart problems, but it also appears to play a role in the development of heart disease in otherwise healthy people, the researchers said. There is particularly strong evidence of the harmful effects of suspended particles, as opposed to gas pollution, they said.

Air pollution is made up of thousands of different particles and gasses. Among the most important pollutants, from a health point of view, are particles in suspension and gasses like ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), volatile organic compounds (like benzene), carbon monoxide (CO) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). The burning of fossil fuels releases soot particles, nitrogen oxides and sulphur directly into the atmosphere. The main sources of NO2 are road traffic, power generation, industrial processes and domestic heating.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) ranks heart disease as the world's leading cause of premature death. In Europe alone cardiovascular diseases kill 4 million citizens every year, 1.9 million of which come from the EU, according to the European Society of Cardiology.

Air pollution, the leading environmental cause of death

Last November, the European Environment Agency (EEA) published a report indicating that air pollution was the leading environmental cause of death in urban Europe. "Almost all of the urban population is exposed to levels of pollutants considered dangerous by the WHO".

Cardiovascular disease and heart attacks are the main causes of death due to air pollution (80%), before lung diseases and cancer, according to the EEA study. The document also states that nine out of ten inhabitants of Europe's cities are forced to breathe air that contains the very pollutants responsible for 400,000 premature deaths every year.

This polluted air has been linked to coronary-artery disease, heart failure, arrhythmia and cardiac arrest, cerebrovascular disease and arteriosclerosis.

Mounting expectation for public action

The European Heart Journal's position paper calls for a redoubling of efforts to reduce exposure to atmospheric pollution through the implementation of appropriate and effective legislation.

The European Commission launched a Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution in 2005, in the hopes of achieving "levels of air quality that do not give rise to significant negative impacts on, and risks to human health and environment". A new air quality directive, adopted three years later, modified the legislation to bring pollution down to levels that would reduce the harmful effects on human and environmental health, whilst improving public information on the risks of poor air quality.

But the mood changed radically with the arrival of the new Juncker Commission in 2014. In December, Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans announced that the planned updates to European rules on air pollution were to be scrapped, provoking anger from environmentalists, who accused the Commission of capitulating to pressure from business leaders.

Read full at: http://www.euractiv.com/sections/health-consumers/researchers-link-air-pollution-heart-diseases-311038

New law allows government propaganda campaigns against Americans

Business Insider - The newest version of the National Defense Authorization Act includes an amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on the American public, reports Michael Hastings of BuzzFeed.

The amendment — proposed by Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and passed in the House last Friday afternoon — would effectively nullify the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at influencing U.S. public opinion.

If the NDAA goes into effect in its current form, the State Department and Pentagon can go beyond manipulating mainstream media outlets and directly disseminate campaigns of misinformation to the U.S. public. 

States slashing food stamps

Center on Budget & Poicy Priorities - Roughly 1 million of the nation's poorest people will be cut off SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) over the course of 2016, due to the return in many areas of a three-month limit on SNAP benefits for unemployed adults aged 18-50 who aren't disabled or raising minor children.  These individuals will lose their food assistance benefits after three months regardless of how hard they are looking for work. 

One of the harshest pieces of the 1996 welfare law, this provision limits such individuals to three months of SNAP benefits in any 36-month period when they aren't employed or in a work or training program for at least 20 hours a week. Even SNAP recipients whose state operates few or no employment programs for them and fails to offer them a spot in a work or training program — which is the case in most states — have their benefits cut off after three months irrespective of whether they are searching diligently for a job.  Because this provision denies basic food assistance to people who want to work and will accept any job or work program slot offered, it is effectively a severe time limit rather than a work requirement, as such requirements are commonly understood.  Work requirements in public assistance programs typically require people to look for work and accept any job or employment program slot that is offered but do not cut off people who are willing to work and looking for a job simply because they can't find one.

In the past few years, the three-month limit hasn't been in effect in most states.  The 1996 welfare law allows states to suspend the three-month limit in areas with high and sustained unemployment; many states qualified due to the Great Recession and its aftermath and waived the time limit throughout the state.  But as unemployment rates fall, fewer and fewer areas will qualify for waivers.  We estimate that the number of states qualifying for state-wide waivers will fall to just a few states by 2016 and that approximately 1 million SNAP recipients will have their benefits cut off due to the time limit in fiscal year 2016. 

Diet pill tricks body into burning fat, by making it think you've eaten

GizmagWhen we eat a meal, our body detects that we've consumed calories and responds by burning fat in order to make room for them. The catch for the weight-conscious is that if we don't burn off those newly-arrived calories, they just end up being stored as more fat. For people with metabolic disorders or other conditions, exercise just isn't enough to keep that from happening. Soon, however, a newly-developed drug could help. It triggers the body's "burning fat to make space for calories" response, even when the patient hasn't eaten anything. .. Continue Reading Diet pill tricks body into burning fat, by making it think you've eaten 

Bill Gates Endorses Water From Human Waste

GeekWire reports that Bill gates is certainly leading by example, appearing in avideo in which he sips "a glass of delicious drinking water" produced from human waste processed by Janicki Bioenergy's OmniProcessor, which can take sewer sludge and turn it into clean drinking water, electricity and clean ash. So how was it? "The water tasted as good as any I've had out of a bottle," said Bill. "And having studied the engineering behind it, I would happily drink it every day. It's that safe."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Starting Jan. 1, it will be illegal to throw food and food waste in the trash in Seattle,

Starting Jan. 1, it will be illegal to throw food and food waste in the trash in Seattle, when a new bantakes effect to increase recycling and composting in the city.

Currently, Seattle residents are allowed to throw food and food waste – pizza boxes, dirty napkins, soiled paper towels – in the garbage. Residents are required to have a food and yard waste collection service, but they don't have to use it for food. (Backyard composters are exempt from that requirement.)

Similarly, multi-family building owners are required to provide a compost collection service for residents, but residents don't have to use it.

But on Jan. 1, Seattle will ban food and food waste in trash. 

Please continue reading from: 

Jan 6, 2015

Glyphosate Causing Autism? MIT Researcher Claims Herbicide Will Cause Half of All Children to be Autistic

A MIT researcher has made the bold claim that half of all children will be autistic by 2025 due to the toxicity from the glyphosate herbidice.

Stephanie Seneff, a researcher at MIT, said at a recent conference in a panel discussion about genetically modified organisms that the figure is a projection based on “today’s rate.”

Seneff, a senior research scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, noted how glyphosate is in many products due to the increasing prevelance of GMO corn and soy additives.

“All of the 70 or so people in attendance were squirming, likely because they now had serious misgivings about serving their kids, or themselves, anything with corn or soy, which are nearly all genetically modified and thus tainted with Roundup and its glyphosate,” a fellow panelist observed.

Seneff pointed out that despite Monsanto’s claim that humans don’t have a pathway for its chemicals to enter their system, our gut bacteria do have the pathway, enabling the Roundup to enter humans. She also noted recently that some of the chemicals in Roundup are untested. “In my view, the situation is almost beyond repair,” Dr. Seneff said after her presentation. “We need to do something drastic.”

However, Seneff’s claims have been receiving hard criticism. 

“There is an ideological subculture that is motivated to blame all the perceived ills of the world on environmental factors and corporate/government malfeasance. Often this serves a deeper ideological drive, which can be anti-vaccine, extreme environmentalism, or anti-GMO. The latest environmental bogeyman making the rounds is glyphosate, which is being blamed for (you guessed it) autism. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup,” wrote Dr. Steven Novella on his blog.

“It has been widely used for about 40 years, and with the introduction of GM crops that are Roundup resistant, its use has increased significantly in the last 20 years. It has therefore become a popular target for anti-GMO fearmongering.”

A slide from one of Dr. Seneff's presentations.

A slide from one of Dr. Seneff’s presentations.


A slide from one of Dr. Seneff's presentations.

A slide from one of Dr. Seneff’s presentations.

 

He said Seneff’s claims stem from “pure speculation, bad science, and bad logic.” 

Snopes, which tries to establish whether claims are true or not, likewise took issue with Seneff’s predictions, saying that the estimate of one of every two children “looks to be a rudimentary extrapolation of an apparent uptick in autism diagnoses in recent years.” 

“Even disregarding the sloppy mathematics, the claim’s very basis (that glyphosate is the cause of a perceived increase in autism) is unsupported. No mention was made of how glyphosate was isolated and shown to be a cause (or even a factor) in some or any cases of autism,” it added.

On the other hand, Dr. Mercola notes that Seneff’s previously published research on Roundup and glyphosate shows that the residues, which are found in most commonly produced foods in the West, “enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease.”

Read full from source:

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1179553-glyphosate-causing-autism-mit-researcher-claims-herbicide-will-cause-half-of-all-children-to-be-autistic/

1940's Manhattan Project atomic waste still in not cleaned up in Tonawanda

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) - US Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) is trying to get the US Army Corps of Engineers to move a little quicker when it comes to compiling options for the cleanup of radioactive wastes from the Tonawanda Landfill.

"They were supposed to complete this work by the end of 2104. It is now 2015," said Schumer during a morning press conference attended by upset residents, as well as, City and Town of Tonawanda Officials.

The nuclear wastes are leftovers from the World War II Manhattan Project that developed the world's first atomic bomb. They were discovered by a Department of Energy survey of the 55-acre Tonawanda Landfill in 1991.

A survey in 2010 determined the radioactive wastes could pose a problem if exposed due to soil erosion, something many residents who live near the landfill already feel is happening during rain and snowfall.

"The water can move the nuclear wastes right into the backyards, right into the neighborhood, and right into the school," added Joyce Hogenkamp, president of Citizens United for Justice.

Riverview Elementary School in the City of Tonawanda is located very close to the area where the wastes are buried under approximately two-feet of soil.

"Our kids are outside playing. It is not fair to them," commented Hogenkamp.

The US Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District Commander Lt. Col. Karl D. Jansen responded to the criticism:

"The Corps of Engineers appreciates Sen. Schumer's interest and focus on the Tonawanda Landfill. We are committed, within the limits of our authority and funding, to work towards a solution that is protective of human health and the environment, technically sound, environmentally sustainable and economically justified."

The Army Corps of Engineers says it plans to release it feasibility study and project plan later this Spring 2015.

Read on at:

http://www.wkbw.com/news/atomic-waste-worries-in-tonawanda

New Mexico Fines U.S. over Nuclear Waste Violations

The state of New Mexico has fined federal energy regulators and private contractors for actions that led to a serious radiation leak in the nation’s only repository for nuclear waste, which is now closed for the foreseeable future.

In February, a drum of radioactive waste ruptured half a mile underground at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad. The leak caused temperatures to soar to 1600 degrees Fahrenheit, threatening to set off a chain reaction of ruptures in other drums.

The problem was allegedly caused when the contractor hired by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) mixed organic kitty litter with acid neutralizers as part of the storage of nuclear waste. It has been speculated that the use of the kitty litter resulted from a typographical error that occurred in 2012 during the process of revising a government manual on the proper handling of nuclear waste. Waste handlers had previously been instructed to stop using the litter.

The combination, according to New Mexico officials, “could lead to or cause the generation of extreme heat, pressure, fire, explosions or violent reactions; or a threat to human health or the environment.”

Citing 37 violations of hazardous waste permits, the state Environment Department has thus far levied $54 million in penalties against the DOE and its contractor—$36.6 million to the Los Alamos National Laboratory (the original source of the waste) and $17.7 million to WIPP. It is the largest amount of penalties ever charged to a federal agency by the state. The figure may grow as the investigation continues.

“New Mexico is proud of our national labs and cutting-edge scientific facilities, and we have important rules in place to protect those facilities, the people who work there, and all New Mexicans,” Governor Susana Martinez said in a statement. “The health and safety of New Mexicans will always be our priority and we have to hold federal agencies accountable for safe operations in the state of New Mexico.”

The leak exposed at least 20 workers to radiation.

Please read on at:

http://www.allgov.com/news/where-is-the-money-going/new-mexico-fines-us-over-nuclear-waste-violations-141210

A Nuclear Plant Leaked Oil Into Lake Michigan For Two Months Straight

ThinkProgress - A cooling system attached to a nuclear power plant in southwest Michigan was steadily spilling oil into Lake Michigan for about two months, the Detroit Free Pressreported Saturday.

Approximately 2,000 gallons of oil from a cooling system at the Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant leaked into the lake last year, according to an event notificationposted on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission website. The leak started on October 25, and was isolated on December 20, the report said. Plant officials reportedly notified the State of Michigan of the leak on December 13.

Bill Schalk, communications manager for the Cook Nuclear Plant, assured the Detroit Free Press that there would be no impact on the lake.

"One of the first things we did when we looked at the potential for a leak is examine the lake," he said. "Oil floats on top of the water and you see a sheen, but we could find no evidence of oil in our reservoirs, in the lake or on the beach. It has been dispersed."

Others disagree that just because the oil is dispersed, there no threat to the lake and its ecosystems. Michael Keegan, director of the nonprofit Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes, lamented that the oil would not be recoverable, and questioned whether plant officials truly knew how much oil had spilled into the lake, considering they didn't know the leak had been happening for two months.

"What's concerning is they don't really know the extent of the leak," he said. "Nearly two months later is the first determination they make that they have an oil leak? It speaks to the quality assurance of all of their other systems."

Lake Michigan is the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume, and the only one located entirely in the United States. The EPA describes Lake Michigan, seemingly unironically, as "a source of drinking water, as a place for swimming and fishing, as a scenic wonderland, and as a sink for municipal and industrial waste and runoff from the surrounding lands."

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, small oil leaks at nuclear power plants are fairly common, usually coming from power generators. Approximately 70 gallons of oil leaked out of a power transformer at the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in Michigan this past May. The Beaver Valley nuclear plant in Pennsylvaniaspilled five gallons of oil into the Ohio River this September. And in February 2013, the Susquehanna nuclear power plant was temporarily shut down after a small hydraulic oil leak.

The Cook Nuclear Plant itself had been suspected of spilling 8,700 gallons of oil this past August, but plant officials told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that an employee had just made an error when reading the level of oil in a diesel generator.

While arguably every instance of hydrocarbon pollution into the Great Lakes is of concern to environmentalists, oil from nuclear plants are not usually their main focus when it comes to oil contamination. The Great Lakes provide drinking water to more than 40 million people and contain nearly 20 percent of the world's surface freshwater, and environmentalists say one of the biggest oil-related threats are aging oil pipelines that run below the Straits of Mackinac, directly between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.


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Jan 5, 2015

Stricter ozone limits are in Nebraska's air.

Proposed federal regulations could classify Omaha's air as smoggy enough on hot summer days to require action to better protect children, athletes, outdoor workers and those with respiratory problems. Please continue reading from: 1Environmental Health News

India garbage crisis reaches tipping point.

Because of poor and unscientific way of maintenance, waste yards in Delhi have become massive, polluting and stinking mountains of garbage. Please continue reading from: 1Environmental Health News

Fukushima radiation detected off Canadian and California coast, but not Alaska.

Radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster has been detected in waters off of Canada, researchers revealed this week, a revelation that comes just weeks after a group of citizen scientists discovered radiation off of California. Please continue reading from: Environmental Health News

China builds world’s largest power plant.

A Chinese coal mining firm claims to havebuilt the world's largest facility to generate power from methane gas emitted during coal mining, state media reported Friday. Please continue reading from: Environmental Health News

Dec 31, 2014

Ukraine Nuke Plant Problems of Grave Concern

(12/31 Eastern Ukraine) Over the last week, more publications including Zero Hedge, have started reporting on the possibility of a still developing nuclear problem at Zaporozhye, the largest nuclear plant in Europe. This news has been widely circulated in Eastern Europe over the last few weeks.

The problem with nuclear concerns inUkraine has been and remains verification. Ukrainian sources have not been forthcoming. When this first occurred I was contacted through a 2ndparty and told directly after the officially reported transformer incident a radiation spike was observed in Crimea which is 140km away from Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. This spike was small against background radiation but noticeable on a geiger counter. I was also given hacked files of the emergency conversation that happened at the plant that day. They are included at the bottom of the article. The closeness to what is coming to light makes them too close to be ignored.

Understanding Geiger Counters

The first thing most people don't realize is that geiger counters are location sensitive. They are calibrated against background radiation for a specific location. This means if you take a geiger counter and move as little as 1 km, the background radiation itself could be different and the measurement inaccurate. Known background radiation is the Zero point on a calibrated geiger counter.

Second and as important is that all sensitive measurement tools need to be calibrated and certified to be useful. Sensitive tools go out of calibration by themselves over time. After Fukashima, a new normal needs to be considered.

What this means to Europe is the possibility of a larger than Fukashima event opening up in its own backyard and without getting a handle on it now- quite literally. Depending on which way the wind blows without verifying anything they are leaving their own countries futures in the hands of Ukrainian nationalists that are in the middle of trying to perpetrate a genocide in Donbas.

Ukraine reported an incident (non-nuclear) which was a transformer short circuiting, not an accident which is used for radiological issues. This was carried across the nuclear industry forums that talked about it. The case was closed on that basis.

As reported at Zero Hedge-Two days ago we reported of the odd coincidence of a 2nd emergency shutdown at Ukraine's Zaporozhye Nuclear reactor - Europe's largest nuclear power plant following our earlier fears of disinformation. Today, we get information of a leaked report sourced from three different place - unconfirmed for now (but RT is trying to verify) - that Ukrainian nuclear scientists misled the public and a radioactive leak has been detected - citing the country's emergency services claiming that levels of radiation are 16.3 times the legally permitted norm.

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Dec 18, 2014

670,000 smog-related deaths a year: the cost of China's reliance on coal

South China Morning Post: Smog caused by coal consumption killed an estimated 670,000 people in China in 2012, according to a study by researchers that tries to put a price tag on the environmental and social costs of the heavy reliance on the fuel.

Damage to the environment and health added up to 260 yuan (HK$330) for each tonne produced and used in 2012, said Teng Fei , an associate professor at Tsinghua University.

The 260 yuan is made up of two parts: the health cost and the environmental damage caused by mining and transporting coal.

"With existing environmental fees and taxes of between 30 to 50 yuan for each tonne of coal, the country's current pricing system has largely failed to reflect the true costs," Teng said.

Tiny particulate pollutants, especially those smaller than 2.5 micrograms (known as PM2.5), were linked to 670,000 premature deaths from four diseases - strokes, lung cancer, coronary heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - in China in 2012, Teng said.

That translated to an external cost of 166 yuan for each tonne of coal consumed. Authorities levied only about 5 yuan as a pollution fee per tonne of coal used by consumers including power companies and iron, steel and cement producers.

Mining and transport add 94 yuan per tonne, including through damage to groundwater resources, subsidence, deaths and occupational diseases.

Beijing is considering replacing pollution charges with more stringent environmental protection taxes, but progress on legislation has been slow.

Li Guoxing , from Peking University's School of Public Health, said the full impact of coal use was still underestimated as the study did not take into account medical costs associated with other pollution-induced diseases such as asthma.

Respiratory patients wait at a Hangzhou hospital. Photo: Reuters

"The health cost [of the study] is only based on the premature death figures due to the limitations of our research data," said Li. "It could be way higher if we also include medical costs for other chronic illnesses."

The study found that in 2012, more than 70 per cent of the population was exposed to annual PM2.5 pollution levels higher than 35 micrograms per cubic metre, the country's benchmark for healthy air quality.

The World Health Organisation sets its PM2.5 safety limit at an annual concentration of 10mcg/cubic metre. That class of particulate was officially recognised as a human carcinogen last year by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, especially its link to lung cancer and a heightened risk of bladder cancer.

In 2012, some 157 million people in China lived in areas where the annual PM2.5 concentration was higher than 100mcg/cubic metre - 10 times the WHO's recommendation.

A previous study published in British medical journal The Lancet said outdoor air pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010, or 40 per cent of the global total. Former health minister Chen Zhu said this year that pollution caused 350,000 to 500,000 premature deaths a year in China.

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Dec 17, 2014

EPA Celebrates 40th Anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act (CA)

Agency tours small drinking water systems, discusses small system challenges in Coachella ValleyLOS ANGELES — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). State, local and community representatives joined EPA Regiona... Please continue reading from: EPA 

11 Trillion Gallons of Water Needed To End California Drought

b Slashdot
 a new study which found that California can recover from its lengthy drought with a mere 11 trillion gallons of water. The volume this water would occupy (roughly 42 cubic kilometers) is half again as large as the biggest water reservoir in the U.S. A team of JPL scientists worked this out through the use of NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites. From the article:GRACE data reveal that, since 2011, the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins decreased in volume by four trillion gallons of water each year (15 cubic kilometers). That's more water than California's 38 million residents use each year for domestic and municipal purposes. About two-thirds of the loss is due to depletion of groundwater beneath California's Central Valley. ... New drought maps show groundwater levels across the U.S. Southwest are in the lowest two to 10 percent since 1949.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Dec 16, 2014

Plastic waste account for nearly 99 % of the marine litter

Plastic kits account for nearly 99 % of the marine litter in coastal waters, said a recent research conducted by Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). The CMFRI study, on the kind of litter that is found in backwaters, said that of the total marine litter, almost 97.51% were plastic materials found in fishing nets. Please continue reading from: Environmental Health News

Could a simple stove save children's lives?

An estimated three billion people breathe in poisonous smoke from open-fire cooking, killing more than four million every year. In Malawi, a research team is conducting the largest-ever study on children into the effects of indoor smoke and hopes its results will save millions of young lives. Please continue reading from: Environmental Health News