Contaminants and pollution
(Kelsey Gobroski/KTOO Juneau, 20 February 2013) -- Attu Island is overdue for some spring cleaning. Seventy years after World War II, the island is still littered with shards of old Coke bottles, lead-based batteries, leaking fuel drums and unexploded artillery. This summer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the remote island as a refuge, will survey the extent of World War II debris and contamination. As KTOO news intern Kelsey Gobroski reports, the entire ecosystem could be affected by the decades of pollution. Listen to the full story
(Laurence Peter/BBC News, 25 January 2013) -- The toxic legacy of the Cold War lives on in Russia's Arctic, where the Soviet military dumped many tonnes of radioactive hardware at sea. For more than a decade, Western governments have been helping Russia to remove nuclear fuel from decommissioned submarines docked in the Kola Peninsula - the region closest to Scandinavia. But further east lies an intact nuclear submarine at the bottom of the Kara Sea, and its highly enriched uranium fuel is a potential time bomb. This year the Russian authorities want to see if the K-27 sub can be safely raised, so that the uranium - sealed inside the reactors - can be removed. They also plan to survey numerous other nuclear dumps in the Kara Sea, where Russia's energy giant Rosneft and its US partner Exxon Mobil are now exploring for oil and gas. Seismic tests have been done and drilling of exploratory wells is likely to begin next year, so Russia does not want any radiation hazard to overshadow that. ... On the western flank is a closed military zone - the Novaya Zemlya archipelago. It was where the USSR tested hydrogen bombs - above ground in the early days. Besides K-27, official figures show that the Soviet military dumped a huge quantity of nuclear waste in the Kara Sea: 17,000 containers and 19 vessels with radioactive waste, as well as 14 nuclear reactors, five of which contain hazardous spent fuel. Low-level liquid waste was simply poured into the sea. Norwegian experts and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are satisfied that there is no evidence of a radiation leak - the Kara Sea's radioisotope levels are normal. But Ingar Amundsen, an official at the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA), says more checks are needed. The risk of a leak through seawater corrosion hangs over the future - and that would be especially dangerous in the case of K-27, he told BBC News.
Posted 20 February 2013; 11:24:25 PM. Permalink
(Jack Phillips/Epoch Times, 1 November 2012) -- Debris like plastic bags and other waste are continuing to pile up on the Arctic Ocean’s seabed, with the amount doubling in the past ten years, according to a new study. Marine biologist and deep sea expert Melanie Bergmann, in a study published [22 October] in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, examined 2,100 photographs of the Arctic seafloor at a depth of around 8,200 feet in the Fram Strait, which is located between Greenland and the Svalbard Islands. The trash, Bergmann said, is impacting local sea life, with almost 70 percent of plastic litter coming “into some kind of contact with deep-sea organisms.” “For example we found plastic bags entangled in sponges, sea anemones settling on pieces of plastic or rope, cardboard and a beer bottle colonized by sea lilies,” Bergmann says in a press release. The photos Bergmann used were from a camera stationed near the seabed, that takes a photograph every 30 seconds. The camera is primarily used by scientists for documenting changes in the biodiversity, mainly in regards to sea cucumbers, sea lilies, sponges, fish, and shrimp. Bergmann said she went through all the photographs from 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2011 to make a comparison of the trash on the seafloor. “The study was prompted by a gut feeling. When looking through our images I got the impression that plastic bags and other litter on the seafloor were seen more frequently in photos from 2011 than in those dating back to earlier years,” Bergmann said in a release. Trash and other pollutants that make it to the Arctic Ocean come from sources around the world via air and ocean currents, says the Pew Environment Group think tank. It argues that as Arctic ice continues to melt, more ships will be using the Northwest Passage and other routes that are subsequently opened up further, increasing the amount of garbage and sewage dumped into the ocean. Article highlights: Litter on the deep Arctic seafloor over time was quantified by image analysis. Litter density increased from 3635 to 7710 items per square km between 2002 and 2011. ? The majority of litter recorded was plastic. Sixty-seven percent of the litter items was entangled or colonised by benthic invertebrates.
Posted 11 January 2013; 11:41:32 AM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 11 October 2012) -- The wreck of the Soviet cruiser Murmansk will be completely gone by November. 14,000 tons of scrap metal have been removed in the unique operation on the coast of Finnmark. AF Decom, the company that won the NOK 328 million (€44.5 million) tender to remove the wreck, reports that the removal is going very smoothly after managing to resolve earlier problems with leakages in the jetties that have been built around the wreck. “There are still some parts left in the ground, but everything will be removed by the middle of November, before the winter storms set in,” AF Decom Director Eirik Wraal says to NRK. The sea bottom around the wreck has been drained using jetties and the vessel has been cut into pieces and removed. The whole operation is being filmed for a future documentary and you can watch the removal operation on-line here. The 211-meters-long cruiser ended its days in Sørøya in the rocks outside Sørvær on the coast of Finnmark in December 1994. The cruiser was being tugged southwards for scrapping when it tore away during a storm and has since been to a lot of nuisance to the local population. A decision to remove the wreck was made in August 2008, after debris from the cruiser delivered for recycling revealed that there were traces of a radioactive source, PCB and brominated flame retardants in the vessel.
Posted 14 October 2012; 4:31:12 PM. Permalink
(David McKie/CBC News via Eye on the Arctic, 8 May 2012) -- The federal government identified 142 contaminated sites as of last September where pollutants need to be contained or eliminated because of a long-term or immediate threat to human health or the environment. That's according to a CBC News analysis of the most recently available data compiled by the Treasury Board, one of the departments responsible for maintaining an inventory of sites. Much of the data is available online, but CBC News obtained more complete data under an access-to-information request. The 142 sites are only those that have reached step eight in a long process that federal departments and agencies must follow to assess and develop plans to clean up or contain damage posed by contaminants. Step eight is what's called "remediation/risk management strategy," which includes identifying the contaminants and whether they are present in soil or groundwater, and developing a plan to remove or treat the contaminants, as well as a detailed contingency plan in case the contaminants are released into the environment.
Posted 9 May 2012; 3:18:13 PM. Permalink
(Laine Welch/Capital City Weekly, 9 May 2012) -- Soccer balls, motorcycles, reminders of the massive tsunami in Japan a year ago are now appearing along Alaska's coastlines. "It's safe to say that tsunami debris is here," said Merrick Burden, director of the Juneau-based Marine Conservation Alliance Foundation. Since January the MCA has been tracking where and what kinds of debris that is coming ashore, and whether it is radioactive (none so far), at Kodiak, Yakutat, Sitka and Craig where the wreckage was first likely to hit. "What we're finding are wind-driven objects like buoys, Styrofoam, and large containers, some of which contain materials that are potentially toxic," Burden said. "We're finding drums full of things that we don't know what they are yet. So we're looking at a potential large-scale environmental problem, and what we're dealing with now is just the start of it." Debris has been found in every area they've looked, Burden said, and mysterious sludge is washing up on some beaches, apparently from opened containers. Just days ago, an enormous amount of floating debris was spotted off the southern reaches of Prince William Sound, making national headlines. But the worst is yet to come. "Next year is when we expect the larger debris that is driven by currents rather than wind," he said. "That should be comprised of entirely different types of materials, and it might even follow a different trajectory through the water and end up in different locations. Part of the problem is that we don't know what we're dealing with, and it looks bad. It's obviously tragic, and it looks like it's a pretty major environmental hazard as well."
Posted 9 May 2012; 11:28:47 AM. Permalink
(Yereth Rosen/Reuters, 23 April 2012) -- A soccer ball that bobbed onto the shore of a remote Alaska island is likely the first salvageable debris from last year's Japanese tsunami that could be returned to its owner, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The ball, found on Alaska's Middleton Island, bears writing that identifies its place of origin, said Doug Helton, operations coordinator for NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration, which is tracking debris from the tsunami. According to a translation provided by Tokyo-based journalists, the ball is from the Osabe School in the Iwate Prefecture, an area that was hit by the devastating tidal wave unleashed March 11 by the magnitude 9 earthquake off Japan's northeastern coast, Helton said Sunday. Beachcombers and cleanup workers in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest have found debris, including sports equipment, that was likely set adrift by the tsunami, Helton said. But this soccer ball stood out because it had identifying information. The ball was found by David Baxter, a technician at a radar station on Middleton Island, a remote site in the Gulf of Alaska.
Posted 24 April 2012; 11:12:53 AM. Permalink
(Postmedia News, 1 April 2012) -- New flame retardants meant to replace their toxic predecessors are showing up in the air around the Great Lakes in increasing concentrations and travelling as far north as the Arctic. These new findings raise a red flag that these chemicals need to be more closely examined to see if they accumulate in the environment and animals, according to Hayley Hung, a research scientist at Environment Canada, who found concentrations of tetrabromobenzoate (TBB) and tetrabromophthalate (TBPH) in both Canada's High Arctic and the Tibetan Plateau. "It's not just a localized problem," said Hung. "(They) could become a global pollutant." Hung said TBB and TBPH are among the components in Firemaster flame retardants that are used in everyday objects such as car upholstery, computer equipment, carpeting and polyurethane foam. They get into the air when they're applied (usually sprayed) onto products. The two compounds are meant to replace poly brominated diphenylether (PBDE) flame retardants after these were found to be toxic in the mid-2000s. (PBDEs have been detected in, for example, blood samples and breast milk and some studies suggest a connection between PBDE exposure and reduced fertility in women.) Hung's study as well as research by Ronald Hites at Indiana University shows particles from TBB and TBPH in air samples from cities and remote areas.
Posted 2 April 2012; 2:40:53 PM. Permalink
(Norwegian University of Science and Technology press release via Eurekalert.org, 29 March 2012) -- It's never been easy to be a polar bear. They may have to go months without eating. Their preferred food, seal, requires enormous luck and patience to catch. Add to that the melting of Arctic sea ice due to climate change, and the poisoning of the Arctic by toxic chemicals, and it's easy to see why polar bears worldwide are in trouble. Among all the bad news, however, comes one possible bright spot. In a study of PCBs in polar bear cubs in Svalbard, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have found that blood levels of PCBs and related contaminants in polar bear cubs appear to have dropped by as much as 59 per cent between 1998 and 2008. At the same time, levels of these contaminants in their mothers were as much as 55 per cent lower over the same period. "The levels of PCB compounds in blood samples from females are on the decline," says Jenny Bytingsvik, a biologist at NTNU who is completing her doctoral dissertation on the findings. "For newborn, vulnerable cubs, this is a very positive trend. Reduced levels of PCBs in the mother bears' blood mean that there is also less contamination in their milk. Even though the PCB levels we found are still too high, this shows that international agreements to ban PCBs have had an effect."
Posted 30 March 2012; 2:33:35 PM. Permalink
(Bill Bowen/Dallas News, 20 March 2012) -- What do you do when your name becomes linked with one of the most horrific environmental disasters in American history – and no one wants you around anymore? In the case of the Exxon Valdez, arguably the most famous ship of modern times, you move and you change your name. Twenty-three years after the oil supertanker became synonymous with what its Irving-based owner at the time calls "one of the lowest points in ExxonMobil's 125-year history," the ship is slated for the scrap heap. After six name changes and several ownership shuffles – and a 2010 collision in the South China Sea - the ship has been sold as scrap for $16 million and was under her own power Tuesday afternoon to Singapore and a coming date with one of the several "ship breakers" along the shores of the Indian Ocean. That will mark the end of the most well-known ship afloat. The Valdez, (pronounced val-deez) was only 3 years old when it ran aground in Alaska's Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989, spilling at least 11 million gallons of crude into the fragile ecosystem of the bay, killing tens of thousands of seabirds and other marine life and damaging 700 miles of coastline. "It was a tragic accident and one we deeply regret," Alan Jeffers, an ExxonMobil spokesman said on Tuesday. The disaster cost ExxonMobil, more than $4 billion in cleanup costs, civil settlements and damages and incalculable harm to its reputation. ... The disaster in Prince William Sound caused Exxon Mobil to re-examine its operating practices. "As a result of the accident we took a number of reforms and adopted a system that is now industry-leading for environmental and safety performance," ExxonMobil's Jeffers said Tuesday, citing the company's maritime safety record since. "That is really the result of an effort that came out of the Valdez accident." The company is now building two double-hulled tankers at the Aker Philadelphia Shipyard for delivery in 2014. They are smaller than the Exxon Valdez and will replace two others in the SeaRiver Maritime Fleet.
Posted 21 March 2012; 10:48:33 AM. Permalink
(CBCNews ᔥ Eye on the Arctic, 20 February 2012) -- There is still uncertainty about the environmental effects of a major gasoline spill in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, a territory in Canada's eastern Arctic. Officials say an estimated 87,000 litres of gasoline poured onto the ground at the hamlet's fuel tank farm between Oct. 27 and Oct. 28. The Government of Nunavut hired contractor Nunami Stantec Ltd., which submitted a draft report detailing the cleanup and spill assessment at the site. Using Access to Information legislation, the CBC has obtained a copy of the draft report the company completed Dec. 19. ... The engineers give a number of reasons for the level of uncertainty in their draft report. They said it would have helped them to have had accurate design drawings of the site. The document also highlights the challenges the crew had in doing their assessment, such as cold temperatures, blizzard conditions, short daylight and a limited availability of equipment. The draft report includes three pages of recommendations for the Government of Nunavut. However, those recommendations are unknown because the territorial government redacted that section of the document. The government cited a section of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act which deals with information which could be used to make future decisions.ᔥ
Posted 20 February 2012; 8:28:16 PM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 4 January 2012) -- Russia plans to continue its large-scaled clean-up of Arctic islands in 2012. As much as 18 000 tons of scrap metal will be shipped out through the Nenets port of Amderma. Russia wants to clean up the environmental mess on its Arctic Islands and has allocated hundreds of millions of rubles for the work over the coming years. Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment plans to continue reversing accumulated environmental damage in the Arctic. In 2012 Russia will focus on cleaning up polluted areas on Svalbard and Amderma. Between 12,000 and 18,000 tons of scrap metal will be shipped from the port of Amderma, Deputy Minister Rinat Gizatullin said according to the Nenets paper Nyaryana Vynder. Amderma is planned to become a key site in the development of offshore oil and gas fields in the western part of the Russian Arctic and an important base for traffic along the Northern Sea Route. According to preliminary estimates, the total polluted area around Amderma exceeds 82 square kilometers and the local scrap stockpiles may amount to more than 114 000 tons. The Arctic clean-up started in 2011, when the research vessel Mikhail Somov transported more than 1800 empty fuel barrels collected on the Wrangel Island and on Franz Josef Land to Arkhangelsk. According to the Russian information and analytical portal Arctic Universe, there are still some 250,000 barrels holding some 40 to 60,000 tons of oil products on Franz Josef Land. Also, some additional one million empty barrels are dumped near the now closed down bases. Other kinds of waste include abounded [sic] aircrafts, rusty broken radar stations, different kind of Arctic vehicles and other leftover garbage. The Russian government has allocated 740 million rubles to Arctic environmental cleanup in 2011 and 2012.
Posted 5 January 2012; 10:38:12 AM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 14 November 2011) -- At a recent meeting in Umeå, Sweden, the Ministers of Environment of the Barents member countries could cross out three of a total of 42 official “hot spots” in the Barents Region. The Barents region has three environmental hot spots less to worry about. Those are 2,3 tons of DDT in Karelia, 40 tons of obsolete pesticides in Arkhangelsk, and mercury containing wastes in Murmansk. In spite of the fact that these three are definitely some of the "easier" hot spots, this is regarded as significant step forward since the time line for finding solutions to the majority of the 42 hot spots will be exceeded. According to a ministerial agreement in 2003, the intention was that this should take no longer than 10 years. In practical terms this means that many of the more severe hot spots are still far from being taken off the list. That is doubtlessly the case of the most intensively debated by them all: Pechenga-Nickel, a press release from the Working Group on Environment reads. The process is complicated due to the diversification of contamination, sometimes to the lack of ownership as hot spots go back to Soviet times, and sometimes to the huge economic interests - such as in the Pechenga-Nickel case. In this light, the three solved hot spots are important regardless of their "easiness" as detailed procedures have been established for how to meet the requirement before any hot spot can be taken off the list. The driving force has for the last two years been the Swedish Ministry of Environment and Authority of Nature Protection in close cooperation with NEFCO and the Russian Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
Posted 14 November 2011; 4:03:20 PM. Permalink
(Anna Kireeva/Bellona, 4 November 2011) -- Last week’s joint seminar that Bellona and Norilsk Nickel’s Kola Mining and Metallurgical Company (Kola MMC) held in Russia’s Zapolyarny, seeking ways to collaborate on curbing cross-border pollution, has brought the two sides on the same page, encouraging further cooperation. “We are happy to see that Kola MMC is ready for a constructive dialogue. We had an interesting seminar, and the heated debates during discussions served to underscore once again the importance of the topic at hand,” Bellona-Murmansk’s chairman of the board Andrei Zolotkov said after the seminar. Last week, Bellona and Kola MMC sat down together in the Russian town of Zapolyarny, on the Kola Peninsula, to discuss the serious environmental problems surrounding the Russian smelting giant Norilsk Nickel’s metal works on the peninsula and the effect the company’s environmental pollution has across the border in Norway. Bellona and Kola MMC were joined at the seminar by municipal authorities from Pechenga Region of the Kola Peninsula and those of the northern Norwegian county of Finnmark, as well as scientists and researchers. At the seminar, Bellona’s representatives made sure to emphasise that the environmentalists’ goal was not to demand that Kola MMC close down its operations – but that it ensure a significant reduction in harmful emissions produced by its enterprises. “Norilsk Nickel’s products are needed all over the world. The metals they produce are needed, among other things, for the development of clean energy technologies and renewable energy sources,” said Bellona President Frederic Hauge. “But the company must reduce its sulphur dioxide emissions dramatically. Today’s emission levels are unacceptable.”
Posted 8 November 2011; 1:03:20 AM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 5 November 2011) -- When negotiators from more than 120 countries worked last week in Nairobi, Kenya towards a global agreement to reduce mercury emissions, Parnuna Egede, environmental advisor to the Inuit Circumpolar Council-Greenland, was there to represent the Inuit voice in the negotiations. More than 700 representatives from governments and non-governmental organizations gathered at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi to discuss the future global treaty on mercury, which they hope to reach by 2013. That binding agreement would aim to reduce emissions of mercury to protect the environment and human health. “The pollution comes primarily from more southerly latitudes, where it is transported over long distances by winds and ocean currents to the Arctic, and then becomes concentrated in the food chain and ultimately to us. So we follow the UN negotiations closely, because the end result will have a direct effect on our health,” Egede told Greenland’s Sermitsiaq/AG newspaper. The most recent negotiations, which started on Oct. 31 and wrapped up Nov. 4, were the third of five sessions to address the release of mercury into the environment. That release occurs mainly from energy production and industrial activities, small-scale gold mining, consumer goods like cosmetics, medical instruments such as thermometers, and mercury-containing hazardous wastes from batteries and fluorescent lamps. Mercury is listed by the World Health Organization as one of the top 10 chemicals of public health concern because human exposure to mercury can damage the nervous system and cause behavioural disorders. When released, mercury persists in the environment where it circulates between air, water, sediments and soil. Mercury has toxic effects on humans and wildlife and can enter the food chain through contaminated fish. Almost all mercury found in Arctic marine mammals, seabirds and freshwater fish comes from industry far to the south, mainly from metal and cement production in east Asia, carried north by winds, ocean currents and rivers.
Posted 5 November 2011; 10:51:52 PM. Permalink
(Doug O'Harra/Alaska Dispatch, 18 October 2011) -- A Russian sailing ship -- said to be the world's fastest frigate — has found the leading edge of tsunami debris from the devastating Japanese earthquake in the middle of the Pacific Ocean about 2,000 miles southeast of Japan and 2,600 miles southwest of Cook Inlet. And this Alaska-size patch of flotsam appears to be on schedule for its Pacific Northwest debut in 2014. The bizarre sightings of bobbing TV sets, refrigerators, wash basins, boots and at least one small boat from Japan offer the first confirmation of a computer simulation developed to track the trajectory of millions of tons of garbage on its multi-year trip toward the beaches of Hawaii and Alaska. Once snarled on shore or fouled on reefs, this immense litter of plastics, wood, metal and fabric might set in motion a second tragedy — the entanglement and poisoning of North Pacific marine life.
Posted 21 October 2011; 1:28:19 PM. Permalink
(Voice of Russia, 5 October 2011) -- Russia has made a single voluntary contribution worth 10 million euros to the Arctic Council to support clean up work on the Arctic North. The clean up is part of the nature-conservation projects under the agreement signed by Russia's Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev and Managing Director of Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) Magnus Rystedt. Russia is the first country which signed this document, Trutnev said. He added that Russia has already started clean up work on Franz Joseph Land and Wrangel island. The Arctic Council comprises Russia, Canada Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the US.
Posted 14 October 2011; 3:47:59 PM. Permalink
(Olga Denisova/Voice of Russia, 10 October 2011) -- Russia has launched a cleaning up operation in its Arctic region. A programme to revive Franz Josef Land is being worked out following an expedition to the archipelago. Moreover, Russia will allocate 10 million Euros to the Arctic Council for supporting cleaning up projects in the Polar Region in 2011-2013. Franz Josef Land is one of the key Arctic territories that need urgent ecological support for cleaning up hazardous waste. Earlier, there were a military base and a hydro-meteorological station, but at present the territory is a huge garbage dump site. Semi-destroyed warehouses, hangers, machines and equipment and about 400,000 barrels of oil products remind of active life that existed in the 60s and 70s. The barrels will be removed first because some of them have rusted and oil has been leaking into the soil. Further destruction of containers poses a serious and chronic threat to the environment. After a geological and ecological survey, a complete list of pollutants and locations of polluted territories and their floor spaces have been prepared. New information as well as the results of previous expeditions will help to work out a programme on the ecological revival of the islands, says an official of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Olga Burkanova: “The removal of the sources of pollution will be carried out first and foremost in 2012-2013. Moreover, other projects will be simultaneously implemented to clean up the polluted territories on Wrangel Island in the Chukotka Autonomous region and also in the Nenets Autonomous region. It’s planned to dispose about 27,000 tons of scrap metal in the next two years. The Russian government will spend about 50 million U.S. dollars to clean up ecologically hazardous waste from Franz Josef Land in the coming two years.
Posted 11 October 2011; 3:29:54 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 12 May 2011) -- Ecologists have warned that it is too soon to judge what environmental impact an oil slick in the Barents Sea has had. The oil spilled into the sea in the Kandalaksha Bay, off the northern Russian port city of Murmansk, after melt water carried oil from beneath the soil offshore on May 7. Officials say the oil is up to 5 millimeters thick in places. An area of the sea covering 210,000 square meters is polluted, the latest satellite data indicates. Scientists say it is too soon to gauge the full extent of the incident. "It is still hard to assess the consequences of the oil slick for animals and birds of the Kandalaksha wildlife park," Ivetta Tatarenkova, a scientist at the park, which is situated on the coast, told RIA Novosti on Wednesday. "The spill may pose a threat to eider ducks," she said. "The invertebrates - mussels, small crustaceans and others - may also suffer at the hands of the spill," she added. Efforts are underway to clean up the slick.
Posted 19 May 2011; 2:46:27 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 6 May 2011) -- UPDATED: Taimyr was Friday evening escorted by the the nuclear powered icebreaker "Rossia" into a bay on the Vaigach island. "Ongoing leakages of cooling water from the reactor can evolve into a serious accident with potential for radioactive leakages," says nuclear physicist Nils Bøhmer in Bellona. The nuclear powered icebreaker was earlier this week escorting vessels on the Yenisei river north of the port-town of Dudinka when increased levels of radiation were detected in the air ventilation system of the reactor. The icebreaker aborted its mission and started Thursday to sail back towards the homeport in Murmansk on Russia’s Kola Peninsula.
Posted 7 May 2011; 1:49:26 PM. Permalink
(Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage via APRN, 6 May 2011) -- The United Nations Environment Project is looking at a report that suggests a short-term fix for climate warming – controlling black carbon and ozone. The report say that unlike controlling carbon dioxide, which appears to be politically difficult and would take years to make a difference, dealing with black carbon would have an immediate effect on climate warming.
(Barents Observer, 5 April 2011) -- Increased levels of radioactivity were detected in the air ventilation system, probably caused by a leak of coolant in the reactor. The incident is by Rosatomflot said to be an event on level “zero” on the International Nuclear Event Scale. Level “zero” means there are no essential threats to the people onboard or to the outside environment. The exact time of the incident is not reported, but the icebreaker is now said to be on its way back from the Yenisei river towards Murmansk. Estimated sailing time is five days so “Taimyr” will be in port in Murmansk late Sunday or early Monday. "Taimyr" will sail from Yenisei towards the Kara Sea and cross over the eastern part of the Barents Sea before sailing in the Kola bay towards Murmansk. Russia’s nuclear powered icebreaker fleet has its homeport at RTP Atomflot, in the northern part of Murmansk, the world’s largest city above the Arctic Circle with 309,000 inhabitants.
Posted 5 May 2011; 11:24:00 AM. Permalink
(Clifford Krauss/New York Times, 1 May 2011) -- SAVOONGA, Alaska — Shell Oil will present an ambitious proposal to the federal government this week, seeking permission to drill up to 10 exploratory oil wells beneath Alaska’s frigid Arctic waters. The forbidding ice-clogged region is believed to hold vast reserves of oil, potentially enough to fuel 25 million cars for 35 years. And with production in Alaska’s North Slope in steep decline, the oil industry is eager to tap new offshore wells. Shell has led the way, working for five years to convince regulators, environmentalists, Native Alaskans and several courts that it could manage the process safely, protect polar bears and other wildlife, safeguard air quality for residents and respond quickly to any spill in the region. But BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster a year ago put a chill on new offshore drilling. Shell’s renewed application will pose a test for President Obama, who promised to put safety first after the BP spill. But he has also reiterated his support for offshore drilling amid voter worries about rising gasoline prices. Environmental groups say a spill in the Arctic’s inaccessible waters could be even more catastrophic than the Gulf of Mexico accident. Republicans, meanwhile, are threatening to excoriate the president for turning his back on energy security if he says no to Shell. “Americans are reeling from staggering prices at the pump,” said Representative Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “So the president has to justify to the American people why we are not replacing Saudi Arabian oil imports with U.S.-produced oil.” Whatever the administration decides, it will anger somebody. “If the Obama administration approves drilling in the Arctic, it will demonstrate that they have learned nothing from the gulf spill,” said Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, which is suing to stop Shell.
Posted 1 May 2011; 11:48:38 PM. Permalink
(AP via New Orleans Metro Real Time News, 23 April 2011) -- An international research team is in the land of snow and ice, in search of soot. Though the Arctic is often pictured as a vast white wasteland, scientists believe a thin layer of soot -- mostly invisible -- is causing it to absorb more heat. They want to find out if that's the main reason for the recent rapid warming of the Arctic, which could have a long-term impact on the world's climate. Soot, or black carbon, is produced by auto and truck engines, aircraft emissions, burning forests and the use of wood- or coal-burning stoves. "The Arctic serves as the air conditioner of the planet," explained Patricia Quinn of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, one of the research participants. Heat from other parts of the Earth moves to the Arctic in the circulating air and ocean water, and at least some of that warmth can radiate into space. At the same time, some of the incoming heat from the sun that tends to be absorbed in other locations is reflected by the ice and snow, allowing the polar regions to serve as cooling agents for the planet. But that may be changing. In recent years, the Arctic has been warming more rapidly than other regions and, Quinn pointed out, the "warming of the Arctic has implications not just for polar bears, but for the entire planet." Cutting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is the backbone of any effort to combat warming, both globally and within the Arctic, Quinn said. But studies indicate that cutting the concentration of short-lived pollutants, such as soot, will reduce the rate of warming in the Arctic faster than cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which last far longer in the atmosphere, she said. "This is a buying-time approach."
Posted 23 April 2011; 10:01:34 PM. Permalink
(Thomas Nilsen/Barents Observer, 17 February 2011) -- Norilsk-Nickel, the biggest air-polluter in the Barents Region, says the upgrade of smelting facilities in Nikel is assessed to 4,6 billion rubles. Norilsk-Nickel proudly announces the results of its environmental activities for 2010 in a press-release. But, the reduction in emission over the last year is only at the metal-giant’s plants in Norilsk in Siberia. For the plants on the Kola Peninsula, emission cuts are still to come. Like in the 2009, Norilsk-Nickel also this year says the new briquetting lines in Zapolyarny will be launched and consequently emissions of sulphur dioxide will be cut with 95 percent. In a press-release dated September 24, 2009 Norilsk-Nickel said the start-up and adjustment of the first line would start in August 2010. Today, the company says it will be launched in first half of 2011. But, as BarentsObserver previously has reported, the modernization in Zapolyarny will only “move” the emission to the smelter in Nikel, just some few kilometers from the border to Norway. Instead of being emitted from the briquetting process, the contained sulphur will be emitted as SO2 from the smelter in the neighboring town of Nikel. At least until the plant in Nikel gets new technology and cleaning facilities. In January, BarentsObserver reported that a modernization deal for Nikel soon will be signed with the Finnish company Outokumpu. In its press-release today, Norilsk-Nickel says the modernization costs is preliminarily assessed at 4,6 billion rubles (€120 million). The smelters and processing plants in Monchegorsk, also on the Kola Peninsula, is not mentioned in the environmental press statement for 2010.
Posted 20 February 2011; 2:01:55 PM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 17 February 2011) -- Norway, Russia send joint expedition to the dump sites for submarine reactors in the Kara Sea this summer. Will it be safe to lift the old reactors and bring them safely onshore? A total of 16 naval reactors were dumped east of Novaya Zemlya during the Soviet period. Reactors were dumped because accidents with them caused high levels of radiation. Naval yards in Severodvinsk and along the coast of the Kola Peninsula wouldn’t dare to keep them stored near populated areas, nor less to decommission them in a proper way. The “easy” solution was simply to dump them in remote Arctic waters. Most scaring are the six reactors that were dumped with their highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel still onboard. In the early 90ties, several expeditions with Norwegian and Russian radiation experts onboard sailed to the dump-sites in the Kara Sea. Their findings were just partly without worries. Some samples indicated small leakages in the near vicinity of the reactors, while some reactors were not found. The last joint Norwegian, Russian expedition to the Kara Sea took place in 1994. Since then, only Russian scientists have been given permission to enter the dump-sites areas. This week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) holds a workshop in Oslo with participants from several of the countries involved in nuclear safety operations in northwest-Russia. The objective is to initiate further investigation on sunken submarines and reactors in the Arctic Oceans and strategies to solve the problems. The Norwegian Radiation Protection Agency reports today that the goal is to send a new joint expedition to the sites of dumped reactors and sunken submarines. Such expedition will take place later this year, and is supposed to include Norwegian and Russian team members in addition to experts from IAEA. The big question is: Will it be possible to lift the sunken reactors and bring them safely back to a naval yard without releases of radioactivity? In the ’90s nobody demanded to lift the Kara Sea dumped reactors. Those days, experts and the public were far more concerned about the 120 rusty nuclear powered submarines that were laid-up at the different naval bases and shipyards on the coast of the Kola Peninsula and in Severodvinsk. Today, most of the old laid-up subs are decommissioned and their reactors are safely stored onshore in the Saida Bay, west of Murmansk.
Posted 17 February 2011; 8:58:51 PM. Permalink
(Reuters via moneycontrol.com, 19 January 2011) -- A truce called in a bidding war for Canada's Baffinland Iron Mines sets the stage for an environmental battle over the Arctic project and the impact of shipping the ore through ocean ice to world markets. The development, on the drawing boards for decades, took a big step forward last week. ArcelorMittal and Nunavut Iron agreed to drop competing bids and extend a joint, C$590 million (USD 596 million) offer to take control of a project that could end up costing more than C$4 billion to build. Baffinland's board has endorsed the joint bid. The company, which hopes to have the mine producing by 2014, is expected to file a draft environmental impact study with territorial and federal regulators in the next few weeks, government officials say. While mining is not new to Canada's Far North, nothing has been attempted on the scale of Baffinland's Mary River project on Baffin Island, about 1,000 km (650 miles) northwest of Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut territory. The mine is thought to have enough high-grade iron ore to meet Europe's needs for years. But plans to get the ore off the island include building the North America's northernmost railroad and bringing in a fleet of ships that can break the ice year-round. The impact of ships cutting through water that's covered with ice in winter is a concern, said Martin von Mirbach, Arctic program director at World Wildlife Fund Canada. "It's something that has to be carefully studied," said von Mirbach, saying it has the potential to change life for people and wildlife in a region that experiences 24-hour darkness in winter and round-the-clock daylight in summer. Some local Inuit fear year-round ship traffic will disrupt the migration corridors of wildlife, ranging from polar bears to beluga whales, as well as their own travel on the ice.
Posted 19 January 2011; 11:29:21 AM. Permalink
(Elizabeth Boyle/Physorg.com, 7 January 2011) -- New research led by the University of Delaware evaluates the potential cost and effect of technologies aimed at reducing emissions from marine shipping, especially when targeting the Arctic. The multi-university effort provides the first technology assessment to directly inform policy decisions on shipping emissions and the sensitive region, which earned the focus of world leaders at the December 2010 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Cancun. “Evidence of global warming is in no place more obvious than in the Arctic,” Arctic Council Chair Lene Esperson told UNFCCC attendees. “Shipping activity in the region is on the rise, including tourism and exploration activities.” Taking up what Esperson called an “urgent common challenge,” the study, “An Assessment of Technologies for Reducing Regional Short-Lived Climate Forcers Emitted by Ships with Implications for Arctic Shipping,” was led by James J. Corbett, professor of marine science and policy at UD. He collaborated with colleagues at the Rochester Institute of Technology and Energy and Environmental Research Associates, in Pittsford, N.Y. The article was published in the second issue of the new journal Carbon Management. ... The team found that the most cost-effective strategy is a combination of technologies, which can reduce black carbon from ships by about 60 percent. “This translates to avoiding emissions corresponding to some 9-70 million metric tons of CO2equivalent,” Corbett said. “In other words, the cost to achieve these reductions in CO2 equivalent terms is about US$15-30 per metric ton of CO2 equivalent. This compares competitively with other climate strategies in terms of cost.”
Posted 9 January 2011; 1:30:29 PM. Permalink
(Telegraph, 2 January 2011) -- Although they live in the Arctic wilderness, the bears were found to have high levels of pollution because of the toxic food chain, scientists say. This is because industrial pollution from Europe, America and Asia is dispersed by air and ocean currents and concentrated over the Arctic. The smaller animals are all affected by the chemicals, but this is magnified as they go up the food chain - ending with the bears, shows research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Studies found that along with bears, three species of whales, ringed seals, Stellar sea lions, walrus, mink and arctic fox all had high levels of pollutants such as PCBs and brominated flame retardants. Only the bears and a species of gull in Norway were found to be suffering stress from the contamination, but scientists say this is simply due to lack of data, and not an indication the pollutants are not harmful.
Posted 8 January 2011; 5:37:17 PM. Permalink
(Pierre-Henry Deshayes/AFP, 17 October 2010) -- MURMANSK, Russia - An electronic sign along a busy street posts the outside temperature, the wind strength -- and the radioactivity level. Welcome to Russia's Kola Peninsula, a region that still bears the scars of its dubious past as the Soviet Union's "nuclear dump". When the USSR imploded, the northwestern Russian peninsula was left with ageing nuclear submarines and spent nuclear fuel abandoned in not always airtight containers. The Soviet breakdown posed a significant threat to the nearby fish-filled Barents Sea, as well as flourishing opportunities for traffickers of nuclear materials. Two decades and just as many billion dollars later, the "dump" looks a bit less shabby, thanks to funds supplied mostly by the West. "What is positive, or should I say, least negative, is that the situation is under control when it comes to nuclear safety," said Sergei Zhavoronkin of the region's public council for the safe use of nuclear energy. "It has not always been the case." A common practice until the mid-1980s, dumping radioactive waste into the sea is a thing of the past, and the 100 or so submarines once rusting around the peninsula have now almost all been disposed of. ... According to Valery Panteleyev, who leads public authority SevRao that is in charge of cleaning up the peninsula, a first batch of containers filled with fuel rods was shipped to the Mayak waste treatment plant in the Urals in June. "That is the easy part," said Koudrik, adding that while authorities may be able to move the containers, they "still don't know how to empty the tanks." Another problem is a support vessel for icebreakers that has been sitting in Murmansk for 20 years waiting for a way to be found for its load of often broken radioactive fuel tubes to be extracted and disposed of. The floating wreck, Lepse, was built in 1936 and is threatening to sink. Although Russian authorities pledged transparency about the region's nuclear issues, foreign journalists are denied access to a number of sites. In Murmansk, meanwhile, the radio still informs listeners to the weather updates of the level of radioactivity, and at the Russian-Norwegian border vehicles are scanned to detect any illegal exit of nuclear material.
Posted 17 October 2010; 4:28:45 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 12 October 2010) -- The containers with weapon-grade spent uranium fuel were heavily guarded by armed police on ground and in helicopters on its way to the harbor in Gydnia in Poland. After loaded on board the vessel the deadly nuclear waste secretly sailed around the coast of Northern Norway before it arrived in Murmansk last week. The uranium cargo was sent from a research reactor in the forest outside Warsaw towards Russia’s top-secured reprocessing plant Mayak in the South-Urals. There are likely two reasons why such nuclear cargo are shipped the longer route around Norway to Murmansk, instead of sailing the much shorter route through the Baltic Sea and St. Petersburg on its way to Mayak. First of all it is important to keep the vulnerable cargo as far away from possible terrorists as possible, and secondly because Murmansk has an excellent harbor facility for receiving such nuclear waste. The harsh seas off the coast of northern Norway and Russia’s Kola Peninsula are not an easy attack point for al-Quaida or other non-state terrorist groups that might want to blow up or get access and steal weapon-grade uranium, such as this cargo from Poland. ... The first time such nuclear cargo sailed from Poland to Murmansk in transit along the coast of Norway was last fall. Then, the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authorities was not aware about the uranium load before being informed by BarentsObserver. The issue was then bought up with Polish nuclear authorities and the following shipment in April this year happened with the knowledge of the Norwegian Authorities. ... Last week, at the same time as the nuclear waste cargo ship arrived in Murmansk, Norwegian and Russian authorities were sitting on board the former nuclear powered icebreaker "Lenin" in Murmansk discussing nuclear safety cooperation between the two countries. ... Nothing is said about the fact that simultaneously a secret cargo of nuclear waste was arriving in the port of Atomflot, just some few kilometers from where the Norwegian-Russian top nuclear officials where meeting. Norway has over the last 16 years granted some NOK 1,5 billion (€187 million) for nuclear safety in Northwest Russia. Ironically, the harbor facility where last week’s nuclear cargo was offloaded is partly financed with Norwegian assistance grants. Norway partly paid for the special designed pad for uranium fuel containers as an effort to secure spent nuclear fuel from the Northern fleet’s decommissioned submarines. Upon arrival at the Atomflot facilities in the northern part of Murmansk city, the uranium fuel was reloaded to railway wagons and sent all the 3,000 kilometers through European Russia to Mayak.
Posted 12 October 2010; 2:43:37 PM. Permalink
(Svalbard Posten via IM Translation, 26 September 2010) -- The relationship between Esso Norway, which owns the tank facility in Ny-Ålesund, Kings Bay as the owner of the site has gone from bad to worse over the past year. The conflict between Esso Norway and Kings Bay is increasing. The oil company resort to falsehood to push Kings Bay further. Kings Bay State Company, which owns and operates Ny-Ålesund, has long been in dispute with Esso Norway over the tank facility in Ny-Ålesund. The starting point is an order from the Climate and Pollution Directorate (Klif) to Esso Norway to secure emissions at its tank facility in Ny-Ålesund. Esso Norway has been unwilling and has proposed to the Kings Bay that it takes over the entire tank facility, with NOK 500,000 in compensation. Kings Bay Chairman Knut Ore believes the old and worn-out plant would become a great expense, and require 3.5 million NOK for taking over the responsibility. The case has wandered back and forth between the two companies, without any solution being reached. Esso Norway has a 30 October deadline to carry out the order from Klif. So far nothing has happened, and nothing suggests that something will happen before the time limit expires in five weeks. Esso Norway has threatened to remove the entire plant if Kings Bay does not bend and take over. In this case, all activities in Ny-Ålesund will stop when there no longer will be fuel for the power station. While negotiations have been going on, Kings Bay has requested conditions for the supply of diesel fuel before winter begins. Esso Norway requires 850,000 NOK in shipping their own vessel to take the trip north with 500,000 litres of diesel. In an email to Kings Bay Svein H. Bjørnestad, head of legal department of Esso Norway, acknowledges the the urgency of the order and says that he finds it necessary to concretize this in order to avoid further misunderstandings. He writes: "Local authorities closed the waters around Svalbard 31 October due to ice conditions. Esso's vessel Bergen Faith has limited opportunities to go in these waters after 1 October, when they are completely dependent on acceptable weather conditions." Knut Ore respond to the claim that the waters close 31 October, and says that this is something Esso Norway is claiming to push Kings Bay further.
Posted 26 September 2010; 5:46:53 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 5 July 2010) -- Toxic waste chemicals such as DDT and arsenic are set to be removed from a former military site within Ivvavik National Park in northern Yukon. The chemicals have been in the soil since the 1960s, when a Distant Early Warning Line station existed for a few years in a small part of what is now the national park. "There are a number of contaminants, ranging from arsenic and antimony; there's also DDT, PCBs, lead and fuel contamination," Nelson Perry, an ecosystems scientist with Parks Canada in Inuvik, N.W.T., told CBC News. Ivvavik National Park was established in 1984 under the Inuvialuit land claim, spanning 10,000 square kilometres of mostly undisturbed land. About seven years ago, the Inuvialuit asked the federal government to clean up the former site from the DEW Line of Cold War arctic radar installations. The station was in their traditional hunting grounds. Consultations have wrapped up and work is about to begin, with $7 million in federal funding. "Most of the contamination is within the soil, below the vegetation," Perry said. "So it's not visible, but it is there. That will be excavated." Cleanup workers will dig tainted soil from sites within about one square kilometre, with the waste being transported away by barge. Workers will also remove old barrels and structures from the DEW Line site. What will remain are some modern facilities, such as a radar system used by the Canadian Forces.
Posted 7 July 2010; 2:19:32 PM. Permalink
(Shannon Montgomery/Canadian Press via Metro News Halifax, 20 May 2010) -- CALGARY - Environment Minister Jim Prentice says he will demand the highest environmental standards be followed as Greenland explores offshore oil drilling just outside of Canada's territorial waters. Prentice said he'll make Canada's position very clear at a meeting of Arctic countries next month. "We certainly want to be sure that the highest possible environmental standards are being followed and we intend to make our views known," he said at an event in Calgary. "Obviously drilling offshore wells in the Arctic environment, particularly deep wells, is something that we are concerned about. Greenland recently accepted bids to drill in Baffin Bay near the mouth of Lancaster Sound, which is close to where Canada hopes to establish a marine conservation area. The territory hopes to drill along thousands of kilometres of the maritime border it shares with Canada starting this summer.
Posted 23 May 2010; 9:53:27 AM. Permalink
(CTV, 30 April 2010) -- As the world watches the spreading oil-spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, plans to drill in Greenland's iceberg-choked ocean are raising concerns about possible accidents poisoning adjacent Canadian waters. "It seemed to me that (Environment Minister Jim Prentice) was taken by surprise by this," federal NDP Arctic critic Dennis Bevington said Friday after question period in Ottawa. "There's no real plan for dealing with oil spills in the Arctic -- no real ability, no real plan." Pending final approvals, Scottish oil company Cairn Energy plans to drill four wells this summer in offshore leases west of Greenland's Disko Island -- right next to the international boundary with Canada. The company's previous offshore experience has been in the Indian Ocean, but spokesman David Nisbet said Cairn would take all possible precautions in its first venture into the Arctic. Two drill ships would be in the area, leaving one available to bore a relief well to help staunch any blowouts. Nisbet also said the company would draw on Canadian experience in dealing with icebergs in the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador, where powerful tugboats are able to shift the floating, frozen mountains away from rigs. "We're using some of the very best available contractors," he said. "We'll have nine vessels in this area." Nisbet added that the waters where Cairn would drill are only about one-third as deep as the well now staining the Louisiana coast. The Davis Strait is known as "iceberg alley," through which massive mountains of snow and ice that break off Greenland's glaciers float on their way to the North Atlantic. But Nisbet downplayed the risk. He said a survey last summer found a total of 12 icebergs in both of Cairn's leases, which cover thousands of square kilometres. "We're conscious of our responsibility."
Posted 2 May 2010; 10:52:40 PM. Permalink
(BBC News, 19 April 2010) -- Farmers in southern Iceland have been racing to protect their animals from being poisoned by volcanic dust. The animals are at risk of fluoride poisoning if they inhale or ingest the ash, leading to internal bleeding, long-term bone damage and teeth loss. Sheep, cattle and horses were rushed to shelter after they got lost in a fog of ash in areas near an erupting volcano. Areas south of the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano have been caked in a layer of grey ash some 10cm (four inches) thick. Ponds have turned into pools of cement-like mud and geese have had trouble flying because their wings are heavy with ash, media reports say. On Sunday, farmers banded together to drive around searching for hundreds of shaggy Icelandic horses, who panicked and got lost in a downpour of ash that turned day into night. "The risk is of fluoride poisoning if they breathe or eat too much," Berglind Hilmarsdottir, a dairy farmer from Nupur, told the AP news agency through a protective white dust mask. The fluoride in the ash creates acid in the animals' stomachs, corroding the intestines and causing haemorrhages. It also binds with calcium in the blood stream and after heavy exposure over a period of days makes bones frail, even causing teeth to crumble. "The best we can do is put them in the barn, block all the windows, and bring them clean food and water as long as the earth is contaminated," Ms Hilmarsdottir said. Sveinn Steinarsson, of Iceland's Horse Breeding Association, warned that Iceland's famously resilient ponies would be in danger if the ash contamination continued. "In areas where there's ash fall and horses are outside, the conditions are terrible," Mr Steinarsson told the French news agency, AFP.
Posted 19 April 2010; 9:47:09 PM. Permalink
(Bob Weber/The Canadian Press via Yahoo! News, 4 April 2010) -- Increased traffic through Arctic waters is prompting the coast guard to help northern communities to respond oil spills. And as interest grows in energy development off northern coastlines, Canadian scientists are planning their first field tests of a new technique they hope will give them a powerful tool against future accidents. "We really do need to conduct experimental field trials with controlled oil spills in the Arctic," said Ken Lee, director of offshore oil and gas research at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, N.S. "I'm now interested in putting together an experimental field trial in the Arctic." Over the last few years, energy giants have spent billions to acquire rights to explore for oil and gas in the seabed off the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Alaska. More spending is likely after U.S. president Barack Obama announced his government would lift the moratorium on drilling in parts of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Many feel a major oil spill is inevitable. The U.S. Minerals Management Service has calculated a better than one-in-five chance of a major spill occurring over the lifetime of energy activity in just one block of leases off Alaska. As well, shipping experts anticipate increased traffic through the Northwest Passage, which will also increase the risk of oil spills in Arctic waters. "Just from the prospect of increased traffic, the risk increases," said Garry Linsey, director of maritime services for the coast guard's Arctic region. "We feel the highest risk is at the oil landing facilities." To help mitigate the risk of spills at sea and from ships delivering fuel to northern residents, the coast guard is sending a series of sea cans loaded with cleanup gear to eight Arctic communities this summer. Volunteer responders will also be trained in how to use the booms, absorbents, beach cleaning kits and oil skimmers they contain. A total of 18 northern communities will then be equipped to deal with oil spills in their own aquatic backyard. But Linsey acknowledges the gear has its limitations. "A spill in ice-covered waters would be problematic," he said. His opinion is echoed in a recent paper by the U.S. Arctic Research Commission.
Posted 5 April 2010; 11:39:03 AM. Permalink
(Birger Amundsen/Svalbardposten, 10 March 2010) -- The Russian freezer ship that was wrecked on the southern tip of Bear Island in May last year, has broken in two. "This is the worst situation we could have had. We had the longest hoped that the ship would remain intact until the summer. Now it will be much more difficult to remove it," said senior adviser Knut M. Arnhus of the Norwegian Coastal Administration. On May 11 last year the Russian freezer ship Petrozavodsk ran aground in the far south of Bear Island, in the middle of the breeding area for large populations of seabirds. The Coastal Administration has a standing agreement with the Coast Guard that the Coast Guard vessel visit the wreck site to document the condition of the wreck. Last Tuesday the KV Nordkapp was on site and photographed the wreck. The entire bow section has torn loose. "We were of course aware that such a thing could happen, but now looks like the work to remove the wreck will be considerably more difficult," observed Arnhus. Arnhus fears that the stern could capsize and sink, which would further complicate the work. "We will do surveys of the wreck in the spring when the weather improves. The plan was originally to begin by removing the wires and Petrozavodsk contain large amounts of insulation. Arnhus said that the crew of the KV Nordkapp didn't see much insulation floating around the wreck. What will be done with the wreck will be decided once the Norwegian Coastal Authority has completed its research.
Posted 14 March 2010; 3:18:46 PM. Permalink
(Anna Kireeva with Maria Kaminskaya/Bellona, 23 February 2010) -- MURMANSK - Legislators in Russia’s Far Northern Murmansk Region, on the Kola Peninsula, have signalled a green light to the interment of liquid radioactive waste in their region – brushing aside the public and environmentalists’ concerns and, effectively, giving Moscow authorities a carte blanche to create nuclear repositories in Murmansk, while the costs of handling the already accumulated stockpiles of radioactive waste will have to be borne by regional and municipal budgets. The questionable bill “On Management of Radioactive Waste” was passed in its first reading in the federal parliament in the Russian capital during a plenary session on January 20 and raised a storm of objections from Russia’s ecological organisations. Non-governmental organisations decried the bill as a means for the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom to attend to its own narrow interests while going bluntly against the interests of the nation. In an open letter to lawmakers in Moscow, they urged them to halt on passing the bill without making serious amendments. They praised the attempt to better regulate the issues of radiation safety in Russia – the country still has no law governing the management of radioactive waste – but the new law, environmentalists said, will allow injecting liquid radioactive waste underground, which runs contrary to other Russian legislation already in force – namely, the Law on Protection of the Environment and the Water Code. It will, they said, place all responsibility for the disposal of liquid radioactive waste on the shoulders of local municipalities and absolve Rosatom of any accountability for the handling of waste already accumulated. It will also allow authorities to disregard the public’s opinion when making decisions to create radioactive waste repositories, environmentalists warned. The bill probably affects Murmansk Region more than other constituent territories of the Russian Federation. Vast stockpiles of radioactive waste have been accrued on the Kola Peninsula in the decades since atomic power has been used commercially and for military purposes in the Soviet Union and Russia. These activities have engendered quite a number of most urgent problems in terms of radiation safety, including storage of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste at former naval bases, such as the infamous Andreyeva Bay, issues associated with decommissioning Soviet and Russian nuclear-powered fleet and refuelling vessels, just to name a few.
Posted 28 February 2010; 12:04:23 AM. Permalink
(Irish Sun, 20 February 2010) -- Washington - New evidence has emerged which indicates that dust storms in the arctic, possibly caused by receding glaciers, may be making similar deposits in northern Europe and North America, thus affecting the health of the people in the countries there. Joseph Prospero from the University of Miami and colleagues found the evidence. "Our recent work in Iceland has shown that most of the dust events there are associated with dust emitted from glacial outwash deposits, which may be carried into the northern latitudes and into Europe by synoptic weather events," said Prospero. Satellite data have shown large dust plumes in the arctic, but persistent cloud cover has made finding the origins difficult. The glaciers have been retreating in Iceland for decades, and the trend is expected to continue with the changing climate. Prospero predicts that dust activity from the newly exposed glacial deposits will most likely increase in the future in Iceland and possibly from other glacial terrains in the Arctic. Prospero's lifelong work has been to measure the effects of airborne dust.
Posted 21 February 2010; 6:44:59 PM. Permalink
(Alaska Contaminants, 11 February 2010) -- Circumpolar subsistence cultures use firearms, including shotguns and rifles, for hunting game for consumption. Lead shot is still used for waterfowl and seabird hunting in many subsistence areas (despite lead shot bans) because it is inexpensive, readily available, and more familiar than non-toxic or steel shot, which shoot differently. Here we review published literature on lead concentrations and lead isotope patterns from subsistence users in the circumpolar North, indicating that elevated lead exposure is associated with use of lead ammunition. [AKContaminants.org is a forum for the review and discussion of publications related to contaminant monitoring and framework strategy development. This site’s focus is to facilitate collaboration in preparation for the 2010 Alaska Quicksilver summit meeting.]
Posted 11 February 2010; 10:44:43 PM. Permalink
(Alaska Community Action on Toxics press release via PR Newswire, 4 February 2010) -- WASHINGTON - Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health will examine public exposures to toxic chemicals. Alaska Native leaders call on Congress to include circumpolar atmospheric pollution in their hearing. "Indigenous Arctic communities are suffering the most from chemicals emitted in the lower 48 states," said Vi Waghiyi, St. Lawrence Island Yupik and ACAT Environmental Health & Justice Program Director. "Because many industrial and commercial chemicals are long lasting and persistent in the atmosphere, they drift North on wind and water currents from where they are applied in Southern latitudes; they are in our traditional foods and affecting our health and the health of our children. We are calling on Congress and the Obama Administration to affect policy to regulate chemicals to end the 'contamination without consent' on our people from distant sources." The Yupik people of St. Lawrence Island, and rural communities across the state of Alaska, are concerned about health problems that are associated with persistent organic pollutants present in their air, water, and food. This past fall a delegation of local leaders and elders from the island communities of Savoonga and Gambell traveled over 3,000 miles to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of the dire health effects in their communities. "While we are not physically near the action in Washington, D.C., Congress has a responsibility to address the needs of tribal governments throughout the United States, especially remote Alaska," said Jane Kava, Mayor and St. Lawrence Island Community Health Researcher from Savoonga, Alaska.
Posted 4 February 2010; 9:33:41 PM. Permalink
(Rolleiv Solholm/NRK via The Norway Post, 24 January 2010) -- An oil spill in the far North will do more damage to the environment than a spill further south. The reason is that the eco-systems in the North are more vulnerable, a new scientific report shows. The report is made by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) for the Directorate for Nature Management (DN), and is part of the background material to be used when the Government will be discussing the administration plan for the waters around Lofoten and in the Barents Sea. The Lofoten-Barents waters contain some of the world's largest fish stocks, rare coral reefs and other marine life, as well as some of the largest collections of sea birds. The new report confirms much of what has been previous information. "Today's knowledge tells us that it would not be advisable to open up for oil drilling off the coast of Lofoten and Vesterålen," says Lars Haltbrekken, leader of Friends of the Earth Norway (Norges Naturvernforbund).
Posted 24 January 2010; 10:55:10 AM. Permalink
(Matt Walker/BBC News, 14 January 2010) -- The long-term survival of polar bears is being threatened by man-made pollution that is reaching the Arctic. This conclusion comes from a major review of research into how industrial chemicals such as mercury and organochlorines affect the bears. The review suggests that such chemicals have a range of subclinical effects. When added together, these can have a dramatic and potentially fatal impact on the bears' bones, organs and reproductive and immune systems. The review, an analysis of more than a decade's research into the effect of pollution on bears, is published in the journal Environment International. A range of man-made pollutants reach the polar Arctic region, carried there in the air and water. These include toxic metals such as mercury, organohalogen contaminants (OHCs) including organochlorines, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and perflourinated compounds (PFCs), which are used industrially in insulating fluids, as coolants, in foams and electronics and as pest control agents. Such chemicals are often fat-soluble and accumulate in the fat of many animals, which are then eaten by top predators such as polar bears. These top predators are then exposed to increasingly concentrated levels of toxins. But the impact of these toxins on polar bears has been difficult to measure, with the only previous studies done by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme in 1998 and 2004.
Posted 17 January 2010; 12:52:36 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 12 January 2010) -- A six-hectare area used as dump site for oil wastes from the shipping industry now threatens to seriously pollute the Northern Dvina River. The area located near the river bank has been used as a storage site for waste waters from the Arkhangelsk Port since the 1960s. According to Regnum, a significant part of the dangerous substances has already been washed into the river. The sandy ground in the area contains up to 95 times more oil substances than what is allowed. Up to 180 tons of oil is believed to be stored at the site. According to the regional Environmental Committee, pollution from the site threatens both local and regional environment. The Rambøll Barents company has been commissioned with finding alternative solutions for the problem.
Posted 12 January 2010; 11:12:23 PM. Permalink
(Mary Pemberton/Anchorage Daily News, 24 December 2009) -- Crews on Wednesday were continuing to remove snow contaminated with oil from an area around a well house where a pipe broke in the Prudhoe Bay oil field. Tom DeRuyter, the state's on-scene spill coordinator, said the area around the well house is misted with oil. He said 72 cubic yards of contaminated snow -- most of it from the well house's gravel pad -- have been removed, but there is more to go. The spill was discovered Monday morning by a BP oil field operator doing a routine inspection. The break in the 6-inch line occurred where the production line left the well house. The cause of the break is not yet known, DeRuyter said. "The case is going to be under investigation as to why the line parted," he said. BP spokesman Steve Rinehart said the well line broke at a weld and released an estimated 3 gallons of oil and 131 gallons of water. The estimation was reached by considering how much oil and water the pipe normally carried and how quickly the automatic shut-off valve worked, he said.
Posted 24 December 2009; 11:55:58 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 17 December 2009) -- Nunatsiavut government officials said Wednesday that polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) levels have been reduced significantly in the Saglek area of northern Labrador. The Canadian Air Force operated a radar base near Saglek Bay, Labrador, from the 1950s to the 1970s. It was part of the Pine Tree Line early warning radar system staffed by Canadian and U.S. military personnel. A PCB cleanup was done there in the late 1990s, but dangerously high concentrations of the chemicals remained in the area. PCBs were used in transformers and other equipment. It seeped into the ground and water in the Saglek Area. Research has shown that exposure to PCBs can affect a person's immune, hormone, nervous, and enzyme systems. It has been linked to many types of cancer, immune system problems and heart disease. Recent tests of fish and birds in the Saglek area found PCBs have dropped between six and 19 times to approach levels that no longer pose a threat to their health, the officials said. A shoreline area near the radar station was contaminated with PCBs. One of the recent study's authors, Tom Sheldon, said the concentration of PCBs in the contaminated area once averaged 1,120 parts per billion (PPB). He said concentrations in the same area are now down to an average of 100 PPB. Sheldon said sediment concentrations higher than 77 PPB are believed to have physiological and reproductive effects on black guillemots, the birds that were studied for the research.
Posted 21 December 2009; 1:57:26 AM. Permalink
(Ned Rozell/Alaska Science, Anchorage Daily News, 19 December 2009) -- Arctic haze, a blob of dirty air that fuzzes up Alaska views in springtime, seems to be losing its punch. By comparing air measurements in Barrow from the 1970s to 2008, scientists have found that pollution particles from factories in Russia and Eurasia have become fewer and fewer in the last 30 years. "The Arctic haze is disappearing," said Glenn Shaw, who did pioneering research on the phenomenon and is the co-author on a recent paper about its decrease. "We don't know why." Shaw, a professor emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Geophysical Institute, has in years past stopped passersby to point out how Arctic haze—pollution particles in the air that scatter light—has "obliterated" views of the Alaska Range in springtime. In recent years, he has noticed that the vistas have been much clearer from Fairbanks, and instrumentation in Barrow seems to back that up. "There's less of the industrial signal, of what's typically been known as Arctic haze," said Patricia Quinn, a research chemist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle and the lead author of the study, which appeared in the Nov. 23 issue of the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. First named by an Air Force pilot in the 1950s, Arctic haze appears in the north from about January until early May, when a more active atmosphere flushes and dilutes what Shaw once called an Africa-size amoeba of dirty air that sloshes over the top of the globe. The decrease in that sort of pollution may be due to less smelting of heavy metals in Russia and improved emission technology. "I personally think they're pumping less junk into the atmosphere," Shaw said. "Things have changed."
Posted 20 December 2009; 6:59:17 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 12 December 2009) -- SEVERODVINSK - The Zvezdochka shipyard in northern Russia said on Friday that a recent minor radioactive leak at its storage facility posed no threat to people or environment. According to a Zvezdochka statement, the "radiation incident" took place on Thursday when about two cubic meters liquid radioactive waste leaked through a seam in a pipe connecting a storage tank and a waste treatment facility. "The pipe itself is located in a leak-proof tunnel and the waste did not spill outside," the statement said, adding that the tunnel has been drained of the waste in two hours following the leak. "The radiation levels around the tunnel are normal. The causes of the leak are being investigated," the shipyard said. Severodvinsk-based Zvezdochka is Russia's biggest shipyard for repairing and dismantling nuclear-powered submarines. It has the capacity to scrap up to four nuclear submarines per year.
Posted 11 December 2009; 9:52:59 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver.com, 9 December 2009) -- Oil spill covered 100 square meters of land after an explosion in an oil-gathering line in the Yamalo-Nenets Okrug last week. According to the local Emergency Management Service, the accident was probably caused by metal fatigue, Uralinform.ru writes. A fire broke out, but was reported to have been put out quickly. No people were harmed in the accident and there was no danger of fire spreading. The pipe belongs to the company Rosneft-Purneftegaz.
Posted 11 December 2009; 4:17:49 PM. Permalink
(Lisa Demer/Anchorage Daily News, 8 December 2009) -- Officials have found a 24-inch jagged rupture in a pipeline that began pouring oil and water Nov. 29, creating one of the biggest North Slope crude oil spills ever. The on-scene coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Tom DeRuyter, said Tuesday that the breach on the bottom of the pipe was the biggest he had ever seen and indicative of the incredible pressure the pipeline was under when it split. Workers located the source of the leak Monday after cleanup crews hauled away spilled crude and contaminated snow and ice that had been obscuring the area. Officials say massive ice plugs had formed inside the pipe, which caused BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. to stop operating it a few weeks ago. Pressure then built up until the pipeline ruptured, according to BP. "It looks like it was caused by overpressure in the pipe, which we think was linked to ice forming—the plugs that have formed on either side of the release site," BP spokesman Steve Rinehart said. Most likely, rapidly forming ice plugs began to grow toward one other, creating a high-pressure area in between, DeRuyter said. "When a line does that, it rips out with a pretty impressive force and with a very large hole."
Posted 9 December 2009; 10:47:41 AM. Permalink
(Charless Digges/Bellona, 3 December 2009) -- As Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation beings to apply a stranglehold on information about the country’s nuclear energy programmes, the public is less and less likely to find out about how the Kola Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) is operating at 104 percent capacity on reactors that have outlived their prospective life-spans. They are also less likely to know that it was advised by nuclear inspectors that these reactors never surpass 70 percent capacity, and that the current capacity they are running at could lead to Chernobyl—take two. Further kept in the dark is the fact that the Kola Peninsula, home to Murmansk, has an energy surplus making it entirely unnecessary to run the Kola NPP’s second generation reactors—which have received 10 year engineering life span expansions—at such a volume, making the risks of a radiological catastrophe entirely avoidable. The public of Northwest Russia is also lacking in the knowledge that there have been 53 radiologically hazardous incidents aboard nuclear powered surface ships since 2002—though probably more as the government stopped access this kind of information. And more generally, the public of Russia as a whole is most likely in the dark about the 15,000 plus tons of spent nuclear fuel that has filled Russia storage capacity to a seam-bursting 90-97 percent. Such were just a fraction of some of the facts that were revealed at a seminar Bellona held yesterday in Oslo on radioactive and nuclear problems in Russia’s northwest. This discouraging information was brought to light by a Bellona panel of Alexander Nikitin, chairman of Russia’s St. Petersburg offices, energy author and Bellona contributor Vladislav Larin, and Professor Vladimir Kuznetsov, a senior researcher at the Vavilov Institute of the History of Natural Sciences and Technology. He is also a former Russian nuclear regulatory inspector and member of Rosatom’s Public Council. They were joined by Johnny Almsted of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and Ingar Amundsen of the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority who participated in the debate portion of the seminar.
Posted 5 December 2009; 5:47:31 PM. Permalink
(Yereth Rosen/Reuters, 3 December 2009) -- ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The U.S. government violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to curb use of pesticides that have been accumulating in the Arctic food chain and in the fat of polar bears, a species listed as threatened, environmentalists charged in a lawsuit on Thursday. While the biggest threat to polar bears comes from the rapidly warming Arctic climate and the disappearance of sea ice, the pesticide onslaught creates more woes for an already stressed population, said Rebecca Noblin, a Center for Biological Diversity staff attorney in Anchorage. "The health impacts of pesticides tend to make polar bears more susceptible to disease, to lower cub survival," Noblin said. "Since polar bears are already struggling, the combined impacts of the two could lead to more problems." The Center for Biological Diversity filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in U.S. District Court in Seattle. The lawsuit is probably the first to target the impact of pollutants emitted far away on an Endangered Species Act-listed population, Noblin said. Persistent organic pollutants commonly contained in pesticides are known to be carried by atmospheric and ocean currents thousands of miles (km) northward to the Arctic. Tony Brown, a spokesman for the EPA's regional office in Seattle, said the agency had no immediate comment on the lawsuit. The lawsuit targets 14 types of pesticides it says scientists have found in alarming quantities in lakes, snowpack and fish and animals' bodies in the far north.
Posted 4 December 2009; 10:18:33 AM. Permalink
(Bellona, Charles Digges, trans., 17 November 2009) -- MURMANSK - Bellona presented two documents dealing with radiation safety in Northwest Russia on the eve of a dialogue forum between Bellona and Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom, and which question a state fund for radiation safety and the situation at the notorious Northern Fleet nuclear waste dump at Andreyeva Bay. The two documents were aimed specifically at the Russian Government Federal Target Plan on “Nuclear and Radiation Safety,” and at the history and current state of affairs at Andreyeva Bay, one of the most dangerous radiological hazards on the Kola Peninsula. At Monday’s press conference in Murmansk, Bellona experts spoke of their hopes for the forum with Rosatom. Bellona said it hoped to get answers to questions on the Federal Target Programme—a special extra-budgetary expenditure—on nuclear and radiation safety. “For the first time Russia has earmarked a significant amount of money—150 billion roubles ($5.2 billion) from the federal budget—to solve such problems,” said Alexander Nikitin, chairman of the Environment and Rights Centre Bellona, Bellona’s St. Petersburg office. ... The situation at Andreyeva Bay still remains dangerous as its emergency spent nuclear fuel facilities continue age. At the forum with Rosatom, Bellona presented a document entitled “Nuclear Bay Andreyeva” (2.5 MB), in which Bellona cites a detailed list of accidents at the Andreyeva Bay facility, analyses of the present environmental situation, lays out its own position on the applied technology, technical and economic solutions, and gives an evaluation of what has been done to make the shoreline technical base safe over the 14 years since Bellona first sounded the alarm about the facility. [The other document is “The Most Expensive Programme to Save Russia from its Atomic Past” (1MB).]
Posted 18 November 2009; 3:12:12 PM. Permalink
(Naomi Klouda/Homer Tribune, 18 November 2009) -- In the next few weeks, fishermen harmed by the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill should start receiving their biggest settlement payout yet. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs have worked since December through a cumbersome process to distribute $383 million in punitive damages. Now the lawyers are preparing to distribute an even bigger sum — $470 million — in the next several weeks. The money is interest Exxon Mobil Corp. paid July 1 on the punitive damages award the U.S. Supreme Court ordered last year. “The $470 million that we hoped for in September was delayed because Judge (Russel) Holland had a number of different questions about the payout structure and the computation of interest,” said Frank Mullen, one of the plaintiffs and a local investment planner in Homer. “The money is not flowing yet, but in the next few weeks, the results of that $470 million distribution will begin to appear for fishermen on the clean claims list.” Cities and entities other than individuals should also receive payments, including the city of Homer and payments toward its $1.05 million portion. The “clean claims” list includes those who have no liens or attachments. Mullen said the thousands of fishermen who died in the 20-year wait for legal resolutions to receive their payout would not be on the clean claims list either. He added that the money has trickled out since last Christmas, and if plaintiffs were disappointed in the smaller-than-hoped-for sums in the first distribution, they might be happier with the second one. “The settlement money is all going to eventually appear in fishermen’s accounts, but at different times,” Mullen explained. “This will be the largest payment. That’s the way this litigation has worked.”
Posted 18 November 2009; 10:36:37 AM. Permalink
(Arctic Peoples, 19 October 2009) -- The Permanent Participants of the Arctic Council have proposed the establishment of an Indigenous Peoples Community Action Initiative (IPCAP Initiative). RAIPON has been the driving force. The Initiative was welcomed by the Arctic Council Ministerial Meetings in Salekhard (October 2006) and in Tromsø (March 2009) where it is stated in the Tromsø Declaration that the Ministers: “... Welcome with appreciation the creation of a new Project Steering Group to address contaminants in indigenous peoples’ communities in remote areas of the Arctic ...”
Posted 19 October 2009; 2:40:49 PM. Permalink
(ENS, 14 October 2009) -- The Natural Resources Defense Council is mounting a new campaign to save Alaska's Bristol Bay, the world's most productive salmon fishery, from the development of Pebble Mine in southwest Alaska, one of the largest gold and copper mines ever proposed. "There are few human activities as toxic as large-scale mining," said Joel Reynolds, senior attorney and director of NRDC's marine mammal protection project. "The Pebble Mine project could lead to widespread water contamination, which would destroy the salmon runs of the Bristol Bay watershed and thereby devastate the native communities and abundant wildlife the salmon have supported for thousands of years," Reynolds said. The Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum deposit is half owned by Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., a mineral exploration and development company based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and publicly traded in Canada and the United States. The other half of the project is owned by Anglo American plc based in London, UK, one of the world's largest diversified mining groups. Together, they call themselves the Pebble Partnership. The mine proposal has become a major political issue in Alaska, with pro-mining forces ranged against native villages and commercial and sport fishermen. Working with local conservation, tribal, and recreational organizations, as well as its own members, the Natural Resources Defense Council's BioGems initiative to save Bristol Bay will spearhead a national campaign harnessing the power of citizen activism to keep the mine from ever breaking ground and to advance long-term conservation of the area.
Posted 16 October 2009; 3:41:16 PM. Permalink
(UpstreamOnline, 6 October 2009)** -- The Nenets tribespeople of Russia's frozen Yamal peninsula have survived the age of the Tsars, the Bolshevik revolution and the chaotic 1990s, but now confront their biggest challenge—under their fur-bundled feet is enough gas to heat the world for five years. "For them it is fortune, for us terror," said 20-year-old herder Andrei Yezgini, dressed from head to toe in reindeer skin, referring to ambitious plans by state gas monopoly Gazprom to drill the region. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has described Yamal as "the world's storehouse" of gas and oil. Putin jetted into the sparsely populated region within the Arctic circle, 2000 kilometres (1250 miles) north-east of Moscow, in late September to woo foreign partners to develop a quarter of the world's known gas reserves. Experts and the Nenets say industry will damage and pollute the tundra, whose flat marshy terrain switches from marigold russets in summer to thick winter snow and is peppered with disc-like thermokarst lakes and crystal blue waterways. Nenets migrate north to south over 150 kilometres every year, spending only a few days in one place, living off reindeer and fish and lugging their "chums," or tents, kerosene lamps and wood-fired stoves on reindeer-pulled sleighs. "The fact they've found deposits here is catastrophic," said Slava Vanuito, 34.
Posted 8 October 2009; 3:24:41 PM. Permalink
(Jeff Lowenfels/Anchorage Daily News, 3 September 2009) -- If you are the least bit observant, and what gardener isn't, you have noticed the increase in invasive weeds around Southcentral. We are surrounded, literally. Are we in trouble, Southcentral? So far, other than the yellow snapdragon-like, "Butter 'n' Eggs" or yellow toadflax, our yards have been spared. Most gardeners are at least attuned enough to know that when a funny looking plant appears among the grass in the lawns, something is amiss and we get rid of it. Unfortunately, there are darn few people doing the same for our parks and the land along our highways and byways. Right now, it seems we are in the "yellow" flowering invasive phase as many of the flowers of these plants are yellow. Narrow-leaf hawksbeard is a dandelion look-alike, with yellow flowers so easily mistaken for dandelions that I get calls from people who are excited to find one that has a foot or two long stem and several flowers on each. All of these plants are in bloom now and going to seed. Make sure you pick the seed heads if they exist on your property (and, frankly, while on walks around town). Mark the spot where these plants are located and pay particular attention to these areas next year. You have to stay on top of these things. We all do. The real problem is that we are, as noted, surrounded. Ride your bike or walk off our property and you will, without fail unfortunately, find patches of these invasive plants and others within sight of your home. What can we do about these growing (pun intended) problems? We need to start thinking out loud, together and now so we can come up with solutions. In fact, the problem is going to get worse if we don't figure out something to do about it. Jeff Conn, a weed specialist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (and a faculty member at UAF) found hay and straw purchased at Alaska feed stores had 15 weeds species not known to grow here (and 17 that do, which is making me reconsider straw as a mulch. It has to be local, at the very least). They also incubated soil from plants bought at box stores and local nurseries and found 54 species of plants that people didn't know they were buying. Those are weeds. We have a problem and as gardeners, we need to figure out how to solve it. In 1968 there were 175 exotic plants species here. In 2006, 275 were identified. The very first step is to learn to recognize these plants.
Posted 3 September 2009; 11:28:47 AM. Permalink
(ITAR-TASS, 28 August 2009) -- MOSCOW - There is an oil spill in the Tiksi Bay in Yakutia, a source at the Federal Environmental Supervisory Service told Itar-Tass on Friday with the reference to the service’s Yakutia department. He said the accident occurred at about 6:00 a.m. local time on August 23 as crude was being pumped into storage tanks of the Sakha public utility managing company. The amount of the spill is yet unknown. The bay is being cleaned in order to prevent pollution of high seas.
Posted 31 August 2009; 12:58:47 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 25 August 2009) -- Next Monday will mark the removal of the last radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) from a lighthouse on the Island of Vaigach. State Secretary in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Elisabeth Walaas, will go to Vaigach to overlook the removal. Since 1998 Norway has, in consultations with Russian authorities, financed the removal of RTGs and replaced them with environmentally friendly solar cell technology. The Norwegian Government has spent more than $20 million kroner on the RTG removals with the aim to avoid radioactive contamination of the marine and terrestrial environments. Also, it is important to remove the strong radioactive sources from the remote—and unguarded, areas to prevent unwanted access to sources of radioactivity. According to information from the County Governor of Finnmark in Norway, there have been four attempted thefts from lighthouses powered by strontium batteries in the northern areas. The County Governor of Finnmark is the project manager on the Norwegian side, while the removals are coordinated by Rosatom on the Russian side. After removal the radioactive sources from the RTGs are sent to the Mayak plant in the South Urals for long-term storage. The first lighthouses with RTGs to be removed were those near the border to Norway west of the Fishermen’s Peninsula on the Barents Sea coast. Originally there were 180 RTGs in the Barents Region. Half of them were removed before 2006.
Posted 26 August 2009; 12:45:04 PM. Permalink
(Sermitsiaq, 16 August 2009) -- Troels Lund Poulsen, the Danish environment minister, is demanding that Greenland’s self-rule government clean up waste from the American Thule Air Base before the end of the year. The process of solving the problem had been underway for a long time and there is now a political will to find a solution, Poulsen said in a press release. The statement included a demand that Greenland come up with a proposal for the clean-up before the end of the year. The problem would then be handled politically in Denmark. The waste is located on the Dundas peninsula near the base. In 2002, Denmark and the US agreed that the area should be handed back to Greenland. When the US handed it back, environmental research was only half completed. Denmark was therefore left with the problem when in 2003; significant environmental damage was discovered in the peninsula. The pollution stems from activities at Thule Air Base in the 1950s and 60s. Sea cucumbers full of lead and snails that change gender are among the effects that have been discovered.
Posted 19 August 2009; 10:25:59 PM. Permalink
(Siku Circumpolar News, 24 July 2009) -- The local Inuit community government in Nain, Labrador has voted in favour of a ban on non-recyclable plastic bags. The community of Nain has become one of the first places in Newfoundland and Labrador to ban plastic shopping bags. The local Inuit community government voted in favour of a ban on non-recyclable plastic bags earlier this week. The ban is expected to go into effect on Nov. 30. “I think it’s a great step for our community,” Sarah Erickson, head of the Inuit Community Government in Nain, told CBC News on Friday. “A lot of people are already using their own bags, so this just seem the natural way to go." The community, with a population of approximately 1,200, goes through more than 100,000 plastic shopping bags each year. It's estimated a traditional plastic bag takes 1,000 years to dissolve. A local grocery store has promised to provide two reusable bags for every household in Nain. A plan is also in place to bring back paper bags. See also "Bethel, Alaska bans plastic bags," 22/07/09.
Posted 24 July 2009; 11:29:53 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 24 July 2009) -- Various toxic contaminants will be cleaned up from an abandoned American military site north of Clyde River, Nunavut, as part of a multi-year cleanup project by the Canadian government and local Inuit. The U.S. Coast Guard ran Cape Christian as a long-range navigational aide site from 1954 until 1974. The site supported ships and aircraft operating out of Thule, Greenland. Thirty-five years after Cape Christian closed, the Canadian government is spending $5.1 million this year to start cleaning up debris and contaminants—including asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)—from the site. "They have already begun dismantling some buildings, removing some of the contaminated paint from the buildings, which will be shipped south. As well, as there's hydrocarbon-contaminated soil, which will be containerized," said Natalie Plato, director of the Indian and Northern Affairs department's contaminated sites program in Nunavut. Plato added that physical debris such as material from buildings will be deposited in an on-site landfill. ... Currently, 24 people are working on the cleanup, most of whom come from Clyde River. More workers will come on board later this summer. The work is being overseen by Qikiqtaluk Corp., an Inuit-owned company. In Clyde River, assistant administrative officer Steven Aipellee described Cape Christian as a local eyesore. "Most people are glad that it's being done now," he said. "We kept hearing that it would be cleaned up, and now finally this year they're doing that." Aipellee said the former military site is a good place to camp in the spring, adding that it's close to the floe edge for narwhal hunting. People in Clyde River also go to Cape Christian to collect seaweed in the fall, he added. The Indian and Northern Affairs Department is spending a total $20 million to monitor or remediate a number of contaminated sites across Nunavut this year, including Cape Christian.
Posted 24 July 2009; 10:26:33 AM. Permalink
(Dimitra Lavrakas/The Dutch Harbor Fisherman, 16 July 2009) -- The Marine Conservation Alliance Foundation in Juneau was awarded $1 million in federal stimulus funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to do what the organization does best—conduct marine debris cleanups across Alaska. There is one planned for St. Paul Island, said Dave Benton, executive director. “They gave us the official paperwork a couple of days ago,” he said on July 7, calling in from the Point Retreat lighthouse on Admiralty Island near Juneau where he was working on a restoration project. “NOAA was fairly specific about what projects they wanted to fund.” Projects also will be conducted in Craig, Yakutat, Prince William Sound, Alakanuk, Nelson Lagoon, Norton Sound, Sitka, Kodiak, Stebbins, St. Michaels, Port Heiden and in Little Diomede in conjunction with its community development quota group. “In St. Paul, it’s a fairly large project to remove a vessel off the beach at Reef Point,” he said. “I believe it’s an old ocean clipper, a crab vessel from the 1980s.” Magone Marine Service in Dutch Harbor was given the contract to remove the vessel, he said. The company accomplished the removal of the F/V Mar-Gun in May after being beached for 10 weeks. Aside from the ship’s removal, the other cleanups will focus on marine debris, he said.
Posted 17 July 2009; 3:22:55 PM. Permalink
(Kyle Hopkins/Anchorage Daily News, 17 July 2009) -- A sample of the giant black mystery blob that Wainwright hunters discovered this month floating in the Chukchi Sea has been identified. It looks to be a stringy batch of algae. Not bunker oil seeping from an aging, sunken ship. Not a sea monster. "We got the results back from the lab today," said Ed Meggert of the Department of Environmental Conservation in Fairbanks. "It was marine algae." Miles of the thick, dark gunk had been spotted floating between Barrow and Wainwright, prompting North Slope Borough officials and the Coast Guard to investigate last week. A sample was sent to a DEC lab in Anchorage, where workers looked at it under a microscope and declared it some kind of simple plant -- an algae, Meggert said. The goo fast became an Alaska mystery. And the new findings still leave questions unanswered: Why is there so much of it in a region where people say they've never seen anything quite like it? Local hunters and whalers didn't know what to make of it. The Coast Guard labeled the substance biological, but knew little else. The stuff had hairy strands in it and was tangled with jellyfish, said a borough official. Terry Whitledge is director of the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He hasn't had a chance to look at the DEC's sample yet, but a friend with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration e-mailed him a picture of the gunk. "Filamentous algae," he concluded. Filamentous? "It means it's just stringy." Whitledge said he doesn't know why an unprecedented bloom of algae appeared off the Arctic coast. "You'll find these kind of algae grow in areas that are shallow enough that light can get to the bottom ... If you had a rocky area along the coast, you could have this type of algae." It could have been discharged from a river, he said, flushed out by runoff from spring breakup and melting ice. But that's just speculation, he warned. ... The results of the state's analysis came in at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. It was the last day on the job for Meggert, the retiring on-scene coordinator. ... The goo didn't fit any pattern that made it easy to identify from afar, Meggert said. ... The color, in particular, didn't make sense, he said. You might expect to see green or reddish algae but not this black, viscous gunk. Whitledge, with the university, said one possible explanation is that the algae has partially decomposed into a darker hue. He looks forward to the university examining the sample too, to identify exactly what kind of algae it is. It's worth noting that Alaska Natives in the region reportedly hadn't seen anything like it before, he said.
Posted 17 July 2009; 12:48:52 PM. Permalink
(Don Hunter/Anchorage Daily News, 14 July 2009) -- Something big and strange is floating through the Chukchi Sea between Wainwright and Barrow. Hunters from Wainwright first started noticing the stuff sometime probably early last week. It's thick and dark and "gooey" and is drifting for miles in the cold Arctic waters, according to Gordon Brower with the North Slope Borough's Planning and Community Services Department. Brower and other borough officials, joined by the U.S. Coast Guard, flew out to Wainwright to investigate. The agencies found "globs" of the stuff floating miles offshore Friday and collected samples for testing. Later, Brower said, the North Slope team in a borough helicopter spotted a long strand of the stuff and followed it for about 15 miles, shooting video from the air. The next day the floating substance arrived offshore from Barrow, about 90 miles east of Wainwright, and borough officials went out in boats, collected more samples and sent them off for testing too. Nobody knows for sure what the gunk is, but Petty Officer 1st Class Terry Hasenauer says the Coast Guard is sure what it is not. "It's certainly biological," Hasenauer said. "It's definitely not an oil product of any kind. It has no characteristics of an oil, or a hazardous substance, for that matter. "It's definitely, by the smell and the makeup of it, it's some sort of naturally occurring organic or otherwise marine organism." Something else: No one in Barrow or Wainwright can remember seeing anything like this before, Brower said. "That's one of the reasons we went out, because in recent history I don't think we've seen anything like this," he said. "Maybe inside lakes or in stagnant water or something, but not (in the ocean) that we could recall ... "If it was something we'd seen before, we'd be able to say something about it. But we haven't ...which prompted concerns from the local hunters and whaling captains." The stuff is "gooey" and looks dark against the bright white ice floating in the Arctic Ocean, Brower said. "It's pitch black when it hits ice and it kind of discolors the ice and hangs off of it," Brower said. He saw some jellyfish tangled up in the stuff, and someone turned in what was left of a dead goose -- just bones and feathers -- to the borough's wildlife department. "It kind of has an odor; I can't describe it," he said. Hasenauer said he hasn't heard any reports of waterfowl or marine animals turning up. Brower said it wouldn't necessarily surprise him if the substance turns out to be some sort of naturally occurring phenomenon, but the borough is waiting until it gets the analysis back from the samples before officials say anything more than they're not sure what it is. "From the air it looks brownish with some sheen, but when you get close and put it up on the ice and in the bucket, it's kind of blackish stuff ... (and) has hairy strands on it."
Posted 15 July 2009; 10:31:27 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 July 2009) -- The federal government will spend $300 million over the next decade to clean up toxic waste left on a Labrador airbase during the Cold War when it was in use by the United States Air Force, Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced Sunday. The contamination in areas of 5 Wing Goose Bay has been attributed to storage and handling practices of certain materials, including heavy metals, PCBs, hydrocarbons and pesticides. "This significant investment benefits the Wing, contributes to the economic foundation of the community and mitigates risk to human health and the environment," MacKay, who visited the base Sunday, said in a news release. The base cleanup was initially expected to cost $100 million in 2001. Work is continuing to determine the extent of the contamination at various sites on the base and develop a cleanup strategy. The remediation project, which should be completed by 2020, includes cleaning up soil and groundwater that's been contaminated.
Posted 13 July 2009; 4:34:41 PM. Permalink
(The Copenhagen Post via Jyllands-Posten, 10 July 2009) -- A toxic substance was found to be on building material that has been dumped in the sea off the coast of Greenland’s capital, Nuuk, and a new report recommends the immediate removal of the material from the waters. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) were commonly found in paints, cements and sealants, until they were banned in the 1970s after having entered the food chain due to being dumped in water, causing toxic health effects in humans and animals. Earlier this spring, two large housing blocks were torn down in Nuuk and the rubble dumped in the sea as part of a plan to create a foundation for a new harbour area. However, when PCB was found in a third housing block, consultancy firm Cowi was asked to investigate the possibility of PCB being in rubble already dumped in the sea. The Cowi report will be published later today, but the department head of the Greenland Environmental Protection Agency (APA) has said that the results are not good. ‘There’s a lot of PCB in [the rubble] and the paint is regarded as especially dangerous waste,’ said department head Tina Petersen to Ingeniøren trade journal. Petersen confirmed that the report found PCB levels of 330-1030 milligrams per kilo in the paint. But finding out which parts of the rubble need to be removed from the sea will prove problematic for the authorities. The PCB has penetrated one to two centimetres into the concrete and with parts of the rubble being crushed during the demolition, it will be likely that all the material must be removed from the ocean. Petersen said they are now looking at the costs involved in removing the material and working out if it will eventually be disposed of properly in Greenland or Denmark.
Posted 13 July 2009; 2:14:51 PM. Permalink
(The Arctic Sounder, 9 June 2009) -- Fish with strange spots. Sinkholes in the tundra. Crumbling river banks. The scenes appear in a handful of photos posted at www.nunat.net, a fledgling Web site created to provide a record of changes linked to global warming, subsistence resources and village life. The site’s database is a year old. It was designed to give rural Alaskans a way to share information and document the changes around them, especially those who spend a lot of time outdoors, said its creator, Brad Garness. “People who live a subsistence hunting and fishing lifestyle generally have a unique view regarding climate change and why animals behave the way they do,” Garness said. Garness is acting executive director of the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, which owns the site. It’s been said that Alaska is on the front lines of climate change, but there doesn’t appear to be another site where rural Alaskans can go to document the changes around them, he said. AITC contracted with biologists and other experts to help develop reporting forms included on the site. With the forms, people can provide detailed accounts of what they’ve seen. The Nunat Web site is named after a Yup’ik word that means “lands” in central Yup’ik.
Posted 15 June 2009; 11:53:06 AM. Permalink
(Yereth Rosen/Reuters, 14 June 2009)—ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Alaska's Rat Island is finally rat-free, 229 years after a Japanese shipwreck spilled rampaging rodents onto the remote Aleutian island, decimating the local bird population. After dropping poison onto the island from helicopter-hoisted buckets for a week and a half last autumn, there are no signs of living rats and some birds have returned, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Rats have ruled the island since 1780, when they jumped off a sinking Japanese ship and terrorized all but the largest birds on the island. The incident introduced the non-native Norway rat—also known as the brown rat—to Alaska. The $2.5 million Rat Island eradication project, a joint effort between the U.S. federal government, the Nature Conservancy and Island Conservation, is one of the world's most ambitious attempts to remove destructive alien species from an island. Now there are signs that several species of birds, including Aleutian cackling geese, ptarmigan, peregrine falcons and black oystercatchers, are starting to nest again on the 10-square-mile (26-sq-km) island. It is too soon to say that Rat Island is definitively rat-free, however. That can only be established after at least two years of monitoring, said Bruce Woods, a spokesman for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage. "We don't know that there's not a couple of happy rats hiding away that are going to spring out and repopulate the island," he said.
Posted 14 June 2009; 10:14:58 AM. Permalink
(Randy Boswell/Canwest News Service, 27 May 2009) -- The collapse of the Soviet Union and the loosening of state control over crop burning in Russia has had an unexpected impact in the Canadian North: the unleashing of massive amounts of soot that is settling on Arctic sea ice and speeding the ongoing polar meltdown. How the end of the Cold War has fuelled Arctic warming is detailed in a new report by U.S. scientists that points a finger at Saskatchewan farmers for sending some "black carbon" into the Arctic environment but largely blames Russia for the rising number of smoke plumes drifting north and creating a "critical" challenge for Canada and other polar nations. The findings were released ahead of an international meeting next week at the University of New Hampshire aimed at curbing the impact of agricultural burning—a problem scientists say has emerged as a major factor in Arctic warming and thinning sea ice. "These fires weren't part of our standard predictions, they weren't in our models," said Daniel Jacob, a Harvard University climate researcher who participated in a multi-agency U.S. government experiment last spring off the northern coast of Alaska. Teams of scientists led by NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy gathered data on long-range polar pollutants and used NASA's DC-8 "flying laboratory" to sample smoke plumes drifting over Alaska and parts of Arctic Canada.
Posted 27 May 2009; 4:39:23 PM. Permalink
(Haider Rizvi/OneWorld US, 8 May 2009) UNITED NATIONS - Environmental groups and indigenous rights activists are calling for the White House and U.S. Congress to ratify an international treaty against the use and production of certain hazardous chemicals. "Time is running out. The Congress has to take a stand and fight for the lives of the contaminated people and environment of the North," said Andrea Carmen, executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council. Carmen and other activists, who are attending international talks on the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Geneva this week, say they have grave concerns about the impact of toxic chemicals on the health of native communities -- especially those living in far northern parts of the globe. Numerous studies have concluded that exposure to toxic chemicals, such as DDT, endosulfan, and lindane, is afflicting the indigenous populations in the Arctic region with illnesses of various descriptions. "The indigenous Arctic peoples are suffering the most from these chemicals," said Vi Waghiyi, an activist from Saint Lawrence Island in the northern Bering Sea, "because the chemicals are long lasting, and drift North on wind and water currents. ... That means these chemicals are also in our traditional foods and affecting our health and the health of the children," she added in a statement, citing studies that conclude that even minimum exposure to POPs could cause immune system suppression, learning and development disabilities, diabetes, impairment of reproductive health, and certain kinds of cancer. Public health research shows that the indigenous people in the Arctic relying on marine food are exposed to levels to POPs that are associated with significant health effects.
Posted 9 May 2009; 5:52:25 PM. Permalink
(CTV, 3 May 2009) -- Canada should swallow its pride and realize it needs help to protect the Arctic from the effects of climate change and industrial development, says the author of a new book. In The Big Thaw: Travels in the Melting North, naturalist-turned-journalist Ed Struzik explores how the Arctic is changing, and how its human and animal populations can be protected. He took eleven separate trips to the region while researching the book, travelling on everything from dogsleds to snowmobiles, skis and kayaks to get a clear picture of the effects of climate change. In the book, Struzik explores why polar bear populations are shrinking and how new insects and animal species—even diseases—are moving north into areas where they've never previously existed. "I think it's pretty clear that climate change is one factor," Struzik said. "But the really interesting story is that it's not just climate change, it's the industrialization of the North, it's a lot of habitat displacement that's occurring, so you can't just look at climate change in isolation." He said the challenges facing the region are so vast that it's ridiculous that Arctic nations such as Canada insist on acting unilaterally to try and solve them.
Posted 4 May 2009; 12:13:42 PM. Permalink
(Alister Doyle/Reuters, 4 May 2009) -- A thaw of the Arctic linked to global warming may slow a drive to get rid of industrial chemicals that are harming indigenous people and wildlife, an expert said on Monday. Skip related content About 150 nations are meeting in Geneva this week to consider adding nine chemicals, including pesticides and flame retardants, to a "Dirty Dozen" banned by a 2001 U.N. pact partly inspired by worries about the fragile Arctic environment. But an Arctic melt may be complicating the clean-up even though levels of some of the "dirty dozen" chemicals are falling in the region, said Lars-Otto Reiersen, Executive Secretary of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP). "There's some good news and some bad news," he told Reuters. The shrinking of summer sea ice may allow some of the dirty dozen persistent organic pollutants (POPs), long trapped under sea ice, to evaporate into the atmosphere and so spread further around the polar region, he said. "Climate change may ... delay the impact in the environment of policy actions against POPs," according to an AMAP report due to be presented in Geneva on Tuesday. Arctic sea ice shrank in September 2007 to the smallest since satellite records began. And some chemicals trapped in glaciers or permafrost may get washed out by a melt, blamed by the U.N. Climate Panel mainly on greenhouse gases released by burning fossil fuels.
Posted 4 May 2009; 12:03:33 PM. Permalink
(Ned Rozell/Alaska Report, 2 May 2009) -- Arctic haze is a blob of air pollution that sloshes over the northern cap of the planet in springtime. It's visible as a murkiness that prevents you from seeing Denali, or as dark bands on the horizon from the windows of planes flying over northern Alaska. On a bad day, it can make Alaska look like Los Angeles or Denver. In the 1970s, scientists studied the northern air and found sulfur and black carbon floating in it from dirty smelters in Russia and other areas in Eurasia. Last spring, a team of scientists from Colorado took six flights north from Fairbanks in a plane designed to sniff the air and collect samples. After analyzing air from above northern Alaska and the sea ice north of Barrow, team members have concluded what much of the dark stuff was. It was soot from forest fires in southern Siberia and Lake Baikal, and from farmers preparing their fields by burning stubble in Kazakhstan and southern Russia.
Posted 2 May 2009; 5:09:19 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 14 February 2009) -- The cleanup at Iceland’s Keflavik airport military base has begun. MBL.is reports that the former American base features Pcb polluted walls and buildings constructed with asbestos. The PCB walls are being burnt in a specially equipped incineration plant and the asbestos buildings are being demolished. Kjartan Thor Eiriksson, head of the Keflavik Airport Development Company told MBL that the initial findings suggest that there may be a lot less contamination on the site than had first been feared. Nonetheless, he estimates the cleanup will cost the Icelandic state ISK 2-4 billion (USD 17,500,000 to 35,000,000).
Posted 15 February 2009; 4:18:15 PM. Permalink
(Canadian Press, 21 December 2008) -- OTTAWA â€” The cost of cleaning up 21 toxic Cold War radar stations across the North has more than doubled to $583 million amid lax controls, says a scathing audit. Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line sites that dot 5,000 kilometres of Arctic tundra are being dismantled as part of one of the largest environmental restoration efforts in North America. Of prime concern are polychlorinated biphenyls - persistent pollutants once widely used in everything from transformers and electrical equipment to paint. PCBs have been effectively banned from commercial use since research in the 1970s suggested links to cancer. The DEW Line stations, built in the 1950s to warn of incursions by Soviet bombers, soon became outmoded when intercontinental ballistic missiles emerged as a nuclear threat. The storied installations were symbols of Cold War tensions in tiny northern enclaves such as Broughton Island, Cape Hooper and Mackar Inlet. Equipment has so far been removed or buried at 14 locations in hopes of keeping contaminants out of the Arctic food chain. Cleanup is under way at six more sites, but total costs of the project have soared. Work that was to be completed this year at an estimated cost of $280 million has now been extended to 2018 with a new price tag of $583 million. Internal auditors at the Department of National Defence, which is responsible for the sites, raised alarms in a recently published report. It analyzed the massive project between April 1, 2002, and March 31, 2005.
Posted 26 December 2008; 12:23:01 PM. Permalink
(Bellona, 23 November 2008) -- The Russian Duma has created a group focusing on the environmental problems of Russia's far [north] in response to the boomtown rush to tap the area's vast natural resources, specifically oil and gas, Russian media reported. One of the groupâ€™s chief goals will be to prepare suggestions allowing researchers to define a balance between developing the resources of the Far North and guaranteeing a system of defending the environment form threats that will arise as a result of human and industrial impacts on the local environment. The expert group, which has been directed by Rostislav Goldshtein, the deputy director of the Duma committee for problems in the Far North and Far East, has suggested the group be comprised of a wide circle of ecological specialists, such as Duma deputies, government department heads, business representatives, scientists and representatives of non-governmental organisations, the B-port.ru news site reported. Goldshtein said that over the past half century, Russia's north has seen a spike in primarily the raw materials model of resource use, which has been accompanied by extreme industrial burdens on nature. Aside from this, Russia's northern territories are characterized by vulnerable natural conditions and fragile ecosystems that have been formed over thousands of years. "Today, many are speaking about a loosening of enterprises, which are having a hard time in conditions of a world financial crisis, including expenditures on natural preservation measures," Goldshtein said. "However, we must always remember the environment. If and unfavourable ecological situation reaches a threatening scale, all other efforts toward improving life will be senseless."
Posted 23 November 2008; 8:14:09 PM. Permalink
(Igor Kudrik/Bellona, 14 November 2008) -- Bellona yesterday presented a new report on the projected use of nuclear energy in exploration of Russian oil and gas industry in the Arctic, a topic that has been heating the environmental community since Russian gas giant Gazprom began to drop hints about using nuclear energy to power its vast development scheme for the Shtokman oil and gas condensate field under the Barents Sea, and the nuclear industry offered up nuclear submarines and icebreakers for transport and drilling purposes. The report titled "From Polar to Nuclear? ‘Nuclearification’ of the Russian offshore oil and gas industry" was presented at the hearing in the European Parliament hosted by Rebecca Harms, Member of European Parliament (MEP) Greens/EFA, Sirpa Pietikainen, MEP, EPP-ED, and Henrik Lax, ALDE. Russian research centres are working on designs to apply nuclear energy in developing oil and gas fields in the Russian Arctic. The drafts obtained by Bellona and presented in the new report written by energy security expert Vladislav Larin suggest usage of nuclear energy both to drill and transport oil and gas from the shelf fields located in the Barents and the Kara Seas. [Report here: From Polar to Nuclear - Bellona report (pdf, 3.10 MB)
Posted 14 November 2008; 4:45:41 PM. Permalink
(AFP via PhysOrg.com, 12 November 2008) -- Greenland confirmed Wednesday a BBC report that claimed the United States abandoned a nuclear weapon under the ice in the Danish protectorate following a plane crash in 1968. Foreign Affairs Minister Per Berthlesen told AFP that Greenland had been aware of the issue for some time. "There is nothing new in this report and we knew for sometime that one of the four nuclear bombs had not been found following a search by the Americans," he said, adding that there had been "no risk" to the environment. Berthlesen said the authorities in Greenland were expecting a response from the US and Danish governments following the BBC documentary. In a statement, Greenland pointed out that the incident had already been investigated by a public inquiry in 1995. The BBC reported Tuesday, based on declassified documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act, that the US failed to recover the nuclear weapon despite a number of searches. Built in the early 1950s, Thule Air Base was of great strategic importance to the United States in its Cold War stand-off with the Soviet Union, allowing a radar to scan the skies for missiles coming over the North Pole. But Washington feared the Russians might destroy it as a prelude to a nuclear strike against the United States. As a result the US military deployed nuclear-armed B52 bombers to circle over the base from 1960, so they could head straight to Moscow if it was destroyed, the British broadcaster reported. However, on January 21, 1968, one of these planes crashed into the ice a few miles from the base. The explosives surrounding the four nuclear weapons on board detonated but the active nuclear devices did not, the BBC said. Investigators recovered thousands of pieces of debris from the site, including ice containing radioactive debris, but soon realised that only three of the weapons had been accounted for. An underwater search was launched in April but they found nothing and eventually the investigators gave up.
Posted 14 November 2008; 10:38:34 AM. Permalink
(Radio New Zealand News, 11 November 2008) -- The United States military abandoned a nuclear weapon deep inside the Arctic Circle in Greenland 40 years ago. The BBC has learned that the bomb was lost after a B52 military aircraft carrying the weapon crashed on to sea ice. The US Defence Department has always maintained that all four nuclear weapons on board were destroyed, but classified documents obtained by the BBC show that one weapon was left to decay--its radioactive material dispersing into the water.
Posted 11 November 2008; 1:44:04 PM. Permalink
(Sermitsiaq, 15 October 2008) -- Greenland's uranium mining policy was the topic of discussion during a community meeting earlier this week. Environmental organization 'Earth Charter Narsaq' invited residents to a discussion on Wednesday about possible uranium mining in the Kvanefjeldet area. There were three items on the agenda for the informal meeting, according to Finn Ludhiana, one of the organisation's founders. The group was concerned about the uranium content in Kvanefjeldet. They also addressed the issue of the government's mineral policy and whether the interests of the residents are being considered. Earth Charter Narsaq is a small branch of the international environmental organisation Earth Charter, which has had Greenlandic participation since the late 1990s.
Posted 19 October 2008; 4:29:00 PM. Permalink
(Anna Kireeva, Charles Digges/Bellona Foundation, 31 August 2008) -- MURMANSK - Officials with a joint Russia-Norwegian effort to rid the Kola Peninsula of radioactively dangerous and largely orphaned radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) said they have cleared all such units posing a threat to the environment and people as of last week and sent them for long term storage at the Mayak Chemical Combine. "This is an important event," said Bellona nuclear physicist and daily manager Nils Bøhmer from Oslo. "Bellona has been insisting on the removal of RTGs from the Kola peninsula since 1992." RTGs – the brainchild of the Soviet nuclear energy machine – are essentially nuclear powered batteries that convert thermal energy from the decay of strontium elements into electricity. Hundreds were positioned in Russia along coasts lines and remote areas to power lighthouses, navigation beacons, and meteorological data collection installations, but that was decades ago. In the upheaval following the fall of the Soviet Union, the bulk of these devices were abandoned as maintenance schedules were skipped and documentation on them lost. As a result, they have lain—several years beyond their decommissioning dates—like radioactive landmines strewn across Russia's distant regions. The past several years have seen incidents of RTGs being vandalised for the metal that encases them, wherein metal scavengers in the Murmansk area leave the strontium cores exposed. In other instances reported earlier this decade in the former republic of Georgia, hunters and shepherds in the mountainous region were turning up with radiation sickness after warming themselves next to RTGs. The joint Russian-Norwegian project on the Kola Peninsula has operated under the aegis of a radioactive-ecological agreement between the Murmansk regional government and the northeastern Finnmark province of Norway. As of 2007, Norway alone had poured NOK 54 million ($10 million) into the project of locating and removing the devices via the Kandalash port.
Posted 1 September 2008; 7:54:16 PM. Permalink
(Sven Goll/Aftenposten, 13 August 2008) -- The wreck of the decommissioned Russian cruiser Murmansk, will be removed from the rocks outside the fishing village of Sørvær in Northern Norway. "The Government is taking local worries about the wreck seriously," writes the minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, Helga Pedersen, in a press statement Wednesday. She and a handful of experts are meeting the inhabitants of Sørvær on Thursday to answer questions they may have about the Murmansk or its removal. The Radiation Protection Authority and the Coastal Administration have checked the ship for radioactivity and the Marine Research Institute has taken samples of the seabed, of fish and mussels, to see if they might contain PCB, heavy metals or other toxic materials. After 14 years denying that the wreck represented a danger, Norwegian authorities decided last week to check the Murmansk again immediately. She denies that this is a populist measure. "Two weeks ago the people of Sørvær were told that there might be radioactive materials on the Murmansk. What right has society to demand that the inhabitant live with this uncertainty," says Pedersen. Helga Pedersen promises that all findings will be made public. She also says that the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs will send the bill for clearing the site to the wreck's owner or other responsible parties.
Posted 22 August 2008; 2:42:54 PM. Permalink
(James Murray/Netnewsledger.com, 10 August 2008) -- If you are like many people, you have likely been watching coverage of the Beijing Olympic Games. Beijing's smog is proving to be a factor in these games. What we are seeing is an indication of the amount of pollution that is generated in China, as its economy continues to grow. The communist Chinese government has been engaged in a massive effort to showcase their country as a new world power. What you are not seeing reported from Beijing, and not seeing in the news, as reports on Canada's shrinking Arctic ice pack paint a picture of environmental disaster, is that one of the main causes of that melting is pollution from China. "Warming in the polar regions has catastrophic climate consequences, such as polar ice caps shrinking and sea level rising," writes Dr. Zhang, reporting to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "The change in the Pacific storm track and its associated climate impacts require further studies from a large scientific community, including investigation with global climate models." "Rapid industrialisation and urbanisation in Asia have caused severe air pollution over many countries, including China and India. Long-term satellite measurements have revealed a dramatic increase in aerosol concentrations over Asia," continues Zhang. "The increasing aerosol trend has been explained by sulphur dioxide and soot emissions, with an increase in sulphur dioxide emissions of 35% per decade over the same region". This increased pollution is increasing the severity of Pacific storms, and is impacting Canada's Arctic. The impact of the pollution in China is massive.
Posted 10 August 2008; 6:03:06 PM. Permalink
(NOAA press release, 21 July 2008) -- The Arctic may get some temporary relief from global warming if the annual North American wildfire season intensifies, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Colorado and NOAA. Smoke transported to the Arctic from northern forest fires may cool the surface for several weeks to months at a time, according to the most detailed analysis yet of how smoke influences the Arctic climate relative to the amount of snow and ice cover. "Smoke in the atmosphere temporarily reduces the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface. This transitory effect could partly offset some of the warming caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases and other pollutants," said Robert Stone, an atmospheric scientist with the university and NOAA Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and lead author of the study, which appears this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research. How much solar energy is prevented from reaching the surface depends on the smoke's opacity, the elevation of the sun above the horizon, and the brightness of the surface, according to the study. Stone and his research colleagues analyzed the short-term climate impact of numerous wildfires that swept through Alaska and western Canada in 2004. That summer, fires burned a record 10,000 square miles of Alaska's interior and another 12,000 square miles in western Canada. A NOAA climate observatory near Barrow, Alaska, provided the data for the study. Smoke observed at Barrow was so thick that at times visibility dropped to just over one mile. The aerosol optical depth (AOD), a measure of the total absorption and scattering of solar radiation by smoke particles, rose a hundredfold from typical summer values.
Posted 23 July 2008; 12:50:18 PM. Permalink
(Bellona, 7 July 2008) -- A fund managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) has agreed to grant aid in the amount of €70 million to four projects cleaning up nuclear contamination in Northwest Russia. As manager of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) Support Fund, the EBRD signed the funding agreements with Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear energy corporation, Nuclear Engineering International reported. The largest contract is worth €43 million and covers dismantling a former service ship's damaged spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. The five-year project will involve dismantling Lepse at its Murmansk moorings after retrieving spent fuel and safely managing its radioactive waste. Another €20 million project involves creating local temporary services over three years for transporting, then storing, spent nuclear fuel from Andreyeva Bay, just 50 kilometers from the Norwegian border. There, 22,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies from nuclear-powered submarines and icebreakers "are kept in unsafe condition," according to the EBRD. The project aims to create safe buffer storage, while a long-term "overall remediation plan to retrieve and ship the fuel for treatment or long-term storage" is developed, said a bank memorandum. A third project, of €5.6 million, involves the defuelling by Rosatom of 1960s-built Papa class nuclear submarines over two-and-a-half-years, with spent fuel being unloaded and stored safely. This will "improve the environmental situation and reduce risks of nuclear and radiological accidents," said the EBRD. And a fourth €5.1 million grant will help improve radiation monitoring and emergency response systems in the Arctic Arkhangelsk Region, which also has sites of substantial nuclear materials and devices. The money will over two-and-a-half years go toward installing modern monitoring and communications systems and develop emergency plans covering all nuclear hazards in the region. The Administration of the Arkhangelsk Region and the Nuclear Safety Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences will manage this project.
Posted 9 July 2008; 1:54:51 PM. Permalink
(Xinhua News Agency, 30 June 2008) -- STOCKHOLM - The Norwegian government said Monday that it would restrict travel to Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean to protect the vulnerable natural environment there, according to reports reaching here from Oslo. Svalbard is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, between Norway and the North Pole. Cruise traffic to the islands has increased tenfold in just a few years and this summer more than 30,000 tourists will also visit there. "We must restrict the traffic to Svalbard because the eastern part of the archipelago is one of the most vulnerable nature in the world," Norwegian Minister of Environment and International Development Erik Solheim told Norwegian public broadcaster NRK. The Norwegian environmental protection authorities have decided that most of Eastern Svalbard would be closed to tourists, apart from a few chosen spots, where tourists will be allowed to land, the NRK said.
Posted 30 June 2008; 2:08:28 PM. Permalink
(IPF via IPY.org, 17 June 2008) -- Sooty particles emitted during the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels (petroleum, coal), biofuels, and biomass (wood, animal dung, etc.) can do more than just create unsightly pollution and provoke respiratory problems. Known within the scientific community as black carbon, research and modelling conducted in recent years shows that this dark-coloured aerosol has been playing a significant role in climate warming through its absorption of solar radiation. Its impact is heaviest in the cryosphere, where its presence can reduce snow albedo and can lead to faster melting of snow on land and on sea ice
Posted 18 June 2008; 3:27:57 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 3 June 2008) -- As more cruise liners travel in Arctic waters, fuelled by tourists' interest in the North and made possible by shrinking sea ice, U.S. and Canadian officials are questioning their abilities, as well as those of other Arctic nations, to handle cruise ship accidents. Speaking at last week's Canadian Arctic Summit in Edmonton, a representative from the U.S. Coast Guard said it doesn't have the resources to respond quickly to a massive rescue operation in the northern Bering Sea and the Arctic waters off Alaska. "Some things we're looking at is: how much icebreaker time we need up there? Do we put other vessels up there? How much [is] the aircraft response time?" Capt. Michael Inman, the coast guard's chief of response in Juneau, said at the summit. "All those things we're looking at, we're not at the end point where we know what we're going to have to put there." Inman said seven cruise ships carrying over 3,000 passengers will be heading to the northern Bering Sea and waters off Alaska this year. Meanwhile, Inman said, more than 70 cruise ships will travel to Greenland this year, carrying more than 150,000 passengers. "How do we work in this region in an expanded role in the future? And what are the best ways to actually provide the services required by law?" he said. "We're still looking at that."
Posted 4 June 2008; 3:27:14 PM. Permalink
(Anna Kireeva and Charles Digges/Bellona Foundation, 23 May 2008) -- MURMANSK - Representatives of the environmental community and the nuclear industry finally came together at the same table for a long awaited meeting to forward the so-called Master Plan for speeding up the tempo of ridding Northwest Russia of sources of radioactive contamination. The meeting revealed, at least to environmentalists and engineers involved in realising the project, that for the most part, the Master Plan is far behind targets, lagging in comprehension of pressing issues, and lacking in funding. Of particular concern to environmentalists is the current lack of any working plant about what should be done with Andreyeva Bay, a former naval spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste storage facility on the Kola Peninsula near Russia's border with Norway. The venue was an expanded meeting of the Public Council on Issues of Safe Nuclear Power Use which hosted a conference called "Speeding the Reduction of Threats in Northwest Russia," which chiefly concerned developing comprehensive systems for radiation monitoring and improving emergency reactions in the Murmansk Region.
Posted 25 May 2008; 1:31:53 PM. Permalink
(Elizabeth Grossman/Salon, 30 April 2008) -- ARCTIC OCEAN - Over 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle, in the polar dark of a December morning, University of Manitoba Ph.D. student Jesse Carrie is out on the frozen Beaufort Sea, collecting ice samples to measure for mercury and pesticides. Lowered by crane from the deck of the icebreaking research vessel the CCGS Amundsen, and accompanied by a rifle bearer who keeps watch for polar bears, Carrie extracts ice cores and vials of frigid water. Carrie is part of a $40 million International Polar Year scientific expedition, the first ever to spend the winter moving through sea ice north of the Arctic Circle. The expedition's labor-intensive work is essential to understanding the impacts of global warming. As the Amundsen cuts through ice across the top of the globe, Carrie and his fellow researchers are uncovering evidence of a disturbing fallout of climate change. They are finding toxic contaminants, some at remarkably high levels, accumulating in this remote and visually pristine environment. Although there are no industrial sources in the Arctic, residents of the Far North have some of the world's highest levels of mercury exposure, some well above what the World Health Organization considers safe. High levels of mercury—a powerful neurotoxin—are being found in Arctic marine wildlife, including ringed seals and beluga whales, both staples of the traditional Northern diet. Levels in Arctic beluga have increased markedly in recent years.
Posted 30 April 2008; 1:49:29 PM. Permalink
(Dan Joling/AP via Anchorage Daily News, 20 April 2008) -- FAIRBANKS - Mike Cubison has been flying around in a haze for three weeks, by choice. The University of Colorado postdoctoral student grabs air samples from Alaska skies, and using a mass spectrometer, measures floating particles of pollution before obliterating them into their constituent parts to determine what they're made of. Farther back in the DC-8 commercial airliner that's been converted by NASA into a flying laboratory, atmospheric chemist Nicola Blake of the University of California, Irvine captures air samples that will be analyzed for more than 50 chemicals to identify what part of the globe has contributed to the Arctic haze. Cubison, Blake and about 275 scientists and support staff are trying to solve a mystery: What's making the Arctic warmer than climate models say it should be. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide have been the focus of climate change. Scientists at Fairbanks and Barrow are focusing on another suspect: tiny floating particles known as aerosols. Their air samples turn up dust from Asian deserts, salts that swell with moisture, particles from incomplete burning of organic material from forest and cooking fires and all manner of nasties emitted by automobile exhaust pipes, factory smokestacks and power plants.
Posted 21 April 2008; 1:23:26 AM. Permalink
(Charles Digges/Bellona Foundation, 14 April 2008) -- A Russian Academy of Sciences study indicates decades worth of nuclear reactor and radioactive waste dumping in the Kara Sea by the Russian Navy—as well as fallout from Soviet-era nuclear bomb test—could cause heightened levels of radioactive contamination when major Arctic oil drilling projects ramp up. The study represents the latest in a string of event that show the massive oil drilling projects in the Arctic will compound the worries of oil spills with concerns over increased nuclear waste and possibilities of radioactive contamination. Over the past two months, Gazprom, the Russian gas and oil Giant that will control the drilling and which countries get to take part, has announced its intentions to boost power resources in the Arctic area by using floating nuclear power plants and by building two new reactors at the aged Kola Nuclear Power plant. Now, studies show that when the drill bits hit the ocean floor, there is the danger of disinterring a vast portion of the Soviet Union's irresponsible nuclear legacy—written in radwaste and reactor chucked at sea—which threatens to contaminate at least a quarter of the world's Arctic coastline. According to the authors of the study who trawled the area of the Kara Sea by ship and counted dumped reactors and known underwater sites of radioactive contamination, the sites studied are fragilely safe—for the moment.
Posted 14 April 2008; 8:26:16 PM. Permalink
(Dan Joling/AP via Anchorage Daily News, 13 April 2008) -- The director of the Minerals Management Service was on hand when the agency leased millions of offshore acres for petroleum development in the Chukchi Sea, home to one of America's two polar bear populations. Protesters were on hand to greet Randall Luthi. Environmental groups and Alaska Natives who harvest whales, seals, walrus and salmon said not one acre should have been opened for drilling until oil companies prove they can overcome a basic environmental hurdle: cleaning up a major spill in sea water that's partially covered by broken ice. No oil spill responders have demonstrated that they can clean up oil in broken ice that ranges from slush to cakes, said Margaret Williams of the World Wildlife Fund in Alaska. Ice jams skimmers, tears up containment booms, clogs pumps and impedes access to floating crude. "We're not anti-development. We're not anti-growth. But this is just stupid," Williams said.
Posted 14 April 2008; 7:49:50 PM. Permalink
(The Moscow Times via BarentsObserver, 11 April 2008) -- As oil production spreads to the country's farthest corners, local people and activists are warning that the country risks not only ecological catastrophe but also a serious threat to the native cultures that have inhabited these Arctic regions for centuries, the Moscow Times reports. "There is so much work going on -- roads, pipelines -- and several oil companies working at once. It disrupts the path of the reindeer herders, and that's quite painful," said Nikolai Latyshev, a vice president at Yasavei, a local organization fighting for indigenous rights. "There's enough land and reindeer for now, but what if that changes?" Critics also say that the expanding oil industry poses an growing threat against the environment in the region. "A number of areas are simply too crowded with installations and tracks that destroy the vegetation so that the area is deteriorated," said Winfried Dallmann, a senior research fellow at Norway's Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research. "They don't clean up after themselves," local reindeer herder Mikhail Kanev said about the oil companies. "Metal from the pipes lies around everywhere," he said to the Moscow Times.
Posted 13 April 2008; 7:07:21 PM. Permalink
(Mikhail Flint/RIA Novosti, 11 April 2008)** -- MOSCOW - The Russian Academy of Sciences has conducted a comprehensive expedition to the arctic Kara Sea. The voyage of the research vessel Academician Mstislav Keldysh, carrying 85 scientists and a small emergency team was devoted to a broad range of fundamental issues. One of the tasks was to study the condition of the potentially dangerous underwater facilities at the bottom of the Kara Sea. In the Soviet times, up to 1991, Russia dumped containers with radioactive waste and as many as 13 nuclear reactors removed from submarines. A total of 138 nuclear explosions (in the air, on the ground, underground and underwater) were conducted in Novaya Zemlya in the times of military confrontation. The Kara Sea was turned into a radioactive waste cemetery. Needless to say, they were covered with special conservation mixtures, but everything has its sell by date. Dump sites were replenished with the development of atomic icebreakers. For examples, three nuclear reactors of the famous icebreaker Lenin were buried in the western part of the Kara Sea.
Posted 11 April 2008; 7:13:21 PM. Permalink
(NOAA press release via Alaska Report, 31 March 2008) -- A field study now under way is looking at the pollutants within the Arctic atmosphere—called "arctic haze"—including their sources, concentrations, and climate impact, in an ice-free region. "The study will focus in particular on short-lived pollutants that may be contributing to the accelerated warming in the Arctic relative to the global average warming," said Patricia Quinn, a research chemist at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle and co-chief scientist of the study. The International Chemistry Experiment in the Arctic Lower Troposphere, or ICEALOT, is one of NOAA's contributions to the International Polar Year. ICEALOT is part of the larger, multi-agency international Polar Study using Aircraft, Remote Sensing, Surface Measurements and Models, of Climate, Chemistry, Aerosols, and Transport, or POLARCAT.
Posted 1 April 2008; 10:05:57 PM. Permalink
(Sudbury Star, 23 March 2008) -- n the debate on the effects of global warming, Canada's northern indigenous people are often forgotten. For centuries, they have relied on predictable weather patterns for survival. The often forgotten people of the North will be the first to be impacted by global warming, yet they were not consulted when for Kyoto treaty in 1997. Already they are seeing the dreaded consequences of this man-made phenomenon and are forced to make dramatic changes in traditional lifestyle. Their culture is being eroded. It's a frightening thing for all of us, says Patricia Cochran, an Alaskan Inuit and chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. It's a loss of our culture and livelihood. How can we remain intact as aboriginal people? That message spoke volumes at the recent Bali climate-change conference in Indonesia: global warming poses a major threat to the indigenous people whose livelihoods depend on oceans and fragile shorelines. Article ID# 954495
Posted 24 March 2008; 4:31:50 PM. Permalink