The End Of All Crossroads

Where the TAXI makes a stop, to ponder upon which road mayhap be true

Tag: environment

Bay Area Storm Causes 2 Giant Sinkholes, Swallowing Roads

December 3, 2012 5:58 PM

LAFAYETTE (CBS SF) — Two giant sinkholes formed in separate Bay Area communities during the heavy rain from a powerful storm that passed through the Bay Area over the weekend.

In one instance, a giant sinkhole swallowed two lanes of a street in a residential neighborhood in Lafayette Sunday.

High water levels and a clogged storm drain in Lafayette Creek destroyed a portion of Mountain View Drive Sunday, creating a sinkhole where the road once was, Lafayette City Manager Steven Falk said.

Erosion of the road accelerated when the heavy current of the creek clogged the storm drain with large debris, including branches and a bureau, some time between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., Falk said.

A storm caused a 20-foot sinkhole to form along Mountain View Drive in Lafayette on December 2, 2012. (CBS)Water began to run over the top of the road, forcing its closure soon after. Around 3 p.m. Sunday, the road collapsed onto the storm drain and left a hole 80 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 15 feet deep, Falk said.

Utility agencies came out and shut off the gas and sewer lines that are below the road. East Bay Municipal Utilities District crews were still on scene at 2 p.m. Monday attempting to shut off the water line.

A handful of customers are still without water and one customer is without gas. PG&E has provided an alternate gas service for that one, Falk said.

 

Falk said the city’s plan is to convey the water temporarily across where the road was, and create a temporary storm drain that will handle all the water from whatever remaining storms there are this season.

Once that is completed, a team of civil engineers will create a plan to permanently fix the storm drain and road.

The collapse has left one home without access to its driveway but should not create a significant hardship to anyone in the area, Falk said.

The longest detour around the sinkhole is a block and a half, he said.

A second sinkhole opened up in the Santa Cruz mountains over the weekend as well.

 

SOURCE (videos also avaliable there):
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/12/03/bay-area-storm-causes-2-giant-sinkholes-swallowing-roads/

December brings record-high temperatures after November brings record highs without rainfall

Published on December 3, 2012 at 1:41 am
Last update on December 3, 2012 at 11:05 am
By Allie Kolechta

High temperatures in the Austin area have already broken records during December, after November also brought record high temperatures and, for the first time in decades, no rain in Austin for the entire month.

Austin saw no measurable rainfall in November, according to reports compiled on the Austin-Bergstrom Airport Area by the National Weather Service Southern Region Headquarters. According to the report, this is the first year Austin has had only trace amounts of rainfall in the month of November since 1970, more than four decades ago.

Record highs were set on Nov. 1 at 88 degrees and Nov. 3 at 87 degrees. High temperatures reached into the 80s on 15 days in November, and lows never reached freezing. The most days it has reached 80 degrees in the area in November was in 1931, with 17 days in the 80s.

Temperatures Saturday hit 83 degrees, breaking the daily record of 82 degrees set in 1954. The high reached 80 degrees Sunday, and is forecast to hit 83 degrees Monday. Previous December highs were 84 degrees Dec 2. 2007 and 86 degrees Dec. 3 1995.

As of the end of November, the Austin area and 81 percent of the state was in a drought classified as moderate or worse, the second of five classifications for drought severity, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. 54 percent of the state was in a drought classified as severe or worse, 25 percent was classified as extreme or worse and 8 percent was classified as exceptional.

Printed on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 as: Record-high climate continues in winter

SOURCE:
http://www.dailytexanonline.com/news/2012/12/03/december-brings-record-high-temperatures-after-november-brings-record-highs-without

What’s all the fuss about fracking?

“Benzene, lead, mercury, toluene, uranium, methanol, ethylbenzene, formaldehyde and xylene are among the 750+ “ingredients” used in the chemical mix often pumped into wells some 8,000 feet underground.”

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SPOILER: Listen to this, ’cause I’m not gonna repeat it often:

THIS IS WHAT YOUR FUCKING ILL-MINDED GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN INJECTING ALL OVER THE NATURAL UNDERGROUND FISSURES THOROUGH THE ENTIRE U.S., YOU FUCKED TWAT!!!! 

WAKE UP, STUPID SHEEPLE, WE’RE TALKIN’ ‘BOUT REAL SHIT HERE!!!

THIS IS FREAKIN’ SERIOUS!!!

Please, fellow Americans, *PLEASE* WAKE UP BEFORE ‘TIS BUT TOO LATE FOR THE ENTIRE PLANET!!!!

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By David Quilty –
set 17, 2012

The state of Vermont in the US has banned it. The countries of France and Bulgaria have banned it too. What is it about fracking that has so many people up in arms but energy companies chomping at the bit to get involved?

fogo-agua

Short for hydraulic fracturing, fracking is a method of getting at hard-to-reach natural gas reserves deep underground. Massive amounts of sand, water and toxic chemicals are injected into shale rock layers via wells, inducing fractures which then release the contained natural gas. The gas comes up to the surface of the well in the wastewater where it is separated and stored. While that’s the simple explanation of fracking, at first glance it doesn’t read as being all that bad – at least not until you get into the nitty-gritty of the operation.

Between one and eight million gallons of water is used for each frack… With each natural gas well capable of being fracked 18 times, it could require 144,000,000 gallons of clean water to complete a job.

First, let’s talk about the water needed for fracking. Depending on how deep the well is and how difficult the gas is to get to, between 1 and 8 million gallons of water is used for each frack. With each natural gas well capable of being fracked 18 times, it could require a whopping 144,000,000 gallons of clean water to complete a job. As of 2010, there were nearly 700,000 underground waste and injection wells in the U.S. and one would imagine that number is a lot higher as of this year. Billions of gallons of water are being used to frack in the U.S. alone, never mind around the globe.

So, now we have established that fracking uses a lot of water: no one disputes that fact. Where it gets tricky, and where proponents and opponents of the technique take sides, is when the subject of the chemicals used in the process comes up. Approximately 40,000 gallons of chemicals are used for each frack and while the industry is not required to release information on what substances they are using, it is known that many of them are volatile organic compounds and human carcinogens supposedly regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act for their risks to human health. Benzene, lead, mercury, toluene, uranium, methanol, ethylbenzene, formaldehyde and xylene are among the 750+ “ingredients” used in the chemical mix often pumped into wells some 8,000 feet underground.

Since 2005, over 30 trillion gallons of these toxic chemicals have been injected deep into the Earth because of natural gas drilling. These chemicals have been linked to groundwater pollution, flammable tap water, localized earthquakes, assorted cancers, air pollution, and elevated levels of ground-level ozone. There are thousands of documented cases of respiratory and neurological damage from the consumption of contaminated water by residents living near natural gas wells. Of course, proponents of the technique say these links are overblown at best and probably not even likely. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency disagrees as do many scientists and researchers.

As far back as 1987 the EPA released a report to Congress which stated that fracking could pollute groundwater and as recently as 2011 they released another report noting possible groundwater contamination in Pavilion, Wyoming, where fracking had taken place. In addition, a 2012 University of Texas study listed water contamination and adverse health effects as problems associated with shale gas development. Who should we trust to look into claims of environmental damages from fracking, industry insiders or environmental agencies? While they certainly aren’t perfect, I’ll go with the agencies.

Lately, several high-profile celebrities and groups are speaking out against fracking. Artists Against Fracking, started by Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, is trying to stop the fracking of the Marcellus Shale in upstate New York by meeting with New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in order to convince him to ban it. Currently the group has more than 180 artists and well-known celebrities as members – including Lady Gaga and Paul McCartney – fighting to keep fracking out of the state. Actor Mark Ruffalo has been a staunch opponent of fracking for many years, and Matt Damon’s next film, ‘Promised Land’, brings an anti-fracking message to theatres later this year. Sometimes celebrities get laughed off for their real-world concerns, but if it helps get the message out, who are we to complain?

Is it worth potentially destroying billions of gallons of clean water, worldwide drinking supplies, and the very soil we use to grow the food necessary for our survival all in the name of cheap natural gas? Wouldn’t our efforts be better served by serious investments in solar, wind, hydro, and other renewable energy technologies? According to estimates from the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. has enough natural gas reserves to supply the country for the next 110 years. But what kind of planet would we be left with after 110 years of fracking?

SOURCE:
http://www.virgin.com/people-and-planet/blog/whats-all-the-fuss-about-fracking

Tokyo Soil Samples Would Be Considered Nuclear Waste In The US

“Evacuation costs near a US nuclear plant could easily exceed one trillion dollars and contaminated land would be uninhabitable for generations.”

Environmental Impacts of Nuclear Proliferation (Click image for Article page)

About this video

While traveling in Japan several weeks ago, Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen took soil samples in Tokyo public parks, playgrounds, and rooftop gardens. All the samples would be considered nuclear waste if found here in the US. This level of contamination is currently being discovered throughout Japan. At the US NRC Regulatory Information Conference in Washington, DC March 13 to March 15, the NRC’s Chairman, Dr. Gregory Jaczko emphasized his concern that the NRC and the nuclear industry presently do not consider the costs of mass evacuations and radioactive contamination in their cost benefit analysis used to license nuclear power plants. Furthermore, Fairewinds believes that evacuation costs near a US nuclear plant could easily exceed one trillion dollars and contaminated land would be uninhabitable for generations.

[BEGIN: RIC Conference Footage]

NRC Chairman Jaczko: The events at Fukushima reinforce that any nuclear accident with public health and safety or environmental consequences of that magnitude, is inherently unacceptable. But we focussed on the radiological consequences of this event. I believe we cannot ignore the large social and economic consequences such an event poses to any country with a nuclear facility that deals with such a crisis.

In Japan, more than 90,000 people remain displaced from their homes and land, with some having no prospect for a return to their previous lifestyle in the foreseeable future. While not easy to characterize, these are significant hardships on these people and they are inherently unacceptable. So as we look to the future and we look in a proactive way, we ultimately will have to address the issue of how do we deal with nuclear events that lead to significant land contamination. And displacement, perhaps permanently, of people from their homes and their livelihoods and their communities.

[END: RIC Conference Footage]

Arnie Gundersen: What you have just heard was the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s chairman, Gregory Jaczko, saying that the NRC does not take in to account mass evacuations and people not getting back on their land for centuries when it does a cost benefit analysis as to whether or not a nuclear plant should be licensed.

I am Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds and today I am at the Regulatory Information Conference put on by the NRC in Washington D.C.

So today, I am in Washington D.C. Couple of weeks ago though, I was in Tokyo and when I was in Tokyo, I took some samples. Now, I did not look for the highest radiation spot. I just went around with five plastic bags and when I found an area, I just scooped up some dirt and put it in a bag. One of those samples was from a crack in the sidewalk. Another one of those samples was from a children’s playground that had been previously decontaminated. Another sample had come from some moss on the side of the road. Another sample came from the roof of an office building that I was at. And the last sample was right across the street from the main judicial center in downtown Tokyo. I brought those samples back, declared them through Customs, and sent them to the lab. And the lab determined that ALL of them would be qualified as radioactive waste here in the United States and would have to be shipped to Texas to be disposed of.

Now think about the ramifications for the nation’s capital, whether it is Tokyo or the United States. How would you like it if you went to pick your flowers and were kneeling in radioactive waste? That is what is happening in Tokyo now. And I think that is the point that Chairman Jaczko was trying to make. When the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does it’s cost benefit analyses now, it does not take into account the cost to society if you have to evacuate for generations or if you have to move 100,000 people, perhaps forever.

There is a hundred miles between us and a dozen nuclear power plants here in Washington D.C. Fukushima was almost 200 miles away from Tokyo, and yet Tokyo soil in some places, the ones I just happened to find, would qualify as radioactive waste here in the United States.

How would we feel if our nation’s capital were contaminated to that degree? So I agree with Chairman Jaczko, new nukes and old nukes that are being re-licensed should include as a cost in their analysis what we have learned to be happening in Tokyo and in Japan.

Thank you very much and I will keep you informed.

24 Mar 2012

SOURCE:
http://fairewinds.org/content/tokyo-soil-samples-would-be-considered-nuclear-waste-us

Texas firm fined over sinkhole in Louisiana says it’s trying

“It has grown from less than one acre to eight acres. It has also become much shallower, from 490 to 195 feet at the deepest, Cranch said.”

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8:27 AM, Dec 3, 2012

 

BATON ROUGE — Owners of a failed brine storage cavern are doing their best to comply with a state order to quickly resolve problems caused by an eight-acre sinkhole in Assumption Parish, spokesman Sonny Cranch said Sunday.

He said Texas Brine Co. lawyers will review a $100,000 fine imposed Saturday by state Conservation Commissioner James Welsh, who said the company hasn’t complied with his Nov. 12 order to speed work.

“We are working as fast as we can to comply with the order,” Cranch said in a phone interview.

The sinkhole began to develop after a Texas Brine salt cavern failed in August. Texas Brine and other companies own at least five other caverns in the Napoleon Salt Dome, which is about three miles long and a mile wide. None of the other caverns is threatened, Cranch said.

Welsh said the company is too slow in three areas: installing air monitors and improved ventilation in slab homes around the sinkhole; installing a system to prevent more waterway contamination; and drilling new vent wells to burn off natural gas.

Residents of 150 Bayou Corne-area homes evacuated in August, after the sinkhole formed. Natural gas was later found in the underground water supply, which Cranch said has never been used for drinking water.

It has grown from less than one acre to eight acres.

It has also become much shallower, from 490 to 195 feet at the deepest, Cranch said.

He said Texas Brine has been using containment boom and absorbent boom from the start, and has skimmed 2,700 barrels of oily water from the surface in the three months since debris was cleared from the edges of the sinkhole.

Cranch said figuring out how to permanently block the sinkhole from other waterways is complex in a swamp, especially since officials don’t yet know how big the sinkhole will get. In the meantime, crews move the boom constantly and skimming continues to make sure oil doesn’t get into any waterways, he said.

“It is being controlled,” Cranch said.

He said the company is also working to find ventilation equipment and air monitors that can be watched at another site, contractors qualified to install them correctly, and landowners’ permission to dig vent wells.

 

SOURCE:
http://www.thetowntalk.com/viewart/20121203/NEWS01/212030320/Texas-firm-fined-over-sinkhole-Louisiana-says-s-trying

Study: Massive volcanic eruption in the cards for Japan

“Japan should brace for a catastrophic volcanic eruption at some point, say experts, citing a massive buildup of magma at many of the nation’s 110 active volcanoes.”

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December 03, 2012
By TAIRIKU KUROSAWA/ Senior Staff Writer

The last particularly serious eruption in Japan occurred in 1914, when Mount Sakurajima in southern Kagoshima Prefecture blew its top.

According to study by volcanologists, Japan, which lies on the Pacific Rim of Fire, has been shaken by more than 1,000 volcanic eruptions over the past 2,000 years.

https://d13uygpm1enfng.cloudfront.net/article-imgs/en/2012/12/03/AJ201212030010/AJ201212030011M.jpg
“The possibility of a major eruption in the future is real,” said Yoichi Nakamura, a professor of volcanology at Utsunomiya University who has been analyzing volcanic eruptions with a team of researchers.

To be classified as active, a volcano must have erupted within the past 10,000 years or still be spewing gases, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The active volcanoes include sites in the disputed Northern Territories off northeastern Hokkaido as well as undersea volcanoes.

Of the 110 active volcanoes, the agency monitors activity of the 47 around the clock to detect signs of an imminent eruption.

When offshore Mount Sakurajima erupted, it spewed out so much lava that it created a land bridge with the Osumi Peninsula. Volcanic ash even fell on eastern Japan.

The researchers said seismic activity surged at 20 active volcanoes around Japan, including Mount Fuji, after the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake struck last year.

It was one of the most powerful earthquakes on record. It struck with such force that the Japanese land mass shifted.

Over the past century, volcanic eruptions around the world were apparently triggered by magnitude-9.0 or stronger earthquakes that struck several years earlier.

Nakamura also is involved with the nonprofit Vocanological Society of Japan. He said the study was intended to help local officials prepare for a contingency resulting from a major eruption by assessing the risks posed by volcanoes around the country.

Particularly worrisome, he said, was a lack of data pointing to a reduction in magma. In the absence of a really huge eruption for a century suggested there was a massive buildup of magma, which at some point will inevitably spew from a volcano with tremendous force.

According to the study, 1,162 eruptions have occurred in Japan over the past 2,000 years. Of these, 52 were major events that spewed a massive volume of ash and lava over a short period. It amounts to a large-scale eruption occurring every 38 years.

Records show that three volcanic eruptions in the 17th century, including one at Mount Hokkaido-Komagadake in Hokkaido in 1640, spewed out the equivalent of 1 billion cubic meters of ash and lava.

Two similar eruptions occurred in the 18th century, one of which involved Mount Fuji in 1707.

The study showed that relatively large eruptions occurred 124 times.

There were 562 instances of medium-scale eruptions, or one every 3.6 years.

These included the eruption of Mount Unzen-Fugendake in Nagasaki Prefecture in 1991 and the eruption of Mount Usuzan in Hokkaido in 2000.

Of the 1,162 eruptions, the 47 volcanoes consistently monitored by the Japan Meteorological Agency represent nearly 90 percent of the activity, or 1,012 of those events.

Mount Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture is the most active volcano with 167 recorded eruptions, followed by Mount Asama straddling Nagano and Gunma prefectures, at 124; Mount Sakurajima, at 91; Mount Izu-Oshima in Tokyo, at 77; and Mount Kirishima straddling Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures, at 70.

Mount Fuji has erupted 38 times.
By TAIRIKU KUROSAWA/ Senior Staff Writer

 

SOURCE:
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201212030010

Mississippi River could become impassable in two weeks

“”There are long-term consequences to letting the Missouri get too low” Casseau said. “There are several states involved in this situation and the Corps of Engineers is responsible for serving the nation as a whole.”

Scott Wuerz | Belleville News-Democrat

The Mississippi River could be too shallow for barge traffic between St. Louis and Cairo in two weeks due to decreasing water levels.

According to the American Waterways Operators and Waterways Council, the country’s busiest inland waterway is nearly too low already for barges loaded with coal, steel and other commerce.

And it is expected to dry up considerably in the next couple of week due to the summer drought and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s move to hold back water from the Missouri River.

“Of particular concern are hazardous rock formations near Thebes and Grand Tower which threaten navigation when water levels drop to anticipated, near historic lows,” the agencies said in a joint release. “The rock formations, combined with the reduced flows from the Missouri River, will prohibit the transport of essential goods along this critical point in the river, effectively stopping barge transportation on the middle Mississippi River around Dec. 10.”

U.S Coast Guard Lt. Colin Fogarty said the river is about two feet below normal water levels. He expects it to threaten the all-time low of 6.2 feet below normal in December. The previous low water mark was set in 1940.The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in a controversial move, last week started to reduce to flow of water from the Missouri River into the Mississippi to make sure areas to the north have adequate water. “Congress and the Administration need to understand the immediate severity of this situation,” American Waterways Operators President and CEO Tom Allegrett said. “The Mississippi River is an economic superhighway that efficiently carries hundreds of millions of tons of essential goods for domestic use as well as national export.

“We need to address this situation swiftly, cut through bureaucratic red tape, and prevent the closure of the Mississippi.”Fogarty said the Coast Guard and Corps of Engineers are already working to try to keep the Mississippi River traffic flowing.”At this point in time the Missouri River has been cut off as we have been expecting since early July,” Fogarty said. “The Army Corps of Engineers has begun heavy dredging and the Coast Guard has been moving assets to St. Louis to help in any way it can.”

Fogarty said he is not resigned to the idea that the Mississippi will be shut down by low water.”We will not speculate when or if the river will be closed,” Fogarty said. “We’re doing everything we can to ensure river traffic will continue to flow. Despite the fact that we have these low water conditions, we’re hopeful to keep traffic moving.”

Corps of Engineers spokesperson Sue Casseau said the restrictions on the Missouri are something that happen every year to prevent it from becoming too low over the winter and spring. She said usually it isn’t a problem because the Mississippi doesn’t often suffer from too little water.

“There are long-term consequences to letting the Missouri get too low” Casseau said. “There are several states involved in this situation and the Corps of Engineers is responsible for serving the nation as a whole.

“Despite the Corps of Engineer’s dredging efforts, there is little that can be done to deepen the channel at Thebes, where the bottom of the Mississippi is rock, not clay like it in most of the channel. The river is nine feet deep at Thebes, a town on the Illinois side of the river south of Cape Girardeau.

“Most barges need at least a 9 foot draft,” Fogarty said. But oil barges and ones that carry things like anhydrous ammonia don’t need as deep of a draft to get through.”Fogarty said while some old wrecks have been exposed by the low water, none of them are in the channel or otherwise a threat to navigation. He predicted the low water mark record will be broken about Dec. 15.

SOURCE:
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/11/28/175790/mississippi-river-could-become.html#emlnl=Daily_News_Update#storylink=cpy

Sinkhole Nearly Swallows Truck on Waller Street

by Andrew Dudley • Mon. Nov 26, 2012, 4:57 pm

A truck got stuck in a sinkhole on Waller Street between Scott and Divisadero this afternoon, and the street is now closed to traffic.

As of 4:30pm, the rear section of the Vac-Con truck was submerged under street level, while a giant crane worked to free the truck from its predicament. It didn’t appear that anyone was hurt in the incident.

No word on what caused the sinkhole, nor how long repairing the street might take, but if/when we hear from SFDPW we’ll update accordingly.

SOURCE:
http://haighteration.com/2012/11/sinkhole-nearly-swallows-truck-on-waller-street.html

Lava Enters Ocean from Puʻu ʻŌʻō

November 26th, 2012
By Wendy Osher

A lava flow from the Kīlauea Volcano’s Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent entered the ocean at around 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The spectacle drew a number of visitors to the area for tours over the weekend.

The activity came a day after a small earthquake, measuring 4.3 occurred at the Lōʻihi Seamount.

Lō’ihi is an active volcano situated on the sea floor about 19 miles from the south shoreline of Hawai’i Island.

Despite being felt island-wide officials with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory say there were no observable affects on other volcanoes.

The HVO notes that the ongoing eruption of Puʻu ʻŌʻō–Kupaianaha at Kīlauea began in January 1983.

Since then, lava flows have destroyed 213 structures, and resurfaced 9 miles of highway, covering it with as much as 115 feet of lava. A flow in mid-2010 and early 2011, reached the Kalapana Gardens subdivision, destroying three homes, according to the HVO.

 

SOURCE: Maui Now
http://mauinow.com/2012/11/26/lava-enters-ocean-from-puʻu-ʻoʻo/