Alaska & Washington Salmon Tested For Radiation | Simply Info

SalmonA Seattle fish company had some of their fish privately tested in late 2013. With all the US government agencies refusing to test anything and growing consumer anxiety due to the lack of information, Loki Fish company paid for private testing.

This is some of the only North American seafood testing done. While the current findings of these limited samples is somewhat good news, more testing is needed to have a better understanding of the situation across a large geographic area of ocean. These are a “snapshot” of a much larger picture. More testing should be done by more parties and done over time to understand the potential progression of radionuclides in the environment. Artificial isotopes like cesium 137, 134 or strontium 90 should not be ingested, even in small amounts ideally. Even small amounts have the potential to add to health damage that can cause cancer and other health problems over time.

What Loki Fish found in their testing was out of seven samples, five were below the level of detection and two had low levels of cesium. One sample had cesium 134, a marker that confirms at least that contamination came from Fukushima Daiichi due to the short half life. The two with detectable levels were:

  • Alaskan Keta at 1.4Bq/kg for Cesium 137
  • Alaskan Pink at 1.2Bq/kg for Cesium 134

The other five samples that were below the detection level were:

  • Coho – Southeast Alaska
  • Sockeye  – Southeast Alaska
  • King – Southeast Alaska
  • Pink  – Puget Sound
  • Keta  – Puget Sound

Copies of the actual test results can be found here:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/it071klk0uyss5i/pBryvo1Yz3

Source: Fukuleaks

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Time lapse map of every nuclear explosion ever on Earth

By Isao Hashimoto

Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto has created a beautiful, undeniably scary time-lapse map of the 2053 nuclear explosions which have taken place between 1945 and 1998, beginning with the Manhattan Project’s “Trinity” test near Los Alamos and concluding with Pakistan’s nuclear tests in May of 1998. This leaves out North Korea’s two alleged nuclear tests in this past decade (the legitimacy of both of which is not 100% clear).

Each nation gets a blip and a flashing dot on the map whenever they detonate a nuclear weapon, with a running tally kept on the top and bottom bars of the screen. Hashimoto, who began the project in 2003, says that he created it with the goal of showing”the fear and folly of nuclear weapons.” It starts really slow — if you want to see real action, skip ahead to 1962 or so — but the buildup becomes overwhelming.

Source: Isao Hashimoto

Amazon Deforestation Increases 28 Percent in One Year | EcoWatch

DeforestationBy Daniela Montalto

Last week, the Brazilian government released annual figures for deforestation in the Amazon and the news is not good. A total of 5,843 square kilometres are estimated lost between August 2012 and July 2013, an increase in deforestation of 28 percent compared to the previous year.

This sharp increase in deforestation in the Amazon is no surprise—all deforestation estimates released over the last year have shown we were headed in this direction. Last year, the government passed a new Forest Code, dramatically changing the environmental law that governs forest use in Brazil, including the Amazon.

A strong agribusiness influence in the Brazilian Congress lead to a massive weakening of the Forest Code—a law that once helped protect the Amazon. Those who believed the empty promises that the new Forest Code would bring governance to the Amazon, that amnesty granted to environmental criminals would not have consequences and that farmers in the Amazon would be moved by the spirit of Brazilian citizenship and legal compliance, can now see the reality of the impact of the new law in the forest. The ‘growth-at-all-costs’ model, based on the expansion of the agricultural frontier and the establishment of large infrastructure projects in the Amazon provides a sharp contrast to the image the government wants to sell.

Brazil can no longer hide behind the celebrated decrease in deforestation made in past years or the thinly veiled promises around the Forest Code. Brazil can hardly continue to claim leadership in sustainability and new models of development as all eyes turn to Brazil as hosts of the upcoming World Cup.

Corporate Responsibility

In 2009, the three largest slaughterhouses in Brazil signed the Cattle Agreement and pledged not to buy cattle from farms that were involved in new deforestation, slave labor or invasions into Indigenous land and protected areas in the Amazon. In 2006, the soy and cattle sector made commitments to move away from deforestation. The Soy Moratorium was signed by soy traders to stop the trade of soy coming from newly deforested land.

The Soy Moratorium is still in place today but it is set to expire in January 2014. If the industry fails to renew the moratorium without the proper safeguards and next steps in place, this could mean more bad news for the Amazon. We could see another dramatic increase in forest destruction as Soy expansion runs rampant through the forest.

Source: EcoWatch

US Gov’t: Alaska island “appears to show impacts from Fukushima” — “Significant cesium isotope signature” detected — Scientists anticipate more marine life to be impacted as ocean plume arrives | ENENEWS

FukushimaDaiichi-BeforeAfter-288Amchitka Island, Alaska, Biological Monitoring Report 2011 Sampling Results
September 2013: To determine what [Fukushima Dai-ichi’s] direct release of radioactive materials into the atmosphere might have contributed to the background radiation on Amchitka and Adak Islands, semiquantitative gamma spectrometry measurements were made […] The results imply that Dolly Varden [a type of fish], rockweed, and to a lesser extent, Irish lord [a type of fish] appear to contain a significant cesium isotope signature from Fukushima Dai-ichi. The estimated 134Cs/137Cs activity ratios in pooled fauna samples at the time sampled ranged from <30 to about 60 percent. Observations of Fukushima-derived fallout impacting on this region are supported by findings of elevated levels of 134Cs (and 137Cs) in lichen and soil collected from both the Adak and Amchitka regions. […]

Lichen sample from mid-2011 expressed in picocuries/kilogram — Lichen on  the island had less than 70 pCi/kg of Cs-137 in 1997.

Department of Energy:
Biological Monitoring at Amchitka Appears to Show Impacts from Fukushima Dai-ichi Incident […] The U.S. Department of Energy Office Legacy Management (LM) has a long-term stewardship mission to protect human health and the environment from the legacy of underground nuclear testing conducted at Amchitka Island, Alaska, from 1965 to 1971. […] Atmospheric monitoring in the United States showed elevated cesium activities shortly after the [Fukushima] nuclear incident. LM scientists anticipated that atmospheric transport of cesium would potentially increase the cesium activities in the 2011 biological samples collected near Amchitka. Because cesium-134 has a relatively short half-life of 2 years and indicates leakage from a nuclear reactor, it is a clear indicator of a recent nuclear accident […] Because the Amchitka 2011 sampling event occurred soon after the Fukushima nuclear accident, the biota impacted by atmospheric precipitation showed the greatest impact (e.g., species that live in freshwater or shallow ocean waters) when compared to marine biota living in deeper water. This is because ocean currents are a slower transport process than wind currents. LM scientists anticipate that the marine biota will show the impacts of Fukushima during the next sampling event, currently scheduled to occur in 2016. […]

Source: ENENEWS

Fracking the American Dream: Drilling Decreases Property Value | EcoWatch

NAShaleBedsDrilling conflicts are almost always described in the context of their impacts on air, water and health. But increasingly, as the drilling boom sweeps the country, another part of the drilling story is starting to bubble up in drilling hotspots like Colorado, Pennsylvania, New York, Wyoming and Texas.

Increasingly, oil and gas development is butting up against, and often trampling, the bedrock American principles of property rights and the value of one’s home. The map below shows all the shale gas in play in North America.

Industry estimates peg the number new wells that will be drilled across the U.S. over the next decade at more than 200,000. In this rush to tap once unreachable deposits, oil and gas development is pushing the boundaries of drilling. Innovations like fracking and horizontal drilling mean nothing is out of reach. Once the province of wide open spaces, drilling rigs now regularly inch up and even into communities that never anticipated having to address problems like round-the-clock noise, storage tanks, drums of toxic chemicals, noxious fumes, and pipelines near homes, schools, playgrounds and parks.

This clash of large-scale industrial activity and communities has surfaced a deep rift in the American landscape, where the legal doctrine of split estates allows one party to own mineral rights and someone else to hold the rights to soil and surface. With the oil and gas industry showing little self-restraint in where drilling happens, and almost no regulatory or legal precedents to protect them from having industrial activity in their back yards, communities are fighting back. Increased truck traffic, chemicals, lights, noise, heavy equipment, noxious air emissions and water contamination are liabilities for landowners, to the point that communities in Colorado, New York and other states have taken matters into their own hands.

Feeling unprotected by weak state and oil and gas regulations—most of which were developed never contemplating drilling in urban and suburban landscapes—towns, cities and counties are instituting moratoria and bans on drilling within their borders. There are fracking-related ballot measures in at least four Colorado communities this year.

But it’s not just “not-in-my-back-yard”-ism driving this reactive opposition. The financial risks posed by drilling are real and substantial enough, for example, that banks and insurers are adopting guidelines that forbid mortgage loans or insurance coverage on properties affected by drilling. It’s a battle between oil and gas and the nest egg of countless Americans.

The following examples begin to piece together the ways in which the threats posed by drilling and the deep pockets of the oil and gas industry quite literally hit home. Taken together, they are a call for decision-makers to start quantifying data and asking tough questions about drilling vs. the American Dream. Read more…

Source: EcoWatch

Pesticide Companies Sue EU Commission for Protecting Pollinators | EcoWatch

CourtsandMoneyOn Nov. 6 BASF, a German agrochemical company, took legal action in the General Court of the European Union (EU) to challenge the EU Commission’s decision to restrict seed treatment uses of the insecticide fipronil. BASF joins chemical companies Bayer and Syngenta in challenging the EU’s decision to restrict the use of certain pesticides that are harmful to pollinators.

The EU Commission’s decision to restrict the use of fipronil in July came after the Commission’s landmark decision announcing a two-year continent-wide ban on the neonicotinoid pesticides clothianidinimidacloprid and thiamethoxam. The pesticides have been linked to the decline in bee populations. Twenty-three European Union Member States supported the fipronil restriction, two Member States voted against and three Member States abstained during the standing committee vote. BASF argued that its legal action against the EU is based on a disproportionate application of the precautionary principle. However, overwhelming scientific evidence supports the position that fipronil is highly toxic to bees.

Fipronil, a phenyl pyrazole broad-spectrum insecticide, was first introduced in the U.S. in 1996 for commercial turf and indoor pest control and is highly toxic to bees. A recent investigation reveals that fipronil is responsible for the death of  thousands of bees in Minnesota. Fipronil also has been shown to reduce behavioral function and learning performances in honey bees. A 2011 French study reported that newly emerged honey bees exposed to low doses of fipronil and thiacloprid succumbed more readily to the parasite Nosema ceranae compared to healthy bees, supporting the hypothesis that the synergistic combination of parasitic infection and high pesticide exposures in beehives may contribute to colony decline.

Fipronil is also harmful to humans and has been linked to hormone disruption, thyroid cancer, neurotoxicity and reproductive effects in mammals. Recently, a federal grand jury in Macon, GA, alleged that a pest company wrongly applied fipronil in multiple nursing homes in Georgia.

beeBy challenging the EU commission’s decision to ban pesticides that are suspected to be harmful to bee health, BASF joins Bayer and Sygenta, which are also challenging the new restrictions. This past August, Syngenta filed a legal challenge to the European Union’s suspension of one of its insecticides, thiamethoxan. In a press release, Syngenta claims that the European Commission made its decision on the basis of a flawed process.

Bayer Crop Science filed a similar legal challenge with the Court of Justice of the European Union in mid-August. Bayer claims that its pesticides, imidacloprid and clothianidin, have been on the market for many years and have been extensively tested and approved. According to EU guidelines, approved products can only be banned if there is new evidence of their negative effects, Bayer Crop Science said. These actions taken by the agrochemical industry that challenge the ban on neonicotinoids ignore the increasing body of new science that documents neonicotinoid toxicity to bees and other pollinators.

As Europe has moved toward creating stronger regulations designed to protect declining bee health, the U.S. has remained woefully behind. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledged that current pesticide labels do not adequately protect honey bees and announced new label language to prohibit the use of neonicotinoid pesticides when bees are present. The new labels will also include a “bee advisory box” and icon with information on routes of exposure and spray drift precautions. However, beekeepers and environmental groups question the efficacy and enforceability of the new label changes in curtailing systemic pesticides that result in long-term residues in the environment, contaminating nectar and pollen, and poisoning wild bees that the EPA seems to ignore in its decision-making process.

Due to the absence of strong regulatory safeguards for pollinators in the U.S., it is important for the public to become engaged in pollinator protection. Beyond Pesticides’ BEE Protective campaign supports a shift away from the use of these toxic chemicals by encouraging organic methods and sustainable land management practices in your home, campus, or community and in food production.

Source: EcoWatch

Scientists discover what’s killing the bees and it’s worse than you thought | Quartz

By Todd Woody

beeinsectideAs we’ve written before, the mysterious mass die-off of honey bees that pollinate $30 billion worth of crops in the US has so decimated America’s apis mellifera population that one bad winter could leave fields fallow. Now, a new study has pinpointed some of the probable causes of bee deaths and the rather scary results show that averting beemageddon will be much more difficult than previously thought.

Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.

When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite called Nosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight ag chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite.

Most disturbing, bees that ate pollen contaminated with fungicides were three times as likely to be infected by the parasite. Widely used, fungicides had been thought to be harmless for bees as they’re designed to kill fungus, not insects, on crops like apples.

“There’s growing evidence that fungicides may be affecting the bees on their own and I think what it highlights is a need to reassess how we label these agricultural chemicals,” Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the study’s lead author, told Quartz.

Labels on pesticides warn farmers not to spray when pollinating bees are in the vicinity but such precautions have not applied to fungicides.

Bee populations are so low in the US that it now takes 60% of the country’s surviving colonies just to pollinate one California crop, almonds. And that’s not just a west coast problem—California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds, a market worth $4 billion.

In recent years, a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids has been linked to bee deaths and in April regulators banned the use of the pesticide for two years in Europe where bee populations have also plummeted. But vanEngelsdorp, an assistant research scientist at the University of Maryland, says the new study shows that the interaction of multiple pesticides is affecting bee health.

“The pesticide issue in itself is much more complex than we have led to be believe,” he says. “It’s a lot more complicated than just one product, which means of course the solution does not lie in just banning one class of product.”

The study found another complication in efforts to save the bees: US honey bees, which are descendants of European bees, do not bring home pollen from native North American crops but collect bee chow from nearby weeds and wildflowers. That pollen, however, was also contaminated with pesticides even though those plants were not the target of spraying.

“It’s not clear whether the pesticides are drifting over to those plants but we need take a new look at agricultural spraying practices,” says vanEngelsdorp.

Source: Quartz