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December 17, 2017

DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa

The defense department is holding off repairs and other planned infrastructure projects on Pag-Asa Island, one of seven islets and two reefs occupied by Filipino troops in the disputed Spratly Islands.

Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario pointed out that the maintenance and repair of facilities in Pag-Asa Island are not covered by the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of parties involved in the West Philippine Sea territorial disputes.

“Repair and maintenance is okay but before we can move construction materials to Pag-Asa, we have to build a port and doing so could change the landscape. It’s not allowed in the DOC,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said in reference to earlier approved plans for the repair of Rancudo airfield in the island.

Rancudo airfield is a key supply line for the troops and 200 civilian residents.

Pag-Asa Island is the seat of Kalayaan town of Palawan that has jurisdiction over the Philipine-held territory in the disputed region, claimed in whole or in part by China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

“We cannot repair the (airfield) because the construction materials will be coming from outside. Getting inside, if it will be by aircraft it will be very expensive and very impractical. So you have to bring in the boat but the boat cannot come in because there is no pier,” Gazmin said.

Security officials have been calling on the government to start immediate repairs of the Philippine facilities in the region, not necessarily to antagonize China and other claimant-countries, but to improve the morale and welfare of troops manning the outposts.

One security official noted that it is only the Philippines that is not doing anything to improve living conditions of the troops manning the outposts located in the middle of nowhere.

He said this is contrast to what China, Vietnam and Taiwan are doing in their respective controlled areas.

Marines are deployed on a three-month rotation basis in the disputed region but this is now being threatened by the increasing presence of Chinese warships and coast guard vessels in the area.

Ayungin Shoal, located within the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), is being guarded by Marines on board a grounded Navy supply ship, the BRP Sierra Madre.

China, despite being a party of the DOC signed in 2000, has become very aggressive in laying its maritime claim to almost the entire South China Sea, building artificial islets on four reefs despite protests by the Philippine government.

Six- and three-story buildings, as well as ports, helipads, runway with gun implacement, are now sprouting out from these Chinese-built and controlled artificial islets formerly known as Kennar Reef, Calderon Reef and Burgos Reef by Manila.

Aside from completing its reclamation of these former obscure West Philippine Sea areas, Beijing is also developing further the Panganiban or Mischief Reef, an area located within the territorial waters of Palawan.

‘Serious concern’

China’s Foreign Ministry expressed serious concern yesterday after the Philippines said it would resume repair and reconstruction works on disputed islands in the South China Sea, saying Manila was infringing on Chinese sovereignty.

The Philippines had halted activities last year over concerns about the effect on an international arbitration complaint filed against China.

Manila called on all countries last October to stop construction work on small islands and reefs in the South China Sea, most of which is claimed by China.

China itself is undertaking massive reclamation works in the area, while Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam have also been improving their facilities.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said it was “seriously concerned” by the remarks of Secretary Del Rosario.

“On the one hand the Philippines makes unreasonable criticism about China’s normal building activities on its own isles, and on the other announces it will resume repairs on an airport, runway and other illegal constructions on China’s Spratly Islands, which it illegally occupies,” Hua said.

“This is not only a series infringement of China’s sovereignty, but it also exposes the Philippines’ hypocrisy,” she told a daily news briefing, calling on the Philippines to withdraw from the islands.

The Philippine foreign ministry said the works, including repairs to an airstrip, did not violate an informal code of conduct in the South China Sea because they would not alter the status quo in the disputed area. The 2002 code was signed by China and 10 Southeast Asian states in Phnom Penh.

In 2013, Manila filed an arbitration case at The Hague questioning the maritime boundaries claimed by Beijing. Del Rosario said Manila expects a decision in February next year. ; – With Reuters

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DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa

Blaze on New York's Fire Island destroys 2 well-known gay resort landmarks; firefighters hurt

By Frank Eltman, The Associated Press

MINEOLA, N.Y. – An early morning blaze on Fire Island destroyed several structures, including two well-known landmarks in a historic gay resort, and required dozens of firefighters to respond by ferry from the mainland of Long Island, fire and police officials said Friday.

The fire, which was reported at about 1:30 a.m., ruined an apartment complex known as Holly House, as well as the Grove Hotel, and left three firefighters with minor injuries, said Craig Williams, Cherry Grove assistant fire chief. A nightclub attached to the hotel called the Ice Palace avoided serious damage, Williams said.

Cherry Grove has been known since the late 1940s as a sanctuary where gay writers, actors and businesspeople from New York City and beyond escape to relax, hold hands and show affection in public.

“This is the largest fire we have had here in well over a decade,” said Williams, a volunteer who lives near Hackensack, New Jersey, and drove to Long Island early Friday to respond to the blaze.

The Suffolk County police arson squad and the town of Brookhaven’s fire marshal’s office were conducting routine investigations to determine the cause.

Two private homes were destroyed and three others also were damaged, Williams said. None of the structures or homes near the downtown business district in the primarily summer beach community was occupied.

The nearby Cherry Grove Community House and Theater, which opened in 1948 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013, was not damaged, Williams said.

More than 100 firefighters from 22 departments responded to the blaze; some were taken by the Sayville Ferry Service across the Great South Bay to the scene on the barrier island about 60 miles east of Manhattan. It was not immediately clear whether the time to cross the bay to fight the fire contributed to the amount of damage inflicted by the blaze.

Williams and others noted that the historic Cherry Grove community, like many of the hamlets and villages along the 30-mile long barrier island 5 miles off the southern shore of Long Island, is primarily deserted this time of year.

“Thank God it wasn’t the height of the season,” Diane Romano, president of the Cherry Grove Community Association, told The Associated Press after touring the devastation Friday afternoon. “Everyone would not have gotten out of that hotel. It is devastating and will take a lot of work to build it back, but the spirit of the people in Cherry Grove is very strong and we’re all going to help each other.”

Notable Cherry Grove visitors and residents have included poet W.H. Auden; playwright Tennessee Williams; author Truman Capote; actresses Nancy Walker, Tallulah Bankhead and Hermione Gingold; comedian Kaye Ballard; and New Yorker journalist Janet Flanner.

Source article – 

Blaze on New York's Fire Island destroys 2 well-known gay resort landmarks; firefighters hurt

Looking for something competitive to do in February (and get a weekend away)? Here’s a few ideas

Feeling the urge for a bit of competition in the coming month? We’ve got you covered with these few suggestions.

Here, we’ve gone for cycling in west Clare, running through mud in north Dublin or doing your first duathlon – and having an excuse to head down to Cork.

So dust off the lycra, pump up those tyres and fill up that tank.

Junior Tour Sportives

What? The Junior Tour is by far and away the best race on the Irish domestic racing calendar for 16-18 year olds. In its 35+ year history the event has attracted some of the best talent from around the world – many of whom have gone on to have long and distinguished careers.

However, the race has run into financial difficulty with the organisers announcing last year that this year’s event – and indeed the future of the race, is in jeopardy as main sponsors have withdrawn their support and there isn’t the requisite funds to run it.

Three cycling sportives have been organised this month in an effort to raise the money needed to keep the race alive.

There’s one in Dublin this Sunday (enter here) featuring 2 routes of 100 and 50 kilometres, respectively while on Saturday week there’s one in Derry, details to be found here and later in the month, there’s a third one in Whitegate, Co. Clare. Details for that can be ascertained here.

When? Sunday, 1 February (that’s tomorrow), Saturday, 8 February and Saturday, 28 February.

Where? Baldonnell, Co. Dublin and Bellaghy, Co. Derry and Whitegate, Co, Clare

DUATHLON

Fota Island Challenge Series Sprint Duathlon

What? A duathlon is a three-part race and this event consists of a 4.8 kilometre run followed by an 18 kilometre cycle and another 4.8 kilometre run to finish.

It’s only the second year of the event but such was the success of the inaugural race in 2014 that it’s now a part of the National Series. The standard will be a real mix, with the top competitors competing for points in respective age groups, and those just out for a bitta craic having the opportunity of a good workout in a stunning location.

Registration is open the day before from 7am to 9.45 am and again from 5pm to 7pm while you can also register on the day in the Recreational Building at Fota, in close proximity to the hotel.

As the event is Triathlon Ireland sanctioned, a race license is required and the fee per participant is €39 and €75 for relay teams. There will be three different categories on the day from individual to relay teams and minimum age is 16.

When? Saturday, 28 February

Where? Fota Island, Cobh, Co. Cork

ATHLETICS

Swords Cross County Race

What?  Ballyheary Park in Swords hosts the very attractive-looking North Country Farmers Cross Country race the weekend after next and anyone over the age of 18 can enter.

The event is part of the Business Houses Athletics Association (BHAA) but you don’t need to be a BHAA member to race, you don’t need to be an employee of any business and you don’t even have to be a member of a running club to compete.

However, to race on the day as a non-member will cost you €15, as opposed to €10 if you are a member.

The event format sees two races happening on the same course with the same start time of 11.30am. The park has two fields with a wide foot bridge connecting both. The small lap involves a loop of the start/finish area field and the longer lap takes in the second field.

The ladies race is two mile course which is one small lap and one large lap. The mens race is 5 miles which involves 3 and 3/4 large laps. It should be noted that ladies are welcome to run in the longer 5 mile race if they wish to do so.

When? Saturday, 7 Feb 2015 at 11:30am

Where? The race headquarters is in Fingallians GAA , Swords. If driving it is recommended to take the M1 Motorway using the Exit 4 – Lissenhall interchange.

Check out the BHAA website for more details.

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Change it up with this class 15-minute abs workout

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View the original here:  

Looking for something competitive to do in February (and get a weekend away)? Here’s a few ideas

Chinese leaders pick through man-made obstacles

Alicante (Spain) (AFP) – Leaders Dongfeng Race Team and the rest of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet were carefully picking their way through the Bay of Bengal on Tuesday in Leg 3 of the nine-month marathon offshore race.

Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier (France) protected a narrow 30-nautical mile (nm) advantage over closest rivals Team Brunel (Netherlands) with three other boats within 5nm of them (0940 GMT).

For all, however, it has been a case of very watchful progress because of the pollution in the Bay as they headed towards another hazardous stretch of water, the Malacca Strait, that separates the Indonesian island of Sumatra and Malaysia and is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Team Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking wrote in a blog: “There was so much plastic in the water that I started counting in several intervals of 10 minutes for a duration of four hours, the amount of plastic I could see floating by.

“A scary result was the outcome. Every 37 seconds on average I saw a piece of rubbish floating by, either big or small. I am not a scientist or researcher, but the total weight of this trash floating around in this part of the world must be enormous.”

Already crews have had to release fishing nets and all sorts of debris from under their boats on their passage through the 4,670nm stage from Abu Dhabi to Sanya, Hainan Island, on the southern-most tip of China.

Dongfeng, Team Brunel and Abu Dhabi Ocean were locked at the top of the overall leaderboard on four points apiece after two of the 11 legs of the race, which started in Alicante, Spain, on October 4 last year and is scheduled to finish in Gothenburg, Sweden on June 27.

Caudrelier, a member of the victorious Groupama crew in the previous edition in 2011-12, would dearly love victory in this stage, which is expected to be completed around January 25-26 after three weeks of racing depending on weather conditions. They have just under 2,500nm to sail before then.

None of the three Chinese-backed boats to have taken part in the 41-year-old event – formerly the Whitbread Round the World Race – has won a leg and victory in Sanya would be the ideal place to break that duck. It would also put Dongfeng Race Team narrowly ahead in the overall standings.

“Onboard we are focused but tired from the constant battle of nerves. Nothing is ever for keeps on this leg, we need to fighting for another 15 days to get our boat home,” said Caudrelier, 40.

The Volvo Ocean Race is held every three years and is generally accepted as offshore sailing’s toughest and most prestigious event. This is the 12th edition.

Latest standings after Leg 2: 1 Team Brunel (Netherlands) 4 pts, 2 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 4, 3 Dongfeng Race Team (China) 4, 4 Team Alvimedica (Turkey/U.S.) 9, 5 MAPFRE (Spain) 11, 6 Team Vestas Wind (Denmark) 12, 7 Team SCA (Sweden) 12.

Originally posted here:

Chinese leaders pick through man-made obstacles

Easter Island's Demise May Have Surprising New Explanation

The downfall of Easter Island may have had more to do with preexisting environmental conditions than degradation by humans, according to a new study of the remote speck of land made famous by its enormous stone-head statues.

Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, was first settled around A.D. 1200, and Europeans landed on its shores in 1722. The circumstances surrounding the collapse of the indigenous population of Rapa Nui are hotly debated both in academia and popular culture. Scientist and author Jared Diamond argued in his 2005 book “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” (Viking Press) that prior to European contact, the indigenous people of the island degraded the environment to the extent that they could no longer thrive.

The new study suggests that Easter Island’s people were, indeed, suffering before Europeans came along. The story of their downfall, however, may be less about environmental degradation than the pre-existing environmental constraints of the 63-square-mile (163 square kilometers) isle. [Image Gallery: The Walking Statues of Easter Island]

“The results of our research were really quite surprising to me,” said study co-author Thegn Ladefoged, an anthropologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. “Indeed, in the past, we’ve published articles about how there was little evidence for pre-European-contact societal collapse.” 

Collapse of civilization?

The new study challenged Ladefoged and his colleagues’ view. Changes on Easter Island have been well documented, archaeologically. Over time, elite dwellings were destroyed, inland agricultural fields were abandoned, and people took refuge in caves and began manufacturing more and more spear points made out of volcanic glass called obsidian, perhaps suggesting a period of war and upheaval. 

The problem with pinning down the island’s history, according to the researchers, is that the dates of all these events and abandonments remain murky. Going into the study, the researchers expected to find that most of the disaster occurred after Europeans arrived, Ladefoged told Live Science.

To clarify the timeline, the researchers analyzed more than 400 obsidian tools and chipped-off obsidian flakes from six sites scattered around the island, focusing in particular on three with good information on climate and soil chemistry.

Obsidian absorbs water when exposed to air. By measuring the amount of water absorption in the surfaces of the obsidian tools and flakes, the research team was able to gauge how long those surfaces have been exposed, thus revealing when the tools were made. A greater number of tools from a certain time period indicates heavier human use of that area during that time. [History’s 10 Most Overlooked Mysteries]

Natural challenges

The obsidian dates varied widely across the sites. Site 1, on the northwestern coast of the island, saw a steady increase in use between about 1220 and 1650, with a fast decline starting after 1650 — long before Europeans arrived on the island.

Site 2, an interior mountainside site, saw a rapid increase in land use between about 1200 and 1300, a slower increase until about 1480, and then constant use until a decline that started between 1705 and 1710, also before European contact. By the time Europeans came along, coastal Site 1 was at about 54 percent of its peak land use, and mountainous Site 2 was at only about 60 percent.

Site 3 told a different story. This near-coastal area saw a slow increase in human activity between 1250 and 1500, and then a faster increase until about 1690, after which settlement remained fairly constant until after European contact. In fact, the decline in use of this site didn’t begin until 1850 or later, the researchers found.

The differing climates of the sites may explain the uneven decline, the researchers said. Site 1 is in the rain shadow of the volcano Ma’unga Terevaka, making it prone to droughts. Site 2 is wetter, but its soil fertility is low. Site 3, the longest-lasting spot, is both rainy and fertile.

What this means is that the people of Easter Island may have been struggling against natural environmental barriers to success, rather than degrading the environment themselves, the researchers reported Monday (Jan. 5) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“It is clear that people were reacting to regional environmental variation on the island before they were devastated by the introduction of European diseases and other historic processes,” Ladefoged said. The next step, he said, would be to take a detailed look at the archaeological remnants of dwellings on the island over time to better understand how humans and the environment interacted.

Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Copyright 2015 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source:

Easter Island's Demise May Have Surprising New Explanation

Jailed grandmother demands apology

A 72-year-old woman jailed for meeting her granddaughter in breach of a court order has demanded an apology after claiming she was “treated worse than a dog” while in custody.

Kathleen Danby also believes she deserves to be compensated for her ordeal after spending two nights in prison and a third in a police cell before her three-month sentence was cut to time already served.

Mrs Danby, who was sentenced in her absence by a Court of Protection judge in April after breaching an order not to approach her granddaughter, told the Daily Mail she now felt shattered and very weak.

Claiming to have been left injured after being man-handled during her time in custody, the pensioner told the newspaper: “I want an apology from Derbyshire County Council and compensation for my ordeal and the ordeal my granddaughter has had to go through.”

The pensioner, who was arrested on Sunday while attending a Ken Dodd concert in Liverpool, alleges that she was denied pills for liver disease.

Mrs Danby was freed at Birmingham’s civil court yesterday after apologising to a judge, paving the way for a reduction in the three-month jail sentence.

However, outside court the defiant grandmother described a lengthy ordeal which had seen her being driven on a 200-mile trip between court and prison.

Wearing a large red coat, Mrs Danby said she found it difficult to believe the lengths to which the authorities had gone to bring her before the family court.

In April, a judge sentenced Mrs Danby to prison in her absence after watching CCTV evidence of her greeting the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, with a hug outside a pub.

Reducing the sentence of Mrs Danby, from Kirkwall on the island of Orkney, Judge Sally Dowding told the pensioner: “I am satisfied she fully appreciates the difficulties of her position and what she must do, and I am confident she will comply in future.”

Contempt of court proceedings were brought against the pensioner by Derbyshire County Council, which is responsible for looking after her granddaughter.

The local authority alleged Mrs Danby was in breach of court orders made in September 2013, and January and April 2014.

Those orders banned Mrs Danby from having any communication, save a single supervised monthly phone call, with the teenager.

Judge Dowding said it was very sad Mrs Danby had failed to comply with the orders, which were imposed after a court heard that the pensioner had had a “very adverse effect” on her granddaughter.

The Prison Service declined to comment directly on Mrs Danby’s case, but it is understood her medication was verified for her to take during her time in custody.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “We ensure that suitable facilities are provided for elderly prisoners and that individual healthcare needs are met.

“We always follow appropriate security procedures when administering medication.”

Continued here: 

Jailed grandmother demands apology

Comanche, Wild Oats XI in Sydney to Hobart duel

HOBART, Australia (AP) — Seven-time champion Wild Oats XI and American super maxi Comanche continued their Sydney to Hobart duel on Saturday, 24 hours into the annual ocean race to the island state of Tasmania.

Comanche, which was launched in October and is being tested in race conditions for the first time, led defending champion Wild Oats XI for much of the race since its start Friday in Sydney Harbour.

But by early afternoon Saturday, Wild Oats opened up a three-nautical-mile lead over the American boat, with both yachts completing about 250 nautical miles of the 628-nautical-mile race.

Ragamuffin, another super maxi and skippered by 87-year-old Syd Fischer, was in a distant third place, about 40 nautical miles behind the leaders. Another American entry, super maxi Rio 100, was fourth.

Perpetual Loyal was earlier sitting in fourth place before being forced to retire due to a damaged hull — the first of the five super maxis in the race to retire and one of eight yachts to pull out following a rough first night at sea.

Perpetual Loyal skipper Anthony Bell decided to withdraw early Saturday after the boat started taking on water while off Eden on the New South Wales state south coast.

The boat, which includes professional surfer Sally Fitzgibbons, former world champion boxer Danny Green and Olympic sailor Tom Slingsby among its crew, returned to its home club at Sydney’s Rose Bay.

“We’re not exactly sure how it happened,” Slingsby said. “We were coming off some big waves but we also could have hit something during the night when we were falling off these waves.”

Brindabella, the 1997 champion, also retired from the original 117-yacht fleet with rudder problems.

Wild Oats XI set the race record of 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes, 12 seconds in 2012, a mark that will likely stand this year.

Link – 

Comanche, Wild Oats XI in Sydney to Hobart duel

Wildlife groups seek help for California owl

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Loggers cutting down forests burned in wildfires could bring about the extinction of California spotted owls, wildlife advocates said Tuesday as they sought protection for the birds under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The petition says emerging science has shown that the owls thrive in old growth forests that are still living as well as those that have been burned and turned black by high-intensity forest fires.

That finding contradicts current common practice of the U.S. Forest Service, which opens up some burned forests to loggers, the petition states.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman John Heil said officials don’t believe the California spotted owl is in danger of extinction. The agency maintains that massive wildfires are the greatest threat to the owls and works to ensure the owl’s habitat is maintained or improved, he said.

Spotted owls have declined throughout California by about 40 percent in the past three decades, said Chad Hanson, a forest ecologist at the John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute and one of the petitioners.

There are an estimated 1,200 pairs nesting in the state stretching from Lassen National Forest in the north to San Bernardino National Forest in the south, he said.

Without federal protection, Hanson said the owls could be gone after another three decades of logging.

“You don’t call that a decline,” he said. “Science is telling us loudly that this species is at serious risk of extinction.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which denied protection to the spotted owl in 2006 under a similar request, has three months to decide if there is evidence to support the request and open a deeper discussion. Officials at the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declined to comment, saying they had not yet seen the 130-page petition.

Rangers monitor California spotted owls and are currently updating a 1992 study to determine what help is needed. That study should be ready early next year with a conservation strategy complete by 2016, Heil said.

Mike Albrecht, a logger and owner of Sierra Resources Management, said removing burned trees creates healthier forests, which benefits spotted owls and people. Loggers have left large swaths of forests in California untouched, which are open to wildlife, he said.

“It’s a little misleading to blame logging or massive fires or any one thing on the demise of the spotted owl,” he said. “We’re all working hard to preserve it.”

Monica Bond, a biologist with the Wild Nature Institute and one of the petitioners, said a 400-square-mile area burned in the 2013 Rim Fire is a prime example of the logic in the petition.

Spotted owls have flourished a year after the Sierra Nevada’s largest fire in recorded history raced through Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park, she said. Hanson and Bond have taken part in a lawsuit attempting to stop logging in the Rim Fire area.

“The fact is that logging is going to hurt owls,” she said. “It’s time to give this owl some help.”

See more here: 

Wildlife groups seek help for California owl

Woman found in Massachusetts home with dead babies charged with murder

BOSTON (Reuters) – A 31-year-old Massachusetts woman who authorities discovered living with the bodies of three dead babies tucked inside a closet in her rodent-infested house was charged on Tuesday with two counts of murder, prosecutors said.

The woman, Erika Murray, had been charged in September with crimes including fetal death concealment after police found the bodies of three dead young children in the home in Blackstone, Massachusetts, she shared with her boyfriend, Raymond Rivera, 38.

Rivera was arrested on Tuesday and charged with seven criminal counts including assault and battery on a child causing substantial bodily injury.

“This has been and will continue to be a difficult case,” Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said in a statement. “Our investigators followed the evidence where it led.”

Police were called to the house, located in a suburb some 40 miles southwest of Boston near the Rhode Island border in August, after crying children were reported there. They found four children, ranging in age from three months to 13 years, who were taken into state custody.

All the children, living and deceased, were the offspring of Murray and Rivera, prosecutors said.

Attorneys for the two defendants could not be reached for immediate comment.

Authorities have since razed the house, which had been located just a half-mile from the local police station on a quiet residential street.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Eric Walsh)

View original article:

Woman found in Massachusetts home with dead babies charged with murder

Ukraine's recent nuclear reactor scare harkens back to ghosts of historic nuclear accidents

One of the reactors in Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine suffered an accident that triggered an automatic shutdown this week. Reports suggest that damage occurred to a transformer in one of the 1000-megawatt reactors at the Zaporizhye plant, which provides over one-fifth of the country’s electricity.

Ukraine’s energy minister said that it was a “technical fault” and assured the public that there was “no threat” to the reactor’s safety, according to BBC News

With the country already suffering fuel shortage, Ukraine this winter will probably be forced to import electricity from Russia.

Accidents at nuclear rectors makes folks understandably nervous, and is also a reminder that despite all the climate change benefits we get from nuclear energy – like cutting greenhouse gas emissions – there are a lot of risks associated with it, too.

Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima all grabbed the world’s attention over the past 30 years when the crises unfolded at those plants. But what happened after they left the headlines?

The worst-ever U.S. nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, near Middletown, Pennsylvania, was a partial meltdown that occurred on March 28, 1979

The facility was only 3 months old when a cooling problem caused one of the reactors to overheat and release radioactive gases and iodine into the environment, but it wasn’t enough to cause any confirmed health effects to local residents.

The reactor was shut down permanently, was decontaminated and put into what is known as “post-defueled monitored storage,” with plans for dismantling only after its neighbouring reactor on site is shut down sometime in 2034.

In April 1986, the world’s worst nuclear disaster occurred at Ukraine’s Chernobyl power plant. technicians lost control of nuclear fission reactions in the reactor core and heat rose quickly until pressure built up and explored the core, releasing radioactive steam into the atmosphere. After the initial explosion occurred, fire broke out that sent large clouds of radioactive particles high into the air, which was then swept over a large part of Western Europe. 

Thirty-one people – technicians and firefighters mostly – died from the accident itself, and untold thousands may have contracted cancer. Exact numbers are still being debated

If you want to see the devastation that this nuclear accident wrought in its immediate surroundings check out newly-released video footage obtained via a remote-controlled drone. This is the first time that the nearby ghost town Pripyat has been filmed from the air.

The power plant itself is entombed within an aging concrete structure that was hastily built back during the old Soviet era.

Currently, an internationally-funded project is underway to build a massive 32,000 ton metal arch that will contain the entire building. Hopes are that it will be ready by 2017, before the existing shelter collapses and releases more radioactive-laden dust into the atmosphere like a dirt bomb. It is expected that the arch should last anywhere from 100 to 300 years.

Finally, the March 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami showed us that there can be natural forces that have to be considered with nuclear power. The Fukushima Daiichi power plant, located 220 km northeast of Tokyo on Japan’s east coast, had three of its six reactors melt down when it got hit by tsunami waves triggered by a 9.0 earthquake. This knocked out its generators which caused its reactors to overheat, explode and release radioactivity into the environment – contaminating food, water and air.  

Over 300,000 people were evacuated from the surrounding villages. Nearly 16,000 residents are still unable to return to their homes because clean up efforts are being hindered by unsafe levels of radiation in the soil and water.

All this radiation from the disaster has definitely not been isolated to just Japan. Researchers monitoring the Pacific Ocean, in which much of the radiation spilled into, have detected radioactive isotopes this past November just 160 km off the coast of California.

So this story will continue to unfold for many years to come.

View original post here: 

Ukraine's recent nuclear reactor scare harkens back to ghosts of historic nuclear accidents