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Posts Tagged ‘ghost town’

29th Anniversary of Chernobyl NPP Disaster

Posted by feww on April 26, 2015

Chernobyl sarcophagus falling apart

29 Years ago today (April 26, 1986) a power surge blew the roof off the reactor No. 4 of the V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station, as it was then called, releasing radioactive clouds across Eastern Europe, and leaving entire regions in three countries—Ukraine, Russia and Belarus—unlivable.

The explosion has so far claimed at least a million lives, and counting.

z-chernobyl-meltdown
Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant underwent a core meltdown [center] in 1986 with disastrous consequences. The radionuclide levels still exceed the normal background in 60 Ukrainian towns and villages. This image was taken by authorities in the former Soviet Union.

The radiation contaminated 50,000 square kilometers of land across 12 regions in Ukraine, and forced hundreds of villages to be relocated. In neighboring Belarus 20 percent of the entire country’s land area was also contaminated.

The radionuclide levels still exceed the normal background in 60 Ukrainian towns and villages.

Today, a second casing is being built to contain the radiation, which is still being emitted by the reactor because the old sarcophagus is crumbling.

However, the dire economic situation in Ukraine may mean the project may be shelved, said a report.

Never Ending Nightmare at

“In mid-February [2013,] a 600-square-meter section of the roof at the Chernobyl site collapsed, sparking fears of another disaster. The collapse occurred 70 meters above the sarcophagus that contains the radiation from the damaged No. 4 reactor.” Said a report.

Experts estimate that 190 tons of reactor fuel remain under the existing sarcophagus that covers the disaster stricken power plant.


Birth defects and cancer were the norm for many years following the Chernobyl disaster.  By the time  residents of Pripyat, a town located near the plant, were ordered to evacuate, about two days after the Chernobyl core meltdown had occurred, many had already been exposed to varying doses of radiation poisoning.

1 Million Killed in Chernobyl Disaster

“A report by Alexey Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko which appeared in the Annals of the New York Academy of Science showed that by 2004, there were 985,000 additional deaths worldwide caused by the nuclear disaster, including 212,000 of them within Western Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.”

Chernobyl fallout covers the entire Northern Hemisphere

Consequences of the Catastrophe. Authors  Alexey Yablokov (Center for Russian Environmental Policy in Moscow), Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko ( Institute of Radiation Safety, Minsk, Belarus) studies about 5,000 reports and scientific  papers mostly published in Slavic languages and compiled their finding in the  book “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment,” which was published last year on the 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl reactor core meltdown.

“For the past 23 years, it has been clear that there is a danger greater than nuclear weapons concealed within nuclear power. Emissions from this one reactor exceeded a hundred-fold the radioactive contamination of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” They wrote.

“No citizen of any country can be assured that he or she can be protected from radioactive contamination. One nuclear reactor can pollute half the globe,” the authors said. “Chernobyl fallout covers the entire Northern Hemisphere.”

According to the book, a total of about 830,000 people, referred to as the “liquidators,” were responsible for various emergency works at the Chernobyl site including fire extinguishing, decontamination and cleanup.

The authors say between 112,000 and 125,000 of the  liquidators had died by 2005.  The authors also estimate that between 1986 and 2004 some 985,000 people died as a result of Chernobyl fallout {2011 estimates are well over a million deaths.]

“Official discussions from the International Atomic Energy Agency and associated United Nations’ agencies (e.g. the Chernobyl Forum reports) have largely downplayed or ignored many of the findings reported in the Eastern European scientific literature and consequently have erred by not including these assessments.” The authors said last year.

What Happened to Wildlife?

Researchers found that there were “areas with an abundance of 100 animals per square meter. And then there are areas with less than one specimen per square meter on average; the same goes for all groups of species.”

The researchers also found that animals living near the Chernobyl reactor were subject to more incidences of deformities, including discoloration and stunted limbs, than normal.

“We wanted to ask the question: Are there more or fewer animals in the contaminated areas? Clearly there were fewer,” said Moller, one of the researchers who has worked on Chernobyl since 1991.

Effects of Chernobyl radioactive contamination on decomposition of plant material

A new study has found that the microbial communities, which are responsible for natural cycle of decay of organic materials,  have been significantly reduced in radioactively contaminated zones near Chernobyl.

The following is Abstract from  the report E-pubulished on March 4,  2014.

Highly reduced mass loss rates and increased litter layer in radioactively contaminated areas

The effects of radioactive contamination from Chernobyl on decomposition of plant material still remain unknown. We predicted that decomposition rate would be reduced in the most contaminated sites due to an absence or reduced densities of soil invertebrates. If microorganisms were the main agents responsible for decomposition, exclusion of large soil invertebrates should not affect decomposition. In September 2007 we deposited 572 bags with uncontaminated dry leaf litter from four species of trees in the leaf litter layer at 20 forest sites around Chernobyl that varied in background radiation by more than a factor 2,600. Approximately one quarter of these bags were made of a fine mesh that prevented access to litter by soil invertebrates. These bags were retrieved in June 2008, dried and weighed to estimate litter mass loss. Litter mass loss was 40 % lower in the most contaminated sites relative to sites with a normal background radiation level for Ukraine. Similar reductions in litter mass loss were estimated for individual litter bags, litter bags at different sites, and differences between litter bags at pairs of neighboring sites differing in level of radioactive contamination. Litter mass loss was slightly greater in the presence of large soil invertebrates than in their absence. The thickness of the forest floor increased with the level of radiation and decreased with proportional loss of mass from all litter bags. These findings suggest that radioactive contamination has reduced the rate of litter mass loss, increased accumulation of litter, and affected growth conditions for plants.

Oecologia. 2014 May;175(1):429-37. doi: 10.1007/s00442-014-2908-8. Epub 2014 Mar. Authors: Mousseau TA(1), Milinevsky G, Kenney-Hunt J, Møller AP. PMID: 24590204 [PubMed – in process]

Chernobyl and Other Nuclear Stats

  • More than 95% of the radioactive material (180 metric tons with a radioactivity of about 18 million curies) still remains inside the Chernobyl reactor.
  • The  core meltdown at Chernobyl was said to have released radiation estimated at 50 million curies. Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations said in 1995 that the meltdown had released about 140 million curies. [Researchers Alexey Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko say the radiation released from Chernobyl may have been up to 10 billion curies. In comparison, the Hiroshima bomb released about 3 million curies.]
  • Immediately after the accident, 237 people suffered from acute radiation sickness, and 31 died within the first 90 days of the disaster.
  • About 135,000 people were evacuated from the area surrounding the plant, including 50,000 from the town of Pripyat.
  • The Academy’s  estimate for the number of casualties  are more than 90,000 deaths and more than a quarter of a million cancer cases.
  • The Ukrainian National Commission for Radiation Protection calculates the number of radiation casualties at half a million  deaths so far.
  • In a book published by the New York Academy of Sciences last year on the 24th anniversary of the reactor core meltdown, the researchers maintain that about one million people have died from exposure to radiation released by the Chernobyl reactor so far [as of 2010.]
  • “In the former Soviet Union at least 9 million people have been effected by the accident; 2.5 million in Belarus; 3.5 million in Ukraine; and 3 million in Russia. In total over 160 000 Km2 are contaminated in the three republics.” source
  • Some 441 commercial nuclear power reactors are  operating in 31 countries ( total capacity of 376 gigawatts) each of which is potentially as lethal as Chernobyl, if not worse. [This item, updated here, was written before the Fukushima nuclear disaster began unfolding.]
  • An estimated 56 countries operate more than 250 research reactors.
  • At least 220 nuclear reactors power military ships and submarines.

Legacy: More than 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer were diagnosed among children and adolescents between 1992 to 2002 in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Victims under 14 years were most severely affected by the elevated concentrations of radioiodine found in milk.

  • Incidents of skin lesions, respiratory ailments, infertility and birth defects were readily found among the more than five million people who inhabit the affected areas of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine for many years following the accident.

The Poisoned land. Up to 5 million people continue to live on radioactive contaminated land. About 85% of the children who live in contaminated areas of Belarus today are ill, a near 6-fold increase compared to the time before the explosion (15%), according to The Belarusian National Academy of Sciences.




Birth defects and cancer were the norm for many years following the Chernobyl disaster.  By the time  residents of Pripyat, a town located near the plant, were ordered to evacuate, about two days after the Chernobyl core meltdown had occurred, many had already been exposed to varying doses of radiation poisoning

Fukushima NPP

Fukushima NPP is said to contain about 4,277 tons of nuclear fuel, about 24 times as much as Chernobyl (~ 180 tons).

“The Fukushima Dai-ichi site has a considerable number of fuel rods on hand, according to information provided Thursday by Toyko Electric Power Co., which owns the atomic complex: There are 3,400 tons of fuel in seven spent fuel pools within the six-reactor plant, including one joint pool storing very old fuel from units 3 and 4. There are 877 tons in five of the reactor cores. Officials have said that the fuel in Unit 4′s reactor vessel was transferred to its spent fuel pool when the unit was temporarily shut in November.” AP reported.

On April 12, Japanese authorities raised the measure of severity of the Fukushima NPP disaster to the maximum level of 7 on INES. (See below for details.)

The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES)

The INES, a logarithmic scale, which was introduced in 1990 by the IAEA to enable prompt communication, classifies the intensity of nuclear incidents as follows:

7 – Major Accident [Chernobyl disaster, criticality accident, April 1986]

6 – Serious Accident [e.g., Kyshtym incident, Mayak, former Soviet Union, steam explosion released up to 80 tons of highly radioactive material into the atmosphere, September 1957. ]

5 – Accident With Wider Consequences [e.g., Three Mile Island accident  Pen State, U.S., partial meltdown release radioactive gases  into the environment, March 1979.]

4 – Accident With Local Consequences [e.g., Sellafield, UK, at least 5 incidents reported between 1955 to 1979]

3 – Serious Incident [e.g., Vandellos NPP, Spain, fire destroyed control systems; the reactor was shut down, July1989]

2 – Incident [e.g., Forsmark NPP, Sweden, a backup generator failed, July 2006]

1 – Anomaly [e.g., TNPC, France, 1,600 gallons of water containing 75 kilograms (170 lb) of uranium leaked into the environment,  July 2008]

0 – Deviation (No Safety Significance) — [e.g., Atucha, Argentina – Reactor shutdown caused by tritium increase in reactor encasement, December 2006.]

What is a lethal dose of radiation from a single Exposure?

Studies of the 1945 atomic bombing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki show that 100 percent of victims whose bodies were exposed to 600,000 millirems (6,000 mSv) died from radiation. About 50 percent of victims who received  450,000 millirems (4,500 mSv) of radiation also died.

(Note: Rem is a unit of ionizing radiation equal to the amount that produces the same damage to humans as one roentgen of high-voltage x-rays.  Source: MIT)

1 rem = 10 mSv  (1 Sv = 100 rem)

Background Radiation in millirems per year (mrem/yr)

  • Average background radiation (US):  300
  • Higher altitudes (e.g, Denver): 400

“Safe Levels” of Radiation (U.S.)

Limits above natural background radiation levels (average 300 millirems per year) and medical radiation:

  • Occupation Limit: Maximum of 5,000  (the limit for a worker using radiation)
  • Average Natural Background: 300

[Note: Lifetime cumulative exposure should be limited to a person’s age multiplied by 1,000 millirems, e.g., a 70-year-old person, 70,000 millirems.]

Adults

  • Max single dose for an adult: 3,000
  • Annual total dose: 5,000

Under 18

  • Max single dose for a person aged under 18 years: 300 millirems (whole body equivalent)
  • Annual total exposure: 500

Fetal Exposure

  • Maximum limit for fetal exposure during gestation period:  50 millirems per month above background levels

Medical

  • Single Chest X-ray (the whole body equivalent): 2 millirem

Air Travel

  • Coast-to-coast US round trip flight: 12 millirems

*Note:  Radiation dose of about 2,000 millisieverts (200,000 millirems) cause serious illness.

Half-life of some radioactive elements

[NOTE: Half-life is the time taken for a radioactive substance to decay by half.]

  • Cesium-134 ~ 2  years
  • Cesium-137 ~ 30 years
  • Iodine-131 ~ 8 days
  • Plutonium-239 ~ 24,200 years
  • Ruthenium-103 ~ 39 days [Ruthenium is a fission product of uranium-235.]
  • Ruthenium-106 ~ 374 days
  • Strontium-90 ~ 28.85 years  [Strontium-90 is a product of nuclear fission and is found in large amounts in spent nuclear fuel and in radioactive waste from nuclear reactors.]
  • Uranium-234 ~  246,000 years
  • Uranium-235 ~ 703.8  million years
  • Uranium-238  ~ 4.468 billion years

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Ghost Town: Diffa in Niger ‘Virtually Empty’

Posted by feww on February 13, 2015

Violence spreading from NE Nigeria into Chad, Cameroon and Niger

Violence is spreading from north-east Nigeria into neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger, exacerbating the refugee exodus across the region, said said the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Friday.

“In Niger, fighting broke out last week between the Niger armed forces and Nigerian insurgents in the town of Bosso, which is located near Lake Chad in the southern region of Diffa. This has been followed by a series of attacks in Diffa town against civilians, including by suicide bombers. With fear and panic spreading fast, large parts of the population of Diffa are moving further west, towards the city of Zinder,” said UNHCR.

Boko Haram attacks against Diffa and Bosso, both located about 1,300km south of the capital, Niamey, prompted the Niger government to declare a state of emergency in the southeast.

Diffa is a city and Urban Commune in SE Niger, near that border with Nigeria, with a population of about 50,000 in 2011.

“W fear that the scale of displacement is high: Prior to the attacks Diffa had a population of 50,000 – today the town is virtually empty,” a spokesperson for UNHCR told reporters.

He warned that there are serious shortages of food and clean water, across the region.

“This situation is being further exacerbated, as shops remain closed and humanitarian actors have had to significantly reduce their activities in the Diffa region because of the general insecurity. At present there are no humanitarian actors left in Bosso,” he said.

In May 2013, the Nigerian government declared a state of emergency in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, and more than 157,000 people fled the country including at least 100,000 people who crossed the border into Niger.

[An additional 1 million people are internally displaced inside Nigeria, according to the country’s National Emergency Management Agency.]

“We are extremely concerned about the humanitarian situation, as several thousand people are at present without any assistance. We are working with authorities to securely deploy aid workers as soon as possible and at the same time we are preparing for rapid evaluation and response assessments,” the UNHCR spokesman said.

“In Cameroon, the situation is as worrying,” he added, citing reports of killings, abductions and violence in the country’s Far North region near the border with Nigeria. There are more than 40,000 Nigerian refugees in Cameroon.

In Chad, some 3,000 Nigerian refugees were registered as of the end of last year. A further 15,000 have fled into Chad since to escape attacks in and around the north-east Nigerian town of Bagakawa.

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Typhoon HAGUPIT Raking Philippines, Affecting 50M

Posted by feww on December 7, 2014

EXTREME WEATHER & CLIMATIC EVENTS
MAJOR TYPHOON
EXTREME RAIN EVENTS
STORM SURGES
COASTAL FLOODING
MASS EVACUATIONS
CROP DISASTERS
MAIN SCENARIOS: 900, 888, 808, [500,] 477, 444, 117, 111, 097, 071, 070, 047, 033, 027, 025, 023, 022, 012, 011, 09, 02
.

HAGUPIT affecting half the Philippines population of 100M

Typhoon HAGUPIT is battering eastern Philippines, ripping roofs, downing trees and power lines, and inundating coastal areas with a powerful storm surge.

Up to a million people had already fled the coastal communities before the typhoon made its first landfall, leaving the city of Tacloban, destroyed by Typhoon HAIYAN in November 2013, and other communities looking like ghost towns, according to local reports.

HAGUPIT [known locally as RUBY] slammed into Dolores in Eastern Samar province at 9:15 p.m. local time on Saturday, with maximum sustained winds of at least 175 km/h, gusting to more than 210 km/h,  according to PAGASA.

“At 8:00 AM, today [Sunday,] the eye of Typhoon “RUBY” was located based on all available data at 70 km West Northwest of Catbalogan, Samar or 85 km Southeast of Masbate City  (12.0°N, 124.3°E),” reported PAGASA.

The massive typhoon, which has a diameter of about 640km, is expected to impact large portions of the country, affecting half the nation’s population of 100 million.

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Warmest Winter on Record Deepens California Drought

Posted by feww on March 18, 2014

EXTREME CLIMATIC EVENTS
WARMEST WINTER ON RECORD

DROUGHT
WATER FAMINE
CROP DISASTERS
STATE OF EMERGENCY

.

California had its warmest winter (and driest year to March)

The warmest winter on record has worsened the persistent drought across the Golden State, according to the latest data released by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

The most overpopulated state in the U.S. experienced an average temperature of 8.9ºC (48 degrees) between December and February, more than 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.4ºF) hotter than the 20th-century average, exceeding the previous record, set in 1980/81, by 0.4ºC (0.8ºF).

California also experienced its driest year to winter by March on record, with the average precipitation 4.5 inches which was 38% of last winter’s 11.7 inches.

In comparison, the winter precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. reached 5.69 inches, 1.10 inches below long-term average, making the it the ninth driest winter on record.

Much of the West and Great Plains were much drier than average. Arizona (fourth warmest winter), California (warmest winter, and driest bu March), New Mexico, and Texas (lowest reservoir levels in 25 years) each had a top ten dry winter season, said NCDC.

Below-average precipitation was prevalent in parts of the Southeast, the Northern and Southern Plains, and the Southwest. Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma had February precipitation totals that were top ten dry, said NCDC.

California Drought Conditions

As of March 11, 2014, at least (!) 99.99 percent of California was covered by drought conditions, including 22.37 percent in Exceptional Drought, 43.53 percent in Extreme Drought and  24.91 percent in Severe Drought.

calif drought map 11mar2014
California Drought Map as of March 11, 2014. Source: US Drought Monitor. Map enhanced by FIRE-EARTH.

State of Emergency

Governor Brown proclaimed a State of Emergency on January 27  amid the worsening statewide drought.  He called the “really serious,” adding that 2014 could be California’s third consecutive dry year. “In many ways it’s a mega-drought.”

California State Resources

FIRE-EARTH 2009 Forecast: Desertification of California in the Near Future Is Almost a Certainty

[NOTE: The above forecast and most of the links posted below have previously been filtered/censored by Google, WordPress and others. Editor ]

Drought Information – Water Resources – State of California

Water years 2012 and 2013 were dry statewide, especially in parts of the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. Water year 2014, which began on October 1st, continues this trend. Precipitation in some areas of the state is tracking at about the driest year of record.

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‘Until the Wells Run Dry’

Posted by feww on March 10, 2014

EXTREME CLIMATE
EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS

DROUGHT
WATER FAMINE

CROP DISASTERS
STATE OF EMERGENCY

.

Lake of the Woods could turn into a ghost town

Lake of the Woods, a small town north of Los Angeles, is running dry amid California drought and the residents are worried about the future.

The following video was  prepared by the New York Times

State of Emergency

Governor Brown proclaimed a State of Emergency on January 27  amid the worsening statewide drought.  He called the “really serious,” adding that 2014 could be California’s third consecutive dry year. “In many ways it’s a mega-drought.”

California State Resources

FIRE-EARTH 2009 Forecast: Desertification of California in the Near Future Is Almost a Certainty

[NOTE: The above forecast and most of the links posted below have previously been filtered by Google, WordPress and others. Editor ]

Drought Information – Water Resources – State of California

Water years 2012 and 2013 were dry statewide, especially in parts of the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. Water year 2014, which began on October 1st, continues this trend. Precipitation in some areas of the state is tracking at about the driest year of record.

Related Links

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NOLA, Baton Rouge Turn into Ghost Towns

Posted by feww on January 30, 2014

EXTREME CLIMATIC EVENTS
STATE OF EMERGENCY
DUSK-TO-DAWN CURFEWS

.

NOLA, Baton Rouge and several Parishes impose dusk-to-dawn curfews

State government offices in Louisiana will remain closed on Thursday, January 30, in 21 parishes across Louisiana where hazardous driving conditions and scattered power outages are forecast for the morning due to a mix of rain and sleet, as well as snow and ice accumulation, according to the state Commissioner of Administration.

Those parishes are Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Catahoula, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberville, Lafayette, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, Rapides, St. Helena, St. James, St. John, St. Landry, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Washington, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana

States of Emergency

Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, the Carolinas ,  Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wisconsin declared states of emergency as the latest Polar invasion, which stretched across two-thirds of eastern U.S., plunged temperatures to as low as -36ºC (-33 degrees).

The snow storm left at least 10 people dead and dozens injured, affecting an estimated 60 million people from eastern Texas to southeastern Pennsylvania.

Related Links

Energy Emergency

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Chevron Pipeline Explosion Turns Milford into Ghost Town

Posted by feww on November 16, 2013

Milford, north Texas evacuated after natural gas pipeline explodes

A massive explosion in a Chevron-owned natural gas pipeline forced nearly the entire population of about 800 in Milford, a North Texas town, to evacuate.

The cause of the explosion remains unknown,  said the assistant fire marshal. “Chevron has not started to investigate the cause of the explosion,” said a report.

However, the company has asked the the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office to impose  a 1 1/2-mile (2.5km) evacuation zone for Milford, 40 miles south of Dallas.

A five-person construction crew, doing excavation work at the site before the fire, managed to evacuate the area before the explosion.

chevron gas pipeline exposion
Chevron gas pipeline explosion near Milford, Texas was followed by a large fire. Source: Still frame from local news video clips.

Town residents have been told to expect spending another night away from their homes as crews work to secure the explosion site, the report said.

“Chevron owns the blown pipeline, and another larger transmission line, located just a few feet away. Crews are set up on the east and west sides of the larger line, about a mile away from the blast site. They are expected to secure the site and shut off the flow of gas to the larger line sometime Friday afternoon,” the report said.

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Flooding Destroys Town of Caopo in SW China

Posted by feww on July 16, 2013

Extreme floods destroy Caopo, leave entire population homeless

The town of Caopo in SW China’s Sichuan province has been completely destroyed by extreme flooding, which has also triggered large scale landslide, blocking the roads and leaving the town solated.

“Officials say Caopo’s five thousand residents have been given temporary shelters, after flooding destroyed their homes,” said a report.on July 16, 2013

road to Caopo blocked by major landslides
An aerial photo taken from a helicopter shows a road to Caopo Township blocked by several major landslides and mudslide in Wenchuan County, southwest China’s Sichuan Province. (Xinhua/Wu Yongbin).
More images …

Landslide in Dujiangyan City kills at least 58, leaves 175 missing

At least 43 people were left dead after a landslide in the village of Sanxi, Dujiangyan City, in southwest China’s Sichuan Province. “Some 118 people across the city were missing or can not immediately be reached. Local authorities are continuing to verify the exact number of those missing,” said a report.

Hundreds Stranded in Sichuan Storms

Heavy rain triggered floods in Shimian county, Sichuan province, early on Saturday, stranding about 400 villagers.

In the wee hours of Saturday, the storm lashed six townships in Shimian, flooding six rivers.

“Roads as well as power and communication were cut off in the townships. More than 1,100 people including two foreign tourists were evacuated,” said deputy county magistrate Hu Jijun.

As floods inundated roads to Shimian’s Caoke township, some 400 residents in the township’s Keping village lost contact with the outside world in the morning.

Meantime, the water supply was cut off in many parts of Chengdu because the city’s drinking water source was polluted by the rising floodwaters, and vegetable prices soared as extreme rains destroyed crops and disrupted supplies.

Cost to the People and Sichuan Economy

The recent storm, which have been pounding Sichuan beginning since July 7, have affected about 2.5 million people, leaving tens of thousands homeless. Direct economic losses is so far estimated at more than 12 billion yuan ($2 billion) have been pounding, said the Sichuan provincial department of civil affairs.

Disaster Hits Also Shaanxi Province

Rainstorms continued to buffet much of northern China, killing scores of people and causing severe damage to property and infrastructure.

“In northwest Shaanxi province, rain has caused the death of 27 people, and affected over 800,000. The resulting economic losses add up to 1.8 billion yuan or around 300 million US dollars,” said a report.

“In the city of Yan’an, nearly one hundred historic sites have been damaged by landslides and other rain-related accidents. Many other sites have been closed.

“Northern Shanxi province has also been hard hit by downpours, seeing the most rain since 1961. Experts say soil moisture in some areas has reached critical levels, and could trigger more disasters.”

Extreme floods destroy bridge in NE China, killing 4

116561946
Original Caption: A road bridge that formed part of the No. 101 national expressway is seen collapsed in Fuxin, northeast China’s Liaoning Province, July 16, 2013. Heavy overnight rain toppled the bridge early Tuesday, leaving four people dead. (Xinhua/Pan Yulong)

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Massive Wildfire Threatens to Torch Colorado Town

Posted by feww on June 24, 2013

West Fork Fire Complex not likely to be contained anytime soon

The entire tourist town of South Fork has been evacuated, as a massive complex of three wildfires threatens to torch the southwestern Colorado resort.

The fire exploded to more than doubled the size over the weekend, consuming an estimated 77,000 acres (120 sq miles) by Sunday night, authorities said.

Multiple evacuations and pre-evacuations are in effect for the fire area and vicinity, including 400 permanent residents in South Fork and an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 tourists.

The massive fire has forced the authorities to close multiple roads and trails. The primary closures are Highway 160 from the chain-up area to South Fork, and Highway 149 between South Fork and Creede from mile post 1 through milepost 22, Inciweb said.

The West Fork Complex consists of three wildfires, West Fork, Windy Pass, and Papoose, that are burning on the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests in southwest Colorado. The fires were combined into a complex on Sunday, June 16.

Fire Summary

  • Incident Type: Wildfire
    Cause: Lightning
  • Complex Size: 76,262 acres  [>77,000 acres as of posting.]
  • Percent Contained: 0%
  • Date of Origin: Wednesday June 05th, 2013 approx. 12:30 PM
  • Location 14.5 mi NE of Pagosa Springs
  • Growth Potential: High
  • Terrain Difficulty: Extreme [the fires are burning in steep, rugged terrain with large amounts of beetle-killed spruce]
  • Wind Conditions: 15-25mph; G55 mph SW
  • Temperature: 75 degrees
  • Humidity: 11%
  • Total Personnel: 895 – More arriving

The Fires

  • Windy Pass Fire: ~1,000 acres
  • Papoose Fire : ~21,000 acres
  • West Fork Fire: ~54,000 acres

WFC SWColo Fire Map
A Map of West Fork Fire Complex Consisting of 
Windy Pass, Papoose and West Fork Fires

Other Info

  • Fuels Involved:  Timber with heavy dead standing bug kill
  • Fire Behavior:  Extreme fire behavior observed at the time of submission of this report due to wind and slope aligned crown fire and long range spotting up to 3/4 mile in stands of dead timber. The same is expected in tomorrow’s behavior. Red Flag Warning in effect.

Significant Events

  • Very active fire behavior. Values at risk are being assessed, evacuations and closures are being evaluated. The long range spotting from yesterday’s plume dominated fire behavior resulted in significant growth north and east of the fire.
  • The evacuation of South Fork could last up  to seven days, said the Incident Commande.
  • This is the sixth consecutive day that the complex has remained under a Red Flag Warning.

Colorado Wildfires

At least a dozen significant wildfires are currently active in Colorado. The fires have consumed an estimated 200 square miles.

US weather hazmap 24jun13
US Weather Hazards Map for June 24, 2013 Showing Red Flag Warnings, Excessive Heat Warnings and Fire Weather Watches across Western United States. Source: NWS

West Fork Complex Fire threatens Colorado town

West Fork Complex wildfire update 

Black Forest Fire – Update 

Black Forest Fire in the El Paso County:  The fire near Colorado Springs burned 14,280 acres, destroying at least 511 homes and damaging 28 others. The fire started on June 11 and was declared 100 percent contained on June 20.

National High and Low Temperature (for the contiguous United States) –
NWS Weather Prediction Center, College Park, MD –
Issued 8 am EDT Monday, June 24, 2013

High Temperature for Sunday, June 23, 2013: 
110 degrees (43.3ºC) at Death Valley, CA

Low Temperature for Monday, June 24, 2013:
32 degrees (0ºC) at Lake Yellowstone, WY
32 degrees at West Yellowstone, MT

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Flash Floods Kill Dozens, Destroy Thousands of Homesteads in S. Somalia, Kenya, Uganda

Posted by feww on May 10, 2013

Deadly Flash Floods Wreak Havoc in S. Somalia, Uganda

Tens of thousands of people have lost their homes and livelihoods, and dozens are dead amid flash flooding across a vast region in East Africa.

Flash floods triggered by extreme rain events  in southern Somalia have claimed at least a dozen lives, most of them  children,  left  more than 50,000 others displaced, and submerged thousands of hectares of farmland across the country.

  • The flooding in Juba and Shabelle river basins have destroyed scores of homes, businesses and much of the infrastructure in the region.

In Uganda, at least a dozen people  are dead, and 25,000 others made homeless, since flooding began on May 1.

  • The lively town of Bulembia Division is now a ghost town, said a report.
  • “Further down River Nyamwamba is Kilembe Mines Hospital. The 260 bed hospital was hit by boulders wiping away the staff quarters and flooding the rest of the hospital.”
  • “The flash floods are attributed to heavy rains coupled with by the melting glaciers on top of Mountain Rwenzori. According to the climate change unit at the Ministry of Water and Environment, only 18.5 hectares remained [The peak has retreated by more than 85%—Moderator] by 2006 out of the hectares that were at the highest peak of Mountain Rwenzori in 1906.”

Ruwenzori range
The Ruwenzori Range. Satellite images of the Ruwenzori Mountains. Images  taken in 1995 and in 2012  show a decline in the extent of the glaciers on these mountain peaks. A century ago the glaciers of the Ruwenzori Mountains covered nearly 6.5 km².  The glacial recession on the Ruwenzori Mountains is most likely because of higher air temperatures and less snow accumulation during the 20th century
(UNEP n.d.).

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Other Global Disasters/ Significant Events

Iowa, USA

Fifteen additional Iowa counties have now been declared disaster areas following  damages and losses caused by severe flooding and storms late last month.

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Michigan, USA

Allegan County declares state of emergency from April flooding in attempt to get disaster aid

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Illinois, USA

Gov. Quinn has asked the Federal Government to declare 11 Illinois counties major disaster areas following the storms and flooding that pounded the state in April.

  • Quinn declared a total of 49 counties disaster areas following widespread flash and river flooding caused by extreme rain events in April.
  • “For the 11 counties included in Thursday’s request, the teams identified 41 homes that were destroyed, 761 with major damage and 2,715 with some damage, according to the governor’s office. In addition, nearly 80 businesses sustained flood damage,” said a report.

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DISASTER CALENDARMay 10, 2013  
SYMBOLIC COUNTDOWN:
1,037 Days Left 

Mass die-offs resulting from human impact and the planetary response to the anthropogenic assault could occur by early 2016.

  • SYMBOLIC COUNTDOWN: 1,037 Days Left to ‘Worst Day’ in the brief Human  History
  • The countdown began on May 15, 2011 …

GLOBAL WARNINGS

Global Disasters: Links, Forecasts and Background

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Court Rules Stockton, Calif., to Enter Bankruptcy

Posted by feww on April 2, 2013

Stockton the most populous city in the U.S. to enter bankruptcy

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein has ruled Stockton, Calif., (population: ~ 300,000) to enter bankruptcy.

The judge while making the ruling said: “I don’t know whether spiked pensions can be reeled back in … There are very complex and difficult questions of law that I can see out there on the horizon.”

stockton-calif
Image shows shuttered businesses in Stockton, California June 27, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Kevin Bartram

Stockton’s crime rate is among the top 10 cities across the nation (violent crimes per 1000: 14.5). The police department says it only respond to emergencies in progress!

“It’s apparent to me the city would not be able to perform its obligations to its citizens on fundamental public safety as well as other basic government services without the ability to have the muscle of the contract-impairing power of federal bankruptcy law,” Judge Klein said.

Stockton owes the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) nearly $1 billion to cover pension liabilities.  The city also issued $165 million in bonds in 2007 to maintain payments to CalPERS as its revenue from property taxes plunged during the recession, reports said.

At least two dozen other Californian cities are financially strapped including San Bernardino, San Jose, Compton, Fairfield, Watsonville, Atwater, the report said.

  • Located about 90 miles (144km) east of San Francisco, the city was hit hard during the US housing market crash.
  • Stockton’s unemployment rate (~ 20%) and violent crimes rank among the highest in the U.S.

San Bernardino. The city of San Bernardino became the third California city in two weeks to file bankruptcy protection in the face of a $45-million budget shortfall, reports said.

Atwater. The small Central California city of Atwater (Pop: ~28,000) has declared A fiscal emergency, which could translate to the state’s fourth municipal bankruptcy this year, said a report.

North Las Vegas, Nevada. The Nevada city of North Las Vegas, described as “ground zero for foreclosures” was officially declared as a disaster area on June 23.

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Chernobyl nuclear disaster: 25th anniversary

Posted by feww on April 26, 2011

1 Million Killed in Chernobyl Disaster

Ukraine marks the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl nuclear disaster

On 26 April 1986 Reactor 4 at Chernobyl NPP in Ukraine, then in the Soviet Union, exploded releasing about one hundred times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. 


Ukrainian city of Chernobyl had managed to live for 793 years… that is until the Chernobyl nuclear power plant underwent a core meltdown on April 26, 1986 at about 1:00am local time. This image was taken by authorities in the former Soviet Union

Remembering Chernobyl Victims


The sarcophagus covering the damaged fourth reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is seen behind a building decorated with a graffiti in the abandoned city of Prypiat April 4, 2011. Belarus, Ukraine and Russia will mark the 25th anniversary of the nuclear reactor explosion in Chernobyl, the place where the world’s worst civil nuclear accident took place, on April 26. Engineers are still struggling to regain control of damaged reactors at the Fuskushima plant after last month’s earthquake and tsunami, in the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986, with the government urging the operator of the plant to act faster to stop radiation spreading. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich. Image may be subject to copyright. Reuters images …


Birth defects and cancer were the norm for many years following the Chernobyl disaster.  By the time  residents of Pripyat, a town located near the plant, were ordered to evacuate, about two days after the Chernobyl core meltdown had occurred, many had already been exposed to varying doses of radiation poisoning.

The Incident: A meltdown of the reactor’s core in the Chernobyl power plant killed thirty people in 1986. About 135,000 people were evacuated. It is believed that about one hundred times more radiation was released in the accident than by the atom bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Legacy: More than 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer were diagnosed among children and adolescents between 1992 to 2002 in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Victims under 14 years were most severely affected by the elevated concentrations of radioiodine found in milk.

Incidents of skin lesions, respiratory ailments, infertility and birth defects were readily found among the more than five million people who inhabit the affected areas of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine for many years following the accident.

The Poisoned land. Up to 5 million people continue to live on radioactive contaminated land. About 85% of the children who live in contaminated areas of Belarus today are ill, a near 6-fold increase compared to the time before the explosion (15%), according to The Belarusian National Academy of Sciences.

Disputed Facts: The above facts, however, have been disputed by a number of individuals including the author of a recent WHO report, and the retired “nukophile” British academic, James Lovelack. Local and international experts, however, have dismissed the WHO report findings. A UN report released in 2005 estimated the number of victims at just 4,000. Their figure is hotly disputed  by NGOs and independent experts.

“A report by Alexey Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko which appeared in the Annals of the New York Academy of Science showed that by 2004, there were 985,000 additional deaths worldwide caused by the nuclear disaster, including 212,000 of them within Western Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.”

Chernobyl fallout covers the entire Northern Hemisphere

Consequences of the Catastrophe. Authors  Alexey Yablokov (Center for Russian Environmental Policy in Moscow), Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko ( Institute of Radiation Safety, Minsk, Belarus) studies about 5,000 reports and scientific  papers mostly published in Slavic languages and compiled their finding in the  book “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment,” which was published last year on the 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl reactor core meltdown.

“For the past 23 years, it has been clear that there is a danger greater than nuclear weapons concealed within nuclear power. Emissions from this one reactor exceeded a hundred-fold the radioactive contamination of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” They wrote.

“No citizen of any country can be assured that he or she can be protected from radioactive contamination. One nuclear reactor can pollute half the globe,” the authors said. “Chernobyl fallout covers the entire Northern Hemisphere.”

According to the book, a total of about 830,000 people, referred to as the “liquidators,” were responsible for various emergency works at the Chernobyl site including fire extinguishing, decontamination and cleanup.

The authors say between 112,000 and 125,000 of the  liquidators had died by 2005.  The authors also estimate that between 1986 and 2004 some 985,000 people died as a result of Chernobyl fallout {2011 estimates are well over a million deaths.]

“Official discussions from the International Atomic Energy Agency and associated United Nations’ agencies (e.g. the Chernobyl Forum reports) have largely downplayed or ignored many of the findings reported in the Eastern European scientific literature and consequently have erred by not including these assessments.” The authors said last year.

Chernobyl and Other Nuclear Stats

  • More than 95% of the radioactive material (180 metric tons with a radioactivity of about 18 million curies) still remains inside the Chernobyl reactor.
  • The  core meltdown at Chernobyl was said to have released radiation estimated at 50 million curies. Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations said in 1995 that the meltdown had released about 140 million curies. [Researchers Alexey Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko say the radiation released from Chernobyl may have been up to 10 billion curies. In comparison, the Hiroshima bomb released about 3 million curies.]
  • Immediately after the accident, 237 people suffered from acute radiation sickness, and 31 died within the first 90 days of the disaster.
  • About 135,000 people were evacuated from the area surrounding the plant, including 50,000 from the town of Pripyat.
  • The Academy’s  estimate for the number of casualties  are more than 90,000 deaths and more than a quarter of a million cancer cases.
  • The Ukrainian National Commission for Radiation Protection calculates the number of radiation casualties at half a million  deaths so far.
  • In a book published by the New York Academy of Sciences last year on the 24th anniversary of the reactor core meltdown, the researchers maintain that about one million people have died from exposure to radiation released by the Chernobyl reactor so far [as of 2010.]
  • “In the former Soviet Union at least 9 million people have been effected by the accident; 2.5 million in Belarus; 3.5 million in Ukraine; and 3 million in Russia. In total over 160 000 Km2 are contaminated in the three republics.” source
  • Some 441 commercial nuclear power reactors are  operating in 31 countries ( total capacity of 376 gigawatts) each of which is potentially as lethal as Chernobyl, if not worse. [This item, updated here, was written before the Fukushima nuclear disaster began unfolding.]
  • An estimated 56 countries operate more than 250 research reactors.
  • At least 220 nuclear reactors power military ships and submarines.

Fukushima NPP

Fukushima NPP is said to contain about 4,277 tons of nuclear fuel, about 24 times as much as Chernobyl (~ 180 tons).

“The Fukushima Dai-ichi site has a considerable number of fuel rods on hand, according to information provided Thursday by Toyko Electric Power Co., which owns the atomic complex: There are 3,400 tons of fuel in seven spent fuel pools within the six-reactor plant, including one joint pool storing very old fuel from units 3 and 4. There are 877 tons in five of the reactor cores. Officials have said that the fuel in Unit 4′s reactor vessel was transferred to its spent fuel pool when the unit was temporarily shut in November.” AP reported.

On April 12, Japanese authorities raised the measure of severity of the Fukushima NPP disaster to the maximum level of 7 on INES. (See below for details.)

The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES)

The INES, a logarithmic scale, which was introduced in 1990 by the IAEA to enable prompt communication, classifies the intensity of nuclear incidents as follows:

7 – Major Accident [Chernobyl disaster, criticality accident, April 1986]

6 – Serious Accident [e.g., Kyshtym incident, Mayak, former Soviet Union, steam explosion released up to 80 tons of highly radioactive material into the atmosphere, September 1957. ]

5 – Accident With Wider Consequences [e.g., Three Mile Island accident  Pen State, U.S., partial meltdown release radioactive gases  into the environment, March 1979.]

4 – Accident With Local Consequences [e.g., Sellafield, UK, at least 5 incidents reported between 1955 to 1979]

3 – Serious Incident [e.g., Vandellos NPP, Spain, fire destroyed control systems; the reactor was shut down, July1989]

2 – Incident [e.g., Forsmark NPP, Sweden, a backup generator failed, July 2006]

1 – Anomaly [e.g., TNPC, France, 1,600 gallons of water containing 75 kilograms (170 lb) of uranium leaked into the environment,  July 2008]

0 – Deviation (No Safety Significance) — [e.g., Atucha, Argentina – Reactor shutdown caused by tritium increase in reactor encasement, December 2006.]

What is a lethal dose of radiation from a single Exposure?

Studies of the 1945 atomic bombing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki show that 100 percent of victims whose bodies were exposed to 600,000 millirems (6,000 mSv) died from radiation. About 50 percent of victims who received  450,000 millirems (4,500 mSv) of radiation also died.

(Note: Rem is a unit of ionizing radiation equal to the amount that produces the same damage to humans as one roentgen of high-voltage x-rays.  Source: MIT)

1 rem = 10 mSv  (1 Sv = 100 rem)

Background Radiation in millirems per year (mrem/yr)

  • Average background radiation (US):  300
  • Higher altitudes (e.g, Denver): 400

“Safe Levels” of Radiation (U.S.)

Limits above natural background radiation levels (average 300 millirems per year) and medical radiation:

  • Occupation Limit: Maximum of 5,000  (the limit for a worker using radiation)
  • Average Natural Background: 300

[Note: Lifetime cumulative exposure should be limited to a person’s age multiplied by 1,000 millirems, e.g., a 70-year-old person, 70,000 millirems.]

Adults

  • Max single dose for an adult: 3,000
  • Annual total dose: 5,000

Under 18

  • Max single dose for a person aged under 18 years: 300 millirems (whole body equivalent)
  • Annual total exposure: 500

Fetal Exposure

  • Maximum limit for fetal exposure during gestation period:  50 millirems per month above background levels

Medical

  • Single Chest X-ray (the whole body equivalent): 2 millirem

Air Travel

  • Coast-to-coast US round trip flight: 12 millirems

*Note:  Radiation dose of about 2,000 millisieverts (200,000 millirems) cause serious illness.

Half-life of some radioactive elements

[NOTE: Half-life is the time taken for a radioactive substance to decay by half.]

  • Cesium-134 ~ 2  years
  • Cesium-137 ~ 30 years
  • Iodine-131 ~ 8 days
  • Plutonium-239 ~ 24,200 years
  • Ruthenium-103 ~ 39 days [Ruthenium is a fission product of uranium-235.]
  • Ruthenium-106 ~ 374 days
  • Strontium-90 ~ 28.85 years  [Strontium-90 is a product of nuclear fission and is found in large amounts in spent nuclear fuel and in radioactive waste from nuclear reactors.]
  • Uranium-234 ~  246,000 years
  • Uranium-235 ~ 703.8  million years
  • Uranium-238  ~ 4.468 billion years

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Buried in Lahar

Posted by feww on February 28, 2009

Lahar Burying Chaitén Town, Chile


A view shows a destroyed house at the flooded Chaiten town located some 1,220 km (758 miles) south of Santiago February 26, 2009. REUTERS/Victor Ruiz Caballero. Image may be subject to copyright.

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Image of the Day: While You Were Away …

Posted by feww on September 1, 2008

NO: A Ghost Town


A copy of The Times-Picayune is displayed on a deserted downtown street after the evacuation of New Orleans, prior to the arrival of Hurricane Gustav, August 31, 2008. REUTERS/ Mark Wallheiser. Image may be subject to copyright.

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Chaitén Volcano Still Active

Posted by feww on May 14, 2008

*** Breaking News: May 19, 2008 Philippines Taal Volcano Could Erupt Anytime!

Update #2 Chaitén Volcano –

Chile President: Ash-Covered Towns Could Be Permanent Ghost Towns

A segment of the pyroclastic tower ejected from the Chaitén volcano has fallen on the surroundings areas amid the eruptive activities that began 8 days ago.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet warned that towns surrounding Chaitén Volcano could become permanently uninhabitable. Bachelet’s remarks follows a report by National Geologic and Mining Service (SERNAGEOMIN) which forecast probability the volcano’s collapse at more than 50 percent.

The increased build-up of pyroclastic material in the magma dome made it prone to collapse, SERNAGEOMIN said. An implosion could result in the “complete destruction of everything within a 15 kilometer radius around the peak, an area which encompasses Chaitén, Santa Barbara, and several rural farming villages.”

According to vulcanologist Luis Lara Chaitén volcano could implode releasing a streams of red-hot pyroclastic material which would destroy everything in its path. (Source)


What goes up must come down! Ash from eruption settles on the surrounding area
Photo by Victor Gonzalez, Partido Humanista
. Image may be subject to copyright. See FEWW Fair Use Notice.


“Right now, everything is grey,” said Futaleufu Mayor. “We’ve got a huge layer of ash that a passing rain has turned into cement-hard” (Photo: AP) Image may be subject to copyright. See FEWW Fair Use Notice.


Chaiten and other towns in the area are covered in ash (Photo courtesy of Victor González, Partido Humanista) Source: Patagonia Times. Image may be subject to copyright. See FEWW Fair Use Notice.


Pyroclastic ash spewed two miles into the air (Source Dailymail UK). Image may be subject to copyright. See FEWW Fair Use Notice.


A dead cow lies covered by ashes from the Chaiten volcano at a road leading to Argentina near Chaiten, Chile. (Photo and caption FoxNews!) Image may be subject to copyright. See FEWW Fair Use Notice.

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Posted in agirculture, air pollution, air soil and water pollutions, environment, food, health, new zealand, Tourism, Travel, uninhabitable, unliveable, war agaist nature | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »