Friday, May 6, 2011

2011-05-02 "Radioactive Water Pumped Into Mississippi River" by WJTV-12 television news
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is investigating a radioactive release into the Mississippi River from the Grand Gulf Nuclear Plant in Port Gibson.
A spokesperson from Grand Gulf tells News Channel 12 that they found standing water in an abandoned unit.
In an effort to remove the standing water, Entergy began pumping the water out and into a drain that emptyed into the Mississippi River.
A censor went off detecting the chemical "tritium" in the standing water.
NRC officials say the River has diluted the radioactive material and is not causing harm to the people.
Right now the incident is under investigation by the NRC.
Entergy officials tell News Channel 12 they are not sure of the source of the tritium.
There's no word on how much Tritum was pumped into the river.

2011-05-04 "Radioactive water released into river at Grand Gulf" by Kevin Cooper from "Natchez Democrat" daily newspaper
PORT GIBSON — An unknown amount of radioactive water was released accidentally into the Mississippi River late last week at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is investigating the incident, but suggests the release poses no public health hazard.
Entergy Nuclear, which operates Grand Gulf, filed a report with the NRC explaining that crews located standing water at the plant last week after the area experienced heavy rains.
Water was found Thursday at the Unit 2 turbine building — which is an abandoned, partially constructed building — and began pumping the water into the river.
An alarm apparently alerted workers to the presence of tritium, a byproduct of the nuclear reactor processes. The pumps were turned off stopping the flow. Investigators are not certain why tritium was in the storm water or how it got there.
“Although the concentrations of tritium exceeded EPA drinking water limits, the release should not represent a hazard to public health because of its dilution in the river,” said Lara Uselding, public affairs officer with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Region IV.
Tritium has several uses, including being a component in triggering mechanisms on thermonuclear weapons systems. The substance is often used in conjunction with phosphor material to create permanent illumination for items such as wristwatch dials and night-sights for firearms.
Information from the United States Environmental Protection Agency suggests exposure to tritium increases the risk of developing cancer, because tritium emits low-energy radiation and is processed through the human body quickly, it is considered one of the least dangerous radionuclides.

2011-05-06 "Nuclear plant workers release unknown amount of radioactive tritium into Mississippi River" by Ethan A. Huff
(NaturalNews) Workers at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Plant in Port Gibson, Miss., last Thursday released a large amount of radioactive tritium directly into the Mississippi River, according to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and experts are currently trying to sort out the situation. An investigation is currently underway to determine why the tritium was even present in standing water found in an abandoned unit of the plant, as well as how much of this dangerous nuclear byproduct ended up getting dumped into the river. Many also want to know why workers released the toxic tritium before conducting proper tests.
The Mississippi Natchez Democrat reports that crews first discovered the radioactive water in the plant's Unit 2 turbine building after heavy rains began hitting the area last week. Unit 2 was a partially-constructed, abandoned structure that should not have contained any radioactive materials, let alone tritium, which is commonly used to manufacture nuclear weapons and test atomic bombs (
According to reports, alarms began to go off as workers were releasing the radioactive storm water into the river, which engaged the stop flow on the release pump. Neither NRC nor plant officials know how much tritium was released into the river during this release.
"Although concentrations of tritium exceeded EPA drinking water limits, the release should not represent a hazard to public health because of its dilution in the river," insisted Lara Uselding, public affairs officer at NRC Region IV, to reporters.
Such a statement, of course, is a health concern because precise levels of released tritium are unknown. Just because the radioactive substance has been diluted does not necessarily mean it is harmless, nor does it verify the substance's source or whether or not it is still being unknowingly released. Without this crucial information, there is no telling where else tritium might be lurking around the plant and river.
A beta radioactive substance, tritium bombards cells and damages DNA when inhaled or swallowed, and can persist in the body for more than ten years upon exposure. Its perpetual effect on cells can lead to all sorts of serious diseases, including, but not limited to, gene mutations, birth defects, and cancer.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Wallace beats Darwin (Tim Flannery talk)" from Stewart Brand [] of "The Long Now Foundation" [], Seminars & downloads []
The great insight of natural selection was published simultaneously by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace in 1868, Flannery pointed out, but their interpretations of the insight then diverged.  Darwin's harsh view of "survival of the fittest" led too easily to social Darwinism, eugenics societies, neo-classical economics, and an overly reductionist focus on the "selfish gene." 
Wallace, by contrast, focussed on the tendency of evolution to generate a world of complex co-dependence, and he became an activist for social justice.
At the age of 80 in 1904 Wallace published a book titled Man's Place in the Universe, which proposed that Earth was the only living planet in the Solar System.  Flannery regards it as "the foundation text of astrobiology" and, with its view that the atmosphere is an instrument of life, a direct precursor of James Lovelock's Gaia Hypothesis and Earth System Science. 
The study of Earth systems, in turn, revealed that the atmosphere is 99 percent an artifact of life (minus only the noble gases), that the makeup of the oceans is life-driven (toxic heavy metals were concentrated into ore bodies), and that the whole, in Flannery's terms, constitutes a "commonwealth of virtue," using "geo-pheromones" such ozone, methane, atmospheric dust, and dimethyl sulfide from algae to regulate the stability of a livable planet. It acts like a loosely connected superorganism.
The first tightly connected superorganism came 100 million years ago when cockroaches invented agriculture and the division of labor and became termites, building complex skyscrapers with air-conditioning, highways, and garbage dumps.  Only 10,000 years ago, humans did the same, inventing agriculture and the division of labor in cities, becoming the most potent superorganism yet.  One cause of that, Flannery opined, may be our astonishing genetic uniformity, caused by a near-extinction 70,000 years ago, when only 1,000 to 10,000 breeding pairs of humans survived.  The 7 billlion of us now alive have less genetic diversity than any random sample of 50 chimpanzees in west Africa.
Flannery finds cause for hope in the increasing pace of global agreements to manage the global commons.  There was the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2001, and worthy of an annual holiday on September 16, the 1987 signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.  Flannery, who now works full time on climate issues, even takes hope from the last-minute Copenhagen Accord that emerged from the UN climate meeting in 2009, because it brought developing nations into the global project to reduce greenhouse gases.
In Flannery's view, Gaia is an infant still.  Even if it is the only Gaian planet in the galaxy, with growing skills and rudimentary space travel, it could invest the whole galaxy with life in just 5 to 50 million years---an instant in light of Earth's 4.5 billion years and the universe's 14 billion years.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, an outspoken fascist, advocates for the destruction of the California ecology, receives applause by folks who hate the concept of preserving the environment...

2011-05-01 "Palin decries water restrictions at Calif. college" by Gosia Wozniaka from "Associated Press" newswire
LEMOORE, Calif. – Sarah Palin returned to Central California's agricultural region Sunday and lambasted the federal government for limiting the amount of water the state's farmers can get for their crops.
The former Alaska governor told more than 1,400 people at West Hills College in Lemoore that endangered species regulations protecting the Delta smelt and limiting pumping are "destroying" the lives of those in the Central Valley.
"A faceless government is taking away their lifeline, water, all because of a 3-inch fish," Palin said. "Where I come from, a 3-inch fish, we call that bait. There is no need to destroy people's lives over bait."
Palin also spoke about high gas prices, dependence on foreign oil, the need for domestic drilling and limiting currency inflation.
"The government should get out of our way and let us get this economy moving again," she said. "Instead of drilling ourselves and circulating the money here, we're relying on foreign regimes."
The audience in what is generally a conservative region was supportive, cheering and applauding loudly. Someone even broke out with, "We love you Sarah!"
"It was awesome, she was right on," said Doug Freitas, a Lemoore farmer, after the speech. "About water, there are farmers who can't grow their crops, these hardworking people can't pay their bills. And the deficit, it's so scary and it seems like the general public doesn't realize it."
Palin's visit last year to California State University, Stanislaus — about 120 miles away — generated controversy after the university's nonprofit foundation refused to divulge the terms of her contract and speaking fee.
The public university eventually revealed its foundation paid Palin $75,000 to give a 40-minute speech, and the event raised more than $207,000 for scholarships.
This time, West Hills College's president, Don Warkentin, said its foundation paid the Washington Speakers Bureau $115,000 to land Palin for the inauguration of the college's newly built Golden Eagle Arena.
Warkentin said he didn't know the exact amount Palin will receive. But he said the foundation has recouped the fee by selling tickets to a private, post-speech dinner with the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate.
Money from ticket sales will go toward scholarships and maintenance of the sports complex, Warkentin said.
"California is in deep trouble," he said. "So we're doing things like this to try to maintain our programs and raise money for our students."
The school, which has an enrollment of 3,000 this semester, did not provide an estimate of other costs associated with Palin's visit, including security, decorations and janitorial services.
Palin is the first of several high profile figures the university will host as part of its new distinguished speaker series. Former first lady Laura Bush is scheduled to speak at the sports arena in September. Next February, Princeton scholar Cornell West will visit.
State Sen. Leland Yee, who criticized UC Stanislaus for not releasing how much it paid Palin, praised the college in Lemoore for being more transparent.
"I'm very pleased the foundation disclosed how much they will be paying Palin," Yee said. "I'm a little disappointed by the fact that Palin is a millionaire and our students are struggling, some of them cannot afford to go to college. I was hoping Sarah Palin would defer the fee and do the speech for the goodness of the college and for our students."