Written by Almudena, this is a round up of the day's news featuring Greenpeace issues.
Rivers of oil spreading over the ocean after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Platform Explosion
Five times more oil a day than previously believed is spreading into the Gulf of Mexico from a blown-out well of a sunken drilling rig, according to AP. A drilling rig leased by the oil company BP exploded and sank off the Louisiana coast, killing eleven workers. The disaster took place last week in roughly 5,000ft of water after burning for two days. Now a new leak has been discovered in the pipes a mile below the ocean's surface. According to the article, BP is disputing these new alarming figures. "The US Coast Guard and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) experts now estimate that 5,000 barrels a day of oil are spilling into the gulf - rather than the 1,000 previously estimated.". The news was discovered after test control 'burns" were undertaken to "burn off" the oil. No more fires were lit overnight, and President Obama has said the US Department of Defense will be available to help manage the spill.
The Waikato Times (New Zealand) reports that the 'burning tactic' came after "crews operating submersible robots failed to activate a shut-off device that would halt the flow of oil on the sea bottom 1.5km below." According to BP today a relief well will be drilled to relieve pressure from the blowout site, but this would take months to prove effective. A dome-like device is also been considered to cover oil rising to the surface by pumping it to container vessels, but again BP confirmed that this would take time.
Reuters have quoted GP in a 'factbox" about the potential environmental impacts of the spill, which includes a big threat for the Atlantic population of bluefin tuna, as their eggs float near the surface around this time of year. "We expect a spill like this could dramatically decrease the amount of bluefin tuna larvae that are surviving," said John Hocevar, the Oceans Campaign director for Greenpeace USA. Other animals which are in danger include species of bird and sea turtles.
Read more about the oil spill in our campaign blog from Greenpeace USA which includes a slideshow of the explosion.
President Obama has recently called for more offshore drilling as part of the US energy future but this growing disaster could have repercussions in the energy debate in the US.
Photo Credit: © Sean Gardner / Greenpeace
On the other hand America's first offshore wind farm (at Cape Cod) has been approved after years of debate, despite opposition from Ted Kennedy (a former United States Senator from Massachusetts whose family estate is close to the development project, although it will be 5 miles offshore) and other local organizations who say it will disrupt fishing, tourism, sea bird habitats and the rights of Native Americans who say it will desecrate ancient underwater burial sites. Greenpeace has been in support of the project saying all measures to protect local wildlife should be taken, however, the development is more important in the fight against climate change. "If we do nothing about climate change, birds, especially endangered birds, will be hit by a giant hammer," said Kert Davies of GP US. "We see this project as a keystone in the solution for global warming."
See link to the article in the New York Times, and an AP video report on Youtube.
An environmental holocaust
Most have heard about the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl (Ukraine) 24 years ago, but the second worst nuclear tragedy is not only buried in the past, away from the public eye, but it is also in use and continues to expand. The Belgian newspaper De Morgen explains why the secret factory at Mayak (Russia) should be in the frontline of public concern.
“In September 29, 1957 a tank exploded with thousands of tons of liquid high level radioactive waste. Nearly half a million people came into contact with radioactive substances, but only 10,000 of them were evacuated. 23,000 square kilometers of land was contaminated and still is.” The number of cancer cases rocketed, and children were born with abnormalities.
To watch just how terrible the consequences of this accident were watch the video here.
Only a few years ago the Russian government approved the dumping of radioactive waste in Mayak from abroad. The Mayak nuclear plant has processed 1540 tons of radioactive liquid from Germany, Finland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Czech Republic and is negotiating future contracts with Switzerland, Spain, Slovenia, Italy and Belgium. The report said European countries dumping waste in Russia are "deliberately" evading their responsibilities and "participate in an environmental holocaust without precedent."
Irony in the Arctic
While Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is in Norway for "energy talks" (Reuters), settling a dispute over territory that will open the way for oil and gas exploitation in the region, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is calling for action to "clean up" the arctic (there's a picture of him kneeling by a sick polar bear in Russia's far north). "The reduction of military cooperation after the collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in this scrapheap which we can observe," he said. Meanwhile, the disputed zone under negotiation with Norway is between the Shtokman gas discovery on the Russian side - a huge reservoir holding enough gas to meet global demand for a year - and two oil and gas fields on the Norwegian side. Norwegian state-owned energy company Statoil are helping Russian Gazprom (together with the French company Total) to develop the reserves, intended to supply gas to Europe and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to the US. Medvedev said "[t]he question here is to find the right date to begin the project stage for the construction."