Alberta Oil Sands a Pollution Nightmare

By Timothy B. Hurst
December 6 2008
Extraction and refining heavy oil from Canadian tar sands will have increasingly devastating impacts on migratory bird populations, according to a new study.

oil refinery in canadian tar sands

According to anew report, the cumulative impact of developing Canadian tar sands over the next 30–50 years could be as high as 166 million birds lost, including future generations. Written by scientists from the Natural Resources Defense Council, Boreal Songbird Initiative, and Pembina Institute, the peer-reviewed paper suggests that avian mortality from continued development of Canada’s tar sands would provide a serious blow to migratory bird populations in North America.

It is estimated that half of America’s migratory birds nest in the Boreal forest, and each year 22–170 million birds breed in the area that could eventually be developed for tar sands oil if the rate of development continues at it is currently planned.

“At a time when bird populations are rapidly declining, this report puts into perspective the far reaching effects of tar sands oil development on North America’s birds,” said the report’s lead author Jeff Wells, Ph.D. of the Boreal Songbird Initiative. “The public needs to understand the real and long-term ecological costs of this development and determine if this is acceptable,” added Wells.

suncor tar sands mining in alberta, canada

In Alberta, tar sands mining and drilling causes significant habitat loss and fragmentation. Expansive toxic tailings ponds are protected by propane cannons that are used to keep ducks from landing in them.

toxic oil shale tailings

When those cannons fail, we see unfortunate accidents like the one this past summer in Alberta when some 500 ducks were killed after landing in a tailings pond. Toxic tailing ponds result in 8,000 to 100,000 oiled and drowned birds annually.

duck being cleaned of oil

Authors of the report suggest that an immediate solution to the unsustainable pace of development and to environmental problems relating to tar sands oil development is a moratorium on all new projects, project expansions, and to clean up existing projects.

For Canada to take the kind of substantive action necessary to prevent the ecological damage suggested by this report, it may require international pressure; the kind of pressure that could be applied by a renegotiated NAFTA that strengthens environmental laws, something that president-elect Obama has suggested he would like to see.

Images courtesy of: 1. & 3. David Dodge/Pembina Institute; 2. & 4. D. Faucher/Ducks Unlimited; 5. Sun Media Corp.

Source

The report covers the various ways tar sands development affects bird populations, including:

-Habitat Loss
-Tailings Ponds and Oiled Birds
-Fragmentation of Habitat from Drilling
-Water Withdrawals
-Air and Water Toxins
-High Emissions and Global Warming

In the Beginning.

1970’s Film – The Tar Sands

This clip shows the various refinement steps required to convert tar sands into usable crude oil and other petroleum products.

The methods have changed since then, but the  environmental impact is still very disturbing.

As Alberta’s tar sands production continues to increase at a rapid rate new ‘tailings ponds’ or toxic lakes from spent refining of the heavy crude oil trapped in sand are popping up everywhere and kilometers in size for the most part.

Tar Sands the Beginning of the End of the Carbon Age -Clearing the forest for the Oil Sands

At the Athabasca tar sands deposits north of Fort McMurray companies like Syncrude move unfettered and with strong support from local media companies despite the high pollution levels and carbon dioxide emissions.

America Looks to Canada’s Tar Sands for Next Century As the neighbor to the north Canada it appears is more then happy to develop its tar sands at any cost and as fast as possible despite the environmental fallout from the heavy crude oil reserves.

Source for Videos

Alberta  Oil Sands Cause Acid Rain

The Human Cost

By Matthew Kruchak and James Wood
February 16, 2008

Acid rain caused by Alberta oilsands production is pouring down on Saskatchewan and if governments don’t take note, any oilsands development in this province will contribute to the “most destructive project on Earth,” the Environmental Defence organization warns.

A report released Friday by the group says 70 per cent of the sulphur entering Alberta’s air ends up in Saskatchewan. Acid rain is produced by the interaction between water, sulphur and nitrogen oxides.

“Acid rain causes damage and death to the ecosystem and also human health,” said Christopher Hatch, a climate change campaigner with Environmental Defence. “People in Saskatchewan should be very concerned that neither the federal nor provincial governments are getting to the bottom of this.

“So what is it that they don’t want people to know? There’s obviously a problem — any layperson can tell that. Why are they not funding studies to ensure human health?”

The report, titled Canada’s Toxic Tar Sands: The Most Destructive Project on Earth, outlines the environmental and human health effects of the oilsands and offers the federal government solutions, Hatch said.

“It’s a toxic nightmare — it really is,” he said. “To fly over the Alberta oilsands as it is — and it’s only just beginning — it’s a toxic moonscape.”

The group is calling on the federal government to step in and force the cleanup or work with the Alberta government to address environmental issues, he said.

In the past 12 years, at a Saskatchewan site (which was not identified) 200 kilometres downwind from the oilsands, the mean level of acid in precipitation had increased, the report stated, with measurements going from pH 5.3 to 4.1. Normal rainfall has a pH of 5.6.

Saskatchewan Environment ran 10 monitoring stations across the oilsands in the northwest of the province and found a buildup of nitrogen from Alberta, the report stated in a section called Raining Acid on Saskatchewan.

“On the toxic front, it’s really a looming human health disaster,” Hatch said.

Environment Minster Nancy Heppner had little to say about the report Friday.

Asked about the environmental impact of the Alberta oilsands projects, Heppner said she didn’t have any details.

“I’ve heard things, that water’s being contaminated and those sorts of things. I don’t have any specifics. I haven’t seen the report you are talking about today and obviously there’s more information we’ll be looking at to make sure that if there were mistakes made on the Alberta side that we won’t be making those here,” Heppner told reporters at the legislature just before leaving for a climate change conference in Australia.

However, she said the government is concerned about acid rain from the oilsands.

“I understand there’s some concern and we’ve met with some people, some residents of northern Saskatchewan, who are concerned about acidification of our lakes and that’s something we’re going to look at,” said Heppner.

NDP environment critic Sandra Morin questioned Heppner’s lack of knowledge about the report.

Morin said “she had no reason to doubt” the report’s characterization of the oilsands as “the most destructive project on Earth.”

“It’s incredibly distressing that 70 per cent of the acid rain, the contamination, is going to be affecting Saskatchewan. Clearly, with the development happening there and 70 per cent of those emissions affecting Saskatchewan people, one has to be concerned about the further development of the oilsands in Alberta, which is supposed to triple in the next 10 years, not to mention the further development of the oilsands projects that are happening in Saskatchewan.”

The Saskatchewan Party government is supportive of oilsands projects in this province, but Heppner said the environment won’t be sacrificed.

“We are committed as a government going forward with development to make sure the environment is protected. There are environmental impact assessments that are done for projects and that will certainly be the case going forward. We do not want our environment to be destroyed while we develop our province,” she said.

Officials from the Ministry of Environment were unavailable for comment Friday.

A representative from Oilsands Quest, a company leading the development of the oilsands industry in Saskatchewan, was also unavailable for comment Friday.

Source

I  love this car more every day.

Solar car completes 1st round-the-world trip

These ones too.

Car that runs on air!

Air Car (1 of 2) from France

Air Car (2 of 2) from Australia

The UN’s carbon trading system in numbers

The United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism was intended to offer rich countries an efficient market mechanism to achieve some of of their emission-cutting obligations at lower cost by installing green technology in developing countries. Since the Kyoto Protocol came into force in 2005, more than 1,800 projects have been registered.

In other words Carbon Credits means going into another country setting up a facility and selling the product. Privatization and profit.

This does nothing to remove pollution from ones country just an opportunity for profit in another country.

Pollution should be removed from your own country, not using another country to make it look like you are removing pollution from your own.

Carbon Credits are bogus.

Added May 15 2012

Stop Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker project

Please Sign petition below.

http://freedomtrain2012.nationbuilder.com/

Added September 7 2010

More birds dying in Alberta oil sands than first reported

‘Secret’ Environment Canada presentation warns of oilsands’ impact on habitat December 22, 2011

“Canada”Trouble in Toryland: their Dirty Tricks catalogue March 2 2012

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Pollution Costs Trillions Annually

Fresh water pollution costs at least $4.3 billion a year

December 1 2008

By Shannon McAleenan

Manhattan, KS

Researchers at Kansas State University found that pollutants aren’t just bad for lakes and streams-they’re bad for American’s pocketbooks also.

Walter Dodds, professor of biology of KSU says freshwater pollution impacts individuals on a level as basic as bottled water costs. If the municipal water plant has to spend more to treat water coming through the taps, that cost is passed onto consumer through water bills.

“Monetary damages put environmental problems in terms that make policymakers and the public take notice,” Dodds said in a statement from KSU.

The team of researchers looked at U.S. EPA data on nitrogen and phosphorus levels in bodies of water across the country-both these pollutants are applied to plants as nutrients. Most of these pollutants reach lakes and other water from various points, like runoff from row crop agriculture.

The KSU team calculated the money lost from pollution by examining many factors like decreasing lakefront property values, the cost of treating drinking water and revenue lost when fewer people take part in recreational activities like fishing or boating. They found that freshwater pollution by nitrogen and phosphorus costs government, drinking water facilities and individual Americans at least $4.3 billion a year.

“We are providing underestimates,” Dodds said in the statement. “Although our accounting of the degree of nutrient pollution in the nation is fairly accurate, the true costs of pollution are probably much greater than $4.3 billion.”

The research appeared in the Nov. 12 online issue of Environmental Science and Technology.

Human cost of valley’s dirty air: $6.3 billion
By Mark Grossi
November 13 2008

FRESNO – There’s a new annual price tag for breathing dirty air in the San Joaquin Valley: $6.3 billion, mostly because more than 800 people die years earlier than they should.

That’s more fatalities due to bad air than car accidents, said nationally known economist Jane V. Hall, who Wednesday released her latest analysis of poor air quality in this region.

The dollar and death figures are nearly twice as high as Hall found in her first study two years ago, partly because stricter federal standards are in force. The new standards assume more people are harmed by bad air.

But she also said new research indicates microscopic specks of soot and chemicals are more dangerous than previously thought.

“There is a clearer consensus that lives are being shortened,” she said.

The study, funded with a $90,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, is intended to jolt residents, regulators and political leaders.

Hall, a California State University, Fullerton, scientist, worked with researchers Victor Brajer and Frederick W. Lurmann on the study, which also covered the South Coast Air Basin.

The study points out the continuing need to battle air pollution, said Seyed Sadredin, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. But he also said people still should understand air quality has improved.

“Things are not getting worse. These bigger numbers are the result of a new standard,” said Sadredin. “But this study does give the valley good justification to advocate for more support in fighting air pollution.”

The premature deaths and mounting costs are unacceptable, said Liza Bolaños, coordinator for the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition, a nonprofit group representing public health and environmental organizations.

“We have the capacity to clean this up,” she said. “This is a wake-up call.”

Hall and the other researchers said more than half the state’s residents – 20 million people in the valley and South Coast – are exposed regularly to unhealthy levels of ozone and particle pollution.

The researchers combined the cost of breathing dirty air in both basins, arriving at a total of $28 billion. Health care costs and time lost at work are included in the total, but more than 80 percent of the cost is related to the value of the estimated 3,800 lives lost prematurely each year.

Microscopic specks called PM-2.5, which are more prevalent in colder weather, are the biggest worry. Most of the region’s $6.3 billion cost is the value of people who die prematurely from exposure to PM-2.5.

Fresno last year had 75 bad days for PM-2.5, Bakersfield had 68 and Visalia 64. In the north valley, Modesto had 39 bad days. This region is considered one of the worst in the state for such pollution.

“In the San Joaquin Valley, 100 percent of the residents are exposed to fine-particle pollution at some time during the year,” said Hall.

The PM-2.5 comes from many sources, such as diesel engines and fireplaces. But it also forms in the moist winter air when ammonia from dairy waste combines with vehicle exhaust.

Fresno County residents suffer the valley’s biggest effects, with the loss of 212 people each year, valued at $1.4 billion, according to the report. The county also has the valley’s highest yearly total of non-fatal heart attacks related to air quality – 156. PM-2.5 pollution has been linked to heart disease.

Hall and Brajer said the valley’s 823 annual air-related deaths occur about 14 years sooner than they should.

The cost of each premature death is set about $6.7 million, a figure based on mainstream economic and federal studies of social value. Such figures have been used in economic analysis of social problems for decades, researchers said.

“We’re not trying to value a single person,” said Brajer. “This is a social value on reducing the risk of early death.”

Source

Charles River Property Owners Must Now Control Stormwater

BOSTON, Massachusetts,

December 1, 2008

The U.S. EPA and the state of Massachusetts are about to impose stormwater permit controls on industrial, commercial and high-density residential facilities in the Charles River watershed.Stormwater containing high levels of phosphorus is blamed for neon blue-green algae blooms of toxic cyanobacteria that have taken over the river in the summer months for the past several years.

The federal and state actions will require the owners of industrial, commercial and residential facilities in the upstream towns of Milford, Franklin, and Bellingham with two or more acres of impervious area – such as parking lots, roofs, and roads – to operate under a Clean Water Act permit.

“Polluted stormwater runoff causes serious water quality problems, and is the next great challenge for cleaning the Charles River,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator of the EPA’s New England office.

“By working closely with Massachusetts and our other partners, we will make great environmental improvements, while at the same time providing facilities with flexibility and time to meet the new standards,” Varney said. “Working together cooperatively, we can solve these problems.”

The new actions, announced in November, will ensure that property owners take responsibility for runoff from their sites.

Blue-green algae on the Charles River as it flows through Boston, Massachusetts (Photo courtesy EPA)

In a separate but related action, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is enacting a statewide requirement for facilities with five or more acres of impervious area to reduce stormwater runoff.

“Many of our state’s waters are severely degraded as a result of stormwater pollution,” said Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles. “Now is the time to take action to reduce pollution and return more water to the ground, where it will be cleaned naturally and added to our water supplies.”

Under both the federal and state actions, new requirements will be phased in to reduce polluted stormwater runoff at sites with large paved areas, including shopping malls and industrial areas.

While the statewide standard will be five acres, Massachusetts is proposing to match EPA’s two-acre requirement in the Charles, where a higher level of control is needed to address chronic water quality problems.

“Until now, managing stormwater has largely been the responsibility of the cities and towns,” said Laurie Burt, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. “It is critical now for other property owners to step up to the plate and do their part. This new program creates a level playing field by requiring that the responsibility for managing stormwater be shared by municipalities and private property owners.”

Cities and towns across Massachusetts have invested in improving their sewer and stormwater infrastructure, yielding substantial water quality benefits, said Varney.

“Our work will also help local municipalities, who up until now have shouldered the burden alone to take action to reduce pollution to our rivers, lakes and other waterways,” he said.

Commercial, industrial and high-density residential facilities with two or more acres of impervious area will be required apply for a Clean Water Act permit for stormwater discharges which eventually reach the Charles River.

The permits will require that these facilities reduce phosphorus discharges by 65 percent through a variety of stormwater management practices. Ultimately, these requirements will likely apply to the entire Charles River watershed, said state and federal officials.

“EPA’s extension of the Clean Water Act to include polluted stormwater runoff from commercial and industrial parking lots is both bold, and necessary,” said Bob Zimmerman, executive director of the Charles River Watershed Association.

“We will never clean up urban rivers without cleaning up existing runoff from pavement. This bold move will aid cities and towns meet their requirements, and help restore a more natural balance to the way water works in metropolitan regions, not just in the Charles River, but ultimately across the United States,” Zimmerman said.

“It is time for existing commercial and industrial developments to do their fair share to clean up the stormwater pollution that is threatening public health and recreation in New England’s waters,” said Christopher Kilian, director of the Conservation Law Foundation’s Clean Water and Healthy Forests Program. “The EPA took this precedent-setting action because the Clean Water Act’s mandates don’t allow this pollution to go unaddressed.”

In October 2007, EPA and the state began a process to limit phosphorus entering the Charles River by establishing a new Total Maximum Daily Load for discharges of phosphorus into the lower Charles River.

Since 1995, the EPA’s Clean Charles Initiative has coordinated efforts between EPA, state and local governments, private organizations, and environmental advocates. Cities and towns along the Charles have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in stormwater and sewer improvements.

Source

The cost of coal use last year was EUR 360 billion, according to a new report, which accounts for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, health impacts and mining accidents in determining the ‘true’ price paid by global society for relying on the dirtiest of fossil fuels.

The report, “The True Cost of Coal,” released by Greenpeace and the independent Dutch Institute CE Delft, arrived at this figure by looking the external costs of coal in 2007 for damages attributable to climate change, human health impacts from air pollution and fatalities due to major mining accidents–factors for which reasonably reliable global data is currently available.

“The relentless expansion of the coal industry is the single greatest threat to averting dangerous climate change. Coal is the most climate-polluting fossil fuel, responsible for one third of all CO2 emissions, and is projected to increase to 60% of emissions by 2030,” Joris Thijssen, climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace International, told a press conference. “Clearly, quitting coal will benefit not only the climate, but also reduce the other impacts which everybody else has to pay for.”

The report was released as Industry Ministers from at least 20 big emitting countries met in Warsaw with the world’s climate-polluting industries.

Earlier in the day Greenpeace activists dumped lignite, dirty brown coal that makes up a large portion of Poland’s mining output, outside of the Warsaw Sheraton..

Greenpeace Poland campaign director Maciej Muskat said that Greenpeace strongly suspected the Polish Government had organised the meeting for the wrong reasons.

“The Polish people are already paying a high price for the cost of coal, through health impacts and the loss of lakes and ecosystems. Instead of concentrating on trying to shore up opposition against action on climate at both the Poznan meeting and the EU climate-energy package, the Polish government should implement its own renewable energy target and tap into the enormous potential of energy efficiency,” he said.

The Warsaw meeting will probably talk about ‘clean coal’ technology that has the potential to sharply reduce CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants. However, the Greenpeace report ‘False Hope’ shows that so-called Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a dangerous distraction. The technology is unproven, contains inherent risks and comes with an enormous price tag. Global greenhouse gas emissions need to start declining in the next seven years and CCS is in no position to play a role in making this happen.

The impacts of coal are not only related to climate change. Coal also pollutes water resources, dirties the air and causes black lung disease. The report contains ‘on the ground’ stories from 12 countries that describe, for example, how human rights are violated in Colombia while mining coal, how mountain tops are blown apart in the United States and how coal use adds dramatically to air pollution in China.

Source

Low Concentrations Of Pesticides Can Become Toxic Mixture For Amphibians

November 18, 2008

Ten of the world’s most popular pesticides can decimate amphibian populations when mixed together even if the concentration of the individual chemicals are within limits considered safe, according to University of Pittsburgh research.

Such “cocktails of contaminants” are frequently detected in nature, a new paper notes, and the Pitt findings offer the first illustration of how a large mixture of pesticides can adversely affect the environment.

Study author Rick Relyea, an associate professor of biological sciences in Pitt’s School of Arts and Sciences, exposed gray tree frog and leopard frog tadpoles to small amounts of the 10 pesticides that are widely used throughout the world. Relyea selected five insecticides-carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, endosulfan, and malathion-and five herbicides-acetochlor, atrazine, glyphosate, metolachlor, and 2,4-D. He administered the following doses: each of the pesticides alone, the insecticides combined, a mix of the five herbicides, or all 10 of the poisons.

Relyea found that a mixture of all 10 chemicals killed 99 percent of leopard frog tadpoles as did the insecticide-only mixture; the herbicide mixture had no effect on the tadpoles. While leopard frogs perished, gray tree frogs did not succumb to the poisons and instead flourished in the absence of leopard frog competitors.

Relyea also discovered that endosulfan-a neurotoxin banned in several nations but still used extensively in U.S. agriculture-is inordinately deadly to leopard frog tadpoles. By itself, the chemical caused 84 percent of the leopard frogs to die. This lethality was previously unknown because current regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) do not require amphibian testing, Relyea said. His results showed that endosulfan was not only highly toxic to leopard frogs, but also that it served as the linchpin of the pesticide mixture that eliminated the bulk of leopard frog tadpoles.

“Endosulfan appears to be about 1,000-times more lethal to amphibians than other pesticides that we have examined,” Relyea said. “Unfortunately, pesticide regulations do not require amphibian testing, so very little is known about endosulfan’s impact on amphibians, despite being sprayed in the environment for more than five decades.”

For most of the pesticides, the concentration Relyea administered (2 to 16 parts per billion) was far below the human-lifetime-exposure levels set by the EPA and also fell short of the maximum concentrations detected in natural bodies of water. But the research suggests that these low concentrations-which can travel easily by water and, particularly, wind-can combine into one toxic mixture. In the published paper, Relyea points out that declining amphibian populations have been recorded in pristine areas far downwind from areas of active pesticide use, and he suggests that the chemical cocktail he describes could be a culprit.

The results of this study build on a nine-year effort by Relyea to understand potential links between the global decline in amphibians, routine pesticide use, and the possible threat to humans in the future. Amphibians are considered an environmental indicator species because of their unique sensitivity to pollutants. Their demise from pesticide overexposure could foreshadow the fate of less sensitive animals, Relyea said. Leopard frogs, in particular, are vulnerable to contamination; once plentiful across North America, including Pennsylvania, their population has declined in recent years as pollution and deforestation have increased.

Relyea published a paper in the Oct. 1 edition of “Ecological Applications” reporting that gradual amounts of malathion-the most popular insecticide in the United States-that were too small to directly kill developing leopard frog tadpoles instead sparked a biological chain of events that deprived them of their primary food source. As a result, nearly half the tadpoles in the experiment did not reach maturity and would have died in nature.

Source

The cost of pollutions is definitely in the trillions.

Of course I don’t think anyone has ever added up the total cost planet wise.

The above is just a couple of estimates from a few places.

One has to think of the planet as a whole. The cost is horrendous.

Cleaning up after it is extremely costly.

The cost to health care is staggering.

The cost of lives lost because of it cannot be calculated.

Well you can’t put a price tag on someones life.

How much is your life worth?

Think about it.

Pollution Reports including Top 100 Corporate Air Polluters 2007 in US

War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

A Few of the World’s most polluted places

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Untreated sewage and mercury-contaminated sludge flow into a water system at Sumgayit, See a map of Azerbaijan.)

A major industrial center of the former Soviet Union and erstwhile home to more than 40 chemical factories, Sumagayit was recently named one of the ten most polluted cities in the world by the nonprofit Blacksmith Institute.

At their peak of production, the town’s factories released as much as 120,000 tons of harmful emissions annually, exposing workers and residents to high levels of contaminants, the institute said.

A study conducted by the Azerbaijani government and the UN revealed that cancer rates in Sumgayit are 22 to 51 percent higher than in rest of the country.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Workers dump waste at Vapi, a town in western India that marks the southern end of the country’s “Golden Corridor”a 400-kilometer (245-mile) stretch of industrial sites that manufacture petrochemicals, pesticides, dyes, paints, and fertilizers. (See a map of India.)

A survey by the Indian government revealed that the sites lack a proper system for disposing of industrial waste, which often contains high levels of heavy metals and cyanide, among other contaminants.

A new list issued by the nonprofit Blacksmith Institute places Vapi in the top ten of the most polluted regions in the world.

Vapi’s distance from sources of clean water has forced residents to consume the town’s contaminated water, the institute said.

As a result, incidences of respiratory diseases, carcinoma, skin and throat cancers, birth defects, and infertility are high in Vapi, the nonprofit added.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

A doctor holds a newborn in Dzerzhinsk, Russia, in 1997. (See a map of Russia.)

The city, once the country’s Cold War headquarters for producing chemical weapons, was recently added to the Blacksmith Institute’s list of the world’s ten most polluted places.

Dzerzhinsk remains an important hub of chemical manufacturing.

Babies born here have birth defects at three times the national rate, the institute said on its Web site. A quarter of these babies will likely grow up and work in factories that still spew toxic chemicals, it added.

Dzerzhinsk’s average life expectancy is 42 years for men, well below the national average of about 58.

No major initiative to combat the pollution and health problems is underway, according to the New York-based institute.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Men search for metal at an abandoned lead mine in Kabwe, Zambia, the country’s second largest city, in this undated photo. (See a map of Zambia.)

Decades of unregulated lead mining have led to widespread poisoning in residents exposed to soil and water.

The New York-based Blacksmith Institute added the city to its list of the ten most polluted places for 2007.

Blood lead levels in children, who often bathe in contaminated water and play in the soil, are high enough to be potentially fatal, the institute reported on its Web site.

Although a local nonprofit educates families about avoiding lead exposure, entire communities may have to relocate, the institute said.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

A cemetery of radioactive vehicles is seen near Ukraine‘s Chernobyl nuclear power plant in this November 10, 2000 photo. (See a map of Ukraine.)

More than 1,300 Soviet military helicopters, buses, bulldozers, and other equipment were used and contaminated while responding to the April 26, 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl.

The disaster’s residual effects and its potential for future environmental and health damage has landed Chernobyl on the New York-based Blacksmith Institute’s 2007 list of the ten most polluted sites.

A hundred times more radiation was released during the meltdown of Chernobyl’s reactor than was contained in the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The event created a spike in thyroid cancers among children and led to innumerable respiratory ailments, infertility cases, and birth defects in local residents.

Today a 19-mile (31-kilometer) exclusion zone around the reactor remains largely deserted.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Women work at an open chromite mine at Sukinda, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, in this undated photo. (See a map of India.)

The Sukinda valley contains 97 percent of the country’s deposits of chromite a source of chromium and is the site of one of the largest open-cast chromite ore mines in the world.

A list issued by the nonprofit Blacksmith Institute cites the region as one of the most polluted in the world.

Twelve mines operate in Sukinda, generating about 30 million tons of waste rock and contaminating more than 60 percent of the water resources with hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen, the institute said on its Web site.

A state government study has also indicated that 85 percent of the deaths in the mining areas and nearby villages are due to chromite-mine related diseases.

The government reportedly stated that the situation in Sukinda “is unique, it is gigantic, and it is beyond the means and purview of the [Orissa Pollution Control] Board to solve the problem.”

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Cars inch through the smog-filled city center of Linfen, China, on July 7, 2007. (See a map of China.)

The city is listed among the world’s ten most polluted places of 2007, according to the New York-based nonprofit Blacksmith Institute.

Linfen sits at the center of China’s prodigious coal industry, which is largely unregulated by the government. Residents describe choking on coal dust, and local health clinics have reported an upsurge in bronchitis, pneumonia, and lung cancer, according to the institute.

“The one thing that blew me away was in Linfen, three million people are affected by air pollution,” said William Suk, acting deputy director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

“People assume a lot of these sites are in the middle of nowhere, but they’re not.”

By the end of 2007, Linfen plans to shut down 57 of its 153 coal-producing plants, to be replaced with cleaner, regulated facilities, the institute’s Web site reported.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Russia‘s northernmost major city, Noril’sk pumps out more than two million tons of pollutants a year making it one of the ten most polluted spots in the world, according to the New York-based nonprofit Blacksmith Institute. (See a map of Russia.)

Mining and smelting began in Noril’sk in the 1930s, and the city now houses the world’s largest smelting complex for heavy metals.

Snow is often blackened with pollution, the air tastes of sulfur, and the life expectancy is up to ten years lower than the Russian average, the institute reported.

Noril’sk Nickel, the major firm operating in the town, says it has invested millions in its dust and gas recovery and removal systems, according to the institute.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

September 18, 2007Two girls walk to school amid smoky skies in La Oroya, Peru, in this September 2003 photo. (See a map of Peru.)

The congested mining town of 35,000 nestled high in the Andes was recently added to the Blacksmith Institute’s list of the ten most polluted places in the world.

A metal smelter run by the Missouri-based Doe Run Corporation has operated in the remote settlement since 1922.

Exposure to the smelter’s pollution has led to dangerously high blood lead levels in nearly all of La Oroya’s children, according to the New York-based institute.

Lung ailments are widespread, and high numbers of premature death have been linked to the smelter’s emissions, the nonprofit reports on its Web site.

Likewise, acid rain from sulfur dioxide pollution has destroyed much of the vegetation in the area.

Doe Run says it has invested approximately 1 million U.S. dollars a year in a joint program with the Peruvian Ministry of Health to lower blood lead levels in the region.

The Blacksmith Institute, which collaborates with local agencies to fight pollution worldwide, compiled its annual list of the most polluted places through a nomination process.

The entries were then reviewed by a technical advisory board of medical and environmental experts.

William Suk, acting deputy director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, was not involved in the report.

“What the [Blacksmith Institute] has done is a good thing,” Suk told National Geographic News.

“They are trying to bring to the attention of the world that these sites exist.”

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U.N. report warns toxic brown haze has devastating effect

November 14 2008

A satellite image shows a dense blanket of polluted air over central-eastern China, covering the coastline around Shanghai. The "Asian brown cloud" is a toxic mix of ash, acids and airborne particles from car and factory emissions, as well as from low-tech polluters like wood-burning stoves. </p> <p>A satellite image shows a dense blanket of polluted air over central-eastern China, covering the coastline around Shanghai. The

BEIJING

A noxious cocktail of soot, smog and toxic chemicals is blotting out the sun, fouling the lungs of millions of people and altering weather patterns in large parts of Asia, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations.

The byproduct of automobiles, slash-and-burn agriculture, cooking on dung or wood fires, and coal-fired power plants, these plumes rise over southern Africa, the Amazon basin and North America.

But they are most pronounced in Asia, where so-called atmospheric brown clouds are reducing sunlight in many Chinese cities and leading to decreased crop yields in swaths of rural India, say a team of more than a dozen scientists who have been studying the problem since 2002.

“The imperative to act has never been clearer,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, in Beijing, identified as one of the world’s most polluted cities and where the report was released.

The brownish haze, sometimes in a layer more than a mile thick and visible from airplanes, stretches from the Arabian peninsula to the Yellow Sea. During the spring, it sweeps past North and South Korea and Japan. Sometimes the cloud drifts as far east as California. The report identified 13 cities as brown-cloud hot spots, among them Bangkok, Thailand; Cairo, Egypt; New Delhi; Seoul, South Korea; and Tehran, Iran.

It was issued on a day when Beijing’s own famously polluted skies were unusually clear. On Wednesday, by contrast, the capital was shrouded in a thick, throat-stinging haze that is the byproduct of heavy industry, coal-burning home heaters and the 3.5 million cars that clog the city’s roads.

Last month, the government reintroduced some of the traffic restrictions that were imposed on Beijing during the Olympics; the rules forced private cars to stay off the road one day a week and sidelined 30 percent of government vehicles on any given day. Overall, officials say the new measures have removed 800,000 cars from the roads.

According to the U.N. report, smog blocks from 10 percent to 25 percent of the sunlight that should be reaching the city’s streets. The report also singled out the southern city of Guangzhou, where soot and dust have dimmed natural light by 20 percent since the 1970s.

In fact, the scientists who worked on the report said the blanket of haze might be temporarily offsetting some warming from the simultaneous buildup of greenhouse gases by reflecting solar energy away from the earth. Greenhouse gases, by contrast, tend to trap the warmth of the sun and lead to a rise in ocean temperatures.

“All of this points to an even greater and urgent need to take on emissions across the planet,” Steiner said.

Climate scientists say similar plumes from industrialization of wealthy countries after World War II probably blunted global warming through the 1970s. Pollution laws removed that pall.

Rain can cleanse the skies, but some of the black grime that falls to earth ends up on the surface of the Himalayan glaciers that are the source of water for billions of people in China, India and Pakistan. As a result, the glaciers that feed into the Yangtze, Ganges, Indus and Yellow rivers are absorbing more sunlight and melting more rapidly, researchers say.

According to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, these glaciers have shrunk by 5 percent since the 1950s and, at the current rate of retreat, could shrink by 75 percent by 2050.

“We used to think of this brown cloud as a regional problem, but now we realize its impact is much greater,” said Veerabhadran Ramanathan, who led the U.N. scientific panel. “When we see the smog one day and not the next, it just means it’s blown somewhere else.”

Although the clouds’ overall impact is not entirely understood, Ramanathan, a professor of climate and ocean sciences at the University of California, San Diego, said they might be affecting precipitation in parts of India and Southeast Asia, where monsoon rainfall has been decreasing in recent decades, and central China, where devastating floods have become more frequent.

He said some studies suggested the plumes of soot that blot out the sun have led to a 5 percent decline in the growth rate of rice harvests across Asia since the 1960s.

For those who breathe the toxic mix, the impact can be deadly. Henning Rodhe, a professor of chemical meteorology at Stockholm University, estimates 340,000 people in China and India die each year from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases that can be traced to the emissions from coal-burning factories, diesel trucks and kitchen stoves fueled by firewood.

Source

CO2

By Paul Eccleston
November 14  2007

Australians are the world’s worst polluters, according to a new ‘name and shame’ league table based on power station emissions.

Each Australian produces 11 tonnes of CO2 power sector emissions each year on a per capita basis. The United States comes second in the table on nine tonnes per person Britain is ranked 9th at 3.5 tonnes per person.

The findings are revealed in a huge survey of the CO2 emissions from 50,000 power plants worldwide by the Centre for Global Development (CGD) an independent think-tanked based in the US.

The on-line Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA) database shows where the worst power station culprits are, who owns them and how much of the greenhouse gas they are pumping into the atmosphere.

It includes 4,000 power companies, and nearly 200,000 geographic regions in every country on earth. Visitors to the site can view carbon emissions data for the year 2000, the present, and future plans.

Power stations are the planet’s most concentrated source of greenhouse gases – one of the main factors in global arming – producing nearly 10 billion tons of CO 2 per year. The US, with over 8,000 power plants, accounts for about 25 per cent of the total or 2.8 billion tons.

Although the developing nations are among the worst offenders they have a far lower per capita rate. The average Chinese citizen produces two tonnes of CO2 from power generation annually while Indians only about half of one tonne per person.

Although no single country comes close to the 2.8 billion tons of CO 2 produced annually by the US power sector, other countries collectively account for three-quarters of all the power-related CO2 emissions.

China comes second with 2.7 billion tonnes, followed by Russia with 661m tonnes; India 583m tonnes; Japan 400m tonnes, Germany 356m tonnes, Australia 226m tonnes, South Africa 222m tonnes, the UK 212m tonnes and South Korea 185m tonnes.

Power generation accounts for about one-quarter of total emissions of CO2. Through the website people concerned about climate change can check on the emissions of their local power station.

CARMA was set up to help the drive towards less carbon-intensive power generation and reducing global warming which will hit poor people in developing countries the hardest.

The man who led the research, David Wheeler, a senior fellow at CGD, said: “CARMA makes information about power-related CO2 emissions transparent to people throughout the world. Information leads to action. We know that this works for other forms of pollution and we believe it can work for greenhouse gas emissions, too.

“We expect that institutional and private investors, insurers, lenders, environmental and consumer groups and individual activists will use the CARMA data to encourage power companies to burn less coal and oil and to shift to renewable power sources, such as wind and solar.”

Statistics for the UK show it has the 9th highest CO2-emitting power sector at 212,000,000 tonnes of CO2.

The Drax power station in Selby, Yorkshire is named as the biggest UK polluter producing 23,700,000 tonnes of CO2 annually making it the 23rd most polluting power station in the world.

It is followed in the UK by Longannet in Alloa, Scotland at 15,700,000 tonnes; Ratcliffe in the East Midlands at 12,800,000 tonnes; Fiddlers Ferry in the North West at 12,300,000 tonnes; and Cottam in the East Midlands at 12,300,000 tonnes.

The world’s worst pollution power plant is Taichung in the city of Lung-Ching in Taiwan which pumps out 41.3m tonnes of CO2 per year.

Taiwan and China have four of the top six worst polluting power plants

Source

100 dirtiest power stations in the UK
25 dirtiest power stations in the world

World’s 10 Worst Pollution Spots

NEW YORK, New York, October 18, 2006 (ENS)
The world’s 10 most polluted places threaten the health of more than 10 million people in eight countries, according to a report released today by a U.S. environmental action group. Three of the most polluted sites are in Russia, the report said, with the remaining seven located in China, Dominican Republic, India, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, Ukraine and Zambia.

The report was released by the Blacksmith Institute and compiled by a team of international environment and health experts, including researchers from Johns Hopkins University, Mt. Sinai Medical Center and City University of New York.

“A key criterion in the selection process was the nature of the pollutant,” said Richard Fuller, director of Blacksmith Institute. “The biggest culprits are heavy metals – such as lead, chromium and mercury – and long-lasting chemicals – such as the `persistent organic pollutants.’ That’s because a particular concern of all these cases is the accumulating and long lasting burden building up in the environment and in the bodies of the people most directly affected.”

scavenge
Children scavenging a mine in Kabwe, Zambia, one of the sites on the list. (Photo courtesy Blacksmith Institute)
With the exception of Chernobyl, the Ukranian site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, most of the locations on the list are little-known – even in their own countries.

The most-polluted sites primarily affect communities deep in poverty, the report said, but there are potential remedies.

“Problems like this have been solved over the years in the developed world, and we have the capacity and the technology to spread our experience to our afflicted neighbors,” the report said.

The list includes:

  • the Chinese city of Linfen, located in the heat of the country’s coal region and chosen as an example of the severe pollution faced by many Chinese cities;
  • Haina, Dominican Republic, the site of a former automobile battery recycling smelter where residents suffer from widespread lead poisoning;
  • the Indian city of Ranipet, where some 3.5 million people are affected by tannery waste, which contains hexavalent chromium and azodyes.
  • Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan, home to a former Soviet uranium plant and severely contaminated with radioactive uranium mine wastes;
  • the Peruvian mining town of La Oroya, where residents have been exposed to toxic emissions from a poly-metallic smelter;
  • Dzerzinsk, Russia, the site of a Cold War-era chemical weapons facility;kid
    A child stands on a battery casing in the Dominican Republic. The world’s most polluted sites all impact very poor communities. (Photo courtesy Blacksmith Institute)
  • the Russian industrial city of Norilsk, which houses the world’s largest heavy metals smelting complex and where more than 4 million tons of cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, arsenic, selenium and zinc emissions are released annually;
  • the Russian Far East towns of Dalnegorsk and Rudnaya Pristan, whose residents suffer from serious lead poisoning from an old smelter and the unsafe transport of lead concentrate from the local lead mining site;
  • and the city of Kabwe, Zambia, where mining and smelting operations have led to widespread lead and cadmium contamination.

“Living in a town with serious pollution is like living under a death sentence,” the report said. “If the damage does not come from immediate poisoning, then cancers, lung infections, mental retardation, are likely outcomes.”

The report warns that there are some towns where life expectancy approaches medieval rates, where birth defects are the norm not the exception.”

“In other places children’s asthma rates are measured above 90 percent, or mental retardation is endemic,” it said. “In these places, life expectancy may be half that of the richest nations. The great suffering of these communities compounds the tragedy of so few years on earth.”

Blacksmith said it plans to circulate the report extensively to development agencies and local governments, working to place clean-up on the policy agenda in their respective countries and to initiate fundraising to help these regions.

tannery

Tannery runoff in India is polluting the water supply of some 3.5 million people. (Photo courtesy Blacksmith Institute)

“The most important thing is to achieve some practical progress in dealing with these polluted places,” says Dave Hanrahan, Blacksmith Institute’s chief of global operations. “There is a lot of good work being done in understanding the problems and in identifying possible approaches. Our goal is to instill a sense of urgency about tackling these priority sites.”

“This initial Worst-Polluted Places list is a starting point,” Hanrahan added. “We are looking to the international community and local specialists for feedback on the selection process and on our list. We want to make sure that the key dangerously polluted sites get the needed attention and support from the international community in order to remediate them.”

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Pollution Reports including Top 100 Corporate Air Polluters 2007 in US

Alberta Oil Sands a Pollution Nightmare