tagged w/ Floodwaters
Floodwaters creep near nuke plants
Officials monitoring rising floodwaters at Nebraska nuclear plants
By the CNN Wire Staff
June 23, 2011 2:06 p.m. EDT
The Cooper Nuclear Station in Nebraska is under an "unusual event declaration" because of floodwaters nearby.
Critical gear at two Nebraska power plants has been protected from flooding, the NRC says
Some of the grounds at the Fort Calhoun plant, shut down since April, are under water
Utility sets up "rumor control" page to battle false reports of flood damage
Photo: The Cooper Nuclear Station in Nebraska is under an "unusual event declaration" because of floodwaters nearby.
(CNN) -- U.S. nuclear regulators say two Nebraska nuclear power plants have protected critical equipment from the rising waters of the Missouri River even though flooding has reached the grounds of one of them.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is confident those safeguards will prevent a disaster at either plant even though the Missouri is expected to remain flooded for several weeks, NRC spokesman Victor Dricks said Thursday.
The Fort Calhoun plant, about 20 miles north of Omaha, was shut down for refueling in April. Parts of the grounds are already under two feet of water as the swollen Missouri overflows its banks. But the Omaha Public Power District, which owns the plant, has built flood walls around the reactor, transformers and the plant's electrical switchyard, the NRC said.
"They've surrounded all the vital equipment with berms," Dricks said.
Dricks said the NRC has sent additional inspectors to Fort Calhoun, which declared an "unusual event" -- the lowest level of alert -- on June 6 due to rising water. Six inspectors are now monitoring conditions there around the clock, Dricks said.
The Cooper Nuclear Station, about 80 miles south of Omaha, remains operating at full power. The plant issued an unusual event declaration on Sunday as water levels rose, but the current level is two feet below the plant's elevation, Dricks said.
The NRC will dispatch additional inspectors to the plant "if conditions warrant," Dricks said.
Heavy rainfall in Montana and North Dakota, combined with melting snow from the Rocky Mountains, have sent the Missouri urging downstream this summer. The river washed over and punched through levees in nearby northwestern Missouri over the weekend, spurring authorities to urge about 250 nearby residents to leave their homes.
The 6 to 12 inches of rainfall in the upper Missouri basin in the past few weeks is nearly a normal year's worth, and runoff from the mountain snowpack is 140% of normal, according to weather forecasters.
And CNN affiliate KETV reported Wednesday that, as a precautionary move, the Cooper facility is keeping dozens of staff members onsite around the clock. The station reported that about 60 people are sleeping on cots at the plant and that the staffers are being rotated out every two days.
It was catastrophic flooding from Japan's March 11 tsunami that knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, resulting in three reactors melting down and producing the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. This year's Midwestern flooding has also led to a spate of rumors about the Fort Calhoun plant that Omaha Public Power and the NRC have been trying to knock down.
The utility has set up a "flood rumor control" page to reassure the public that there has been no release of radioactivity from the plant. An electrical fire June 7 did knock out cooling to its spent fuel storage pool for about 90 minutes, but the coolant water did not reach a boiling point before backup pumps went into service, it said.
"People are getting scared by a lot of the misinformation," Dricks said. "It's primarily coming from Internet bloggers rather than the mainstream media. None of them have bothered to check with us."
CNN's Matt Smith contributed to this report.Floodwaters creep near nuke plants... more
Posted by Tara Thean Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 3:57 pm
The effects of this spring's extreme flooding of the Mississippi River have been – pardon the pun – spilling over into every possible corner of the area's residential, commercial, and agricultural life over the last two months. And it looks like the environment hasn't escaped either: researchers from the University of Michigan predict that the largest Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” on record will result from the flooding.
The dead zone is forecast to be between 8,500 and 9,421 square miles – an area roughly the size of New Hampshire, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The zone is a threat to aquatic organisms as well as the humans who depend on them in the gulf's booming seafood industry.
"Stream flows were nearly double normal during May, delivering massive amounts of nutrients to the Gulf, and that's what drives the dead zone," said Donald Scavia, Special Counsel to the U-M President for Sustainability and director of the Graham Sustainability Institute.
Scavia noted that the most likely 2011 scenario is a Gulf dead zone of at least 8,500 square miles. This estimate far surpasses the 6,000-square-mile average of the past five years, as well as the current record, set in 2002, of 8400 miles.
The oxygen-starved Gulf dead zone is largely caused by farmland runoff containing fertilizers and livestock waste from as far away as the Corn Belt. Nitrogen and phosphorus from these sources flow down the Mississippi River and into the Gulf in late spring and summer each year, prompting explosive algal blooms, which later die and sink to the ocean floor. As they decompose, the algae provide bottom-dwelling bacteria with organic matter to feast on. Oxygen is consumed in the process, producing an oxygen-starved region in bottom and near-bottom waters: a dead zone.
This year, nitrogen and phosphorus have been seeping from Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers into the Gulf in alarmingly high amounts. In May 2011, 164,000 metric tons of nitrogen were transported to the northern Gulf, according to the U.S. Geological Survey – a 35% climb from average May nitrogen estimates in the last 32 years. The Gulf has seen a shocking 300% increase in nitrogen content since 1960.
Increased stream-flow rates and agricultural runoff are the main culprits, Scavia said.
"Yes, the floodwaters really matter, but the fact that there's so much more nitrogen in the system now than there was back in the '60s is the real issue," he explained.
Scavia called the growth of the Gulf dead zones an “ecological time bomb.”
"Without determined local, regional and national efforts to control them, we are putting major fisheries at risk,” he said.
Gulf fisheries recorded a high dockside value of $629 million in 2009, and nearly 3 million recreational fishers – who took 22 million fishing trips – contributed a further $1 billion to the Gulf economy. The Gulf of Mexico/Mississippi River Watershed Nutrient Task Force aims to reduce the size of the dead zone to around 1,900 square miles.
Nutrient load models can be complicated by short-term weather patterns moving water masses or mixing up the water column, say researchers at Louisiana State University.
But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be worried. "While there is some uncertainty regarding the size, position and timing of this year's hypoxic zone in the Gulf, the forecast models are in overall agreement that hypoxia will be larger than we have typically seen in recent years," NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco said in a statement.
Gulf Restoration Network Director of Science and Water Policy Matt Rota is frustrated with the EPA's handling of the expanding dead zone, which he calls “another harsh reminder that our country must work aggressively to clean up the Mississippi River.”
“The EPA must stop dragging its feet in addressing the Dead Zone,” he said, explaining that the Gulf Restoration Network petitioned EPA to address the Dead Zone in 2008. “Almost three years later, the EPA still hasn't responded to this petition, and the Dead Zone continues to plague the Gulf impacting wildlife and coastal communities.”
The actual—as opposed to estimated—size of the 2011 Gulf dead zone will be released after a NOAA-supported monitoring survey led by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium between July 25 and August 2.
Read more: http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2011/06/14/scientists-predict-record-gulf-of-mexico-dead-zone-due-to-mississippi-flooding/#ixzz1PQ6t1opFTime...
Posted by Tara Thean Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 3:57 pm
The effects... more
UN: Flooding has displaced 1 million more in Pakistan
By the CNN Wire Staff
August 27, 2010 9:41 p.m. EDT
Levee break displaces thousands
* NEW: U.N. is increasingly worried about flood-driven malnutrition among children
* U.N. official says a "colossal disaster is getting worse"
* About 1 million additional people have been displaced in Sindh province, the U.N. says
* Authorities have ordered evacuations in the Indus River delta
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Flooding has displaced an additional 1 million people in Pakistan's Sindh province in the past two days, according to new U.N. estimates released Friday.
"We have more people on the move, to whom we need to provide relief. An already colossal disaster is getting worse and requiring an even more colossal response," said Maurizio Giuliano, a spokesman for the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Giuliano said rains have forced the evacuation of an estimated 1 million people in southern Sindh in the past 48 hours or so.
"The magnitude of this crisis is reaching levels that are even beyond our initial fears, which were already leaning towards what we thought would be the worst. The number of those affected and those in need of assistance from us are bound to keep rising. The floods seem determined to outrun our response," he said.
The U.N. also said Friday that it is increasingly concerned about flood-driven malnutrition among children.
"The flooding has surrounded millions of children with contaminated water," said Karen Allen, deputy representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Pakistan. "Most have nothing else to drink. We fear the deadly synergy of waterborne diseases, including diarrhea, dehydration and malnutrition."
Acute malnutrition was high in much of Pakistan even before the floods. For instance, 27 percent of children under 5 in Baluchistan province were malnourished, as were 17 percent of children in Punjab, according to the U.N.
A hospital in Sindh is overrun with people suffering from waterborne illness; two children share each bed and more are on the floor. A doctor at the hospital said there are "not enough resources because of huge population ... coming to this hospital."
Remat Chacher, a farmer in Sindh, escaped the floodwaters with his wife and two children earlier this month.
But then his 3-month-old daughter Benazir got sick. "She started to get fever and couldn't keep anything down ... lots of belly pain," said Ulla, the infant's mom.
A few days later, the same symptoms struck the Chachers' son, 2-year-old Wazira. Both children died on the way to the hospital, with Wazira weighing just 8 pounds and Benazir weighing 2 pounds.
Floodwaters have started to recede across Pakistan, but in the Indus delta, the potential for more flooding remained high, especially given high tides in the Arabian Sea, where the Indus spills out.
Already, more than 17 million Pakistanis -- from the Chinese border in the north to the mouth of the Indus in the south -- have been affected by the monsoon floods that began a month ago.
To date, Pakistan's unfolding tragedy has claimed 1,600 lives, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. That number is likely to rise as more drowned bodies are discovered in receding waters.
Many refugees have sought shelter at relief camps, where food and drinking water are now available. But every day, there are new camp arrivals -- people who were already poor, who now have nothing.
Along the flooded Swat River in northeastern Pakistan, six local aid workers have spent two weeks braving the torrents on rafts they built from used tire tubes, bamboo and gaffers' tape after motorized boats failed to arrive.
The workers are ferrying tents, blankets and other supplies to hundreds of thousands of people stranded across the river and cut off from normal supply routes.
Last year, bombs and bullets from the army's offensive against the Taliban destroyed many homes and lives in the region. Residents had barely begun to recover when the rains came.
"We are fed up," said Shahravan, a 65-year old man who lost his house in the floods. "You don't ask a dead man why he's in his grave. It's not his choice."
Fayas Muhammad, another local, said he lost his leg when his house was mistakenly bombed in last year's fighting. The same blast took his wife and son. "We are very sad for all that Swat has been through," he said.
The damage from Pakistan's worst humanitarian catastrophe is sure to hurtle the impoverished nation back in terms of development. This week, America's top aid official saw firsthand the dire needs in Pakistan.
Dr. Rajiv Shah, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, said he was deeply moved by his visit to Sukkur and that aid agencies were "scaling up their response efforts as quickly as they possibly can."
Shah announced the United States would be diverting another $50 million for flood relief from the Kerry-Lugar Act, which allocated $7.5 billion in nonmilitary assistance to Pakistan over five years.
CNN's Sanjay Gupta, Reza Sayah, Samson Desta, Sara Sidner, Moni Basu and journalist Nasir Habib contributed to this report.UN: Flooding has displaced 1 million more in Pakistan
By the CNN Wire Staff
Pakistan floods ravage bear sanctuary
Aug 20, 2010
Sadly, WSPA must report some distressing news from our bear baiting project in Pakistan. The recent floods have severely affected the Kund Park sanctuary, resulting in the tragic death of 20 of the 23 bears living there.
The death of these much-loved bears has devastated BRC and WSPA staff and we know it will be equally upsetting for our supporters.
Suzi Morris, WSPA UK Director said: “I hope it is of some comfort to know that it was the generosity of WSPA supporters that allowed the final chapter of these bears’ lives to be one of peace and tranquillity, safe from the violence and fear of bear baiting.”
Rescue against the odds
Initially it was feared that all of the 23 bears at Kund Park had been lost but Babu, Maylu and Sohrab were found alive in the floodwaters.
In difficult circumstances, BRC staff transported them to the near-complete, new sanctuary at Balkasar. It is now more urgent than ever that building work on the Balkasar sanctuary is finished and the team at BRC are working flat out to achieve this.
Over the past few weeks the world has watched as heavy monsoons have caused the worst floods in Pakistan for 80 years. At the time of writing, up to 14 million people have been affected by the floods and an estimated 1,600 have lost their lives.
The damage to the Kund Park sanctuary is so severe that is seems unlikely that it can be rebuilt in the near future, perhaps at all.
Thanks to WSPA supporters, the new Balkasar sanctuary is due to be completed in October and will have the capacity to provide a home for Babu, Maylu and Sohrab and for the remaining bears still being used to fight in bear baiting arenas.
Why was the sanctuary so badly hit?
The Kund Park sanctuary is located between the Indus and Kabul Rivers in North-West Frontier Province, the epicentre of the recent floods.
A flood warning system was in place but the dramatic rise in floodwaters – reaching 60ft above river level – did not give BRC staff enough time to remove the bears from danger. The team did all they could to try to secure the safety of the bears by moving them to higher ground, staying at the sanctuary for as long as possible before they had to evacuate for their own personal safety.
Tireless search and rescue
As soon as the floodwaters receded, Fakhar and his team worked around the clock to search for the bears. Three bears were found alive but after days of searching, they had to face the devastating realisation that 20 of their beloved bears were confirmed dead.
WSPA is extremely impressed by the fortitude of BRC staff and their response to such a devastating tragedy. Many of the local staff were personally affected, some losing their homes to the floods, but this did not stop their dedication to securing the safety of the bears they have spent years caring for.
Amongst the drowned bears were names that WSPA supporters will know well
Star: rescued only months earlier from the horrors of bear baiting, thanks to BRC and the wonderful response of WSPA supporters to a recent appeal.
Lailah: saved from bear baiting in 2008 and featured in a WSPA appeal.
Rustam: liberated by Victor Watkins, WSPA’s bear expert, in 2001 and one of the oldest bears at the Kund Park sanctuary.
Dewa: confiscated from poachers in 2009 aged just five months old, was taken to the Kund Park sanctuary along with his brother, Babu, who was saved from the floods.
The other two lucky survivors are three year old Maylu was rescued in 2006, saved from the black market bear trade. Sohrab is a two year old Asiatic black bear who had been living peacefully at the Kund Park sanctuary since 2007.Pakistan floods ravage bear sanctuary
Aug 20, 2010
Sadly, WSPA must report some... more