When engineers first assessed the future home of the Fukushima nuclear power plant that would eventually melt down in response to a tsunami, the site featured a striking, 82-feet-high bluff that overlooked the ocean below. It was more than high enough to have withstood the tsunami that struck the site in March.
Millions of dollars worth of spruce and pine trees across the country have mysteriously withered and died in the past few months. The likely culprit is an herbicide marketed as a way to control lawn pests like dandelions. The herbicide is Imprelis, a new product from DuPont. It was supposed to be better for the environment than its predecessors and has been sold at a premium to professional landscapers. DuPont claims it "may not have been mixed properly or was applied with other herbicides." Landscapers just want to know if they're going to have to pay to replace the trees that died on their watch.
ExxonMobil told federal officials and Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer that they had sealed the pipeline leaking oil into the Yellowstone River within 30 minutes. But federal documents show that sealing the pipe took 56 minutes -- almost twice as long as the company originally said. The company told the AP that the error came about because the Exxon representative who briefed officials was providing information without the benefit of notes. In other words, not really intended to be a factual statement.
House Republicans want to defund all kinds of environmental activity -- the EPA, the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service. You know, just anything having to do with the outside. And the USDA thinks that bioengineered bluegrass doesn't fall within its regulatory sphere, which means companies could grow the stuff without any regulation. Exposing mice to air pollution makes them dumber and more depressed. So it's probably good for everyone that the EPA is putting new regulations on coal-fired power plants that should reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide by 73 percent and nitrogen oxides by 54 percent from 2005 levels. Should Republicans succeed in cutting the agency’s budget yet again, this action could be little more than an empty gesture, though.
In Brazil, ranchers are opting to use Agent Orange -- one of the most toxic herbicides ever concocted, infamous for its use as a defoliant and de facto weapon during the Vietnam War -- to clear acres of rainforest. It's illegal to clear the forest, but by spraying swaths of trees with Agent Orange, deployed by helicopter, ranchers stand less chance of detection than if they cleared the land by bulldozing or cutting down trees.
The oil leaking from an ExxonMobil pipe into the Yellowstone River in Montana spread farther than the company said it anticipated. The reason, according to ExxonMobil’s spokespeople, is historic levels of flooding on the river. By Tuesday, Exxon had 280 people on the case, but still hadn’t managed to fight through floodwaters to reach the break in the pipeline. Exxon says the river is preventing its clean-up crews from going out on foot or in boats to look for oil on the river's banks. Exxon did shut down the busted pipeline, but not before spilling more than 40,000 gallons of oil that they say it’s not yet safe to clean up, due to the floods. The company had been warned twice that it needed to check the pipeline for corrosion and update its emergency plans -- but now that there is actually a broken pipeline and an emergency, it’s obviously all the river’s fault.
It's the Atlantic, as you've never seen it before: Cities are red, shipping routes blue, roads green and air networks in white. Click on the image to see the full map of the entire planet.
When mulling over that eternal 4th of July question, Mountains v. Beach, consider that mountains are never closed because of bacteria that transmit rashes, pink eye, respiratory infections, meningitis, and hepatitis. Beaches, on the other hand, are closed for exactly that reason. And last year the number of beach closings and advisories, most of which were connected to bacteria, reached the second highest level in the past two decades, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.