Tropical Storm Agatha floods kill 150, cause gigantic sinkhole in Guatemala City

Giant sinkhole in Guatemala looks as if it goes to centre of the Earth (National Post):

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Flooding and landslides from Tropical Storm Agatha have killed more than 150 people throughout Central America in the past few days, and apparently caused a giant Guatemala City sinkhole.
By Sara Miller Llana, Staff writer / June 1, 2010


Cartagena, Colombia — Villagers have been buried alive in Guatemala. Residents, caked in mud, have searched in the wreckage of their homes for loved ones. Aerial photos show entire swaths of the nation’s coffee crop under water. Then, there’s the giant Guatemala City sinkhole.

The Atlantic hurricane seasons opens today, preceded by the Pacific one just weeks earlier, but already seasonal weather – coupled with volcano eruptions and other freak accidents – has battered Central American nations.

More than 150 people have been killed, mostly due to flooding and landslides, after Tropical Storm Agatha, the first Pacific storm of the season, struck Guatemala Saturday, impacting El Salvador and Honduras as well. Thousands across the region are homeless.

Read moreTropical Storm Agatha floods kill 150, cause gigantic sinkhole in Guatemala City

US: Radioactive fish near Vermont nuklear power plant deemed common

Radioactive Fish
In this May 29, 2010 photo, Shawn Cole, 12, of Hinsdale, N.H., left, and Peter Rosploch, 11, of Winchester, N.H. fish in the Connecticut River across from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. When a fish taken from the Connecticut River recently tested positive for radioactive strontium-90, suspicion focused on the nearby Vermont Yankee nuclear plant as the likely source. Operators of the troubled 38-year-old nuclear plant on the banks of the river, where work is under way to clean up leaking radioactive tritium, revealed this month that it also found soil contaminated with strontium-90, an isotope linked to bone cancer and leukemia. (AP Photo)

MONTPELIER, Vt. — When a fish taken from the Connecticut River recently tested positive for radioactive strontium-90, suspicion focused on the nearby Vermont Yankee nuclear plant as the likely source.

Operators of the troubled 38-year-old nuclear plant on the banks of the river, where work is under way to clean up leaking radioactive tritium, revealed this month that it also found soil contaminated with strontium-90, an isotope linked to bone cancer and leukemia.

Three days later, officials said a fish caught four miles upstream from the reactor in February had tested positive for strontium-90 in its bones. State officials say they don’t believe the contamination came from Vermont Yankee.

Tritium was reported leaking from the plant in January, and since then has turned up in monitoring wells at levels 100 times the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s safety limit for that substance in drinking water. Other radioactive isotopes have been found as well, including cesium-137, zinc-65 and cobalt-60.

Read moreUS: Radioactive fish near Vermont nuklear power plant deemed common

China: Three Gorges Dam causes quakes and landslides

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Roads are cracked in the Huang Gu Po district of Badong on the lower reaches of the Three Gorges Dam

The Three Gorges dam was so vast and sweeping a vision that nothing could stand in its way. Not the old cities of the Yangtze valley, storehouses of human toil and treasure for more than a thousand years. Not the lush, low-lying farmlands, nor the villages, nor even the pagodas and temples that graced the riverbanks.

The cries of dissenting scientists and the lamentations of more than a million Chinese people forced to leave their ancestral lands counted for nothing.

When the waters rose to 570ft last year, drowning all these things, it marked a triumph for the engineers at the top of the Chinese Communist party.

But in the past six months a sinister trail of events has unfolded from the dam all the way up the 410-mile reservoir to the metropolis of Chongqing.

It began with strange, small-scale earthquakes recorded by official monitoring stations and reported by the Chinese media.

Mysterious cracks split roads and sundered schoolhouses and apartments in newly built towns and villages on the bluffs looking down on the river.

The local government now says that 300,000 people will have to move out in addition to the 1.4m evicted to make way for the dam.

More than 50,000 residents have already been relocated owing to seismic problems that were not foreseen when the dam was built, according to the state news agency, Xinhua.

Read moreChina: Three Gorges Dam causes quakes and landslides

Matt Simmons on Bloomberg: There Is A Much Larger Leak, Creating A Gigantic Plume; US Military Should Take Over And Use Nuclear Weapons to Seal The Blowout


Added: 28. Mai 2010

May 28 (Bloomberg) — Matt Simmons, founder and chairman emeritus of Simmons & Co., talks with Bloomberg’s Mark Crumpton and Lori Rothman about BP Plc’s leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP said in a statement today that it has spent $930 million responding to the spill, which began after an April 20 rig explosion that killed 11 workers.

The well has been spewing an estimated 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf, a U.S. government panel said yesterday.

Read moreMatt Simmons on Bloomberg: There Is A Much Larger Leak, Creating A Gigantic Plume; US Military Should Take Over And Use Nuclear Weapons to Seal The Blowout

BP’s top kill effort fails to plug Gulf oil leak

Here is why BP’s efforts do not even matter:

Matt Simmons on Bloomberg: There Is A Much Larger Leak, Creating A Gigantic Plume; US Military Should Take Over And Use Nuclear Weapons to Seal The Blowout


Gulf Oil Spill
Workers clean up oil residue along the beach in Port Fourchon, La., Saturday, May 29, 2010. (AP)

ROBERT, La. (AP) — The most ambitious bid yet to stop the worst oil spill in U.S. history ended in failure Saturday after BP was unable to overwhelm the gusher of crude with heavy fluids and junk. President Obama called the setback “as enraging as it is heartbreaking.”

The oil giant immediately began readying its next attempted fix, using robot submarines to cut the pipe that’s gushing the oil into the Gulf of Mexico and cap it with funnel-like device, but the only guaranteed solution remains more than two months away.

The company determined the “top kill” had failed after it spent three days pumping heavy drilling mud into the crippled well 5,000 feet underwater. It’s the latest in a series of failures to stop the crude that’s fouling marshland and beaches, as estimates of how much oil is leaking grow more dire.

Read moreBP’s top kill effort fails to plug Gulf oil leak

Second Much Larger Iceland Volcano ‘Close To Failure,’ Say Scientists

2nd Iceland volcano issues warning

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Katla Volcano covered by the glacier Myrdalsjokull (Photo: Dave McGarvie)

LONDON – A second, much larger volcano in Iceland is showing signs that it may be about to erupt, scientists have warned.

Since the start of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, which caused cancellations of thousands of flights in Europe because of a giant ash cloud, there has been much speculation about neighboring Katla.

An initial research paper by the University College of London Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction said: “Analysis of the seismic energy released around Katla over the last decade or so is interpreted as providing evidence of a rising … intrusive magma body on the western flank of the volcano.”

“Earlier seismic energy release at Katla is associated with the inflation of the volcano, which indicates it is close to failure, although this does not appear to be linked to seismicity around Eyjafjallajökull,” it added.

Read moreSecond Much Larger Iceland Volcano ‘Close To Failure,’ Say Scientists

Gulf of Mexico Oil Apocalypse Creates Underwater Nightmare

On Good Morning America, correspondent Sam Champion and Philippe Cousteau Jr. explore the toxic plumes of dispersed oil floating beneath the waves in the Gulf of Mexico.


Added: 25. May 2010

More:

Gulf of Mexico clean-up boats recalled after crews suffer health problems

Deepwater Horizon survivors were kept in seclusion after rig explosion, coerced into signing legal waivers

SPECIAL REPORT: Civil fine in Gulf spill could be $4,300 a barrel

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Health Hazards

Fishermen get severly ill from clean-up work in Gulf

NASA Images Show Oil Entering Loop Current

New NASA Image of Gulf Oil Moving Towards Atlantic Ocean

Worry That Gulf Oil Spreading Into Major Ocean Current

AP IMPACT: Fed’l Inspections on Rig Not as Claimed:

The federal agency responsible for ensuring that an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was operating safely before it exploded last month fell well short of its own policy that inspections be done at least once per month, an Associated Press investigation shows.

Since January 2005, the federal Minerals Management Service conducted at least 16 fewer inspections aboard the Deepwater Horizon than it should have under the policy, a dramatic fall from the frequency of prior years, according to the agency’s records.

Gulf of Mexico: Scientists Find Giant Plumes of Oil as Large as 10 Miles Long, 3 Miles Wide And 300 Feet Thick in Deep Waters:

Scientists studying video of the gushing oil well have tentatively calculated that it could be flowing at a rate of 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day. The latter figure would be 3.4 million gallons a day.

Beyond Stupid: BP CEO Tony Hayward:

“The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”

US Oil Spill: Scientists and Fishermen Alarmed Over Chemical Dispersants:

Approximately 325,000 gallons of dispersant have been deployed so far in BP’s effort to break up the spreading oil slick before it hits the fragile Gulf coast, and over 500,000 gallons more are available.

Rig firm makes $270m profit from Gulf of Mexico oil spill

US not accepting foreign help on oil spill

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: New NOAA Projection Map; BP’s High-Stakes Mission; And More News

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: The Halliburton Connection:

The company acknowledged Friday that it had completed the final cementing of the oil well and pipe just 20 hours before the blowout last week.

US Oil Spill Disaster Is Now ‘Out Of Control’

Major Earthquake to Hit Greece? Flood of Frogs Shuts Down Major Highway

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May 9th, 2008 thousands of toads cross road near area where earthquake struck on May 12th in Sichuan China



Added: 26. May 2010


Thessaloniki, May 26 (THAINDIAN NEWS) There was a flood of frogs on a highway in Greece, which has managed to close down the highway for hours. Greek officials confirmed that one of the critical northern highways was closed for a couple of hours, due to the unexpected swarm of frogs.

Thessaloniki traffic police chief of the town of – Giorgos Thanoglou said that, there were millions of frogs that had thoroughly carpeted the highway. This happened on Wednesday, near the city of Langadas, which is located around 12 miles east of Thessaloniki. Giorgos Thanoglou said that, “There was a carpet of frogs.”

Read moreMajor Earthquake to Hit Greece? Flood of Frogs Shuts Down Major Highway

Deepwater Horizon survivors were kept in seclusion after rig explosion, coerced into signing legal waivers

According to two surviving crew members of the Deepwater Horizon, oil workers from the rig were held in seclusion on the open water for up to two days after the April 20 explosion, while attorneys attempted to convince them to sign legal documents stating that they were unharmed by the incident.

The men claim that they were forbidden from having any contact with concerned loved ones during that time, and were told they would not be able to go home until they signed the documents they were presented with.Stephen Davis, a seven-year veteran of drilling-rig work from San Antonio, told The Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg today that he was held on a boat for 36 to 40 hours after diving into the Gulf from the burning rig and swimming to safety.

Once on a crew boat, Davis said, he and the others were denied access to satellite phones or radio to get in touch with their families, many of whom were frantic to find out whether or not they were OK.

Davis’ attorney told Goldenberg that while on the boat, his client and the others were told to sign the statements presented to them by attorneys for Transocean – the firm that owned the Deepwater Horizon – or they wouldn’t be allowed to go home. After being awake for 50 harrowing hours, Davis caved and signed the papers. He said most of the others did as well.

Davis’ story seems to be backed up by a similar account given to NPR by another Deepwater Horizon crewmember earlier in the month. Christopher Choy, a roustabout on the rig, said that the lawyers gathered the survivors in the galley of a boat and said, “‘You need to sign these. Nobody’s getting off here until we get one from everybody.’ … At the bottom, it said something about, like, you know, this can be used as evidence in court and all that. I told them, ‘I’m not signing it.’ “

Choy said that once he was finally allowed to get off the boat, he was shuttled to a hotel, where he met up with his wife. At the hotel, representatives from Transocean confronted him again and badgered him to sign the statement. Exhausted, traumatized and desperate to go home, Choy said that he finally relented and signed.

Read moreDeepwater Horizon survivors were kept in seclusion after rig explosion, coerced into signing legal waivers

SPECIAL REPORT: Civil fine in Gulf spill could be $4,300 a barrel

Don’t hold your breath!


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Scientist Douglas Inkley of the National Wildlife Federation pulls a broken oil boom on an island impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Barataria Bay, Louisiana May 25, 2010. (REUTERS)

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Just how many barrels of oil are gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon spill is a billion dollar question with implications that go beyond the environment. It could also help determine how much BP and others end up paying for the disaster.

A clause buried deep in the U.S. Clean Water Act may expose BP and others to civil fines that aren’t limited to any finite cap — unlike a $75 million limit on compensation for economic damages. The Act allows the government to seek civil penalties in court for every drop of oil that spills into U.S. navigable waters, including the area of BP’s leaking well.

As a result, the U.S. government could seek to fine BP or others up to $4,300 for every barrel leaked into the U.S. Gulf, according to legal experts and official documents.

Read moreSPECIAL REPORT: Civil fine in Gulf spill could be $4,300 a barrel