Category: Crimes

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Published on
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Warning: TTIP Aims To Defang Local Rules Against Hazardous Chemicals

New report finds that the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership poses a threat to state regulations against hazardous pesticides, products, and fracking chemicals

Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Fracking wells in McKenzie County, North Dakota. (Photo: Tim Evanson/flickr/cc)

Fracking wells in McKenzie County, North Dakota. (Photo: Tim Evanson/flickr/cc)

The mammoth Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) under secret negotiation between the United States and European Union is poised to slash the power of local governments to regulate toxins—from pesticides to fracking chemicals—the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) warned in a report released Tuesday.

Preempting the Public Interest: How TTIP Will Limit US States’ Public Health and Environmental Protections (pdf) is based on an analysis of the European Commission’s proposed chapter on regulatory cooperation from the April 20 round of negotiations. The report follows other analyses of the text which conclude that the TTIP poses a threat to human rights, environmental protections, and democracy on both sides of the Atlantic.

Beyond the regulatory cooperation chapter, little else is known about the content of the closed-door negotiations over what is set to be the largest bilateral “trade” deal in history.

The chapter’s contents, warns CIEL, highlight the direct threat the TTIP poses to public health and environmental protections on the U.S. state level. This is especially troublesome, the report argues, because federal regulations under the Toxic Substance Control Act have proven “egregiously ineffective”—and could be even further eroded, thanks to the influence of the chemical industry in Congress.

“The bottom line is if you’re trying to make the U.S. compatible with an international standard, and you have minimal federal regulations on the U.S. side, and you have states that go beyond that, the provisions will be used to attack state chemical and pesticide regulations.”
—Sharon Treat, report co-author

In contrast, some state governments have taken the lead in responding to the dangers posed by fracking chemicals, pesticides, and hazardous products by adopting “more than 250 laws and regulations protecting humans and the environment from exposure to toxic chemicals,” the report says.

However, so-called “harmonization provisions” in the EU’s proposal could force states to conform to the lowest common denominator—in this case weaker federal guidelines. As Sharon Treat, attorney, co-author of the report and former Maine state legislator, explained to Common Dreams, “The bottom line is if you’re trying to make the U.S. compatible with an international standard, and you have minimal federal regulations on the U.S. side, and you have states that go beyond that, the provisions will be used to attack state chemical and pesticide regulations.”

What’s more, the report asserts, the proposed chapter calls for an imposition of “multiple procedural mandates—from an early warning system to regulatory exchanges to the trade and cost-benefit impact assessments—that will lead to a regulatory chill caused by delay, increased costs for government, fear of legal challenges, and heightened industry influence and conflicts of interest.”

Beyond their demobilizing effect, such requirements could also expand the power of private interests in corporate tribunals, known as the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) systems.

“If you are requiring state and federal governments to do more studies to review whether a regulation could be done in a way that is less of an imposition on trade or big business, then you could bolster the case of the ISDS systems to block regulations,” explained Treat. “That would be tipping the scales even further in favor of international corporations running roughshod over regulations and procedures to protect public health and the environment.

Given the continued secrecy of the talks, it is not known how the U.S. responded to the proposed chapter, but the researchers at CIEL say the EU’s language alone is cause for alarm. CIEL warns that the “largest chemical and manufacturing corporations on both sides of the Atlantic” are playing a role in pressing the TTIP’s regulatory agenda—and that the U.S. is likely pressing for a similar race to the bottom for EU member states.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is negotiating the TTIP alongside two other secret trade deals: the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trade in Services Agreement. All three have come under stiff opposition from social movements and civil societies across the globe concerned that they will bolster corporate power at the expense of people and the planet. Some observers argue that these deals could collapse, in part due to their unpopularity and internal contradictions.


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Published on Aug 11, 2015

Gov’t Expert: Fukushima is always on people’s minds… a lot of concern
and worry about radiation’s role in unusual marine deaths — Reports of
shrunken or enlarged organs, black kidneys, sores on liver, slime in
mouth, discolored skin — Mortality in intertidal zone like “we haven’t
seen before” (VIDEO)…

Fukushima fishermen to allow discharge into sea
Nuclear & Energy Aug. 11, 2015 – Updated 01:16 UTC-4
fisheries federation is planning to conditionally allow decontaminated
underground water from the crippled nuclear power plant to be discharged
into the sea.
In exchange, it has asked the government and the
operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to take measures
to prevent negative harmful rumors.
The Fukushima Prefectural
Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations reached this decision
on Tuesday after a conditional agreement by a fishermen’s group in Iwaki
The group handed a written request to officials from the central government and TEPCO.
is asking that strict operational standards be observed for the
discharge and that the process be subject to monitoring by a third
party. It also asks that compensation be paid for harmful rumors.
Electric Power Company is planning to pump up contaminated ground water
from wells near the reactor buildings, decontaminate the water, and
then release it into the ocean.
This measure will be taken to deal with the 300 tons of contaminated water that is being produced at the facility every day.
TEPCO’s plan has been suspended. In February, local distrust of the
operator mounted after it was found to have failed to disclose leaks of
contaminated rainwater into the ocean.
The federation’s chairman
Tetsu Nozaki said it was a very troubling decision, but measures to deal
with the contaminated water are necessary. He said they will make a
final decision after receiving a response.
TEPCO’s Tsunemasa Niitsuma said they appreciate the understanding of the plan, and will try to respond quickly.

Reactor at Sendai plant reaches criticality
Nuclear & Energy Aug. 11, 2015 – Updated 11:07 UTC-4
A nuclear reactor has been restarted in Japan for the first time in nearly 2 years.
No.1 reactor at the Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture,
southwestern Japan, is the first to go back online under the new
regulations introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.
On Tuesday morning, workers in the plant’s central control room operated a lever to pull out the reactor’s 32 control rods.
plant’s operator, Kyushu Electric Power Company, says the reactor
achieved a sustained nuclear chain reaction later on Tuesday and there’s
been no trouble so far.
If all goes well, the reactor is due to
begin generating power on Friday. After gradually raising its output,
Kyushu Electric plans to begin commercial operations in early September.
utility says it will watch carefully for any abnormalities in the
operation of the equipment, as the reactor has been kept offline for
more than 4 years.
Last year, the 2 reactors at the Sendai plant
cleared the new, rigorous regulations introduced after the 2011 accident
at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The necessary inspections were
completed on Monday.
The reactor is the first to go online since September 2013, when the Ohi nuclear plant in central Japan halted operations.

Fukushima update: Challenges remain at destroyed nuke plant…



TEPCO begins pumping up groundwater before dumping in ocean


The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on
Thursday began pumping up groundwater from wells around the reactor
buildings as part of its plan to dump it into the ocean after treatment.

The plan is aimed at curbing the amount of toxic water buildup at the
complex. Tokyo Electric Power Co says radiation levels in the
groundwater are much lower than in the highly toxic water being pooled
inside the reactor buildings, adding it will discharge it only after
confirming it does not contain radioactive materials exceeding the
legally allowable limit.

Even so, fishermen in Fukushima Prefecture had long opposed the plan
amid concerns over pollution of the ocean and marine products. They
approved it last week on condition that the government and TEPCO
continue paying compensation to them for as long as the nuclear crisis
continues to cause damage to their business, among other requirements.

Read More Here

Collapse of the Industrial Civilization | Interview with Michael Ruppert


Published on Feb 28, 2013

Michael Ruppert let’s fly with both barrels as he speaks on Peak Oil, who the media are serving, and the truth behind Pat Tilman and Christopher Dorner. Ruppert’s candor is so strong that it is clear to see why he has been persecuted for his journalism, and he also shows why he is resilient enough to keep on speaking his truth.

Michael Ruppert is an investigative journalist and author of two books, Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil and Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World. In the 1970s, Ruppert was a narcotics officer for the LAPD. While there, he discovered evidence that the CIA was complicit in the illegal drug trade. He alerted his superiors with this information and soon found himself dismissed even though he had an honorable record. These events spurred Ruppert to begin a new career for himself as an investigative journalist. He was the publisher/editor of the From The Wilderness newsletter which, until its closure in 2006, examined government corruption and complicity in such areas as the CIA’s involvement in the war on drugs, the Pat Tillman scandal, the 2008 economic collapse and issues surrounding Peak Oil. Ruppert has lectured widely on these topics and was the subject of a documentary,Collapse, in 2009 which was based on one of his books. Currently, he hosts the radio show, The Lifeboat, on the Progressive Radio Network.


00:01 Coming up on Media Mayhem.
00:50 Welcoming Michael Ruppert
01:44 Getting persecuted as a journalist over Pat Tilman.
04:35 Bringing down the Bush administration.
08:55 The Pat Tilman cover-up.
15:01 Getting push back from controversial stories.
23:14 Media red herrings and distractions from the Right and Left.
27:54 Collapse, peak oil and the Iraq War explained.
36:17 The cognitive dissonance swirling around Christopher Dorner.
45:04 Investigative journalism appears through the cracks.


Part 2



Published on Mar 5, 2013

Collapse mastermind Michael Ruppert joins Media Mayhem to continue his conversation about the dirty secrets of the US government. This time he pulls out the big guns when discussing 9/11, the Bush administration, and why Dick Cheney was such an important (and nefarious) figure.
He also gives his thoughts on President Obama, and the overwhelming force that keeps the machine of US government ticking in the direction of criminality.

Michael Ruppert is an investigative journalist and author of two books, Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil andConfronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World.In the 1970s, Ruppert was a narcotics officer for the LAPD. While there, he discovered evidence that the CIA was complicit in the illegal drug trade. He alerted his superiors with this information and soon found himself dismissed even though he had an honorable record. These events spurred Ruppert to begin a new career for himself as an investigative journalist. He was the publisher/editor of the From The Wilderness newsletter which, until its closure in 2006, examined government corruption and complicity in such areas as the CIA’s involvement in the war on drugs, the Pat Tillman scandal, the 2008 economic collapse and issues surrounding Peak Oil. Ruppert has lectured widely on these topics and was the subject of a documentary, Collapse, in 2009 which was based on one of his books. Currently, he hosts the radio show, The Lifeboat, on the Progressive Radio Network.


00:01 Coming Up on Media Mayhem
00:41 The Collapse network of outside media.
03:34 30 years of experience in skepticism.
05:24 Osama Bin Laden and the truth.
09:44 9/11 was orchestrated by Dick Cheney.
11:24 Evidence for his case.
16:33 How Cheney consolidated power so effectively.
20:56 The excuse for the Iraq War, and the connection to Pearl Harbor.
26:12 Halliburton and the C.I.A.
31:44 Working with the LAPD and C.I.A. and coming from a background related to security.
34:34 The C.I.A. drug shipment conspiracy.
36:35 Has the LAPD changed since Rodney King?
40:14 Obama and the machine.
43:52 The balance of power and the executive.


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A photo of a fishmonger peeling the spine from a tuna.

A worker peels the spine from a tuna at New York’s Fulton Fish Market—the world’s largest after the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, Japan—on March 29, 2013.


Brian Clark Howard

Published April 9, 2014

Do you know if the fish on your plate is legal? A new study estimates that 20 to 32 percent of wild-caught seafood imported into the U.S. comes from illegal or “pirate” fishing. That’s a problem, scientists say, because it erodes the ability of governments to limit overfishing and the ability of consumers to know where their food comes from.

The estimated illegal catch is valued at $1.3 billion to $2.1 billion annually and represents between 15 and 26 percent of the total value of wild-caught seafood imported into the U.S., report scientists in a new study in the journal Marine Policy.

Study co-author Tony Pitcher says those results surprised his team. “We didn’t think it would be as big as that. To think that one in three fish you eat in the U.S. could be illegal, that’s a bit scary,” says Pitcher, who is a professor at the fisheries center of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

To get those numbers, Pitcher and three other scientists analyzed data on seafood imported into the U.S. in 2011. They combed through government and academic reports, conducted fieldwork, and interviewed stakeholders.

The scientists report that tuna from Thailand had the highest volume of illegal products, 32,000 to 50,000 metric tons, representing 25 to 40 percent of tuna imports from that country. That was followed by pollack from China, salmon from China, and tuna from the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Other high volumes were seen with octopus from India, snappers from Indonesia, crabs from Indonesia, and shrimp from Mexico, Indonesia, and Ecuador.

Imports from Canada all had levels of illegal catches below 10 percent. So did imports of clams from Vietnam and toothfish from Chile.

Graphic showing percent of seafood imported into the U.S. that is illegal and unreported.


In response to the study, Connie Barclay, a spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Fisheries, said, “We agree that [pirate] fishing is a global problem, but we do not agree with the statistics that are being highlighted in the report.” Barclay says data are too scarce to make the conclusions verifiable.

But, she adds, “NOAA is working to stop [pirate] fishing and the import of these products into the U.S. market.” She points to recent increased collaboration with other law enforcement agencies and improved electronic tracking of trade data.

Pirate Fishing

The U.S. is important to consider when it comes to fishing because it is tied with Japan as the largest single importer of seafood, with each nation responsible for about 13 to 14 percent of the global total, says Pitcher. Americans spent $85.9 billion on seafood in 2011, with about $57.7 billion of that spent at restaurants, $27.6 billion at retail, and $625 million on industrial fish products.

However, what few Americans realize, says Pitcher, is that roughly 90 percent of all seafood consumed in the United States is imported, and about half of that is wild caught, according to NOAA.

Pirate fishing is fishing that is unreported to authorities or done in ways that circumvent fishery quotas and laws. In their paper, the authors write that pirate fishing “distorts competition, harms honest fishermen, weakens coastal communities, promotes tax evasion, and is frequently associated with transnational crime such as narcotraffic and slavery at sea.” (See: “West Africans Fight Pirate Fishing With Cell Phones.”)

Scientists estimate that between 13 and 31 percent of all seafood catches around the world are illegal, worth $10 billion to $23.5 billion per year. That illegal activity puts additional stress on the world’s fish stocks, 85 percent of which are already fished to their biological limit or beyond, says Tony Long, the U.K.-based director of the Pew Charitable Trust’s Ending Illegal Fishing Project.

“The ocean is vast, so it is very difficult for countries to control what goes on out there,” says Long. He explains that pirate fishers are often crafty, going to remote areas where enforcement is lax. They may leave a port with a certain name on the boat and the flag of a particular country, engage in illegal fishing, then switch the name and flag and unload their catch at a different port.


Read More Here



The oceans are vast and humans are small — as the monthlong hunt for a vanished Malaysian jetliner demonstrates. Think of the challenge, then, for law enforcement and fisheries managers in going after fleets of shady boats that engage in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. These criminals ply the seas and sell their catches with impunity, making off with an estimated 11 million to 26 million metric tons of stolen fish each year, a worldwide haul worth about $10 billion to $23.5 billion. Many use banned gear like floating gillnets, miles long, that indiscriminately slaughter countless unwanted fish along with seabirds, marine mammals, turtles and other creatures.

The danger that illegal fishing poses to vulnerable ocean ecosystems is self-evident, but the harm goes beyond that. Illegal competition hurts legitimate commercial fleets. And lawless fishermen are prone to other crimes, like forced labor and drug smuggling. The convergence of illegal fishing with other criminal enterprises makes it in every country’s interest to devise an effective response.

That’s the job of the Port State Measures Agreement. It is a treaty adopted by the United Nations in 2009 that seeks to thwart the poachers in ports when they try to unload their ill-gotten catches. Many countries have been unable or unwilling to enforce their own laws to crack down on poachers flying their flags.


Read More Here



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Oceana Report Sheds Light On Staggering By-Catch Problem In U.S. Fisheries


Posted: 03/20/2014 5:37 pm EDT Updated: 03/20/2014 5:59 pm EDT






That fish dish at your favorite neighborhood bistro may be hiding a gruesome secret.

“When you buy fish at a grocery store or restaurant, you might also be getting a side order of sea turtle or dolphin to go with it,” said Dominique Cano-Stocco, Oceana‘s campaign director of responsible fishing, referring to the large number of dead sea creatures tossed by fishermen each year.

According to a new Oceana report, United States fisheries discard about 17 percent to 22 percent of everything they catch every year. That amounts to a whopping 2 billion pounds of annual by-catch — injured and dead fish and other marine animals unintentionally caught by fishermen and then thrown overboard. This includes endangered creatures like whales and sharks, as well as commercially viable fish that may have been too young or too damaged to bring to port.

“By-catch is one of the biggest challenges facing the U.S. today,” Cano-Stocco said. “It’s one of the largest threats to the proper management of our fisheries and to the health of our oceans and marine ecosystems.” Due to underreporting, by-catch numbers are probably an underestimate, she explained.

Released Friday, Oceana’s report strives to highlight the need to document by-catch numbers and develop better management strategies to prevent the high level of unnecessary slaughter in our oceans.


Bull shark trapped in fishing net


The report identifies nine of the worst by-catch fisheries in the nation. These fisheries — defined as groups of fishermen that target a certain kind of fish using a particular kind of fishing gear in a specific region — are reportedly responsible for more than half of all domestic by-catch; however, they’re only responsible for about 7 percent of the fish brought to land, the report notes.

Some of these fisheries reportedly discard more fish than they keep; others are said to throw out large amounts of the very fish species they aim to catch. California fishermen who use drift gillnets (walls of netting that drift in the water) to capture swordfish, for example, reportedly throw out about 63 percent of their total catch.

Between 2008 and 2012, about 39,000 common molas, 6,000 sharks, as well as hundreds of seals, sea lions and dolphins, were seriously injured or killed in the California drift gillnet fishery, Oceana notes.


Read More Here


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Teck smelter spills chemical solution into Columbia River

CBC News Posted: Feb 01, 2014 10:51 AM PT Last Updated: Feb 01, 2014 10:51 AM PT

Teck Resources says between 12,000 and 25,000 litres of a solution containing sodium hydroxide spilled from its smelter in Trail, B.C., into the Columbia River on Tuesday.

Teck Resources says between 12,000 and 25,000 litres of a solution containing sodium hydroxide spilled from its smelter in Trail, B.C., into the Columbia River on Tuesday. (The Canadian Press)

A mining and smelting company spilled a large volume of chemical solution into a domestic sewer line near Trail, B.C., on Tuesday.

Teck Resources says an incident at the Trail Smelter caused between 12,000 and 25,000 litres of a sodium hydroxide solution to flow into a sewer line. That line leads to the Regional District sewage plant, which discharges into the Columbia River.

“Our initial information indicates that the sewage treatment plant process would have a limited effect on that solution as it passed through the plant and eventually discharged into the Columbia River,” said Teck spokesperson Richard Deane.

The solution is usually treated on-site. The company is investigating how it could have drained into the sewer, but says it does not expect there to be any long-term impact on the river’s aquatic life or surrounding environment.

“We are going to be having a third-party environmental impact assessment conducted to confirm whether there will be any impact as a result of this incident,” Deane said.

Read More Here


Columbia River

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Columbia River
Aerial view of a large river winding through a mountainous gorge. It passes over a dam stretching in four segments from bank to bank across three intervening islands. Highways, passing by clusters of buildings here and there on both banks, run parallel to the river. Whitewater and foam curl downriver from one of the central segments.
Bonneville Dam, in the Columbia River Gorge
Name origin: Captain Robert Gray’s ship, Columbia Rediviva
Nickname: Big River, the River of the West, River Oregon[1]
Countries United States, Canada
States Washington, Oregon
Province British Columbia
 – left Spillimacheen River, Beaver River, Illecillewaet River, Incomappleux River, Kootenay River, Pend Oreille River, Spokane River, Snake River, John Day River, Deschutes River, Willamette River
 – right Kicking Horse River, Blaeberry River, Canoe River, Kettle River, Sanpoil River, Okanogan River, Wenatchee River, Yakima River, Lewis River, Kalama River, Cowlitz River
Cities Revelstoke, BC, Tri-Cities, WA, Portland, OR, Vancouver, WA, Longview, WA, Astoria, OR
Source Columbia Lake
 – location British Columbia, Canada
 – elevation 2,690 ft (820 m) [2]
 – coordinates 50°13′N 115°51′W [3]
Mouth Pacific Ocean, at Clatsop County, Oregon / Pacific County, Washington
 – elevation 0 ft (0 m)
 – coordinates 46°14′39″N 124°3′29″W [4]
Length 1,243 mi (2,000 km) [5]
Basin 258,000 sq mi (668,000 km2)
Discharge for mouth (average); max and min at The Dalles, Oregon, 188.9 miles (304.0 km) from the mouth
 – average 265,000 cu ft/s (7,500 m3/s) [6][7][8]
 – max 1,240,000 cu ft/s (35,100 m3/s)
 – min 12,100 cu ft/s (300 m3/s)
Three-color map of the Columbia River watershed. The watershed is shaped roughly like a funnel with its wide end to the east and its narrow end along the border between Washington and Oregon as it nears the Pacific Ocean. The watershed extends into the western U.S. states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana, and the western Canadian province of British Columbia as far east as its border with Alberta. The river itself makes a hairpin turn from north-west to south in British Columbia and another sharp turn from south to west as it nears Oregon.
Columbia River drainage basin
Wikimedia Commons: Columbia River

The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America.[9] The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. It flows northwest and then south into the US state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between Washington and the state of Oregon before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. The river is 1,243 miles (2,000 km) long, and its largest tributary is the Snake River. Its drainage basin is roughly the size of France and extends into seven U.S. states and a Canadian province.

By volume, the Columbia is the fourth-largest river in the United States; it has the greatest flow of any North American river draining into the Pacific. The river’s heavy flow and its relatively steep gradient gives it tremendous potential for the generation of electricity. The 14 hydroelectric dams on the Columbia’s main stem and many more on its tributaries produce more hydroelectric power than those of any other North American river.

The Columbia and its tributaries have been central to the region’s culture and economy for thousands of years. They have been used for transportation since ancient times, linking the many cultural groups of the region. The river system hosts many species of anadromous fish, which migrate between freshwater habitats and the saline Pacific Ocean. These fish—especially the salmon species—provided the core subsistence for natives; in past centuries, traders from across western North America traveled to the Columbia to trade for fish.

In the late 18th century, a private American ship became the first non-indigenous vessel to enter the river; it was followed by a British explorer, who navigated past the Oregon Coast Range into the Willamette Valley. In the following decades, fur trading companies used the Columbia as a key transportation route. Overland explorers entered the Willamette Valley through the scenic but treacherous Columbia River Gorge, and pioneers began to settle the valley in increasing numbers, following both routes to enter it. Steamships along the river linked communities and facilitated trade; the arrival of railroads in the late 19th century, many running along the river, supplemented these links.

Since the late 19th century, public and private sectors have heavily developed the river. The development, commonly referred to as taming or harnessing of the river, has been massive and multi-faceted. To aid ship and barge navigation, locks have been built along the lower Columbia and its tributaries, and dredging has opened, maintained, and enlarged shipping channels. Since the early 20th century, dams have been built across the river for the purposes of power generation, navigation, irrigation, and flood control. Today, a dam-impounded reservoir lies along nearly every U.S. mile of the once free-flowing river, and much of the Canadian stretch has been impounded as well. Production of nuclear power has taken place at two sites along the river. Plutonium for nuclear weapons was produced for decades at the Hanford Site, which is now the most contaminated nuclear site in the U.S. All these developments have had a tremendous impact on river environments, perhaps most notably through industrial pollution and barriers to fish migration.


The Columbia begins its 1,243-mile (2,000 km) journey in the southern Rocky Mountain Trench in British Columbia (BC). Columbia Lake – 2,690 feet (820 m) above sea level – and the adjoining Columbia Wetlands form the river’s headwaters. The trench is a broad, deep, and long glacial valley between the Canadian Rockies and the Columbia Mountains in BC. For its first 200 miles (320 km), the Columbia flows northwest along the trench through Windermere Lake and the town of Invermere, a region known in British Columbia as the Columbia Valley, then northwest to Golden and into Kinbasket Lake. Rounding the northern end of the Selkirk Mountains, the river turns sharply south through a region known as the Big Bend Country, passing through Revelstoke Lake and the Arrow Lakes. Revelstoke, the Big Bend, and the Columbia Valley combined are referred to in BC parlance as the Columbia Country. Below the Arrow Lakes, the Columbia passes the cities of Castlegar, located at the Columbia’s confluence with the Kootenay River, and Trail, two major population centers of the West Kootenay region. The Pend Oreille River joins the Columbia about 2 miles (3 km) north of the U.S.–Canada border.[10]

Modified satellite view of the Columbia River watershed showing the course of the river in red from Columbia Lake in British Columbia, Canada, to Astoria, Oregon, in the United States. The maps shows that the river, although flowing on average in a southwesterly direction from source to mouth, changes direction sharply from northwest to south at Big Bend in Canada, from south to west near Grand Coulee Dam in Washington, from west to south near Wenatchee, Washington, and from south to west near the Tri-Cities area in Washington.

Course of the Columbia River

The Columbia enters eastern Washington flowing south and turning to the west at the Spokane River confluence. It marks the southern and eastern borders of the Colville Indian Reservation and the western border of the Spokane Indian Reservation.[11] The river turns south after the Okanogan River confluence, then southeasterly near the confluence with the Wenatchee River in central Washington. This C‑shaped segment of the river is also known as the “Big Bend”. During the Missoula Floods 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, much of the floodwater took a more direct route south, forming the ancient river bed known as the Grand Coulee. After the floods, the river found its present course, and the Grand Coulee was left dry. The construction of the Grand Coulee Dam in the mid-20th century impounded the river, forming Lake Roosevelt, from which water was pumped into the dry coulee, forming the reservoir of Banks Lake.[12]

The river flows past The Gorge Amphitheatre, a prominent concert venue in the Northwest, then through Priest Rapids Dam, and then through the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Entirely within the reservation is Hanford Reach, the only U.S. stretch of the river that is completely free-flowing, unimpeded by dams and not a tidal estuary. The Snake River and Yakima River join the Columbia in the Tri‑Cities population center. The Columbia makes a sharp bend to the west at the Washington–Oregon border. The river defines that border for the final 309 miles (497 km) of its journey.[13]

The Columbia River Gorge, facing east toward Beacon Rock

The Deschutes River joins the Columbia near The Dalles. Between The Dalles and Portland, the river cuts through the Cascade Range, forming the dramatic Columbia River Gorge. No other river except for the Klamath completely breaches the Cascades—the other rivers that flow through the range also originate in or very near the mountains. The headwaters and upper course of the Pit River flows through much of the Cascades; in contrast the Columbia cuts through the range nearly a thousand miles from its source in the Rocky Mountains. The gorge is known for its strong and steady winds, scenic beauty, and its role as an important transportation link.[14] The river continues west, bending sharply to the north-northwest near Portland and Vancouver, Washington, at the Willamette River confluence. Here the river slows considerably, dropping sediment that might otherwise form a river delta. Near Longview, Washington and the Cowlitz River confluence, the river turns west again. The Columbia empties into the Pacific Ocean just west of Astoria, Oregon, over the Columbia Bar, a shifting sandbar that makes the river’s mouth one of the most hazardous stretches of water to navigate in the world.[15] Because of the danger and the many shipwrecks near the mouth, it acquired a reputation as the “Graveyard of Ships”.[16]

The Columbia drains an area of about 258,000 square miles (670,000 km2).[6] Its drainage basin covers nearly all of Idaho, large portions of British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington, ultimately all of Montana west of the Continental Divide, and small portions of Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada; the total area is similar to the size of France. Roughly 745 miles (1,200 km) of the river’s length and 85 percent of its drainage basin are in the U.S.[17] The Columbia is the twelfth-longest river and has the sixth-largest drainage basin in the United States.[6] In Canada, where the Columbia flows for 498 miles (801 km) and drains 39,700 square miles (103,000 km2), the river ranks 23rd in length,[18] and its basin ranks 13th in size.[19] The Columbia shares its name with nearby places, such as British Columbia, as well as with landforms and bodies of water.


With an average flow at the mouth of about 265,000 cubic feet per second (7,500 m3/s),[6] the Columbia is the largest river by volume flowing into the Pacific from North America[20] and is the fourth-largest by volume in the U.S.[6] The average flow where the river crosses the international border between Canada and the United States is 99,000 cubic feet per second (2,800 m3/s) from a drainage basin of 39,700 square miles (103,000 km2).[21] This amounts to about 15 percent of the entire Columbia watershed. The Columbia’s highest recorded flow, measured at The Dalles, was 1,240,000 cubic feet per second (35,000 m3/s) in June 1894, before the river was dammed.[22] The lowest flow recorded at The Dalles was 12,100 cubic feet per second (340 m3/s) on April 16, 1968, and was caused by the initial closure of the John Day Dam, 28 miles (45 km) upstream.[22] The Dalles is about 190 miles (310 km) from the mouth; the river at this point drains about 237,000 square miles (610,000 km2) or about 91 percent of the total watershed.[22] Flow rates on the Columbia are affected by many large upstream reservoirs, many diversions for irrigation, and, on the lower stretches, reverse flow from the tides of the Pacific Ocean. The National Weather Service issues tide forecasts for eight places along the river between Astoria and the base of Bonneville Dam.[23]

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Washington’s Blog

Federal, State and Local Governments Refuse to Test for Radiation on the West Coast of North America

Numerous models show that – while the ocean dilutes radiation – pockets and streams of concentrated radiation may still hit the West Coast of North America.

West Coast residents are very concerned.  Indeed, many local and state government officials have said that residents are inundating them with questions about Fukushima radiation.

And yet the government isn’t measuring seawater or fish on the West Coast for radiation.

Ken Buessler is the head scientist at Woods Hole in Massachusetts,  one of the world’s top ocean science institutions.  Much of Buessler’s career has focused on measuring radioactive particles in the ocean, and he’s been studying groundwater and ocean samples in and around Fukushima since the accident in March of 2011.

Buessler has consistently tried to downplay the risks from Fukushima, and yet even he admits that we won’t know unless we test.  Buessler noted this week:

The predictions are rather low and are not of direct concern, but no one makes measurements of these isotopes along the [West] coast .


No one is measuring so therefore we should be alarmed. I really try to take the approach that we shouldn’t trivialize the risks of radiation and shouldn’t be overly alarmed.

Buessler said last week:

What we don’t really know is how fast and how much is being transported across the Pacific. Yes, models tell us it will be safe, yes the levels we expect off the US West Coast and Canada we expect to be low, but we need measurements — especially now, as the plume begins to arrive along the West Coast and will actually increase in concentration over the next 1 to 2 years. Despite public concern about the levels, no public agency in the US is monitoring the activities in the Pacific.


Without careful, extensive, consistent monitoring, we’ll have no way of knowing how much radiation from Fukushima is reaching our shores, and how it could affect life in the ocean.


Buesseler says no US government agency currently tests radiation levels in the Pacific Ocean.“I don’t expect the radiation levels to be high but we can’t dismiss the concerns that the public has.”

“The effects of Fukushima will be increasing as the front edge of a large water plume coming from the nuclear plant will reach California soon and increase over the years,” said Buesseler.

Buesseler recently took his concerns to Washington where he met with US government officials at the various agencies responsible for monitoring radiation levels in air, food, and water.

He said he visited officials at the Department of Energy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

They all said that it’s not their responsibility to test the Pacific Ocean for radiation. This issue is falling between the cracks of government responsibility. It’s a health and safety issue here,” Buesseler said.

And Buesseler points out the circular reasoning which the government is using (at 10:00):

I completely agree that no radiation has been seen in the regards that we’re not really testing for it [laughter] in any organized way … We have very few data; it’s not really being organized. The government says we don’t really need to do that because we’re predicting very low levels.

This type of circular reasoning is – unfortunately – common these days. For example, when bad policy led to the 2008 financial crisis, the Gulf Oil spill, factory-farming caused disease, runaway pesticide use, and other problems, the government simply stopped testing or changed allowable levels.

U.C. Berkeley professor of nuclear engineering Eric Norman raises a similar point:

There is no systematic testing in the US of air, food, and water for radiation, continuous testing is needed


“I’m not terribly confident in the information Japan is sharing about the plant’s activities and clean up. That’s why it’s even more important now to advocate for continuous testing of air, food, and ocean water for radiation.”

University of Alaska Fairbanks researcher Doug Dasher notes:

There’s a lot of unknowns, a lot of uncertainties. There are others that also have the same message that they want to get out, we really need to sample to understand this and we really need to look at what’s happening out there in the ecosystem at the same time. There’s an opportunity to do this. It’s a huge amount of initial release, and the models do not address the continuing release [the models all assume that Fukushima was totally contained by about June 2011 … in fact, it has leaked continuously hundreds of tons of radioactive water every day for more than 2/12 years]. Fukushima has continued to leak ….


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Study links BP oil spill to dolphin deaths

US government scientists have for the first time found direct evidence of toxic exposure in the Gulf of Mexico

A dolphin is seen swimming through an oil sheen from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

A dolphin is seen swimming through an oil sheen from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill off East Grand Terre Island, where the Gulf of Mexico meets Barataria Bay, on the Louisiana coast, July 31, 2010. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

US government scientists have for the first time connected the BP oil disaster to dolphin deaths in the Gulf of Mexico, in a study finding direct evidence of toxic exposure.

The study, led by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, found lung disease, hormonal abnormalities and other health effects among dolphins in an area heavily oiled during the BP spill.

A dead bottlenose dolphin that was found on Ono Island

An Institute for Marine Mammal Studies veterinary technician examines a dead bottlenose dolphin that was found on Ono Island. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP

The diseases found in the dolphins at Barataria Bay in Louisiana – though rare – were consistent with exposure to oil, the scientists said.

“Many disease conditions observed in Barataria Bay dolphins are uncommon but consistent with petroleum hydrocarbon exposure and toxicity,” the scientists said.

Half of the dolphins were given a guarded prognosis, and 17% were expected to die of the disease, the researchers found.

“I’ve never seen such a high prevalence of very sick animals – and with unusual conditions such as the adrenal hormone abnormalities,” Lori Schwake, the study’s lead author, said in a statement.

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BP Oil Spill May Have Contributed to Dolphin Deaths, Study Finds


The 2010 BP oil spill contributed to an unusually high death rate for dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico, a new study suggests.

Between January and April 2011, 186 dead bottlenose dolphins washed ashore between Louisiana and western Florida. Most alarmingly, nearly half of these casualties were calves, which is more than double the usual proportion of young to old dolphins found dead. Scientists now blame both natural factors and human catastrophe for the unusual die-off.

“Unfortunately, it was a ‘perfect storm’ that led to the dolphin deaths,” study researcher Graham Worthy, a biologist at the University of Central Florida, said in a statement. “The oil spill and cold water of 2010 had already put significant stress on their food resources. … It appears the high volumes of cold freshwater coming from snowmelt water that pushed through Mobile Bay and Mississippi Sound in 2011 was the final blow.” [Gulf Oil Spill: Animals at Risk]

Cold water and spilled oil

The winter of 2010 was a cold one, the researchers reported July 18 in the open-access journal PLoS ONE. Oil began spilling into the Gulf in April 2011, after the Deepwater Horizon platform exploded following a blowout.

The unusually harsh winter of 2010 already dealt wildlife a disadvantage, Worthy and his colleagues wrote. Finfish, marine birds, sea turtles and manatees had been hit hard, with about 6 percent of the U.S. population of manatees lost to cold weather.

Just before the baby dolphins began washing ashore in January 2011, meltwater from an unusually heavy Mobile Bay watershed snowfall hit the Gulf. A comparison of dolphin stranding sites and water conditions revealed that the discovery of the carcasses followed temperature dips from meltwater by two to three weeks, indicating that the dolphins were stressed, died, washed ashore and were eventually found and recorded.

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Global Frackdown action: LIVE UPDATES

Published time: October 19, 2013 10:11
Edited time: October 19, 2013 21:20
People demonstrate in streets of Montelimar, southern France, on October 19, 2013, to protest against the exploitation of shale gas and oil. (AFP Photo / Jeff Pachoud)

Saturday, October 19

21:19 GMT: Protesters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania demand: “Stop fracking in PA.”

Rallying across the Raritan River to @GovChristie

19:41 GMT:

The people are marching through the streets of Pittsburgh today for . | |

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Frackdown Day: Worldwide protest to end shale gas extraction


Published on Oct 19, 2013

Global Frackdown Day is on – Saturday marks a worldwide protest, uniting all activists who want to put an end to shale gas extraction. ‘Fracktivists’, as they’re called, are urging their governments to stand up to the oil and gas lobby. However, in Britain the authorities see things very differently… Prime Minister has become a vigorous advocate of the risky technique, as Laura Smith reports. So why exactly are environmentalists so concerned about this particular form of oil and gas extraction? For more on this RT is joined by Vanessa Vine – she’s an anti-fracking campaigner for Britain and Ireland Frack Free group


Fight against Fracking: Romania villagers resist US energy giant Chevron


Published on Oct 19, 2013

Anti-fracking protesters from all over Romania have been galvanized US energy giant Chevron’s plan to start drilling outside the village of Pungetsi. While the energy firm has Bucharest’s blessing, people have come together to take a stand against the potential health and environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing in the region.

Global Frackdown action: LIVE UPDATES

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freespeechtv freespeechtv·

Published on Sep 24, 2013

Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño discusses his government’s involvement in two closely watched environmental legal battles. An Ecuadorean court has ordered the oil giant Chevron to pay $19 billion to indigenous and rural Ecuadoreans for the dumping of as much as 18.5 billion gallons of highly toxic waste sludge into the rainforest. But Chevron has refused, winning a partial victory last week when an international arbitration panel based in the Hague delivered an interim ruling questioning the validity of the original 2011 verdict.


Ecuador Takes on Chevron, Global Indifference in Controversial Fights to Protect Rainforest

Related Stories


Ricardo Patiño, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister.

During a visit to New York City for the United Nations General Assembly, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño joins us to discuss his government’s involvement in two closely watched environmental legal battles. An Ecuadorean court has ordered the oil giant Chevron to pay $19 billion to indigenous and rural Ecuadoreans for the dumping of as much as 18.5 billion gallons of highly toxic waste sludge into the  rainforest. But Chevron has refused, winning a partial victory last week when an international arbitration panel based in the Hague delivered an interim ruling questioning the validity of the original 2011 verdict. Patiño also addresses why Ecuador recently dropped a plan to preserve swaths of the Amazon rainforest from oil drilling by having wealthy countries pay them not to drill, an effort that the Ecuadorean government says failed to attract sufficient funding. Leading environmentalists, including Vandana Shiva, Naomi Klein and James Hansen, recently wrote an open letter to President Rafael Correa asking him not to forsake the initiative, saying: “Along with thousands of other world citizens, we look to the Yasuní-ITT initiative as a pioneering step in the international struggle for a post-fossil-fuel civilization. We have been inspired by the determination of the Ecuadorean public to rejuvenate the initiative following your government’s recent decision to abandon it.”

Read Full Transcript and Watch Full Video Here


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