L.A.’s coast was once a DDT dumping ground. No one could see it — until now

L.A.’s coast was once a DDT dumping ground. No one could see it — until now

SOURCE: LA Times DATE; October 25, 2020 SNIP: Not far from Santa Catalina Island, in an ocean shared by divers and fishermen, kelp forests and whales, David Valentine decoded unusual signals underwater that gave him chills. The UC Santa Barbara scientist was supposed to be studying methane seeps that day, but with a deep-sea robot on loan and a few hours to spare, now was the chance to confirm an environmental abuse that others in the past could not. He was chasing a hunch, and sure enough, initial sonar scans pinged back a pattern of dots that popped up on the map like a trail of breadcrumbs. The robot made its way 3,000 feet down to the bottom, beaming bright lights and a camera as it slowly skimmed the seafloor. At this depth and darkness, the uncharted topography felt as eerie as driving through a vast desert at night. And that’s when the barrels came into view. Barrels filled with toxic chemicals banned decades ago. Leaking. And littered across the ocean floor. “Holy crap. This is real,” Valentine said. “This stuff really is down there. “It has been sitting here this whole time, right off our shore.” Tales of this buried secret bubbling under the sea had haunted Valentine for years: a largely unknown chapter in the most infamous case of environmental destruction off the coast of Los Angeles — one lasting decades, costing tens of millions of dollars, frustrating generations of scientists. The fouling of the ocean was so reckless, some said, it seemed unimaginable. As many as half a million of these barrels could still be underwater...
Fukushima: Japan ‘to release contaminated water into sea’

Fukushima: Japan ‘to release contaminated water into sea’

SOURCE: BBC DATE: October 16, 2020 SNIP: Japan is to release treated radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, media reports say. It follows years of debate over how to dispose of the liquid, which includes water used to cool the power station hit by a massive tsunami in 2011. Environmental and fishing groups oppose the idea but many scientists say the risk it would pose is low. The government says no final decision has been made. The release of more than a million tonnes of water, which has been filtered to reduce radioactivity, would start in 2022 at the earliest, according to Japanese media outlets including national dailies the Nikkei and the Yomiuri Shimbun. The water would be diluted inside the plant before release so it is 40 times less concentrated, the Yomiuri Shimbun said, with the whole process taking 30 years. There has been growing urgency over what to do with the water as space to store the liquid – which includes groundwater and rain that seeps daily into the plant – is running out. Most of the radioactive isotopes have been removed using a complex filtration process. But one isotope, tritium, cannot be removed so the water has been stored in huge tanks which will fill up by 2022. Environmental groups have long expressed their opposition to releasing the water into the ocean. And fishing groups have argued against it, saying consumers will refuse to buy produce from the...
Eco glitter causes same damage to rivers as ordinary product – study

Eco glitter causes same damage to rivers as ordinary product – study

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE October 15, 2020 SNIP: Biodegradable glitter causes the same ecological damage to rivers and lakes as the ordinary product, according to the first study of its kind on the impact of the microplastic on the environment. Tests on ordinary glitter and so-called biodegradable or eco glitter were carried out by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in Cambridge. The production of eco glitter has increased as consumers are urged to turn to apparently environmentally friendly alternatives to glitter made from a type of plastic known as PET. Sixty festivals in the UK announced they would switch to biodegradable glitter instead of PET glitter by 2021, but the study says the biological or ecological effects of any type of glitter, conventional or biodegradable, have never been tested. The Anglia Ruskin study is thought to be the first to examine the environmental impacts of glitter. One version of eco glitter has a core of modified regenerated cellulose (MRC), sourced mainly from eucalyptus trees, which is coated with aluminium for reflectivity and then topped with a thin plastic layer. Another form is mica glitter, which is increasingly used in cosmetics. The research found that the alternative “biodegradable” glitters had several effects similar to those observed for conventional PET glitter, meaning they could be causing ecological damage to rivers and lakes. The study found that the effects of MRC and mica glitters on root length and chlorophyll levels were almost identical to those of traditional glitter. Dr Dannielle Green, a senior lecturer in biology at ARU, said: “Glitter is a ready-made microplastic that is commonly found in our homes and, particularly...
95% of Marine Life on Sea Floor Killed in Kamchatka Eco-Disaster

95% of Marine Life on Sea Floor Killed in Kamchatka Eco-Disaster

SOURCE: Moscow Times DATE: October 8, 2020 SNIP: Nearly all seafloor-dwelling life in pollution-hit waters off Russia’s Pacific coast in the Kamchatka region has been wiped out in an unexplained mass death of marine animals, scientists told the region’s governor Tuesday. Images showing hundreds of dead octopuses, large fish, sea urchins and crabs washed up on the shore of Khalaktyrsky beach went viral over the weekend as environmentalists sounded the alarm over an ecological disaster. Kamchatka governor Vladimir Solodov said that authorities were considering manmade pollution, natural phenomena or a volcano-related earthquake as possible causes of the mass deaths. As much as 95% of marine life along the seabed in Avacha Bay has been killed, scientists told Solodov Tuesday following an expedition to the area to collect water samples, search for dead wildlife and carry out a survey dive. “On the shore, we also did not find any large dead sea animals or birds,” scientist Ivan Usatov said at the meeting. “However, when diving, we found that there is a mass death of benthos [bottom-dwelling organisms] at depths from 10 to 15 meters — 95% are dead. Some large fish, shrimps and crabs have survived, but in very small numbers.” The scientists from the Kronotsky Nature Reserve, the Kamchatka Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (KamchatNIRO) and the Kamchatka branch of the Pacific Institute of Geography warned Solodov that these organisms’ deaths will also kill off the animals that rely on them for food. “After this dive, I can confirm that there is an environmental disaster. The ecosystem has been significantly undermined and this will have long-term consequences, since...
Asian rivers are turning black. And our colorful closets are to blame

Asian rivers are turning black. And our colorful closets are to blame

SOURCE: CNN DATE: September 28, 2020 SNIP: When Haji Muhammad Abdus Salam looks across the trash-filled river near his home in one of Dhaka’s major garment manufacturing districts, he remembers a time before the factories moved in. “When I was young there were no garment factories here. We used to grow crops and loved to catch different kinds of fish. The atmosphere was very nice,” he said from Savar, just north of the Bangladesh capital. The river beside him is now black like an ink stain. Abdus Salam said waste from nearby garment factories and dye houses has polluted the water. “There are no fish now,” he said. “The water is so polluted that our children and grandchildren cannot have the same experience.” Bangladesh is the world’s second biggest garment manufacturing hub after China, exporting $34 billion worth of garments in 2019. And clothes made, dyed and finished in the country often end up in main street shops across the United States and Europe. But as consumers browse through the season’s latest color trends, few will spare much thought to the dyes used to create everything from soft pastels to fluorescent hues — or their toxic history. Fashion is responsible for up to one-fifth of industrial water pollution, thanks in part to weak regulation and enforcement in producer countries like Bangladesh, where wastewater is commonly dumped directly into rivers and streams. The discharge is often a cocktail of carcinogenic chemicals, dyes, salts and heavy metals that not only hurt the environment, but pollute essential drinking water sources. Ridwanul Haque, chief executive of the Dhaka-based NGO Agroho, called toxic chemical...