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N. Dakota officials report biggest find yet of illegally dumped radioactive oil field waste

radioactive filter socksOfficials in North Dakota are reporting what may be the state's biggest incident of illegal dumping of radioactive oil filter socks, the nets that strain liquids during the oil production process.

State Waste Management Director Scott Radig said hundreds of the tubular filters were discovered last week in an abandoned building in Noonan, a town of about 200 people in northwestern North Dakota. Radig, who viewed pictures of the scene, said it's likely to be more than twice as large as the state's next-largest dumping incident found last month in McKenzie County.

"It appears, unfortunately, to be the biggest one we've found," Radig said. "And it appears to have been there for quite some time."

Filter socks, which can become contaminated with naturally occurring radiation, are banned for disposal in North Dakota. Oil companies are supposed to haul them to approved waste facilities in other states such as Montana, Colorado and Idaho, which allow a higher level of radioactivity in their landfills.

State regulators and law enforcement officials are investigating, Radig said. He said the filter socks found in Noonan have been tested, and show low levels of radioactivity.

Ohio earthquakes linked to fracking

Oklahoma earthquakesOhio authorities shut down a hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, natural gas operation in Mahoning County on Monday after two earthquakes were felt in the area, near the Pennsylvania border, local newspapers and broadcasters reported.

The quakes registered magnitudes of 3.0 and 2.6, the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center said on its website.

Two smaller earthquakes were also reported later in the day.

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Three years after Fukushima Daiichi melted down, Japan still feeling effects of nuclear disaster

fukushimaThe complex known here as J-Village was once Japan’s largest soccer training facility. A statue in the building’s foyer depicts three soccer players battling for a ball. The logo of the Tepco Mareeze, a women’s soccer team that was disbanded in 2011, still is part of the decor. The sliding glass doors that open automatically when visitors approach are emblazoned with an image of soccer players.

But no one plays soccer here anymore. Instead, J-Village has become the command center in the effort to clean up the nuclear catastrophe that began when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Honshu, Japan, at 2:46 p.m. on March 11, 2011, sending a 45-foot wall of water over the 19-foot protective seawall at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and triggering the worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine exploded in 1986.

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Duke Energy would charge customers for moving coal ash in N.C.

mccroryAs public pressure builds to dig up coal ash from waste lagoons in North Carolina, Duke Energy is facing a big cleanup bill that the electric utility has been trying to dodge.

Early indications suggest Duke's cost could approach $1 billion, based on ash removal expenses in South Carolina. Deciding who pays the bill � Duke's customers or its shareholders � would pose another challenge.

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Fukushima operator may have to dump contaminated water into Pacific

Fukushima waterA senior adviser to the operator of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has told the firm that it may have no choice but to eventually dump hundreds of thousands of tonnes of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.

Speaking to reporters who were on a rare visit to the plant on the eve of the third anniversary of the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, Dale Klein said Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco] had yet to reassure the public over the handling of water leaks that continue to frustrate efforts to clean up the site.

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Next fracking controversy: In the Midwest, a storm brews over 'frac sand'

frack sandSand has become a valuable – and deeply divisive – commodity in the upper Midwest. Hydraulic fracturing, a method of extraction also known as fracking that has boosted oil and natural gas production across the United States, requires sand, and there's plenty of it here.

And so in dozens of small towns and rural townships in Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa and especially Wisconsin, the demand for frac sand, as it's called, has brought a surge of new mining activity. Scores of companies have poured in, eager to take advantage of the thick sandstone that underlies the bluffs and ridges of the region's picturesque river country.

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Fukushima's children at centre of debate over rates of thyroid cancer

Fukushia childrenWhen doctors found several tiny nodules on his 12-year-old daughter's thyroid gland, Toshiyuki Kamei refused to let parental fear get the better of him. The symptoms are not uncommon, and the probability that they will develop into something more serious is low.

Yet Kamei can be forgiven for occasional moments of doubt: his daughter, Ayako, is one of almost 400,000 children who were living in Fukushima on 11 March 2011 – the start of the world's worst nuclear accident for a quarter of a century.

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