The week that was 12 - 18 June | The Jackal

18 Jun 2011

The week that was 12 - 18 June

Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo was arrested yesterday, after boarding the Leiv Eiriksson oil drilling rig off Greenland.

Mr Naidoo carried the signatures of 50,000 supporters who have called for Cairn to explain how it would deal with a deep water drilling disaster similar to that which hit BP's Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico a year ago.

The arrests followed an injunction issued last week by a Dutch court, barring Greenpeace activists from approaching the drilling vessel. Greenpeace claims Cairn Energy have refused repeated requests to publish its oil spill plan. Speaking just before setting out to scale the platform, Mr Naido said:
"The Arctic oil rush is such a serious threat to the climate and to this beautiful fragile environment that I felt Greenpeace had no choice to return, so I volunteered to do it myself."
Ben Stewart, a Greenpeace associate onboard the Esperanza, said after Mr Naidoo's arrest that the activists were heading out of the area.
"After over a month of non-stop action to stop dangerous deep water drilling in the Arctic, which has seen 22 Greenpeace activists, including Kumi, arrested after braving freezing seas to protest against Cairn's reckless drilling, it is time to move the campaign up a gear and out of the Arctic. We are now leaving the area and taking the campaign against dangerous Arctic oil drilling to other places, and that's where we'll be for the rest of the year," he said.
The battle to stop Arctic oil drilling is far from over. 

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos declared a national disaster last Saturday for the flood and landslide-plagued country as intense rain continued to threaten homes and farmland. Initial reports said that 464 people had been killed with the flood affecting an area approximately 236,087 square kilometres in size. New Zealand's mainstream media incorrectly reported that there were no deaths from the flooding.

President Santos said nearly 1 million hectares (3,860 sq miles) of farmland was under water, describing the situation as a "great tragedy." The government estimates that the floods, which have affected swathes of the country, have caused damage to the value of NZ$6.2 billion.

Erupting volcanoes in East Africa and Latin America continued to disrupt flights this week over concerns that the spewing ash could jam aircraft engines. The Iceland volcano Grimsvotn threw ash hundreds of kilometres into the air. Last year, another Iceland volcano, Eyjafjallajoekull, grounded tens of thousands of flights and cost airlines millions of dollars.

Earlier this month, the Puyehue volcano in Chile began hurling plumes of ash over Latin America that spread to South Africa and Australia. In South America, the Nabro volcano in Eritrea, on the Red Sea spread ash as far as Australia as well.

Last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all governments and peoples to play their part to ensure that the world’s oceans are protected for future generations, warning that they face major threats in the years ahead.

“Many severe challenges related to oceans. These range from depleted fishery resources, the impacts of climate change and the deterioration of the marine environment to maritime safety and security, labour conditions for seafarers and the increasingly important issue of migration by sea,” he said.

Louisiana regulators have been ordered by a state appellate court to thoroughly analyze possible contamination, including radiation, from dumping fluids used in drilling for oil and natural gas into the seas just off the New Orleans coast.

On Friday, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that the state must determine if the practice of dumping wastewaters from offshore drilling operations is harmful to the environment and humans. Before being deposited in the state's seawaters, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality said the fluids, known as produced waters must be treated.

The Louisiana Environmental Action Network, a Baton Rouge-based environmental watchdog group, sued the environmental quality department after it issued new waste water permits to drillers in 2009 without analyzing how harmful the produced waters are.
The appellate court said the department "abused its discretion" in issuing the new permits without more testing or monitoring for contamination. The court noted that the Environmental Protection Agency is studying whether people are at risk from eating seafood "exposed to produced water" containing radioactive materials. Stuart Smith, a lawyer for the watchdog group, said an in-depth review was long overdue.
"This should have been done 30, 40 years ago. There has never been a comprehensive environmental impact statement done on the huge amounts of radioactive material being dumped into the territorial seas of Louisiana on a yearly basis. There is evidence of heavy metals and radioactive materials accumulating in the food chain." he said.

Jessica Ernst, who lives near Rosebud Alberta, is vowing to continue her fight against the oil industry over fracking which contaminated her water supply with methane gas. Hydraulic fracturing, involves pumping water, nitrogen and chemicals into the ground at high pressure in order to cause a series of cracks to free up natural gas.

She's suing Encana, Alberta Environment and the Energy Resources Conservation Board. Ernst says she knows what she's up against, and her chances of winning her legal battle are slim. But she vows to fight it out to the end and says she will not settle out of court because she wants the truth about hydraulic fracturing to be known.

Three New Zealand reports published by the Ministry of Health and the National Health Board this week, include maps showing that Northland, Waikato, Lakes, Taranaki, Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti, Whanganui and Otago DHBs have more cancer deaths than the national average.

Cancer remains the leading cause of death in New Zealand, accounting for 29% of all deaths. The most commonly registered cancer in 2008 was prostate cancer, but lung cancer was the deadliest, followed by colorectal, breast and prostate cancer. New Zealand has one of the highest rates of cancer in the World.