The week that was 19 - 26 June | The Jackal

26 Jun 2011

The week that was 19 - 26 June

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council said this week that excessive sludge on beaches is not associated with the discharge of dairy farm effluent. They said that the high levels of scum is all a part of nature and that surf diatoms are a type of phytoplankton, which is a main source of food for productive shellfish beds in the surf.

The council’s pollution prevention team leader, Steve Pickles said the recent dominance of onshore weather has contributed to the build-up of surf diatoms, particularly on Tirohanga and Hikuwai beaches and that an abundance of these indicates a healthy habitat.

The Bay of Plenty Council has completely ignored the fact that like house plants, phytoplankton needs nutrients and a certain temperature range to grow well. An increase of nutrients ie effluent discharge and an increase in winter temperatures is attributable to the increased amount of phytoplankton.

The occurrence is also known as an algal bloom. While most phytoplankton and cyanobacteria are harmless, there are a few dozen that create potent toxins given the right conditions. Harmful algal blooms may cause harm through the production of toxins or by their accumulated biomass, which can affect co-occurring organisms. Impacts include human illness and mortality following consumption of or indirect exposure.

These outbreaks are commonly called red tides, but scientists prefer the term harmful algal blooms (HAB). The term red tide erroneously includes many blooms that discolor the water but cause no harm, and also excludes blooms of highly toxic cells that cause problems at low (and essentially invisible) cell concentrations. Therefore, harmful algal bloom is a more appropriate descriptor.
Around a thousand people participated in New Zealand's Slut Walks on Saturday. The anti rape marches were sparked by a Toronto police officer when he said; "Women could avoid being raped by not dressing like sluts." Wellington organiser Maria-Jane Scannell said the same attitude existed in New Zealand and it placed the blame on the victim rather than the rapist.
"We're all here because we agree that rape and sexual assault are never the fault of the victim," she said. "Yes means yes, no means no, whatever we do, wherever we go," she yelled through a megaphone during one of the the marches.
Family First's Bob McCoskrie supports the protestors' message, but thinks the rally's shock-value title is taking away from the real issue:
"I think their cause is a completely justified one. I'd just like them to do it in a family friendly way so that the message gets across rather than with a negative connotation," he told Newstalk ZB prior to the NZ marches.

On Tuesday a tanker carrying 24,000 litres of waste oil crashed in the King Country gorge and spilt its load into the Awakino River. 

The tanker tipped on its side near the northern end of the Awakino Gorge on State Highway 3 about 3.30pm.

Waikato Regional Council spokesman David Stagg was measuring his words about the extent of the spill, but said the waste oil would damage the river's ecosystem.
"Waste oil in the river will not be any good for it and will cause some degree of harm. Unfortunately in the gorge area, because of the swift nature of the river, there's no opportunity to contain it,'' he said.
Council spokesman Chris McLay says the spill has clear potential to hurt aquatic and marine life and pollute river banks and the coast.
"So we're assessing the situation to see how much oil is still in the river and its impacts. We'll be working hard to try and get any remaining oil out of the river if at all possible. We'd also advise people to stay away from the oil if they come across any on land. If they discover distressed animal or bird life they should advise the Department of Conservation," he said.

Web statistics show that more Japanese people are turning to external media sources in desperation for the truth concerning the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power plant.

The countries Government and Nuclear industry is continuing to downplay the seriousness of the incident in what is a despicable attempt to retain power.

In April, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that 370,000 terabecquerels escaped from the facility. Then on the 8th June we were informed to double that figure to 770,000 terabecquerels.

One reasoned and comprehensive argument against Nuclear Power has come from the reputable Dr Helen Caldicott:

It was revealed this week that radioactive tritium has leaked from three-quarters of U.S. commercial nuclear power sites, often into groundwater from corroded, buried piping.

Tritium, which is a radioactive form of hydrogen, leaked from at least 48 of 65 sites, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission records reviewed as part of the Associated Presses' yearlong examination of safety issues at aging nuclear power plants.

Leaks from at least 37 of those facilities contained concentrations exceeding the federal drinking water standard, sometimes at hundreds of times the limit.

At three sites leaks have contaminated drinking wells of nearby homes, the records show, but not at levels violating the low drinking water standards.

At a fourth site, in New Jersey, tritium has leaked into an aquifer and a discharge canal feeding into Barnegat Bay off the Atlantic Ocean.

Previously, the AP reported that regulators and industry have weakened safety standards for decades to keep the nation's commercial nuclear reactors operating within the rules.While NRC officials and plant operators argue that safety margins can be eased without peril, critics say these accommodations are inching the reactors closer to an accident.

Any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how slight, boosts cancer risk, according to the National Academy of Sciences. Federal regulators set a limit for how much tritium is allowed in drinking water. So far, federal and industry officials say, the tritium leaks pose no health threat.

A panel of Scientists convened by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), has found that the oceans are in a worse state than previously suspected.

In a report released this week, they warn that ocean life is "at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history." 

The experts from different disciplines, including coral reef ecologists, toxicologists, and fisheries scientists; concluded that things like over-fishing, pollution and climate change are all acting together in ways that have not previously been recognised. They said it's already impacting negatively on humanity. 

"The findings are shocking. As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had individually realised," said Alex Rogers, IPSO's scientific director and professor of conservation biology at Oxford University.

More than 5 million people have been displaced or otherwise affected by flooding in eastern China. Torrential rains have left huge areas of Hubei and Zhejiang provinces under water, with more than 1 million acres (432,200 hectares) of farmland inundated, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Almost 1,000 businesses have been forced to suspend operations and 5.7 million people have had their lives disrupted. More than 7,000 homes collapsed or were otherwise damaged and direct financial damage was estimated at almost $1 billion NZD. The final death toll is not yet available.