From today's pipeline explosion in Kenya and nuclear plant explosion in the south of France, to word coming late last week about the effects of the Virginia earthquake on nuclear power, to the amount of radiation released into the sea in the Fukushima nuclear disaster, to questions raised about the intersection of fracking and floodplains in New York state, there's a lot of fossil fuel-disaster-accident news to run down. Here we go:Cigarette Butt May Have Ignited Leaking Oil Pipeline
Over 100 people have died in Nairobi, Kenya after a leaking oil pipeline running though one of the city's slums exploded. Reports from BBC News and Al Jazeera say that a fuel leaking into an open sewer was ignited when a cigarette butt was carelessly tossed into the sewer. Flames and charred human remains extended in a 300 meter radius from the site of the explosion.
The BBC's Hassan Lali says,
The scene is horrific, with charred bodies all around. I cannot differentiate between men and women and boys and girls. All that is left are bones, and the only way to identify the children is from their smaller skeletons.
French Nuclear Site Explosion "An Industrial Accident, Not a Nuclear Accident"
One person has died and four people injured in an explosion at the Marcoule nuclear site in southern France. The owner of the plant, EDF, is characterizing the event as "an industrial accident, not a nuclear accident" and has said their is no danger of radiation leaking. The explosion occurred not at a nuclear power plant but rather a site used to process nuclear waste. The French nuclear regulatory agency has said,
According to preliminary information, it is an explosion of a furnace to melt the metallic radioactive waste of low and very low activity...The building where the explosion occurred was not damaged. Injured people do not suffer from any radiological contamination and all measures conducted by the licensee outside of the building have shown no trace of radioactive contamination.This event does not involve any radiological issue and no protective actions was required for the population.
Two on earthquakes and nuclear power, both coming through Reuters and being lost in the news shuffle late last week:
Virginia Quake Shook Nuclear Plant Well Beyond Spec
According to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Virginia earthquake shook Dominion Resources' nuclear power plant twice as hard as it was designed to withstand. Immediately afterwards, Dominion said that the plant, which was shut down according to emergency procedures, experience shaking just 10-20% greater than it was designed to withstand.
Fukushima Disaster Released Three Times More Radioactive Material Into Sea Than Claimed
Researchers at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency say that the amount of radioactive material released into the sea by the Fukushima nuclear disaster is more than triple the amount claimed by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company.
Japan's biggest utility estimated around 4,720 trillion becquerels of cesium-137 and iodine-131 was released into the Pacific Ocean between March 21 and April 30, but researchers at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) put the amount 15,000 trillion becquerels, or terabecquerels. Government regulations ban shipment of foodstuff containing over 500 becquerels of radioactive material per kg.
New York's Fracking Floodplains Receiving More Frequent Floods
With all the recent flooding in upstate New York, both from Hurricane Irene and from subsequent storms, the New York Times brings up some important considerations about the intersection of flooding and fracking.
The areas worst affected by flooding also happen to sit on the Marcellus Shale and flooding is happening more frequently than it used to:
Floodplains maps should first be updated to take into account the recent extreme weather events and point out that such flooding makes hydrofracking an even bigger environmental risk.
"The floodplain is a different place than it was," said New York State Assemblyman Kevin A. Cahill, a Democrat, who chairs the energy committee.
He said places that used to flood sporadically or not at all now experience three or four floods a year. "We need to remap," he said.
More on Fossil Fuels
Gulf Spill Just A Drop In The Bucket Compared to What Happens Every Day, Everywhere Else
Fukushima "Worse Than Cherbobyl" When It Comes To Oceans
Fracking Wastewater Poisonous To Plants & Trees: US Forest Service