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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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Re: Coal ash hexavalent chromium drinking water contamination in VA & NC

This summer a study out of Duke University prompted this reporting:
Upper James Riverkeeper: Duke Study Shows Coal Ash Ponds Leak Contaminants
Thursday, 23 June 2016 12:40

Duke University tests find leaching from ash sites, including two in Va.

Now, a follow up study brings news even more dire.

Duke University report: Hexavalent chromium widespread but naturally occurring
October 26, 2016 10:45 pm
By ROBERT ZULLO Richmond Times-Dispatch

At the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, land is graded and prepared at the landfill where by-products of coal combustion (coal ash) will be deposited. August 31, 2016.

Hexavalent chromium contamination of hundreds of private drinking-water wells near Duke Energy coal ash facilities ...

... into the middle of that roiling feud fell a bombshell Wednesday, when a study released by a team of Duke University-led researchers concluded that the potentially carcinogenic metal that was found in 90 percent of the 376 North Carolina wells sampled is naturally occurring....

Vengosh’s team has developed a testing method that uses distinctive isotope tracers of boron and strontium associated with coal ash to link contamination to the unlined ponds where the waste has been stored for decades. The technique was the basis of a report Vengosh and his team published this past summer that found leaking coal ash ponds at 21 facilities in five states...


“Overall, the geochemical and isotopic data clearly indicate that the drinking-water wells tested in this study are not impacted by CCR (coal combustion residuals) effluents and therefore the coal ash ponds are not a likely source” of the elevated chromium levels, says the study, published in Environmental Science and Technology Letters.

Far from being a cause for celebration, though, Vengosh said the report demonstrates that hexavalent chromium contamination, albeit naturally occurring, is more widespread in the Piedmont region — which covers a swath that runs from southeastern Pennsylvania, through central Virginia and North Carolina and into South Carolina, northern Georgia and eastern Alabama — than previously realized.

“If anything, because the contamination stems from water-rock interactions that are common across the Piedmont region, people in a much larger geographic area may be at risk. This is not limited only to wells near coal ash ponds,” Vengosh said....

More at: http://www.richmond.com/news/article_2af6db34-0f85-5410-b4c3-3a17689d9261.html

See also: National Institute of Health's National Toxicity Program
Hexavalent Chromium

Researchers Clear 'Patient Zero' From AIDS Origin Story

Preview of paper in journal Nature: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature19827.html

Full article available for reading courtesy of tie-up with NPR: http://www.nature.com/articles/nature19827.epdf?referrer_access_token=YQSN9k7bdqlfR75Kv3N479RgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0Mz5UkminhxQD8O3RqOtslwjkcYE9TPU1NVJFd01fF8JOumsmY-aQQFmpiDkzJ_fkWaaZ2RwXWYFIlvT_yH_M2xj9J-mQ_-aQ0pxMuatLUfwvunbhSkdkbPThxWuHGybfwP4nA7stdESTvHM4fgsQCcvVvclqeuzM21euZwPeIWCbmOuRs5AoUFu2gyt0ACT2KEDnalRwYUOYQ5xAG9e5M1HNVs58nsH9JV5Kr1HXxNHA%3D%3D&tracking_referrer=www.npr.org


1970s and ‘Patient 0’
HIV-1 genomes illuminate early HIV/AIDS history in North America

Michael Worobey1, Thomas D. Watts1, Richard A. McKay2, Marc A. Suchard3, Timothy Granade4, Dirk E. Teuwen5, Beryl A. Koblin6, Walid Heneine4, Philippe Lemey7 & Harold W. Jaffe4

The emergence of HIV-1 group M subtype B in North American men who have sex with men was a key turning point in the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Phylogenetic studies have suggested cryptic subtype B circulation in the United States (US) throughout the 1970s1,2 and an even older presence in the Caribbean2. However, these temporal and geographical inferences, based upon partial HIV-1 genomes that postdate the recognition of AIDS in 1981, remain contentious3,4 and the earliest movements of the virus within the US are unknown. We serologically screened >2,000 1970s serum samples and developed a highly sensitive approach for recovering viral RNA from degraded archival samples. Here, we report eight coding-complete genomes from US serum samples from 1978–1979—eight of the nine oldest HIV-1 group M genomes to date. This early, full-genome ‘snapshot’ reveals that the US HIV-1 epidemic exhibited extensive genetic diversity in the 1970s but also provides strong evidence for its emergence from a pre-existing Caribbean epidemic. Bayesian phylogenetic analyses estimate the jump to the US at around 1970 and place the ancestral US virus in New York City with 0.99 posterior probability support, strongly suggesting this was the crucial hub of early US HIV/AIDS diversification. Logistic growth coalescent models reveal epidemic doubling times of 0.86 and 1.12 years for the US and Caribbean, respectively, suggesting rapid early expansion in each location3. Comparisons with more recent data reveal many of these insights to be unattainable without archival, full-genome sequences. We also recovered the HIV-1 genome from the individual known as ‘Patient 0’ (ref. 5) and found neither biological nor historical evidence that he was the primary case in the US or for subtype B as a whole. We discuss the genesis and persistence of this belief in the light of these evolutionary insights.

The NPR write up: Researchers Clear 'Patient Zero' From AIDS Origin Story
October 26, 20161:02 PM ET
Michaeleen Doucleff

Americans strongly favor expanding solar power to help address costs and environmental concerns

Americans strongly favor expanding solar power to help address costs and environmental concerns
OCTOBER 5, 2016

As the solar energy industry gears up to add more electricity-generating capacity than any other source this year, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that almost nine-in-ten U.S. adults (89%) favor expanding use of solar power, while only 9% oppose it. That sentiment bridges the partisan divide, with large majorities from across the political spectrum favoring more use of this alternative source.

Planned large-scale solar farms are expected to add 9.5 gigawatts of electricity-generating capacity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), a government agency that collects and analyzes information about the energy industry. Natural gas is expected to add 8 gigawatts and wind 6.8 gigawatts. And that figure for solar doesn’t count electricity-generating capacity from distributed solar, such as rooftop panels. (In 2015, distributed solar added nearly 2 gigawatts of capacity.)

To put all this in context, the total in-service electricity-generating capacity in the U.S. was about 1,070 gigawatts as of July 2016.

Some Americans have already installed or are exploring solar power at home too. The Pew Research Center report finds 4% of homeowners have home solar panels. Many more homeowners – 40% – say that in the past year they have given serious thought to adding them.

Western homeowners...


MIT - New library proposals meant to enhance “meaningful access to knowledge.”

MIT task force releases preliminary “Future of Libraries” report
New library proposals meant to enhance “meaningful access to knowledge.”

Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office
October 24, 2016

An MIT task force is releasing a preliminary report featuring a set of proposals aimed at steering MIT’s library system toward becoming an “open global platform” enabling the “discovery, use, and stewardship of information and knowledge” for future generations.

The report, based on a year of work since the formation of the task force, contains general recommendations intended to develop “a global library for a global university,” while strengthening the library system’s relationship with the local academic community and public sphere.

“For the MIT Libraries, the better world we seek is one in which there is abundant, equitable, meaningful access to knowledge and to the products of the full life cycle of research,” the report states. “Enduring global access to knowledge requires sustainable models for ensuring that past and present knowledge are available long into the future.”

The task force is continuing to consult widely with the broader MIT community to refine its proposals. The preliminary report is intended to continue that dialogue, and to elicit additional input on the vision and recommendations it contains.

“The task force spent significant time ...

UPS truck w/ 2-cylinder range extender engine feeding lithium batteries = 4X MPG

UPS Adding Another 200 Hybrid Delivery Vehicles
by Andy Szal

The parcel giant announced that the trucks will be deployed, beginning in January, in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas and potentially additional states.

UPS previously announced the purchase of 125 of the 2-cylinder engine, E-GENTM chassis trucks, manufactured by Workhorse Group, earlier this year.

"We are committed to developing alternative fuel vehicles that lessen our impact on the environment and reliance on petroleum based fuels," said senior vice president for global engineering and sustainability Mark Wallace. "That effort is helping to transform markets and communities."

(Image credit: UPS)

The trucks, which are powered with help from lithium ion batteries and range extender engines, boast about four times the fuel economy of a conventional truck....

It seems there is another billion dollar battery factory in the works - this one for "solid-state batteries".
British Vacuum Company Dyson Reportedly Plans Electric Car

Dyson planned to invest $1 billion in a new battery plant in the wake of its $90 million purchase of Sakti3, an Ann Arbor-based company that developed new solid-state battery technology.

Solid-state batteries, unlike conventional lithium-ion batteries, will not overheat and do not require expensive fire safety features. They could also last far longer and charge in a matter of minutes.
Although the new batteries are likely at least 10 years removed from hitting showrooms, experts believe they could eventually prove decisive to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Numerous other automakers, suppliers and tech companies are also working on similar technology.

One expert, however, predicted that Dyson could eventually challenge Tesla Motors, whose forthcoming mass-market electric vehicle is expected to exceed 215 miles of range on a single charge. A solid-state battery could extend that range to 350 miles....

‘True Scale’ of India’s Tuberculosis Problem: 2.8 Million New Cases

Source: NYT

NEW DELHI — Finally coming to terms with the enormity of its tuberculosis problem, India is preparing a radical overhaul and expansion of its national treatment program to fight an affliction that kills more adults worldwide than any other infectious disease.

The severity of the matter was underscored on Thursday when the World Health Organization substantially increased its estimate of the number of new patients afflicted with TB in India, to 2.8 million in 2015, compared with 2.2 million in 2014 — more than any other country in the world and more than a quarter of the world total.

The organization’s estimate of new global TB patients rose to 10.4 million, from 9.6 million a year earlier, in large part because of the revised numbers in India. But increases were noted in Indonesia and several other countries.

The revision in India follows a study published in August in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases that estimated the number of Indians afflicted with TB at around 3.6 million, about 50 percent higher than previous Indian government and W.H.O. figures for 2014....

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/14/world/asia/true-scale-of-indias-tuberculosis-problem-2-8-million-new-cases.html

Ohio judge nixes pipeline builder's eminent domain plans

Wood County judge nixes pipeline builder's eminent domain plans
Kinder Morgan has been negotiating with landowners in 14 Ohio counties

Nolan Rosenkrans Oct. 12, 2016

BOWLING GREEN — A Wood County Common Pleas judge ruled today that the company behind the Utopia East pipeline project does not have eminent domain rights, throwing a potentially expensive roadblock into the project’s path.

Judge Robert Pollex ruled that Kinder Morgan’s plan to pipe ethane from the Utica shale region in eastern Ohio to a chemical company in Windsor, Ont., is not necessary and not for a public use, and thus the company cannot use eminent domain to force Wood County landowners to give easements on their property.

Kinder Morgan, North America’s largest energy-infrastructure company, has been negotiating with landowners in 14 Ohio counties to build the 12-inch pipeline, which would transport the ethane — used in the production of plastics — to a pipeline in Michigan that then heads to Canada. The product would solely be used by NOVA Chemicals Corp., a Canadian company.

Wood County Common Pleas Judge Robert Pollex ruled today that the company behind the Utopia East pipeline project does not have eminent domain rights, throwing a potentially expensive roadblock into the project’s path.

For property owners who have not been willing to sell, or sell at the price Kinder Morgan proposed, the company has petitioned Ohio courts for the right to appropriate the property at fair value. Some of those cases are in Wood County, including one involving PDB Farms of Wood County, which is south of Pemberville.

Several dozen landowners have ...

Preparing the country for nuclear terrorism

7 OCTOBER 2016
Preparing the country for nuclear terrorism
Jerome M. Hauer
Jerome M. Hauer has served in cabinet-level positions at the local and state level and as an acting assistant secretary for the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness at the US Department of Health and Human Services. Hauer is currently an associate editor of the Journal of Special Operations Medicine and president elect of the Homeland Security Section of the Health Physics Society. He earned his doctorate at Cranfield University, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, has a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and holds a bachelor’s degree from New York University..

The candidates for president of the United States continue to discuss preventing nuclear proliferation and the threat of nuclear terrorism, yet we hear little about how well prepared the nation is to manage the aftermath of terrorist use of an improvised nuclear device. Some may think the notion of such an attack is apocryphal. So allow me to explain just how likely such a possibility is, how devastating the result of such a detonation would be, and—in particular—just how poorly prepared the United States is to respond.

In 2005, Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the United Nations, said, “Nuclear terrorism is still often treated as science fiction. I wish it were. But unfortunately we live in a world of excess hazardous materials and abundant technological know-how, in which some terrorists clearly state their intention to inflict catastrophic casualties. Were such an attack to occur, it would not only cause widespread death and destruction, but would stagger the world economy ... a second death toll throughout the developing world.

In 2007, US Sen. John McCain was quoted as saying, “My greatest fear is the Iranians acquire a nuclear weapon or North Korea and pass enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) to a terrorist organization. And there is a real threat of them doing that. Just 55 kilograms, roughly 122 pounds of HEU, can be used to make a 10 kiloton IND, similar to the bomb dropped over Hiroshima."

In 2005, Graham Allison, director of Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, asked, "Is nuclear mega-terrorism inevitable? Harvard professors are not known for being subtle or ambiguous, but I'll try to the clear. Is the worst yet to come? My answer: Bet on it. Yes.

Matthew Bunn, also at the Belfer Center, argued in 2007...

50 years after 'we almost lost Detroit,' America's nuclear power industry faces even graver doubts

50 years after 'we almost lost Detroit,' America's nuclear power industry faces even graver doubts
The history of nuclear power in the United States has been marked by numerous milestones, many of them bad — accidents, construction snafus, engineering incompetence, etc., etc.

One anniversary of an incident that has cast a long shadow over the nuclear power industry’s claim for safety will be marked this week. On Oct. 5, 1966 — that’s 50 years ago Wednesday — Detroit Edison’s Fermi-1 nuclear plant suffered a partial meltdown, caused by a piece of floating shrapnel inside the container vessel.

According to subsequent inspections, no radioactivity escaped to the environment. No injuries were reported inside or outside the plant. The worst case scenario of a “China Syndrome” incident in which melted fuel pooled within the containment vessel and reached critical mass didn’t even come close to occurring.

The good intention of making the plant safer actually compromised its safety.
— David Lochbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists

Nuclear industry apologists long have resented the public attention given to the Fermi-1 meltdown, especially through novelist John G. Fuller’s 1975 book about the case, “We Almost Lost Detroit” (which itself prompted the song of the same name by the late Gil Scott-Heron). Even industry critics have faulted Fuller’s book for technical inaccuracies and an overly theatrical tone. But it did put its finger on the bureaucratic and ideological forces that gave birth to America’s nuclear power industry and set the stage for decades of wretched management.

In many ways, the accident underscored the flaws in planning and operation of the industry that have dogged it ever since, all but destroying nuclear power’s reputation as a sustainable energy source that might supplant fossil fuel generation and help combat climate change....

Notorious U.S. Coal Executive Remains Blindly Unrepentant for His Part in the Deaths of 29 Miners

Don Blankenship Is an American Criminal
A Notorious U.S. Coal Executive Remains Blindly Unrepentant for His Part in the Deaths of 29 Miners

Donald Leon “Don” Blankenship, the former head of Massey Energy who is serving federal prison time for his role in the deaths of 29 coal miners six years ago in West Virginia, got beaucoup headline treatment this week for issuing a “manifesto” in which he pronounces himself an “American political prisoner.”

Give the man kudos for a stunt that got traction.

There’s his phrase “American political prisoner” on top of a story published by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday and on an article disseminated far and wide by the Associated Press. It appears over and over again in the state where it hurts the most — on far-reaching West Virginia Public Broadcasting, on West Virginia Metro News (the “voice of West Virginia) and on small-town news sites hither and yon across the state.


He conspired to violate mining health and safety standards in the run-up to the explosion that claimed those 29 lives on April 5, 2010, at the Upper Big Branch mine south of Charleston. That’s why he’s behind bars now, albeit for not that long a time or at that hard core a prison. Blankenship is already midway through his one-year stretch at Taft Correctional Institute, a minimum-security facility in sunny Southern California. He gets out in April.

He was the best-paid U.S. coal-industry executive ...
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