Tag: environment

Scandal Over Recycling Company Allegedly Sending Material Overseas To Be Dumped As Garbage In Environmentally Unsound Manner

By Darren Smith, Weekend contributor

international-recycling-logoAn environmental advocacy group alleges that a Seattle recycling company disposed of electronics in overseas nations without following contractually mandated recycling practices. Seattle based “Total Reclaim” now faces investigation by the Washington State Department of Ecology and the potential loss of state contracts.

Environment NGO “Basel Action Network” initiated a two-year investigation of recycling methods by using, among others things, GPS transponders in two hundred devices hidden in recycled items dropped off at recycling locations throughout the United States. BAN then tracked the devices to record their migration and if the material did in-fact arrive at large recycling locations.

Reportedly thirty percent of electronic recyclables instead arrived in foreign nations such as Kenya, Hong Kong and Mexico; locations having questionable environmental practices.

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Rare Earths Mining And Processing Leading To Much Pollution In The East

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor


The BBC presented an engaging and informative report concerning how the unprecedented demand for rare earth elements is leading to environmental degradation, especially in developing countries. It proposes that one of the ironic tragedies of manufacturing green technologies is that it is leading to concentrations of pollution in specific areas. This also brings forth the importance of having a conversation about advanced, consumer societies needing to engage in much self reflection on the causes of the insatiable appetites consumers have for top of the line electronics.  Of which are designed with quick obsolescence as a business model.

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Wildcat Bitcoin Mining Centers Cause Problems For Utility District

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Bitcoin_logo.svgAn interesting situation has developed in an Eastern Washington county where the public utility district is facing challenges to its electric system caused by the arrival of Bitcoin mining operations attracted to the area due to the low cost of power. The strain from these electricity data centers poses risks to both the cost of power to residents and might if left unabated pose a strategic cost to the credit rating of the utility itself, which will negatively affect the utility’s municipal bond rates for future expansions or debt retirements.

The allure of cheap power is leading to wildcat bitcoin mining that if unchecked could load the county’s power system at a greater level than that utilized by all the county’s electric users.

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Radioactive Waste From ND Oil Production Shows A Pattern Of Hazardous Disposal Practices

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Oil Drilling FacilityThe spillover costs of a booming oil bonanza seem to be bubbling up in North Dakota. History has shown when the race to acquire or control a new, lucrative product occurs, often safety, or environmental concerns lessen in importance, hazardous shortcuts are taken and laws sometimes ignored.

Officials in North Dakota reportedly discovered an unregistered radioactive waste dumpsite and another that reportedly had twice the material as was previously reported to a Canadian remediation company contracted for waste removal. Moreover, there have been several accounts of radioactive material being discarded as litter.

Radioactive SymbolAccording to the US Environmental Protection Agency, radionuclides are often present in petroleum extraction. Normally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) often include isotopes of Uranium, Thorium, and Radium (along with their decay products) as well as Lead-210. These elements have been known since the 1930’s and were in fact used as tracers to locate oil deposits, but it wasn’t until the mid 1980’s that the significance of these waste products were fully recognized and addressed. But it seems some of the regulatory mandates are being ignored, or in some cases inadequate to mediate hazardous practices of the some in the petroleum industry in North Dakota. Surprisingly federal regulation in this area is lacking.
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Japan And The United States Sign Agreement To Dispose Of Nuclear Material

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Flag of JapanRadioactive SymbolThe promise to reduce Fissile Material and Weapons Grade Plutonium made a good step from Japan in a recent agreement between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Barrack Obama duing a meeting in The Hague.

CNN reports Japan and the United States have co-signed an agreement to remove and dispose of hundreds of kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and separated plutonium from the Asian nation.

The fissile material will be transported from the Fast Critical Assembly (FCA) at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) in Japan to a “secure facility” in the United States, according to a statement released by the White House, and “fully converted into less sensitive forms.”

“This pledge complements the significant role that both Japan and the United States are playing in finding new ways to continue improving global nuclear security … Japan has demonstrated its leadership by resolving to remove all special nuclear material from the FCA.

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State Senator Accused Of Retaliatory Legislation Against Newspaper Critical Of His Actions

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Columbian Newspaper Logo

Washington Senator Don Benton
Senator Don Benton

In what many see as a sign of attempting to control the press through legislative penalties a Washington state newspaper is crying foul after a state senator singled out a local newspaper by making it pay a $150,000-a-year fine for being “one of the top polluters in the county.” It just so happens that the lawmaker, state Senator Don Benton, had been the subject of a series of critical articles in the same newspaper.

The editor of The Columbian newspaper is now accusing Benton of playing hardball. Editor Lou Brancaccio said it is clear Benton’s “nonsensical” proposal is “silly on its face and in our view, retaliatory.”

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UN To Declare Biofuels Cause More Harm Than Benefit To The Environment

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Biodiesel Fueled BusAccording The Telegraph the United Nations will officially warn that growing crops to make “green” biofuel harms the environment and drives up food prices, The Telegraph can disclose. A leaked draft of a UN report condemns the widespread use of biofuels made from crops as a replacement for petrol and diesel. It says that biofuels, rather than combating the effects of global warming, could make them worse.

The draft report represents a dramatic about-turn for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Its previous assessment on climate change, in 2007, was widely condemned by environmentalists for giving the green light to large-scale biofuel production. The latest report instead puts pressure on world leaders to scrap policies promoting the use of biofuel for transport. The summary for policy makers states: “Increasing bioenergy crop cultivation poses risks to ecosystems and biodiversity.”

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