Friday, September 03, 2010

Loose Feathers #254

Birds and birding news
Birds in the blogosphere
Oil spill
  • Another oil rig exploded and burned in the Gulf of Mexico yesterday. All crew members were rescued, and there has not been a confirmed report of a spill, so far. (It took a few days for a spill to be confirmed in the case of Deepwater Horizon.) The company that owned the rig, Mariner Energy, and its parent company, Apache Energy, paid $745,000 in fines for safety violations in 2010 alone.
  • BP plans to remove the failed blowout preventer from its Deepwater Horizon well by Sunday. After that, it will begin a bottom kill to seal the well permanently. The federal government wants to use the blowout preventer as evidence in the criminal and civil cases against the company.
  • A wildlife rescuer with experience at both spill sites compares the BP oil spill with the Exxon Valdez spill.
  • A fuel tanker ran aground in the Canadian Arctic in the Northwest Passage. So far no spill has been reported.
Environment and biodiversity
  • The fight over mountaintop removal mining is shifting as large banks seek to reduce their involvement with companies that practice it and activists take their fight to the court system. A key question is whether the US EPA will limit valley fills to protect water supplies.
  • A coal-fired power plant is being fined for exposing its workers to harmful levels of toxic radiation.
  • California legislators decided not to impose a statewide ban on disposable plastic shopping bags.
  • Runoff from deicing chemicals can leave urban streams toxic for aquatic life. The study authors call for the development of deicing methods that reduce cloride contamination.
  • The US EPA declined o protect wildlife from the toxic effects of lead ammunition.
  • A new study found that the oil sands project in Alberta is polluting local watersheds with toxic chemicals in levels that exceed Canadian safety standards. Chemicals are leeching from deforested sites around mines or falling as particulate air pollution. Heavy metals are known carcinogens in humans and also harm fish and aquatic wildlife.
  • A warming climate likely reduced the number of horseshoe crabs at the end of the last Ice Age. Future climate change could have a similar effect, leading to problems for other wildlife that depend on horseshoe crabs and their eggs for food.
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