Category Archives: water

The Water That Kills in Gujarat

In Gujarat, India the farmers have plenty of water to irrigate their crops. The problem though is that water kills. The residents of this village say that Gujarat Fluorochemicals has poisoned their land.
The water that comes out of the well stinks. On the surface an oily film is visible.

That is the water for the villagers.

Years ago the barren land was filled with crops. Radha, the only female farmer in the village, grew spinach, potatoes and other crops. Now her plants are useless. Cotton fields produce nothing. For a widow with six children that means hunger.

The soil has a white crust. It smells like paint thinner.

The village is overlooking a plant that is owned by Gujarat Fluorochemicals (GFL). The plant makes refrigerant gases for air-conditioners and refrigerators.

The plant was built in 1989. Four years ago it was equipped with technology to reduce the greenhouse gases it produces as part of a worldwide carbon-trading scheme. It is supposed to help with global warming. It failed. Instead it is poisoning the lands that surround it.

That scheme may sound good on paper but the realities are an environment being poisoned as the push for greenhouse gases is emphasized.

Probe International reports:

Veteran anti-dam activist Himanshu Thakkar told a UN conference in Delhi last week that the Clean Development Mechanism – which aims to allow polluters in rich nations credit for emissions reductions they fund in poorer countries – is not reducing India’s greenhouse gas emissions. “We have seen no new technology being used in India and no benefit to anyone but big companies,” he is quoted saying.

India is one of the largest targets for the changes but there is not enough funding to do it properly.

The Centre for Science and Environment, an influential think tank based in Delhi, has also pointed out that “the stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere was built up over centuries in the process of creating nations’ wealth. This is the natural debt of nations, and they must pay up.”

The soil and water tested in the areas are filled with the very chemicals that the plant produces. The testing was conducted by The Daily Mail.

While the plant is working on changing their greenhouse gases it appears that they are not as concerned about the environmental changes that are taking place in the villages that surround it.

‘The carbon-credits business operates rather like the financial-services industry did,’ says Kevin Smith of campaigning watchdog Carbon Trade Watch.

‘Insufficient scrutiny and transparency, dodgy projects getting money when they shouldn’t be. And we all know the consequences of what happened in financial services. But this is potentially much more serious, because unlike the Government, nature doesn’t do bailouts.’

The factory produces a gas called HFC23. That gas is one of the most dangerous when it comes to global warming. One ton of HFC23 is equivalent to 11,700 tons of carbon. GFL installed new technology to capture and recycle HFC23. That technology has helped pad the pockets of GFL and Ineos.

The UN credit scheme is proving to be very profitable for those involved.

In the last quarter of 2006 GFL made €27 million.

It is being alleged though that those profits are coming with a very high human toll. Water is now caustic. Children are born with birth defects. People stay sick. Children die in their parents arms.

We didn’t have these illnesses before this factory came. When the wind blows the gas this way, mostly at night, it hurts our throats and eyes and burns our crops. We’ve lost six healthy children. They go giddy, they fall and die. We were carrying one child out the door to the hospital and she just died in her mother’s arms.’

Testing of the water shows high levels of fluoride and chloride. All water in the area that was tested was deemed unsafe to drink. The soil had high levels of the same chemicals.

‘High flouride levels cause skeletal fluorosis in which people complain about joint pain, backache and rigid bones,’ environmental specialist Hiral Mehta says. ‘The crop deterioration is another impact. Your tests confirm previous investigations.’

The recession may help slow down help for the villagers. There is less money for the major players to work with. The price of Clean Development Mechanism (CDMs) offsets has slumped by nearly 30% over the last couple of weeks.

Kevin Smith from Carbon Trade Watch says, ‘The carbon market is riddled with projects like GFL. It’s not like this project is the bad apple – the whole barrel is rotten. Time and again we’re seeing evidence of gross injustices being carried out – people being evicted to make way for dams and waste incinerators being built in residential areas. Carbon trading has been the subject of a very slick PR campaign portraying it as the answer to climate change, so investigations such as this are very important.’

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Study Suggests Lithium Added To Water Supply Will Lower Suicide

A Japanese study suggests that putting the drug lithium into water supplies could reduce suicide. The researchers have called on other countries to study the effects.

The study looked at the lithium levels in drinking water in Oita. The city have a population of more than one million people. In areas where the lithium was highest there was a positive marked difference in suicide deaths. High doses of lithium is used in the treatment of mood disorders.

The team of researchers from universities in Oita and Hiroshima found that even low levels of water with lithium had lower rates of suicide.

Researchers believe that the lower rates may have a cumulative protective effect on the brain after drinking the water for years.

There have been past research on the same subject in the 1980’s. Those results showed the same lower levels of suicide.

Researchers in Japan have asked other countries to research the issue. They have stopped short of suggesting that lithium be added to drinking water elsewhere.

BBC quotes Professor Allan Young of Vancouver’s Institute for Mental Health:

“Large-scale trials involving the addition of lithium to drinking water supplies may then be feasible, although this would undoubtedly be subject to considerable debate. Following up on these findings will not be straightforward or inexpensive, but the eventual benefits for community mental health may be considerable.”

Sophie Corlett, external relations director at mental health charity Mind, agrees that the study deserves more investigation but cautions that adding even trace amounts of the drug needs to be researched throughly because of side effects.


U.S. Waterways Carry Drugs From Pharmaceutical Companies

Waterways in the United States are routine dumping grounds for pharmaceutical manufacturers seeping the drugs into drinking water.
The water you may be drinking from your tap could contain a watered-down drug cocktail. That’s the findings of an Associated Press investigation.

The scary truth is no one in the federal government is looking into the issues of US water being contaminated by the runoff from manufacturing medicines.

With no one tracking which pharmaceuticals being dumped into the waterways U.S. manufacturers are free to release a potential environmental and health nightmare at will.

PharmaWater investigation is ongoing research by AP. The investigation found 22 compounds that have shown up in water supplies. Both the EPA and the Food and Drug Administration are supposed to be monitoring the compounds for the American public. There has been a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy regarding these drug companies.

Not only are drug companies to blame for the amount of contamination. Consumers excrete the drugs not absorbed by the body and flush drugs down the toilet.

There are also an estimated 250 million pounds of pharmaceuticals and contaminated packaging discarded each year from medical centers.

It is known that even diluted amounts of drugs can harm wild life. There has been research that shows that human cells fail to grow normally in the laboratory when exposed to trace concentrations of certain drugs. Yet water utilities say their water is safe.

Two chemicals, phenol and hydrogen peroxide, account for 92 percent of the 271 million pounds of what is coming from drug makers and other manufacturers. Both of those chemicals can be toxic and are harmful for the environment.

Pfizer is one of the companies that knows that water contamination has been happening. They are working on reducing the impact their company has on the environment in a negative way.

They are working through their company’s EHS Guideline on Water Conservation requiring their facilities to:

* Review and quantify their water use
* Identify and prioritize water conservation measures
* Develop, implement and report on water conservation action plans and targets
* Support community efforts during drought conditions

The drug companies say that they are in compliance and work to prevent leakage into the water supply.

AP reports:

“Manufacturers have to be in compliance with all relevant environmental laws,” said Alan Goldhammer, a scientist and vice president at the industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

When AP asked the companies point blank if they tested the waterways from their plants there was no direct answer.

“Based on research that we have reviewed from the past 20 years, pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities are not a significant source of pharmaceuticals that contribute to environmental risk,” GlaxoSmithKline said in a statement.

While Pfizer says it tests its waste water when investigated further it’s only the waters outside the United States.

“The government could get a national snapshot of the water if they chose to,” said Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council, “and it seems logical that we would want to find out what’s coming out of these plants.”

This investigation has to be looked into further. Left unchecked the United States could end up with a situation like that in Patancheru, India where their water is a medical soup.


Fargo Not Out Of Danger Yet, Storm Winds Could Damage Levees

A winter storm is coming to Fargo, North Dakota with predictions of up to 14 inches of snow. The storm could whip waves up in the swollen Red River causing more flooding.
Engineers aren’t worried about the large snow falls predicted but the waves are another matter. The repeated crashing of the water against the sandbag levees could weaken the protective dikes that surround the city.

Jeff DeZellar, a spokesman for the United States Army Corps of Engineers said that the higher the wind speed the higher the threat is to the levees. The forecast is for winds of 25 MPH.

The Red River has dropped to 39 1/2 feet as of early Monday morning. That is less than the predictions but still 22 feet above flood stage.

This week will be a long one as the city waits to see if last week’s sandbagging effort pays off.

The National Guard is in the process of putting a layer of poly over the levees to help them hold up against the expected high waves.

AP reports:

“The place is so flat,” said John Gulliver, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Minnesota. “It is totally flat so there’s really no place for the water to go because it can’t leave that quickly. So it just keeps backing up like a bathtub with a slow drain.”

Last week two people died from heart attacks in North Dakota, thought to be brought on by the exertion during the flood prevention.


As The River Starts To Level Off A Look At Fargo

Today the people of Fargo, South Dakota gathered at a hotel to pray after their own church has been closed due to the threat of flooding.

The latest news out is good, the river levels have started to drop.

Did Mother Nature send a special spring freeze in the nick of time for the residents of Fargo, North Dakota?

The Weather Service said that even though the Red River is falling in Fargo, it remains extremely high.

“We advise people not to let their guard down, but just to be cautious,” he said. “There’s quite a way to go yet, and just keep an eye on it.”

Unmanned airplanes generally used to patrol the U.S. border are being used to help fight the flood. The high tech radar and video technology allows the drone to capture changes in flood waters and detect structural damage faster than the human eye.

This is the first time the plane has been used to survey flood conditions.

The danger still remains and will until the river has receded to normal levels.

One casualty to the flood is the Oak Grove Lutheran School when a dike broke glooding the 5-acre campus.

Star Tribune reports:

“The campus is basically devastated,” said Mayor Dennis Walaker. “They fought the good fight. They lost and there’s nothing wrong with that. Those things will continue to happen. I guarantee it.” The breach is a “wakeup call” that shows the threats the city will face for the next week, the mayor said.

“They made a gallant effort,” Principal Morgan Forness told KFGO radio. “They gave it everything they had, and just couldn’t contain it. It came to the center of the campus, and now, it’s inundating all of the buildings.”

It has been estimated that the flood clean up will take two months. Five homes have been lost in the Fargo city limits.

Now it’s time for reality to set in after a surreal week of battling the Red River and the force of nature. Many of those that were in danger of losing their homes to the flood would have had to rebuild without the help of insurance. Less than 800 homeowners in the flood warning areas of North Dakota and Minnesota have insurance protecting them from flood damage.

In Fargo itself only 586 homeowners are covered for flood insurance. With the state of the economy federal help may not have been there to help the residents with the massive costs that a flood can bring.


WCCO
reports:

“Memories are short, and people don’t remember the 1997 flood,” said Butch Kinerney, spokesman for the National Flood Insurance Program, managed by FEMA. “You see it time and time again: People forget the past.”


The Red River Flood Will Not Be a New Katrina, Vows Obama

As the waters threaten South Dakota, Minnesota and Canadian towns along the Red River the president is watching. Obama is vowing that the federal government will be working to avert a complete disaster.

Obama spoke on Saturday pledging his support according to USA Today.

“Even as we face an economic crisis which demands our constant focus, forces of nature can also intervene in ways that create other crises to which we must respond — and respond urgently,” the president said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

“I will continue to monitor the situation carefully,” he pledged. “We will do what must be done to help.”

The president told residents in the two states to be vigilant in reading the flood reports and to follow the evacuation orders from federal, state and local officials if they are declared.

Obama heaped praise on the thousands of volunteers who have spent the past week building sandbag dikes.

While Obama is at Camp David this weekend his aides stress that he is being kept up to date with the flood details.

Obama doesn’t want another Katrina on his hands. In August 2005 former President George W. Bush’s popularity took a nose dive as New Orleans struggle after Hurricane Katrina and the levees surrounding the city broke down.

The past few days President Obama has been signing emergency and disaster declarations for Minnesota and North Dakota. On Saturday during his weekly national address Obama outlined the scope of his administration’s involvement. Both the Homeland Security Department and FEMA are coordinating the federal response. Both Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA administrator Nancy Ward have been in close contact with state officials. Ward has been sent to Fargo already.

FEMA acting administrator Nancy Ward says that New Orleans has taught FEMA that the agency needs to be in place when a disaster happens instead of later. That is the way to insure the help that is needed happens sooner.

Ward is in Fargo Saturday because she wanted to see the situation firsthand to better understand the challenges.

USA Today reports:

“At moments like these, we are reminded of the power of nature to disrupt lives and endanger communities,” Obama said. “But we are also reminded of the power of individuals to make a difference.”

“In facing sudden crises or more stubborn challenges, the truth is we are all in this together — as neighbors and fellow citizens,” Obama said.

With the highest levels ever reported Red River could leave thousands homeless.

Reuters reports:

“In terms of natural disasters that can strike this country, floods are just the worst, at least in my experience,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Reuters in an interview in Washington.

“It is a horrible human tragedy to watch this,” he said. “I think the folks in North Dakota and Minnesota have done an extraordinary job in trying to protect against this.”

The flooding could affect planting this year. Up to 500,000 acres could be reduced for the spring wheat crop. More than half of the sugar beets and a large portion of spring wheat for the United States is grown in the area.


Fargo Residents Are Fleeing, Important Information For Residents

As a public service to those in Fargo and families fleeing the flood Digital Journal is putting up this article for important information that may be needed.
Robert Fitzgerald has told residents that are fleeing the Red River in Fargo to stay in touch with family through a special Red Cross web site that has been put in place. In addition there is a phone number that can be used if Internet service is not available at 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Fargo Police Department: if you evacuate, post a notice on your front door. Information should include: Name, Date and Time of Evacuation, Contact Information. Police will use this information if they have to contact the owner about their residence.

Those who are handicapped and need assistance in getting out of Fargo please call the special needs evacuation hotline at 701-241-5791.

A flood map and Contingency Plan is located here with through instructions.

If you are leaving please turn off your water supply in an effort to conserve water. Also please plug their sewer drains before you leave, the Fargo Police are making that request.

For those needing a place for their pets:
The Fargo-Moorhead Humane Society has set up an emergency animal shelter at the Shoelander Arena on the West Fargo Fairgrounds. Emergency intake of domestic animals (dogs, cats, etc.) will be available 24 hours a day for all F-M residents who have evacuated. Visitation hours between owners and animals will be from 11am to 3pm daily. The shelter is currently in good shape for volunteers and donations.

Fergus Falls Salvation Army now accepting area evacuees at it’s Fergus Falls chapel and gymnasium. Call 218-739-9692 to arrange shelter. Mike told me that no one has come in as of yet but they will be open all weekend and are waiting to help. They hope that they are not needed but please feel free to go to them if you are in need, Only one person has come in so far but he was not an evacuee, just a person needing a place. All motel rooms are filled in town.

MNDOT closed the right two westbound lanes of Interstate 94 from Highway 75/8th Street to the Red River. Traffic will be down to one westbound lane at that location. The closure will include the westbound I-94 entrance ramp from Highway 75/8th Street. The right two lanes and the entrance ramp will be closed until further notice. The eastbound I-94 exit ramp at Highway 75/8th Street also remains closed until further notice.

The Cass County Commission issued a mandatory evacuation advisory for the following neighborhoods: Chrisan, Forest River (including Maple Prairie and Orchard Glen), Round Hill, Granberg, Amber Plains, Rivershore, Heritage Hills, Eagles Nest, Butcher Block. Residents, including volunteers working in those areas, are advised to evacuate during daylight hours. For assistance, call 701-241-5793.

Susan Thoeming Cagle has advised that Prairie St Johns has begun evacuation of patients. For people who are having emergent psychiatric crises (feel suicidal or homicidal without the ability to keep themselves safe), please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Similarly, if you are detoxing from alcohol or benzos (Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonipin, etc), withdrawal can be life-threatening and you should seek emergency medical help if needed.

Moorhead Public Schools just announced they’ll close schools all next week. Fargo Public Schools expects to cancel school all next week according to Superintendent of Fargo Schools Rick Buresh. Posted 03.27.2009 at 12:48 PM.

Concordia school has canceled classes through April 5th.