Shipping discharge PIB most recent kills

This should never happen – a lubricant, polyisobutene (PIB) used to improve engine performance is still allowed to be discharged from ships and has record of killing thousands of birds. This is an excerpt from The Guardian UK report on this ongoing tragedy:

“It said PIB becomes strongly adhesive in the sea, coating the birds and restricting their movements and their ability to feed. Tony Whitehead, from the RSPB, said: “This is one of the worst marine pollution incidents in decades, bringing to mind other disasters going right back to the Torrey Canyon in 1967.” Adam Grogan, from the RSPCA, said: “The dumping at sea of this lethal chemical must be stopped. “It was heartbreaking enough after the first incident in February to see so many birds arrive at our centres in such a poor state. “The sticky substance coated their feathers and made it difficult for them to feed and move so staff had to work around the clock to wash it off and get them fit enough to survive in the wild again. “For it to happen twice in quick succession is inexcusable and unacceptable.” The charities have urged members of the public to sign petitions by Avaaz and 38 Degrees to support their call for a ban of dumping chemicals at sea. Post-mortem examinations have been carried out on hundreds of the dead birds by the British Trust for Ornithology and the results are due to be published within the next few weeks.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/03/birds-die-chemical-spill?INTCMP=SRCH

U.S. Lawmaker Proposes New Criteria for Choosing NSF Grants – ScienceInsider

Lamar Smith (R-TX) attacks NSF criteria for funding guidelines singling out political science research with caveat for economic or national security projects. This sets a disturbing precedent for agency guidelines in general. Why is Congressman Smith so threatened by social science research? Why single out one academic discipline’s possible research agenda? The following is an excerpt from an interview of one member of the science committee in Science Magazine:

Smith’s request to NSF didn’t sit well with the top Democrat on the science committee, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). On Friday, she sent a blistering missive to Smith questioning his judgment and his motives.

“In the history of this committee, no chairman has ever put themselves forward as an expert in the science that underlies specific grant proposals funded by NSF,” Johnson wrote in a letter obtained by ScienceInsider. “I have never seen a chairman decide to go after specific grants simply because the chairman does not believe them to be of high value.”

In her letter, Johnson warns Smith that “the moment you compromise both the merit review process and the basic research mission of NSF is the moment you undo everything that has enabled NSF to contribute so profoundly to our national health, prosperity, and welfare.” She asks him to “withdraw” his letter and offers to work with him “to identify a less destructive, but more effective, effort” to make sure NSF is meeting that mission.

Smith’s bill would require NSF’s oversight body, the National Science Board, to monitor the director’s actions and issue a report in a year. It also asks Holdren’s office to tell Congress how the principles laid down in the legislation “may be implemented in other Federal science agencies.”

For more on this topic go to:

http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2013/04/us-lawmaker-proposes-new-criteri-1.html

Shoal Lake water diverted 4 Profit – Thunder Bay – CBC News

Winnipeg has access to Lake Shoal water for its own consumption but diverting the water for sale to a nearby port violates Proposition 40 – according to the IJC’s investigation in the matter.
Read more from CBC News:

“The First Nation’s original land was expropriated about 100 years ago to build the intake that feeds water from Shoal Lake to Winnipeg. The community was moved to a peninsula sticking into the lake which was later cut off from the mainland when a diversion canal was built, leaving it on a man-made island.

The leadership of northwestern Ontario’s Shoal Lake 40 First Nation is welcoming a recent finding by the International Joint Commission.

The commission, which oversees lake and river issues in both the U.S. and Canada, says the City of Winnipeg would be violating an IJC order if it sent water from Shoal Lake to points outside the city limits.

The city is only allowed to draw from the lake for its own municipal water supply, according to the IJC.

The Shoal Lake community has repeatedly opposed Winnipeg’s plan to sell the water to nearby municipalities.

“Shoal Lake 40’s position is that they [the city] don’t have the legal authority, the mandate to carry out their plans of selling water beyond their boundaries, and this confirms it,” said Chief Erwin Redsky. “We want Canada, the City of Winnipeg, and the Province of Manitoba to sit down with us and work it out.

“They want to service the mega-project at CentrePort,” he added, referring to the $300 million inland shipping port which lies outside the city. “They need water, and our land was taken for a specific purpose, to service the city of Winnipeg, and not for profit.”

Winnipeg has not submitted an application to divert the lake’s water, and the IJC’s remarks are not an official ruling. The commission looked into the matter after Shoal Lake 40 raised concerns.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/story/2013/05/01/tby-shoal-lake-ijc.html

Experimental Lakes Lab near Kenora Ontario Reopened

In this era of tight budgets good to see Canada funding science again! This article is from Environmental News:

Established in 1968, the Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario attracts scientists from across Canada and around the world. The site encompasses 58 formerly pristine freshwater lakes 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of Kenora, in the Lake of the Woods watershed.

Ontario Environment Minister Jim Bradley said, “The Experimental Lakes Area is an incredibly productive outdoor laboratory. It has an unmatched record of generating critical information about acid rain, mercury contamination, climate change effects, and the connection between phosphorus runoff and algae blooms in lakes. The ELA is a go-to place when we need information to make environmental progress.”

IISD President and CEO Scott Vaughan said, “Premier Wynne’s commitment to the ELA is encouraging and we look forward to working with the province and the federal government on a plan that enables IISD to take over the operations of this extraordinary facility.”

IISD is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization specializing in policy research, analysis and information exchange to advance sustainable development globally.

“What is special about the ELA is that it takes research out of the lab and right into the environment. The ELA presents a rare opportunity for research, perhaps unique in the world,” said Vaughan, who took over at IISD in early April, after five years as Environment and Sustainable Development commissioner for Canada.
lake research

Environment Canada hydrologist Laurent de Rham measures ice depth over a lake in the Experimental Lakes Area, February 2010 (Photo courtesy Environment Canada)

In its remote location, the ELA provides a real-world laboratory in which researchers can isolate the effects of specific pollutants on aquatic ecosystems.
Over the past four decades, research conducted there has provided scientific evidence on the environmental effects of acid rain, phosphorous and other pollutants that has informed policy within Canada and around the world.

With new pressures like climate change, and poorly understood emerging environmental contaminants such as chromite, nanoparticles and endocrine disrupters, Vaughn says the case for continuing to support the Experimental Lakes Area is very strong.