Ottawa’s Arctic port plan mired in delays – North – CBC News

More plans for development and remediation in Canadian Arctic. Here is press release from Canadian Press:

“One of the crown jewels in the federal government’s Arctic strategy is mired in a slow-moving environmental clean-up and the threat of legal action, federal documents reveal.

The deep-water port at Nanisivik, Nunavut, remains under the control the federal fisheries department six years after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the creation of a naval refuelling station high in the northern archipelago.

Environmental remediation of the site is necessary before the Department of National Defence can take possession.

But a private company which operated a now-defunct zinc mine in the region has yet to complete a clean-up of a fuel tank farm, despite four years of pressure from the military.

A 2009 briefing note to former defence minister Peter MacKay, obtained under access-to-information legislation, warned that delays by the company were a major risk to the project schedule and cost.

The cost has already swelled to $116 million from the original $100 million estimate.”

Climate change could make Greenland green by 2100 – Climate Change – Environment – The Independent

Reporting by John Van Radowitz on the greening of Greenland:

Today only four indigenous tree species grow on the large island, confined to small areas in the south. Three-quarters of Greenland, the world’s most sparsely populated country, is covered by a barren ice sheet.
But by the year 2100 swathes of verdant forest could be covering much of its land surface. “Greenland has…the potential to become a lot greener,” Professor Jens-Christian Svenning, from Aarhus University in Denmark, said. “Forest like the coastal coniferous forests in Alaska and western Canada will be able to thrive in fairly large parts of Greenland… with trees like sitka spruce and lodgepole pine. It will provide new opportunities for the Greenlanders.”
Research showed that with expected levels of warming, a majority of 44 species of North American and European trees and bushes will be able to thrive in Greenland.
The transformation is likely to alter Greenland’s ecosystem, leading to the loss of Arctic animals and plants. On the other hand there could be significant commercial possibilities linked to forestry, agriculture and tourism.

International Coastal Cleanup

Clean up your local waterway. Message from NOAA:

“Worried about the amount of trash on our coasts? Do gyres of bobbing plastic whirl through your head each night? Help wipe these worries from your mind and the beach by joining the International Coastal Cleanup on September 21, 2013.

With more than 550,000 volunteers scouring beaches, rivers, and lakes last year, this event is the biggest one-day cleanup of marine debris in the world. In the past, volunteers have turned up everything from bottle caps and plastic bags to toilet seats and cyborg sea-kitties. But each year cigarette butts take home the prize for most common item of debris found on the beach, with 2,117,931 of these toxic pieces of plastic turning up during the 2012 global cleanup alone.

To volunteer at a location near you, visit Ocean Conservancy online. The NOAA Marine Debris Program is a proud sponsor of the annual event, and last year NOAA volunteers cleaned up more than 2.8 tons (nearly 5,700 pounds) of debris from waterways and beaches in DC, Seattle, and Oahu.

Even if you can’t make it to your nearest waterway on September 21, you can still help reduce how much trash makes it to the ocean by planning your own beach cleanup and considering these 10 suggestions from Ocean Conservancy.”

Arctic Ice Ponds normal summer melt | Alaska Dispatch

Not debunking climate change but explanation necessary as far as ice ponds normal melt. Photo from K. Hansen.


“The formation of melt ponds has always been a key feature of the summer season on sea ice,” the statement said, before going into a lengthy explainer about how such ponds come to form, before getting down to brass tacks and addressing the question: Was the pond caused by global warming?

“No, not specifically,” the researchers wrote. “These melt ponds are a normal part of the seasonal cycle of the sea ice. With respect to global warming, we are more concerned when we see warm air temperatures in the winter that inhibit ice growth and the appearance of heat in the ocean that would melt the bottom surface of the ice.”

The recent hullabaloo over the North Pole melt pond is similar to what happened back in July when bloggers and other media latched onto a near-cloudless satellite image of Alaska, a once-in-a-blue-moon photograph taken during this summer’s record-breaking heat wave. In that case, as well, pundits ignored long-term trends and instead relied on a single poignant image to make their point.

Meanwhile NOAA’s 2012 “State of the Climate” report, released this week, highlighted another record-breaking instance in the history of the Arctic — last year’s low ice extent, which surpassed the previous record with weeks left in the summer melting season. Global surface temperatures in 2012 were about 0.3-degrees above the 1981-2010 average, making 2012 among the 10 hottest on record globally.

Meanwhile, last year’s Arctic sea ice extent joined other recent years as among the most dismal. Oddly enough, the one region not suffering from extended ice decline is the Bering Sea in winter, which has frozen fast and caused problems for industry vessels and subsistence hunters into the summer months.

The Arctic ice pack this year so far is looking more promising, with the National Snow and Ice Data Center reporting that melt was a little behind the record-shattering 2012 rate, at least in early July. The center also warned, though, that July is the most aggressive month in terms of ice melt, and air temperatures in the first half of July were 2-9 degrees above normal across much of the Arctic.

Curiously enough, despite that epic heat wave around Alaska, including one of the warmest months on record for Barrow, America’s northernmost city, the ice in the waters surrounding Alaska remained the most stubborn in the entire Arctic Ocean.

Still, despite the often-confusing information, it’s apparent that the Earth as a whole is gradually growing warmer, and the effects are particularly pronounced in the Arctic. The snow-and-ice center recently began using a new, updated average by which it will measure sea ice extent, since the years since the millennium have see an such a steep decline in overall levels, skewing the numbers lower, creating a “new normal.”

Maritime Nuclear Plant launching 2016 | Environment News Service

Past maritime accidents in 1957 and 1967 may make many nervous about the launching of the Russian Federation’s floating nuclear plant. Many other countries are interested in this technology but is the Arctic environment ready for another accident? However, the vessel is supposedly tsumani proof and based on icebreaker vessels accustom to Arctic conditions. Here is excerpt from Environmental News Service report:

“Mass production of similar floating nuclear power plants is scheduled for the near future.

The “Academician Lomonosov’s” technology is based on the USSR’s construction of nuclear-powered icebreakers.

The Russian media is speculating that the floating nuclear power plants will first be used in remote areas of the northeastern Arctic Russia and the Far East, as these regions currently suffer from a lack of energy, slowing their development.

Each 21,000 ton vessel will have two “modified KLT-40 naval propulsion reactors” that will provide up to 70 megawatts of electricity or 300 megawatts of heat, sufficient for a city with a population of 200,000 people.

Additionally, the floating nuclear power plants can provide water desalination services capable of supplying up to 240,000 cubic meters of fresh water per day.

Those with historical memories will recall accidents with a Soviet-era nuclear icebreaker that released radioactivity into the environment.

Launched in 1957, the “Lenin,” the USSR’s first nuclear powered icebreaker, was powered by three OK-150 reactors. In February 1965, there was a loss of coolant incident, and some of the fuel elements melted or deformed inside reactor number two. The debris was removed and stored for two years, and subsequently dumped in Tsivolki Bay near Novaia Zemlia.

The second accident was a cooling system leak, which occurred in 1967, shortly after refueling.

Not a reassuring development for the Soviet Arctic environment.

“Academician Lomonosov’s” keel was laid in April 2007 at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk on the White Sea, but the project was later transferred to the Baltiskii Zavod shipyard.

The 21,500 ton hull of the “Academician Lomonosov” was launched in 2010, although construction work was frozen in mid-2011 because of bankruptcy proceedings against the shipyard.

The company was acquired by state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation and Rosenergoatom, thenuclear power station operations subsidiary of Atomenergoprom, a holding company for all Russian civil nuclear industry, signed a new contract with the Baltiskii Zavod shipyard for completion of the “Academician Lomonosov.”

The vessel is equipped with two modified KLT-40 reactors but has no engines, so it needs to be towed into place. The floating nuclear power stations are to be mass-built at shipbuilding facilities and then towed to a destination point in coastal waters near a city, town or industrial enterprise

The Baltiskii Zavod shipyard stresses that The “Academician Lomonosov” and its successors are all designed with a safety margin exceeding all possible threats, which makes their nuclear reactors invulnerable to tsunamis and other natural disasters. They shipyard claims the ships meet all the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency and do not pose a threat to the environment.

The shipyard states that 15 nations, including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Algeria, Namibia and Argentina have expressed interest in buying floating nuclear power plants.

The “Academician Lomonosov” will be sent to Vilyuchinsk, Kamchatka for operational testing. Rosatom then aims to construct seven more FNPPs by 2015, with four of them likely to be located on the northern coast of Siberia’s Yakutia.

Other Arctic areas provisionally scheduled to receive FNPPs include port cities along the Russian Federation’s arctic coastal Northern Sea Route and Pevek in Chukotka.

An added benefit of the FNPP as envisaged in Moscow is that the provision of nuclear power to the Arctic and Far East will free up more oil and natural gas for foreign export, allowing the Russian Federation to generate additional hard currency.”

In Kola Bay, a “nuclear island” | Barentsobserver

As the ‘nuclear island’ strategy is implemented, environmentalists are asking if security and safety are really being addressed. More comments on this are welcome. Is reclamation of nuclear materials the point of transport to Mayak Siberia or mere permanent disposal? What is capacity of this facility? Is this Yucca Mountain of Siberia? Here is excerpt from CBC:

“According to Bellona, a total of 650 metal containers with nuclear waste materials have been moved to the island, from where they later will be shipped across the fjord to the Saida Bay storage site.

The Saida Bay floating dock for nuclear wastes, and first of all reactor compartments, was built with support from the German state and opened in 2006. 

The “nuclear island” project includes new safety systems, radiation monitoring, additional ventilation and far more limited access to personnel. The facility also includes a technological complex, a container-type storage system for radioactive waste, and an onshore building with an aqueduct system, Bellona reports. The facility has a price tag of nine billion rubles (€271 million) has been 85 percent financed by foreign investors.

The construction of the island will boost nuclear security in the area. However, environmentalists still argue that the new facility could create a feeling if false safefy among the local population. Commenting on the project, Bellona Murmansk leader Andrey Zolotkov underlines that the deadly waste remains in the immediate vicinity of Murmansk downtown. 

“The noun “island” imparts the notion that the facility will far away,” he says. “Really, however, it will all be at Atomflot, a mere two kilometers from Murmansk and its 300,000-strong population”.

According to Atomflot General Director Mustafa Kashka, his company is also about to finish the construction of a shore-based facility for unloading of spent nuclear fuel from ships, a unit which will make redundant the highly irradiated Lotta nuclear service vessel. The spent fuel will subsequently be sent to the Mayak chemical plant in Siberia.”

Pebble Mine: Gold Copper v Salmon

I know my choice. What is yours? Excerpt on Pebble mine controversy:


Pebble Mine, if built, will be one of the world’s largest open pit gold and copper mines, yielding 10.8 billion metric tons of ore of which 1% will be usable and 99% would be mine waste stored in what will be the world’s largest earthen dam reservoir – a reservoir that must exist and remain intact forever if the remarkable ecosystem of Alaska’s Bristol Bay is to survive. Any failure will be catastrophic to the surrounding environment. Events are underway to locate this mine on the headwaters of the Kvichak and the Nushagak Rivers which produce over half the salmon in the Bristol Bay Region. This region produces millions of wild salmon annually that represent the largest sustainable harvest of wild salmon on earth. It continues to support not only the indigenous people’s salmon culture that has existed for thousands of years, but is a significant protein source for the world, and the foundation of a food chain that supports not only more than 138 species of wildlife, from grizzly bears and river otters to shorebirds and bald eagles, but the surrounding flora as well. The pristine nature of this ecosystem is extraordinarily fragile and this is a massive gamble – a gamble which has inevitably failed in other salmon-rich drainages now either seriously degraded or eliminated altogether.


What bubbles in the Antarctic can tell us

This excerpt from the New York Times reports on CO2 emissions from historical perspective and societies efforts to curb emissions in our atmosphere the last few decades. Expect recent (a relative term) severe weather patterns of drought, flooding, fluctuations of water levels (large and small bodies of water) to persist and increase in intensity.

“From studying air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice, scientists know that going back 800,000 years, the carbon dioxide level oscillated in a tight band, from about 180 parts per million in the depths of ice ages to about 280 during the warm periods between. The evidence shows that global temperatures and CO2 levels are tightly linked.

For the entire period of human civilization, roughly 8,000 years, the carbon dioxide level was relatively stable near that upper bound. But the burning of fossil fuels has caused a 41 percent increase in the heat-trapping gas since the Industrial Revolution, a mere geological instant, and scientists say the climate is beginning to react, though they expect far larger changes in the future.”

Read on about CO2 emissions in the atmosphere exceeding 400 at:

Norway searching for alternative energy supplies & suppliers

Yazev: Norwegian gas to Murmansk | Barentsnova Valery Yazev [duma rep] says the region should not rely upon a single source of energy, while there should be a ‘basketful of energy carriers’. Apart from gas, there are two other possible solutions for Murmansk: electricity and peat could become its energy resources. Deposits of peat are found in proximity to Kandalaksha. The Murmansk region laid its hopes on gas supplies from the Shtokman field. Alas, the final investment decision (FID) has never been taken. However, the Barents Sea resources of gas are still on the agenda, says Yazev. Statoil recently presented its cost reduction ideas for the Shtokman project development. The company suggests either to install the platform in shallow waters or to arrange underwater transportation of gas (then no platform will be needed at all). These solutions could gain 2-3% of profits, calculated Statoil.  “They use this downtime in the absence of FID to find a cost-efficient solution. Though it has not been found yet, as far as I know”, said Yazev. A few Russian media sources claim Frances’s Total and Russia’s Gazprom are meeting Thursday to discuss the destiny of Shtokman.