Flint, USA people refuse payment for poisonous water

This video from Michigan in the USA says about itself:

Flint residents protest paying for poisoned water

25 January 2016

Residents of Flint staged a demonstration in front of the city hall today in protest of both the high rates for water and the recent shutoff notices that have been sent out. After almost two years with poisoned tap water, thousands of residents are facing shutoff of their water completely.

Nothing has been resolved with Flint water. Lead levels still make the water unsafe to drink and thousands, particularly children who are the most vulnerable, have been exposed to lead poisoning. Residents must rely on bottled water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene. Yet the water rates are among the highest in the country.

In the context of reports of the poisoning of residents of Flint, Michigan due to lead contamination in the city’s water supply, recent studies have shown lead contamination to be a widespread problem in cities and towns throughout the United States. The populations of major cities such as New Orleans, Baltimore, Boston and Detroit are exposed to elevated levels of lead contamination in their homes, soil and water supply: here.

THE NEXT FLINT, MICHIGAN Inside the Ohio town that now fears its water may be contaminated. [AP]

As the water crisis in Flint, Michigan continues to occupy national headlines in the United States, scientists and environmental officials have revealed a dirty secret of American life: the poisoning of drinking water with toxic chemicals is not unique to Flint, Michigan, but takes place all over the country: here.

New evidence has emerged that challenges the official explanation of why Flint’s state-appointed emergency manager decided to end the city’s half-century practice of buying water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD). While the move was explained as a cost-cutting measure, an April 2013 email surfaced this week revealing that DWSD officials offered to sharply reduce rates to Flint, with a potential cost saving of hundreds of millions: here.

Documents reveal that the administration of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has been providing state workers in Flint with bottled water for over a year. The revelation came from examination of an internal email sent out to state workers by the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) back in January 2015. This notice, sent out long before any officials publicly acknowledged a health hazard, cited a contamination problem within the Flint water supply: here.

Federal and state officials are warning Flint residents that the lead filters they are using may be inadequate to protect them from the effects of elevated levels of lead in the city’s drinking water: here.

A just-released series of emails sent to a staff member of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in early March demonstrate that his administration knew about the relation of Flint River water to the spread of the deadly Legionnaires’ virus at least 10 months before the governor publically announced it: here.

Hundreds of students, faculty and community members gathered into a lecture hall at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health in Ann Arbor on Wednesday to hear Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha deliver a talk on the roots and the devastating social impact of the Flint water crisis: here.

Half a million US kids are poisoned by lead each year. crisis was just the beginning: here.

As its hometown of Flint remains poisoned, General Motors makes record 2015 profit: here.

Los Angeles, USA methane leak scandal continues

This video says about itself:

Porter Ranch gas leak: Residents build cases against CA Gas Company

25 January 2016

On the surface, it may be easy to dismiss the locals of Porter Ranch, California, who are complaining of headaches, nose-bleeds and nausea due to the massive methane leak. But these seemingly modest ailments have turned into nightmares for some families. Jim Frantz, of the Frantz Law Group representing more than 1,000 residents, sits with RT’s Manila Chan to discuss how his clients are dealing with the health hazard.

By David Brown in the USA:

Corporate gas leak in California’s Aliso Canyon to continue for months

26 January 2016

This Sunday, state regulators ordered the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) to permanently close the natural gas well responsible for the largest methane leak in US history. The leak began on October 23, 2015, and has continued unabated until now, releasing the equivalent of 2.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and forcing thousands of local families to relocate. The leak is not expected to be stopped until the end of March.

The leak at the SoCalGas Aliso Canyon underground storage facility was caused by the failure of antiquated infrastructure and completely inadequate maintenance and inspection. The leak began last October with a rupture in a well casing, which was drilled in 1959, causing methane to seep up through the soil into the neighboring Porter Ranch, a suburb of Los Angeles. Roughly 4,500 families so far have evacuated the area to avoid the leak.

An aerial survey of the area carried out by UC Davis scientist Stephen Conley showed methane levels of 50 parts per million in November. Conley told the Los Angeles Times “this is probably 20 times bigger than anything else we’ve measured.”

Natural gas which is primarily composed of methane is not considered toxic or dangerous when it is able to dissipate, but some of the chemicals associated with it are. Natural gas is mixed with an odorant to make it smell like rotten eggs to warn people of leaks in their homes. The current large-scale leak is causing some residents to suffer difficulty breathing, dizziness, headaches, nosebleeds and vomiting.

Natural gas, particularly that produced by hydraulic fracturing, can also contain benzene, a toxic carcinogen.

A leak of this size will inevitably have an impact on global warming. Methane is roughly 84 times more effective at trapping energy over a period of 20 years than is carbon dioxide. After 100 years, methane remains 25 times more potent. At its high point in December, the leak rate peaked at 58,000 kg per hour, or the emissions equivalent of about 900 cars driving for a year, every hour.

SoCalGas has played a criminal role in their failure to maintain their facilities and in their delays in dealing with the leak. In 2014, SoCalGas submitted a request to state regulators to raise their rates, ostensibly to pay for comprehensive inspections of 229 storage wells. The report listed 26 of their wells as “high risk” entities that should be abandoned. It is unclear whether the Aliso Canyon well that broke was one of those.

It is clear is that SoCalGas knew of significant risks in their equipment and, rather than fix them, tried to use them to blackmail workers into paying higher rates. SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy which made $1.2 billion in profit in 2014. The amount the company sought in increased rates over the next six years was $180 million, about 2.5 percent of their expected yearly profits.

Despite knowing that their well lacked many modern safety features, like a shutoff valve at the base, SoCalGas continued to cut corners and use the injection well in a risky manner. Most wells consist of a metal casing surrounding a narrower metal tube, and SoCalGas was using the casing itself to inject natural gas, not just the internal tube, raising the risk of a leak.

After the leak was initially discovered on October 23, SoCalGas denied its existence to the public until five days later and did not start drilling a relief well until December 4, six weeks after the leak began. Instead they made six attempts in November to block the well with mud and brine which failed and may have actually increased the leak rate. The first relief well is expected to be finished by February 24, with a second well planned, eventually allowing the leaking well to be capped by the end of March.

This is not the first disaster coming from California’s natural gas infrastructure. In 2010 pipes owned by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) exploded in San Bruno, killing eight people, injuring 60 and destroying or damaging 161 homes. For years before the 2010 disaster, PG&E demanded and received rate hikes in 2007 and 2009 to pay for maintenance, yet long stretches of antiquated pipes in residential areas were left untouched, leading to the explosion.

More recently, PG&E received $2.37 billion in rate hikes spread out over three years from state regulators last August to pay for “maintenance.” PG&E’s profit in 2014 was nearly $2 billion dollars, and there is no reason to believe that this new profit will be used for maintenance any more than their current profit is.

The government response to these companies’ reckless threats and negligence has been complete acquiescence. Rate hikes are approved for companies already making large profits, infrastructure is left uninspected, and when it does collapse, government fines are barely even a slap on the wrist. Under current laws, SoCalGas faces a maximum fine of $25,000 for the Aliso Canyon leak.

Cruel animal experiments in Britain

This video from India says about itself:

24 September 2015

A street dog was curled up in a ball on the side of the road. He was suffering from severe mange and had completely given up hope. Just watch his transformation after we rescued him and gave him the medical care he desperately needed.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Vets used 9,000 animals in ‘disgusting’ experiments

Thursday 21st January 2016

ANIMAL welfare campaigners yesterday slammed “disgusting” experiments on dogs and other animals at Britain’s oldest veterinary school.

Animal Aid said that ongoing research at the Royal Veterinary College involving genetically flawed dogs with the muscle-wasting disease Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) was in breach of professional ethics.

New figures obtained by the rights group show that the college used more than 9,000 animals for research in 2012, including 38 pigs, 45 horses, donkeys and mules, 76 dogs and around 3,000 genetically modified mice.

“Establishments such as the Royal Veterinary College should be healing animals, not harming them,” said Animal Aid director Andrew Tyler.

The college launched a company RVC Business in August 2014, offering contract animal testing to clients including human drug companies.

“Animal Aid is not alone in regarding the whole enterprise as disgusting and scarcely believable,” said Mr Tyler.

The college stated that it was “wholly committed to animal health and welfare.”