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Israel to Pay Compensation to About 170 Nuclear Scientists Suffering From Cancer

Sputnik – 18.09.2017

Israeli authorities agreed to pay a compensation to some 170 scientists working for Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC), who are suffering from cancer, local media reported Monday.

According to The Jerusalem Post newspaper, the government agreed to pay a compensation to the IAEC’s Nuclear Research Center NEGEV (NRCN) workers after a dispute that had lasted for more than 20 years.

The news outlet added that the decision was made in accordance with guidelines of a specialized commission. The commission did not find clear evidence that the workers from the IAEC facility suffered from cancer more often than other Israeli citizens, however, it recommended compensating the employees due to their important contributions to the state.

The IAEC was established in 1952 in order to develop the country’s nuclear energy[sic]. According to the commission’s website, in 1959, the agency started to work on the NRCN located in southern Israeli desert of Negev.

September 18, 2017 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 4 Comments

‘Even without nukes, military conflict with N. Korea will turn South into desert’

RT | August 30, 2017

Solving the Korean Peninsula crisis through diplomacy is in everyone’s interests, geopolitical experts have told RT, citing potential scenarios of South Korea being turned “into a desert,” or other states, not directly involved, being severely affected by a “stray missile.”

If the current situation in East Asia is not resolved, a number of countries “will be living under a threat of a nuclear volcano erupting,” Russian diplomat and an expert in Asian studies, professor Georgy Toloraya told RT.com.

“Everyone understands perfectly well that for North Korea, if it initiates an aggressive strike, a military conflict will mean a complete and immediate destruction, because no one can deny the US military might,” Toloraya said.

“However, for the US, attempts to solve this problem militarily also bring on a retaliatory strike by North Korea that would turn South Korea into a desert,” he warned, saying the North doesn’t even need nuclear weapons for that.

While Pyongyang’s artillery is able to reach Seoul, the entire territory of South Korea will also “be no good for life,” as Pyongyang’s missiles – even without nuclear warheads – might hit nuclear facilities in the South, he explained. He said there are some 30 such sites close to North Korea’s border.

“Japan will suffer damage too, as well as the US military bases there,” the expert added. Toloraya emphasized that “diplomacy and negotiations” are the only way out of the crisis.

“All kinds of pressure [on Pyongyang] have been tested over the years, including sanctions. But none led to any change in North Korea’s position,” he said.

“No one in their right mind can be really thinking about the doomsday scenario. In my opinion, Americans are bluffing when they scare not so much Pyongyang but rather China with a possibility of a military conflict.”

Pointing out that Moscow has been long insisting on diplomatic channels to ease tensions in the region by listening to all sides, Toloraya underlined that “it’s in everyone’s interests to diminish the threat,” as the possibility of an accidental and irreversible mistake can never be excluded.

“The thing is, the most bloody wars sometimes begin by accident or by mistake, this has happened in history. The higher the level of armament and the hotter the tensions in the Korean Peninsula, the bigger a chance of an accidental turn of events, with the subsequent escalation,” he said.

Another expert in military history, international relations and conflict resolution studies, Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov also spoke about the threat of such “accidental” scenarios.

“There is always danger, especially when such imperfect missiles as the ones used by North Korea are involved. There is a risk that a missile might veer off course, that it won’t reach its destination,” he told RT.com.

A military conflict in the region will affect not only North Korea, South Korea and Japan, but also Russia and China, he said. Beijing, he said, “might not to be harmed military-wise, but will suffer in other respects.”

“Certain forces in the US are striving to de-stabilize the situation in the region, in the same way that they have destabilized it in the Middle East,” Ivashov suggested, saying that diplomatic initiatives should be aimed at both Washington and Pyongyang, “for the first not to conduct military games, and the other to stop test launches.”

“We should treat North Korea with understanding too. What North Koreans are asking for is a guarantee of their security, which no one gives them. They are a pariah-state. They want to save their regime, which does exist – whether people like it or not. They don’t like [the] joint US and South Korean drills being held near their borders. This can all be solved, if only there is a will from the US before all.”

Moscow, together with Beijing, have long been advocating a “double freeze” strategy which would see Pyongyang suspend its missile launches in exchange for an end to the military exercises near its borders. The proposal has been rejected by Washington, with the State Department categorically stating that the US, along with its ally South Korea, are within their rights and will continue their joint military maneuvers.

August 31, 2017 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

US Marine Live-Fire Range to Be Constructed on ‘Pristine’ Land in Guam

Sputnik – 29.08.2017

Guam will soon be the site of a US military live-firing range to support Marines relocating from Okinawa, following an $87 million contract that was awarded to Black Construction Corp last week.

Between 2022 and 2026 there are plans for about 4,100 Marines to relocate from Okinawa to Guam. This drawdown is part of a 2013 agreement between Japan and the US for Washington to reduce its footprint on Okinawa, which houses most of the United States’ military bases in Japanese territory.

Andersen Air Force Base will situate the complex near what community members say is the last pristine area on the island: a wildlife refuge that will have to be partially closed when the range is in use.

Col. Brent Bien, who oversees US Marine activity in Guam, said in a statement, “We are committed to Guam, and our forward presence here will play an essential role in strengthening the military’s ability to maintain regional security and protect the nation’s interests in the Pacific.”

One of the groups opposing the range’s construction is Prutehi Litekyan, who has been reaching out to local political leaders to put a halt to what spokeswoman Sabina Perez called a “toxic legacy.”

Guam congresspeople Sen. Fernando Esteves (R-Yona), Speaker Benjamin Cruz (D-Tumon) and Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje (D-Yona) have expressed support for the group.

“No amount of money can compensate for the permanent destruction, loss of access and other adverse impacts to Guam’s historic sites,” Terlaje said on Friday. “One hundred eighty-seven acres of limestone forests, endangered species and fishing areas that are part of this particular live-fire training range project.”

“The Department of Defense has not kept its promises to avoid these adverse impacts to Guam and in fact continues to expand its control over lands and waters of Guam and the Marianas,” she added, according to AP.

Perez said the group is trying to schedule meetings with military officials, and Terlaje is appealing to Gov. Eddie Calvo to meet with federal officials to try and avoid the range’s potential impact

The complex is expected to be complete by November 2020.

August 30, 2017 Posted by | Environmentalism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism | | Leave a comment

Scotland ‘wholly unprepared’ for nuclear weapons accident on its roads – report

© Nukewatch UK / Facebook
RT | August 22, 2017

Nuclear warheads surrounded by explosives are regularly transported on British roads, yet authorities are “wholly unprepared” to handle an accident, a damning report has revealed.

A “critical gap” in the protection of Britons has been identified by Nukewatch UK, amid claims public safety is being put at risk by the Scottish Government.

The report, ‘Unready Scotland’, reveals weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) are driven across the country around eight times every year, without police accompanying them and without public knowledge.

The convoys travel with a potentially-deadly cocktail of explosives and nuclear weapons packed inside – yet those traveling alongside the huge trucks remain blissfully unaware of the dangerous cargo.

Scottish councils have failed to carry out individual assessments of the routes taken by the massive convoys. This means vital evacuation time could be lost and the number of casualties could rise rapidly should there be an incident.

The potential contamination zone for an accident involving nukes is 24 miles, according to some experts, meaning entire villages and towns could be engulfed.

“The radioactive material in the warheads includes both plutonium and uranium, with a potential dispersal range of at least 5km,” Nuke Watch reports. “In addition to this, warhead materials include a number of toxic and hazardous substances.”

Unready Scotland suggests there is “no evidence” that authorities would be able to cope with a disaster on the route between the Aldermaston and Burghfield atomic weapon plants in Berkshire and RNAD Coulport on Loch Long.

In the event of nuclear fallout, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) would prioritize the mobilization of troops to secure the weapons – and the safety of the public would fall squarely on the shoulders of local authorities and emergency responders.

Yet the frightening report shows that those who would be first on the scene would be “unprepared” and unable to launch into action.

The researchers warn that police, paramedics and the Scottish Government, who would need to handle a mass evacuation, are “wholly unprepared to discharge that responsibility.”

Although some claim an accident involving a convoy is unlikely, there have already been underreported incidents. In May, a military convoy of nuclear warhead carriers was left stranded on the side of the M40 motorway when the escort broke down. Fortunately in this instance there were no live warheads onboard.

Despite authorities claiming potential terrorist plots make it impossible for them to reveal details of the convoys to the public, activists claim the information is already in the public domain.

The report claims there is “no justification for not informing the public about the existence of the convoy traffic and its attendant risks.”

“The simple fact that these trucks carry nuclear bombs on public roads is enough to cause very serious concern, amounting to alarm,” said Nuke Watch. The report says the police officers manning the convoy “very frequently” have no idea what they are protecting – and would be unable to react in an emergency, the report says.

Astonishingly, some authorities “rely on generic risk assessments conducted within their Resilience Partnerships.”

Practice runs have been carried out on a small scale, according to Local Authority and Emergency Services Information (LAESI) reports, but nowhere close to the scale of the potential damage.

In 1990 it was predicted by nuclear engineer John Large that an accident involving nuclear warheads could spread contamination “at least 40 kilometres.”

Nuke Watch has called for an urgent review into the country’s response to a nuclear accident.

It claims since community safety is wholly devolved to the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, the Scottish National Party (SNP) Government has failed in its duty to put adequate plans in place.

RT has contacted the SNP for comment.

August 22, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Militarism | | Leave a comment

Algal biofuel production is neither environmentally nor commercially sustainable

By Kevin Flynn, Chair Professor, Swansea University | The Conversation | August 8, 2017

Modern biofuels have been touted as a greener alternative to petrol and diesel since the early 1900s. It seems like a good idea on paper, and they do work – but their use and production doesn’t come without problems.

The first generation of biofuels – mainly ethanol made from plant crops – and second generation, derived from plant and animal waste streams, both had environmentalists and others concerned about the competition for land and nutrients between biofuels production and food production.

It was with a lot of hope, and hype, that production of the third generation of biofuels was started. Unlike their predecessors, these biofuels are derived from algae, and so in theory the food vs fuel dilemma of crop-based biofuels would be solved.

Fossil fuel oil and gas originated from ancient algae in large measure, so the concept here is to replicate the essence of the creation of fossil fuels, albeit accelerated and optimised with modern chemical engineering. It was claimed that using algae would be much more efficient than creating biofuels from terrestrial plants and that the technology would make use of poor quality land not able to grow other crops.

Millions of dollars, euros and other currencies have been spent trying to get the algal marvel to work. Much of the money has been directed at refining the engineering process, electrically lighting the crop – which grows in a liquid suspension – harvesting and draining it. The solution to optimisation was seen as primarily technological non-biological, though species selection and growth conditions were also acknowledged as important factors.

Damp squib

However, it turns out that the hype has been misplaced. Our research has found that the production of algal biofuels is neither commercially nor environmentally sustainable. The attainable production levels are a fraction of those that were claimed. The amount of biofuel produced from prolonged culture of algae in pilot-scale systems is actually not too dissimilar from those of terrestrial plants: around 5,000 to 10,000 litres per hectare per year.

In fact, the rate of production from algae growing in the vast ponds required for truly massive production is, for a given area of land, similar to that seen in the most productive areas of the ocean. It amounts to around 4g of carbon from CO₂ fixed into biomass per square metre every day.

So what’s the problem? Why aren’t algal biofuels as good as had been hoped? Quite simply, it’s biology.

The dream has been broken not by failings in engineering, but by the inefficiency of biochemistry. Simulations of microalgal biofuel production show that to approach the 10% of EU transport fuels expected to be supplied by biofuels, ponds three times the area of Belgium would be needed. And for the algae in these ponds to produce biofuel, it would require fertiliser equivalent to 50% of the current total annual EU crop plant needs. Ironically, such ponds would also need to be located near heavy industry which produces CO₂ to provide the level required by the microalgae for photosynthesis.

Problems of scale

The problem with third-generation biofuels has always been scaling up the production rates measured in small culture flasks to growth in thousands of cubic metres in size. In the larger cultures, the biomass density of the algae – needed to make the culture and harvesting processes economical – defeats desired growth rates because the organisms shade light from each other. This means that they do not get the sunlight needed to photosynthesise and produce the carbon-rich compounds needed for to make the biofuel fast enough.

There have also been misunderstandings of how the algae react to their environment. Importantly, those vital carbon-rich compounds only really accumulate in cells that are nitrogen-limited and so are growing slowly. Early production estimates assumed high carbon-rich content in fast-growing cells but this has not proved to be the case.

Could we not genetically modify a solution to the inherent biological inefficiency? Perhaps, but should we really tamper with factors that are so fundamental to life on Earth and risk generating unstoppable harmful algal species that could destroy fisheries and damage drinking water supplies? Even if we did create the perfect algae for biofuels production, the need for all that fertiliser and CO₂ would remain.

Ultimately the public have paid for this failed vision – but their money has not been wasted. If there’s one thing that humans need more than fuel it is food – and this work can help us understand how to better grow microalgae to support the farming of fish and shellfish, and produce dietary supplements, like Omega-3. Mass microalgal production could also create food containing omega fatty acids to farmed fish, for example, meaning that we would no longer need to fish in rivers and oceans to make fishmeal for them.

The future for mass microalgal cultivation is still literally and metaphorically green, it just does not rest with biofuels production.

August 11, 2017 Posted by | Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

Monsanto knew of grave health risks from toxic PCB chemicals it sold for years before ban, docs say

RT | August 9, 2017

Monsanto used toxic industrial chemicals known as PCBs in the production of everyday appliances such as TVs, fridges and plastics for at least eight years after discovering the harm they did, newly-compiled archives claim to prove.

From the 1930s, and until the end of their distribution in 1977, Monsanto was the dominant US producer of the chemicals.

Now a trove of 20,000 documents, dubbed the “Poison Papers,” gathered from regulators, lawsuits and archives by campaigners and scientists, claims that the Missouri-headquartered company openly discussed the environmental and health impact of PCBs.

“If authentic, these records confirm that Monsanto knew that their PCBs were harmful and pervasive in the environment, and kept selling them in spite of that fact. They knew the dangers, but hid them from the public in order to profit,” Bill Sherman, the assistant attorney general for the state of Washington, which is suing the company, told the Guardian.

Several cities in the Pacific Northwest, including Seattle, and multiple municipalities in California, such as San Diego and San Jose, are also currently pursuing legal action against Monsanto.

As far back as 1969, an internal policy document admitted “damage to the ecological system by contamination from PCBs,” and stated that “evidence proving the persistence of these compounds and their universal presence in the environment is beyond questioning.”

The non-biodegradable nature of PCBs, which are still found both in water and in soil worldwide, has since turned out to be one of its most serious legacies.

“Direct lawsuits are possible… because customers using the products have not been officially notified about known effects nor do our labels carry this information,” read the assessment. At the end of the document, the author provides Monsanto with three solutions: Do Nothing (“poor customer relations” and “potential loss of business”), Discontinue Manufacture (“not that simple”) and presumably the option the company chose: Respond responsibly by phasing out the product (“maximizing the corporate image by publicizing this fact”).

“At the end of the day, Monsanto went for the profits instead of for public health and environmental safety,” said Sherman.

Notably, the company admitted in its internal documents that PCBs were “highly toxic” to birds, and in 1975 noted that they can have “permanent effects on the human body.”

Yet, it challenged government findings of toxicity, and said in a memo to “let govt prove its case on a case by case basis.”

Monsanto argues that it was an industrial leader in curtailing the use of PCBs – stopping their sale in applications where they could leak in 1972, and discontinuing their retail altogether two years before the 1979 ban.

“More than 40 years ago, the former Monsanto voluntarily stopped production and sale of PCBs prior to any federal requirement to do so,” Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy, Scott Partridge, told the Guardian. He stressed though that back then, the product was legal and hence the company “has no liability for pollution caused by those who used or discharged PCBs into the environment.”

Human contact with increasing quantities of PCBs is linked to a host of negative outcomes, from cancers, to neurological damage and sterility. PCBs were responsible for two mass food contamination events, in Japan in 1968 and in Taiwan in 1979, as well as a scandal over an alleged cover-up of a contamination in Belgium in 1999, which is thought to have brought down the incumbent government.

Monsanto, which has been the target of high-profile public protests for decades, is currently besieged by several high-profile class action lawsuits over the carcinogenic properties of its weedkiller Roundup, which has been banned in several European countries, and the lengths to which it purportedly went to manipulate academic, regulatory and media coverage of the glyphosate-based bestseller. The company is awaiting EU approval for its $66 billion takeover by German chemical giant Bayer, which could result in the elimination of the Monsanto brand, which has become synonymous with various controversial industrial practices.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism | , | Leave a comment

California districts sue US govt for $1.4bn over water contamination from military base

RT | August 9, 2017

Two water districts in Sacramento, California are suing the US government for nearly one and a half billion dollars for groundwater cleanup. Plaintiffs claim heavy metals used by aircraft maintenance crews at the old McClellan Air Force Base have contaminated over 300 sites.

The lawsuits named the US Air Force and 10 major firms involved in supplying chromium products and chemicals to the base, and was filed by the Sacramento Suburban Water District and the Rio Linda Elverta Community Water District, according to the Sacramento Bee.

At contention is whether the cancer-causing chemical hexavalent chromium, or chromium 6, came from the base, which was designated a federal Superfund site in 1987 for 326 contaminated sites identified for cleanup.

“[T]hey knew or should have known that this harmful compound would reach groundwater, pollute drinking supplies, render drinking water unusable and unsafe, and threaten the public health and welfare,” stated the complaint, which claims an underground storage tank “likely held” the chemical.

The lawsuits demands more than $1.4 billion to clean up the polluted wells, install treatment equipment and replace wells that have been decommissioned for being polluted with chromium 6.

“Sacramento Suburban seeks to recover the substantial costs necessary to protect the public and restore its damaged drinking water supply,” the water district’s lawsuit, filed in federal court in Sacramento says, as part of its claim seeking $1.1 billion in damages.

Rio Linda Elverta’s claim seeks more than $289 million in damages.

“Chrome 6 is a highly toxic compound and it shouldn’t be in the water,” Victor Sher, a San Francisco environmental attorney representing the plaintiffs, said Tuesday.

“Water districts are constantly balancing risks against cost,” he said, adding, “They’re committed to delivering water that is as free as possible of contaminants, but doing so is expensive.”

Plaintiffs argued that as far back as 1984, McClellan had burn and burial pits, trenches and unlined ponds and ditches contaminated with chemicals.

“[C]ontaminated with plating wastes, solvents, acids, waste oils, paint thinners, strippers and sludges and other hazardous compounds,” the lawsuits stated.

Plaintiffs argue that the chemicals have been found in groundwater under the base as high as 840 parts per billion, six times higher than levels that decrease away from the air base. The state set a maximum concentration for chromium 6 as 10 parts per billion in 2014.

The Air Force denied Rio Linda Elverta’s claim in a May 9 letter before the district sued in federal court on June 30.

The Air Force had consistently denied responsibility for polluting the groundwater around the base, which operated from 1936 through 2001, before being converted to a business park.

In addition to the Air Force, the water district lawsuits name 10 firms they say were associated with providing chemicals to the base: Elementis Chromium Inc., Occidental Chemical Corp., Honeywell Inc., BASF Corp., PPG Inc., E.I. Du Pont De Nemours and Co., Luxfer Holdings PLC, Sigma-Aldrich Corp. and Dow Chemical Co.

Officials with Sacramento Suburban, which serves 175,000 customers just east of the old base, and Rio Linda Elverta, which serves about 15,000 customers to the west of the base, say the water they are currently providing is safe.

A 2016 Harvard study of some 36,000 EPA water samples taken from 2013 to 2015 at industrial sites, military fire training locations, airports and wastewater treatments plants contained levels of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), or perfluorinated chemicals, that go beyond what is considered safe by the federal government.

Researchers determined that drinking water for 6 million in the US is at or beyond the EPA safety threshold for PFAS levels.

Xindi Hu, the study’s lead author, warned that “the actual number of people exposed may be even higher than our study found, because government data for levels of these compounds in drinking water is lacking for almost a third of the U.S. population—about 100 million people.”

August 8, 2017 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | | 1 Comment

African children pay the price for “clean green” electric car battery technology

Tall Bloke’s Talk Shop | August 6, 2017

Goldman Sachs, the merchant bank, calls cobalt ‘the new gasoline’ but there are no signs of new wealth in the DRC, where the children haul the rocks brought up from tunnels dug by hand.

Adult miners dig up to 600ft below the surface using basic tools, without protective clothing or modern machinery. Sometimes the children are sent down into the narrow makeshift chambers where there is constant danger of collapse.

Cobalt is such a health hazard that it has a respiratory disease named after it – cobalt lung, a form of pneumonia which causes coughing and leads to permanent incapacity and even death.

Even simply eating vegetables grown in local soil can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, thyroid damage and fatal lung diseases, while birds and fish cannot survive in the area.

No one knows quite how many children have died mining cobalt in the Katanga region in the south-east of the country. The UN estimates 80 a year, but many more deaths go unregistered, with the bodies buried in the rubble of collapsed tunnels. Others survive but with chronic diseases which destroy their young lives. Girls as young as ten in the mines are subjected to sexual attacks and many become pregnant.

Dorsen, just eight, is one of 40,000 children working daily in the mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The terrible price they will pay for our clean air is ruined health and a likely early death.

Almost every big motor manufacturer striving to produce millions of electric vehicles buys its cobalt from the impoverished central African state. It is the world’s biggest producer, with 60 per cent of the planet’s reserves.

The cobalt is mined by unregulated labour and transported to Asia where battery manufacturers use it to make their products lighter, longer-lasting and rechargeable.

The planned switch to clean energy vehicles has led to an extraordinary surge in demand. While a smartphone battery uses no more than 10 grams of refined cobalt, an electric car needs 15kg (33lb).

Residents near mines in southern DRC had urinary concentrates of cobalt 43 higher than normal. Lead levels were five times higher, cadmium and uranium four times higher.

The worldwide rush to bring millions of electric vehicles on to our roads has handed a big advantage to those giant car-makers which saw this bonanza coming and invested in developing battery-powered vehicles, among them General Motors, Renault-Nissan, Tesla, BMW and Fiat-Chrysler.

Full story

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Environmentalism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment

Global ‘False’ Witness Targets Nicaragua

By Tortilla con Sal | teleSUR | August 4, 2017

Global Witness is a well-established environmental and human rights non-governmental organization based in Britain.

As with many other similar organizations, its reports often figure in news media as authoritative sources on international issues. Ever since the 1980s and, increasingly so, after the turn of the century, the status of NGOs as trustworthy information sources on foreign affairs has become increasingly untenable as they have been more and more co-opted by corporate interests and governments to promote the Western elites’ neocolonial global policy agenda.

In the case of Nicaragua, in 2016 Global Witness produced a brief, flawed and unreliable account of land conflicts in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region in a report called “On Dangerous Ground”. In June 2017, they produced a report called “Defenders of the Earth”, with a section on Nicaragua even more poorly researched and false than the previous one. Three main reasons stand out to dismiss the latest Global Witness report on Nicaragua as unreliable and in bad faith.

Firstly, the report itself is clearly biased and flawed, from even a cursory analysis of its references and their sources by anyone familiar with Nicaragua. Secondly, the organization’s human and material resources all come from a very narrow managerial class and corporate funding base, overwhelmingly advocating the foreign policy positions of the United States government and its allies. Thirdly, the history of Global Witness clearly indicates its categorical bias in favor of NATO country governments’ policy positions in the countries that figure in its reports and too its systemic defense of the very corporate capitalism whose destructive effects Global Witness superficially and selectively criticizes.

Global Witness sources on Nicaragua

Before looking at the text of the false Global Witness attack on Nicaragua, it is worth looking at the sources they identify in their footnotes, of which there are 23, composed of a total of 44 references. For anyone familiar with Nicaraguan politics and society since the war of the 1980s many of the sources are wearily familiar and readily identifiable as anti-Sandinista, for example, the virulently anti-Sandinista La Prensa newspaper. Some of the references are duplicates and some disguise the fact that while apparently distinct, ultimately the information they provide comes from one single source. (Here’s a link to the relevant spreadsheet for anyone interested in a more detailed analysis.)

Of the 44 references, some of which are duplicates, not one represents the view of the Nicaraguan authorities or others criticized in the report or any source sympathetic to them. 16 references are to sources inside Nicaragua politically opposed to the Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. 25 of the sources are external to Nicaragua but with a long record identifying them as ideologically opposed to the Sandinista government. Of those 25 sources, one might argue that the Washington-based Interamerican Commission for Human Rights or the EFE Spanish language news agency are impartial, but their record is indisputably biased against Nicaragua’s Sandinista authorities.

For all but imperialist ideologues, the Paris based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has been discredited in particular, most recently, by its flagrant partisan bias in favor of NATO country government policies attacking the populations of Libya and Syria. One source, a reference to the law authorizing Nicaragua’s Canal, is completely neutral. Only one media source, El Nuevo Diario, is generally independent. Two references are to sources within the Western environmental scientific lobby, which has its own set of highly questionable biases, prejudices and neocolonial hypocrisy.

“Methodology”

As if by way of justifying this desperately unfair selection of sources, Global Witness also offer an account of what they call their “methodology”. They aver, “We have recorded data about the cases using the HURIDOCS Event Standard Formats and Micro-Thesauri, an approach which is widely used to manage and analyse material of this nature.”

That Global Witness claim is demonstrably untrue. Whatever their aspirations they certainly did not use the HURIDOCS approach.

HURIDOCS (Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems, International) is a European NGO established in 1982 to facilitate networking between human rights organizations around the world. HURIDOCS says its ‟specific role in this capacity-building process lies in improving access to and the dissemination of human rights information through more effective, appropriate and compatible methods and techniques of information handling. HURIDOCS recognises that we live in an age of tremendous advances in information and communication technologies. There is the need to master these technologies to aid us in our human rights work. At the same time, we must be conscious of the fact that the technologies to be applied should be appropriate and responsive to the main focus of the mandates of human rights organisation.”

HURIDOCS exposition of their approach includes the following definitions:

Fact-finding is the process of identifying the violations in one event, and establishing the facts relevant to these violations. Fact-finding and investigation are terms that are used interchangeably.

Documentation is the process of systematically recording the results of an investigation or fact-finding in relation to an event or number of events. Fact-finding and documentation are organically related and should not be viewed as separate processes.

Monitoring is closely observing a given situation in society over a long period of time to see whether human rights standards are met. To carry out monitoring, investigation and documentation of a large and/or representative number of events are conducted.”

Global Witness are not in compliance with the HURIDOCS approach because their practice in their reporting on Nicaragua demonstrably violates all of these definitions.

Their fact-finding or investigation is so heavily biased as to make it impossible for them to establish the facts. Consequently, thanks to this gross fact finding bias, their documentation is partial, often inaccurate and categorically incomplete. Nor do they show any sign of having done due diligence in monitoring consistently over time via ” investigation and documentation of a large and/or representative number of events” or the context of those events in Nicaragua.

Other theoretical considerations

Apart from these chronic procedural failures, other theoretical considerations cry out for clarification.

Global Witness say, “This report is based on research on killings and enforced disappearances of land and environmental defenders, who we define as people who take peaceful action to protect land or environmental rights”.

But in a bitter property dispute between competing communities, clarifying who is defending whose rights becomes a fundamentally important question. Certainly in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, unscrupulous Miskito community leaders are themselves involved in provoking these property disputes by illegally selling land to rural families migrating in search of a better life. Miskito gangs have attacked and murdered many such people, a factor not even mentioned by Global Witness. They completely evade the issue of identifying in a responsible, proportionate way whose rights are being violated.

Similarly, Global Witness state, “cases were identified by searching and reviewing reliable sources of publicly online information”. But  Global Witness obviously used heavily politicized criteria for deciding what is a reliable source, because not one single reference in their report on Nicaragua gives the Nicaraguan authorities’ side of the story and only one reference can fairly be described as ideologically independent. That renders completely incredible the phony Global Witness claim to systematic research.

They claim their investigation is systematic because “We set up search engine alerts using keywords and conducted other searches online to identify relevant cases across the world.” However, in the case of a small country like Nicaragua, a genuinely systematic search can readily be done covering a much wider range of sources than those accessed by Global Witness without recourse to modish, geeky “search engine alerts”. The poverty of sources evident in the report’s footnotes make Global Witness’s procedure look ridiculous.

Global Witness claim they “verify” the results of their investigation because “Where possible, we checked with in-country or regional partners to gather further information”. But they only cross-checked with ideologically and politically biased organizations, apparently using the same highly questionable, politically compromised sources they cite in their report.

Karl Popper, philosophical darling of the Open Society ideology embraced by Global Witness, explained over 50 years ago in “Conjectures and Refutations”  that verification is essentially authoritarian. He argued that a truly scientific investigation requires conjecture and falsification, a search for errors rather than for  justification.

If one goes along with Popper, it should surprise no one that Global Witness uses an essentially authoritarian methodology. Self-evidently, their job is not to discover the facts or to impartially establish the truth via a hypothetic-deductive Popper-style process , but to project a manipulative version of events justifying ideologically loaded interpretations favored by their corporate funders, an inherent bias understandably unacknowledged by Global Witness.

Nor is it surprising to learn from their account of their methodology, “While we have made every effort to identify and investigate cases in line with the methodology and criteria, it is important to add that our research mostly relies on public information and that we have not been able to conduct detailed national-level searches in all countries.”

That is not true either. Gobal Witness did not make “every effort” to investigate cases in line with their alleged methodology and criteria because they are flagrantly out of compliance with the definitions advanced by HURIDOCS.

A broader range of sources

Nor is is true that they were unable to conduct a detailed national-level search in the case of Nicaragua, because they could easily have included references from sources that contradict much of the information in the Global Witness report. The following is a brief sample of many other relevant sources, gleaned in a few hours searching on the Internet :

Indigenous group splits from Miskito party in support of Sandinista government
Attacks by indigenous gangs on settlers, killing nine
Miskitos claim their own leaders illegally sold over 3000 acres of communal lands to outsiders
Historic lease agreement between Canal Authority and indigenous people along the canal route
Interview with HKND’s Bill Wild about the benefits of the Interoceanic Canal
HKND’s Bill Wild on the Environmental and Social Impact Study
Environmentalist Kamilo Lara explains why he believes in Nicaragua’s Interoceanic Canal
Nicaragua’s Canal – the environmental and economic arguments
Public Consultation on Lake Nicaragua for the Interoceanic Canal project
Environmental and Social Impact Assessment of Nicaragua’s Interoceanic Canal – Conclusions and Recommendations
Bishop accuses political opposition of manipulating canal protests
Canal protestors attack and injure six police officers

Even this very limited sample of sources, put together from just a few hours searching on the Internet, gives a very different picture to the one presented by Global Witness. So it is false of Global Witness to suggest they lack the resources to be able to stress test and falsify the version of events they have published in their report. Given the tremendous resources and the numerous skilled, experienced, talented people working at Global Witness, only abject intellectual dishonesty explains their failure to report faithfully on Nicaragua

Incoherent claims

Be that as it may, based on their cynically biased sources and their absurdly deficient methodology, Global Witness proceed in their report to make the following claims:

11 defenders killed in 2016 – making Nicaragua the most dangerous country in the world per capita

But, as independent journalist John Perry and others have pointed out, none of those people killed can fairly be described as having being killed for defending the environment. They were in property disputes and all of them were killed either directly or indirectly  in the course of those property conflicts. This is true in particular of the case cited by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (CIDH) , that of Bernicia Dixon Peralta, her husband Feliciano Benlis Flores and their 11 year old son Feliciano Benlis Dixon. Perry mentions some of the context. More context of the property disputes in the RAAN can be found here, here and here. Not a single person mentioned by Global Witness died in Nicaragua for defending the environment in the way that someone like Berta Cáceres did. Even so Global Witness have tended disingenuously to implicitly compare the situation in Nicaragua with that in Honduras, in particular with Berta’s murder.

The bad faith with which they do so is clear from the second claim in their report on Nicaragua:

10 of those murdered were indigenous people, with most killed in conflicts with settler communities over land. Meanwhile rural ‘campesino’ defenders faced threats, harassment and attacks, including for opposing the construction of an inter-oceanic canal.

Global Witness fails to make clear that groups from the indigenous Miskito people, whom Global Witness inaccurately portray as defenseless environmental defenders, are themselves guilty of murderous attacks against migrants settling land which in many cases the migrants apparently believed they had bought legitimately. Furthermore, the Global Witness report deliberately and falsely confuses the very specific situation of these property conflicts in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast with protests over the possible displacement of communities along the still to be exactly defined route of the proposed Inter-oceanic Canal 300 kilometers to the south. Global Witness unscrupulously frame their distorted version of events in the two regions to give the impression that in both cases the Nicaraguan authorities may in some way be directly or indirectly responsible for the violence.

In fact, even the New York Times has acknowledged in their otherwise generally hostile anti-Sandinista reporting that the Nicaraguan authorities do what they can with limited resources to protect the rights of indigenous peoples in the Northern Carribean Autonomous Region.

The situation along the route of the Canal is very different from that in the RAAN. Protests against the Canal are exploited by Nicaragua’s political opposition and groups participating in the protest demonstrations have damaged property and attacked police officers. In relation to this situation, completely separate from the property disputes more than 300km to the north, Global Witness claims:

Activists were increasingly criminalized: foreign environmentalists were expelled, community leaders arrested and legislation passed restricting freedoms of speech and association.

However in the very next paragraph, the report quotes anti-Canal activist Francisca Ramirez saying, ““We have carried out 87 marches, demanding that they respect our rights and we have had no response. The only response we have had is the bullet.”

Thus, the Global Witness allegation that rights to freedom of association are restricted is immediately contradicted by Francisca Ramirez declaring her group has organized over 80 public demonstrations to express their views.

Similarly, Ramirez claims “The only response we have had is the bullet.” But, in the next paragraph, we learn “a member of her community lost an eye and another was shot in the stomach”.

Thus, after 87 demonstrations, some of which supposedly involved many thousands of participants and in which “The only response we have had is the bullet”, Ramirez cites precisely two people suffering serious injury and only one of them with a gunshot wound. Ramirez omits that the protesters on the marches she organizes go armed with machetes and home-made mortars. They block highways, intimidate ordinary people going about their business, damage property and attack police officers.

In no Western country would that be tolerated without, to put it mildly, a robust response from the police and security forces. Even so, Global Witness promote Francisca Ramirez’s account as if she and her movement were non-political and non-violent, which they are not. But Global Witness excludes those facts.

Likewise, as John Perry has pointed out, the foreign environmentalists expelled from Nicaragua were involved in a suspicious incident involving a small explosion. Again, a reasonable question to Global Witness is why they excluded this highly relevant information given that in Britain or the United States any foreigner, especially any non-white foreigner, involved in such a suspicious incident would face prosecution and a potential jail term under those countries wide-ranging anti-terrorist laws.

Inaccuracies and falsehoods

Mixed in with these disingenuous, incoherent claims, Global Witness also allege, presumably as supporting context, that the proposed Canal “would force up to 120,000 indigenous people from their land”. This outrageous falsehood is sourced from the pro-NATO, right-wing dominated European Parliament, but is categorically contradicted by the relevant multi-million dollar Environmental and Social Impact report by the extremely prestigious ERM company based in the UK. The falsity of that claim is further confirmed by the Canal concessionary HKND company’s representative Bill Wild who argues that the route of the Canal has been altered to take local concerns into account in such a way that fewer than thirty indigenous families will be directly affected.

Overall, ERM reckons that up to 7210 families or around 30,000 people are likely to be displaced along the whole route of the Canal, over 270 kilometres. The scandalously untrue figure quoted by Global Witness is propaganda from Nicaragua’s political opposition who are exploiting Ramirez’s quasi-celebrity status among Western environmentalists to amplify overseas the marginal support for their unpopular position against the Canal in Nicaragua. That fact is reflected in the incoherence of the arguments set out by Ramirez and her backers in Nicaragua’s political opposition.

If 120,000 people were really going to be displaced by the proposed Canal then the figure of 30,000 protestors from around the country the same political opposition regularly quote to describe national opposition to the Canal just does not add up. Quoting that same opposition figure, Global Witness state, “Francisca has rallied campesino groups from around the country who will be adversely affected by the canal to call for a meaningful say in its development. In June 2015, 30,000 people gathered for an anti-canal protest – Francisca organized 40 trucks so her community could attend.”

In Nicaragua, the cost of hiring a truck or a bus to carry 60 people or a similar amount of material goods on a round trip of 100km is around US$120, while a round trip of 300km costs about US$175. So hiring 40 diesel-guzzling trucks and buses with their drivers will have cost a minimum of US$4000. But Ramirez is an impoverished mother of five from a similarly impoverished community.

Even if only one quarter of the more than 80 protests Ramirez says she has helped organized involved similar costs, the total amount involved runs into tens of thousands of dollars just for Ramirez’s community. Whatever the exact financial accounting, Ramirez is clearly supported by a great deal more than her own resources and those of her community.

Even so, Global Witness completely evade the obvious conclusion to be drawn from that incoherence implicit in their report. Namely, that Francisca Ramirez, far from being a simple altruistic community organizer defending her home is in fact a savvy political opposition activist promoting an inaccurate image of herself as well as concealing her real political agenda. Ramirez alleges that she and her family have been attacked and harassed. Supposing those accusations are true, no convincing evidence points to involvement of the government or the security forces and certainly not the HKND company in charge of planning and building the Canal. That contrasts with the situation of activists in Honduras or Guatemala who can in most cases offer reliable details with corroboration from witnesses to identify their assailants.

The press report cited by Gobal Witness contains no credible evidence from Ramirez except her say so, no corroborating evidence, no witnesses. Likwise the report’s reference to Frontline Defenders’ advocacy for Ramirez links to a summary profile including the false opposition propaganda, repeated by Global Witness, that the proposed inter-oceanic Canal has been imposed without consultation. But in fact preliminary consultations took place in July 2014 and subsequently a continuing consultative process has developed both before and after the publication of ERM’s Environmental and Social Impact Study, which recommended improvements to the consultation process which both HKND and the government accepted.

The Study did also criticize the handling of the expropriation issue and recommended that international standards be applied to any expropriation of land (reckoned to total 1359km2 of dry land out of Nicaragua’s total  area of 139,375km2) that may eventully be decided. Those ERM recommendations were accepted by the  government and HKND, and the subsequent consultative process has led to several important changes in the precise route of the Canal and to more detailed environmental studies which have been one reason for the delay in the Canal’s construction.

Frontline Defenders’ advocacy of Ramirez, cited by Global Witness, is based on her own account of events with no apparent attempt at corroboration despite the role of Ramirez as a front person for an anti-government campaign openly supported and facilitated by Nicaragua’s political opposition. In the course of framing their benign, heroic account of Francisca Ramirez, Global Witness present an account of the Canal’s origins and procedural progress which repeats virtually word for word the extremely hostile and systematically disingenuous interpretation of Nicaragua’s political opposition.

Garbage in – Garbage out

Winding up their version of the falsehoods, disinformation and propaganda copied from Nicaragua’s political opposition, Global Witness assert, “Resistance to the canal takes place against a terrifying backdrop of multiple murders in indigenous communities elsewhere in the country which have stood up against the arrival of agricultural settlers and demanded the government guarantee their land rights. Even requests by the Inter-American human rights system haven’t spurred the government into protecting community activists from being disappeared, mutilated and murdered.”

But, as is clear from reviewing a wider selection of sources of information in relation to the complicated land situation in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, indigenous people themselves are responsible for murderous violence and their own leaders are implicated in corrupt land dealings. It is simply untrue to label the murders as being generically the result of attacks on community activists in the sense in which that term is commonly understood. The general consensus is that the Nicaraguan government has done more than any government in the region, with the possible exception of Venezuela, to protect indigenous people’s land rights with almost a third of the national territory designated as indigenous peoples’ communal land. Global Witness’s allegations on that score are demonstrably inaccurate and grossly unfair.

Similarly, the suggestion that the Canal protest movement is vulnerable to the kind of murderous violence prevalent in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region is egregiously false. The protesters themselves have used violence and intimidation against the general population to carry out their protest actions, so far, thankfully, with no fatalities.

In summary, the Global Witness report in its section on Nicaragua uses politically and ideologically prejudiced sources which could readily have been supplemented with sources offering a contradictory account. The sources used themselves do not always corroborate the claims made in the report. Apart from the ideological bias, various substantive inaccuracies render the report extremey unreliable. The report’s conclusions are flawed because its initial premises are false – Garbage In, Garbage Out.

It remains true that there are serious property conflicts in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region which the government is attempting to address despite a lack of administrative, judicial and security resources, against an intricate social, economic and political context and also the constantly changing opportunistic interaction of corrupt business interests with local indigenous peoples’ leaders, and unscrupulous local officials.

In the case of Nicaragua’s proposed Interoceanic Canal, it is true various issues, including the issue of expropriation, have to be clarified. Protestors claim they want dialog, but Francisca Ramirez sets the precondition that the Canal be scrapped.

The Canal’s critics never acknowledge that Nicaragua is already suffering chronic environmental degradation. The government and many environmentalists argue that the Canal will provide Nicaragua with the resources it needs to reforest deforested areas, better manage its water resources and reverse the current deterioration in Lake Nicaragua, while at the same time helping to reduce poverty.

Foreign and national environmentalists offer no viable proposals to enable Nicaragua to reverse the socio-economic and climate processes already driving accelerating environmental degradation in the country.

Protestors against the Canal exaggerate the number of people likely to be displaced by its construction and often dishonestly claim people affected by displacement will not be compensated. Meanwhile, they themselves are among those responsible for the environmental degradation that will definitely get progressively worse without the resources the Canal is projected to provide.

Corporate funders and the elite NGO revolving door

Few plausible explanations except intellectual dishonesty offer themselves for the desperate failure of Global Witness, firstly to adequately research the issues involved or, secondly, supposing they in fact did so, to acknowledge the complexity of the issues they examine. Global Witness frankly explain in their financial statement for 2016, they had income of over US$13 million. So they do not lack resources. Similarly, their Board, their Advisory Board and their CEO are all very experienced, smart, talented people. So even if they depend on younger inexperienced staff to do the research, their senior staff presumably review the product before publication. Lack of experience is not a reasonable explanation for the report’s glib dishonesty and inaccuracy.

A review of Global Witness funders reveals that for 2016 the two biggest funders were the Open Society Foundation of George Soros associated with the numerous so-called color revolutions in support of NATO country government foreign policy objectives and the Omidyar Network of Pierre Omidyar whose links with US intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton are well known. Less well known is Omidyar’s support for NGOs that fomented the successful right wing coup in Ukraine. The complete list of Global Witness funders is available in the financial statement for 2016 on their web site. That document reports that in 2016 Global Witness received US$3.4 million from the George Soros Open Society Foundation, US$1.5 million from Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, US$840,000 from the Ford Foundation and over US$3 million from various European NATO governments plus Sweden.

All of these funding sources are unrelenting ideological opponents of Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. A broad pro-NATO bias is very clear in the composition of the Global Witness Board and Advisory Board and CEO. Their profiles make clear they are almost all luminaries from the Western elite neocolonial non governmental sector, while many have a strong corporate business background as well. Just as there is a revolving door between government and corporate business and finance in North America and Europe, so too there is also a revolving door within that region’s elite NGO sector, a sector very clearly serving NATO country foreign policy goals.

Cory Morningstar has exposed the pro-NATO global political agenda of organizations like US based organizations like Avaaz and Purpose. In the case of Global Witness, their Board member Jessie Tolka is also a board member of Purpose and too of 350.org: Current Global Witness CEO Gillian Caldwell was also a very successful Campaigns Director of Sky1, now merged into 350.0rg. Cory Morningstar argues, “the most vital purpose of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) has not been to destroy the ecocidal economic system that enslaves us while perpetuating and ensuring infinite wars. Rather, the key purpose of the NPIC is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose from being dismantled. Hence the trillions of dollars pumped into the NPIC by the establishment.”

Confirmation of Cory Morningstar’s argument can be found in the history of Global Witness itself. For example on Libya, despite their superficial anti-corporate gloss, Global Witness relentlessly apply NATO country government criteria here and here. Also on Ukraine, Global Witness project the same anti-corporate message while simultaneously reinforcing NATO country government propaganda. Global Witness has also received US National Endowment for Democracy grants in Cambodia and in Liberia.

Also, a decade ago, writers Keith Harmon Snow and Rick Hines questioned Global Witness’ corporate links in relation to the “Blood Diamonds” controversy and the organization’s role in relation to De Beers and also Maurice Templesman’s diamond companies. No doubt more thorough research would reveal information casting similar doubt on Global Witness’s integrity and independence.

Conclusion

This latest Global Witness report in relation to Nicaragua is important because it is so readily falsifiable. It thus presents a clear litmus test: no news and information media can use the Global Witness report’s material in relation to Nicaragua without compromising their credibility.

The bias and inaccuracies in the section on Nicaragua in the Global Witness 2017 report call into doubt the integrity of the whole report. No news or information media interested in accuracy or honest reporting can conscientiously rely on Global Witness as a source without thorough cross checking and systematically comparing, contrasting and evaluating information from sources giving a different account of the events and issues in question.

Global Witness is neither independent nor trustworthy. It clearly has a strong but unacknowledged neocolonial political agenda promoting the regional policy goals of NATO country governments, while, conversely, attacking governments and other regional actors opposed to those goals.

NGOs like Global Witness, International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch, Transparency International and so many others, self-evidently fabricate psychological warfare inputs serving NATO country government policy, itself shaped by the same corporate elites that fund the class of NGOS of which Global Witness is a part.

They operate as the soft, extramural arm of NATO country governments’ foreign policy psychological warfare offensives, targeting liberal and progressive audiences to ensure their acquiescence in overseas aggression and intimidation against governments and movements targeted by NATO. To that end, they deceitfully exploit liberal and progressive susceptibilities in relation to environmental, humanitarian and human rights issues.

Their psychological warfare role supporting the NATO government’s aggressive destabilization of Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria in 2011, of Ukraine in 2014,  and the NATO country government’s low intensity war against Venezuela ever since 2013, as well as the campaign against Cuba over five decades, has been unmistakable.

More broadly their systemic ideological role is very obviously to protect and defend global corporate capitalism while superficially and selectively questioning and criticizing some of its worst abuses. Cory Morningstar’s insight bears repeating “the key purpose of the non-profit industrial complex is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose”.

The coverage of Nicaragua in the latest 2017 Global Witness report is a text book example of that sinister fact.

August 5, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Environmentalism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Air Force won’t reimburse Colorado county for water pollution

RT | July 31, 2017

Colorado communities whose drinking water supply was contaminated by chemicals used at the Peterson Air Force Base are frustrated as the military is refusing to reimburse their cleanup costs and promising aid only after years of environmental studies.

Firefighting foam containing perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) has seeped into the Widefield Aquifer over the decades, making well water in southern El Paso County unsafe to drink, according to a recent US Air Force study.

The chemicals were detected at 88,000 parts per trillion near the fire training area at Peterson AFB, which is 1,257 times higher than the advisory level set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

So far, the water districts of Security, Widefield and the city of Fountain have spent $6 million dealing with the contamination, and the costs are expected to rise to $12.7 million by the end of 2018, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

“We really need financial help,” said Roy Heald, manager of the Security Water and Sanitation Districts. “We need to get going on those things before the 2020s.”

However, the USAF said it does not have the authority to reimburse communities for costs of dealing with environmental contamination.

“We don’t back pay – we cannot reimburse,” said Cornell Long, a chemist with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, according to AP.

The inspection report released last week cost $400,000 and local officials said it was limited in scope. The Air Force is funding another study this fall to better understand how the groundwater moves under the base, and plans another study in the spring of 2019 to explore options for fixing the contamination. Funding for those studies is yet to be approved by Congress.

While “interim measures” might come sooner, the Air Force does not expect to implement remediation plans until the 2020s, the Civil Engineer Center leaders said last week.

Most of the $4.3 million the Air Force has pledged in aid has not been delivered, according to the Gazette. Of that amount, only $1.7 million will go to pay the utility costs, while much of the rest will be spent on bottled water and filters.

Meanwhile, local residents are facing higher prices for drinking water. Fountain is planning to raise water rates by 5.3 percent. Widefield is planning to build a water treatment plant for the affected wells, at a cost of up to $12 million. Security is currently paying $1 million a year to Colorado Springs Utilities for clean water, and is considering a rate increase and a treatment plan.

By the time the Air Force finishes its studies, the local districts will have borne most of the costs, said El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller, a former Air Force officer.

“That’s not an excuse, I think, that should be used in order to end up not paying for these things,” he told the Gazette.

State Senator Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs) says El Paso County has a “large reservoir of patience,” and is very supportive of the military, but that the Air Force risks that well running dry if the bills keep stacking up.

“That needs to be compensated,” he said. “And the military needs to go ahead and step up and not study and study and study.”

Communities around the Pease AFB in New Hampshire and Wurtsmith AFB in Michigan – both closed years ago – are also dealing with PFC pollution. Residents of Oscoda, Michigan who rely on private water wells were told to seek an alternative water supply, while a “do not eat” advisory is in effect for fish caught near the base.

Earlier this year, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) acknowledged “a national-scale problem” related to PFCs, but “we don’t have the authority and we don’t have the resources” to do much about it, director Pat Breysse said.

Read more:

Air Force says it can’t fund health study after poisoning water around its base

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Militarism | | 1 Comment

US Air Force Admits to Poisoning Colorado Groundwater

Sputnik – July 26, 2017

On Tuesday, the US Air Force finally acknowledged responsibility for contaminating the water at a east Colorado Springs air base and its surrounding areas.

In a report released Tuesday, service investigators confirmed that groundwater surrounding Peterson Air Force Base had been tainted by perfluorinated firefighting foam chemicals, based on dozens of water and soil tests taken at the base last year.

Several sites where the chemicals had been sprayed directly on the ground by firefighters since the 1970s were highlighted in the report. Despite decades of research noting the danger of using the chemicals, they remained in wide use, and military officials are dealing with similar contamination issues all across the country.

Research has found that laboratory animals exposed to the chemicals suffered low birth weights and cellular and liver damage, according to KKTV.

The levels of perfluorinated chemicals found during testing at the Colorado Springs site were more than 1,000 times higher than the limit put forth by a national health advisory.

Greg Lauer, a council member from nearby Fountain City told the Denver Post, “It makes me really angry that it has taken them this long to get some numbers — and more than a little concerned.”

“We and our ratepayers are going to be dealing for a very long time with this problem we did not create.”

Roy Heald, who manages the Security Water and Sanitation District near Colorado Springs, said that after municipal wells were contaminated the agency spent $3.6 million on alternative water sources and pipelines. But the US Air Force has not yet furnished the $800,000 in reimbursements they promised.

Notably, Tuesday’s report said contamination at the base was most acute at Peterson’s fire training pit, despite there being a plastic liner in place to prevent the chemicals from leeching into the groundwater. Investigators blamed this on “overspray” from firefighters.

Though Air Force investigators admitted that Colorado Springs sewers had been used to dispose of contaminated waste, they glossed over any possible pollution of drinking water.

“The holding tank is occasionally drained into the sanitary sewer system, but such events are rare,” they wrote, adding that 10,000 to 20,000 gallons of chemical-laden wastewater was drained with each release.

Peterson officials last year admitted to storing chemical-tainted water from the fire pit in a tank nearby, pumping it into Colorado Springs’ sewers three times a year, likely tainting the Widefield Aquifer nearby, where high quantities of the chemicals were found last year. The aquifer serves about 65,000 residents, among them the 20,000 of Fountain City, according to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.

When the water passes through the Colorado Springs Utilities’ treatment plant the chemicals are not removed, and once it leaves the plant that water heads for the aquifer’s primary water source, Fountain Creek.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) called for funds to be allocated for testing people for health issues related to toxic water and contamination clean up. “The people of the surrounding communities are patriotic Americans who will do whatever they can to help our national defense,” he said in a statement. “But they should not be called upon to suffer needless environmental burdens.”

READ ALSO:

Radioactive Contamination from Nuclear Waste Site Spreads in Washington

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Okinawa files new lawsuit to block relocation of US Marines base – local media

RT | July 24, 2017

The Japanese prefecture of Okinawa filed a new lawsuit against the government demanding a halt to construction work for the relocation of the US Futenma base, local media report. The relocation has been the target of protests among locals.

The prefectural authorities say that Tokyo is acting illegally without permission from the Okinawa governor, as seen in a copy of the lawsuit sent on Monday and obtained by the Okinawa Times.

The relocation of the base involves damaging seabed rock, which would harm the fishing grounds, the lawsuit states.
Earlier in July, an Okinawa Prefectural Assembly committee asked for legal action against damage to the fishing grounds caused by the relocation.

“The granting of fishing rights is considered a local government matter and it’s the prefecture that determines how to interpret those local government matters,” Kiichiro Jahana, the head of the executive office of the governor, told the assembly.

The US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station is going to be moved from the densely populated city of Ginowan to the less populated city of Nago in the Henoko coastal area. The city is already home to Camp Schwab, another US Marines camp which has caused numerous protests among the local population.

The base relocation has been repeatedly halted due to resistance from the Okinawa authorities and local residents.

Japanese authorities began the relocation of the base back in February this year, despite stiff opposition from the population. Local residents regularly stage protests with thousands of people, often resulting in confrontation with police.

According to the relocation plan, the flight functions of the Futenma airfield will be transferred to Camp Schwab. Tokyo also plans to reclaim around 157 hectares of land in Henoko waters and build a V-shaped runway.

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga is among those who stand firmly opposed to the US military presence on the archipelago, calling for the removal of the Futenma base.

Onaga says that the relocation would destroy the environment of the bay surrounding the new base site.

Around 100,000 US military personnel are currently stationed in Japan, according to the official website of US Forces, Japan. Home to about one percent of Japan’s population, Okinawa hosts almost half of the troops (47,000), according to media reports.

Read more:

Japan ignores protests, begins offshore construction work on moving US base in Okinawa

July 24, 2017 Posted by | Environmentalism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment