Saturday, November 24, 2012

How Safe Are America's 2.5 Million Miles of Pipelines?

The nation's aging oil pipelines are roughly 70 times safer than trucks when it comes to transporting fuel. But when a pipeline does fail, the consequences can be catastrophic
Hazardous liquid lines in red, gas transmission lines in blue. Image: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

At 6:11 p.m. on September 6, 2010, San Bruno, Calif. 911 received an urgent call. A gas station had just exploded and a fire with flames reaching 300 feet was raging through the neighborhood. The explosion was so large that residents suspected an airplane crash. But the real culprit was found underground: a ruptured pipeline spewing natural gas caused a blast that left behind a 72 foot long crater, killed eight people, and injured more than fifty.
Over 2,000 miles away in Michigan, workers were still cleaning up another pipeline accident, which spilled 840,000 gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. Estimated to cost $800 million, the accident is the most expensive pipeline spill in U.S. history.
Over the last few years a series of incidents have brought pipeline safety to national – and presidential – attention. As Obama begins his second term he will likely make a key decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, a proposed pipeline extension to transport crude from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
The administration first delayed the permit for the pipeline on environmental grounds, but has left the door open to future proposals for Keystone's northern route. Construction on the southern route is already underway, sparking fierce opposition from some landowners and environmentalists.
The problem, protesters say, is that any route will pose hazards to the public. While pipeline operator TransCanada has declared that Keystone will be the safest pipeline ever built in North America, critics are skeptical.
"It's inevitable that as pipelines age, as they are exposed to the elements, eventually they are going to spill," said Tony Iallonardo of the National Wildlife Federation. "They're ticking time bombs."
Critics of the Keystone proposal point to the hundreds of pipeline accidents that occur every year. They charge that system wide, antiquated pipes, minimal oversight and inadequate precautions put the public and the environment at increasing risk. Pipeline operators point to billions of dollars spent on new technologies and a gradual improvement over the last two decades as proof of their commitment to safety.

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Recycling vs. Convenience: What Are You Doing With Your E-Waste?

We all have managed to stockpile an old computer or two, maybe a couple of corded phones or even a two hundred pound TV set from 1985 that you simply don’t know what to do with. As your electronic waste, or e-waste accumulates in your garage collecting dust you decide it’s finally time to take action. You can either take everything to your local recycling facility, which is half an hour away and only open for two hours on the first Saturday of the month or you can throw the pieces out with your trash.

You know throwing the e-waste away is not the proper way to dispose of your outdated technology, but the convenient solution would be to cross your fingers and hope the garbage truck takes the pieces one by one.
Even though awareness about electronics recycling and available recycling locations is increasing, according to a study released from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), consumers still say convenience is a determining factor as to whether or not they recycle their electronic waste.

According to the CE Recycling and Reuse 2012 Edition study, six in ten consumer electronic owners removed at least one device from their homes in the last year, with 48% donating the device for reuse and 26% choosing to recycle. The other twelve percent put their electronic devices in the trash citing that it was the most convenient option. Convenience can take into account time, resources, and cost, which plays heavily on how consumers decide to get rid of waste.

While programs at individual companies and retailers are trying to make it easier for consumers to recycle their products, it is still left up to the consumer to make the final decision of how to dispose of their unwanted materials.

The study also revealed that nine in ten consumers believe it's important to recycle their electronic devices and 63% of consumers know where to recycle them. This is very promising as to the future of how we handle our e-waste.

Walter Alcorn, vice president of CEA's environmental affairs and industry sustainability department stated: "The marked increase in consumer awareness of how and where to recycle their electronics illustrates the progress our industry has made on this issue."

While there have been some concerns as to what really happens to e-waste once it is taken to a facility, most of the products can be resold or dismantled for parts. Regardless of what happens next, this option is better than throwing e-waste away with your regular trash where the products have the potential to leach heavy metals into landfills and incinerator ash.

As technology continues to change and we become increasing dependent on our electronic devices, e-waste will only continue to grow. That's why it is important to start making a better effort to get your e-waste to an accredited recycling facility and start recycling now!

Read more at The Green Economy.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Love captures wandering hippo, Laguna Beach 1967

Love captures wandering hippo

Love captures wandering hippo

March 27, 1967: Herman, a wandering hippopotamus, obediently leaves a Laguna Beach rancher’s pond under encouragement of his elephant friend Lisa, and the rancher’s dog, Challenger.

The next morning,

His lost weekend over, Herman came staggering back to the little woman Monday. He was none the worse for his binge, except for a big head.
But then, being a hippopotamus, Herman always has had a big head.

The 1,600-pound hippo had been missing since Friday night, when he wandered away from a beachfront cage in Huntington Beach, where he was participating in a benefit carnival.

Fifteen miles to the south is the Thoroughbred Sea Spa, a health resort for race horses.
At about 5:30 a.m. Monday, the owner of the Laguna Beach ranch, Bryon Hendricks, let his dog out for some morning exercise. Minutes later the animal, whose name is Challenger, came charging back in, barking as if he had seen a burglar.

In a way he had. Outside Hendricks’ trailer, munching on a bale of hay, stood Herman.
The 4-year-old hippo took one look at Hendricks and made a beeline, or whatever, for a circular shaped saltwater pool which the horses generally use.

His owner, Gene Holter, was summoned from Huntington Beach.

While waiting for Herman to surface, Holter speculated that his animal had probably used the Pacific Ocean to make most of the trip.

“He can swim like a fish,” Holter said. “But I was worried that a shark might attack him.”
Holter’s plan was to rope the beast. Herman, however, remained submerged most of the time in the 9 feet of water.

At about 9 a.m., on the hippothesis that love conquers all, Lisa was led into action. Lisa happens to be a four-year-old elephant. She also happens to be Herman’s best friend.

Holter acquired them both as babies, Herman from Africa, Lisa from India. “I had only one heated stall, so I put them in together,” he said. “They have been inseparable ever since.”
The owner felt the hippo would come out of the pool voluntarily once he saw or heard his one and only. Lisa walked to the edge of the water.

“Speak, Lisa!” she was implored. “Come on, Lisa, speak!”
The elephant gave Holter a jaundiced glare and managed a trumpet.

Herman remained submerged.

Three times Lisa was goaded into the chilly water. Three times she set speed records in getting out.
But just when everyone was despairing, up popped Herman’s head. Upon sighting it, Lisa needed no encouragement to plunge into the pool.
As the crowd of onlookers cheered, the two animals frolicked in the water–a gargantuan love-in.
Without any urging from Holter, the elephant came plodding out of the pool. The hippo obediently followed.

In tandem they marched toward Holter’s van, mounted a ramp and disappeared inside. Herman had a little explaining to do.

The two photo combo above, by staff photographer Frank Q. Brown, accompanied Larsen’s story in the March 28, 1967 Los Angeles Times.

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles