ENENews: Scientists: West Coast bird die-off “is biggest ever recorded” — Stomachs completely empty — “Staggering… Alarming… Unheard of… Never seen anything like it” — “Unprecedented in size, scope, duration” — “Deaths could reach many hundreds of thousands” — “A host of other freakish phenomena”


Scientists: West Coast bird die-off “is biggest ever recorded” — Stomachs completely empty — “Staggering… Alarming… Unheard of… Never seen anything like it” — “Unprecedented in size, scope, duration” — “Deaths could reach many hundreds of thousands” — “A host of other freakish phenomena” (VIDEO)

Published: February 4th, 2016 at 9:41 am ET
By ENENews
http://enenews.com/scientists-west-coast-bird-die-biggest-recorded-staggering-unheard-never-anything-like-unprecedented-size-scope-duration-worst-case-scenario-deaths-could-reach-many-hundreds-thousands-host?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29


http://www.adn.com/article/20160129/scientists-think-gulf-alaska-seabird-die-biggest-ever-recorded
Alaska Dispatch News, Jan 29, 2016 (emphasis added): Scientists think Gulf of Alaska seabird die-off is biggest ever recorded… The mass of dead seabirds that have washed up on Alaska beaches in past months is unprecedented in size, scope and duration, a federal biologist said… The staggering die-off… is a signal that something is awry in the Gulf of Alaska, said Heather Renner, supervisory wildlife biologist at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge… It coincides with widespread deaths of other marine animals, from whales in the Gulf of Alaska to sea lions in California… Common murres and whales… are not the only Gulf of Alaska marine animals to fall victim to ailments… Kachemak Bay saw an eight-fold increase in sea otter deaths… Sea stars in Kachemak Bay in 2015 were found stricken with a wasting disease similar.

http://www.adn.com/article/20160129/scientists-think-gulf-alaska-seabird-die-biggest-ever-recorded
Heather Renner, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge: “We are in the midst of perhaps the largest murre die-off ever recorded”… [In Homer] the beaches are “littered” with murre carcasses… A breeding colony in the Barren Islands that is usually teeming in late summer with adult murres tending their young was deserted this year… “nobody was home… In more than three decades of monitoring murres in the Barrens, we’ve never had complete reproduction failure before“… Similar failures occurred at some other nesting colonies.

http://www.nprb.org/assets/amss/images/uploads/files/2016_AMSS_Poster_Sessions.pdf
USGS (pdf), Jan 2016: During March through September 2015, at least 25 seabird mortality events were reported across Alaska… The primary avian species reported included common and thick-billed murres, black-legged kittiwakes, horned and tufted puffins, glaucous-winged gulls, and sooty and short-tailed shearwaters… Some of these avian mortalities were concurrent with whale, pinniped, sea otter, and fish mortalities…

Marine Science Symposium – LIVEBLOG – Thursday

Alaska Public Radio, Jan 28, 2016: [T]his event will likely be the largest and most widespread on record. And seeing the starving birds dying far inland apparently searching for food is “nearly unheard of,” said USFWS’s Heather Renner.

Dead murres wash up on Haines’ beach

KHNS, Jan 15, 2016: “We’re seeing the effects of this throughout the food web,” [Rob Kaler U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist] says… The murres’ stomachs are completely empty, Kaler says… Not only is the bird die-off unsettling, the implications are scary, [bird expert Pam Randles] says. “Our salmon eat that stuff and who knows what else is dying off, or starving, or having trouble?” Norm Hughes has been commercial salmon fishing in Alaska for more than 30 years. He says last season saw skinnier fish – up to 20 percent smaller… “there’s less fish”…

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/01/21/us/alaska-bird-die-off/
CNN, Jan 22, 2016: “We have never found close to 8,000 birds on a 1-mile long beach before,” [seabird biologist David Irons] said… “It is an order of magnitude larger than any records that I am aware of… Seabird biologists say seabirds are indicators of the health of the ecosystem. Now they’re dying and that is telling us something… this is bigger than I’ve ever seen.”

APRN, Jan 28, 2016: Scientists say murre die-off comparable to Exxon Valdez spill… Heather Renner with USFWS says it is already one of the largest die-offs in history and, unlike when the tanker went aground, not many people have gone out to remote beaches to survey for dead seabirds… “there’s dead murres on the ground everywhere, and it’s hard not to notice them.”

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21689605-thousands-seabirds-are-washing-up-dead-alaskas-shores-murre-mystery
The Economist, Jan 30, 2016: [Probably hundreds] of thousands of these birds have drifted in dead… last summer they failed to raise chicks. And they have been dying in large numbers along the Pacific coast, from California to Alaska… “Whole systems are out of whack,” says Heather Renner… Old-timers in Homer have never experienced anything like this. And they are perplexed by a host of other freakish phenomena…

KTOO, Jan 28, 2016: “[T]here’s dead murres on the ground everywhere, and it’s hard not to notice them.”… The reason for the dead birds is still a mystery… “I think it suggests something more related to the food web structure,” said Renner.

http://homertribune.com/2016/01/murre-deaths-lead-to-more-questions/
Homer Tribune, Jan 2016: Irons found an estimated 7,800 dead murres on a one-mile stretch of beach… he had never seen anything like that. Similar reports came in from other areas… “The really frustrating question of why they are starving to death”… said Heather Renner… [M]urres abandoned their breeding attempts mid-season at many colonies in the Gulf of Alaska, something very uncommon.

http://news.discovery.com/animals/massive-bird-die-off-puzzles-alaska-scientists-1602031.htm

LiveScience, Feb 3, 2016: Massive Bird Die-Off Puzzles Alaska Scientists — Dead common murres have washed ashore in Alaska in alarming numbers … leaving scientists concerned and confused… [The birds] have nothing in their stomachs… [S]imilar events affected seabird populations in Washington, Oregon and California.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/alaskan-scientist-thinks-murre-die-off-related-to-algal-blooms-1.3424246

CBC News, Jan 28, 2016: Bruce Wright, a senior scientist Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association… estimates up to 200,000 Alaskan murres could die. With a population he puts at more than two million, Wright said the species should recover, as long as the food base comes back.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/19/science/what-does-it-mean-when-animals-suffer-a-vast-die-off.html
New York Times, Jan 18, 2016: Animals Die in Large Numbers, and Researchers Scratch Their Heads… The latest victims are common murres… this die-off has surprised experts, because it has been going on for around a year and it covers such a vast area… “I still don’t think we’ve seen the worst,” said [John F. Piatt, USGS seabird expert], who… speculated that if the worst happened, the deaths could reach into the many hundreds of thousands.

Watch CNN’s broadcast here:
http://edition.cnn.com/2016/01/21/us/alaska-bird-die-off/

ENENews: “It’s on the brink of pandemonium”


State of Emergency now underway for L.A. gas blowout — Oil begins raining down on homes — Official: “It’s on the brink of pandemonium” — Many worry plume will ignite, cause explosion — Concern over geysers, sinkholes being created — Company: Experts have “never seen anything like this” (VIDEO)
http://enenews.com/state-emergency-issued-la-gas-blowout-oil-begins-raining-down-homes-concern-sinkholes-geysers-being-created-official-brink-pandemonium?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
Published: January 8th, 2016 at 11:40 am ET
By ENENews

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-porter-ranch-20160105-story.html
Los Angeles Times, Jan 5, 2016 (emphasis added): Utility is installing screens to contain oily mist at leaking well near Porter Ranch… The structures under construction on the west side of the well head are designed to capture airborne droplets of a brine solution that “may have contained trace amounts of oil naturally occurring within the leaking well’s reservoir,” said Trisha Muse, a spokeswoman for SoCal Gas… Now, a mixture of brine water and oil is rising up into the gas company’s natural gas storage zone, then traveling up the well and into the air. As a result, local residents are finding droplets of dark brown residue on their homes, vehicles, fish ponds and gardens… [The company] acknowledged that some residents had asked about “dark brown spots on their property.” “We sampled it and, according to our retained toxicologist and medical expert,” the company said, “the residue contained heavier hydrocarbons (similar to motor oil) but does not pose a health risk.”… On Monday, plaintiffs’ attorneys sent a letter to state regulatory officials [and] demanded that state regulators “explain what is happening with the petroleum now surfacing.”… “There is a complete lack of information in the well files,” their letter says, “to show where the gas and petroleum migrates underground and the risk for creating sink holes and geysers.”


Los Angeles Daily News, Jan 5, 2015: [A]n oily mist… has been surfacing… The seepage is the result of changing dynamics deep underground… “They (the demister pads) are necessary because as the reservoir pressure declines, fluids (oil and water) encroach into the reservoir and are then carried to surface with the gas.
http://www.dailynews.com/environment-and-nature/20160105/oily-mist-surfaces-at-porter-ranch-gas-leak-as-well-pressure-drops

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-35257861
BBC, Jan 8, 2016: Residents… point out cars, outdoor furniture and houses which have been marked with brown, oily spots… Tim O’Connor, a lawyer with the Environmental Defense Fund, has called it “an environmental and public health catastrophe,” said . “In terms of timelines this is going to surpass the gulf oil problem by a mile.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/07/us/california-governor-declares-emergency-over-los-angeles-gas-leak.html?_r=0
New York Times, Jan 6, 2016: Gov. Jerry Brown, faced with mounting public anger and no end in sight to the leak, declared a state of emergency… Mitchell Englander, the Los Angeles city councilman who represents Porter Ranch [said] “This is one of the most disruptive, catastrophic environmental events that I’ve seen. It’s a truly chaotic crisis.”… Many who have stayed have taken to wearing surgical masks when they garden to keep out the rotten-egg smell and the oily mist that sometimes leaves brown residue on their cars… Dennis Arriola, the president of Southern California Gas Company [said] that experts had “never seen anything like this.”

Newsweek, Jan 7, 2016: SoCalGas and public officials have turned [Porter Ranch’s Matt Pakucko] and his fellow residents into “guinea pigs.”… [Sally Benson, who runs an energy storage lab at Stanford University] shares a worry of many in Porter Ranch as they deal with the mundanities of the leak: that the gas plume will somehow become ignited, leading to [an] explosion… “They’re really fortunate that this one hasn’t caught fire,” Benson says… [The FAA] has imposed a no-fly zone above Porter Ranch “out of concerns that fumes from the gas leak could be ignited from the air.” Schwecke, the SoCalGas vice president, says workers near the relief well are taking every precaution, not using their cellphones and working with brass hammers, which don’t spark… [David Balen, a local businessman on the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council] showed me photographs of a white dust that had collected on concrete surfaces around his property; an expert was coming to test the substance, which Balen thought was something toxic.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-35244634
BBC, Jan 7, 2016: The governor of California has declared a state of emergency in a suburb of Los Angeles over the leaking of methane gas… the company is installing large mesh screens around the leak site to try and hinder the oily mist from spraying down on the community.

http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-01-05/l-a-residents-flee-as-sempra-s-gas-leak-menaces-neighborhood
Bloomberg, Jan 5, 2016: The sulfurous scent of a natural-gas leak hangs in the air as mail carriers wearing gas masks make rounds… “This is the biggest community and environmental disaster I’ve ever seen, bar none,” said Mitchell Englander, who has represented Porter Ranch on the Los Angeles City Council since 2011. “Life there is not on hold — it’s on the edge and it’s on the brink of pandemonium.”

See also: Doctors: “Very unusual” infections being reported around massive gas blowout in LA… “If you’re able to leave do it now, I’m telling you it’s really critical” — Official: Plume is spreading far away, it’s a national disaster — TV: “We’re a living science experiment”
http://enenews.com/doctors-very-unusual-infections-being-reported-around-massive-gas-blowout-los-angeles-youre-able-leave-im-telling-really-critical-official-plume-spreading-away-national-disaster-tv-living-scienc
(VIDEO)

ENENews: Doctors: “Very unusual” infections being reported around massive gas blowout in LA… “If you’re able to leave do it now, I’m telling you it’s really critical”


Doctors: “Very unusual” infections being reported around massive gas blowout in LA… “If you’re able to leave do it now, I’m telling you it’s really critical” — Official: Toxic plume is spreading far away, it’s a national disaster — TV: “We’re a living science experiment” (VIDEO)
http://enenews.com/doctors-very-unusual-infections-being-reported-around-massive-gas-blowout-los-angeles-youre-able-leave-im-telling-really-critical-official-plume-spreading-away-national-disaster-tv-living-scienc?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
Published: January 5th, 2016 at 2:48 pm ET
By ENENews

Porter Ranch Town Hall Meeting, Dec 28, 2015 (emphasis added):


Rex Paris, attorney (16:30) — “It’s the most massive gas blowout, gas well blowout, in a populated area in history. This has never happened before in a populated area. And so when they tell you that “It’s not damaging”, “It’s just temporary” — whatever nonsense they’re feeding you — understand, nobody knows. It’s never happened before… This can be deadly. Make sure you’re getting treated… Nobody knows what breathing this stuff constantly is doing to [the children]… The gas company says, “This is just the smell you’re reacting to, it’s just temporary, it’s not a problem, it’s not serious” — these people aren’t stupid. How could somebody possibly say that? We have children whose noses are bleeding every day, we have people who suffer from chronic headaches [and] are nauseous every single day. How does that not become a serious issue? Why are they saying something nobody here believes?… They’re trying to convince everybody that it’s all in our heads. It’s a trick.”


Mitchell Englander, Los Angeles City Councilman (45:30) — “I will tell you this goes well beyond Porter Ranch. We’ve had complaints from as far as Chatsworth, Northridge, and Granada Hills. Apparently this plume of toxic chemicals and whatever it might be doesn’t know zip codes. So it does keep moving into different locations and different places… This is the equivalent of the BP oil spill on land, in a populated community… We’ve declared a national disaster here.”


Dr. Richard Kang, pediatrician (52:45) — “Unfortunately the only real way to get away from the symptoms is, unfortunately, you have to relocate – you have to get away from the environment.”


Dr. Brooks Michaels, physician (54:00) — “The defense is capitalizing on the comment that it’s all in your head. Let me clarify a little bit – it’s in your head, it’s in your ears, it’s in your nose, it’s in your throat, and it’s in your chest… We’re seeing asthma increases, we’re seeing people who are using inhalers more often, primarily a lot of respiratory problems… If you have a chance to leave, if you’re able to leave… if you have a chance to relocate, do it now. I’m telling you, it’s really critical. It’s what we don’t know, more than what we do know… A lot of information will be coming out soon about what the chemical carbons are that are so volatile… It’s unbelievable when you see the quantity that’s there that is coming out… What I see in the field is the effect of that. Primarily pulmonary, people will bleed from their nose. It’s not of course just a pediatric problem, it affects all of us.”


Dr. David Smith, veterinarian (57:00) — “I have seen dozens of cases of pets being ill or becoming ill and I do believe it’s related to the exposure to the gas… I’ve seen dogs, cats, birds, pocket pets… The primary symptoms I’ve seen are gastrointestinal vomiting primarily. One dog actually had a torsion — I think is related to it — where the stomach flips on itself, not a good thing. We’ve seen quite a few respiratory problems… the only good solution is treat symptoms and remove pets form the exposure as much as possible, especially the chronic exposure… There are not things you should be inhaling… We have seen dermatologic issues as well, some very unusual bacterial infections in dogs. Interestingly enough, one client had a dog with a very unusual bacterial infection on its face. And the client developed almost the exact same kind of symptoms very soon after that, actually 2 people in the house did… Their physician, thinks it’s related, and so I tend to think these correlations are real.”

CBS News, Jan 3, 2016: “I’ve been nauseous. I’ve felt lethargic,” said his mother Christine Soderlund. “My kids have had nosebleeds, they’ve had headaches… It’s surreal… We are a living science experiment I believe.”

See also: Unprecendented catastrophe underway near L.A.; Largest gas leak ever recorded – “Thousands suffer nose bleeds, vomiting” – Expert: “It’s so far beyond what I’ve ever seen”

ENENews: “Red Alert!” “Levels spike 400,000% under plant — Almost 1,000,000,000 becquerels per cubic meter”


Report: “Red Alert! Sharp increase in radiation… at Fukushima” — Levels spike 400,000% under plant — Almost 1,000,000,000 becquerels per cubic meter — TV: Officials investigating cause
Published: December 10th, 2015 at 4:15 pm ET
By ENENews
http://enenews.com/report-red-alert-sharp-increase-radiation-fukushima-levels-spike-400000-plant-tv-officials-investigating?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29

NHK World, Dec 9, 2015: Radiation spikes in Fukushima underground ducts — The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says levels of radioactivity in underground tunnels have sharply risen. Tokyo Electric Power Company has detected 482,000 becquerels per liter of radioactive cesium in water samples taken from the tunnels on December 3rd. That’s 4000 times higher than data taken in December last year. The samples also contained 500,000 becquerels of a beta-ray-emitting substance, up 4,100 times from the same period… They plan to investigate what caused the spike in radiation.

Rossiya Segodnya (Russian gov’t news agency) – Sputnik: Red Alert! Radiation Spike Registered Under Fukushima Nuclear Plant — A sharp increase in radiation levels was detected in one of the underground tunnels at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, according to media reports. According to a press release issued by TEPCO, Fukushima plant’s operator, the water samples retrieved from the tunnels on December 3rd contained 482,000 becquerels per liter of radioactive cesium and about 500,000 of beta-ray-emitting substance becquerels per liter of a beta-ray-emitting substance, which is about 4,000-4,100 times higher compared to the samples taken a year ago, Japanese NHK TV channel reports.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (translated by Google), Dec 9, 2015: About the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, we will inform you as follows… As part of the accumulated water survey in the trench duct that is connected to each building, it is a confirmation of the radioactivity concentration of appropriate standing water, but the waste treatment building between the contact duct taken on December 3 analytical results of stagnant water is, ensure that it is following values.

Cesium-134: 9.2 × 10^4 Bq/L [92,000 Bq/L]
Cesium-137: 3.9 × 10^5 Bq/L [390,000 Bq/L]
All beta: 5.0 × 10^5 Bq/L [500,000 Bq/L]
Tritium: 6.7 × 10^3 Bq/L [6,700 Bq/L]
Reference (December 11… 2014):

Cesium-134: 2.7 × 10^1 Bq/L [27 Bq/L]
Cesium-137: 9.4 × 10^1 Bq/L [94 Bq/L]
All beta: 1.2 × 10^2 Bq/L [120 Bq/L]
Tritium: 3.1 × 10^2 Bq/L [310 Bq/L]
According to TEPCO’s data, total cesium increased 3,984 times (~400,000%) and all beta-emitting radionuclides including strontium-90 increased 4,167 times (~420,000%).

The total concentration of radionuclides in the Dec. 3, 2015 sample is 988,700 Bq/L or 988,700,000 Bq/m^3.

From ENENews: Former Japan Official: “Unstoppable contamination of Pacific Ocean… is seriously menacing US West Coast” — “Fukushima now undeniably a global security issue… can’t be brought under control by single state” —


Reuters: Contamination is spreading off U.S. shores — Radioactive cesium reaches 11 Bq/m3 at multiple locations (MAP) “Very significant” explosion at dam next to U.S. nuclear site — ‘Plasma’ created due to tremendous amount of heat — Same type of phenomenon as lightning — Nuclear site’s fire department responds to blast (VIDEO) http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/explosion-washington-state-dam-injures-multiple-employees-n441456 »

Former Japan Official: “Unstoppable contamination of Pacific Ocean… is seriously menacing US West Coast” — “Fukushima now undeniably a global security issue… can’t be brought under control by single state” — Experts: Wave of radiation will be 10 times more than entire world’s nuclear tests combined
http://enenews.com/former-japan-official-fukushimas-unstoppable-contamination-pacific-ocean-seriously-menacing-west-coast-disaster-be-brought-control-single-state-limitless-steam-coming-reactors-evokes-possibility
Published: December 2nd, 2015 at 7:05 am ET
By ENENews

Mitsuhei Murata, former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland, Nov 1, 2015 (emphasis added):

The lack of the sense of crisis over Fukushima is in stark contrast to the gravity of the crisis. Fukushima is now undeniably a global security issue. The unstoppable contamination of the Pacific Ocean and the atmosphere with ionizing radiation from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear reactors is seriously menacing the West Coast of the United States. Japan should make utmost efforts to cope with the Fukushima crisis by retreating from the Tokyo Olympic Games that disseminate the false impression that Fukushima is under control.

Deteriorating situation in Fukushima — Japan is laboring under the consequences of the Accident never before experienced by humanity, including the simultaneous destruction and meltdown of three commercial nuclear reactors. Four and half years after the 3.11 disaster, it has been shown that a severe nuclear accident cannot be brought under control by a single state… It is questioned if Japan is in possession of the governability and the capacity needed to cope with the impending crisis. The melted cores of the reactors from Units 1, 2 and 3 remain inaccessible… If the molten nuclear fuel rods are exposed through cracks to the atmosphere due to a mega earthquake or the liquidization of soils on the site that could cause the collapse and breach of Fukushima’s spent fuel pools, Japan’s landmass would become uninhabitable to a large extent… The whole of Japan is threatened by the worsening situation emanating from the molten fuel rods, which continue to widely disseminate large amounts of dangerous radionuclides into the sea and atmosphere. Limitless steam observed evokes the possibility of re-criticality at the site. The undeniable necessity for international verification of the suspected re-criticality at the site should bring about the indispensable international cooperation to cope effectively with the Accident. The ongoing radioactive contamination of the sea with no prospect for a solution is dishonoring Japan, causing it to be criticized for harming the global environment. In spite of all this, attempts are shamefully being made to hide Fukushima…

World is menaced by the spreading contamination… The consequences of the radioactive contamination of the Pacific Ocean from Japan to the West Coast of the United States are drawing increased attention. Some experts now estimate that the wave of radiation from Fukushima will be 10-times bigger than all of the radiation from the entire world’s nuclear tests throughout history combined…

The Tokyo Olympic Games belittle the Fukushima crisis — It is undeniable that the Tokyo Olympic Games constitute serious impediments for coping with the consequences of the March 11 Disaster… My interview article was published in the magazine “Monthly Japan” (September 2015). It is entitled “An honorable retreat from the Tokyo Olympic Games” and is given a central place. Reactions are noteworthy and expanding… The Tokyo Olympic Games diverts attention from Fukushima and gives the false impression to the world that Fukushima no longer poses a threat. The advancement of the Tokyo Olympic Games comes at the expense of the funds needed to address the host of environmental disasters created by the destroyed Fukushima nuclear reactors… The future of the Olympic Games is at stake. It is as a believer in the spirit of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement that I am pleading for an honorable retreat, and this, in order for Japan to devote maximum efforts to controlling the Fukushima crisis.

From last month: Former Japan Ambassador: Uncontrolled nuclear chain reactions could be underway at Fukushima — “Troubling indications of recurring criticality” as Tellurium-132 detected over 100 miles from plant — ‘Recriticality’ discussed by Japan’s top nuclear official

Published: December 2nd, 2015 at 7:05 am ET
By ENENews

ENENews: TV: ‘Scary’ mystery illness killing off animals “at such a rapid rate”


TV: ‘Scary’ mystery illness killing off animals “at such a rapid rate” on West Coast — Hundreds of marine mammals found dead in small area — Gov’t Expert: “Something is likely affecting the entire ecosystem… Something is hitting them harder and faster… Something else seems to be involved” (VIDEO)
Published: October 19th, 2015 at 7:11 am ET
By ENENews

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Oct 8, 2015 (emphasis added): More than 200 dead or sick sea otters have been reported on beaches in [Alaska’s] Kachemak Bay region in 2015… A team of experts… are working to understand what has caused the spike in sea otter deaths and potential significance to the population… [T]he cause of death for many of the sea otters remains unknown.

Anchorage Daily News, Oct 10, 2015: Researchers see spike in Kachemak Bay sea otter deaths… [A news release from gov’t agencies] said the recent deaths and sickness could significantly affect the population.

KTVA transcript, Oct. 8, 2015: Hundreds of sea otters have been found dead in the Katchemak Bay area near Homer this year. Veterinarians at the Alaska Sea Life Center are working with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to figure out what’s making the otters so sick… It’s an unsettling mystery, killing off some of Alaska’s favorite furry animals.

KTVA, Oct 8, 2015: Unusually high number of sea otter deaths reported in Kachemak Bay… experts from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working to figure out what’s killing off the otters at such a rapid rate. “More recently, animals have appeared otherwise healthy and seemed to have died very quickly,” said Dr. Carrie Goertz… “it’s scary to know there’s something out there in the wild that we may or may not be able to do anything about.”

Peninsula Clarion, Oct 10, 2015: Spike in otter deaths in Kachemak Bay… “They were pretty healthy-looking, other than they were dead” [said Marc Webber, U.S. Fish & Wildlife]… The otters are clearly unwell… nonresponsive and unable to move, [Dr. Carrie Goetz, SeaLife Center veterinarian] said. “There haven’t been any obvious causes of death,” Goetz said. “That’s been limiting our understanding of what’s going on.”… Reports of dead animals of multiple species have risen in the Kachemak Bay area in the last few months, including birds and barnacles… Increased numbers of dead whales had been spotted as well…

KBBI, Oct 13, 2015: [Webber said] when something is going wrong with them, something is likely affecting the entire ecosystem… [Dr. Goetz] says they’ve been tracking a streptococcus illness… But the otters that have died since August seem different. “[They] have died acutely… in the last couple of months,” Goertz said… [What Webber is] seeing seems different than what he’s seen in the past. “Something is hitting them harder and faster… something else seems to be involved,” Webber said.

AP, Oct 14, 2015: “We’re finding otters all over the Homer area”… [the] otters are turning with neurological conditions that cause them to twitch, said Webber… dying otters could be an indicator that something is wrong with the entire ecosystem, according to Webber. The Alaska Sea Life Center has been tracking a streptococcus illness… but what’s happened since August is something new, said veterinarian Cari Goertz…

USGS California Sea Otter Stranding Network 2014 Stranding Summary: The number of sea otter strandings in 2014 (386) was the highest on record, 18 above the 368 sea otters that stranded in 2012. There were 340 strandings in 2013… A stranded sea otter is one that washes ashore dead or alive… NOTE: Stranding numbers only account for sea otters that people find… possibly less than 50% of sea otters that die in the wild end up on the beach…

Watch KTVA’s broadcast here

Published: October 19th, 2015 at 7:11 am ET
By ENENews
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By Bruce Moyer: March 2015: The Most Powerful Court You Have Never Heard Of



Washington Watch | March 2015
By Bruce Moyer

Long The disclosures by Edward Snowden about the size and scope of the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities, both in the United States and abroad, has prompted a flurry of Congressional proposals aimed at reframing the foreign intelligence- gathering process. While the thrust of these proposals is aimed at the intelligence-gathering process itself, several would also alter the operations of the federal court in Washington that provides judicial oversight of intelligence gathering and, in fact, authorized the con- troversial NSA telephone metadata collection effort disclosed by Snowden.

The court we’re talking about is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC. Described by CNN as “the most power- ful court you have never heard of,” the panel plays a significant role in the sensitive balance of foreign intelligence-gathering and civil liberties. Established in 1978 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the FISC hears applications from the government and decides whether to issue orders approving certain electronic surveil- lance activities for foreign intelligence purposes. Another Article III tribunal co-located in Washington, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISCR), reviews the rulings of the FISA court. Collectively these are referred to as the FISA courts.

Unique Among Federal Courts
The FISC is unique among federal courts in its narrow jurisdiction, the selection of its judges, and the secret conduct of its day-to-day operations. The Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court plays an especially engaged role in the affairs of the court. The FISC’s 11 district court judges and review court’s judges are “designated” by the Chief Justice, foregoing the usual process of presidential appoint- ment and Senate confirmation. Similarly, the Chief Justice designates the chief judge of the FISC and the FISCR. The judges of both courts serve one term of seven years and are not eligible for a second term. Because of the sensitive nature of its docket, the FISC and the Review Court operate largely in secret and in a nonadversarial fash- ion. Since its creation in 1978, the FISC has operated primarily in an ex parte manner with the government as the only party presenting arguments to the court and seeking warrants approving of electronic surveillance, physical searches, the use of a pen register or a trap- and-trace device, or the access to business ecords for foreign intelligence and international terrorism investigations.

The FISC operates out of a secure location in the federal court- house in Washington, D.C. Each week, one of the eleven district court judges that comprise the FISC is on duty in Washington. Most of the FISC’s work is handled by the duty judge with the assistance of a small group of attorneys and clerk’s office personnel who staff the court. On occasion, judges outside of the duty-week rotation handle more complex or time-consuming matters, at the direction of the Presiding Judge.

The secret and nonadversarial nature of the FISC’s proceedings and the revelation of the court’s approval of the NSA telephone meta- data collection effort have spurred several Congressional proposals that would change some of the underlying practices of the FISA courts. The most controversial proposal involves the court’s appoint- ment of a special advocate when the court is considering a novel or significant interpretation of law. Other proposals would establish en banc panels of the FISC and would alter the voting rules of the FISC in an attempt to create a higher bar for the approval of government surveillance activities.

A Special Advocate Before the FISA Courts?
The appointment of a special advocate within the FISA courts has stirred the greatest controversy. The House last year passed legislation (H.R. 3361) giving the FISA courts substantial discretion to determine when to appoint an advocate, as well as decide the nature and scope of the assistance to be provided by the advocate. A broader Senate measure (S. 2685) last year would have more rigidly mandated the appointment of an advocate to make specific argu- ments involving privacy and civil liberties. The Senate bill stalled at the end of 2014, carrying the debate into 2015 with some urgency. Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which authorizes electronic foreign intelligence surveillance activities, expires on June 1.

Proponents of the appointment of a special advocate argue that the nature of a non-adversarial process prevents the FISA courts from hearing opposing viewpoints on difficult legal issues, especially ones involving privacy and civil liberty interests. The Federal Judiciary is not so sure. In a letter to Congress last year, Judge John Bates, then director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (and a for- mer FISC judge) embraced the House legislation’s approach, which imparts to the FISA court the discretionary authority to appoint an advocate, a power the court already inherently maintains. Bates criticized the Senate’s approach, which directs the FISC to appoint an advocate in certain kinds of cases. “… [W]e are concerned that insert- ing into FISA court proceedings an advocate with a statutory mandate to make specific arguments would raise substantial legal questions and impede the courts’ work without furthering the interests of privacy or civil liberties,” Bates wrote. Those questions involve separation of powers and judicial independence considerations.

FBA Panel Session on the FISA Courts
These concerns and the broader challenge of balancing national security, privacy, and civil liberties will be spotlighted at the FBA Mid-year Meeting on Saturday morning, March 28, in Arlington, Virginia, when an esteemed panel of judges, lawyers, and academics will debate the pros and cons of altering the FISA courts and their operations. Consult the FBA website for further details.

Bruce Moyer is government relations counsel for the FBA. © 2015 Bruce Moyer. All rights reserved.