ENENews: “Nuclear Engineer: My biggest concern is Fukushima plant will collapse”



Nuclear Engineer: My biggest concern is Fukushima plant will collapse… Concrete under reactors is being “eaten away”… “There’s ongoing chemical attacks” — Containment structures are tilting, in jeopardy of falling over (AUDIO)
Published: March 17th, 2017 at 6:19 am ET
By ENENews
http://enenews.com/nuclear-engineer-my-biggest-concern-is-fukushima-plant-will-collapse-concrete-under-reactors-is-being-eaten-away-theres-ongoing-chemical-attacks-containment-structures-are-t?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29

KGO 810 AM, Feb 9, 2017 (at 9:15 in):
Pat Thurston, host (emphasis added): “There’s a story that’s going around the internet, Snopes says there’s nothing to verify that this is true — I guess Tepco is denying it — but there’s a story going around that the containment structure is in jeopardy — its tilting — it’s in jeopardy of falling over, so we’ll talk about that too — if that is even a possibility. Were that to happen, what would that mean?… First, to the issue of the potential for a collapse of the building — for the building to topple over — for it to somehow to collapse. Is that a thing? Can that happen?”

Arnie Gundersen, nuclear engineer: “Yeah, it can happen — and that’s my biggest concern. Tepco is building a wall along the ocean… it’s trapping all this groundwater onsite, and essentially making the ground mushy… There’s already significant damage [to the reactor buildings] — the entire coast of Japan dropped three feet during that earthquake and never rebounded… But the Fukushima site didn’t fall straight, it fell at an angle, it’s about a two inch incline across the site now. So the buildings are in mushy ground and they’re not quite straight. The other part is that there’s a toxic brew of radioactive chemicals inside there, but there’s also just chemicals – they’re eating away at the concrete and they’re eating away at the steel. It’s a nasty chemical broth inside these plants. My fear is that if there’s a Richter 7 quake, not the Richter 9 that happened 6 years ago, if there’s a Richter 7 quake on that site it could breach those containments… The horse is out of the barn at that point… (discussion continues at 32:00 in) On toppling over… probably half the concrete inside the containment that was originally there has been eaten away by the hot radioactive fuel — and there’s ongoing chemical attacks — so I really think the concrete under the containment is pretty darn punky [“resembling punk in being soft or rotted”] right now, and is getting punkier as time goes on.”

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ENENews: “Experts: Billions are being exposed…”



TV: Scientists fear Fukushima radiation hitting US to worsen… “A lot of people are very concerned” — Experts: Billions are being exposed… Reactors “will continue to pour water into Pacific for the rest of time” (VIDEO)
By ENENews, on February 21st, 2017
Published: February 21st, 2017 at 10:15 am ET
By ENENews
http://enenews.com/tv-scientists-fear-fukushima-radiation-hitting-us-to-worsen-a-lot-of-people-are-very-concerned-experts-billions-are-being-exposed-reactors-will-continue-to-pour-water-into-pacific-for?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29

Arnie Gundersen, former nuclear engineer (emphasis added), Feb 2, 2017: “When I went to school, the saying was ‘dilution is the solution to pollution,’ and that’s what the Japanese believe. If they dump [radioactive water from Fukushima Daiichi] on their side and it floats over to the West Coast of the U.S. — the Pacific’s a big place — it’ll dilute out. I don’t think that’s appropriate… people are going to die. Regardless of how low the radiation is, it does cause cellular damage and cancer. So if you spread it out in a big body of water, the concentration goes down, but on the other hand, you’ve got a couple billion people exposed to it because they’re on the edge of that big body of water. So the concentration is down but the population is up and you’re still going to get cancer; it’s inevitable.”

Dr. Helen Caldicott, Feb 13, 2017: As the water flows beneath the damaged reactors, it immerses the three molten cores and becomes extremely radioactive as it continues its journey into the adjacent Pacific Ocean. Every day since the accident began, 300 to 400 tons of water has poured into the Pacific where numerous isotopes including cesium 137, 134, strontium 90, tritium, plutonium, americium and up to 100 more, enter the ocean and bio-concentrate by orders of magnitude at each step of the food chain… tuna, salmon and other species found on the American west coast now contain some of these radioactive elements… [Fukushima Daiichi] will continue to pour water into the Pacific for the rest of time…

Fox News, Feb 8, 2017: Adam Housley, who reported from the area in 2011 following the catastrophic triple-meltdown, said… small levels of radiation are still being detected off the coasts of California and Oregon and scientists fear it could get worse. “The worry is with 300 tons of radioactive water going into the Pacific every day, what is that doing to the Pacific Ocean?” said Housley…

Fox News video transcript excerpts, Feb 8, 2017: Nearly 300 tons of radioactive water is dumped into the Pacific Ocean each and every day… There is still radiation being detected off the west coast of California and Oregon… The worry is with 300 tons of radioactive water going in every day to the Pacific — what is that doing to the Pacific Ocean?… We really don’t know what this radioactive water is doing to the Pacific I think a lot of people are very concerned about that…. As we know that water moves toward the west coast of the US.”

Watch the FOX News broadcast here

ENENews: “No one yet knows how deeply those 3 cores melted into the ground… No one knows where the cores are”


Reporter: Many experts now believe Fukushima’s melted fuel burned through the concrete floors and has gone down into the groundwater — “No one yet knows how deeply those 3 cores melted into the ground… No one knows where the cores are” (AUDIO)

 http://enenews.com/reporter-many-experts-believe-fukushimas-melted-fuel-burned-concrete-floors-gone-down-groundwater-one-deeply-3-cores-melted-ground-one-cores-audio?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
Published: May 12th, 2016 at 1:44 pm ET
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Coast to Coast AM – ‘Fukushima & Nuclear Issues, Mar 31, 2016 (emphasis added):

At 42:00 in — Linda Moulton Howe, Regional Emmy Award-winning reporter: “Five years later now in March 2015, no one yet knows how deeply those three cores melted into the Fukushima ground.”

At 44:30 — Howe: “In the first days of the March 2011 catastrophe, [nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen] told media that Fukushima was ‘Chernobyl on Steroids’. Arnie meant that the Fukushima disaster would turn out to be much worse than the April 1986 core explosion at the Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Many experts believe now that the three missing Fukushima cores have melted right through the concrete floors, and are contaminating any water that reaches them — going down, perhaps touching, the groundwater.”

At 45:30 in — Arnie Gundersen, nuclear engineer: “Scientists and engineers knew exactly where the nuclear core was at Chernobyl a year later, but at Fuksuhima we’ve got three nuclear cores that are in direct contact with groundwater. Now that mean the containment broke and water is coming in and is contaminating the groundwater — so clearly the liquid releases from Fukushima are way, way more severe than Chernobyl.”

At 57:30 in — Howe: “The concept is… when water from mountain run-off reaches the ice wall, it will freeze or flow around the frozen ground out to the Pacific Ocean without passing by the highly radioactive melted cores. But everybody says, ‘How do you know that’s going to work because no one knows where the cores are, or how deep they are in the ground right now?’”

At 1:16:45 in — Howe: “[Fukushima] is a cleanup challenge that is now expected to take decades more, into the end of the 21st century — re-enforcing what Arnie Gundersen said five years ago in that very first week, that ‘Fukushima is Chernobyl on steroids’. And so far over these five years, it appears that he has been right.”

From March 2016: Reuters: Fukushima fuel melted through containment vessels and is “spewing radiation” — Nuke Expert: Fuel has “scattered all over the place” — Gov’t: Fuel may have burned out into environment — Tepco Official: Fuel could have flowed out “like lava in a volcano” (VIDEOS)

ENENews: Experts: Fukushima ‘ice wall’ could destroy reactor units, turn site into swamp — Risk of fractures, ground movement, building subsidence — Must be frozen for 200 years — Officials: High cliffs just behind plant may become unstable — Gov’t: “Observable heaving” and deformations possible



Experts: Fukushima ‘ice wall’ could destroy reactor units, turn site into swamp — Risk of fractures, ground movement, building subsidence — Must be frozen for 200 years — Officials: High cliffs just behind plant may become unstable — Gov’t: “Observable heaving” and deformations possible (VIDEO)
Published: May 2nd, 2016 at 9:18 pm ET
By ENENews
http://enenews.com/experts-fukushima-ice-wall-could-destroy-reactor-
buildings-turn-site-swamp-concern-fractures-ground-movement-subsidence-
around-structures-will-stay-frozen-200-year-period-govt-observable-heav?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy
+News%29


AP, Apr 29, 2016 (emphasis added): Fukushima No. 1 plant’s ice wall won’t be watertight, says chief architect… Even if the frozen barrier… works as envisioned, it will not completely block all water… because of gaps in the wall… said Yuichi Okamura, a chief architect… Tepco resorted to [this] after it became clear it had to do something drastic… [Okamura said,] “We have come up against many unexpected problems.” The water woes are just part of the many obstacles… No one has even seen the nuclear debris…


Huffington Post, Apr 1, 2016: ‘Ice Wall’ Is Japan’s Last-Ditch Effort To Contain Fukushima Radiation… [It’s] a desperate attempt to stop radiation that’s been leaking from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant for five years…

Kyodo, Mar 30, 2016: The NRA warned earlier that if the groundwater levels within the [ice] walls is reduced excessively by blocking the flow from outside, highly contaminated water within the buildings could seep out as a result.

Proposal for controlling ground water and radioactive leakage in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (by World Water and Climate Foundation): [TEPCO] has a plan to freeze soil around the plant… this idea may not be sustainable… over the 200-year period that will be required for the reactors to be decommissioned.… The problem with freezing… is that solutes may be expelled from the ice… This can result in extremely concentrated saline solutions that do not freeze even at low temperatures. It is likely that under these conditions radioactive materials could become highly concentrated in dense brines that could then flow as density currents… Also, heating and cooling during the four annual seasons in Japan may make the ground of the station site softer and wetter like a swamp, and it could create another risk to the reactors, such as building destruction… The authors would like to express sincere thanks to Dr. W.F. Vincent, Dr. I. Ostrovsky, Dr. S. Kudoh and Dr. L. Legendre for their valuable comments and suggestions for strengthening this proposal.

Los Alamos National Laboratory: Integrated model of groundwater flow and radionuclide migration at Fukushima Daiichi… we will be able to answers critical questions such as… Will the cryogenic barrier lead to salt water intrusion at the site thereby mobilizing contaminants such as Cs and Sr that are mobile under high salinity conditions?

U.S. Department of Energy, 2015: Independent Technical Support for the Frozen Soil Barrier… several references discuss soil heave in the context of artificial ground freezing… It is possible that some observable heaving will occur directly above and directly adjacent to the frozen soil barrier… Monitoring of temperatures, heave pressures, and deformations… would provide information to assist in managing impacts from soil heave…


Geological Survey of Japan, 2015: [T]he sustainability of the ice wall remains doubtful… Furthermore, the ice lenses will grow irregularly as per the distribution of chiller pipes, and the sediment desaturation might lead to the aquitards’ compaction and subsidence around the buildings. In effect, a decrease in pore water pressure could increase the effective stress of the ground and result in movements and the formation of fractures in the superficial units.

IAEA, 2016: The IAEA group of experts reviewed the status of groundwater inflow, countermeasures and modelling… During the visit to Daiichi NPS on 18 February 2016, groundwater seepage on the slopes [i.e. cliffs over 100 feet high directly behind plant] that have been covered with facing was observed by the IAEA experts… seepage through the facing could create geotechnical instability on the slope if horizontal drains are not installed…

Watch TEPCO’s video on the ‘ice wall’ here

Published: May 2nd, 2016 at 9:18 pm ET
By ENENews
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May 2nd, 2016 | Category: Audio/Video Clips, Fukushima Daiichi, Japan (Fukushima)

ENENews: “100% death rate of baby seals on California coast — ‘None have survived'”


100% death rate of baby seals on California coast — “None have survived” — “Many are starving, suffering from shortage of food in Pacific Ocean” — “Extremely thin… all sorts of illnesses, infections” — “Milkless moms immediately abandoning pups” — TV: “The problem is getting worse” (VIDEOS)

ENENews: TV: Radiation in ocean off Fukushima at highest levels in years — Out of control leakage coming from plant — ‘Big spikes’ in radioactivity observed


TV: Radiation in ocean off Fukushima at highest levels in years — Out of control leakage coming from plant — ‘Big spikes’ in radioactivity observed — “Surprising… Concerning… Crisis” — 1,000s of tons of contaminated liquid being released — Scientists: Japan gov’t covering up situation (AUDIO)

 http://enenews.com/tv-radiation-fukushima-highest-levels-years-control-leakage-coming-plant-big-spikes-strontium-90-observed-scientists-japan-govt-trying-cover-situation-audio?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
Published: March 16th, 2016 at 6:29 pm ET
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draft
(Fukushima Dock washed up at Portland Oregon Beach)
KGW (NBC channel in Portland, OR), Mar 7, 2016 (emphasis added): Crisis continues 5 years after FukushimaRadiation in the Pacific Ocean near Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant is at levels as high, or higher, than has been measured in the past three years, as the crippled plant continues to bleed contamination into the sea, new results from a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution research cruise show. “We think it’s related to the ongoing leaks,” said Ken Buesseler, a Woods Hole chemical oceanographer… “It’s a little surprising and contrary to claims they’ve stopped all flow. So we’re not out of the woods yet.”… Unlike Chernobyl, however, this crisis played out slowly, and continues today, on both sides of the Pacific… In October 2015, Buesseler’s team took new samples from as close as a half-mile away from the nuclear power plant. Levels there remain elevated, he said, confirming continued releases from the plant… “The fact that it’s still leaking is always of concern.”

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Mar 7, 2016: Fukushima Site Still Leaking After Five Years, Research Shows… Buesseler [sampled off Fukushima] in October 2015… his analysis of cesium and strontium indicate releases from the plant are not yet “under control,” a statement that has been used by the Japanese government to describe the situation… [C]esium levels have remained relatively constant… “we are not seeing the steady decrease we would expect to see off Fukushima if all sources had stopped; rather, we are finding values are still elevated, which confirms that there is continued release from the plant.”… The highest level of cesium Buesseler’s team found in a sample taken off Japan in October 2015 measured 200 Becquerels per cubic meter… Strontium, too, is not falling as expected… [Scientists] have found that strontium is not decreasing as fast as cesium. Whereas there was approximately 40 times more cesium than strontium in the waters off Japan in 2011, by 2013, there was approximately 10 times more cesium than strontium The concern lies in the thousands of tons of strontium still stored in tanks at the nuclear power plant and accumulated in buildings and soils, some of it still leaking into the ocean.

Scientific American, Mar 8, 2016: Crippled Fukushima Reactors Are Still a Danger… [M]ajor questions still loom today… [S]ome scientists are complaining that important questions about the disaster’s impact are not being addressed. Authorities, they suspect, are subtly discouraging certain kinds of scientific research, possibly because they fear findings that could further alarm the public… This February, the company reported a spike in strontium levels at the plant site… Remarkably, research on Fukushima’s impact on the marine ecosystem is even more scarce [than on land]—even though the disaster represented the single largest pulse of radioactivity ever injected into an ocean… [T]he cesium concentration… many kilometers off Fukushima remains well above pre-accident levels… Another concern is radioactive strontium. Scientists say levels in seawater near the plant are not declining, possibly because of recurrent leaks from the on-site tanks. “You could actually see in the ocean when one of these tanks would leak—you’d get a big spike in Strontium-90,” Buesseler notes… Indeed, unanswered questions abound… The Japanese government seems to be cutting off funds for monitoring radionuclides in water alongside Fukushima, Buesseler says… [A]nother Japanese scientist, who asked not to be named, claimed that whereas grants are readily available for researchers whose projects are unlikely to discover significant impacts from the disaster, they are exceedingly scarce for others… Buesseler reports [an] experience [when Japanese scientists who aided in research asked not to be credited in its published papers, fearing adverse impacts on their careers]…

CapeCod.com, Mar 8, 2016: Buesseler says that releases of radioactive cesium from the plant are still not under control…”we are finding values are still elevated, which confirms that there is continued release from the plant.”

NY Times, Mar 10, 2016: Fukushima has become a place… where they struggle to control radiation-contaminated water and must release it into the sea… [T]he plant also releases 2,000 tons of the water into the ocean every week after a process that removes most, but not all, of the radioactive particles… it is a public-relations nightmare for the government…

Broadcasts: PRI | KPBS

Fukushima Site Still Leaking After Five Years, Research Shows

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March 7, 2016

Five years after the Fukushima nuclear accident, there is still no U.S. federal agency responsible for studies of radioactive contaminants in the ocean. But scientific data about the levels of radioactivity in the ocean off our shores are available publicly thanks to ongoing efforts of independent researchers, including Ken Buesseler, a radiochemist with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), who has led the effort to create and maintain an ocean monitoring network along the U.S. West Coast.

Since 2011, Buesseler has received contributions from citizens, small businesses, foundations and large companies to enable the sampling of nearly 1000 seawater samples for Fukushima radionuclides. Buesseler has been involved in seven cruises off Japan, sampling off Fukushima at least once every year, most recently in October 2015, and has published 19 peer-reviewed papers based on his analysis of seawater and sediments from the Pacific.

Buesseler’s work reveals that levels of radioactive forms of cesium in the ocean off Japan are thousands of times lower than during the peak releases in 2011, however, his analysis of cesium and strontium indicate releases from the plant are not yet “under control,” a statement that has been used by the Japanese government to describe the situation when levels are below regulatory limits.

“To date, we have focused our efforts on testing for the two isotopes of cesium (137 and 134) and strontium,” says Buesseler. “The cesium isotopes were the most abundant after the accident and provide the first indication of whether contamination from Fukushima is present in a seawater sample.” Because cesium-134 has a half-life of just two years, researchers know, when detected, that it comes from Fukushima. Cesium was 40 times more abundant in the water after the accident than strontium – a ratio that the scientists discover is changing.

The changing concentrations of both these elements in the waters off Japan tell a story of continued small leaks and raise concerns about the materials still stored at the reactor site.

Cesium off Japan

Cesium levels in the water off Japan spiked after the accident, then fell dramatically in the following year. Since then, however, rather than a steady decline, the cesium levels have remained relatively constant.

“Levels today off Japan are thousands of times lower than during the peak releases in 2011,” says Buesseler. “But we are not seeing the steady decrease we would expect to see off Fukushima if all sources had stopped; rather, we are finding values are still elevated, which confirms that there is continued release from the plant.”

The highest level of cesium Buesseler’s team found in a sample taken off Japan in October 2015 measured 200 Becquerels per cubic meter (about 264 gallons) of seawater. (A Becquerel equals one decay event per second.) The samples were collected following a typhoon in September that delivered unusually heavy rains, which the researchers suspect may have caused elevated cesium levels in the ocean. These levels are still higher than prior to the accident but much lower than at the peak of the releases in 2011 when there were 50 million Bq/m3 in the ocean immediately off the dock at Fukushima.

While not declining as quickly as researchers had expected, the levels detected near Japan are still more than 40 times lower than US government safety limits for drinking water, and well below limits of concern for direct exposure while swimming, boating, or other recreational activities. At these lower levels, the concern remains for seafood safety and internal consumption of radioactive contaminants in fish.

Strontium off Japan
The scientists have learned that cesium is just part of the story: Strontium, too, is not falling as expected. Strontium-90 has nearly the same half-life of cesium-137, and the researchers expected its levels would drop in step with cesium. Yet Buesseler and colleagues led by Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona, Spain have found that strontium is not decreasing as fast as cesium. Whereas there was approximately 40 times more cesium than strontium in the waters off Japan in 2011, by 2013, there was approximately 10 times more cesium than strontium. The concern lies in the thousands of tons of strontium still stored in tanks at the nuclear power plant and accumulated in buildings and soils, some of it still leaking into the ocean.

“We think that when there is heavy rain, more cesium, strontium, and other isotopes from the nuclear power plant are carried into the ocean,” says Buesseler. “We are still investigating how that occurs –whether carried in the groundwater or from the run off of sediment – but clearly it is highest near the contaminated site of the Fukushima nuclear power plants.”

Because strontium-90 mimics calcium in humans and animals, it is taken up by and concentrated in bones, where it remains for long periods of time, making it a greater health concern than cesium. Cesium, on the other hand, flushes out of the body much faster.

“Whereas it takes approximately two months for half of the radioactive cesium to flush out of fish, it takes more like two years for strontium to flush out of fish because it’s in their bones,” says Buesseler. “So if the supply of strontium to the ocean gets worse, it would take longer for the levels to decrease in seafood. So far, strontium levels are more than a hundred times lower than cesium when measured in fish, so it has not been a concern, but we have to monitor it.”

Monitoring the North American West Coast
In addition to studying the waters off Japan, Buesseler and his colleagues have been actively monitoring the Pacific waters off the North American West Coast, primarily for cesium, the most abundant element after the accident. So far, they have detected only minute quantities of Fukushima cesium.

Fukushima-derived cesium first arrived along the west coast of North America in February 2015, measuring 6 Bq/m3 in Ucluelet, British Columbia. The highest numbers the researchers have seen in the eastern Pacific are almost 10 Bq/m3, found some 1,500 miles north of Hawaii.

“If you were to swim in waters at this level the health effects, or dose, would be 1000 times less than a single dental x-ray. This is not zero, but a very small risk that would not stop me from swimming or eating seafood from our side of the Pacific,” said Buesseler.

Because cesium levels have been so small and the cost of analyzing samples for strontium is so great, the researchers have not been analyzing samples off North America for strontium, until recently.

The researchers receive enough questions about strontium that they re-analyzed some of the West Coast samples that contained Fukushima cesium-134 looking for strontium, and have not detected any above the background levels that were there before Fukushima.

“So little strontium was released relative to cesium from Fukushima in 2011, that even though Fukushima cesium is detectable, the strontium-90 signal is not detectable in these samples, at least in the eastern Pacific,” says Buesseler.

The researchers continue to collect and analyze samples both from citizen scientists and, when possible, from ships and research cruises on the eastern side of the Pacific. The data are made publically available through the Our Radioactive Ocean, the crowd-funding website Buesseler created for this purpose. The site’s map interface allows the public to see where samples were collected and the cesium values measured in each sample.

Levels in the ocean are expected to peak along the West Coast of the U.S. some time in 2015 or 2016, so continued monitoring is needed.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. For more information, please visit http://www.whoi.edu.March 7, 2016

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/