Climate change rate to turn southern Spain to desert by 2100, report warns, Guardian, Adam Vaughan, 28 Oct 16
Mediterranean ecosystems will change to a state unprecedented in the past 10,000 years unless temperature rises are held to within 1.5C, say scientists. Southern Spain will be reduced to desert by the end of the century if the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, researchers have warned.
Anything less than extremely ambitious and politically unlikely carbon emissions cuts will see ecosystems in the Mediterranean change to a state unprecedented in the past 10 millennia, they said.
The study, published in the journal Science, modelled what would happen to vegetation in the Mediterranean basin under four different paths of future carbon emissions, from a business-as-usual scenario at the worst end to keeping temperature rises below the Paris climate deal target of 1.5C at the other.
Temperatures would rise nearly 5C globally under the worst case scenario by 2100, causing deserts to expand northwards across southern Spain and Sicily, and Mediterranean vegetation to replace deciduous forests.
Even if emissions are held to the level of pledges put forward ahead of the Paris deal, southern Europe would experience a “substantial” expansion of deserts. The level of change would be beyond anything the region’s ecosystems had experienced during the holocene, the geological epoch that started more than 10,000 years ago.
“The Med is very sensitive to climatic change, maybe much more than any other region in the world,” said lead author Joel Guiot of Aix-Marseille University. “A lot of people are living at the level of the sea, it also has a lot of troubles coming from migration. If we add additional problems due to climate change, it will be worse in the future.”
He said that while his study did not simulate what would happen to production of Mediterranean food staples such as olives, other research showed it was clear the changes would harm their production. Climate change has already warmed the region by more than the global average – 1.3C compared to 1C – since the industrial revolution.
The real impact on Mediterranean ecosystems, which are considered a hotspot of biodiversity, could be worse because the study did not look at other human impacts, such as forests being turned over to grow food……. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/27/climate-change-rate-to-turn-southern-spain-to-desert-by-2100-report-warns
Spain seeks ‘urgent’ answers from London after nuclear sub collision, Yahoo News, AFP on July 22, 2016 Madrid – Spain said Thursday it had asked London for “urgent” explanations after a British nuclear submarine collided with a vessel off the coast of Gibraltar, forcing it to dock in the disputed territory.
The incident sparked environmental fears as well as concerns it could lead to yet another diplomatic row between London and Madrid, which wants Gibraltar back centuries after it was ceded to Britain in 1713.
The HMS Ambush submarine was submerged and carrying out a training exercise when it collided with an unspecified merchant vessel on Wednesday afternoon, damaging the front of its conning tower and forcing it to dock for checks in the overseas British territory on Spain’s southern tip known as “the Rock”.
“The ministry has asked the British embassy in Madrid for urgent explanations over the extent of the breakdown and all relevant information regarding the circumstances of this incident,” Spain’s foreign ministry said in a statement…….https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/32104778/british-nuclear-submarine-docks-in-gibraltar-after-collision/#page1
UK nuclear sub collides with merchant vessel off Gibraltar Rt.com 21 Jul, 2016 One of Britain’s newest Astute-class submarines has docked at Gibraltar after suffering a “glancing collision” with a merchant vessel, the UK Royal Navy announced, emphasizing that the HMS Ambush suffered “absolutely no damage” to her nuclear reactor
Even Without Detonation, 4 Hydrogen Bombs From ’66 Scar Spanish Village NYT, By RAPHAEL MINDER JUNE 20, 2016 PALOMARES, Spain — José Manuel González Navarro, a mechanic, headed out of this seaside village on his motorbike one morning 50 years ago when he heard explosions overhead and looked up to see a ball of fire in the sky. Debris started to shower down, some “falling very slowly, like if a giant tree was shedding shiny metal leaves,” he recalled in an interview.
“I was just thinking about what objects might prove useful,” he said. “I liked fishing, and those parachute straps, thin but very solid, were clearly perfect to be turned into a weight belt for diving.”
Like many in Palomares, Mr. González Navarro, now 71, figured he had witnessed a military air crash. But he was unaware that a United States Air Force bomber and a refueling jet collided, accidentally sending four hydrogen bombs hurtling toward Palomares. Although no warheads detonated, two of the bombs shattered, spreading plutonium over the village.
Whereas American service members are complaining that the hurried cleanup effort carried out by the military jeopardized their health, many in Palomares lament the damage the accident has done to their community.
“Living in a radioactive site that nobody really has wanted to clean has brought us a lot of bad publicity and has been something hanging over our head like a sword of Damocles,” said Juan José Pérez Celdrán, a former mayor of Palomares. For years after the crash, local tomatoes, lettuce and watermelons did not carry any Palomares label because of the stigma associated with the place.
And the cleanup effort continues half a century later.
In 1966, American troops removed about 5,000 barrels of contaminated soil after the accident and called the cleanup complete. But about a decade ago, the Spanish authorities found elevated levels of plutonium over 99 acres. Some of the areas of elevated radioactivity almost touched private homes, as well as fields and greenhouses. Scientists from Ciemat, the Spanish nuclear agency, fenced off the most hazardous sections and began pressuring the United States to remove about 65,000 cubic yards of radioactive soil — far more than was removed right after the accident……..http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/21/world/europe/spain-palomares-hydrogen-bombs.html?_r=1
Decades Later, Sickness Among Airmen After a Hydrogen Bomb Accident, NYT, by DAVE PHILIPPSJUNE 19, 2016Alarms sounded on United States Air Force bases in Spain and officers began packing all the low-ranking troops they could grab onto buses for a secret mission. There were cooks, grocery clerks and even musicians from the Air Force band.
It was a late winter night in 1966 and a fully loaded B-52 bomber on a Cold War nuclear patrol had collided with a refueling jet high over the Spanish coast, freeing four hydrogen bombs that went tumbling toward a farming village called Palomares, a patchwork of small fields and tile-roofed white houses in an out-of-the-way corner of Spain’s rugged southern coast that had changed little since Roman times.
It was one of the biggest nuclear accidents in history, and the United States wanted it cleaned up quickly and quietly. But if the men getting onto buses were told anything about the Air Force’s plan for them to clean up spilled radioactive material, it was usually, “Don’t worry.”
“There was no talk about radiation or plutonium or anything else,” said Frank B. Thompson, a then 22-year-old trombone player who spent days searching contaminated fields without protective equipment or even a change of clothes. “They told us it was safe, and we were dumb enough, I guess, to believe them.”
Mr. Thompson, 72, now has cancer in his liver, a lung and a kidney. He pays $2,200 a month for treatment that would be free at a Veterans Affairs hospital if the Air Force recognized him as a victim of radiation. But for 50 years, the Air Force has maintained that there was no harmful radiation at the crash site. It says the danger of contamination was minimal and strict safety measures ensured that all of the 1,600 troops who cleaned it up were protected.
Interviews with dozens of men like Mr. Thompson and details from never before published declassified documents tell a different story. Radiation near the bombs was so high it sent the military’s monitoring equipment off the scales. Troops spent months shoveling toxic dust, wearing little more protection than cotton fatigues. And when tests taken during the cleanup suggested men had alarmingly high plutonium contamination, the Air Force threw out the results, calling them “clearly unrealistic.”
In the decades since, the Air Force has purposefully kept radiation test results out of the men’s medical files and resisted calls to retest them, even when the calls came from one of the Air Force’s own studies.
Many men say they are suffering with the crippling effects of plutonium poisoning. Of 40 veterans who helped with the cleanup who The New York Times identified, 21 had cancer. Nine had died from it. It is impossible to connect individual cancers to a single exposure to radiation. And no formal mortality study has ever been done to determine whether there is an elevated incidence of disease. The only evidence the men have to rely on are anecdotes of friends they watched wither away.
“John Young, dead of cancer … Dudley Easton, cancer … Furmanksi, cancer,” said Larry L. Slone, 76, in an interview, laboring through tremors caused by a neurological disorder.
At the crash site, Mr. Slone, a military police officer at the time, said he was given a plastic bag and told to pick up radioactive fragments with his bare hands. “A couple times they checked me with a Geiger counter and it went clear off the scale,” he said. “But they never took my name, never followed up with me.”
Monitoring of the village in Spain has also been haphazard, declassified documents show. The United States promised to pay for a public health program to monitor the long-term effects of radiation there, but for decades provided little funding. Until the 1980s, Spanish scientists often relied on broken and outdated equipment, and lacked the resources to follow up on potential ramifications, including leukemia deaths in children. Today, several fenced-off areas are still contaminated, and the long-term health effect on villagers is poorly understood.
Many of the Americans who cleaned up after the bombs are trying to get full health care coverage and disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. But the department relies on Air Force records, and since the Air Force records say no one was harmed in Palomares, the agency rejects claims again and again.
The Air Force also denies any harm was done to 500 other veterans who cleaned up a nearly identical crash in Thule, Greenland, in 1968. Those veterans tried to sue the Defense Department in 1995, but the case was dismissed because federal law shields the military from negligence claims by troops. All of the named plaintiffs have since died of cancer…….
“First they denied I was even there, then they denied there was any radiation,” said Ronald R. Howell, 71, who recently had a brain tumor removed. “I submit a claim, and they deny. I submit appeal, and they deny. Now I’m all out of appeals.” He sighed, then continued. “Pretty soon, we’ll all be dead and they will have succeeded at covering this whole thing up.”……
The Pentagon focused on finding the bomb lost in the ocean and largely ignored the danger of loose plutonium, the Air Force personnel at the site said. Troops traipsed needlessly through highly contaminated tomato fields with no safety gear. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/us/decades-later-sickness-among-airmen-after-a-hydrogen-bomb-accident.html
Decades Later, Sickness Among Airmen After a Hydrogen Bomb Accident, NYT, by DAVE PHILIPPS JUNE 19, 2016 “……….Spain’s Monitoring
The United States promised to pay for long-term monitoring of health in the village, but for decades it provided only about 15 percent of funding, with Spain paying the rest, according to a declassified Department of Energy summary. Broken air-monitoring stations went unfixed and equipment was often old and unreliable. In the early 1970s, an Atomic Energy Commission scientist noted, the Spanish field monitoring team consisted of a lone graduate student.
Reports of two children dying of leukemia during that time went uninvestigated. The lead Spanish scientist monitoring the population told American counterparts in a 1976 memo that, in light of the leukemia cases, Palomares needed “some kind of medical surveillance of the population to keep watch for diseases or deaths.” None was created.
In the late 1990s, after years of pressure from Spain, the United States agreed to increase funding. New surveys of the village found extensive contamination that had gone undetected, including some areas where radiation was 20 times the permissible level for inhabited areas. In 2004, Spain quietly fenced off the most contaminated land near the bomb craters.
Since then, Spain has urged the United States to finish cleaning the site.
Because of the uneven monitoring, the effect on public health is far from clear. A small mortality study in 2005 found cancer rates had gone up in the village compared with similar villages in the region, but the author, Pedro Antonio Martínez Pinilla, an epidemiologist, cautioned that the results could be because of random error, and urged more study.
At that time, a United States Department of Energy scientist, Terry Hamilton, proposed another study, noting problems in Spain’s monitoring techniques. “It was clear the uptake of plutonium was poorly understood,” he said in an interview. The department did not approve his proposal…..
About a fifth of the plutonium spread in 1966 is still estimated to contaminate the area. After years of pressure, the United States agreed in 2015 to clean up the remaining plutonium, but there is no approved plan or timetable…….http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/us/decades-later-sickness-among-airmen-after-a-hydrogen-bomb-accident.html
European Commission concerned over Spain’s nuclear power stations http://www.theolivepress.es/spain-news/2016/04/10/european-commission-concerned-over-spains-nuclear-power-stations/
Issues surrounding the safety of older reactors were raised by climate and energy commissioner Miguel Cañete
CONCERNS over Spain’s nuclear power stations have been aired by the European Commission.
Issues surrounding the safety of older reactors were raised by climate and energy commissioner Miguel Cañete who claims there is a ‘lack of transparency’ when addressing safety issues at Spanish sites.
Cañete’s allegations were sparked after his request for information about a nuclear-waste storage facility in Bilbao was ignored.
“The Commission expects to receive this information under Article 41 of the Euratom treaty, which governs investment projects in this field,” said Arias Cañete. “To date, we haven’t received any communication referring to the possibility of installing a nuclear waste storage facility at the plant.”
Cañete added that Spain had ‘described various measures ensuring transparency’ in its 2014 report on the Nuclear Safety Directive but had failed to live up to its promises.
- On January 16 1966, a U.S. B-52 Stratofortress took off from Seymour Johnson Air Force base in North Carolina
- Bombers were continually flown on 24-hour missions across the Atlantic, to provide the States’ nuclear capability
- It was a routine mission for the crew but then disaster struck over Palomares, Andalucia, as the aircraft refuelled
- Four hydrogen bombs plummeted to earth at horrific speeds, which would have killed millions had they exploded
By GUY WALTERS FOR THE DAILY MAIL18 January 2016 “……the B-52 had overshot and the boom had missed the fuel nozzle in the top of the plane. Instead, the boom had smashed into the bomber with such force that its left wing was ripped off.
Fire quickly spread up the fuel-filled boom and ignited all 30,000 gallons of the tanker’s kerosene, causing it to plummet to the ground. Meanwhile, the bomber started to break up, and the crew did their best to get out of the plane using parachutes.
As for the hydrogen bombs, there was nothing that could be done. In less than two minutes, they would be crashing into the Earth at an enormous speed — potentially destroying much of the regions of Andalucia and Murcia.
Hundreds of thousands of people could be about to die, and the nuclear fallout would have the capacity to kill millions more all over Europe — not just from radiation poisoning but from cancers for decades to come……..
The nuclear payloads of the four American B28 hydrogen bombs mercifully did not detonate when they landed, even though the conventional explosives in two of the bombs did explode, showering some 500 acres around the fishing village of Palomares with three kilograms of highly radioactive plutonium-239. Continue reading
Palomares nuclear crash: US agrees Spanish coast clean-up http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34569614 19 October 2015 Almost 50 years after four nuclear bombs fell on the Spanish coast after two US military planes collided, American officials have signed a deal to clean up contaminated land.
None of the bombs detonated in January 1966, but three fell around Palomares and a fourth was found on the sea bed.
Highly toxic plutonium was spread over a 200-hectare (490-acre) area.
On a visit to Madrid, Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to finalise a deal on disposing of contaminated soil.
Under the agreement in principle, signed by Mr Kerry and Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, the US will remove the soil at Palomares to a site in the US.
Spanish media said the soil would be transported to a site in Nevada. The deal comes a few months before the 50th anniversary of the crash, one of the most serious nuclear incidents of the Cold War.
An earlier consignment of contaminated soil was shipped to a site in South Carolina shortly after the accident and buried in deep trenches.
But further analysis of soil in the area has been carried out in recent years, and the health of residents in the Palomares area is still being monitored.
- On 17 January 1966, a US B-52 bomber carrying four 1.5 megaton bombs collided with a refuelling tanker some 31,000 feet above Palomares on Spain’s Mediterranean coast
- The tanker crew and three people on board the bomber were killed
- One bomb equipped with a parachute landed intact
- Two bombs hit the ground at high speed, scattering plutonium
- A fourth bomb landed five miles off shore and was later recovered by USS Petrel
“I looked up and saw this huge ball of fire, falling through the sky” – Spain waits for US to finish nuclear clean-up
Near the town of Guadix, where summer temperatures often top 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), the main sound at the site is a whirring of motors to keep the mirrors – mounted on giant steel frames – tracking the sun as the Earth turns.
The Andasol plant, whose name combines the local Andalucia region with the Spanish word for sun – “sol”, provides electricity for up to about 500,000 people from about 620,000 curved mirrors.
The glass alone would cover 1.5 square km (0.6 square miles) – the size of about 210 soccer pitches. Installed electricity generating capacity at this semi-desert site is about 150 megawatts.
There is little sign of life here, at an altitude of 1,100 meters (3,600 feet) near the snow-capped Sierra Nevada range. Some hardy red and yellow flowers grow around the fringes, a few pigeons flap past and workers say that the odd fox lopes by at night.
The environmental benefits of clean energy are judged to outweigh the scar to the landscape from the mirrors, which are visible from space. The land is infertile, there is little wildlife and few people live nearby. The biggest regional city, Granada, with about 240,000 people, is 70 km (45 miles) away.
Andasol was Europe’s first “parabolic trough solar power plant” when its first section opened in 2009 – California has the biggest.
Sunlight bounces off the mirrors to heat a synthetic oil in a tube to a blazing 400 degrees C (752 F). That energy is in turn used to drive a turbine, generating electricity.
At Andasol, some energy also goes into a “heat reservoir” – a tank containing thousands of tonnes of molten salt that can drive the turbines after sundown, or when it is overcast, for about 7.5 hours.
That gets round the main drawback for solar power – the sun does not always shine. The system is very different from better-known rooftop solar panels that transform sunlight directly into electricity……..
Solar power has massive potential – one U.N. study estimated the world’s electricity needs could be generated by harvesting solar power from an area of the Sahara 800 km (500 miles) by 800 km.
And in 2014, a report by the International Energy Agency said the sun could – with a radical shift in investments – be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050, ahead of fossil fuels, wind, hydro and nuclear.
Capacity just from solar thermal plants like Andasol could expand to 1,000 gigawatts a year from 4 gigawatts at the end of 2013, the agency said…….. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/01/us-climatechange-summit-earthprints-spai-idUSKCN0RV43O20151001
Row threatens Spain’s first nuclear graveyard, The Local, Jul 2015 Spain’s conservative government and the central region of Castilla-La Mancha locked horns Thursday over plans to build the nation’s first-ever temporary storage facility for highly radioactive waste. The country’s nuclear security council on Monday approved a report that gives the green light for the facility to be built near the village of Villar de Cañas in Castilla-La Mancha.
Enresa, the state-owned company responsible for Spain’s nuclear facilities, in 2011 chose the site from a list that included eight other communities which bid to house the nuclear dump.
But on Tuesday the new Socialist government of Castilla-La Mancha moved to block the construction of the facility by approving the expansion of a protected area for birds so it includes land earmarked for the radioactive waste site.
“This will protect an area where endangered species live,” regional government spokesman Nacho Hernando told a news conference. The Socialists took power in the region on July 4th following May local elections, ousting the conservative Popular Party which rules at the national level.
Energy Minister Jose Manuel Soria warned on Thursday that Spain would have to abandon nuclear power if the facility is not built………The government wants to store all the spent fuel produced at Spain’s eight nuclear power stations at the site.
Each power station currently stores the spent fuel which they produce in on site storage pools that are starting to fill up.
Spain has since 2008 stored low to medium-grade nuclear waste at a facility at El Cabril in Cordoba province in the southwest……..
environmental groups including Greenpeace accuse the dump’s supporters of putting money before safety and have lobbied to have the project shelved. http://www.thelocal.es/20150731/row-over-plans-for-spains-first-nuclear-graveyard
Nuclear deal was ‘lost in translation’, Business Day BY SIKONATHI MANTSHANTSHA, OCTOBER 10 2014 ROSATOM, THE STATE-OWNED RUSSIAN NUCLEAR COMPANY, SPENT ON THURSDAY AFTERNOON TRYING TO DISOWN ITS EARLIER CLAIM OF HAVING BEEN AWARDED A CONTRACT TO BUILD SA’S PROPOSED FLEET OF POWER STATIONS.
The company blamed a poor translation for its late September statement in which, quoting South African government officials, it said it had been granted the right to build a fleet of nuclear power stations for SA.
The news that Russia would build nuclear power stations came as a surprise as no announcement had been made by the government that it had begun any tender process to procure the 9.6GW it said it would be actively seeking.
“The wording (in the statement) from Rosatom wasn’t well chosen,” said Viktor Polikarpov, regional vice-president for sub-Saharan Africa. “We have to admit that we worded the statement wrongly. It was lost in translation (from the original Russian).”
In this statement Rosatom quoted Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson. After going to ground and for days being unavailable to confirm the Rosatom claim, the Department of Energy eventually released a statement on its website, which was almost identical to Rosatom’s “translated” statement.
Following this, the department said the statement in no way confirmed SA had reached a deal with Russia. The agreement only envisioned possible future co-operation on nuclear energy issue……….
When Business Day asked for a copy of the co-operation agreement, Mr Polikarpov said the document “is classified … it is not available for public consumption”.
Mr Polikarpov was asked how Rosatom arrived at the $50bn price estimate for the project. After much discussion in Russian with Alex Kirillov, head of marketing in SA, he said this was the estimated cost of Rosatom’s plants……..
Rosatom will apply for a $50bn loan from the Russian government if SA chooses a build, own and operate model, he said……..http://www.bdlive.co.za/business/energy/2014/10/09/nuclear-deal-was-lost-in-translation
.http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/09/17/349223674/tiny-spanish-island-nears-its-goal-100-percent-renewable-energy Audio Tiny Spanish Island Nears Its Goal: 100 Percent Renewable Energy NPR, by LAUREN FRAYER September 28, 2014 “….. Spanish island of El Hierro. The ancient island off the west coast of Africa is now a model for the future, within months of running on 100 percent renewable energy, which consists of a mix of wind and hydro-power.
El Hierro, the most remote of Spain’s Canary Islands, is now billing itself as the world’s first energy self-sufficient island that has never been hooked up to a power grid.A Danish island, Samso, is also energy-independent, but was previously hooked up to the Danish grid and didn’t make the change in isolation, like El Hierro.
Because of the topography of the surrounding seabed, El Hierro, an active volcanic island with a population of about 10,000, could never hook up to Spain’s power grid.
Instead, it used big barges to ship in 6,600 tons of diesel fuel — the equivalent of 40,000 barrels of oil — each year, to power electricity generators. It was an expensive, time-consuming and dirty endeavor … until now.
This past summer, El Hierro inaugurated the Gorona del Viento power plant, a $110 million wind and water turbine farm. By the end of this year, the plant will generate all of the island’s energy needs of up to 48 gigawatt hours per year……..
El Hierro is already planning its next energy project. It wants all the island’s cars to be electric by the year 2020.
Solar Radiation Increasing In Spain Red Orbit, June 6, 2013 FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and TechnologySolar radiation in Spain has increased by 2.3% every decade since the 1980s, according to a study by researchers from the University of Girona and the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. This increase is linked to the decreased presence of clouds, which has increased the amount of direct radiation reaching us from the Sun.
“The mean annual G series over Spain shows a tendency to increase during the 1985-2010 period, with a significant linear trend of + 3.9 W m-2 [2.3% more] per decade.” This is the main conclusion of a study published in the magazine ‘Global and Planetary Change‘ by researchers from the University of Girona and the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH, Switzerland).
The season-by-season data show the same “significant” increase in solar radiation impacting the nation: + 6.5 W/m2 per decade during the summer, + 4.1 W/m2 in autumn, + 3.2 W/m2 in spring and + 1.7 W/m2 in winter.
“These data relate to global solar radiation, in other words the increase in direct radiation reaching us from the Sun plus diffuse radiation which is scattered previously by clouds, atmospheric gases and aerosols,” explains one of the authors, Arturo Sánchez-Lorenzo, currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Girona…… According to the scientists, this increase may also go hand in hand with more ultraviolet rays, an excess of which presents a health risk, potentially leading to skin cancer.
More global brightening
The increase in global solar radiation is a phenomenon that has been observed in other parts of the world for almost 30 years, especially in developed countries, and it has been named “global brightening”. The fall in the diffuse component has also been observed in Central European and Eastern countries.
The team behind the study has not yet analyzed the solar radiation data for 2011-2013 provided by the Spanish State Meteorological Agency, but the data from other European weather stations suggests that this brightening is still on the rise.
“Studies such as these may be of interest to the solar energy industry, especially in countries like Spain, where not only do we already have a lot of direct solar radiation but now we are getting even more,” affirms one of the other authors, Josep Calbó, who is a professor at the University of Girona. http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112866837/solar-radiation-increasing-spain-060613/
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