Friday, February 21, 2014

MONUMENTAL GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Iran's Eco-Disaster - One Of The World's Biggest Salt-Water Lakes Shrinks By 80 PERCENT In Just 10 Years; Experts Fear Lake Oroumieh Could DISAPPEAR In Just 2 Years! [PHOTOS+VIDEO]

February 21, 2014 - IRAN - As a country, it faces threats of terrorism, nuclear power and frosty international relations with world leaders.

An abandoned ship is stuck in solidified salt at Lake Oroumieh. The shrinking has been blamed on climate change.

But Iran is focusing on another problem - a shrinking lake.

Lake Oroumieh, of the world's biggest saltwater lakes, is in danger of completely drying up because of climate change, nearby farms using it for irrigation and the damming of rivers.

It has shrunk more than 80 percent to 1,000 square kilometers (nearly 400 square miles) in the past decade, experts say.

Salt-covered rocks that were once deep underwater now sit in the middle of desert.

Experts fear the lake - famous in years past as a tourist spot and a favorite stopping point for migrating flamingos, pelicans and gulls - could disappear within two years if nothing is done.

 'The lake is gone. My job is gone. My children are gone. Tourists, too,' said Mozafar Cheraghi, 58, who used to run a his bustling teahouse.

Less than a decade ago, he recalled, he hosted dozens of tourists a day, with his two sons taking them on boat tours. His children have since left to pursue work elsewhere.

'I sold a dozen boats and kept half a dozen here, hoping the water will return,' he said. 'But it didn't happen.'

Rescuing the lake in northwestern Iran, near the Turkish border, was one of the campaign promises of Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani.

Visitors walk on salt-covered rocks that were once deep underwater at Lake Oroumieh Lake.

Two men walk toward salt-covered rocks that were once deep underwater at Lake Oroumieh. Expanded irrigation for
surrounding farms and the damming of rivers that feed the body of water have been attributed to the shrinking lake.

Reza, an Iranian gardener, sits on a dry tree near Lake Oroumieh, which has shrunk
more than 80 percent to 1,000 square kilometers.

Twenty proposals are on the table for saving the lake, including cloud-seeding to increase rainfall
in the area and the building of pipelines to bring in more water.

His new cabinet promptly decided to form a team to invite scholars to help find solutions.

The president is putting an emphasis on tackling long-neglected environmental problems critics say were made worse by his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

An engineer with an appetite for giant populist projects, Ahmadinejad pursued policies that led to the expansion of irrigation projects and construction of dams.

'Rouhani stands by his campaign promise to revive the lake,' Isa Kalantari, a popular scholar appointed by Rouhani to lead the rescue team, said at an international conference in Oroumieh this week.

WATCH:  Iran's Lake Oroumieh has shrunk more than 80%.


The gathering brought experts from Iran and around the world to discuss the best options for reversing the trend and saving Iran from a major environmental and economic disaster.

'Don't blame nature and drought. Human beings, not climate change, are responsible for this situation. We dried up the lake because of our excessive demands and wrong methods. Now, we have to revive it ourselves. Five million people have to leave this region if the lake dies,' Kalantari said.

Kalantari and his team are to come up with a final rescue plan by May.

Twenty proposals are on the table for saving the lake, including cloud-seeding to increase rainfall in the area and the building of pipelines to bring in more water.

Experts have also proposed the creation of other industries to reduce reliance on agricultural water.

The government has already begun a project to raise public awareness and encourage farmers to abandon wasteful practices and adopt drip irrigation systems that save water.

The president is putting an emphasis on tackling long-neglected environmental problems critics say
were made worse by his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

A deserted boat is seen through the shattered window of an abandoned ship, both stuck in the lake's solidified salt.

Lake Oroumieh, pictured in 1984, was a sprawling lake - but climate change, river damming
and irrigation has caused ti to shrink, experts warn.

The lake used to be famous as a tourist spot and a favorite stopping point for migrating flamingos, pelicans and gulls

It is also urging farmers to switch to less-thirsty crops. Wheat and pistachios, for example, use less water than sugar beets.

In the village of Govarchinghaleh, near the lake, Nader Hazrati and his son, Ali, grow grapes and almonds.

'A decade ago, this was a green area. Now it is not because of decrease in rainfall. With the level of water in the lake going down, water in wells has gone down too. If we dig deeper, the water gets very salty and isn't fit even for agricultural use. Our grape and almond harvest has fallen dramatically,' Ali said.

Ali, 27, said salty winds have killed some of his almond trees.

The effect on crops has prompted many villagers to leave the place of their birth. Govarchinghaleh had about 1,000 people a decade ago.

Now, only 300 live in the village overlooking the shrinking lake. Once there were three schools; now there is one, serving a dozen students.

 Not far away, trucks hauling salt, a new business, could be seen driving over the dry lake bottom.

Ali Asghar Siab Qudsi, a university teacher and one of the organizers of the conference, said dams and the digging of more than 24,000 unauthorized wells - in addition to some 30,000 legal ones - are among the reasons for the shrinking of the lake.

He said increasing evaporation and cultivation of thirsty crops such as sugar beets have worsened the crisis.

Lakes in other parts of Iran are facing a similar crisis, though not as severe as at Oroumieh. Even residents of Tehran experience water shortages on weekends, and authorities are making plans for possible rationing in the capital.

Authorities have warned of a national disaster in the coming decade if water is not managed properly.

'My No. 1 demand is to see our dying lake back to life. Will that happen in my lifetime?' Cheraghi asked. - Daily Mail.

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: "Problem Has Become Too Common To Ignore" - Oil Train Derailments Reaching Crisis Point!

February 21, 2014 - INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE - On February 13 a Norfolk Southern Railway train bound for New Jersey derailed in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania. About 3,500 to 4,500 gallons of crude oil spilled, although miraculously it somehow didn’t leak into nearby water supplies. The Federal Railroad Administration announced that it will investigate the crash. The episode is merely the latest in a series of derailments and will raise pressure on federal regulators to issue new safety rules.

Train derailment of a suburban New York line left four people dead, and 63 injured in December, 2013.

It is hard to imagine the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) not taking action soon as the problem has become too common to ignore.
Between 1975 and 2010 only 800,000 gallons of crude oil spilled from rail tankers. But in 2013 alone, over 1.15 million gallons of oil spilled. That is because shipping oil by rail has skyrocketed from fewer than 10,000 carloads in 2009 to more than 400,000 in 2013.

With hundred-car trains rolling out from the Bakken in every direction
– west to Washington state and Los Angeles, south to Gulf Coast refiners, north to Canada, and east to refineries in New Jersey – towns and cities are calling for greater scrutiny, but are powerless to take matters into their own hands as rail safety is regulated at the federal level.

The NTSB and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada issued joint recommendations on January 23 that call for treating crude oil like other toxic materials. These came on the heels of fiery crash in North Dakota in late December 2013. The recommendations call on rail companies to use reinforced rail cars, enhanced safety procedures, and alternative routes that avoid populated cities and towns. But, the recommendations are not binding – and action on things like rail design safety would need to come from another agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Regulators have said that they need more time to review rail designs and that they do not plan on publishing new rules within the next year. But, the issue isn’t going away. CSX, a major rail company, projects that oil shipped by rail will increase by 50% in 2014.

One of the major problems is that rail companies are using DOT-111 rail cars, which are older models used to carry agricultural products. These models have thinner walls that can puncture when they derail.
This is particularly important because crude from the Bakken is more flammable than other types of oil. The Association of American Railroads issued new standards for manufacturers for cars built after 2011, which require thicker shells that are resistant to puncturing. But, the vast majority of railcars in use were constructed before this standard.

The big question is whether or not PHMSA will require and accelerate the phase out of DOT-111 cars, making reinforced cars mandatory.
Last summer, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote a letter to PHMSA, calling on them to do just that. PHMSA has thus far been unwilling to act, prompting North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple to press them for an interim standard until they come out with something more concrete in 2015. And Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both from Oregon, held a meeting with rail executives to push them on safety. Despite the pressure from a few lone politicians, the government has been slow to act and the rail industry has resisted any regulation, arguing it would cost more than $1 billion.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on rail safety on February 26, an indication that after multiple train derailments and explosions, the issue is finally getting greater attention on Capitol Hill. - Zero Hedge.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Report For February 21, 2014 - New Japanese Volcanic Island Nishino-Shima Doubles In Elevation; Possible Lava Dome Forms At Indonesia's Kelut Volcano; Elevated Activity And Pyroclastic Flow At Shiveluch Volcano In Kamchatka; Thermal Anomaly At Chirinkotan In The Northern Kuriles; Small Explosion Of Aso In Kyushu; 6 Vulcanian-Type Explosions At Japan's Sakurajima Volcano; New Ash Plumes At Dukono In Halmahera; Explosion At Suwanose-jima In Ryukyu Islands; 43 Earthquakes Beneath Kilauea Volcano In 24 Hours; Small Phreatic Eruption At Poas Volcano In Costa Rica; Moderate Seismic Activity At Ecuador's Tungurahua Volcano! [PHOTOS+VIDEO]

February 21, 2014 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Nishino-Shima (Izu Islands, Japan): The island continues to grow by progressing lava flows into several directions, as the latest images by the Japanese Coast Guard from 16 Feb show.

Aerial view of Nishinoshima on 16 Feb 2014 (Japan Coast Guard)

Direction of lava flows from the active vents

Current outline (red) of the island compared to previous stages

Its highest peak, formed by the western of the 2 active vents, was measured at 66 m, i.e. it now reached almost twice the height of the peak of the old island. The new addition has more than doubled the size of the island so far.

It also formed a black-sand beach on the NE shore of the old part, as a result of lava fragments washed up by currents and waves.

Kelut (East Java, Indonesia): A MODIS hot spot is visible at the crater, suggesting that a new lava dome could be forming there. This would be the effusive continuation of the recent explosion on 13 Feb, as magma with much less gas content continues to arrive at the vent.

MODIS hot spot at Kelut volcano (ModVolc, Univ. Hawaii)

The volcano itself remains relatively calm and produces only a degassing plume. So far, no clear picture has been available about what exactly is going on at the crater itself (e.g. whether a new lava dome is forming).

Degassing plume of Kelut yesterday (photo: Aris Yanto)

The biggest problem at the moment are lahars, mud flows that form when rain water mixes and remobilizes loose deposits. These mud flows can carry boulders of meter size and are extremely destructive (imagine flowing cement with mixed-in large debris of all sorts). It is estimated that approximately 50 million cubic meters of tephra deposits from the 13 Feb eruption could be remobilized by the rains in the coming days, weeks and months to come. Areas most at risk are river valleys and their river banks.

Shiveluch (Kamchatka): Activity at the volcano remains elevated. The lava dome extrudes currently 2 lobes of viscous lava, a larger one on the NW side and a smaller one on the SE side, which seems to have appeared around 16 Feb. The active parts of the dome suffer frequent small to moderate-sized avalanches (mainly from the NW side). Bright glow can be seen at night.

A larger collapse on 18 Feb caused a pyroclastic flow that reached a length of approx. 3 km and an ash plume that rose to 23,000 ft (7 km) altitude.

WATCH:  Shiveluch volcano activity - February 16-20.


Chirinkotan (Northern Kuriles): SVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Chirinkotan was observed in satellite images on 12 and 15 February, and steam-and-gas emissions were observed on 16 February. Cloud cover obscured views on other days during 11-17 February. The Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow. (Info From: Smithsonian/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report 12-18 February 2014)

Aso (Kyushu): JMA reported that a very small explosion from Asosan's Nakadake Crater occurred on 16 February and yesterday morning. In both cases, a steam plume with some ash rose 300 m above the crater rim and drifted S. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-5).

Small ash emission from Aso yesterday

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): Eruptions have been stronger again during the past days. In the 4 days since 16 Feb, at least 6 vulcanian-type explosions were recorded with ash plumes rising up to 12,000 ft (3.7 km) altitude.

Suwanose-jima (Ryukyu Islands): An explosion occurred at the volcano yesterday, VAAC Tokyo reported. The height of the ash plume was unknown.

Dukono (Halmahera): New ash plumes were spotted this morning by VAAC Darwin on satellite imagery. Ash clouds at approx. 7,000 ft (2.1 km) altitude drifted 80 nautical miles to the east. Probably strombolian activity seems to be relatively intense at the volcano.

Kilauea (Hawai'i): 43 earthquakes were strong enough to be located beneath Kilauea Volcano in the past 24 hours - 9 of them were on the south flank faults! (February 19)

The tiltmeter at Pu`u `O`o recorded the start of DI deflation tilt at 9 pm yesterday - around 14.5 hours after the summit DI deflation tilt! (February 18)

Poas (Costa Rica): A very small phreatic or hydrothermal eruption occurred a week ago. OVSICORI-UNA shared a picture showing a geyser-like ejection of mud from the crater lake.

Small mud eruption at Poás on 14 Feb (Image: OVSICOR-UNA via faceook)

Activity in any case seems to have risen. Karin Leonard who lives at Poas wrote us:

"Poas in Costa Rica is becoming active, there are reports on the local news. We feel lots of tremors and rotten egg gas is more common.

The latest earth quakes are not showing. Often the reports show Nicaragua but should say Costa Rica ...
Karin Leonard, Grecia, Costa Rica

We are just below Poas by about 21 kilometer by roads".

Tungurahua (Ecuador): Overall, the volcano's visible activity has continued to decrease with fewer and weaker explosions, although seismic activity remains moderate to high. The strongest explosion in the past days was one yesterday evening that produced an ash column rising 3 km, a powerful cannon-shot explosion sound. Bombs fell around the crater at distances of 500 m.

Explosion from Tungurahua yesterday evening

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for February 21, 2014.

- Volcano Discovery.

EXTREME WEATHER: Severe Storm Outbreak Hits United States Midwest, Southeast - With Blizzards, Tornadoes And Thunderstorms; More Than 200 Reports Of Wind Damage; Over 25 Reports Of Hail; Storms Damage Buildings And Toppled Trees! [PHOTOS+VIDEO]

February 21, 2014 - UNITED STATES - A severe weather outbreak brought dangerous weather to the Midwest and South Thursday night, and the storm system continued to bring the threat of severe storms Friday as it pushed toward the East Coast.

Andy Shireman tweeted this photo of a reported tornado near Concord, Ill. Thursday.

Several tornadoes have been reported in Illinois and Georgia by the Storm Prediction Center Thursday night and Friday morning. There were more than 200 reports of wind damage peppered across more than a dozen states Thursday, and nearly 25 reports of hail.

"Where instability was greatest, thunderstorms congealed into long lines from Tennessee southward, rather than discrete, rotating supercells, minimizing the number of tornadoes there," said senior meteorologist Jon Erdman. "Farther north, where more discrete supercells did erupt, a few tornadoes did touch down in parts of the mid-Mississippi Valley. However, with more limited instability that far north, the number of tornadoes was limited there, too."

Though this event likely won't be classified as a tornado outbreak, Thursday is still likely to be the most active day for twisters since Dec. 21, when 11 tornadoes were spawned across the South, Erdman added.
Below is a look at how the event has affected each state in its path.


Storms damaged some buildings in Calhoun County and brought down trees in many areas of Alabama. Preliminary reports to the National Weather Service said the storms toppled trees late Thursday and early Friday in Marion, Fayette, Walker, Tuscaloosa and Elmore counties. In Tuscaloosa County, there were reports of scattered trees down and power outages across the county.

Now assessing damage in a residential area of Ft. Payne after possible overnight tornado.

In Calhoun County, an emergency manager reported snapped power poles and minor damage to several buildings along Alabama Highway 77, including a gas station, post office and grocery store. In Fort Payne, the Times-Journal reports that homes were damaged and some semitrailers were blown in the area early Friday. Two injuries were reported in the aftermath of the Fort Payne storms. There were no immediate reports of any confirmed tornadoes in the state.


There were reports of several homes damaged in central Georgia and trees toppled across north Georgia after a fast-moving line of thunderstorms brought high winds to the region. The Courier Herald in Dublin reports that more than 50 homes in northern Laurens County were impacted by a storm Friday, with debris scattered across yards and on rooftops.

Possible damage in Laurens County, Ga. Courtesy of Laurens County, Georgia Facebook page.

There were no immediate reports of injuries there. Preliminary reports to the National Weather Service indicate that several trees were down on U.S. Highway 11 in Dade County Friday morning, after the line of storms rolled through the state's northwest corner. In Floyd County, there were reports of several power lines down. In Cobb County, there were many reports of toppled trees. A 58 mph wind gust was reported at Dobbins Air Force Base in Marietta.


The National Weather Service says four possible tornadoes touched down in central Illinois, causing minor damage. Officials with the agency's office in Lincoln say they're reviewing preliminary reports of four twisters that struck Thursday afternoon. The tornadoes were reported near the Cass County town of Arenzville, about 50 miles west of Springfield; east of Mechanicsburg in Sangamon County; near Pana in Christian County; and west of Shumway in Effingham County. The storms reportedly destroyed several outbuildings and snapped utility poles. No injuries were reported.

WATCH: Meteor seen over the Netherlands.


Utilities in Illinois say power is mostly restored Friday morning. Ameren Illinois reported about 32,000 customers were without power Thursday afternoon. By Friday morning, that number was down to about 900. Most of those outages were concentrated in Stewardson and Strasburg in central Illinois. In northern Illinois, ComEd reports about 1,400 Cook County customers remained without electricity on Friday.


The state's first bout with severe weather of 2014 brought numerous wind and hail reports Thursday night as the system moved through. Hundreds remained without power Friday morning as power lines were felled by the gusts.


Trees, power lines and roofs were brought down across the state by strong winds as severe storms blew through Thursday night. Though the damage reports were widespread, there were no reports of injuries from the storms.


Wind and lightning caused isolated damage and power outages across Mississippi Thursday as a storm front moved through the state. A man died after a tree fell on a car in Hattiesburg Thursday afternoon, but authorities aren't sure if it's because of strong winds. The falling tree knocked down a power line that sparked a fire, leaving the body burned. There were no passengers. Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict said his name was being withheld pending notification of family members. Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Brett Carr said a number of counties reported damage, but no other injuries had yet been reported. In DeSoto County, winds blew over an 18-wheeler on Interstate 69 west of Hernando. One example of the damage from the lightning-heavy storms was an empty child care center that caught fire in Batesville. Three houses in Rena Lara and one in Lula were damaged in Coahoma County. Trees and roofs were damaged in Tunica County, and wind blew apart a carport near Arcola in Washington County.


Nearly 7,300 Ameren Missouri residents are still without power following storms and high wind in eastern Missouri. The unsettled weather on Thursday brought wind gusts of 60 mph and more. Most of the outages are in the St. Louis area.

Picture taken just outside of hornersville Missouri shows likely tornado. Pic taken by @piperky1

Ameren said Friday that nearly 44,000 customers were affected at the peak of the outages. Officials with the St. Louis-based utility say crews are working as quickly as possible. Several power lines were knocked down by the winds. Ameren officials encourage people to stay away from downed lines.

North Carolina

Severe weather was expected to bring damaging winds and possibly some hail to eastern parts of the state Friday as the storm system pushes out to sea. Severe thunderstorm warnings began to pop up Friday morning in central North Carolina as a fast-moving line of storms left damage behind.

Risk of damaging straight-line winds today. Main threat 9 am to 4 pm.

Most of the storm reports in the state were wind damage reports; At least half a dozen reports of downed trees and damaged homes had been relayed by 11 a.m. EST Friday morning.

South Carolina

Much of the state was under a severe thunderstorm watch Friday morning as the storms got closer. That watch is in effect until 2 p.m. EST. Late Thursday night, a pair of wind damage reports were relayed from western South Carolina by the Storm Prediction Center. Two reports of trees blown down by high winds came in Thursday night in western North Carolina, but no injuries were reported.


The Storm Prediction Center relayed nearly 90 reports of wind and hail damage Thursday night in the wake of the storms. Hail was reported in Cumberland, Cheatham, Robertson and Rutherford.

300 yards from our crew. We were inside at the time. MT @WKRN:
Our Arena Cam captured this amazing shot downtown. @JimCantore

Some power outages remained in and around Nashville and Memphis Friday morning, but they were minimal. During the storm, the National Weather Service in Nashville had their radar transmitter knocked out by the winds, according to a News Channel 5 report. This caused problems for nearby weather radios until a live signal could be broadcast.


Parts of eastern Virginia have been placed under a tornado watch until 5 p.m. EST as a line of severe storms closes in on the area.

- Wunderground.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Worst Spill In 6 Months At Fukushima - TEPCO Discovers 100-TONNE Radioactive Water Leak; As Stress, Complications From The Nuclear Fallout Kill More Than Initial Disaster!

February 21, 2014 - JAPAN - About 100 tons of highly radioactive water leaked from one of the hundreds of storage tanks at the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant, its operator said Thursday, calling the leak the worst spill at the plant in six months.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company said it had traced the latest leak to a pair of valves that were left open
by mistake. Tokyo Electric Power Co., via Associated Press

The operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, said the leak, discovered on Wednesday and stopped on Thursday, happened far enough from the plant’s waterfront that none of the radioactive water was likely to reach the Pacific Ocean, as has happened during some previous spills. Still, the leak was an uncomfortable reminder of the many mishaps that have plagued the containment and cleanup efforts at the plant, as well as the hundreds of tons of contaminated groundwater that still flow unchecked into the Pacific every day.

The company, known as Tepco, said it had traced the latest leak to a pair of valves that were left open by mistake.

The leaked water was among the most severely contaminated that Tepco has reported in the aftermath of the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, when damage caused by an earthquake and a tsunami led to meltdowns in three of the plant’s reactors. Each liter of the water contained, on average, 230 million becquerels of particles giving off beta radiation, the company said. About half of the particles were likely to be strontium 90, which is readily taken up by the human body in the same way that calcium is, and can cause bone cancer and leukemia.

That means the water was about 3.8 million times as contaminated with strontium 90 as the maximum allowed under Japan’s safety standards for drinking water. It also showed levels much more radioactive than a worrisome groundwater reading that Tepco announced earlier this month. That reading — five million becquerels of strontium 90 per liter — which was detected at a location closer to the ocean than the latest spill, prompted criticism of Tepco because the company waited five months to report it publicly.

TEPCO says it is unlikely the water has made its way to the sea.AFP: Tomohiro Ohsumi

Critics have assailed the company since the accident, saying that it has been slow to acknowledge problems at the stricken plant and that it has disclosed too little information about the conditions inside. Even so, the government has left the company largely in charge of the cleanup work there.

Tepco has struggled to deal with the hundreds of tons of groundwater seeping each day into the plant’s damaged reactor buildings, where it is contaminated by the melted nuclear reactor cores. To keep the radioactive water from running into the Pacific, the company must pump it out of the reactor buildings and store it in rows of huge tanks it has erected on the plant’s grounds.

So far, Tepco said, about 340,000 tons of water have accumulated in the tanks, enough to fill more than 135 Olympic-size swimming pools. A ton of water is equivalent to about 240 gallons. - NY Times.

Stress, Complications From Fukushima Fallout Kill More Than Initial Disaster.
An elderly man sits as he and with his wife (not pictured) visit a cemetery to pay respects to their son who was
killed in the March 2011 tsunami, in Minamisoma in Fukushima prefecture on March 11, 2013.
(AFP Photo / Yoshkazu Tsuno)

The number of people who survived the Fukushima nuclear disaster only to succumb to stress and other illnesses has continued to climb, with Japanese officials announcing that the death toll outnumbers the amount of people killed in the meltdown.

Prefecture and local police told The Japan Times on Wednesday that 1,656 people have died of stress and other tensions that have come as a result of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. That number is especially sobering when compared to the 1,607 people who died in the prefecture when the natural disasters struck almost three years ago.

One prefectural said a huge number of people “have undergone drastic changes in their lives and are still unable to map out their future plans, such as homecoming, causing increased stress on them.”

An estimated 136,000 people are still displaced or looking for shelter in Fukushima prefecture -- the administrative jurisdiction that has borne the brunt of the lingering effects of the natural disasters and the subsequent failure at the nuclear power plant on March 3, 2011.

More than 18,000 people were killed across Japan in the tragedy, with entire communities destroyed or deemed unlivable. Rebuilding programs have progressed steadily, yet the number of unsafe areas is still especially problematic.

“This is different from natural disasters,” Hiroyuki Harada, a Fukushima official working to assist victims, told Sky News. “People who live in shelters are forced to live there, away from their home towns and villages, where they lived for a long time. They are forced to lives the kinds of lives they are not used to.”

A damaged house, caused by a tsunami, is seen in Minamisoma city, Fukushima prefecture on March 12, 2011.
(AFP Photo / Jiji Press)

The Fukushima statistics are not only staggering because they outnumber the infamous 3/11 total, but also because they so greatly exceed the other areas that were among the worst affected. Iwate, Japan reported that 434 people had been killed, with 879 in Miyagi.

 As many as 90 percent of those who have died of stress and disease caused by the disaster were 66-years-old or older, according to numbers published by the Reconstruction Agency in September 2013. People of advanced age – themselves a significant proportion of Japan’s total population – are especially vulnerable in disasters of such magnitude because of the likelihood that they are unable to move efficiently, or because they rely on others for assistance.

“People have gone through dramatic changes of their environment,” Harada said. “As a result, people who would not have died are dying.”

The numbers of casualties are recorded by local municipalities and, perhaps not surprisingly, trend higher the closer an area is to the coastline or nuclear facility. Town panels generally launch investigations into a person’s death when the relatives of the deceased file a request. The city of Minamisoma was also among the areas with the highest death tolls (447 deaths), followed by Namie (317) and Tomioka (225).

The Japan Times noted that the country’s health ministry has published a set of guidelines for towns to follow in the wake of a disaster. The ministry advised that deaths indirectly caused by a disaster should curtail one month after the event in question. Yet the Fukushima tragedy occurred nearly three years ago, inspiring the newspaper to speculate that “a new set of criteria may be necessary.”

The solemn announcement came one day before the operator at Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) told reporters that approximately 100 tons of highly radioactive water leaked from one of the hundreds of storage tanks at Fukushima. A single ton of water equates to 240 gallons.

The leak, which has been described as the plant’s worst in at least six months, was discovered on Wednesday and plugged on Thursday. Officials said the water would not reach the Pacific Ocean. - RT.

MONUMENTAL SOLAR SYSTEM CHANGES: The Hot Flow Anomalies - Gigantic Planet-Sized Weather Explosions Observed On Planet Venus; "Could Swallow The Planet Whole"!

February 21, 2014 - PLANET VENUS - Earth is protected from the constant streaming solar wind of radiation by its magnetosphere. Venus, however, has no such luck.


A barren, inhospitable planet, with an atmosphere so dense that spacecraft landing there are crushed within hours, Venus has no magnetic protection. Researchers recently discovered that a common space weather phenomenon on the outskirts of Earth’s magnetic bubble, the magnetosphere, has much larger repercussions for Venus. The giant explosions, called hot flow anomalies, can be so large at Venus that they’re bigger than the entire planet and they can happen multiple times a day.

"Not only are they gigantic," said Glyn Collinson, a space scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "But as Venus doesn’t have a magnetic field to protect itself, the hot flow anomalies happen right on top of the planet. They could swallow the planet whole."

Collinson is the first author of a paper on these results that appeared online in the Journal of Geophysical Research in February 2014. The work is based on observations from the European Space Agency's Venus Express. The results show just how large and how frequent this kind of space weather is at Venus.


Scientists like to compare Earth and Venus: What happened differently at Earth to make it into the life-supporting planet it is today? What would Earth be like without its magnetic field?

At Earth, hot flow anomalies do not make it inside the magnetosphere, but they release so much energy just outside that the solar wind is deflected, and can be forced to move back toward the sun. Without a magnetosphere, what happens at Venus is very different.

Venus's only protection from the solar wind is the charged outer layer of its atmosphere called the ionosphere. A sensitive pressure balance exists between the ionosphere and the solar wind, a balance easily disrupted by the giant energy rush of a hot flow anomaly. The hot flow anomalies may create dramatic, planet-scale disruptions, possibly sucking the ionosphere up and away from the surface of the planet. - Daily Galaxy.

THE GREAT DELUGE: Chaos And Widespread Damage From Heavy Torrential Rainfall And Mudslides In Burundi - At Least 69 Dead; 180 Injured; 20,000 Displaced; 2,000 Homeless!

February 21, 2014 - BURUNDI - At least 69 people, including children, have been killed in the central Africa nation of Burundi because of torrential rains, an aid group said Thursday.

A familly sits outside their destroyed house, on February 11 in Bujumbura, after flooding and landslides caused
by a night of torrential rain swept away hundreds of homes and killed at scores of people.

The rains have triggered mudslides, swept away some homes and caused others to collapse, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a statement.

More than 180 people have been injured, the group said, adding that it would expect to see more casualties as rescue teams reach more of the affected areas.

The storm is causing chaos in and around the capital of Bujumbura.

WATCH:  Flooding kills nearly 70 in Burundi.


Close to 20,000 people have been displaced and more than 2,000 families have been left homeless, the aid group said. Roads and crops have also been damaged.

"Today, we call upon all charitable people who have historically shown solidarity with Burundi to again come forward. We need temporary shelter. We need hygiene kits and we need kitchen sets. People are destitute. We absolutely have to find the means to assist these people," said Pamphile Kantabaze, secretary general of the Burundi Red Cross Society. - CNN.