Category: Technological Disaster

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the guardian

Shell and Exxon’s €5bn problem: gas drilling that sets off earthquakes and wrecks homes

Groningen has been one of Europe’s richest gas fields for 30 years, and thousands of people say their homes have been damaged by the tremors that drilling sets off. Now a class action may finally bring them compensation – and force a rethink of European energy security

Annemarie Heite, whose home in Groningen has been scheduled for demolition after earthquakes caused by oil drilling.
‘Nobody is taking this seriously, not the school or the mayor, no one’ … Annemarie Heite, whose home in Groningen has been scheduled for demolition after earthquakes caused by oil drilling. Photograph: Hans Knikman/Demotix

Five years ago, Annemarie Heite and her husband, Albert, bought their dream home; a traditional 19th-century farmhouse in Groningen province in the northern Netherlands. The couple planned to raise their two young daughters in this charming corner of the Dutch countryside. “Then, the living was still easy, and affordable,” Annemarie says, her tone bittersweet and nostalgic. Today, their house is scheduled for demolition.

Hundreds of earthquakes have wrecked the foundations of the Heites’ home and made it unsafe to live in. Annemarie’s biggest fear is the safety of her daughters. She points to a room. “This is where my children sleep,” she says, “and everyday I’m just picking up pieces of bricks and stuff from the ceiling.”

Heite fears that her children may not be any safer at school. Her daughter Zara goes to a local primary school that has not been structurally reinforced to withstand strong earthquakes. “I feel powerless. It feels like I can’t do anything,” Heite says. “It’s not like I’m a frantic, hysterical person, but nobody is taking this seriously, not the school or the mayor, no one.”

Next door, Heite’s neighbour’s farmhouse is already a pile of rubble, which yellow JCBs are clearing away. “It’s collapsed. It’s gone,” Heite says. “They lived there for 30 years … and over there behind the trees, they demolished another house.”

Farmhouses like Heite’s are disappearing across the Groningen countryside as a peculiar, profound environmental crisis grips the province. At the heart of it are two oil companies, Shell and Exxon Mobil, and a government that, for two decades, denied responsibility for its actions and ignored the voices of citizens and scientists. The scandal has already cost the oil companies €1.2bn [£880m], but last month a landmark court ruling gave the victims fresh hope that their voices could be ignored no longer. And if they are right, the consequences could be profound: a compensation bill that could stretch to more than €5bn in Holland, an energy security headache for Europe, and an invocation for the world to think about the real cost of burning fossil fuels.

Annemarie Heite’s earthquake-damaged family home in Groningen
‘Everyday I’m just picking up pieces of bricks and stuff from the ceiling’ … Heite’s earthquake-damaged family home. Photograph: Hans Knikman/Demotix


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201 dead in Turkey mine explosion, hundreds trapped

Published time: May 13, 2014 15:49
Edited time: May 14, 2014 02:47

People gather at a mine in the Soma district in the western Turkish province of Manisa on May 13, 2014.(AFP Photo / Ihlas News Agency)

People gather at a mine in the Soma district in the western Turkish province of Manisa on May 13, 2014.(AFP Photo / Ihlas News Agency)

A mine explosion in western Turkey has killed 201, according to Energy Minister Taner Yildiz, and the toll could rise with many more still trapped.

Yildiz told reporters 787 workers were in the Soma mine when the explosion hit a power unit, Reuters reported.

Most of the confirmed dead were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, Yildiz added.

An additional 80 people were injured and hospitalized, he said, four of them in critical condition.

AP reported that more than 200 miners are still trapped in the debris. More than 360 workers have been evacuated thus far.

Rescue workers pumped oxygen into the mine in an attempt to keep trapped miners alive, Reuters reported. A line of police held back thousands of family and fellow workers of the trapped miners who assembled outside of a Soma hospital.

“Fresh air, oxygen is being pumped into the mine. This is the most important thing for our workers down there,” Yildiz said.


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New Evidence Submitted in State Department Hiring of Oil Industry Consultant to Write Keystone XL Environmental Review

Sierra Club | February 12, 2014 10:34 am


Today Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth submitted evidence to the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General to support the ongoing inquiry into conflicts of interest and mismanagement in the environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The groups request that the Inspector General takes steps to ensure that the tainted Final Environmental Impact Statement, released on Jan. 31, is excluded from the agency’s National Interest Determination.



Image courtesy of Friends of the Earth/ infographic


“The State Department hired an oil industry consultant to write the environmental review of Keystone XL without taking steps to guard against industry bias,” said Doug Hayes, Sierra Club staff attorney. “So it’s no surprise that the report attempts to minimize the pipeline’s massive carbon pollution and threats to human health and water quality. This flawed report should have no place in the decision making on this pipeline.”


In Aug. 2013, the State Department confirmed that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) had opened an inquiry into the agency’s hiring of the consultant Environmental Resources Management (ERM) to prepare the environmental review of the project. Evidence shows that ERM made false and misleading statements on its application for the contract.


“By hiring ERM, the State Department ignored its own guidelines and invited the fox into the hen house,” said Ross Hammond, Friends of the Earth senior campaigner. “ERM has an obvious self interest in making sure Keystone XL is built.”


“The process that allowed them to get this contract has been corrupt from day one and the American people deserve better from their government,” Hammond continued. “It’s up to the Secretary Kerry and the Inspector General to restore some integrity and accountability into the review process, not preside over a whitewash.”


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NEAT leaders: TransCanada dupes landowners about eminent domain

New concerns over the Keystone XL oil pipeline are prompting leaders of the Nebraska Easement Action Team, or NEAT, to send a letter to President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry and the Unicameral.

The letter expresses worry over TransCanada’s behavior and tactics in pursuing the proposed pipeline.

NEAT president Tom Genung, of Hastings, claims landowners are being misinformed about land seizures.

“Some of the land agents for TransCanada led landowners to believe that if they didn’t sign the initial proposal or the initial easement contracts that eminent domain would be implemented and that basically there would be no compensation,” Genung says, “which is not true at all.”


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Landowner group warns of perceived plans to bypass federal permit for Keystone XL

February 12, 2014 6:00 pm  • 

A Nebraska landowner advocacy group is warning state legislators and landowners to be aware that TransCanada, the company responsible for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, is offering easement agreements that mention bypassing the need for a presidential permit.

The Nebraska Easement Action Team Wednesday issued a strongly worded resolution condemning what it characterized as a history of deceptive practices by TransCanada and sought to bring attention to a sentence in a letter TransCanada sent this month to a Nebraska landowner.

The letter said if an easement was signed, paperwork wouldn’t be filed with the county recorder until TranCanada gets a presidential permit for the 1,179-mile pipeline or “modifies the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project in such a way that a presidential permit is no longer required.”

David Domina, an Omaha-based attorney who works with NEAT, said that single sentence changes the narrative TransCanada has put forth for years about building an international pipeline that requires a federal permit from Canada to refineries in Texas and Oklahoma.

“This (NEAT resolution) is intended as an alert to landowners and, frankly, to the members of the Legislature. There is something up. And we don’t know what it is,” Domina said. “This is not about the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline project, this is about something new that isn’t being disclosed and we don’t know what it is.”

TransCanada Spokesman Shawn Howard said the company has no plans to avoid the need for a presidential permit.


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Senior Officials Accused of Skewing Science to Benefit Keystone XL Pipeline

PEER | February 6, 2014 11:44 am

Managers within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) overrode their scientific experts to adopt an inaccurate map based upon a flawed model that significantly shrank the range of an endangered species, according to agency investigative reports released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The managers not only retaliated against scientists who voiced objections but rushed into publication of a bogus scientific journal article to cover their tracks.


The American burying beetle is an endangered species threatened by the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The American burying beetle (ABB), a critically endangered species, has seen its range dwindle from 35 states to the plains of South Dakota, Arkansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma —areas in the proposed path for the $5.3 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Based on complaints from FWS scientists, specially convened Scientific Integrity Review Panels found two “high-level” officials guilty of scientific misconduct. The panels found that Dixie Porter, supervisor of the FWS Oklahoma Ecological services field office in Tulsa, OK, and Luke Bell, FWS Branch Chief for Threatened and Endangered Species and Contaminants:

  • Adopted flawed models that dramatically shrunk the known range of the ABB
  • Compounded their misconduct by improperly rushing an article into publication that both “knowingly impeded” the original panel investigation and also would “further degrade the endangered status of the ABB.…” Despite this finding, FWS has yet retract the paper.
  • Retaliated against line scientists who objected, including imposition of “several staff suspensions.”

This is the first time an Interior agency has upheld a scientific misconduct complaint under its relatively new Scientific Integrity policies. Yet FWS refused to release the reports to PEER under the Freedom of Information Act. PEER obtained them by filing an appeal with Interior’s Office of Solicitor, the administrative step before a lawsuit, and the solicitor ordered release of redacted versions of the reports.


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A photo of a whooping crane.

The Canada-to-Texas flight route of the critically endangered whooping crane passes along Keystone XL’s route for hundreds of miles. Conservationists worry about the impact of pipeline power lines.


Mel White

for National Geographic

Published February 14, 2014

Climate change has been the focus of much of the opposition to TransCanada‘s Keystone XL pipeline. But many conservationists are also concerned about more immediate environmental consequences.

They’re worried about the pipeline construction’s impact on wildlife and ecosystems, and of possible spills of the heavy crude oil that will flow through the pipeline at the rate of 830,000 barrels a day. (See related: “Interactive: Mapping the Flow of Tar Sands Oil.“)

Some people, seeing a map of the pipeline’s proposed 875-mile route through the Great Plains, may picture the region in the terms of 19th-century explorers who called it the “great American desert”: a barren land lacking in natural-history interest. In fact, though the vast herds of grazing animals that Lewis and Clark saw are greatly diminished, rich ecosystems endure. And while the pipeline route crosses some agricultural land, much of it would traverse natural habitats in Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska where harmful effects on native animals and plants could—some say would, inevitably—occur. (See related, “Oil Flows on Keystone XL’s Southern Leg, But Link to Canada Awaits Obama Administration.“)

A photo of the Yellowstone River in Montana

Rich ecosystems surround the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers (the latter is pictured here). Keystone XL would cross both rivers in Montana.

Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers

The Keystone XL route crosses the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers, two of more than 50 crossings of perennial streams. Both rivers are home to the federally endangered pallid sturgeon, a bizarre-looking fish up to six feet long adapted to life in large rivers with silty bottoms. A serious oil spill has the potential to damage or even destroy habitat for this species. Such a spill could also harm habitat for least terns and piping plovers, two birds that nest along rivers and that have suffered serious declines in recent decades.

And pipelines do fail, conservationists note. The failure in 2010 of an Enbridge pipeline carrying Canadian crude oil triggered the costliest onshore oil spill in U.S. history, contaminating 40 miles of Michigan’s Kalamazoo River and surrounding wetlands. Last year, another pipeline carrying Canadian oil, Exxon-Mobil’s Pegasus line, ruptured in a the small Arkansas town of Mayflower, affecting wetlands connected to the largest man-made game and fish commission reservoir in the United States. (See related, “Oil Spill Spotlights Keystone XL Issue: Is Canadian Crude Worse?”) Officials are still reckoning the lingering environmental damage after massive and expensive cleanup efforts.

In its recent Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, the State Department admits that oil spills will occur and are a danger, but asserts that current technology and rigorous inspections make the odds of a serious spill remote. (See related, “3 Factors Shape Obama’s Decision on Keystone XL Pipeline.”)

Davis Sheremata, a spokesperson for TransCanada, said Keystone will incorporate construction and maintenance techniques more advanced than those of earlier pipelines. Safety measures “are the culmination of six years of consultation between TransCanada, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and many other federal and state environmental agencies,” he said. “The required environmental protection and pipeline safety measures set a new, and very high, standard unequaled by any other pipeline project.”

Whooping Crane

One of the greatest conservation concerns about the immediate effect of the pipeline centers on the critically endangered whooping crane. Most of these tall white birds nest in Canada and migrate through the central United States to and from their wintering grounds on the Texas Gulf Coast. The cranes’ flight route passes directly along the pipeline route for hundreds of miles.

It’s not the pipeline itself that’s of greatest potential danger to the cranes, though. Pumps needed to keep the thick Canadian oil flowing through the pipeline require power lines to supply them with electricity, and conservationists wonder what will happen when more than 300 miles of new power lines appear in formerly wide-open spaces in the birds’ flight path.

“The whooping crane is a species that we’ve really homed in on,” said  Jim Murphy, senior counsel for the National Wildlife Federation. “Power lines account for about 40 percent of juvenile whooping crane mortality, which is a big deal when you’re talking about a bird that has a population of about four hundred in the wild. Those concerns have never really been taken seriously.”

TransCanada’s Sheremata said his company and pipeline contractors “have committed to incorporate a number of conservation measures to prevent potential direct or indirect impacting to the whooping crane.” Measures include installing and maintaining avian markers (conspicuous objects designed to make lines more visible to flying birds) at pump stations “to reduce impacts to whooping cranes from power lines.”

Male Greater Sage Grouse

A male greater sage-grouse does a mating display. The proposed route passes within a few miles of dozens of grouse “leks,” sites where males dance to attract mates.

Greater Sage-Grouse

Although the greater sage-grouse isn’t officially an endangered species, many bird experts believe it should be. They claim it has been kept off the list for fear of political backlash in conservative western states, where farming and ranching might face restrictions.

There’s no question that the grouse has suffered from loss of habitat: 20 of 27 known population groups have declined since 1995. The pipeline route passes within a few miles of dozens of grouse leks (sites where males “dance” to attract mates); ornithologists fear that noise from construction, roads, and pumping stations could affect breeding success of these notoriously shy and easily disturbed birds.

In addition, power-line towers serve as hunting perches for eagles and hawks, which prey on grouse. In treeless areas where grouse live, towers will bring new threats and greater potential mortality by providing raptor lookouts where formerly there were none.

A photo of a Swift Fox.

A swift fox stands alert in the South Dakota prairie.

Swift Fox

The swift fox, a small canine of grassland regions, is another controversial species that the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity believes belongs on the endangered-species list. The CBD finds it “dumbfounding” that Keystone XL environmental-impact statements fail to address the pipeline’s effects on the fox.

“It’s like they took a map and drew a pipeline along the remaining locations of known bands of the swift fox,” said Amy Atwood, senior attorney for the CBD. “That’s where the fox lives, because those are the areas that are not being used for agriculture and are on public land. That’s where pipeline companies like to site things these days to minimize landowner conflict or having to deal with eminent domain. And that’s where the wildlife is. They’ve been pushed out of other areas.”

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Ogallala Aquifer


From Wikipedia:


The Ogallala Aquifer is a shallow water table aquifer located beneath the Great Plains in the United States. One of the world’s largest aquifers, it underlies an area of approximately 174,000 mi² (450,000 km²) in portions of eight states: (South DakotaNebraskaWyoming,ColoradoKansasOklahomaNew Mexico, and Texas). It was named in 1898 by N.H. Darton from its type locality near the town ofOgallala, Nebraska. The aquifer is part of the High Plains Aquifer System, and rests on the Ogallala Formation, which is the principal geologic unit underlying 80% of the High Plains.


About 27 percent of the irrigated land in the United States overlies the aquifer, which yields about 30 percent of the ground water used for irrigation in the United States. Since 1950, agricultural irrigation has reduced the saturated volume of the aquifer by an estimated 9%. Depletion is accelerating, with 2% lost between 2001 and 2009[ alone. Certain aquifer zones are now empty; these areas will take over 100,000 years to replenish naturally through rainfall.


The aquifer system supplies drinking water to 82 percent of the 2.3 million people (1990 census) who live within the boundaries of the High Plains study area.



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Earth Watch Report  – Fire / Explosion


Explosion USA State of Nebraska, Omaha [International Nutrition] Damage level Details


Explosion in USA on Monday, 20 January, 2014 at 18:37 (06:37 PM) UTC.

As many as 15 people are thought to be injured or trapped inside an Omaha plant that produces animal supplements. Rescuers had taken five people to the hospital shortly after 10:30 a.m. Monday. They notified emergency room personnel that others remained inside International Nutrition near South 76th and F Streets. Emergency dispatchers received a report of a possible industrial explosion Monday about 10 a.m. At least five rescue squads were dispatched to 7706 I Plaza, home of International Nutrition. Early reports indicated that up to 12 to 15 people were injured or trapped in the 10 a.m. blast, with at least five men taken to Creighton University Medical Center. Four were in serious condition and the fifth person was in critical condition. Among the five men who were injured were a 21-year-old, a 36-year-old, a 37-year-old and a 49-year-old. According to police radio dispatches, the 21-year-old suffered a head laceration and the 36-year-old inhaled limestone dust. Both are in serious condition. International Nutrition manufactures farm animal supplements. According to its website, “International Nutrition has serviced the U.S. feed industry for over 40 years. Combining an inventory of over 350 critical ingredients with our expertise in producing medicated, nutritional and specialty premixes, we are successfully servicing the needs of animal health distributors and feed manufacturers.”



Official: Omaha plant fire claims 2 lives, 10 others injured

By Steve Almasy and Carma Hassan, CNN
updated 8:16 PM EST, Mon January 20, 2014
Watch this video

At least 2 dead in Omaha plant explosion

  • Mayor’s office, county attorney says 2 dead, all others accounted for
  • Witnesses describe an explosion followed by chaos
  • OSHA says too early to determine cause of the incident

(CNN) — At least two people died and four were critically injured Monday in a plant accident in Omaha, Nebraska, authorities said.

The incident happened about 10 a.m. CT at International Nutrition, a company that produces feed and other products for livestock and poultry.

“I heard the explosion and stuff started falling, so I ducked for cover,” worker Nate Lewis told CNN affiliate KETV. “It was pitch black in there. All I could see was fire. I had to feel my way out of the place. I couldn’t see anything.”

There were 38 people at the plant at the time of the incident, interim Omaha fire chief Bernard Kanger said. Ten of the injured people needed a trip to the hospital, the chief said, adding that four were initially in critical condition.

Seven other people at the scene refused treatment, he said.

The mayor’s office and the county attorney’s office said two people had died. A spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Suttle said all other people at the plant were accounted for as of Monday night.

An employee told KETV that he heard noises, saw fire and sprinted for his life.

“I just heard a crack pop and big ball of fire, and I just took off running when I heard the first crack,” worker Jamar White “That’s all I could do was get out of the way and make sure I was OK.”

A spokesman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said OSHA investigators were at the plant, where part of the building had collapsed. Scott Allen said it is too early to determine the cause of the accident.

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The New Zealand Herald

Fatal feed processing plant explosion in Omaha

The International Nutrition plant is shown with wreckage in Omaha, Nebraska. Photo / AP

The International Nutrition plant is shown with wreckage in Omaha, Nebraska. Photo / AP

Omaha officials say two people are dead and all other workers are accounted for in the animal feed plant that exploded.

The explosion Monday morning (local time) brought down part of the International Nutrition plant. Two people were killed and 10 others seriously hurt.

Omaha Police Lieutenant Darci Tierney said all of the other people who were working have been accounted for.

Authorities don’t know what caused the blast.

Interim Omaha Fire Chief Bernie Kanger noted that there were no hazardous chemicals at the plant.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will determine the cause.

The explosion knocked out the lights in the building and sent workers scrambling for safety.

Worker Jamar White said he heard a loud crack and looked up to see the back wall of the building collapsing. White said he then ran to safety.

Thirty-eight people were working at the plant when the blast happened. In addition to the two people who died and 10 who were hospitalized, seven people were hurt but refused treatment. Officials have not said how many of the 19 others escaped.

“We haven’t cleared the building yet because of the significant risk to our people,” Kanger said.

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By MARCIA DUNN 12/17/13 06:32 PM ET EST AP

nasa spacewalk

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA has ordered up a series of urgent spacewalks to fix a broken cooling line at the International Space Station, a massive repair job that could stretch to Christmas Day.

Station managers decided Tuesday to send two American astronauts out as soon as possible to replace a pump with a bad valve. The task will require two and possibly three spacewalks on Saturday, Monday and next Wednesday — Christmas Day.

“The next week will be busy with space walks so not much tweeting from here,” NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio said from space via Twitter soon after the decision was announced.

The spacewalks are taking priority over the launch of a supply ship from Virginia. The commercial delivery had been scheduled for this week, but is now delayed until at least mid-January.


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NASA Orders 3 Space Walks to Fix ISS Or Evacuate On Russian Spacecraft!




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NorCal Native·

Published on Oct 29, 2013

American Blackout, a National Geographic program first aired in October 2013, giving a fictional “docudrama” account of a nationwide electrical blackout in the United States, and its severe aftermath. Most of the program is mock “vlogging” by those affected, interspersed with mock “news footage.”


Yes, It was definitely softened up for viewer consumption.

I lived in Florida  through Hurricane Andrew,  Hurricane Wilma and Hurricane Katrina.  The  devastation that took  place   was horrific. It  was like driving through one of those futuristic sci fi movies that  takes place  after a major apocalyptic event.  Everyone in Florida with any  kind of  sense begins to prepare for Hurricane season.  However, their  preps  are  just barely basic because they are  always confident that  everything ill be  alright and the  infrastructure will be repaired  relatively quickly.  After Hurricane Andrew we  were  without  electricity for 2 weeks. Considering the major destruction took  place in  East  Everglades which  does not have  a large population.  But the  grid was compromised by  tornadoes that  were  spawned and the massive  winds.  Hurricane Wilma  hit  the  southernmost  tip of Florida went out into the gulf and did an about face just as it  was arriving in Mexico.  Heading straight for the middle of Florida  which barely  ever sees hurricanes and people there  were not prepared.  The  damage was unreal as there  are many who live in mobile homes on  land they  have purchased.  The  grid  in  Central Florida  was  down for 3 to 4 weeks and   South Florida was  in the dark for 1 to 2 weeks.

When Hurricane Katrina hit us it was full on in South Florida.  We were without  electricity for  4 weeks.  in less than a week you  could not find charcoal to cook outdoors.  While one may  be prepared with  food  that  one can  cook or that  needs to be warmed up in someway. Without fuel to make a fire one is out of luck.  And Gas runs out  eventually.   Even if one  had  a  large  supply  of  freeze dried foods that  only  require water  not necessarily  hot  if  you  have time to wait for the re-hydration process using cool water.   If  you  cannot find bottled or  potable water. Or do not have the  money  to  be  able to purchase it  , IF there  are  still any  bottles available on the  shelves.  How would you  make water  drinkable without a fire ?

Unless you have  an  expensive   filtration system,  or you understand the  use of a Fresnel set up or  have a reliable solar oven.  There   really  is  no way  to purify  water without chemicals.

We were lucky  enough  to  have a  yard with  fruit  trees that  provided  wood for  our  fire.  So the kids  had  their job and I  had mine.  They  collected all the  wood they  could find and place it in a large 55 gallon container I  had in the  shed out  back and I built the  fires, cooked the  food  and boiled  the water.  Had I  not had a yard with  fruit trees  that  provided  us  with  wood I  would have  had to find an alternative to survive.

I even had a  deep freezer that I  converted into a giant cooler by going out as soon as  possible  and get  as many  bags of ice  as I  could buy.  The  great  insulation of that  freezer turned the  cool from the ice into a good size  fridge.  Our food  did not spoil.  So  my  only concern was fuel for our fire.  I  had prepared for everything else.  we  even  had a small generator  I  had purchased

Now  I  share this with  you , because  it was a fairly isolated  incident.  Florida was affected but it’s  neighboring states were  not , so helped arrived for those who had not prepared  within  days.  Murders, looting and overall crime were  bad only  in  areas with high population density and of course  criminal element.  But  we knew that  it  was only Florida  that  was affected  and help would come.  It was not a situation of total devastation  like  the one used in this film.

I  guess what  I  am trying to relay to all of you is  that in my  experience the reality  will be a much longer  period  of time without infrastructure. A lot  more people unprepared for such a long period of time without food  or water.  In certain cases  depending on the  scenario  it  could take years for the grid  to be  back up and  running.

In Major cities , well,  just look at  what  happens in a blackout that   only  lasts 24 hours in  NY.  I  have lived there as well.  The  city  descends  into chaos unless you live  in a  neighborhood where  everyone is  close and watches out for each other ,you are  at the mercy  of the  gangs and those who did not prepare  who want  what  you  have.

~Desert Rose~


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As Worries Over the Power Grid Rise, a Drill Will Simulate a Knockout Blow


Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

New York City during a blackout in 2003. More than 150 companies and groups will take part in a drill that will simulate attacks on the power grid.




WASHINGTON — The electric grid, as government and private experts describe it, is the glass jaw of American industry. If an adversary lands a knockout blow, they fear, it could black out vast areas of the continent for weeks; interrupt supplies of water, gasoline, diesel fuel and fresh food; shut down communications; and create disruptions of a scale that was only hinted at by Hurricane Sandy and the attacks of Sept. 11.


This is why thousands of utility workers, business executives, National Guard officers, F.B.I. antiterrorism experts and officials from government agencies in the United States, Canada and Mexico are preparing for an emergency drill in November that will simulate physical attacks and cyberattacks that could take down large sections of the power grid.

They will practice for a crisis unlike anything the real grid has ever seen, and more than 150 companies and organizations have signed up to participate.

“This is different from a hurricane that hits X, Y and Z counties in the Southeast and they have a loss of power for three or four days,” said the official in charge of the drill, Brian M. Harrell of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, known as NERC. “We really want to go beyond that.”

One goal of the drill, called GridEx II, is to explore how governments would react as the loss of the grid crippled the supply chain for everyday necessities.

“If we fail at electricity, we’re going to fail miserably,” Curt Hébert, a former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said at a recent conference held by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Mr. Harrell said that previous exercises were based on the expectation that electricity “would be up and running relatively quick” after an attack.

Now, he said, the goal is to “educate the federal government on what their expectations should or shouldn’t be.” The industry held a smaller exercise two years ago in which 75 utilities, companies and agencies participated, but this one will be vastly expanded and will be carried out in a more anxious mood.

Most of the participants will join the exercise from their workplaces, with NERC, in Washington, announcing successive failures. One example, organizers say, is a substation break-in that officials initially think is an attempt to steal copper. But instead, the intruder uses a USB drive to upload a virus into a computer network.

The drill is part of a give-and-take in the past few years between the government and utilities that has exposed the difficulties of securing the electric system.

The grid is essential for almost everything, but it is mostly controlled by investor-owned companies or municipal or regional agencies. Ninety-nine percent of military facilities rely on commercial power, according to the White House.

The utilities play down their abilities, in comparison with the government’s. “They have the intelligence operation, the standing army, the three-letter agencies,” said Scott Aaronson, senior director of national security policy at the Edison Electric Institute, the trade association of investor-owned utilities. “We have the grid operations expertise.”

Read More Here

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Earth Watch Report  –  Technological Disasters


Ferry with more than 800 aboard sinks after collision in Philippine port; at least 24 dead

(Chester Baldicantos/ Associated Press ) – A Filipino trooper explains how he survived as their ship sank in Cebu, central Philippines late Friday Aug. 16, 2013. Passenger ferry MV Thomas Aquinas with nearly 700 people aboard sank near the central Philippine port of Cebu on Friday night after colliding with a cargo vessel, and a survivor said he saw bodies in the sea.

(Chester Baldicantos/ Associated Press ) – A Filipino trooper explains how he survived as their ship sank in Cebu, central Philippines late Friday Aug. 16, 2013. Passenger ferry MV Thomas Aquinas with nearly 700 people aboard sank near the central Philippine port of Cebu on Friday night after colliding with a cargo vessel, and a survivor said he saw bodies in the sea.

MANILA, Philippines — A ferry with more than 800 people aboard sank near the central Philippine port of Cebu after colliding with a cargo vessel, killing at least 24 people. Hundreds of others were rescued, the coast guard said Saturday.

Dozens were still missing, but authorities could not give an official figure.

More than 200 are killed, the Muslim Brotherhood says, as both sides dug in for a long fight.

The captain of the ferry MV Thomas Aquinas ordered the ship abandoned after it began listing

MANILA, Philippines — A ferry with more than 800 people aboard sank near the central Philippine port of Cebu after colliding with a cargo vessel, killing at least 24 people. Hundreds of others were rescued, the coast guard said Saturday.Dozens were still missing, but authorities could not give an official figure.

More than 200 are killed, the Muslim Brotherhood says, as both sides dug in for a long fight.

The captain of the ferry MV Thomas Aquinas ordered the ship abandoned after it began listing and then sank after the collision late Friday, coast guard officer Joy Villegas said.

Cebu coast guard chief, Cmdr. Weniel Azcuna, said 24 people, including children, were confirmed dead and 629 passengers had been rescued by early Saturday.

Speaking by telephone from Cebu, Azcuna said they were still searching the waters for survivors. He also said authorities were still trying to determine the actual number of people on board.

In a statement, ferry owner 2Go said the roll-on-roll-off ship had 723 passengers and 118 crew or a total of 841 people aboard and carried 104 20-foot (6-meter) steel containers.

It said the ferry “was reportedly hit” by the cargo vessel “resulting in major damage that led to its sinking.”

Azcuna said the coast guard was still focused on rescue off Cebu, 570 kilometers (350 miles) south of Manila, and will begin investigations later.

Navy divers told reporters at the scene of the collision, about 2 kilometers from the shore, that they saw several dead bodies still underwater.

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‘I’ve Derailed!’: Excess Speed Suspected in Spanish Rail Disaster

Photo Gallery: Video Stills of Spanish Train Crash

Was the driver of the train that derailed in Spain on Wednesday night going too fast? Eyewitness accounts, a video of the deadly crash and statements from the driver himself suggest he was. Why did safety systems fail to prevent the disaster?

“July 24 will no longer be the eve of a day of celebration,” said Alberto Nunez Feijoo, regional president of Spain’s Galicia. Rather, it will commemorate “one of the saddest days” in the region’s history.

Feijoo on Thursday ordered a seven-day period of mourning in the region following the previous night’s disastrous train crash not far from the northwestern Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. The accident killed 80 people and injured many more, with over 90 reportedly still in the hospital. Dozens of the injured remained in critical condition on Thursday. The train was reportedly carrying 218 passengers and five crew members, though the numbers reported have varied.

The crash is the worst rail disaster seen in Spain in decades, and there are mounting indications that excessive speed may have been the decisive factor in the derailment. Spanish daily El País on Thursday posted a video to its website from a security camera located at the site of the accident. The footage shows the train rapidly coming around a sharp bend before the first and second cars appear to jump the tracks. The engine is dragged onto its side and the rest of the eight-car train piles up behind it. The video ends with the train apparently crashing into the camera.

At least 77 people were killed and over 130 injured on Wednesday evening when a...


At least 77 people were killed and over 130 injured on Wednesday evening when a train derailed on the outskirts of the northwestern Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela in one of Europe’s worst train disasters in recent years.

One of the drivers, too, confirmed that he had been travelling too fast. Immediately after the crash, he radioed the railway station, saying he had entered the sharp bend at 190 kilometers per hour (120 mph), more than double the maximum allowed of 80 kmh, according to national broadcaster TVE.

“I’ve derailed! What am I going to do? What am I going to do?” he shouted, according to TVE. He also repeatedly said, “We’re only human! We’re only human!” He then added: “I hope there are no deaths because they would weigh heavily on my conscience.” On Thursday, police opened an investigation into one of the drivers on suspicion that he may bear some responsibility for the disaster.

Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy is expected to visit the crash scene on Thursday.


Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy is expected to visit the crash scene on Thursday.

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Gulf platform experiences blowout southwest of Grand Isle

44 people evacuated on 2 life boats; all OK

UPDATED 11:43 AM CDT Jul 23, 2013

Hercules Rig 265 map

Hercules Offshore logo

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The blowout happened about 9:50 a.m. on Hercules Platform No. 265, which is located about 40 miles south and 10 to 15 miles west of Grand Isle, according to the Coast Guard.

Officials told WDSU that 44 people were evacuated on two life boats, and all are said to be OK.

An environmental assessment has not yet taken place. Initial reports indicated the platform was designed for oil exploration, but a Jefferson Parish official describes it as a natural gas platform.

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