Egypt: At Least 9,000 Livestock Now Dead, 100,000 Infected with Foot-And-Mouth, All of North Africa and the Middle East Now Threatened
By Ben Gittleson – “Al Shawaye Al Malaq, Egypt // Freshly covered graves mask the carcasses of cattle felled by the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak spreading across Egypt, but farmers’ frustration in the Nile Delta over the financial devastation is out in the open.
Al Shawaye Al Malaq is one of the worst hit villages in Egypt, with almost 5,000 livestock dead. Ahmed Ibrahim Ghayes lost all 20 of his calves and one adult cow; his remaining 59 cattle have all been infected.
With most of his cows either dead or unable to produce milk at capacity, Mr Ghayes’s milk output has dropped 80 per cent. The outbreak has frozen the cattle trade, he said, making it difficult for him to pay off loans.
‘No one is buying or selling cattle because everyone’s afraid,’ he said.
Nearly 100,000 animals across Egypt have been infected, of which more than 9,000 have died, said the head of Egypt’s central quarantine service earlier this week.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned the outbreak could threaten the whole of North Africa and the Middle East.” Read more.
Maldives: Large Numbers of Dead Fish Washing Ashore on Resorts and Inhabited Islands in Noonu and Haa Atolls
“Large numbers of dead fish have been washing ashore on resorts and inhabited islands in the upper north of the Maldives in Noonu and Haa Atolls, reports the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture. The dead fish are overwhelmingly red-tooth trigger fish (odonus niger, locally known as vaalan rondu), but include several other species of reef fishes including Acanthurids (surgeon fish) and Serranids. The Marine Research Centre (MRC) is currently investigating the incident. MRC Director General Shiham Adam said a series of similar incidents were reported from June-December in 2007. Tests showed the increased presence of the bacteria Staphylococcus in the spleen of fish samples, but the investigation was inconclusive. ‘We sent samples sent to the US and it seemed be related to a bacterial infection in the gills that causes them to suffocate,’ Shiham explained. ‘A lot of people say it is global warming and environmental change. [Fish kill incidents] are not something that normally happens, so we are worried about it,’ he said.
Minute changes in the environment during critical periods of a species’ life-cycle could trigger such events, Shiham explained.” Read more.
Georgia: 2012 Sees Unusually High Number of Sea Turtle Deaths So Far, Researcher Hopes Warm Ocean Waters to Blame
In the first 12 weeks of this year, 25 dead sea turtles have been reported to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. A typical year sees fewer than 10 in the same period, said Mark Dodd a DNR biologist and sea turtle coordinator for the state.
Three species of turtles are represented in the strandings: Kemp’s Ridley, loggerhead and green turtles. Each is endangered or threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
‘To some extent the elevated rate is due in part to the warm water temperatures,’ said Dodd, a longtime turtle researcher.
Warm water draws the turtles inshore and into estuaries to feed. It’s here that they’re more likely to be struck by a boat.
It may be that the peak of strandings, usually in April, came early this year.
‘I hope so,’ Dodd said.” Read more.
By Aakriti Vasudeva, The Indian Express – “The alarming number of marine deaths off the Konkan coast in the past few days, with two whales and several turtles found beached in separate incidents, could be natural or fishing-related, said experts.
A 35-foot whale identified as a Baleen whale was found beached at Priyadarshini Park at Napean Sea Road on Saturday. A similar whale was found dead at Uran on Thursday. Both were found in a highly decomposed state. There were unconfirmed reports of a third whale being beached off the Raigad coast on Monday. Meanwhile, many turtle deaths were reported over the last few days from the Raigad coast with 11 turtles found dead on the Shrivardhan coast on Saturday.
‘We have got queries from Mantralay and Fisheries department and have been trying to find out the cause of the whale deaths for the past two days, but have been unable to do so. We are studying the migrational routes of the whales along the Indian coast and gathering information on it,’ said Dr Vinay Deshmukh, principal scientist, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute…
In case of the turtle deaths, the Roha forest department said about 24 dead turtles were found in a badly decomposed state from the Murud and Shrivardhan coast in the last month. 11 turtles were found dead at Shrivardhan on Sunday. ‘The vet we consulted said the turtles died of natural causes, but investigations are on ,’ said Deputy Conservator of Forests (Roha) Sarfaraz Khan.” Read more.
Gulf of Mexico: Thousands of Dolphins Dying in Massive Die-Off, Symptoms Consistent With Those Seen in Animals Exposed to Oil
Normally an average of 74 dolphins are stranded on the northern shore of the Gulf of Mexico each year, especially during the spring birthing season. But between February 2010 and April 1, 2012, 714 dolphins and other cetaceans have been reported as washed up on the coast from the Louisiana/Texas border through Franklin County, Fla., reported the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Ninety-five percent of the mammals were dead.
Since many of the dead dolphins sink, decompose or are eaten by scavengers before washing up, NOAA believes that 714 may represent only a fraction of the actual death count. NOAA declared the die-off an ‘Unusual Mortality Event’ as per the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.
Although the timing of the die-off largely coincides with BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its aftermath, the deaths actually started increasing about two months before the April 20, 2010, explosion, which started the monthslong oil spill.
Before the spill, 112 dolphins had already been reported stranded on the shore.
In the summer of 2011, NOAA tested 32 live dolphins in Barataria Bay, an area heavily impacted by the oil spill. The dolphins were underweight, anemic, and had low blood sugar and/or some symptoms of liver and lung disease. Nearly half had abnormally low levels of hormones that help with stress response, metabolism and immune function.
The symptoms are consistent with those seen in animals exposed to oil.” Read more.
Peru: Hundreds of Dead Dolphins Counted Along 90-Mile Stretch of Peru Beaches, Number of Dead Will Reach Into the Thousands
By Miguel Llanos, MSNBC – “Conservationists counted 615 dead dolphins along a 90-mile stretch of beaches in Peru, a wildlife group said Wednesday, and the leading suspect is acoustic testing offshore by oil companies.
‘If you can count 615 dead dolphins, you can be sure there are a great many more out at sea and the total will reach into the thousands,’ Hardy Jones, head of the conservation group BlueVoice.org, said in a statement after he and an expert with ORCA Peru walked the beaches.
Indeed, the head of a local fishermen’s association told Peru21.pe that he estimated more than 3,000 dolphins had died so far this year, based on what he saw in the water and on beaches.
BlueVoice.org stated that ‘initial tests … show evidence of acoustical impact from sonic blasts used in exploration for oil.’
The ORCA Peru expert, veterinarian Carlos Yaipen Llanos, said that while ‘we have no definitive evidence,’ he suspects acoustic testing created a ‘marine bubble’ — in essence a sonic blast that led to internal bleeding, loss of equilibrium and disorientation.
Another possibility is that the dolphins suffered from a disease outbreak, Yaipen Llanos said.” Read more.
Staff from Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) have been inspecting more than 100 dead catfish found at the mouth of the Boyne River earlier this week.
The cause of death is unknown.
Tannum Sands resident John Mikkelson says he has seen dozens of the fish washing up in the past week.
‘Some of the ones I’ve seen are very emaciated and have white ulceration on the sides, yet others appear quite healthy,’ he said.
Local seafood processor Ted Whittingham says he has counted almost 200 dead catfish near the river in the past few days.” Read more.
Neighbors started to notice the dead fish after Tuesday’s storms.
The pond known as Lake Hollow was once a relaxing escape for Michael Anderson and other homeowners who live in Meadowbrook Hills.
‘And we just sit down in the evenings on the landing and just revel in the beauty,’ said Anderson.
An unknown problem is bringing the anxiety of a wasteland.
‘Obviously this lake is going to turn into a health hazard the way things are going,’ said Anderson.
Hundreds of dead fish including perch and catfish floated to the top of the pond.
Neighbors immediately called the city for help.
Workers ruled out a sewage leak and are investigating what else could have caused this including testing water samples.” Read more.
Malaysia: Fishermen Worried After Unprecedented Fish Kill Litters River With Thousands of Mullets, Cat Fish and Other Species
A team of officers will be sent to the fishing village to collect water and dead fish samples to ascertain what killed them.
Johor DOE director Mokthar Abd Majid said one of the possible causes was the lack of oxygen in the water due the changing tides.
‘Of course, water pollution is another possibility.
‘Until we examine the water and fish samples, we cannot tell what could have killed the fishes,’ he told Streets yesterday.
Among the thousands of dead fishes seen along the 130-metre long Parit Jawa were ikan belanak (mullet), senangin (thread fish), gelama (jew fish) and belukang (cat fish). Most of the dead fishes were ikan belanak.
Parit Jawa is a fishing village which is also famous for its asam pedas fish.
It is learnt that fishermen who were about to go to the sea at 4am spotted the dead fishes in the waterway.
This is the first time that such a huge number of fishes were found dead.
Within six hours, most of the dead fishes had drifted to the sea at high tide.
Azman Abdul Rahman, 54, a fisherman, said he found the fishes when he went to his boat at the river at 4am.
‘The river was literally littered with dead fishes, the first time I witnessed since I became a fisherman 40 years ago.’” Read more.
“Japan’s former Ambassador to Switzerland, Mr. Mitsuhei Murata, was invited to speak at the Public Hearing of the Budgetary Committee of the House of Councilors on March 22, 2012, on the Fukushima nuclear power plants accident. Before the Committee, Ambassador Murata strongly stated that if the crippled building of reactor unit 4—with 1,535 fuel rods in the spent fuel pool 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground—collapses, not only will it cause a shutdown of all six reactors but will also affect the common spent fuel pool containing 6,375 fuel rods, located some 50 meters from reactor 4. In both cases the radioactive rods are not protected by a containment vessel; dangerously, they are open to the air. This would certainly cause a global catastrophe like we have never before experienced. He stressed that the responsibility of Japan to the rest of the world is immeasurable. Such a catastrophe would affect us all for centuries. Ambassador Murata informed us that the total numbers of the spent fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi site excluding the rods in the pressure vessel is 11,421 (396+615+566+1,535+994+940+6375).
I asked top spent-fuel pools expert Mr. Robert Alvarez, former Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment at the U.S. Department of Energy, for an explanation of the potential impact of the 11,421 rods.
I received an astounding response from Mr. Alvarez [updated 4/5/12]:
In recent times, more information about the spent fuel situation at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site has become known. It is my understanding that of the 1,532 spent fuel assemblies in reactor No. 304 assemblies are fresh and unirradiated. This then leaves 1,231 irradiated spent fuel rods in pool No. 4, which contain roughly 37 million curies (~1.4E+18 Becquerel) of long-lived radioactivity. The No. 4 pool is about 100 feet above ground, is structurally damaged and is exposed to the open elements. If an earthquake or other event were to cause this pool to drain this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire involving nearly 10 times the amount of Cs-137 released by the Chernobyl accident.
The infrastructure to safely remove this material was destroyed as it was at the other three reactors. Spent reactor fuel cannot be simply lifted into the air by a crane as if it were routine cargo. In order to prevent severe radiation exposures, fires and possible explosions, it must be transferred at all times in water and heavily shielded structures into dry casks.. As this has never been done before, the removal of the spent fuel from the pools at the damaged Fukushima-Dai-Ichi reactors will require a major and time-consuming re-construction effort and will be charting in unknown waters. Despite the enormous destruction cased at the Da–Ichi site, dry casks holding a smaller amount of spent fuel appear to be unscathed.
Based on U.S. Energy Department data, assuming a total of 11,138 spent fuel assemblies are being stored at the Dai-Ichi site, nearly all, which is in pools. They contain roughly 336 million curies (~1.2 E+19 Bq) of long-lived radioactivity. About 134 million curies is Cesium-137 — roughly 85 times the amount of Cs-137 released at the Chernobyl accident as estimated by the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP). The total spent reactor fuel inventory at the Fukushima-Daichi site contains nearly half of the total amount of Cs-137 estimated by the NCRP to have been released by all atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, Chernobyl, and world-wide reprocessing plants (~270 million curies or ~9.9 E+18 Becquerel).
It is important for the public to understand that reactors that have been operating for decades, such as those at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site have generated some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet.
Many of our readers might find it difficult to appreciate the actual meaning of the figure, yet we can grasp what 85 times more Cesium-137 than the Chernobyl would mean. It would destroy the world environment and our civilization.” Read more.
Finally, I agree with something that Rachel Maddow has reported on …
Host: “So think about this. How do you fix this problem? How do you repair what’s wrong in Reactor 2? It’s not gonna fix itself. Human beings cannot get near enough to this problem and live long enough to fix the problem. We cannot even send robot remote-control things in there to fix the problem because either because it’s too radioactive even for electronics… An executive at the power company told the New York Times this week, ‘With levels of radiation extremely high we would need to develop equipment that can tolerate high radiation.’ … We’re gonna have to try to invent something [to fix the problem] while the problem gets worse and worse and worse. It is beyond human capability. And the really bad news is that this apparently is the good news. Reactor number 2, the one they went into, that’s in the best shape. They can’t even figure out how to determine what’s going on in Reactors 1 and 3 because the radiation levels there are reportedly even higher …”
By Annie Feidt – “Biologists have found Polar Bears in the Beaufort Sea with hair loss and skin lesions. Those are the same symptoms that have sickened ice seals and walruses in the arctic since last summer and led the federal government to declare the incident an unusual mortality event. Scientists are just beginning an investigation into whether polar bears are suffering from the same thing.
“The first day we observed it was on March 21st and we had three captures and two of them had Alopecia, which is the skin loss and so it was like, ‘oh that’s interesting.’ Then we started picking it up on other animals in later march so it was like, this is more than normal.”
So far, the field scientists have found hair loss on nine of the 33 bears they’ve captured. The bears have skin lesions on their head, neck and ears. Degange says they have found polar bears with similar symptoms since 1999, but the number of effected bears makes this year unusual:
“The bears appear to be healthy otherwise. We haven’t seen any dead bears, so its not a mortality event as far as we know. But the fact that its occurring at the same time as this unexplained mortality event with seals certainly raises the interest level.”
The biologists collected blood and tissues from the affected bears to try to figure out if the symptoms are related to the mysterious illness that has been found in ice seals and walruses. Dozens of seals have died from the disease, but no walrus deaths are attributed to it. Scientists don’t know yet if the walrus and seals are suffering from the same thing. Although the veterinary pathologist who has done most of the necropsies on the animals say the lesions look very similar under the microscope. Julie Speegle is a spokesperson for the National Marine Fisheries Service. She says its been a difficult case:” Read more.