GreenBits: Briefs for the Week of Sept. 22, 2000

GreenBits: Briefs for the Week of Sept. 22, 2000

Highlights from the world of business and the environment: New Polymer Coating Immobilizes Chernobyl Radioactive Waste ... Cruise Ships Foul Alaska Waters ... Green Power Marketers Deliver Excess Renewables in 1999

New Polymer Coating Immobilizes Chernobyl Radioactive Waste

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2000 (ENS) – A newly developed white silicon polymer coating known as EKOR can completely encapsulate nuclear waste and prevent radioactive contaminants from dusting or seeping into the environment. The substance which is now being demonstrated at the damaged Chernobyl nuclear reactor could solve problems of nuclear waste management anywhere in the world, its developers say. In March, the EKOR coating was applied in a successful demonstration that contained radiation from the destroyed nuclear reactor at Chernobyl near Kiev, Ukraine. Robots applied the polymer to cover the largest fuel containing mass under the failed Reactor 4 at Chernobyl, the most radioactive spot on the planet. Another, more extensive application, is planned for October to develop and fine tune the methods and equipment for applying EKOR coatings to nuclear waste. When Reactor 4 was destroyed by an explosion and fire in April 1986, molten nuclear fuel collected beneath the ruined reactor where it has been emitting deadly radiation ever since. Many substances have been applied in attempts to contain radiation from the fuel masses and surrounding radioactive dust at Chernobyl, but all have disintegrated within three or four months from the effects of the radiation. The ruined reactor and the nuclear fuel masses on the ground floor below are not really protected by the concrete structure that now partially covers the mess. Rainwater enters the building and carries the radioactivity into the soil and groundwater. Birds fly through and become contaminated. International donors have collected millions of dollars to build a new concrete structure over the reactor, but construction has not yet begun.

Cruise Ships Foul Alaska Waters

JUNEAU, Alaska, Sept. 19, 2000 – Saying he was shocked by just-released results of tests on wastewater from cruise ships plying Alaska waters this summer, Gov. Tony Knowles demanded Thursday that the companies "clean up their acts" and called on state and federal governments to toughen "woefully inadequate" regulations on the massive vessels, the Anchorage Daily News reported Friday. Interim results from 36 wastewater samples taken from 12 ships in recent months showed that all failed to fully comply with federal standards, Knowles said. Seventy percent of those tested had levels of fecal coliform that exceeded standards required on sewage, he added. Three of the samples contained contaminant levels 50,000 times greater than federal standards allow for treated sewage, Knowles said. None of the ships tested was in full compliance with standards, the report from the Department of Environmental Conservation found. "For an industry that depends on and markets Alaska's pristine beauty, this is not only unacceptable. It's a disgrace," Knowles said at a news conference. John Hansen, president of the North West CruiseShip Association, said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the governor's harsh words, especially given the work the the industry and local communities have done to address pollution concerns. Knowles said he wants executives from each cruise ship company that does business in Alaska to come to Juneau this fall to "tell me and Alaskans what they know about these discharges, when they knew it and what they're going to do about it."

Green Power Marketers Deliver Excess Renewables in 1999

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 21, 2000 – Rolling out its second year Green-e Verification Report, the non-profit Center for Resource Solutions announced today good news in two key aspects of the nascent green power market: a jump in large customer purchases and the delivery of excess renewable energy from power marketers. In 1999, more than 400,000 Californians and Pennsylvanians were served by Green-e certified electricity. Green-e certifies renewable energy options against a series of stringent environmental and consumer protection standards. By purchasing green power, Green-e certified electricity customers expanded the use of renewable energy with an environmental benefit equivalent to removing 1,083,737 cars from the road in one year. Between California and Pennsylvania, the environmental benefit of Green-e certified electricity was equivalent to emissions from over 1,200 tons of sulfur dioxide (a chief cause of acid rain) and 1,190 tons of nitrogen oxide (a major contributor to smog).