Science and Environment

BP Oil Spill Impacts
5:30 am
Tue July 16, 2013

Why Finding Oil in Fish Organs Isn't as Bad as it Looks

Menhaden are measured and weighed before the dissection, to establish a catalog of weights and sizes.
Kelly Connelly, WRKF

Environmental remediation scientists at LSU’s School of the Coast and Environment have found remnants of crude oil in the hearts of pogy that live off Grand Isle.

Pogy, a baitfish more officially called menhaden, make up the second largest commercial catch in the United States. They’re not only resold as baitfish, but they’re also processed into fish oil and fish meal, making their way into vitamins, cosmetics and livestock feeds.

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Environment
1:26 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

5 Stars: A Mosquito's Idea Of A Delicious Human

Many criteria — from blood type to body temperature — can play a role in affecting who attracts mosquitoes.
abadonian iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 1:48 pm

If mosquitoes used Yelp, they might look for their next meal by searching nearby for a heavy-breathing human with Type O blood, sporting a red shirt and more than a smattering of skin bacteria. Preferably either pregnant or holding a beer.

That's some of what we take away from a post today on the Surprising Science blog from the Smithsonian.

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Environment
8:54 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Tulane Researchers Using BP Grant To Develop Less-Toxic Dispersant

Technical Sergeant Adrian Cadiz US Air Force

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 9:18 am

Researchers at Tulane University are working on designing a less toxic oil dispersant than the Corexit used on the BP spill in 2010. The goal is using ingredients now approved for human consumption.

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Environment
7:59 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Obama Working On Plan That Limits Power Plant Emissions

The smoke stacks at American Electric Power's Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, W.Va.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 10:29 am

President Obama will soon unveil a plan that will put limits on the carbon emissions of existing power plants, the administration's top energy adviser says.

The New York Times reports this is the most consequential part of a bigger plan to curb climate change. The newspaper adds:

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Coastal Restoration
12:44 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Fisherman, Scientists Continue to Clash on Miss. River Diversions

Caernarvon Pass is 15 miles downriver from New Orleans. Built in the early 1990s to grow oyster beds, many argue it isn't a good example for what the state's planned diversions will do.
Credit Army Corps of Engineers

State plans to restore the coastline are trying to mimic the way the Mississippi built the coast. Thousands of years ago the river dumped sediment from the plains upriver into the marsh. But some fishermen are worried the plans will displace the saltwater fish they catch to make a living.

Fishermen voiced their opposition at a community meeting in St. Bernard Monday.

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Environment
8:19 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

Second Deadly Industrial Accident in Ascension Parish in as Many Days

UPDATE 10:14 p.m. CST WRKF's Kelly Connelly on the scene in Donaldsonville:

An industrial accident at North America’s largest nitrogen complex in Donaldsonville, La. has left one dead and at least five injured.

A little after 6 p.m. Friday, a crew at the CF Industries plant loaded too much nitrogen into a transportation tank, causing it to rupture. Louisiana State Police Col. Mike Edmonson described the mangled piece of equipment as a popped balloon. Louisiana State Police Capt. Doug Cain told the Associated Press a fire sparked by the blast was quickly extinguished.

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Environment
4:20 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

Geismar Plant Explosion Claims a Second Life

Thursday’s chemical plant explosion in Geismar, La. has claimed another life. Seven remained hospitalized Friday with burns and respiratory complications.

Williams Companies CEO Alan Armstrong visited with workers and their families Friday. He called the incident a “major” explosion.

“This is a terrible and unprecedented tragedy," Armstrong said. "I’ve talked with a few of our employees and I know they are hurting, however, I’ve also seen and been inspired by their courage.”

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Environment
1:18 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Deadly Chemical Plant Explosion in Geismar

The plant on fire after it reportedly exploded Thursday in the town of Geismar, La.
Credit Ryan Meador / AP

UPDATED 9:22 p.m. CST:

The injured count is up to 77  and a 29-year-old man is dead after a chemical explosion in Geismar, La. Thursday. 

300 people were evacuated from the Williams Olefins plant, which produces over a billion pounds of propylene and ethylene a year for use in the production of other chemical and plastic products. It was propylene that caught fire after the explosion. Ten workers stayed behind to monitor a burn-off.

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Environment
4:16 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Massive Bat Cave Stirs Texas-Size Debate Over Development

Millions of bats live in Bracken Cave, in a rural area near San Antonio. Conservationists are worried that plans for a multithousand-unit housing development will disrupt the bat colony.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 5:28 pm

The Bracken Bat Cave, just north of San Antonio, is as rural as it gets. You have to drive down a long, 2-mile rocky road to reach it. There's nothing nearby — no lights, no running water. The only thing you hear are the katydids.

The cave houses a massive bat colony, as it has for an estimated 10,000 years. Bat Conservation International, the group that oversees the Bracken Cave Reserve, wants it to stay secluded, but the area's rural nature could change if a local developer's plan moves forward.

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Environment
1:50 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

BP Ends Oil Spill Cleanup In Gulf, Except For Louisiana

BP is scaling back its cleanup efforts from the Deepwater Horizon oilspill in areas outside Louisiana. Here, a photo from last September shows alluvial clay and tar mats on the shore of Elmer's Island, in Jefferson Parish, La.
Gerald Herbert AP

BP is ending its cleanup of the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill in three Gulf Coast states this month, leaving Louisiana as the only state with ongoing cleanup linked to the company's Deepwater Horizon Response effort. Reports of oil sightings in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida will soon be the U.S. Coast Guard's responsibility to investigate.

For NPR's Newscast unit, Debbie Elliott reports:

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