The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Solar Plant Opens at Uninhabitable Chernobyl Nuclear Site
A site once a symbol of one type of apocalypse is now helping to stave off another.
"Today we are connecting the station to the power system of Ukraine," Ukrainian-German company Solar Chernobyl head Yevgen Varyagin said at the opening ceremony.
The site of the Chernobyl disaster, which killed thousands and forced hundreds of thousands to evacuate, is surprisingly ideal for renewable energy. The 1,000 square miles surrounding the plant won't be safe for humans for 24,000 years, but the site is already connected to the power grid, Fortune pointed out.
"It's not just another solar power plant," Varyagin told reporters, according to Reuters. "It's really hard to underestimate the symbolism of this particular project."
The undamaged Chernobyl power plants generated energy until 2000, when they were shut down. It looked as though the site's days as an energy source were over.
"But now we are seeing a new sprout, still small, weak, producing power on this site and this is very joyful," head of the Chernobyl nuclear plant Valery Seyda said, according to Reuters.
Ukraine, which is looking to diversify its energy portfolio as it stops buying natural gas from Russia, had offered good prices for around 6,000 acres of land and will buy the energy at 50 percent above the average EU prize, AFP reported.
The current plant cost $1.2 million to build and generates one megawatt of power on four acres of land, enough to run about 2,000 homes, Fortune reported. However, the end goal is to construct 100 megawatts worth of solar farms.
The Ukraine had previously built two solar farms in the Crimea that had a capacity of 82 and 100 megawatts, but they were annexed by Russia along with the rest of the Crimea. The Ukraine still sources coal and nuclear fuel from Russia, but has nearly 600 megawatts of its own renewable energy as of 2018.
It added more than 500 megawatts of renewable power since January, twice as much as the country added in 2017, and Yulia Kovaliv, head of the Office of the National Investment Council of Ukraine, told Reuters that investors were racing to take advantage of a renewable energy subsidy before the Ukrainian parliament votes on potentially ending it in July 2019.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Ethics investigations have been opened into the conduct of senior Trump appointees at the nation's top environmental agencies.
The two investigations focus on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and six high-ranking officials in the Department of Interior (DOI), The Hill reported Tuesday. Both of them involve the officials' former clients or employers.
"This is demonstrative of the failures at the very top of this administration to set an ethical tone," Campaign Legal Center Ethics Counsel Delaney Marsco told The Washington Post of the DOI investigation. "When people come to work for government, they're supposed to work on behalf of the public. It's a betrayal of the public trust when senior political appointees seem to give privileged access to their former employers or former clients."
By Dipika Kadaba
We've known for more than 50 years that smoking cigarettes comes with health hazards, but it turns out those discarded butts are harmful for the environment, too. Filtered cigarette butts, although small, contain dozens of chemicals, including arsenic and benzene. These toxins can leach into the ground or water, creating a potentially deadly situation for nearby birds, fish and other wildlife.
By Wenonah Hauter
Five years ago this week, an emergency manager appointed by then-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made the devastating decision to save money by switching Flint's water supply over from Detroit's water system to the Flint River. Seen as a temporary fix, the new water supply was not properly treated. High levels of lead leached from the old pipes, poisoning a generation of Flint's children, and bacteria responsible for an outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease killed more than a dozen residents.
Did you know that more than a third of food is wasted or thrown away every year? And that only 25 percent of it would be enough to feed the 795 million undernourished people in the world? That's why today is Stop Food Waste Day, a chance to reflect on what you can do to waste less of the food you buy.