Major Fracked-Gas Pipeline Leak Shuts Down Rhode Island Interstate
A major natural gas leak caused parts of Providence, Rhode Island to shut down Wednesday night.
The leak, which shut down Interstate 195 and city streets for several hours, was caused by a ruptured high-pressure gas line near a National Grid take station plant at Franklin Square around 8:15 p.m.
Local witnesses reported "a loud sound of rushing air" and "a faint smell of natural gas" coming from the Allens Ave. plant.
According to The Providence Journal, a dramatic scene unfolded in the area:
"The break in the underground pipe caused havoc for a large portion of Wednesday night. Frustrated motorists were forced to take detours off a jammed Route 195 and National Grid workers scrambled to shut down the gas, which was escaping with such force that witnesses said it sounded like a jet engine. The roar continued for several hours."
Emergency vehicles swarmed the scene and nearby businesses had to evacuate.
Providence Public Commissioner Steven Pare described the leak as "highly explosive" and said "we have to keep any ignition source away from this leak" at around 9:35 p.m.
There were no reported injuries and the leak has been contained. Interstate 195 reopened around 11 p.m. and the affected streets reopened around 5 a.m. Thursday.
Officials said during a news conference that mechanical equipment failure lead to the leak.
Danielle Williamson, a spokeswoman for National Grid, told Rhode Island Public Radio that roughly 50 customers lost service and technicians have been fixing the leak since early Thursday morning.
Williamson explained that restoring gas takes longer than restoring electricity because "technicians have to go to from home to home, business to business and relight appliances that go into the homes or businesses."
National Grid is trying to determine what exactly caused the leak, Williamson added.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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