North Sea Gas Leak Does Nothing to Encourage Independent Inspection
A gas leak that erupted at the Elgin offshore installation in UK waters last week has highlighted once again the risky business of offshore drilling. It also highlights the weakness in the proposed EU regulation on offshore activities not to include the development of an independent EU-wide inspection agency.
“For too long, national governments have put too much trust in the safety claims of offshore operators and the commission proposal does little to prevent this from continuing," said Chris Carroll of Seas At Risk. "European decision-makers must include the requirement for an independent European agency to inspect offshore drilling operations and ensure that new EU regulations are being implemented by Member States.”
Despite strong calls for an EU role to inspect and investigate the performance of offshore installations and to check on the performance of Member States, the commission dropped the measure from their proposal that was published last year.
A dedicated EU agency responsible for enforcing EU standards would be an appropriate response to the revelations in both the U.S. and Europe subsequent to the Deepwater Horizon spill that indicated national regulators have in the past relied too heavily on the safety claims made by industry.
The UK regime has substantial problems. Aside from the latest incident at the Elgin platform, just last year the UK suffered what was considered the worst oil spill in a decade at a North Sea pipeline. And in a shocking revelation about UK offshore operations, the UK’s Guardian newspaper also revealed last year that UK waters have suffered major or significant leaks at a rate of almost one every week throughout 2009 and 2010.
The commission proposal for regulation does have some positive elements, but it also needs substantial strengthening to ensure that Europe’s waters are protected against the highly risky pursuit for oil and gas in ever more hazardous settings.
For more information, click here.
California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.
High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.
Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.
California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.
As reported by AccuWeather:
In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
For a deeper dive:
- Bond Fire South of LA Forces 25,000 to Flee - EcoWatch ›
- 'Explosive' Southern California Lake Fire Spreads to 10,000 Acres ... ›
- 10 Wildfires Ignite Around Los Angeles in Unseasonable Wind and ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
"Prevention is the cure for child/teen cancer." This is the welcoming statement on a website called 'TheReasonsWhy.Us', where families affected by childhood cancers can sign up for a landmark new study into the potential environmental causes.
Nearly 1.6 million people in the southern part of Madagascar have faced food insecurity since 2016, experiencing one drought after another, the United Nations World Food Program reported.
- Half a Degree of Warming Makes a Big Difference to Global Food ... ›
- UN Warns of Impending Food Crisis - EcoWatch ›
- Global Hunger Is Increasing, New UN Report Finds - EcoWatch ›
- Construction Begins on Keystone XL Pipeline in Montana - EcoWatch ›
- Trump Approves Keystone XL Pipeline, Groups Vow 'The Fight Is ... ›
- Keystone XL Pipeline Construction to Forge Ahead During ... ›
By Monir Ghaedi
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of Europe on pause, the EU aims for a breakthrough in its space program. The continent is seeking more than just a self-sufficient space industry competitive with China and the U.S.; the industry must also fit into the European Green Deal.
European satellites continue to provide data on climate change.