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India gets into nuclear family
On September 6, the 45-member nuclear suppliers group (nsg) lifted its 16-year-old embargo on nuclear commerce with India.
The tough negotiations in Vienna went down to the wire after China, which had sounded positive in the run-up to the nsg meeting took a different line. Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Ireland also acted tough. But a consensus emerged after three days and five rounds of roller-coaster negotiations it waives the requirement of "full-scope safeguards" as a condition for the cartel's member states to export nuclear material and fuel for use in Indian facilities.
The government claims the move will allow India to resume civil nuclear cooperation with the world despite possessing nuclear weapons, something nsg guidelines have barred since 1992. Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, who headed the high-powered Indian delegation to Vienna, did not provide details of the waiver text citing nsg's rules of confidentiality. At the time this magazine went to press, the waiver text had not been made public.
Blue Lady in the UK now
The decommissioned French warship, Le Clemenceau, nicknamed Blue Lady, is again mired in controversy. It recently docked at Hartlepool, a North Sea port in the uk, for dismantling.
The toxic-laden vessel came to India in early 2006 to be scrapped, but was turned away on safety grounds. It remained stranded at the port of Brest in France for over two years.
In June, the Health and Safety Executive (hse) allowed a Hartlepool-based company, Able uk, to bring the ship for breaking. Activists in Hartlepool have already launched a campaign against the warship. "The hse has made a special exception to allow this toxic ghost ship and its deadly cargo into our local community. It is a deep injustice to force a small town...to accept France's toxic waste," said Jean Kennedy of Friends of Hartlepool, a citizens group that has filed a case against hse. The ship contains an estimated 760 tonnes of asbestos and 330 tonnes of Polychlorinated biphenyls.
King coal goes underground
The world's first prototype coal-fired power plant using the carbon capture and storage (ccs) technology was inaugurated in Germany in early September.
Built by the Swedish power company Vattenfall, the us $100-million project has started with a 30 mw plant. Company officials say the plant uses oxyfuel boiler, which burns lignite in nearly pure oxygen, instead of air. Its emissions is almost pure co2, which can be captured, compressed into liquid and sequestered. The plan is to carry liquefied co2 from the plant, located alongside the Schwarze Pumpe power plant in eastern Germany, in lorries and inject it in the depleted Altmark gas field in northern Germany, about 350 km away. Vattenfall plans to scale up the technology to prove its commercial viability by 2015-2020, and is building demonstration plants of 250-350 mw capacities.
Environmentalists, however, remain unimpressed. They doubt the technology's viability because there is practically no knowledge of the environmental impact of storing co2 underground.
Haiti battered thrice
Between August 25 and September 7, Haiti was hit by hurricane Gustav, tropical storm Hanna, and hurricane Ike. At least 30,000 houses have been destroyed, 500 people are dead and hundreds of thousands have been cut off from humanitarian aid, said authorities.
Gustav also caused serious damage and casualties in Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Western Cuba, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, and the us. Hanna, which formed on August 28 in the northern Leeward Islands, was the deadliest tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin since 2005. Ike started as a tropical disturbance off the coast of Africa towards the end of August, but intensified before hitting Haiti and ravaging Cuba on September 4. By the time the magazine went to press, Ike had crossed Cuba and was heading into the Gulf of Mexico. Oil refineries in the gulf had evacuated workers.
While there are two months left for the Atlantic hurricane season to end, a new study says that global warming is causing powerful hurricanes to become even more intense.
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