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As Indonesia volcano rumbles, survivors fear more ruinous waves | News





Steady loud booms rupture the looping noise of the waves lapping the coast of Pandeglang province on Indonesia’s Java island. The thumping sound could easily be mistaken for the wind – but it’s not.

Hidden in the gloom some 47km out in the sea, Anak Krakatoa volcano is still erupting, like it has been doing for several months now.

But late on Saturday, the eruptions triggered an underwater landslide that is widely believed to have caused a devastating tsunami that struck almost without a warning the shorelines of Indonesia’s Java and Sumatra islands

“It was not like a usual wave,” Edi Sujarwo, a chef at a hotel lining the Pandeglang seafront, told Al Jazeera. “It was a huge wave, with foam on top and it was just rolling and rolling after me.”

The powerful tsunami washed away popular seaside areas frequented by local and foreign tourists ahead of Christmas, sweeping over coastal settlements and leaving behind a trail of destruction.The latest death toll stands at 429 people, with 1,459 others injured and another 128 missing.

Thousands more have been displaced and forced to seek shelter in temporary camps after the menacing waves flattened their homes.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Ami Yati told Al Jazeera.

Her house in Pandeglang is above four metres above normal sea level, yet the surging water powered into it as well as her shop next door.

“I’ve got no money; the shop’s gone too so I’ve got no income.”

A soldier searches for the tsunami victims in Sumur [Achmad Ibrahim/The Associated Press]

Fears of second tsunami

With Anak Krakatoa still rumbling, experts are warning that more destructive waves could slam the already-stricken areas in southern Sumatra and western Java – and with as little warning as Saturday’s disaster.

“People are nervous along this coast, watching the sea for signs that another wave could come,” said Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas, reporting from Pandeglang.

“Not knowing which rumble means they should run.”

Across the coast, in South Lampung on Sumatra, the same feeling prevails. 

“We’re scared that another tsunami could hit our village of any time, but we grew up here and our ancestors always told us that Krakatoa was a threat on the horizon,” Abdulrahman, the head of Rajabasa village who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told Al Jazeera.

“We’re scared, but this is our home.”

On both islands, search and rescue teams are using heavy machinery, diggers and even their bare hands to comb the ruins of hundreds of houses, hotels and other buildings.

At a small resort on Java’s Carita Beach, rescuers on Monday recovered some 40 bodies during the recovery and cleanup operations.

“They are still working in the rubble, where there is still a smell of death – they know that there are still at least one or two bodies to be recovered here,” Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from the scene, said on Tuesday, adding that the efforts are being hampered by bad weather.

WATCH: Indonesians call for better response to tsunami disaster (02:11)

New monitoring equipment

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands with a population of some 260 million people, sits on the geologically active “Ring of Fire” and is frequently hit by earthquakes and tsunamis.

For many in the most recent disaster zones, grief is turning to anger as they question whether more could have been done to alert them to what was coming and urge authorities to invest in better monitoring equipment.

“I want the government to help us so we can continue to live here, so we are not afraid any more,” said Hasbialoh Asnawi, a resident in Anyer district on Java island.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who on Monday visited affected areas, pledged to have all tsunami-detection gear fixed or repaired.

In a post on Twitter, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesperson for Indonesia Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), acknowledged that Indonesia’s network of detection buoys had been out of order for the past six years due to vandalism and budget shortages.

But other officials and experts have said the tsunami was caused by Anak Krakatau, which means that the BNPB’s sensors could not have been picked up the volcanic activity as they can monitor the conventional tremors that are responsible for the vast majority of Indonesia’s tsunamis.

“It’s highly likely that there will be more tsunamis generated by submarine landslides. The question is, when’s that going to happen? We don’t know,” James Goff, professor of tsunami research at the University of New South Wales in Australia, told Al Jazeera.

“Are there going to be bigger ones? We don’t know. What warning do you have? Well, it’s an active volcano – and that’s essentially the warning.”

Major disasters

Saturday’s tsunami was Indonesia’s third major natural disaster in just a few months. In July and August, major earthquakes on Lombok island killed hundreds of people, while in September a devastating earthquake-tsunami left more than 2,000 others in Palu on Sulawesi island dead.

It also came just a few days before the 14th anniversary of the December 26, 2004 tsunami, one of the deadliest disasters in history that claimed the lives of some 220,000 people in several countries around the Indian Ocean, more than half of whom were Indonesians.

As cleanup and recovery efforts following the latest disaster continue, the fears of people living on the coasts of Java and Sumatra – in such close proximity to the rumbling Anuk Krakatoa – will linger.

“A number of the people who lived here at sea level are now in temporary shelters on higher ground,” said Al Jazeera’s McBride.

“Whether they come back here, will depend in part in what confidence they have in being able to predict what the sea does next.”


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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic





TORONTO — Restaurants’ inability to offer their usual dine-in service during much of 2020 may explain why an unusually high amount of food-related litter was found across the country, a new report says.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) is an annual program in which volunteers are encouraged to clean up green spaces and other natural areas.

Last year, single-use food and beverage containers made up 26.6 per cent of waste collected through the program – nearly twice as high a percentage as in 2019, before the pandemic.

“We suspect the change may be one of the many implications of COVID-19, including more people ordering restaurant takeaway and consuming more individually packaged foods,” GCSC spokesperson Julia Wakeling said in a press release.

While food- and beverage-related litter accounted for a greater percentage of waste uncovered by GCSC than in the past, it wasn’t the single largest category of items picked up through the program last year.

That dubious honour goes to cigarette butts and other smoking-related paraphernalia, which comprised nearly 29 per cent of all items collected. There were more than 83,000 cigarette butts among the 42,000 kilograms of waste found and clean up last year.

So-called “tiny trash” – little pieces of plastic and foam – also accounted for a sizeable share of the waste, making up 26.8 per cent of the total haul.

In addition to smoking-related items and tiny trash, the main pieces of litter removed by GCSC volunteers last year included nearly 22,000 food wrappers, more than 17,500 pieces of paper, more than 13,000 bottle caps and more than 10,000 beverage cans.

Discarded face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment were also detected and cleaned up, although not tallied in their own category.  PPE waste has been repeatedly cited as a concern by environmental advocates during the pandemic; a robin in Chilliwack, B.C. is the earliest known example of an animal that died due to coronavirus-related litter.

The GCSC is an annual program organized by Ocean Wise and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Its operations were disrupted by the pandemic as well; only 15,000 volunteers took part in the program last year, versus 85,000 in 2019, due to delays and public health restrictions making large group clean-ups impossible.

Still, there was GCSC participation from every province and the Northwest Territories in 2020. Nearly half of the volunteers who took part were based in B.C., where the program began in 1994.

Data from past GCSC reports was used as part of the research backing Canada’s ban on certain single-use plastic items, which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2021.

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Canada: Significant Changes To Canada’s Federal Environmental Protection Regime Proposed





On April 13, 2021, the government of Canada proposed significant changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (“CEPA”)1 through the introduction of Bill C-28, Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act (the “Amendments“).2

With these Amendments, the government hopes to modernize Canada’s environmental regime which has not undergone significant change in over 20 years. CEPA is the primary statute through which the federal government regulates and protects the environment. CEPA and its accompanying regulations regulate among other things the treatment and disposal of chemicals and hazardous waste, vehicle and engine emissions, equipment and other sources of pollution, and the prevention and impact of environmental emergencies such as oil and chemical spills.

This bulletin provides an overview of the major changes to CEPA that have been proposed.

The Right to a Healthy Environment and Certain Soft Rights

Significantly, the Preamble under the Amendments will officially recognize Canadians’ right to a healthy environment. Section 2 of CEPA will require the government to protect that right when making decisions relating to the environment.3

The Amendments set out specific obligations the government must undertake to safeguard this right, including developing an implementation framework to set out how this right will be considered in the administration of CEPA as well as conducting research, studies and monitoring activities to support this goal.

In addition, the Preamble will recognize some additional considerations, including confirming the government’s commitment to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as well as recognizing the importance of considering vulnerable persons, reducing or replacing the use of animal testing, and the right of Canadians to have access to information on product labels.

Project Impact Assessment

With respect to risk assessments under CEPA, under the new provisions the federal government must consider impacts on vulnerable populations and possible cumulative effects of the proposed conduct. Vulnerable populations will include groups of people with elevated biological susceptibility, such as children, and groups with elevated exposure risks, such an indigenous communities. Consideration of cumulative effects of proposed conduct takes a holistic approach to substance management by considering the compounding risks of exposure to various chemicals during daily life rather than looking at substances on their own.

Chemicals Management

The federal government has identified the management of chemicals as a key target area under the new CEPA.

The Amendments thus propose to overhaul this regime in order to better protect Canadians from the evolving risks of harmful chemicals and pollution. To accomplish this, the government has proposed wide ranging changes relating to risk assessment, public accountability, management of toxic substances and new substances, which are discussed in turn below.

Risk Assessment

The government must consult, develop and publish a Plan of Chemicals Management Priorities which will set out an integrated plan for the risk assessment of various chemical substances currently being used in Canada. The Plan will establish priorities for the management of substances, taking into account a number of factors including among others the views of stakeholders and partners, public comments, the effects on vulnerable populations, the toxicity of the substance, the ability to disrupt biological reproduction or endocrine systems, and whether there are safer and more sustainable alternatives.4 The government will also be empowered to make geographically targeted regulations to address pollution “hot spots”.

Additionally, the Amendments will establish a mechanism through which any person can submit a request to the Minister to assess a substance to determine its toxicity and risk to the environment. The Minister must provide a response within 90 days, indicating whether they intend to assess the substances and their reasons for their decision.

Public Accountability Framework

The Amendments intend to increase transparency and public participation in risk assessments by the government for the categorization and management of potentially toxic chemicals. Currently, CEPA contains a public accountability framework under section 77 and provides time limits for the government to assess substances under sections 91 and 92. However, these provisions only apply to certain risk assessments being conducted by the government such as substances placed on the Domestic Substances List that in the opinion of the Minister present the greatest potential for exposure to Canadians or are persistent or bio-accumulative. The proposed Amendments plan to amend section 77 to expand these transparency and accountability measures to all substance risk assessments for toxic or capable of being toxic substances, with the exception of assessments for new substances.5

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Scientists, Homalco First Nation team up to probe massive B.C. landslide — and its impact on salmon





When the side of a B.C. mountain gave way on Nov. 28, 2020, crashing into a glacier fed lake and creating a 100-metre high tsunami, no one was around to see the destruction or hear the sound of rocks and trees tearing through the valley below. 

But scientists say the force, which was picked up by seismographs across North America, was the equivalent of a 4.9-magnitude earthquake. 

Fortunately, no one was in the slide’s path, but experts believe that a melting glacier likely contributed by making the slope less stable — and climate change means it is a growing risk. 

As more of Canada’s glaciers recede, scientists say there is great interest in finding out what exactly triggered this slide, and how the rocks and sediment have impacted the salmon population of nearby Elliot Creek and Southgate River. 

The mountain, which is located about 220 km north west of Vancouver, is on the traditional territory of the Homalco First Nation. 

It’s an area of remote wilderness, only accessible by air or by boating 80 km up Bute Inlet.

When the slide hit last year, more than 18 million cubic meters of rock barrelled down the slope hitting the lake within 30 seconds. 

“That is the equivalent of all of the cars in Canada coming down the hill at once,” said Marten Geertsema, a geomorphologist who works with the B.C. government studying landslides. 

He is one of several scientists, along with members from the Homalco First Nation, who have been studying the landslide and its cascading environmental impact on the watershed and salmon habitat. 

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