August 30, 2013

Dolphins a victim of the Navy?

TFirst we had the bees dying this week after the Air Force did their aerial spraying for mosquitoes (yesterday's posting). And now today's report from the Navy that their sonic testing and explosives will most likely result in the inadvertent death of hundreds of whales and dolphins over the next few years.

Hundreds of bottlenose dolphins have already succumbed to a measles-like virus this summer off Virginia and the mid-Atlantic. 130 in Virginia in August so far. And now those who survive this disease will have detonating explosives to deal with. Give these critters a fighting chance.

Yes, I realize that Navy equipment needs testing and sailors need training. But can't the National Marine Fisheries folks assess the effect on whales and dolphins before they issue the necessary permits? Computer models indicate that 186 whales and dolphins off our East Coast may die from sonar, torpedos and explosives, as well as 155 off Hawaii and Southern California. And then there are the projected 11,000 plus injured and millions (yes millions) more suffering hearing loss and behavioral changes such as moving to a different area. These are smart animals and they won't remain in their traditional feeding grounds, if they survive at all.

The Department of Defense obviously hasn't read the reports on ocean sustainability. The food chain will be altered beyond hope of recovery. Get ready for an environmental outcry. Someone needs to speak for the whales and dolphins.

The good news earlier this week was that the Department of the Interior delayed their decision on gas and oil companies being allowed to use seismic air guns off the Atlantic coast until next March. This gives NOAA time to update their standards on noise levels being harmful to marine life.

August 29, 2013

Bees in Yorktown VA

Cornwallis surrendered in Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781 and the independence of the U.S. was set. Later, during Civil War days, Yorktown was again besieged, this time by Union forces. Since the 1950s, the annual battle of the mosquitoes takes place and this year quite a few honeybees have died. These victims did not get the news alert that York County had approved aerial sprayings this year before dusk when they were still out of their hives, doing what honeybees do.

Dibrom (naled) is the insecticide of choice for controlling those pesky mosquitoes. It is a type of nerve agent and does to bees what we have seen in recent photos in Syria. Death by nerve agent is not pretty. "Morbid" is Dibrom spelled backwards. Some chemist had a morbid sense of humor.

According to the manufacturer's info, "this product is toxic to fish, birds, and other wildlife" and protective clothing and goggles should be worn during spraying. NOT available in bee hives!

Sprayings in past years had occurred at dusk, but for some reason, not this year. Perhaps saner minds will delay further sprayings to after sunset to give the little guys a chance. The honeybee population is already decimated by colony collapse disorder and the verdict is still out on that cause. But pesticides are the obvious culprit. 

Florida uses vast amounts of Dibrom to control their mosquitoes and we were probably exposed to it in Belize this summer when a guy with a sprayer on his back walked past the restaurant in which we were dining. That definitely ruined my dinner.

The folks at the Colonial Beekeepers Association don't want West Nile disease any more than the rest of us, but they are more than concerned with this annual spraying. 

To read what the Virginia Department of Health says about it, check out 

August 18, 2013

Waste to energy trial coming

The Department of Defense spends $15 billion annually on fuel alone. So it makes sense that the U.S. Army should test a promising new waste to energy process called gasification. No nasty emissions as from incineration too. Burning garbage became very unfashionable years ago, although 87 waste-to-energy incinerators in the U.S. operate and generate less than one percent of our power.

But in this latest gasification process in which garbage goes in one end and natural gas comes out, one ton of garbage or construction debris or whatever creates enough gas  in four hours to power the average American home for about six weeks, while producing one third the emissions of a coal burning power plant. 

So millions of tons of garbage could power millions of homes and businesses. Get the picture? It sounds very green to me.

August 17, 2013

Need to recycle old computers?

If you missed the last County Household Chemicals and other stuff collection day, do not despair. 

Thanks to The Arc of the Virginia Peninsula folks, James City County and City of Williamsburg residents can recycle electronics for free now at the Jolly Pond Convenience Center. Arc will provide training to special needs folks to dissemble the following items:

  • Personal computers and workstations
  • Keyboards, printers and computer peripherals
  • Computer monitors
  • Cell phones
  • Mainframe computers
  • Consumer electronics and small household appliances
  • Circuit boards
  • Telephone equipment and fax machines
  • Switches, circuit breakers, voltage regulators and other electrical equipment
  • Connectors, cables
  • Communications and networking equipment

Items not accepted:

  • Hazardous waste
  • TV’s
  • Explosive materials
  • Flammable or ignitable materials
  • Compressed gases, including propane tanks
  • Reactive or toxic chemicals (paints or solvents)
  • Freon-containing units (air conditioners, refrigerators, etc.)
  • Wood, rubber, tar, insulation or dirt
  • Garbage, rags, and other debris
  • Radioactive materials, asbestos, PCB bearing materials
  • Infectious substances
  • Medical waste
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Smoke detectors
  • Oil filled heaters
  • VHS tapes

The Jolly Pond Convenience Center at 1204 Jolly Pond Road off Centerville Road is open daily from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m.

August 3, 2013

Not pristine??????

Virginia's State Corporation Commission has finally ruled that Dominion Virginia Power's power line over the historic James River be approved. Lots of opposition and quite a few of our local dollars tried to convince them that the proposed crossing would be a blight to our eyes. But the hearing examiner said that specific view was NOT pristine because it was already blighted by roller coasters, water towers, a nuclear power plant and Kingsmill homes. OK, so it was not the pristine view that John Smith saw. But having sailed under similar power lines across the Delaware River, I can state that power lines across a river are VERY unsightly. 

Dominion's other option across the truly pristine Chickahominy River was equally unsightly and opposed.

It's not like we can chose another power company to provide our electricity. Monopoly was a fun game when we were kids, but James City County has just landed on Boardwalk with very little play money. Monopoly wins again; we lose. A similar crossing over the also scenic Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest also mars its look. Is that the cost of our growing dependence on electricity?

The environment loses too. Invasive plants will thrive on each bank of the James where the land structures are built. Are there wetlands nearby? And I can't begin to imagine the kepones and other "stuff" that will be released when the towers in the river are being sunk into the riverbed. Isn't this the same river that the state is spending quite a few bucks on to restore oyster beds? The sediment that will be stirred up will be counter-productive to that effort.

But perhaps Dominion will include major mitigation efforts when they construct this power line. don't hold your breath. 

But I suppose it is all relative. I don't find the look below unappealing.