HSE NI issue ionising radiaton exemption guidance
Published: 15 Aug 2013
The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSE NI) has published a certificate of exemption and guidance on lamps containing krypton-85, under the Ionising Radiations Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2000/375.
For functional reasons some types of lamps contain the radioactive gas krypton-85 (Kr-85). The guidance is aimed at employers involved in handling, use, holding, storage, transport or disposal of these lamps in limited quantities. Under the Regulations, such employers fall into the category of "radiation employers" however limited their use. The purpose of the guidance is to inform such "radiation employers" of their responsibilities in relation to these lamps and provide guidance on their obligations.
For more information, see the:
Kids silenced over fracking
Published: 13 Aug 2013
As part of a settlement between a family in Pennsylvania and an oil and gas company, two young children have been banned from ever talking about fracking or the Marcellus Shale, a leading producer in America's shale gas boom.
The $750,000 settlement, which was reached in 2011 but has only just been sealed, imposes a gagging order on the whole of the Hallowich family, including the children who were 10 and 7 at the time.
The Hallowich family had earlier accused Range Resources Corp of destroying their 10-acre farm in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania and putting their children's health in danger. Their property was adjacent to major industrial operations: four gas wells, gas compressor stations, and a waste water pond, which the Hallowich family said contaminated their water supply and caused burning eyes, sore throats and headaches.
The couple told the court they agreed to the settlement because they wanted to move to a new home away from the gas fields, and to raise their children in a safer environment. "We need to get the children out of there for their health and safety," the children's mother, Stephanie Hallowich, told the court.
However, she was still troubled by the gag order. "My concern is that they're minors. I'm not quite sure I fully understand. We know we're signing for silence for ever but how is this taking away our children's rights being minors now? I mean my daughter is turning seven today, my son is 10."
Campaigners say the secrecy has helped the industry resist more stringent environmental and health controls – by burying evidence of water contamination and health problems associated with natural gas operations. The Hallowichs' lawyer, Peter Villari, told the court he had never seen a gag order imposed on children in his 30 years of practising law, according to the released transcript.
However, once that gag order came to light, two years after the August 2011 proceedings, the company told reporters it did not agree with its attorney's comments. "We don't believe the settlement applies to children," a Range Resources spokesman told the Gazette. He went on to tell the paper that there was no evidence that the Hallowich family was affected by exposure to gas development.
Health and safety causing trouble and strife
Published: 09 Aug 2013
A wife-carrying competition at this year's Faringdon Folly Fest has been cancelled because organisers didn't get health and safety permission in time.
In the unusual "sport", husbands carry their wives across a bumpy field to try and win their wife's weight in beer or sausages. Organisers of the annual music festival said they asked Faringdon House if they could use a field for the event several months in advance. But they only just got the all-clear three weeks ago, by which time it was too late to obtain the relevant health and safety permissions, insurance and carry out a risk assessment for the event.
They needed to ensure that the field to be used had been empty of cows for at least three weeks prior.
Folly Fest organiser Mel Lane said, "We applied months ago, but they didn't come back to us until it was too late. In international wife carrying, you don't need person insurance."
However, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have argued other factors might be at play. As part of their "putting the record straight" feature, they Tweeted, "Health and safety isn't the hurdle for this wife-carrying race. Local paperwork seems to be the issue."
Cameron wants to kill badgers
Published: 09 Aug 2013
Culling badgers is the right thing to do to avoid "appalling consequences" for farmers, cattle and badgers, David Cameron has said.
The Prime Minister warned that the Government could spend "another billion pounds" dealing with the consequences of bovine tuberculosis, which is partly spread by badgers, if the planned culls do not go ahead.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Farming Today, he said, "They are going to go ahead and it's important that they go ahead. I think the countryside needs from the Government not just cash and commitment but it needs courage. This does require political courage, but we have that political courage because quite simply it's the right thing to do."
He continued, "If we don't do anything we're going to be spending over the next ten years another billion pounds dealing with the consequences of bovine TB, and let's be clear there are appalling consequences not just for the cattle and the farmers, there are also appalling consequences for the badgers."
Around 5,000 badgers are set to be killed in two pilot culls in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset as early as this month. The culls have been licensed over a six-week period from 1 June, and the pilots will assess whether enough badgers can be killed in an area to have an impact on reducing TB in cattle.
Decrease in Northern Ireland landfill rates
Published: 08 Aug 2013
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has welcomed the fact that both household and local authority collected municipal landfill rates in Northern Ireland have decreased to their lowest levels ever, at just over 50%.
The latest figures, for the period January to March 2013, show a 7% decrease compared to the same period last year. Further positive news came from an increase in the proportion of non-compostable household and municipal waste sent for recycling, which increased by 0.7% and 1%, respectively. Waste produced by householders also dropped significantly from 9,149 to 5,774 tonnes.
Commenting on the reduction, Minister Durkan said, "The reduction in landfill to their lowest ever levels is welcome news. This is the first time we have reached the point where as much of our waste doesn't go to landfill, as goes to landfill. I welcome also that the recycling rate for products that cannot be composted continue to increase. A partnership approach between councils, householders and my Department is the only way forward to continue the good work which is still best summed up as reduce, reuse, recycle."
He continued, "I intend to progress both the environmental and economic benefits by setting ourselves higher recycling targets to make more use of our resources and open up new business opportunities. As people embrace measures to reduce waste they benefit not only their local communities, but also help address global climate change too, surely the best of both worlds."
Published: 05 Aug 2013
As well as intense floods, storms and droughts, a recent study carried out by US scientists indicates climate change may also be a contributory factor in an increase in violence.
The study found that even small changes in temperature could be linked to an increased rate of domestic violence, assault and other violent crimes.
Conflict as a result of people moving to neighbouring countries due to global warming, such as in Darfur, has long been documented, however the authors of this study believe that climate change can also contribute to domestic violence.
The scientists found an increase in reports of domestic violence in India and Australia at times of drought; land invasions in Brazil linked to poor weather; and more controversially, a rise in the number of assaults and murders in the US and Tanzania.
The authors said that in all of the 27 studies of modern societies they looked at, higher temperatures showed a correlation with rising rates of violence, but they could not say why this might be the case. More studies would be needed to confirm the results and explain why such a correlation might exist, they said. The underlying reasons could run from increased economic hardship as harvests fail or droughts bite, to the physiological effects of hot weather.
The scientists say that with the current projected levels of climate change the world is likely to become a more violent place. They estimate that a 2C (3.6F) rise in global temperature could see personal crimes increase by about 15%, and group conflicts rise by more than 50% in some regions.