Five coal miners die in Bosnia after quake causes mine collapse

By Cecelia Jamasmie - Mining.Com, September 5, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Rescuers at Zenica coal mine in central Bosnia freed Friday 29 of the 34 miners trapped underground after a gas explosion that followed a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, which cause the walls to collapse.

Officials halted rescue efforts, believing that five men who remained deep below ground were dead.

Relief among people waiting outside turned to anguish when it became clear that not all 34 men had survived.

Twenty-two other miners managed to leave the pit before it collapsed Thursday evening, AP reports.

Even before news of the deaths emerged, unions and families of the trapped miners claimed management understated the scale of the problem and moved “too slowly” to rescue the men.

Zenica was the site of one of the greatest mining tragedies in Bosnia’s history, when 39 miners were killed in a gas explosion in 1982.

Ain't NOTHING's Changed!


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Workers At Coal Waste Landfill Told That Coal Ash Is ‘Safe Enough To Eat,’ Lawsuit Says

By Emily Atkin - Think Progress, September 5, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Employees of an Ohio landfill used primarily for disposing of toxic coal waste byproducts like coal ash were told that the waste was “safe enough to eat” and weren’t required to wear protective gear, resulting in numerous illnesses and some deaths, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of 77 people last month.

Doug Workman, a supervisor at the General James M. Gavin Residual Waste Landfill landfill in North Cheshire, Ohio, allegedly responded to worker inquiries about whether working with the coal waste was safe “by sticking his finger into the coal waste and then placing his fly-ash covered finger into his own mouth,” thereby implying that “that coal waste was ‘safe enough to eat,’” according to a report in the West Virginia Record. Both Workman and American Electric Power — the power company that owns the landfill — are targets of the lawsuit, which claims that workers who handled the waste were not adequately protected from its toxic properties.

“Repeatedly, individuals were not provided with protective equipment, such as overalls, gloves or respirators when working in and around coal waste,” the lawsuit reads. “These working men and women, already exposed to the contaminants at the job site, then, in turn, carried the coal waste home to their families on their clothes and shoes, thus even exposing family members to the deadly toxins.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 77 people, 39 of whom were direct employees of the landfill and others who claim they were harmed by contact with those employees. The West Virginia Record notes that most of the workers were actually employees of contractor companies that worked for AEP.

AEP owns the landfill because it is directly next to one of its coal-fired power plants, and is therefore used to dispose of the waste that comes from that plant. One of the biggest forms of waste from burning coal is called coal ash, which is usually stored with water in large ponds, or in landfills. The black sludgy substance is known to contain arsenic, lead, and mercury.

However, workers at the Gavin landfill were allegedly told that the coal ash was only a mixture of “water and lime,” and that it contained “such low levels of arsenic, it made no difference.” The workers were allegedly told that the “lime neutralizes the arsenic,” according the the Record’s report.

Dispersant illness robbing a once strong local generation of work, economic security

By Charles Digges - Bellona, September 4, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

NEW ORLEANS/BAYOU LABATRA, Alabama – Lamont Moore’s short dreadlocks and mammoth fists make a shot glass of his coffee mug in the well of his knot-knuckled hand as he leans back to ponder a question, shying vampirically from the light bellowing into the Waffle House on Alabama State Road 39.

Adjusting his Terminator shades with his other meaty mitt, he radiates the impression of a retired prizefighter tired of talking to the media.

But Moore, 34, is fatigued for other reasons. He can’t climb a flight of stairs without having to sit down and catch his wind. He pinches the bridge of his nose against the swirling hurricane of a debilitating migraine. He’s chosen not to join the rest of us in breakfast because of stomach pain. And he can’t read the menu anyway – the sunlight is too much for his eyes.

lamar

Lamar Moore, who cleaned beaches in Alabama during the Deepwater Horizon spill. (Charles Digges/Bellona)

Even the sunglasses that he fashioned out of welder’s goggles don’t help. Most of the time, he says, he bumbling around in a whiteout.

He finally breaks the silence, rubbing a cyst the size of cherry on his jaw that’s been there since he worked the beaches of Dauphin Island, Alabama to help cleanup the oil of the Deepwater Horizon spill. “I’m really sorry, but what did you ask?”

The memory loss is part of the overall symptomology of Corexit poisoning, or “BP syndrome,” as it’s sometimes referred to by Dr. Michael Robichaux, one of the few Gulf area physicians to treat and document the symptoms of poisoning by crude and Corexit, the oil dispersant that BP dumped 1.84 million gallons of to hide the effects of its 4.9 million barrel blowout in the Gulf of Mexico’s Macondo well.

CBE and Allies Risk Arrest to Halt Operations at Richmond Kinder Morgan Train Terminal

Communities for a Better Environment, September 4, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

[Richmond, CA] Today more than a dozen Bay Area citizens chained themselves to a gate at the Kinder Morgan rail terminal in Richmond to stop operations. The citizens risked arrest to protest mile-long oil trains that threaten the safety of area residents and are a massive new source of air and carbon pollution in the region.

Among the demonstrators were residents of Richmond, Rodeo, Martinez, and Benicia, all towns that currently see dangerous oil trains moving through residential areas. Earlier this year the regional air quality agency, known as the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, changed an existing permit to allow oil trains at the rail facility. Demonstrators contend that the agency broke the law when it modified the existing permit without additional environmental and safety review.

On Friday the San Francisco Superior Court will hold a hearing on a lawsuit filed by groups challenging the legality of the permit change and asking for a halt to oil train operations at the facility.

“People in Richmond are angry that the Air District, who are supposed to protect us, instead has put our community at catastrophic risk along with all the uprail communities. This irresponsible behavior must be stopped NOW!” said Andres Soto, organizer with Communities for a Better Environment.

“The law in the State of California requires public agencies like the Air District to inform the public of projects like the Kinder Morgan Bomb Train operation. Not only that, the law requires an environmental review and public input into the process of issuing permits. The Air District broke the law when they secretly approved this dangerous project,” stated Denny Larson of Global Community Monitor.

“I work with Richmond residents who already struggle with cancer, asthma and other devastating health impacts of pollution. Now they are living with bomb-trains full of explosive Bakken crude oil driving through their neighborhoods. By allowing this to happen, BAAQMD is failing to protect us and choosing Kinder Morgan’s profits over our safety,” said Megan Zapanta, Asian Pacific Environmental Network Richmond Community Organizer.

“It’s unacceptable and illegal that the Air District allowed Kinder Morgan to bring explosive Bakken oil by rail from North Dakota without going through the processes established by state law to protect air quality and the safety of families in Pittsburg, Martinez, Crockett, Rodeo, Benicia, and Richmond. We demand that all operations related to oil by rail at Kinder Morgan stop immediately,” says Pamela Arauz, on behalf of Bay Area Refinery Corridor Coalition.

“As the Bay Area Air District and other government agencies are failing to protect the health and lives of communities from the reckless shipments of crude oil by rail, the people are taking action to protect our communities,” said Bradley Angel, Executive Director of Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice.

“The Air District took a reckless, illegal shortcut that puts our families at risk. We’ve seen what happens when one of these trains derails and catches fire, we can’t let that happen here,” said Ethan Buckner, US organizer with ForestEthics.

“Climate disruption is bearing down on us even faster because of the extreme extraction of tar sands and shale oil. With Bomb Trains carrying millions of gallons of that dangerous crude rolling on Bay Area rails, all of our lives are on the line. Instead of the alarming dead-end expansion of the fossil fuel industry we need a rapid transition to renewable energy now,” said Shoshana Wechsler of the Sunflower Alliance.

“To be sure, we take the oil refineries’ contempt for fenceline communities for granted. But frankly, it was shocking to see how covertly BAAQMD threw our public health under the bus,” said Nancy Rieser, Co-founder, Crockett-Rodeo United to Defend the Environment (C.R.U.D.E.)

Chomsky: U.S. Plunges the Cradle of Civilization into Disaster, While Its Oil-Based Empire Destroys the Earth's Climate

By Noam Chomsky - AlterNet, September 5, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

It is not pleasant to contemplate the thoughts that must be passing through the mind of the Owl of Minerva as the dusk falls and she undertakes the task of interpreting the era of human civilization, which may now be approaching its inglorious end.

The era opened almost 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, stretching from the lands of the Tigris and Euphrates, through Phoenicia on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean to the Nile Valley, and from there to Greece and beyond. What is happening in this region provides painful lessons on the depths to which the species can descend.

The land of the Tigris and Euphrates has been the scene of unspeakable horrors in recent years. The George W. Bush-Tony Blair aggression in 2003, which many Iraqis compared to the Mongol invasions of the 13th century, was yet another lethal blow. It destroyed much of what survived the Bill Clinton-driven UN sanctions on Iraq, condemned as "genocidal" by the distinguished diplomats Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, who administered them before resigning in protest. Halliday and von Sponeck's devastating reports received the usual treatment accorded to unwanted facts.

One dreadful consequence of the US-UK invasion is depicted in aNew York Times "visual guide to the crisis in Iraq and Syria": the radical change of Baghdad from mixed neighborhoods in 2003 to today's sectarian enclaves trapped in bitter hatred. The conflicts ignited by the invasion have spread beyond and are now tearing the entire region to shreds.

Protesters disrupt construction over First Nations burial ground on islet off Saltspring Island

By Sarah Petrescu - Vancouver Sun, August 27, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

‘You would never do this to your ancestors,’ chief tells workers

The sharp roar of saws and a generator coming from a construction site on Grace Islet Tuesday morning was too much for Tseycum Chief Vern Jacks.

After paddling in the Cowichan Tribes big canoe over to the small island in Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island, where a luxury home is being built over a First Nations burial ground, he stood on the shore and yelled to the workers: “You would never do this to your ancestors. Think about your kids, your family.”

About two dozen protesters came in canoes and kayaks, and some even swam. Cowichan elder Arvid Charlie said his community members have ancestors buried on the islet and referred to it as mim’kw’e’lu, which means gravesite in Hul’qumi’num.

Within a few minutes some of the protesters — including Jacks, Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt, NDP MLA Gary Holman and organizer Joe Akerman — decided to breach the gated construction site and go inside. The group followed, walking around the concrete foundation and burial cairns encased in plywood where builders were at work.

“I’m just a contractor. You’re being disrespectful doing this,” David Yager, of West Terra Projects, said to the small crowd, which included several children.

As tension rose, protesters held hands along the site and began to sing a rendition of Amazing Grace: “Amazing grace is sacred ground, washed by wind and sea, where ancestors are laid to rest for all eternity.”

The generator and a radio blaring Whitesnake rock songs were momentarily turned off.

Jacks thanked the workers for understanding. “We’ve wanted to do this for a long time,” he said. “This place means a lot to First Nations.”

Two RCMP officers soon arrived and began to photograph the protesters before speaking with them.

“I’m sorry that it came to this today, but all else has failed,” said Holman, addressing the officers.

“The question I have for the RCMP is, where were you when the law was broken here two years ago?” he asked, referring to construction that violated the site permits issued by the B.C. archeology branch.

Grace Islet was purchased in 1990 by Alberta businessman Barry Slawsky. His plans to build a retirement home were stalled by the discovery of ancient remains and burial cairns in 2006.

Despite the 2012 permit violation and increasing public concern about construction on the documented burial site, Slawsky has been given the go-ahead to continue building by the provincial body responsible for protecting ancient remains under the Heritage Act.

“I can’t condone trespassing, but have to point out this is what’s going to happen if government does nothing,” Holman later said. “… There’s a clear way out of this: Compensate the owner and protect the islet.”

Tuesday’s protest comes a few days after the province met with local chiefs, including Jacks, about the controversial islet. They plan to speak again on possible resolutions.

California’s Pension, 55th Largest Fossil Fuel Company in the World

By Brett Fleishman, Senior Analyst at 350.org, with later edits by Jay Carmona, Community Divestment Campaign Manager - Fossil Free, September 3, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

California is the 8th Largest Economy in the World, And California’s pension fund is the 55th Largest Fossil Fuel Company in the World.

Today, Fossil Free Indexes’ research team published a deep dive analysis on CalPERS’ holdings of the Top 200 coal, oil and gas companies by CO2 emissions potential.

California’s pension fund isn’t really a fossil fuel company, or a company at all; but they currently finance enough coal, oil, and gas reserves to put them well within the top 100 oil and gas reserve holders and also the top 100 coal reserve holders.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) is the nation’s largest pension fund, with a $300 billion portfolio. CalPERS is a leader in the investment world and has a huge impact on the global economy. When it comes to framing the climate crisis and finding solutions through an investment perspective, everyone, including the United Nations, looks to CalPERS for leadership.

On August 16th, Anne Stausboll, CalPERS CEO, published this article describing CalPERS response to climate and carbon risk within their portfolio. Essentially, the CalPERS team is focused on requesting transparency with companies on carbon risk issues (e.g. emissions and stranded assets), it’s called “disclosure.” They have done some fairly significant and progressive work changing the rules so that companies will have to disclose climate risk or carbon output with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) – which is a good thing. With that being said, Ms. Stausboll noted in her article that their efforts have fallen short of the issues, “…the breadth and quality of the disclosures with the SEC are still lacking.”

While CalPERS claims that “Climate change is an important issue for [the pension] System,” it’s useful to ask: what statements are they making with their money?

Fossil Free Indexes found, shockingly, that over the last 10 years, CalPERS has roughly doubled the potential emissions it finances. In 2004, CalPERS held 90 coal, oil, and gas companies on the Top 200 list; today they hold 149. If CalPERS directly held the fossil fuel reserves allocated to its 2013 portfolio it would rank #55 on the top oil and gas reserve holders list and #88 on the top coal reserve holders list.

Reckless BP Kills 11 Men Now They Face Civil Fines

West Coast Native News - September 4, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

A Louisiana federal court basted BP for the massive 2010 oil spill in the U.S. Gulf Coast on Thursday, saying the incident was a combination of “gross negligence” and “reckless” conduct by the oil giant and other oil producers — a judgement the company strongly rejected.

The ruling means BP could face as much as $17.6 billion in civil fines under the Clean Water Act, The company could now face fines as much as $4,300 for every barrel of oil lost. Based on government estimates from the time of how much was lost, the company could end up with a fine of almost $18 billion. Just this week, Halliburton agreed to pay $1.1 billion to settle claims related to its role in the disaster.

Earlier this year, a separate court ruling determined BP would have to set aside $9.2 billion in settlement funds, a figure the company was fighting to reduce.

Here is a list of the 11 workers who died after a blast on the BP-leased drilling rig Deepwater Horizon on April 20, 2010 about 50 miles southeast of the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico.  — after burning for about a day and a half — the Deepwater Horizon sank. It rests on the bottom about a mile below the Gulf surface.

None of the men worked directly for BP. Two were employed by M-I Swaco, a division of oil field services company Schlumberger. The rest worked for Transocean.

— Jason Anderson, 35, of Midfield, Texas. A father of two. His wife, Shelley, said Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday. Anderson began preparing a will in February 2010 and kept it in a spiral notebook. It sank with the rig.

—Aaron Dale “Bubba” Burkeen, 37, of Philadelphia, Miss. His death at the Deepwater Horizon came on his wedding anniversary and four days before his birthday. He was married with two children.

—Donald Clark, 49, of Newellton, La. He was scheduled to leave the rig on April 21, the day after the blast.

—Stephen Ray Curtis, 40, of Georgetown, La., Curtis was married and had two teenagers.

—Gordon Jones, 28, of Baton Rouge, La. Jones arrived on the rig the day before the explosion. He died three days before his sixth wedding anniversary and 10 minutes after talking to his pregnant wife, Michelle Jones. Their son, Max, was born three weeks later.

—Roy Wyatt Kemp, 27, Jonesville, La. Kemp was married. His daughter’s birthday was 3 days before the explosion. Kemp was scheduled to leave the rig on April 21.

—Karl Kleppinger Jr., 38, of Natchez, Miss. Kleppinger was a veteran of the first Gulf War and the father of one child.

—Keith Blair Manuel, 56, of Gonzales, La. Manuel had three daughters. He was a fan of LSU athletics and had football and basketball season tickets.

—Dewey A. Revette, 48, of State Line, Miss. Revette had been married to his wife, Sherri, for 26 years when the rig exploded. He was scheduled to leave the rig on April 21.

—Shane M. Roshto, 22, of Liberty, Miss. His wife, Natalie, filed a lawsuit April 21, 2010, saying she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after her husband was killed in the explosion. He was set to leave the rig on April 21.

— Adam Weise, 24, Yorktown, Texas. Weise drove 10 hours to Louisiana every three weeks to work on the rig. A high school football star, he spent off- time hunting and fishing. He was scheduled to leave the rig on April 21.

No bodies were recovered.

Fukushima workers sue Tepco over unpaid wages, reliance on contractors

By Kevin Krolicki - Reuters, September 3, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

IWAKI Japan (Reuters) - A group of Fukushima workers on Wednesday sued Tokyo Electric for unpaid wages in a potentially precedent-setting legal challenge to the utility and its reliance on contractors to shut down a nuclear plant destroyed by the industry's worst accident since Chernobyl.

The lawsuit follows a court ruling last week that the utility known as Tepco must pay compensation over the suicide of a woman who was forced from her home following the March 2011 tsunami and subsequent meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant north of Tokyo.

The spate of legal activity is the latest blow for Tepco, which has been effectively nationalized and expects to spend more than $48 billion in compensation alone for the disaster that forced the evacuation of some 160,000 residents.

The lawsuit, filed by two current and two former Fukushima workers who wore masks to court to conceal their identities, claims that Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc and its contractors failed to ensure workers are paid promised hazard allowances, a court filing showed.

"A year ago, Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe told the world that Fukushima was under control. But that's not the case," Tsuguo Hirota, the lawyer coordinating the lawsuit, said in an interview.

"Workers are not getting promised hazard pay and skilled workers are leaving. It's becoming a place for amateurs only, and that has to worry anyone who lives near the plant."

The workers say Tokyo Electric allowed subcontractors to skim funds allocated for wages to bolster their own profits on the decommissioning project at the expense of workers.

The lawsuit seeks the equivalent of almost $600,000 in unpaid wages from Tokyo Electric and related contractors. It marks the first time that the utility has been sued for the labor practices of the construction companies it employs.

The lawsuit also asks that the 6,000 workers at the nuclear clean-up project either be made effectively government employees, be put on the Tepco payroll directly or otherwise be fairly paid.

Hirota said he expects two additional workers will join the action immediately and that more could follow. Japanese law allows for additional plaintiffs with related claims to join an existing lawsuit.

Tokyo Electric said it had not yet received a copy of the compliant and would respond after seeing the details.

Read the entire article here.

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