By Andrew Cooper, University of Ulster
Remarkable actions are being taken to restore an industrialised coast heavily impacted by over a century of coal mining to restore the sedimentary system and make the coast attractive for recreation.
The 18km-long coast of County Durham in northeast England was once the centre of a thriving coal mining industry. Mining ran from the 19th century and the coast was lined with collieries, many of which had shafts extending far beneath the North Sea.
During the active mining period millions of tons of colliery waste were dumped on the coast where it became the main contributor of sediment to beaches. Wide beaches of colliery spoil material developed along the coast as the waste was sorted and transported in longshore drift toward the south. The mine waste was, however, chemically active and contains a mix of various rocks together with bricks and old mine machinery. The beaches that it formed are chemically active and have highly acidic conditions that cause the rocks to crumble, making the beach a hostile environment for living creatures and an unpleasant environment for people to visit. Consequently, they were little used by local communities.
The mine waste beaches were discoloured by the chemical reactions taking place within them and various shades of green and yellow are produced by chemicals being precipitated on the surface.
In the early 1990s mining stopped abruptly and the collieries were shut. Since the dumping of waste stopped, the waves have continued to work on the accumulated material in the beaches, eroding and sorting the material once again, and cleaning them as they do so to produce active and useable beaches.
A special initiative called “Turning the Tide” set out to clean and restore the coast and its beaches for conservation and recreation. Amongst other things, this initiative assisted in the cleanup by removing more than a million tons of colliery material from one beach alone. The waves continue the process by eroding and cleaning the former waste beaches and as the coast is slowly reverting to its former natural state, it is beginning to be used by people once again.
The photographs show the beaches near the former collieries of Seaham and Easington where the waves are eroding the old mine waste and creating an active beach. On these beaches the contrast is quite striking between the chemically active former beaches (with a yellowish colouration) and the new beaches being formed as the waste is eroded and cleaned by wave action.
Patti Pelican and the Gulf Oil Spill, By Lynda Deniger
Louisiana and much of the Gulf coast had barely recovered from the 2005 devastation of Hurricane Katrina when the area was brought to its knees by the worst environmental catastrophe in U.S. history on April 20, 2010.
Patti Pelican and Sammy Seagull of the “Salty Seas Series” were caught in the wake of this latest tragedy.
Patti Pelican and the Gulf Oil Spill tells their inspiring story of rescue and release by the dedicated men and women who fought valiantly and tirelessly to rescue endangered wildlife trapped in the oil along the coastal waterways.
“Author Lynda Deniger has brilliantly crafted a factual story about the plight of birds who were oiled, captured, cleaned and rehabilitated by caring humans during the Gulf oil spill. This marvelous educational tool will help children understand the importance and value of preserving and protecting our environment while conveying a message of hope and inspiring environmental stewardship in children and adults alike.” Jay Holcomb, Director, International Bird Rescue Research Center
WATCH: Interview with the author, Lynda Deniger, on Good Morning New Orleans:
Original Article and Video
The International Bird Rescue
Photograph: © SAF
While it may be years before the health effects of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are known, a new study shows that fetal exposure to a chemical found in crude oil is associated with an increased risk of congenital heart disease (CHD).
The study, presented on April 30 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Denver, also showed that babies who had been exposed in utero to a chemical found in cleaning agents and spot removers were at increased risk of CHD…
Read Full Article, Science Daily
Children & Disasters: environmental and other hazards during the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill, American Academy of Pediatrics
Children at Greater Risk from Oil Spill
El Hierro coast. El Hierro is located over 750 miles (1,200 km) from the Spanish mainland, and its stark, volcanic landscape harbors no coal or fossil fuels. Photo source: ©© Victor R Ruiz
At the moment, the project that will transform the future of El Hierro doesn’t look like much more than a hole in the ground. Or two, to be exact: one on top of a mountain, another smaller one down below, and in between, a long stretch of pipeline tinted the same color as the scrub that grows so abundantly on this volcanic island.
Read Full Article, Time
New York City. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care
Malcolm Bowman, an oceanography professor from Stony Brook University in Long Island said that as climate change brings higher temperatures and more violent storms, flooding in parts of the city could become as routine as the heavy snows of this past winter. We could even have “flood days,” the way we now have snow days, he said. Bowman and other experts say the only way to avoid that fate and keep the city dry is to follow the lead of cities like Amsterdam and Saint Petersburg and build moveable modern dykes…
Either that or retreat from the shoreline…
Read Original Article, WNYC News
NYC and Sea Level Rise, Map
NRDC on PlaNYC, April 22nd 2011
The Bosphorus or Bosporus, also known as the Istanbul Strait, is a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. It is the world’s narrowest strait used for international navigation, and it connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara (which is connected by the Dardanelles to the Aegean Sea, and thereby to the Mediterranean Sea). Caption: Wikipedia and Photo source: ©© John Walker
Turkey plans to build a canal connecting the Black and Marmara seas as an alternative to the congested Bosphorus Strait, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said…
Read Full Article, AFP
Nauru, Micronesia, South Pacific.
Nauru, world’s smallest independent nation, is among the islands most threatened by rising sea levels. It is is a small Pacific island about the size of Manhattan with a population of approximately seven thousand people. The economy of Nauru has been almost wholly dependent on phosphate, which has led to environmental catastrophe on the island, with 80% of the nation’s surface having been strip-mined. Photo source: ©© Hadi Zaher
Last month I returned to Nauru, the smallest member of the United Nations and my home.
The sea around us is getting warmer, droughts have become commonplace, and the coastal erosion is as bad as anyone can remember.
Similar trends are occurring across the Pacific and they have grave implications for the fish stocks we depend on for food, our freshwater supplies, and the very land we live on. Scientists have warned us that the situation will get much worse unless the greenhouse gas pollution responsible for global warming is dramatically reduced…
Read Full Article, Guardian UK
Phosphate Mining in Nauru Led to Environmental Catastrophe, The Sydney Morning Herald
Nauru, an Island Adrift, A Documentary,Toronto 2007
Nauru, une île à la dérive, Un Documentaire Video (30 minutes), Thalassa
” Ce reportage est pour moi symbolique des dérives des sociétés de consommation, de leur impact tragique sur les peuples fragiles et isolés. Autrefois deuxième pays le plus riche au monde, après l’Arabie Saoudite, Nauru est aujourd’hui un des pays les plus pauvres du Pacifique. Ce sont les mines de phosphate, qui recouvrent la totalité de l’île, qui ont fait autrefois la grande richesse des Nauruans. En une trentaine d’années à peine, l’exploitation du phosphate a transformé la petite démocratie en un pays corrompu et clientéliste ; elle a causé la faillite de l’Etat et la ruine de ses habitants, elle a enfin détruit toute une culture traditionnelle.”
Seaside, Japan. Photo source: ©© Mrhayata
Twenty-five years ago, I was a Ph.D. student here in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, studying the fate of fallout in the North Atlantic from nuclear weapons testing, when an explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear plant released large quantities of radioactive materials into the surrounding environment. My colleagues and I immediately joined other scientists tracking these radioactive contaminants, which in my case focused on the Black Sea, the closest ocean to the accident site.
A quarter-century later, I can still measure fallout from Chernobyl in the Black Sea, though fortunately at levels that are safe for swimming, consuming seafood and, if you could remove the salt, even drinking.
I never thought I’d see another release anywhere near the magnitude of Chernobyl…
Read Full Article, CNN
Maspalomas, Spain. Photo source: ©© Stephen Downes
Although the dune ecosystem is unusual, fragile and is protected by the “habitats” directive of the network Natura 2000, its conservation is very vulnerable to the proliferation of car parks, nearby buildings and inadequate boardwalks installed for protection or beach access.
Researchers at the University of Seville (UoS) have published a study in the Journal of Coastal Research of human impact on the natural dunes at two sites in the Gulf of Cádiz, specifically in the protected areas of La Flecha Litoral in El Rompido and Enebrales in Punta Umbria, both in Huelva province…
Read Full Article, Journal of Coastal Research