China’s first deep-water drilling rig began operations near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, Bloomberg News reported, quoting Xinhua. CNOOC, the county’s largest offshore-oil producer, began drilling on May 9, about 320 kilometres south-east of Hong Kong and north of the islands claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan. Competition for undersea energy reserves has increased tensions in the region.
The amount of plastic in the ocean area known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” has increased a hundredfold since the early 1970s, growing in both size and density, according to new research cited by the San Jose Mercury-News. Published online by Biology Letters, the study also showed that insects that eat zooplankton and fish larvae were laying a growing number of eggs on the plastic.
Debris from the tsunami that followed the massive March 2011 earthquake in Japan has swept across the Pacific faster than expected, The Guardian reported. While most of the estimated 4.8 million tonnes of debris pushed into the sea is believed to be destined for the “garbage patch”, smaller and lighter objects are beginning to wash ashore in the US and Canada.
Taiji, the Japanese town criticised for nearly a decade for its annual slaughter of dolphins, is to build a 28-hectare marine mammal park, according to the Brisbane Times. The town plans to populate the park with bottlenose dolphins and small whales caught nearby. In the yearly hunt – seen in the film “The Cove” – up to 2,000 animals are killed for their meat or sold to aquariums and marine parks. The hunt will continue, officials said.
Following pressure from animal-welfare campaigners, a British company that had been financing a large foie gras factory farm in China has suspended the project pending a review, The Guardian said. Pâté de foie gras, considered a delicacy, is produced by force-feeding geese or ducks until their livers become enlarged; it is banned in most European countries.
Lead poisoning that affected more than 50 people at a plant in Jiayuguan, Gansu province, resulted from the workers inhaling steam from high-temperature raw materials and absorbing it through their skin, a preliminary investigation showed, according to Xinhua. Tongjia Renewable Resources mainly focuses on the smelting and processing of pig iron.
Drinking water is safe to consume in the small Pennsylvania town that became the centre of US debate on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for natural gas, Reuters quoted the US Environmental Protection Agency as finding. Residents of Dimock, which featured in the documentary “Gasland”, have complained since 2009 of cloudy, foul-smelling water.
A huge fire that swept through a sprawling squatters’ colony along Manila Bay left thousands of people homeless, the Associated Press cited officials in the Philippines as saying. Many of the Tondo district residents, who have been evacuated to a sports complex, lived in shanties built on stilts.
Singapore’s leaders realised 40 years ago that it is much more expensive for a society to live in a polluted environment than a clean one