The Stream, December 9: Uranium Contamination A Growing Problem in U.S. Groundwater

The  Global Rundown

The Global Rundown

Groundwater contaminated with unsafe levels of uranium poses a growing risk to communities in places like California’s Central Valley, while the United Nations warned that mining companies and government officials in Brazil are not doing enough to restore safe water after the Samarco mine disaster. Floods turned deadly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and a survey of of flood damages in Tamil Nadu found that many of the communities most affected are Dalit. Water levels are much lower than normal in the Kariba reservoir shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe. Activists in Quebec forced the shutdown of an oil pipeline they say could contaminate drinking water in the event of a spill. A measure to ban plastic microbeads moved forward in the United States.

“There is growing discontent due to the poor management of this water crisis, which has already generated some violent incidents and could lead to further unrest.”–Léo Heller, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, in a statement about efforts in Brazil to restore drinking water to communities affected by a November tailings dam failure at the Samarco iron mine. (Reuters)

By the Numbers

By The Numbers

31 people Number who died in floods over the past three weeks in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Heavy rains also contaminated drinking water systems in the city and caused homes to collapse. Reuters

17 percent of capacity Water levels in the Kariba hydropower reservoir shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe, a sharp decline from 53 percent full at this time last year. Bloomberg

2 million people Number in California’s Central Valley and the U.S. Midwest who live near groundwater that contains levels of uranium above federal and state safety standards. Associated Press

300,000 barrels per day Capacity of Enbridge’s Line 9 oil pipeline, which the Canadian energy company shut down Monday after activists in Quebec chained themselves to pipeline equipment in protest of its operations. They said they opposed the line in part because a spill could contaminate drinking water. Reuters


Science, Studies, And Reports

A large proportion of the damage from severe floods in Tamil Nadu affected low-caste Dalit communities, according to a survey conducted by the charities National Dalit Watch and Social Awareness Society for Youth – Tamil Nadu. The survey found that in one district, Dalit communities suffered 95 percent of home damages, 92 percent of livestock losses, and 86 percent of crop losses. Reuters

On The Radar

On the Radar

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve a bill to ban tiny plastic microbeads from personal care products like soap and toothpaste, which can get into waterways and harm aquatic life. The bill must be approved by the U.S. Senate and the president before becoming law, and it would not take effect until July 2017. Guardian

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