Thursday, October 09, 2014

Carbon Capture and Storage in the Bakken Shale 

This is a follow up to my article on Carbon Capture and Storage from Monday, consider it the epilogue or post script. I was researching on the Bakken Shale when I had one of those face palm moments. The Bakken is a massive reservoir of oil that stretches from Southern Alberta across Saskatchewan and Manitoba in Canada to North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.

The geology and geography of the regions are similar, the southern prairies in Canada are badlands, arid desert areas from the Rockies to the Dakotas. These are prehistoric regions whose ancient face is for all to see, hoodoos which contain fossils, and thousand year old painting on stone indigenous art, an area that once held oceans, until what is the Pacific Northwest crashed into North America creating the Rockies and folding the earth under the prairies.  The Northern parts of the US states affected are a similar geological and geographic formation. 

The map below shows the extent of the Bakken, the area outlined is the potential Bakken field, the Shale is that area in Saskatchewan yet to be developed, while it is being rapidly developed in North Dakota.,  There is also an Alberta Bakken field which is awaiting development as much as the field in Saskatchewan is.




Last week  Saskatchewan Power announced it was about to put the first North American carbon capture and storage (sequestration is such a mouthful) unit online at its coal fired power plant in the middle of the Bakken Shale.

Since Carbon Capture and Storage is used as a form of fracking by injecting the CO2 into the fractures and depleted oil beds in conventional fields, its use in the Bakken would increase oil
production of this bituminous oil, a form of oil not much different from its oilsands counterpart in Northern Alberta and Saskatchewan.

While we know that CO2 Capture and Storage is used for Enhanced Oil Production (EOP) in old wells, it makes sense for Sask Power to look at getting its final product into the Bakken fields. It  has less bad press than other forms of Fracking have. And don't be fooled by the name  CCS as it is known, full title being CCS for EOP. In this case it would be fracking with CO2 in the Bakken to get the oil out.

With man made CO2 the cost for injection would go down, so that the Bakken becomes easier to access with fracking by carbon dioxide, then with other methods.






WEYBURN-MIDALE CO2 STORAGE & MONITORING PROJECT
SaskPower was a sponsoring partner in the IEAGHG Weyburn-Midale CO2 Monitoring and Storage Project for more than ten years.
This research program, which began in 2000 and was completed in 2012, sought to measure, monitor and verify the CO2 being injected into two depleted oil reservoirs in southeastern Saskatchewan. Cenovus Energy (at the initial time of injection PanCanadian and later EnCana) began injecting CO2 into the Weyburn Reservoir in 2000 to enhance oil production, and Apache Canada began injecting into the Midale Reservoir in 2005.
Both operations have ensured that the injected CO2 has been kept in place; any recycled amounts that come up with the oil are re-injected along with the 8000 tonnes of new CO2 that arrive daily from the Dakota Gasification Company’s coal gasification plant in North Dakota.
Since 2000, some 22 million tonnes of CO2 have been successfully stored underground in these two reservoirs; the research program has successfully demonstrated that the CO2 remains safely underground, and in 2012 provided a publicly available Best Practices Manual to assist other jurisdictions and companies thinking of storing CO2 in similar formations.
Specific data remain confidential to paid sponsors of the Weyburn-Midale Project; however two books are available for scientists and the general public. The first highlights the initial four years of research (2000-2004) and the second is titled Best Practices for Validating CO2 Geological Storage: Observations and Guidance from the IEAGHG Weyburn-Midale CO2 Monitoring and Storage Project. This book examines crucial topics related to CO2 storage including site characterization, measurement, geomechanical and geophysical monitoring, risk assessment, wellbore integrity, and public outreach and communication
 
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF SHALE GAS EXTRACTION IN CANADA
The Expert Panel on Harnessing Science and Technology to Understand 
the Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction

Potential Health and Environmental Effects of Hydrofracking in the Williston Basin, Montana





By 
October 1, 2014
Home from the oil wars abroad, US service members and military contractors are flocking to North Dakota’s emerging boomtown
"Fueled by advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, the United States has surged past Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the number one oil- and gas-producing country in the world. And perhaps nowhere is this energy revolution more striking than in the dusty North Dakota boomtowns, popularly dubbed 'Kuwait on the Prairie.'"   



Wednesday, October 08, 2014

SUPPORT INDEPENDENT KURDISTAN 
AND YEZIDI AUTONOMY



Gaza bombings / killings caused you pain.. Because they are Muslim? Yet the killing of Christians, Alevites, Ezidis, Kurds in Iraq in Syria is okay because its Muslims killing / murdering /beheading / raping? ISIS does not represent Islam (I agree!) yet your silence / turning a blind eye, cherry picking which barbaric acts to raise awareness in respect of - is rather telling and extremely worrying!
UK: you were instrumental in the division of Kurdistan, the statelessness, thereafter the oppression & genocide of the Kurds- the largest ethnic minority. You came to our rescue a decade after Sadam chemically bombed us for our oil- if we find vast oil resources in Syria: would you help Kurds fight against ISIS?
TURKEY: for centuries you tried to assimilate us into Turkishness, you said Kurds never existed; that we were all one and same; brothers & sisters? You imprisoned tortured killed us for speaking our own language.. You facilitated arming ISIS, terrorist recruits entered freely into Syria via your borders.. Your hospitals treat the wounded ISIS thugs.. Now you have tanks 'watching' to ensure the safety of your country.. You ask for UN support if ISIS becomes a problem for YOU.. Because if Kurds are killed off; its one less problem?
TURKISH CITIZENS: a park in Taksim / Istanbul caused countrywide outrage last year.. A tree is worth protesting? But not a kurd.. A human?? S/he is not even worth a mention?

The hypocrisy is chilling.. KOBANE IS NOT ALONE!! Unite against ISIS! 'Where there is no reaction 
FOR ANARCHISTS KURDISTAN IS THE NEW SPANISH CIVIL WAR

Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria?

Amid the Syrian warzone a democratic experiment is being stamped into the ground by Isis. That the wider world is unaware is a scandal
  •                                                                                                                                                                   In 1937, my father volunteered to fight in the International Brigades in defence of the Spanish Republic. A would-be fascist coup had been temporarily halted by a worker’s uprising, spearheaded by anarchists and socialists, and in much of Spain a genuine social revolution ensued, leading to whole cities under directly democratic management, industries under worker control, and the radical empowerment of women.
    Spanish revolutionaries hoped to create a vision of a free society that the entire world might follow. Instead, world powers declared a policy of “non-intervention” and maintained a rigorous blockade on the republic, even after Hitler and Mussolini, ostensible signatories, began pouring in troops and weapons to reinforce the fascist side. The result was years of civil war that ended with the suppression of the revolution and some of a bloody century’s bloodiest massacres.
    I never thought I would, in my own lifetime, see the same thing happen again. Obviously, no historical event ever really happens twice. There are a thousand differences between what happened in Spain in 1936 and what is happening in Rojava, the three largely Kurdish provinces of northern Syria, today. But some of the similarities are so striking, and so distressing, that I feel it’s incumbent on me, as someone who grew up in a family whose politics were in many ways defined by the Spanish revolution, to say: we cannot let it end the same way again. 


Tuesday, October 07, 2014


MARIA GIMBUTAS WAS RIGHT

Relative gender equality' revealed at Çatalhöyük

"There was no leader, government or administrative building; men and women were equal,”
“Thanks to modern scientific techniques, we have seen that women and men were eating very similar foods, lived similar lives and worked in similar works. The same social stature was given to both men and women. We have learned that men and women were equally approached,” Hodder said. “People lived with the principle of equality in Çatalhöyük, especially considering the hierarchy that appeared in other settlements in the Middle East. This makes Çatalhöyük different.There was no leader, government or administrative building; men and women were equal,”
Çatalhöyük, a Neolithic settlement included in the 2012 UNESCO World Heritage list, has attracted thousands of academics from 22 countries to its archaeological works, set to be finished in 2018. The latest headline discoveries at the site indicate that Çatalhöyük was a place of relative gender equality, according to Stanford University Professor Ian Hodder, who is directing the excavations.



I am pleased to see that modern scientific research has borne out Maria Gimbutas thesis that this region during the neolithic was a matriarchal communism with Goddess and god worship.  Families were made up of free relations not arranged marriages or Paterfamilias marriages of cousins. it wasn't even Materfamilias. It was the free association of individuals, to the point that these polyamorous communist families revered their previous families who lived in the same house,  by living with them buried under their homes.


The team has also made important discoveries about social structure through burials at the site. “We have also seen that people who were buried under houses were not biologically relatives or members of the same family. They lived as a family but their natural parents are not the same. Those who were born in Çatalhöyük did not live with their biological parents but with others,” Hodder said. Researchers have also been studying the connections between wall paintings, sculptures and tombs, which allow researchers to develop a better understanding of daily life in the settlement. “We think that artworks were made to get in touch with the dead or to protect them,” Hodder said, stressing that Çatalhöyük’s artwork, like the many wall paintings discovered in houses, was very rich in terms of symbolism. “Another reason why Çatalhöyük is very important is that all wall paintings and objects were protected very well. When you visit Çatalhöyük and go to these houses, you can see both people and belongings of these people. It gives you the impression that your ancestors are still living with you,” he added.

Engels also made this point in the Origin of the Family  about communism being the free association of women and men with women being able to choose their companions. Such blended families as discovered would seem to bear that out. 

The anarchist ideal of free love as expressed by Emma Goldman and others also 
bears a remarkable similarity to the lives spent in Catalhoyk.


The OPUS of Marija Gimbutas

Anatomy of a Backlash: Concerning the Work of Marija Gimbutas 
Charlene Spretnak 




---30---
THE CURRENT CRISIS IN THE MIDDLE EAST 
AND THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM;  KURDISTAN


A Letter I have sent to Her Majesties Loyal Opposition in regards to the Parliamentary Debate On Air Strikes


Dear Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Dewar;
 I am a concerned Canadian who sees the current ISIL Iraq Syria strategy as flawed as do you.
Mr. Dewar you were there, you know who is fighting on the ground and who is not. It is the democratic, progressive Kurds who have overcome forty years of sectarianism to come together to fight ISIL early on, to fight them in Syria as the only opposition we should support in Syria.
They declared a unilateral ceasefire and peace negotiations with Turkey, who has refused to this date to become involved either in the Syrian conflict or the defeat of the ISIL and other Islamic Jihadists. It is the Kurds who stand alone defending embattled Yezidi, Christians, Sufis, and Shia minorities. 
The Yezidi in particular feel strongly about their autonomy in any post ISIL situation, which would only occur if we were to recognize Kurdistan and make that a condition or recognition.
There is no Iraq it is a failed country now, a century after its creation by the British after WWI. There is Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq. In effect in the last twenty years, Kurdistan has come into existence as a political, geographical, historical, economic and military fact.
After  the invasion of Iraq by the US this became even more evident in post Saddam Iraq as the Kurds controlled the North of the country where there is oil. The Shia and some Christians, and Sufi's in the South also have control of oil there.
It is the Kurds in Syria who are our natural Canadian ally, they are pluralistic, secular, social democratic, feminist, and fit Canadian valuesmore than any other group in the region.
Here is the third way, a way to effectively change the military political geographical and historic conditions in the Middle East, recognize or begin talks to recognize Kurdistan with the Kurds, to settle Kurdish and especially Yezidi refugees, to provide military aid as well as humanitarian aid to the joint armed forces of Kurdistan, the Pershmarga.
No one has made this an issue. Because of Turkey and its influence in NATO and hoped for entry into the EU, but that impacts us little we can afforded to make this effort because we are removed from those impediments.
I urge you to please consider that great debate tactic we see so little of in these Yes No debates, the alternative affirmative.
Yes we will support a humanitarian and limited mission to aid the Pershmarga specifically, the Kurds in general and begin Canadian government talks to recognize Kurdistan by giving it limited diplomatic recognition in order to show our seriousness, and to taketheir issue for independence and recognition to the UN, and other world forums during this discussion of Iraq and Syria, because  NO ONE else will.
I have advocated this for the past year in social media, it is at this late hour as we prepare for war that I write you to consider this seriously. It is unexpected, it is a win win for Canada and Kurdistan, it is historic to be the first country to recognize the Kurdish State which is doing its best to defeat the Islamic State in the Levant.

In solidarity,
Eugene Plawiuk
Edmonton East


HEY I GOT A REPLY TO MY LETTER ON KURDISTAN FROM TOM MULCAIR
OF COURSE IT IS BOILERPLATE AND TAKES NO CONSIDERATION OF POINTS I MADE
OFF MESSAGE
NDP on combat mission in Iraq
KURDISTAN
Thomas Mulcair
2:05 PM (45 minutes ago)
to me
Thank you for taking the time to get in touch regarding Canada's role in Iraq.
As you know, just four weeks after deploying Canadian Special Forces to Iraq—with no debate or vote in Parliament—Stephen Harper and his Conservative government are seeking to approve a major escalation of Canada's involvement in that war, with no clear end date.
In doing so, the Prime Minister will be sending young Canadian women and men to fight, and perhaps die, in a foreign war without answering the most basic questions on the nature and breadth of our commitment, such as:
- What are this mission's objectives and how do we define success?
- What rules of engagement are in place to prevent civilian causalities?
- How much will this mission cost?
- How many years are we willing to be embroiled in Iraq?
- How can we effectively contain ISIS without deploying substantial ground forces or expanding into Syria?
- What is our exit strategy?
- Do we have a plan to take care of our veterans after we leave Iraq?
These are not hypothetical questions. Like Iraq, Canada's mission in Afghanistan began with only a handful of Special Forces. In the end, more than 40,000 Canadian soldiers served there over 12 long years—160 would never return home, more than 1,000 were wounded, and thousands more still suffer from PTSD.
Watch my speech here http://tinyurl.com/mk9k8fs to hear more about why the NDP can't support this combat mission.
When George W. Bush gave his now infamous "Mission Accomplished” speech less than two months after his initial invasion, he arrogantly proclaimed that major combat operations in Iraq had ended. But tragically, this was only the beginning of a horrific sectarian insurgency that laid the groundwork for the crisis we see today.
While the name "ISIS” may be new to most Canadians, the group was first formed in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion and has since rebranded itself from "al-Qaeda in Iraq” to the "Mujahideen Shura Council” to "the Islamic State”—and now "the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (Syria).”
Everyone agrees that ISIS' brutal actions utterly shock the conscience, but the lessons of the past decade must not go unheeded in our response to such an evil. Simply put: there is no reason to believe that six months of aerial bombardment will succeed where more than ten years of occupation by the world's largest and most sophisticated military failed.
As author and journalist, Jeffrey Simpson, has noted: "The least that can be said for this mission is that everyone associated with it knows – or should know – that air power alone cannot win a victory, presuming the bombing powers can define 'victory'.”
Mr. Harper insists that this war will not be allowed to become a "quagmire,” but his reassurance is cold comfort given that this is precisely what we've seen in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad in April 2003. The Conservative government's own Foreign Affairs Minister—in a moment of uncharacteristic candor—acknowledged that there are "no quick fixes” in Iraq. He called the fight against ISIS, and groups like it, the struggle of a "generation.” Indeed, that may well turn out to be an understatement.
Terrorist organizations have thrived in Iraq and Syria precisely because those countries lack stable, legitimate governments capable of maintaining peace and security within their own borders. Canada's first contribution should be to leverage every diplomatic, humanitarian, and financial resource at our disposal to strengthen political institutions in both those countries and to respond to the overwhelming human tragedy unfolding on the ground.
It's often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. That's why Canada, for its part, should be wary of any response that will further destabilize an already volatile region by alienating the very civilians we seek to protect. Peggy Mason, Canada's former UN ambassador for disarmament and special advisor to Joe Clark, has warned that: "Harper's plan to send Canadian warplanes to join the U.S.-led coalition's bombing of Iraq may just make matters worse.”
The struggle against ISIS won't end with yet another Western-led military intervention in Iraq and Syria. It will end by helping the people of Iraq and Syria build the political, institutional, and security capabilities they need to achieve lasting peace themselves. With the credibility Canada gained by rejecting the catastrophic 2003 invasion of Iraq, we are well-positioned to take a lead in this initiative and we should not squander that opportunity.
Again, thank you for your message on this important issue.
Sincerely,

Tom Mulcair, M.P. (Outremont)
Leader of the Official Opposition
New Democratic Party of Canada

Monday, October 06, 2014

THE MYTH OF CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE,
IT’S NOT CLEAN OR GREEN

Eugene Plawiuk,
5th Class Certified Power Engineer

Last week Saskatchewan Power announced with much fanfare the first ever North American Carbon Capture and Sequestration or Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project at Boundary Point Power Plant.

This coal fired power plant will capture carbon dioxide (CO2), hence the name carbon capture, compress it and place it in geological formations underground to be held infinitum. The federal government and provincial government of Saskatchewan touted this as great for the environment, for the climate, for Green House Gas (GHG) reduction and for creating some strange alchemical beast called clean coal.

I am afraid that like clean coal and other unicorns, Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage have nothing to do with cleaning anything from the climate, to coal. In fact what most news reports, especially those from the home province, did not report the real reason for the creation of this vastly expensive, untested technology.

While reporting almost verbatim the talking points of Sask Power and the conservative provincial and federal politicians touting this project, the media overlooked one simple fact, dirty coal goes into the power plant, dirty coal is burned giving off toxic gases to create electricity for our homes there is nothing clean about it.

An extension on the exhaust towers and use of scrubber technology has been around a lot longer would also reduce toxic emissions and is cheaper. But utility companies have resisted these retrofits in the past, so why their sudden enthusiasm for the expensive greening of dirty coal fired power plants using Carbon Capture and Storage?

For oil, oil in the Bakken shield in Saskatchewan but more importantly for oil still insitu underground in conventional wells. And potentially in oilsands in Northern Saskatchewan and Alberta, and in heavy oil in the provinces southern city of  Lloydminister. In fact along with Saskatchewan and the federal government, Alberta too put money into these projects.

However this fact was hardly ever mentioned in the media boosters of this project, or if it was it was thought of en passant, as they say in chess. Perhaps a sentence or two three quarters down the page.

The headlines said nothing at all about oil, it was all about how this magical process still to be put on line and proven to work, would clean coal, scrub clean the climate and cost taxpayers billions. This is and will be the constant claim by the coal and oil industries and their backers in the government

The Alberta government in 2008 announced a whopping $2 Billion dollar investment fund for Carbon Capture and Storage technology development, supposedly for the oilsands industry to reduce its carbon footprint. It is this fund that invested in the Sask Power project that still exists and has yet to fund a single oilsands project around CCS technology.

Why, well because Carbon Capture and Storage, sounds great, doesn’t it, it rolls off the tongue of politicians especially right wing ones who promote business over the environment. Why would these folks who call opponents of dirty energy like coal and bitumen, radical environmentalists, eco terrorists, embrace a green anything.

Because it is not green, does not clean coal, and does nothing for climate change contrary to all claims made for it. It is about taking Carbon Dioxide (CO2) from coal emissions from power plants and then compressing it into a liquid pumping it through a pipeline and then pumping it into underground chambers full of fractures that absorb the carbon dioxide and hold it forever.

The story often stops here. What does the carbon dioxide displace underground?
Oil, the storage areas are oil fields that can no longer be tapped using conventional methods. Yet almost 60% of the oil remains making it viable for extraction by a variety of methods, including fracking as well as steam extraction such as done in the oilsands now.

Once the carbon dioxide is sequestered it displaces the oil pushing it to the surface along with some residual carbon dioxide. The rest remains underground; the residual CO2 that escapes with the oil to the surface is minimal according to several scientific studies.

And here is the point not a single scientific study, easily found by Googling Carbon Capture and Storage, says that this process is about doing anything other than being used to create what the industry calls Enhanced Oil Production (EOP) and in fact many industry and scientific  studies are entitled CCS for EOP.

The most recent studies state that any so called green impacts are minimal, from reducing the impact on climate change to magically turning dirty coal clean. 

That is not its purpose never has been never will be. For the Alberta government the big lie they used was that Carbon Capture and Storage will reduce carbon emissions from the oilsands. And yet when oilsands researchers were offered money for CCS projects they all said no because it has nothing to do with oilsands or reducing their carbon footprint.

When coal powered utilities claim they are creating a cleaner form of energy and helping green the environment because they are capturing storing and pumping CO2 from coal into oil fields, well that’s more than a fib it’s a big lie.

The engineering and science behind CCS has always been part of the process of extracting oil from old fields. It was developed fifty years ago at the same time the oil industry was developing fracking and  steam extraction technologies. It was used with existing naturally occurring and some man made CO2. Eventually the natural sources of CO2 have disappeared and in order to extract more oil we would need to produce what the industry calls, ironically enough, ‘anthropogenic’ CO2, this man made CO2 can only be effectively made by coal fired power plants.

The coal, oil and utility companies and their allies in  engineering and scientific R&D in post secondary institutions and private industry have all known about the potential of this technology for half a century, why have they waited till now to develop it.

Because our conventional oil and gas reserves will be tapped out by 2020 in Alberta, Saskatchewan as well as in Europe and the US the conventional oil fields are drying up. They still contain lots of oil it’s just harder to get to.

Fracking is big right now and is being widely used in these fields as it has for fifty years, it is controversial because now it is being used for shale gas and oil fields, and currently CCS will not replace it because CCS is so expensive. But if CCS could be developed for use in conventional as well as shale oil fields and eventually even tar sands then it becomes more cost effective.

How does old King Coal the oldest of our fossil energies, benefit from this, after all oil and gas are its competitors. It’s about keeping the existing coal fired power plants working rather than replacing them with natural gas fired ones, or nuclear powered ones.

While Canada, the US and Europe are reducing the use of coal fired plants they are increasingly being used in India, China and the BRICS where they have produced a Fordist manufacturing economy of coal, steel, cars.

The potential for this technology is that it will be needed in the future for use on EOP fields, and it can benefit countries that want to reduce their emissions, while still using coal. It’s a win-win-win except for the environment, and you and me.

The environmental concerns we have with fossil fuel use both coal and oil, will not be addressed by CCS. But you and I will be told it will be because we are paying for it.

The industry has not developed CCS for EOP because it is too costly, so who better to pay for it than you and I, the taxpayers of Canada, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Billions of tax dollars as credits, loans, subsidies, research and development grants, university funding for CCS projects etc all this has not cost the coal or oil industries a penny. But it is costing us.

In order to sell us on this waste of money, doing nothing for the environment while investing in more oil production, business, lobbyists, politicians, oil, gas and coal spokespeople and their  paid  scientific talking heads do not deny this is for Enhanced Oil Recovery, its just that they talk about Clean Coal and Green Energy and stopping Climate Change more. The benefits they tout are the same as those for the Emperors clothes.

It is the ultimate in Green Washing, the advertising campaign to make things appear healthy and good for you when they aren’t. It’s a way of directing more taxpayer money to the already ludicrously wealthy energy industry.

It is also good for right wing politicians to pretend to be doing something for the climate and environment in a single sound bite Carbon Capture and Storage sounds so Green until you finish the sentence; ‘for Enhanced Oil Production’.


                                                  ---------------30----------------



Saturday, July 27, 2013

THE STRANGE CASE OF THE MISSING TERRORIST SCIENTISTS IN THE NEWS

In April of this year the RCMP announced that they had uncovered a bio-terrorist threat involving two Canadian scientists working for the innocuous sounding: Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The agency itself had been in the news lately due to regulatory failures leading to a number of food poising cases from bacterial outbreaks in a packing plant in Alberta.

The two CFIA scientists were busted for attempting to sell Brucellis virus to China. In fact one of the scientists, herself Chinese, had gotten away to China.1 They were under investigation for two years when it became known that they were trying to commercialize the bacteria they had developed with CFIA. 3

Last October 24, RCMP and Ottawa police intercepted Nielsen, a well-respected scientist, on his way to the Ottawa airport. Officers found 17 vials of pathogens in Nielsen’s possession that “he was attempting to export in an unsafe manner.“These vials were analyzed by the PHAC and found to contain live brucella bacteria that can infect livestock and humans.”
University of Guelph Prof. Keith Warriner said humans who come in contact with the bacteria can develop flu-like symptoms “that go on and on for months and months.” Warriner told CTV’s Power Play Wednesday that brucella is what is known as a select agent, because it is “very nasty” and highly contagious.


This bacteria is common in domesticated animals, mammals in general and can impact human health. it was also the first bacteria to become weaponized in 1954 by the US army.2

"Three types of the bacteria that cause brucellosis – Brucella abortusBrucella melitensis andBrucella suis – are designated as select agents. This means that they have the potential to be developed as bioterrorism agents due to their ability to undergo aerosolization."     Center for Disease Control 

So we have a case where a world renowned specialist in the field of burcellosis, Dr. Nielsen  is busted for trying to smuggle weaponized potential bacteria out of Canada with his research partner in order to sell it to China.

Nielsen had been a seasoned researcher of the bacteria and was part of a team scientists that won a CFIA Technology Transfer Award in 2003 for developing a 15-second test for detecting brucellosis in cattle, the disease caused by brucella.
He is set to appear in a Canadian court on April 17, while Yu, a resident of Ottawa, is believed to be in hiding in China. Local police declined to confirm if extradition would be an option if Yu is apprehended overseas.

Now you would think this would be front page news; "Bio Terrorists Busted In Canada.", but it wasn't. In fact after barely a week in the press, as various news agencies picked up the story and repeated it in the inside pages, the story disappeared from the press. 

It is now three months later and there is no mention of these two lab coated terrorists in the Canadian press. Yet the press and the government have made a big deal over home grown terrorists, including the two complete losers who were set up for the alleged Canada Day bombing,  including this recent timeline by CBC which fails to include Nielsen and Yu.

In fact the RCMP charges themselves underplayed the importance of this as bio-terrorism, instead charging them with crimes around intellectual property. Nielsen was carrying 17 highly toxic vials of bacteria on himself, he was going to get on a plane, he was busted in a busy national airport. Had those vials broken or otherwise released their contents who knows what kind of serious bacteriological outbreak could have occurred. 


Backed up by its clandestine laboratory response team, the Ottawa Fire Services hazmat response team, and Ottawa Police Service first responders, RCMP "intercepted" Nielsen on Oct. 24. According to Rollings, Nielsen at the time was on his way to Ottawa's airport and was scheduled to leave Canada for China.
Upon arresting and searching Nielsen, RCMP said, they found in his possession 17 vials of pathogens which they allege he was "attempting to export in an unsafe manner." PHAC later analyzed the vials and found them to contain live brucellabacteria. Nielsen was then arrested for breach of trust and for "unsafe transportation of a human pathogen."
The other problem with this story has been the delay in releasing information, Dr. Nielsen was busted last October, yet the RCMP did not release any information about this until shortly before he was to go to trial April 17. Meanwhile his fellow accessory and partner had apparently gotten away to China. The investigation itself had been going on for two years. 

Now compare that with the instantaneous news about the Canada Day bombing plan, a bombing that never occurred, ( if it ever was even a real threat, it has all the makings of a  false flag operation) yet the B.C. couple busted for this were in the news for weeks, and still are in the news. Not so our two CFIA scientists.

Is it because of the lab coats? If you are a scientist does that make you special? Clearly in this case it does. First there is the fact that the charges do NOT explicitly deal with bio-terrorism,  or terrorism at all, they have to do with commercial property and breach of safety. 
Yet clearly this was a bacteria that could be weaponized. It was being sold to a foreign country in violation of the criminal code section on Treason.4  That's right the actions taken by Dr. Nielsen and his partner, could be construed as treason, let alone more serious charges around bio-terrorism, than what they have been charged with.

Is it because this had to do with China rather than AL-Qaeda? And while Chinese corporate or state espionage may be involved, that seems to have been deemed less of threat to Canada than supposed Al-Qaeda sympathizers, actually no proof of this allegation ever surfaced after it was made by the RCMP,  who lived in a hovel in B.C. and planed to supposedly make pressure cooker bombs, 

Is it because the media can't make an issue of two scientists being home grown 'Muslim' terrorists, because they aren't.

While the media went into great detail about the lives of the B.C, couple, no such story ran about Dr. Nielsen and his female Chinese assistant. Were they more than just lab partners?
Why would he risk his entire career? Was it  for love? How did she get away, was she a plant, did she seduce him as is common in spying. No research, no details were ever released. Go ahead Google it, nothing, zip, nada, all you can find about her is the story in press about the bust.

University of Montreal professor Christian Baron says he and his colleagues are wondering why Nielsen would take the risk of transporting such a readily available bacteria on a plane.
“Brucella is actually a bigger problem in Chinese agriculture than here [in Canada],” said Baron, who is the director of the university’s biochemistry department.
“I really don’t see what the reason would have been.”
The Chinese could easily have found their own bacteria in cattle that are widely infected with the disease in their own country, he sai


Now this is more than just lazy journalism, this is a media blackout it is also being downplayed by the RCMP and the Government.  Why? Because of Harper's new friendly relationship with China? Because this is another embarrassment surrounding the  CFIA?

Perhaps. But I believe it's because it's about commercialization of public research, the privatization and  selling of public research as intellectual property, something that the neo-liberals have been promoting and continue to promote for universities and other science and research facilities. it is that dark murky world of scientific research paid for by you and me but profiting others, the scientists and their pharmaceutical company allies and sponsors.

This story cries out for in depth coverage, it has all the elements of an espionage thriller, the potential to expose foreign spying in Canada and corporate espionage ala the Constant Gardner, and yet it has effectively disappeared from the news.





FOOTNOTES

1. RCMP intercepts dangerous pathogens from being exported out of the Country
OTTAWA – April 3, 2013 – The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has charged Dr. Klaus Nielsen and Ms. Wei Ling Yu, both former researchers with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), with Breach of Trust by a Public Officer. These charges stem from a criminal investigation called Project SENTIMENTAL, which was completed with the assistance of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
The matter was originally reported to the RCMP by the CFIA in March 2011. The investigation focused on Dr. Nielsen and Ms. Yu’s unlawful efforts to commercialize intellectual property belonging to the CFIA and a private commercial partner. 
On October 24, 2012, the RCMP with the assistance of the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) first responders intercepted Dr. Nielsen as he was heading to the Ottawa airport.  The RCMP’s Clandestine Laboratory Response Team, accompanied by the Ottawa Fire Services Hazardous Materials Response Team, arrested and searched Dr. Nielsen.  In his possession, Dr. Nielsen had 17 vials of pathogens he was attempting to export in an unsafe manner.  These vials were analyzed by the PHAC and found to contain live brucella bacteria that can infect livestock and humans.   Dr. Nielsen was arrested for Breach of Trust by a Public Officer and the unsafe transportation of a human pathogen. 
This complex investigation drew on resources from a variety of federal departments, law enforcement agencies and first responders. The RCMP, in collaboration with their partners, were able to quickly and efficiently mobilize and respond to this threat which helped minimize the public’s risk of exposure to these contagious substances.
Dr. Nielsen faces one charge under the Criminal Code and several under the Export and Import Permits Act, the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act. His next court appearance is scheduled on April 17, 2013 in Ottawa.
A Canada wide warrant has been issued for Ms. Yu.
-30-

Biological warfare[edit]

In 1954, B. suis became the first agent weaponized by the United States at its Pine Bluff Arsenal near Pine Bluff, ArkansasBrucella species survive well in aerosols and resist drying. Brucella and all other remaining biological weapons in the U.S. arsenal were destroyed in 1971–72 when the Americam offensive biological warfare (BW) program was discontinued by order of President Richard Nixon.[6]
The experimental American bacteriological warware program focused on three agents of the Brucella group:
  • Porcine Brucellosis (Agent US)
  • Bovine Brucellosis (Agent AB)
  • Caprine Brucellosis (Agent AM)
"Agent US" was in advanced development by the end of World War II. When the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) wanted a biological warfare capability, the Chemical Corps offered "Agent US" in the M114 bomblet, based on the four-pound bursting bomblet that was developed for spreading anthrax during World War II. Though the capability was developed, operational testing indicated that the weapon was less than desirable, and the USAAF designed it as an interim capability until it could replaced by a more effective biological weapon.
The main drawbacks of the M114 with "Agent US" was that it was an incapacitating agent, whereas the administration of the USAAF wanted deadly weapons. Also the stability under storange was too low to allow for storing at forward air bases, and the logistical requirements to neutralize a target were far higher than originally planned. This would have required an unreasonable amount of logistical support.
Agents US and AB had a median infective dose of 500 organisms/person, and for Agent AM it was 300 organisms/person. The time-of-incubation was believed to be about two weeks, with a duration of infection of several months. The lethality estimate was based on epidemiological information at one to two percent. Agent AM was believed to be a more virulent disease, and a fatality rate of three percent was expected.

Nielsen K., Yu WL. 

Ottawa Laboratories (Fallowfield), Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 

Nepean, Ontario, Canada 

Review of Detection of Brucella sp. by Polymerase Chain Reaction



 discloses, without lawful authority, military or scientific material to agents of a foreign state, if he or she knows or should know that the material may be used to impair Canada's safety or defence, 


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Climate Change and Super Bugs

It appears that climate change/global warming is causing an outbreak of opportunistic infectious diseases from microbes, bacteria and fungi. Traveling with the dust clouds raised by desertification and air pollution, they rain down on us and begin to take up residence in our built environment.. The dangers of these infectious bacteria and fungi is that they collect in the indoor environment and are adapting. 

The result is increasing outbreaks of super bugs, fed by over use of antibiotics as well as improper disinfection. They originate in the dust clouds produced by industrial pollution, these clouds of dust rise into the higher earth atmosphere where bacterial and fungal microbes  collect and continue to mutate. These dust clouds return to earth to spread new mutated microbes into the air we breath. 


The super-bugs continue to mutate as they build resistance to antibiotics and disinfectants. I will go into more detail on this problem in a later blog post.

In the study below  Cryptococcus is a form of fungi that is mutating as a result of living in the earth atmosphere in dust clouds.

Unlike diseases transmitted strictly via an animal vector or from person-to-person, the ubiquity of opportunistic pathogens like Cryptococcus presents a new and daunting set of challenges for scientists and medical professionals. Any organism small enough to be lifted into the air has the potential to achieve a cosmopolitan distribution, provided it can survive where it lands. In the cool climates of a temperate zone, untold numbers of potentially pathogenic bacteria and fungi may subsist—but fail to thrive—just below the level of detection. Microbial ecologists have a saying for this: Everything is everywhere, but the environment selects.

Biologists now recognize that this dogma is only partly true, particularly in the face of Earth's warming climate. For example, over 50% of Kazakhstan's croplands have been sucked dry, while the Sahara expands into Nigeria and Ghana at a rate of 3,500 km2 per year. This global process of desertification is increasing the number of dust storms that ferry microbes across continents and oceans.

Meanwhile, in the temperate zone, rising temperatures have rendered some regions more hospitable to colonization by microbial hitchhikers arriving on soils from tropical climes. This new fungal strain cropping up in people and other animals with healthy immune systems may have been a new arrival to Vancouver Island, or it may have always been tucked away in some hidden valley for many years, until one balmy summer triggered its unfortunate bloom. And there are hints that it is steadily furthering its progress. "The question we've been asking over the last 10 years," Hoang says, "Is it going to get to the mainland and will it spread across the Pacific Northwest?"

A key moment in aeromicrobiology, or the study of airborne microbes, came in 1933, when Fred Meier of the US Department of Agriculture convinced Charles Lindberg to collect samples during an arctic flight from Maine to Denmark. Upon finding everything from fungal spores to algae and diatoms, Meier wrote, "the potentialities of world-wide distribution of spores of fungi and other organisms caught up and carried abroad by transcontinental winds may be of tremendous consequence."

We now know that particles of dust, organic matter, and aerosolized water droplets support hardy communities of bacteria, fungi, and viruses—a mere 0.08% of which have ever been cultured.Some 10,000 bacteria are present in every gram of airborne sediment, and the atmosphere contains at least one billion metric tons of dust.That translates to a quintillion dust-borne bacteria—enough, according to Dale Griffin of the USDA office in St. Petersburg, Fla., "to form a microbial bridge between Earth and Jupiter."

Over the course of five days in 2001, NASA tracked a large dust cloud that originated in the Gobi Desert as it moved east across the Pacific, North America, and the Atlantic, before petering out over Europe. Frequently, during African dust storms, a smoke-like strand is visible in satellite photos swirling off the continent, and looming over Italy, Spain, and southern France.

One of the most surprising new findings about airborne microbes is that far from being passive passengers of the wind, some are truly adapted to life in the mesosphere—70 km above the earth's surface—where they must constantly repair their DNA following bombardment by direct UV radiation. Or take a 2008 study that found that airborne microbes haunting Singapore shopping malls are not a random sample of what's outside, but are specialized for survival in the indoor air environment.


SEE:




My Return To Blogging

I have updated the look of the blog thanks to the new template designs that are now available, one of the reasons I have not been updating my blog, was the clumsy design I made years ago and had to live with. 

So now that I am home with tales to tell and analysis and articles to write. 

Pithy commenting on Facebook is not enough, I have longer analysis and comments to make which blogging allows me to do.

So for the moment let me say that starting now, the summer of 2013, I am returning to blogging.

You have been warned.