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Jul 112013
 

Rail shipment of petroleum products soars in Canada and US.

11 July 2013  |  Bloomberg

By Jim Efstathiou Jr. and Angela Greiling Keane

The train hauling millions of gallons of crude oil that slammed into a Canadian town got there with a crew of one — staffing permitted by law though opposed by labor leaders who've warned of the risks.

The union representing workers at Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. fought the company policy that allowed a solo operator to drive and park the train for the night and says the disaster points to the dangers of manpower cuts.

"It's unfortunate that it takes such a terrible, terrible, terrible situation like this to realize how vulnerable we are in this country," Guy Farrell, assistant to the Quebec director of the United Steelworkers Union, said in an interview.

In the US, crews of at least two people are the norm — down from five 50 years ago. Some non-union short-line railroads are using one-person crews and others are pushing to do so, Dennis Pierce, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen national president, said.

The safety of moving oil by train is drawing attention as production soars in areas not fully served by pipelines, such as North Dakota's Bakken Shale where the doomed Canadian train took on its freight. Carloads of crude and refined petroleum products carried by rail in the US rose 48 percent in the first half of this year, compared with the same period in 2012, according to the Association of American Railroads. In Canada, car loads of fuel and crude oil surged 74 percent in the first four months of this year, compared with the year-ago period, according to Statistics Canada.

Investigators are combing through the wreckage to determine how the MM&A train, with more than 70 tankers, rolled away from its parking spot July 6 after the engineer left it for the night. The train jumped the tracks as it reached Lac-Megantic, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) east of Montreal, incinerating 30 buildings in the town's center. Twenty people have been confirmed dead and scores more are missing and presumed dead…

Complete article on Bloomberg.com

Jul 112013
 

Seventy-five MM&A workers belong to Steelworkers union.

from United Steelworkers

MONTREAL – In the aftermath of the train fire in Nantes and the devastating explosion in Lac-Mégantic, the United Steelworkers (USW), which represents 75 Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway employees, extends its thoughts and sympathies to the families and friends of victims of this tragedy.

Continue reading »

Jul 052013
 

Researchers conclude loss of biodiversity has had greater impact on ecoystems than imagined.

from Science Daily

"Humans have been affecting their environment since the ancestors of Homo sapiens first walked upright, but never has their impact been more detrimental than in the 21st century. 'The loss of biodiversity has much greater and more profound ecosystem impacts than had ever been imagined,' said David Tilman, professor of ecology, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning at UC Santa Barbara's Bren School of Environmental Science & Management.

"Human-driven environmental disturbances, such as increasing levels of reactive nitrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2), have multiple effects, including changes in biodiversity, species composition, and ecosystem functioning. Pieces of this puzzle have been widely examined but this new study puts it all together by examining multiple elements. The results were published July 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"According to the team's recent findings, adding nitrogen to grasslands led to an initial increase in ecosystem productivity. However, that increase proved unsustainable because the increased nitrogen resulted in a loss of plant diversity. 'In combination with earlier studies, our results show that the loss of biodiversity, no matter what might cause it, is a major driver of ecosystem functioning,' said Tilman. …"

Full story

Jul 052013
 

Lawsuit says mandatory dues force teachers to subsidize expenditures and collective bargaining activities.

from Digital Journal

"Ten teachers and the Christian Educators Association International have filed a lawsuit in California to stop the practice of teacher's unions collecting dues from non-members.

"Filed on April 30, 2013 in United States District Court for the Central District of California by the Center for Individual Rights, the lawsuit names the California Teachers Association (CTA), the National Education Association (NEA), ten local affiliated unions and local school officials as defendants. At the heart of the lawsuit is the concept of the 'agency shop.' The agency shop is a contractual agreement between an employer and a union in which the employer is free to hire both union and non-union workers. No employee will be forced to join the union, but the union may collect a payment from non-union employees to help finance the cost of collective bargaining. This payment is called the 'agency fee.
 
At the heart of the lawsuit is the concept of the 'agency shop.' The agency shop is a contractual agreement between an employer and a union in which the employer is free to hire both union and non-union workers. No employee will be forced to join the union, but the union may collect a payment from non-union employees to help finance the cost of collective bargaining. This payment is called the 'agency fee.' …"

 

Jul 052013
 

More work needed to understand potential impacts of waste storage, industry-funded review finds.

from The Tyee

"More work is required before anyone knows how an estimated 300-million tonnes of tailings from the proposed Red Chris mine will eventually affect water in the upper Stikine watershed of northwest B.C., concludes a confidential industry-funded review acquired by The Tyee.

"The report, paid for by mine owner Imperial Metals at the urging of the Tahltan Nation, recommends a comprehensive field investigation including additional drilling, groundwater collection and monitoring wells be undertaken as a way of addressing existing information gaps.

"'…Studies completed to date are not sufficiently detailed to fully assess/monitor potential environmental impacts due to seepage from the tailings storage facility on the downstream aquatic environment,' concludes the study presented early this year to a panel of First Nations, government and industry overseeing the permitting of the proposed mine, which is scheduled to begin operations by May 2014. …"

Full story

Jul 042013
 

One study finds El Niño patterns dovetailed with global warming last year.

from grist

"El Niño is one of Earth’s most influential climatic phenomena. Its occasional arrival, heralded by warming in parts of the eastern Pacific Ocean, can be a harbinger of floods in Peru, droughts in Australia, harsh winters in Europe, and hurricanes in the Caribbean. Yet we know precious little about it.

"But this week, two separate scientific studies chipped away at the mystery.

"One study reveals that the El Niño phenomenon has been occurring more frequently as the globe has warmed. The other paper promises to dramatically improve our ability to foretell the weather pattern’s arrival. …"

Full story

Jul 042013
 

Declassified papers show hidden extent of nuclear test fall-out: French paper.

from The Guardian

"French nuclear tests in the South Pacific in the 1960s and 1970s were far more toxic than has been previously acknowledged and hit a vast swath of Polynesia with radioactive fallout, according to newly declassified ministry of defence documents which have angered veterans and civilians' groups.

"The papers, seen by the French paper Le Parisien, reportedly reveal that plutonium fallout hit the whole of French Polynesia, a much broader area than France had previously admitted. Tahiti, above, the most populated island, was exposed to 500 times the maximum accepted levels of radiation. The impact spread as far as the tourist island, Bora Bora.

"Thousands of veterans, families and civilians still fighting for compensation over health issues have insisted France now reveals the full truth about the notorious tests whose impact was kept secret for decades. …"

Full story

Jul 042013
 

Canada has signalled that it will not, like the U.S., move to hamper trade with Bangladesh as a result of a recent factory collapse that killed over a thousand garment workers in April.

Meeting in Brunei on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 20th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting, Foreign Minister John Baird reportedly told his Bangladeshi counterpart, Dipu Moni, that Canada did not intend on taking any steps to reduce the bilateral trade between the two countries, which last year amounted to US$1.6 billion

"Canada does not believe that workers in the sector should be punished through any kind of trade restrictions," Baird is quoted as saying in a press release from the Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry.

- See more at: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/2013/07/03/Canada-Trade-Bangladesh/#sthash.N2EX9QOR.dpuf

Canada has signalled that it will not, like the U.S., move to hamper trade with Bangladesh as a result of a recent factory collapse that killed over a thousand garment workers in April.

Meeting in Brunei on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 20th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting, Foreign Minister John Baird reportedly told his Bangladeshi counterpart, Dipu Moni, that Canada did not intend on taking any steps to reduce the bilateral trade between the two countries, which last year amounted to US$1.6 billion

"Canada does not believe that workers in the sector should be punished through any kind of trade restrictions," Baird is quoted as saying in a press release from the Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry.

- See more at: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/2013/07/03/Canada-Trade-Bangladesh/#sthash.N2EX9QOR.dpuf

Canada has signalled that it will not, like the U.S., move to hamper trade with Bangladesh as a result of a recent factory collapse that killed over a thousand garment workers in April.

Meeting in Brunei on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 20th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting, Foreign Minister John Baird reportedly told his Bangladeshi counterpart, Dipu Moni, that Canada did not intend on taking any steps to reduce the bilateral trade between the two countries, which last year amounted to US$1.6 billion

"Canada does not believe that workers in the sector should be punished through any kind of trade restrictions," Baird is quoted as saying in a press release from the Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry.

- See more at: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/2013/07/03/Canada-Trade-Bangladesh/#sthash.N2EX9QOR.dpuf

Canada has signalled that it will not, like the U.S., move to hamper trade with Bangladesh as a result of a recent factory collapse that killed over a thousand garment workers in April.

Meeting in Brunei on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 20th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting, Foreign Minister John Baird reportedly told his Bangladeshi counterpart, Dipu Moni, that Canada did not intend on taking any steps to reduce the bilateral trade between the two countries, which last year amounted to US$1.6 billion

"Canada does not believe that workers in the sector should be punished through any kind of trade restrictions," Baird is quoted as saying in a press release from the Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry.

- See more at: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/2013/07/03/Canada-Trade-Bangladesh/#sthash.N2EX9QOR.dpuf

Foreign Minister says workers shouldn't be punished through trade restrictions.

from The Tyee

"Canada has signalled that it will not, like the US, move to hamper trade with Bangladesh as a result of a recent factory collapse that killed over a thousand garment workers in April.

"Meeting in Brunei on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 20th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting, Foreign Minister John Baird reportedly told his Bangladeshi counterpart, Dipu Moni, that Canada did not intend on taking any steps to reduce the bilateral trade between the two countries, which last year amounted to US$1.6 billion

"'Canada does not believe that workers in the sector should be punished through any kind of trade restrictions,' Baird is quoted as saying in a press release from the Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry. …"

Full story