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July 30, 2015 / 14 Av, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Firefighters Extinguish Blazes around Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

Six firefighting aircraft and eight ground crews of firefighters were kept busy Sunday from the late afternoon into the evening hours battling blazes at locations in a long-distance ring all around Jerusalem.

The fires were burning in forests near Elon Moreh, Maale Adumim, Beit Shemesh and Gva’ot — each in a different direction around the capital.

Elon Moreh is located in Samaria, north of Jerusalem and Maale Adumim is an eastern suburb close to the capital, located in the desert hills. Beit Shemesh is a forested suburb just west of Jerusalem; and Gva’ot is in the westernmost area of the Gush Etzion bloc in Judea, not far from Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, towards the central plains area called the “Shfela.” Dozens of families were evacuated in the Samaria Jewish community of Elon Moreh as the forest fire burned dangerously close to the houses in that area. In the other communities, the fires blazed farther away, with residents watching anxiously but fortunately not needing to leaving their homes.

By evening even the largest of the fires was under control, officials reported. It is not yet clear what started the rash of wildfires, although the weather has been exceptionally hot with extremely dry conditions.

Beit Shemesh Forest Fire ‘Worst Since Carmel’

Saturday, July 25th, 2015

Hundreds of firefighters battled a forest fire that tore through the Beit Shemesh area on Friday, destroying nearly 2,000 dunam of woodland.

The blaze has been dubbed “the worst fire since the Carmel disaster” – one that could take the land up to 20 years to recover.

It is not yet clear what started the fire, although officials believe it may have been connected to an authorized fire in a nearby moshav. The extreme heat and dry conditions of the past week, plus a breeze, could have carried a spark from that fire into the nearby forest and up the hills, spreading the blaze, a Jewish National Fund (JNF) official said.

Firefighters from Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh spent the entire day on Friday working to bring the blaze under control. Natural forest and woodland, vegetation and uncultivated land all was leveled to ash.

“Seventy fire trucks with the help of other authorities, among them the police who worked to evacuate communities and civilians,” were involved in the effort, said Kobi Tobol, commander of the Beit Shemesh-Jerusalem District Fire Department.

“Everyone worked throughout the entire day and managed to stop the fire from reaching residential areas. Despite that, in such a big fire, the damage to nature and to the animals is massive and will require many years of rehabilitation.”

Gilad Mastai, Jewish National Fund head of the coastal area and Shfela Plains, explained the forest, planted in the 1950s and 1960s, was relatively old. “Beyond that, resting stops and trails were also damaged,” he told the Hebrew-language Ynet website. “This fire burned grown and large trees in addition to the destruction of the undergrowth of thicket growing under the pine trees.

“There are jackals, snakes and tortoises in the area that were burned and trapped in the fire. This is dozens of years of damage. A unique vacation spot was taken from the people of Israel,” he said.

Nevertheless, Mastai suggested that people return to the forest in the coming year anyway, to “see how it rehabilitates itself.”

Israeli Nature Reserve Director Wins International Award for Wetland Preservation

Friday, July 10th, 2015

The director of the Ein Afek Nature Reserve in northern Israel’s Acre Valley wetlands received international recognition recently for her efforts in restoring the man-made wetlands nature reserve. Giselle Hazzan, who is the first Arab woman to become a manger of a nature reserve in Israel, was awarded the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award in June. “We are really proud of this huge achievement, winning the Ramsar Award, which recognizes our many years of hard work,” said Hazzan. “Our team learned a lot through trial and error and we are continuing to learn.”

Since 2002, Hazzan has been working as manager of the Ein Afek Nature Reserve (EANR) and has changed the water management of the reserve for the better through effective management and by promoting new legislation and carefully planned long-term projects. Thanks to Hazzan’s regeneration and conservation efforts, the ecosystem of Ein Afek was transformed as a vital resource.

Hazzan was recognized at the 12th Conference of Parties of the Ramsar Convention, an international gathering which aims to conserve and make wise use of wetlands through international cooperation and through actions on a local and national level. The Convention defines wetlands on a broad scale and includes rivers, lakes, swamps, marshes, wet grasslands, mangroves, coral reefs, tidal flats, human-made sites like fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs, among others, in its criteria. “The most successful part is to institute a system based on the wise use of the limited water resources, integrated with the local community, by planning for the long term for the local and national level,” said Hazan in the Ramsar Convention YouTube clip. The Ramsar vision entails development and maintenance of an international network of wetlands which are vital for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life. The award, which was established in 1996, has been given out five times since then. It is named after Ramsar, Iran where in 1971, the Convention was first adopted by 21 participating nations.

Israel ratified the Ramsar Convention in 1996 and has two sites on the Convention’s List of Wetlands of International Importance which include Ein Afek Nature Reserve and the Hula Valley Nature Reserve. The Israeli wetlands are among the 2,208 Ramsar wetland sites from across 169 countries around the world.

The Ein Afek Nature Reserve is the last remaining part of the Nahal Na’aman swamps in the Lower Galilee that were drained in the 1920s. In 1960, the state began pumping water for area residents by drilling from the Naaman Aquifer, a large drainage area containing groundwater. The source for the water was rainfall but because the state pumped more water than the rainfall the area received, the springs in the area dried up and vegetation was destroyed. In 1979, the area was declared a nature reserve and water pumping was limited.

Hazzan was a representative of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority at the Conference of Parties of the Ramsar Convention held in Uruguay from June 1-9 according to the website of the Israel Ministry of Environmental Protection. There, she was recognized by the Convention Secretariat and Danone for her effective work in wetlands management.

“We are now replicating this model at other wetlands in Israel,” she said commenting on her work in the Ein Afek Nature Reserve.

Syria Asks IAEA for Help Converting Nuclear Reactor

Monday, June 8th, 2015

The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has asked the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency for help with a nuclear reactor near Damascus, international media agencies reported Tuesday.

The UN agency is studying the Syrian request to help convert the reactor, which currently runs on highly-enriched uranium, into one that uses lower grade nuclear fuel.

IAEA head Yukiya Amano told reporters Monday that Syria has told the agency it would ship the higher-grade uranium abroad.

However, it is not clear where Syria would ship the higher-grade uranium — Iran is Syria’s closest ally – and neither is it clear what grade its uranium currently is.

Low enriched uranium is defined as that which is enriched to less than five percent of fissile purity. Weapons quality uranium is enriched above 20 percent but that which is used to fuel an atomic bomb is enriched to 90 percent.

Amano said the IAEA is studying the request and has yet to make a decision.

Helsinki Environmental ‘World Village’ Bans Jewish National Fund

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

The Finnish “World Village festival emphasizing the environment has banned the participation of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), the largest environmental organization in Israel. The Finnish government feigned it was powerless to interfere in the boycott and told the Israeli Ambassador to Helsinki that it has no say in the matter because the “Maailma Kylässä” festival is a “private event.”

Dan Ashbel, the Israeli ambassador to Finland, said:

I wonder how this scandalous decision is consistent with values such as eco-friendliness, fairness, tolerance, and the desire for peace. I wonder if the rest of the organizations in the festival are required to stand up to the same criteria.”

However, the Finnish government’s security forces were able to convince the World Village to ban the Freedom of Speech village, warning that an exhibition supporting the freedom of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine to publish cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed might cause violence.

The JNF has planted 240 million trees since 1901, and Israel is one of only two countries in the world that registered a net increase in the number of trees at the beginning of the 21st century.

It can be assumed that the organizers do the World Village were celebrating Boycott Israel when deciding to ban the JNF, which also has donated 3,000 trees to the Palestinian Authority for its new city of Rawabi north of Ramallah.

The World Village organizers figure that the environment is better off without a pro-environment organization, which is Jewish, and without a free speech environment that might upset Muslims.

18 Dead, 13 Missing in Texas Flash Floods

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Flash floods ripped apart the roads and highways in Houston, Texas, washing away homes and bridges.

At least 18 people have died so far, 13 more are missing and countless others are still navigating the waters in kayaks looking for their loved ones.

Four states – Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas – have been hit by tornadoes, rainstorms and flash floods; basically, one storm after another since the past weekend. And the bad weather is expected to continue.

The death toll in Texas and Oklahoma is also continuing to rise. A flash flood warning was broadcast across the region again on Wednesday morning. Rain was already lashing the area by 8 am local time, with some three more inches of rain expected, if not more.

New York Nuclear Scare After Explosion at Indian Point Power Plant

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

While Israel considers how best to deal with the Iranian nuclear development race, New York residents had a more local nuclear problem this weekend.

The Indian Point nuclear power plant that provides 25 percent of the electric juice for the Big Apple and Westchester County went into “emergency response” late Saturday afternoon.

Billows of black smoke rose into the sky over the Indian Point nuclear power plant near Buchanan, New York.

A transformer failed, causing an explosion that ripped through the non-nuclear side of the plant.

The blaze was just 200 yards away from the building in which the reactor was located.

Firefighters who rushed to the scene were able to extinguish the flames, Entergy spokesperson Jerry Nappi told CNN, adding that one of the plant’s two reactor units automatically shut down.

No one was injured in the fire and there was “no threat to the public safety at any time. All Indian Point emergency systems worked as designed,” the facility said in a tweet.

But the fire had to be extinguished twice, because the flames re-ignited. Even so, the fire was out within half an hour.

Governor Andrew Cuomo received a briefing on site and told reporters, “These situations we take very seriously. This is a nuclear powered plant; it’s nothing to be trifled with.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/new-york-nuclear-scare-after-explosion-at-indian-point-power-plant/2015/05/10/

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