Archive for 09/21/2011

Cassandra Sweet – 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency removed a longtime obstacle to Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s Arctic offshore drilling plans, granting the company final air-quality permits to drill for oil and natural gas off the coast of Alaska.

The permits will allow Shell to operate the Discoverer drill ship and a support fleet of icebreakers, oil-spill response vessels and supply ships for up to 120 days each year in the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea Outer Continental Shelf starting in 2012, the EPA said.

The EPA permits have been a major hurdle to the company’s Alaska offshore drilling plans, on which the company has invested more than $3.5 billion. Legal challenges and other regulatory hurdles also have delayed the company’s plans.

In 2010, the EPA issued similar permits to Shell, but Alaska native villagers and environmental groups filed appeals opposing those permits with the EPA’s independent Environmental Appeals Board, saying pollution from the drill ships and support vessels would harm residents and wildlife.

In December, the appeals board invalidated the permits and sent them back to the EPA to be revised.

The new permits require Shell to cut emissions of soot and nitrogen dioxide from its fleet by more than 50% compared to the levels allowed in the 2010 permits, the EPA said. Shell will use new emissions controls to meet new limits on nitrogen dioxide that went into effect this year, the agency said.

Shell plans to drill up to three wells next year in the Chukchi Sea off the Alaska coast using the Discoverer drill ship, for which the EPA issued the air permits, said a Shell spokeswoman.

Full story… 

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Fiona Govan – 

Much as modern day man enjoys tucking into a plateful of seafood paella when visiting the Costa del Sol, Neanderthals living on the Iberian coast 150,000 years ago supplemented their diet with molluscs and marine animals.

Archaeological examination of a cave in Torremolinos unearthed early tools used to crack open shellfish collected off rocks along the Iberian coast and found fossilised remains of the early meals.

The discovery is the earliest of its kind in northern Europe and shows that early man were fish eaters in Europe some 100,000 years earlier than previously thought.

The findings suggest that early coastal cavemen supplemented their hunter/gatherer diet of nuts, fruits and meat from animals such as antelopes and rabbits with seafood.

A team of archaeologists from Seville University and scientists from the National Council for Scientific Investigation (CSIC) published their research this week after a lengthy investigation involving the scientific dating of fossilised remains from the cave.

The Cueva Bajondillo on Andalusia’s southern coast near Malaga contained remains of burned mussel shells and barnacles indicating that Middle Paleolithic hominids had collected and cooked the shellfish for consumption.

The discovery suggests that Neanderthals in Europe and Archaic Homo sapiens in Africa were following parallel behavioural trajectories but with different evolutionary outcomes, the paper claims.

“It provides evidence for the exploitation of coastal resources by Neanderthals at a much earlier time than any of those previously reported,” said Miguel Cortés Sánchez who led the Seville University team.

Full story…

The Jakarta Post – 

A boat carrying 35 passengers from Nusa Lembongan Island to Nusa Penida Island capsized on Wednesday morning, leaving 10 passengers dead and several missing.

“As of this morning we have found 21 people, 11 of them alive and 10 were dead,” Denpasar Search and Rescue chairman Ketut Parwa said Wednesday as quoted by kompas.com.

Ketut added that the search and rescue team was still looking for the remaining passengers. The cause of the incident is unknown.