May 17, 2020

Frankenfish Surface in Japan and the Gulf of Mexico

energy digital
frankenfish
Gulf of Mexico
Japan
Admin
2 min
Fish continue to be surveyed for safety
Two years after the catastrophic Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown in Japan, fish with 2,500 times the legal limit for radiation in seafood are turning...

 

Two years after the catastrophic Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown in Japan, fish with 2,500 times the legal limit for radiation in seafood are turning up near the plant.

Since the incident, fishing around Fukushima has been banned, along with beef, milk, mushrooms and vegetables produced in surrounding areas. The sale of certain kinds of seafood and produce have resumed, while scientists continue to monitor the spread and impact of radiation from the disaster.

Marine chemist Ken Buesseler, leading the research from the US-based Woods Hole Institution, has warned that Fukushima fish "may be inedible for a decade,” according to the Guardian. They found "elevated levels" of radiation in the marine environment, and cited that 40 percent of the fish caught near the nuclear plant were contaminated with radioactive caesium above government safety limits.

Related Story: Radioactive Japanese Tuna Found off California Coast

Meanwhile, in the US, the debate continues over the safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico nearly three years after BP's offshore rig exploded, dumping some 4.9 million barrels of oil into the ocean. Not to mention the two million gallons of dispersants used to clean up the spill that were up to 52-times more toxic than the oil itself.

"Dispersants are preapproved to help clean up oil spills and are widely used during disasters," said UAA's Roberto-Rico Martinez, who led the study. "But we have a poor understanding of their toxicity. Our study indicates the increase in toxicity may have been greatly underestimated following the Macondo well explosion."

According to their studies, mixing the dispersant with the oil increased the toxicity of the mixture, which was shown to increase the mortality of rotifers in lab tests, the microscopic grazing animal at the base of the Gulf's food web.

The good news? After this week's Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference in New Orleans, the Times-Picayune reported:

“The seafood safety issue has remained a bone of contention for some fishermen and coastal residents who have reported finding either deformed fish or evidence of hydrocarbons in shrimp or oysters. But Robert Dickey, director of the FDA Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory and the agency's Division of Seafood Science and Technology, insists that the testing conducted in the aftermath of the spill, the most comprehensive in the history of the agency, continues to show that commercial seafood is safe to eat.”

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Jul 26, 2021

Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April

Ofwat
Utilities
water
prices
Dominic Ellis
3 min
Ofwat confirms levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue

Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.

The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.

Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.  

In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue. 

Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”  

There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:   

  1. Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps. 
  2. Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold. 
  3. Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice. 

Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.

Anita Dougall, CEO and Founding Partner at Sagacity, said Ofwat’s decision comes hot on the heels of Ofgem’s price cap rise in April.

"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.

"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."

United Utilities picks up pipeline award

A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.

The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.

“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.

Camus Energy secures $16m funding

Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent VenturesWave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.

As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.

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