Nachhaltige Pharmazie

Sustainable pharmaceuticals.

Spiegel-Online shared natur magazine’s profile of Lüneburg University’s Sustainable Chemistry and Material Resources professor, who is working on developing versions of drugs that break down into harmless substances rather than accumulate in rivers and lakes. They’ve already managed to create a version of a cancer drug that is both more effective and more biodegradable.

Professor Kümmerer said these criteria could be being taught in drug engineering but aren’t yet. Pharma companies are cautious about supporting the trend because they don’t want to invest more money or invite more licensing requirements to be imposed. Until the new standards and discoveries can be deployed, he said, the filter systems will have to be improved for factory waste water and municipal water treatment plants.

The goal of sustainable pharmacy would be to make drugs that break down into e.g. carbon and water outside the body. Perhaps one way to achieve that could be with coatings: an exterior coating that is broken down only by gastric juices, with the tablet’s core broken down by gaseous oxygen?

(NAH chh halt ig ah   fah mah TSEE.)

Kaverneninspektion durch Kameras im stillgelegten Atomkraftwerk Brunsbüttel

“Camera cavern inspection in Brunsbüttel’s shutdown nuclear power plant.”

Cameras lowered into one of six underground concrete chambers to inspect barrels of nuclear waste impermanently stored under the offline Brunsbüttel nuclear power plant found another ~18 that were rusted. >600 barrels of nuclear waste are stored at Brünsbuttel. Rust was found on about one-quarter of the 70 inspected so far; some drums were so rusted their walls had breached, said ARD tagesschau.de. Schleswig-Holstein’s environmental minister Robert Habeck (Green party) said the video inspection showed that corroded drums are not “isolated outliers” [Einzelfälle] as some previously claimed, “that it’s not one barrel or a few barrels that are beset but that in fact this is a systemic problem.”

The drums were only intended to be kept in short-term storage at the plant but have now been there for thirty years. Fixing the problem will be difficult: a special crane will have to lift each barrel and put it in a new container, without breaking the damaged drums and without exposing workers to leaking radioactivity. Once in new containers the nuclear waste can be moved to permanent storage, but Germany has no permanent nuclear waste storage sites yet.

(Caw VERNE nen inn spects yoan   dooichhh   COM air oz   imm   shtill g’leg ten   ah TOME croft vair k   BROONZ bittle.)

Drahtesel

“Wire donkey,” a German nickname for bicycles because they speed you on your way while carrying quite heavy loads.

A Chicago couple has put together an economic development program called World Bicycle Relief. They’ve given away thousands of “Buffaloes,” very stable heavy bikes that can carry 100 kg over the rear wheel. The bikes have one gear and one back-pedal brake and are put together in Africa from parts made in Asia, by >60 mechanics working full-time. No unusual or proprietary tools are required, such as Allen wrenches or chain keys. Everything can be taken apart and re-assembled; there are no unnecessary rivets. World Bicycle Relief also teaches people how to repair the bikes.

The group tries to give more than half the bikes to girls. Because, around the world, girls are often sent to bring the day’s water for their families, walking such long distances that this chore keeps them from attending school. With a Buffalo bike, they can bring back the water and then bike to school.

FAZ.net said it’s a good thing these bikes are so stable because they’re being used to transport AIDS patients in a volunteer program in Zambia. Farmers can use them to bring produce and milk to market. The bikes can earn a little extra income by being rented out to neighbors.

(DRAUGHT aezle.)

Erste erfolgreiche paneuropäische Bürgerinitiative

“The first successful paneuropean citizens’ initiative” was handed in to officials in Brussels, who said they were overjoyed to be meeting with privatization opponents to mark such a happy milestone for grass roots democracy in Europe. They were serious.

The group Right2Water collected 1.6 million signatures protesting new rules that would have made it easier to privatize European water utilities, and in ways large companies would have dominated. Not only was theirs the first initiative to meet the Lisbon agreement’s requirements but “who knows what would have happened” without the discussion Right2Water created, said Süddeutsche.de. In response to the signatures campaign, the commission officials under Michel Barnier canceled plans to enable privatization of municipal water utilities with bidding open to companies from all of Europe. They announced public water utilities would not be subject to the internal market’s liberalization rules.

Currently, a citizens’ initiative that fulfills the Lisbon agreement’s criteria of collecting >1 million signatures from at least seven Member States will get a hearing from the European Parliament and from the European Commission. The European Commission is obligated to issue a statement in response within three months, so in this case by 19 Mar 2014.

Right2Water organizers made three demands: that all Europeans have a right to water and basic sanitation, that the E.U. push internationally for universal access to water, and that the potable water supply not be subjected to the interior market’s rules.

The group clearly achieved some progress on the third demand, preventing the worst from happening for the time being. Regarding the second demand, European parliament president Martin Schulz (S.P.D., Germany) recently caused a scandal in the Israeli Knesset by asking why the discrepancy between the per capita water volumina available to Palestinians and to Israelis.

(Eh ah stah   eh ah FOAL gry chh ah   ponn oy roe PEI ish ah   BIR gah ee nee tsee ah TEE vah.)

Physikgesäubert vs. chemiegesäubert

“Cleaned by physics vs. cleaned by chemistry.” In the late 1990’s, to this tourist, it appeared that U.S. appliances were designed so that ever-more-sophisticated soaps and/or soap marketing would get laundry clean, while German appliances were designed to use physics to get laundry clean. The latter had gotten so good at it that for years they’d been competing by promising not cleaner clothes but to reduce the electricity and especially water required to do a load of wash.

The fabrics in clothing sold in 1990’s Germany were much higher quality than the kleenex clothes sold in the U.S.A.: thicker, stronger, less likely to wrinkle. At the time I thought this was because German consumers complained before purchases more, both to each other and to the stores*, but perhaps it was also due to post-purchase complaining after clothes designed to be worn twice and soap-laundered dissatisfied chatty consumers rather egregiously when worn four times and agitation-laundered.

In both countries, water in rural creeks and rivers formed persistent foam that did look like soap bubbles, originally white but turning yellow with dust as it was carried downstream. But friends said this was caused not by household soaps but by artificial fertilizers in runoff from farmers’ fields.

(Fizz EEK geh ZOY bat   vair seuss   chhem EE geh ZOY bat.)

*   “Are you trying to verarsch me with that see-through, pilly, short-fiber cotton?”

Nur mit Bolzen genietet und nicht geschweißt

“Only riveted together and not welded,” reporter Johannes Hano’s description of many of the ~1000 containers in the leaky tank farm behind the “nuclear ruin” of Fukushima out of which tons of radioactive water have been seeping every day. On 01 Sep 2013 the Guardian.co.uk reported remeasuring had found the water in at least one of these tanks was radioactive enough to kill you within four hours. Also, employees helping clean up the mess for the past two and a half years have not been equipped with dosimetric gear showing them this danger.

A local fisherman based 40 kilometers south of the plant said, “We were just getting ready to steam out when suddenly the news was announced that the ocean had been poisoned with radioactivity, again. First they tried to verarsch us about it. They said only 120 liters had leaked out! Then suddenly it was 300,000 liters. I want to puke.”

On 02 Sep 2013 Tepco was forced to admit they’ve been actively piping some radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean rather than capturing all of it and passively letting some leak out into the sea (or capturing all of it and storing it securely, which is what they were claiming to do). They don’t have enough holding capacity for the site’s contaminated water.

Spiegel.de reported Tepco has been producing ~400 tons of new radioactive water daily that’s pumped each day through the still-seething three reactors that experienced partial meltdowns. A lot of that water just flows down through the buildings, becoming contaminated with cesium, strontium and tritium. They reuse some of it after running it through “ion exchangers” that remove some cesium, but still an extra 400 new tons of water are contaminated each day that way. There’s also an “underground river” flowing beneath the plant from the inland mountains to the sea, exposing about a thousand new metric tons of groundwater to radiation each day. Tepco wants to artificially freeze the earth around the plant into an underground ice wall but doubts have been expressed about that plan, especially after one rat was said to have caused a power outage at Fukushima Daiichi this summer.

As we searched the media for relevant science information immediately after the tsunami and explosions at Fukushima Daiichi, the Rachel Maddow Show’s reporting seemed relatively good in the first fortnight after the disaster. TRMS interviewees said the partial meltdowns at the reactor cores could create a caustic and radioactive chemical brew that could eat through the reactor and building floors and on down into the ground an unknown distance, pulled by gravity and presumably whatever more easily dissolved or traversed materials the soup encounters.

(Noor   mitt   BOLTS en   gen EE tet   oont   nichh t   gesh VICE t.)

Weia! Waga! Woge, du Welle, walle zur Wiege! Wagalaweia! Wallala, weiala weia!

Weia! Waga! Undulate, you wave, [seethe, surge, boil] to the cradle! Wagalaweia! Wallala, weiala weia!

(VYE ah!   VOGG ah!   VOGUE ah   doo   VELL ah,   VALL ah   tsoo rrr   VEE gah!   VAGG ollah VYE ah!   VALL ollah,   VYE ollah   VYE ah!)

Stromspeichertechnik

Electricity storage techniques or technology. ZDF heute journal reports that a new storage method is being tested near Stuttgart: excess electricity produced by solar and wind power is converted to methane which can be stored in a natural gas network. When insufficient “renewable” electricity is generated, the stored methane is converted back to electricity.

I found an article explaining that they are using electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen and then chemically reacting the hydrogen with carbon dioxide to make methane.

(SHTROME shpy chher   TECHH neek.)

Wegsamkeit

“Liquid path,” pathways water makes in a mine.

(VECK zom kite.)

Asse

According to Wikipedia, Asse, a.k.a. “Asse 2” because of an original Asse shaft dug there in 1906, is an old salt mine in Lower Saxony that was turned into a West German research mine in 1965 and also used as a permanent storage site for nuclear waste between 1967 and 1978. Politicians assured the public the mine’s known water problem could be reliably stopped forever, and lawsuits to prevent the project failed in court.

Low-level radioactive waste with particularly long-lived isotopes and medium-level radioactive waste with short-lived isotopes was stored there, in metal drums that were supposed to be used as transport, not permanent, containers. In the first phase of the experiment, the drums were stacked on one another. In the second phase the drums were stacked horizontally, like a woodpile. In the third phase, drums were dumped off an underground cliff and then rock salt debris was dumped on them. It is now known that metal drums last only a few years to decades when exposed to salt water, and these metal drums may have been further damaged by how they were placed into storage. Hydrogen is possibly forming.

No fees were collected for nuclear waste delivered between 1967 and 1975. In 1975 the law changed—“permanent storage” was not defined in German law until 1976, for example—after which Asse collected a total of about 900,000 euros in fees until the research program on permanent nuclear waste disposal ended in 1995. Asse’s remaining open caverns were carefully filled in with trainloads of rock between 1995 and 2004.

In 2008 it became known that Asse 2 was in danger of collapse due to water seepage and cracking, not surprising due to its history and the fact that its salt ceilings have been deforming by up to 15 cm/year for many years now. A state investigation was started and found, among other things, that radioactive salt water was first detected in the mine in 1995. Two billion euros are now budgeted for the cleanup, though experts estimate the cost will be closer to six billion. The site’s recent budgets exceeded 100 million euros/year, used for maintenance and public relations, reported ZDF heute journal, which broadcast disturbing photos of the damage in this report from 05 Oct. 2012. ZDF says the plan is to drill a new tunnel and remove the nuclear waste through it, though that might not be possible. It has been estimated the ceiling rock will start to fail in early 2014, and that cleanup can’t be started before 2036.

Update on 04 Mar 2014: New environmental minister Barbara Hendricks visited Asse for the first time. About twelve thousand liters of water are seeping into the nuclear waste storage site there each day, said ARD tagesschau.de, which is why the Bundestag voted one year ago to move Asse’s nuclear waste as quickly as possible, to protect local groundwater from radioactive contamination. During her hard-hatted and overalled inspection of the underground chambers, Minister Hendricks said she didn’t think the work could be easily speeded up because more than <120 people cannot be in the old salt mine at a time for safety and technical reasons. Local people are demanding that a second shaft be built immediately, to finish the cleanup before the old tunnels collapse.

(OSS eh.)

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