You think that those darned jellyfish are just a holiday problem in the Med? It turns out they’ve been getting in and clogging up the water-cooling intake pipes at Scotland’s sole active nuclear power station at Torness, outside Dunbar, resulting in the reactor having to shut down in an emergency procedure.
A commercial drone company called RUAS has asked the Civil Aviation Authority for what’s called a Temporary Danger Area to be applied around the site so that its pilots can fly spotter drones out to sea to log the invaders and sea kelp in an early warning system, so that the station’s water intake can by reduced and expensive total closure averted.
If this is granted it will apply from December until the end of February, and lots of drones will be buzzing about like hornets.
The application says:
“The issue is on a regular basis they are affected by either jellyfish blooms or marine ingress including microalgae, that are blocking the intake of the Nuclear Power Plant.
“As a result, the reactor overheats due to the lack of water intake which cools the reactor, creating the need for the reactor to be shut down entirely as an emergency procedure. This has implications when they need to reactivate the reactor which is costly and time consuming.”
This doesn’t sound at all healthy to me. The company also wants permission to fly the drones, or BVLOS, the acronym for beyond visual line of site, meaning that the pilots on the ground will be playing with their joysticks and watching they don’t hit seagulls or boats on a video screen.
Just the kind of task you could do from the pub.
No sea change
As protesters pack their rucksacks on the eve of COP26 and delegates check if their private planes are fuelled up and ready to go, there’s news that another major polluter, the massive cruise ship Serenade Of The Seas, is drumming up custom for its 274-day, 65-country ocean churn around the globe and through the plastic detritus.
Prices start at $61,000 per person which, granted, is a lot cheaper than a Branson or Bezos rocket, but beyond the pocket of most
But 274 days!?That’s nine months. There are shorter jail sentences for violence. After a week or so aboard you’d be praying for an iceberg.
The ship, owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises, has 13 decks, a mini-golf course, an arcade, a rock-climbing wall, a pool, a theatre and a spa, my brochure says. And dozens of bars and restaurants, of course.
It has a gas turbine engine with diesel backup, which is marginally less polluting than its sister ship Harmony Of The Seas, which gets through 66,000 gallons of diesel a day, but it uses more fuel and chucks out nasty toxins, too.
What they won’t tell you is that
Royal Caribbean paid a record $18m fine (around £13 million) for illegally dumping tonnes of waste oil and chemicals into US waters. The Miami-based company admitted to 21 counts of deliberately dumping oily bilge water and hazardous chemicals from its dry-cleaning shops and its printing and photo processing equipment in 1999.
The fine was so large because the crew lied to the US Coast Guard about the slicks trailing its ships. But evidence proved the company had indulged in a fleet-wide conspiracy to dump oil into US coastal waters.
“Royal Caribbean used our nation’s waters as its dumping ground, even as it promoted itself as an environmentally ‘green’ company,” then-US attorney general, Janet Reno, said.
Very dear green place
JOE Biden is bringing an entourage of 900 with him to COP26 in Glasgow although the head yins will be staying near Edinburgh and helicoptered in. But if nothing else it’s been a bonanza for hoteliers who will certainly cop their whack.
If you can get a hotel room in Glasgow you’ll be lucky, but not when it comes to paying because you’ll be squeezed drier than the Gobi desert and your temperature will add a degree or two to global warming.
At the time of writing, you could get a room for a week in the three-star Charing Cross Hotel for £9,114, normal price around £1,000.
There’s a bargain, of sorts, at Wallace Budget Rooms – which is in Tradeston, not the most bijou part of town – down from £10,500 to £8,400. Usually it’s as low as £280.
Add to this striking bin and train workers, and lawyers refusing to represent arrested demonstrators, and Glasgow isn’t the place to be in November.
A shaggy dog tale
THIS beats the “dog ate my homework” excuse. “It was the bathwater which got me pregnant.”
I’m indebted to LSE professor Marc David Baer for this information. In his book The Ottomans, he describes “deviant dervishes” who were into dancing, wine and hashish, were “frequently intoxicated and screaming” and wandered about near naked, or taps aff – which COP26 delegates may also experience on Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street.
There was one eminent one called Haji Bektash who had many female disciples, one of whom bore him three sons by drinking the holy man’s bathwater.
Spur of the moment
MY son and a couple of his pals were at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last Sunday to watch the NFL American football game between the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In theory, every one of the 60,000 crowd should have been double vaccinated, but there were no visible checks and almost no-one was wearing a mask. So, that’s likely to have been a superspreader event.
Covid infections are on a shocking rise. In the UK, they have gone up by 35 per cent in two weeks. In England, it’s 38% in the same fortnight. And in Scotland, if the rate is only 5% up, it masks (deliberate pun) spikes of 26% in the Forth Valley and 32% in the Borders.
Anyway, it’s nothing to be proud of. The UK rate of 70 cases per 100,000
(46 in Scotland) contrasts with the falling rates in Italy at five per 100k and, in France, just 0.05 per 100,000.
And we continue doing nothing
Love isn’t the drug
IT’S startling but true that unlike here – at least for now – the United States does not regulate or negotiate the price of drugs. US drug companies just set their own prices, whatever they fancy. What joy for investors although hell for the 25 million punters who can’t afford insurance.
In June last year, as the pandemic raged, pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences set the price of Remdesivir – the first drug in the States approved
to treat Covid-19 – at $3,120 per treatment.
There’s also what’s called “patent thickets” where Big Pharma builds large numbers of often meaningless patents around a product that competitors have to challenge in court for years and at great expense before they can market competing ones.
For example, AbbVie, which sells the world’s best-selling drug Humira (it’s to treat Crohn’s disease) has filed 257 related patent applications. Hack your way through that. Which is one reason why it costs $7,389 (£5,600) for a month’s supply.
But for the NHS, these are the kind of prices we’d be paying here for crucial medicines.