We typically don’t think of New York state for having earthquakes, but they certainly are capable of having them.
Upon my own investigation, there does appear to be an existing fault line right nearby where the quake happened that may have contributed to the light tremor, but it is not confirmed by official sources.
The Clarendon-Linden fault line consists of a major series of faults that runs from Lake Ontario to Allegany county, that are said to be responsible for much of the seismic activity that occurs in the region. It is a north-south oriented fault system that displays both strike-slip and dip-slip motion.
This fault is actively known for minor quakes, but is said to not be a large threat to the area. According to Genesee county, researchers have identified many potential fault lines both to the east, and to the west of the Clarendon-Linden Fault.
According to the University at Buffalo, they have proof that upstate New York is criss-crossed by fault lines. Through remote sensing by satellite and planes, a research group found that “there are hundreds of faults throughout the Appalachian Plateau, some of which may have been seismically active — albeit sporadically — since Precambrian times, about 1 billion years ago.”
The state of New York averages about a handful of minor earthquakes every year. In Western New York in December of 2019, a 2.1 earthquake occurred near Sodus Point over Lake Ontario, and in March of 2016, a 2.1 earthquake occurred near Attica in Genesee county.
For an interactive map of recent earthquakes from the USGS click HERE.
~Meteorologist Christine Gregory
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Russian threats of nuclear use have grown increasingly serious as Ukrainian forces, buttressed by Western support, have pressed forward against the Russian front lines in Ukraine. In his Feb. 21 address to the Russian Federal Assembly, Russian President Vladimir Putin explicitly claimed “an existential threat,” citing U.S. officials’ talk of seeking Russia’s strategic defeat. Putin also suspended participation in the New START arms control treaty and directed the military to prepare to resume nuclear testing, asserting that Washington was doing the same. This may reveal his next move.
Along its present course, the Ukraine conflict likely will culminate in a U.S.-Russia standoff more serious than the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Washington contends that Putin’s nuclear threats ring hollow and that U.S. counterthreats are a sufficient deterrent. This is a grave miscalculation. Washington misconstrues Moscow’s perspective in several ways that obscure the risk of nuclear use.
First, Moscow sees the current conflict as a strategic showdown with the West that has profound implications for Russia’s global sway. Washington sees this as well, but contends that Moscow is caught in a corner without practicable exit options. This is wrong.
Second, as Moscow sees it, the advance of NATO-enabled Ukrainian forces presages the advance of NATO itself. For 30 years, Moscow has called the eastward expansion of NATO a critical security concern. For just as long, NATO leaders have denied it. What matters, however, is whether Moscow is sincere in fearing the leverage that NATO might gain by sitting forces on Russia’s long border with Ukraine.
Third, many Western observers suggest that Moscow will not risk the U.S. retaliation that a resort to nuclear weapons would bring—as though Moscow has no option for counterretaliation. Putin reasonably might wonder: Is Washington ready to sacrifice Boston for, say, the Ukrainian 92nd Mechanized Brigade? For that matter, how much risk are the NATO allies willing to assume? Their commitment to “staying the course” in Ukraine is the target of Putin’s threats.
Facing conventional defeat, Moscow would have a variety of nuclear options. The least likely of these is garnering the most attention in the West: an attack on Ukrainian forces using so-called “tactical” nuclear systems. Such weapons would not be effective enough to blunt a major Ukrainian offensive unless used in numbers that would also put Russian troops and areas at risk. Moreover, such action would earn global reprobation and invite direct U.S. intervention—Washington has pledged as much. Putin still has other, more likely options.
In the case of a decisive Ukrainian drive on the Russian border or Crimea, Moscow could signal dramatic escalation by putting its strategic nuclear forces on high alert and deploying some tactical nuclear units in an ostentatious fashion. The aim would be to break the Western consensus for war and prompt a cease-fire and negotiations. An additional step, although unlikely, would be a nuclear “warning blast” over or under Russian territory. Warning shots are entirely consonant with Russian nuclear doctrine. An underground test of a strategic weapon in violation of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty would suffice, and it would accord with Putin’s recent statement. This would be an attempt at extended deterrence by intimidation, which also would involve any obvious increases in nuclear force readiness.
In the case of a marked rise in Russian nuclear activity, Washington would necessarily raise the alert level of U.S. nuclear forces. The result would be a confrontation more dangerous than the 1962 Cuban missile standoff—more dangerous due to the context of the Russia-Ukraine war.
An early, deadly use of nuclear weapons remains very unlikely. Realistically, it is crisis instability that poses the greatest danger of nuclear cataclysm. Any situation that prompts a bilateral resort to peak levels of nuclear readiness—a hair-trigger standoff—greatly increases the likelihood of accidental or mistaken nuclear use.
The experience of the Cuban missile crisis remains relevant to managing the current confrontation wisely. Reflecting on the crisis, McGeorge Bundy, who was President John F. Kennedy’s national security advisor during it, estimated that the crisis had involved a rather modest one-in-100 risk of nuclear war. Nonetheless, Bundy observed: “In this apocalyptic matter, the risk can be very small indeed and still much too large for comfort.” Foremost in Washington’s planning about the Ukraine conflict should be Bundy’s observation that even a very limited nuclear exchange “would be a disaster beyond history.”
Carl Conetta is a researcher at the Project on Defense Alternatives and author of “Tempting Armageddon: The Likelihood of Russian Nuclear Use Is Misconstrued in Western Policy.”
The views expressed are not necessarily those of Aviation Week.
When condemning Russia’s attack on Ukraine, former President George Bush mistakenly referred to the “unjustif…Read More
Former President George W. Bush had a tongue-tied moment at a speech on Wednesday and millions on social media took notice.
When condemning Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Bush mistakenly referred to the decision to launch an “unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq” before quickly correcting himself to say “Ukraine,” in what was a bungled criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The result is an absence of checks and balances in Russia, and the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq,” said Bush, before catching himself and shaking his head. “I mean — of Ukraine.”
Bush made the comment in a speech at his presidential center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas on Wednesday during an event examining the future of American elections. After a pause, Bush blamed the mistake on his age and the audience laughed.
Former Rep. Joe Walsh, who ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2020, tweeted as the clip swirled through social media: “All gaffes aside, George W Bush was wrong to invade Iraq. And Putin was wrong to invade Ukraine.”
Another user cracked that “Freud really stepped out of his grave to personally slap the ‘Iraq’ out of Bush’s mouth didn’t he.”
The mixup was widely seen. Since video of Bush’s speech was clipped and tweeted by Dallas Morning News reporter Michael Williams on Wednesday, it has been viewed more than 17 million times.
In his Wednesday remarks, Bush also described Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a “cool little guy,” deeming him “the [Winston] Churchill of the 21st century.”
As president, Bush oversaw the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 — as part of the post-9/11 conflicts in the Middle East — under the pretext that the country was hiding weapons of mass destruction, or WMDs. Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, was deposed but no weapons were found, and the war officially lasted for nearly a decade.
While the Bush administration argued the fighting was necessary for national security even without the WMDs, it became increasingly unpopular at home. Thousands of U.S. service members and tens of thousands of civilians died.
Jerusalem, March 8 (IANS) At least six Palestinians were killed in the West Bank in an Israeli raid aimed at arresting a suspect involved in the killing of two Israeli brothers the previous week, Palestinian and Israeli officials said.
In a video statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the Palestinian suspect was killed during the raid on Tuesday in the refugee camp of Jenin in the northern West Bank, Xinhua news agency reported.
The Palestinian Health Ministry stated in a press release that six individuals were killed by gunshots, and at least 16 others were wounded during a gunbattle between Palestinians and Israeli troops in Jenin.
Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, said in a statement that the Israeli troops surrounded a building where the suspect, identified as 49-year-old Abdel Fattah Hussein Kharousha, and other militants were hiding.
The Israeli authorities said Kharousha, a member of the Palestinian armed group and movement of Hamas, shot dead two Israeli settlers outside the town of Hawara in the northern West Bank on February 26. The attack prompted hundreds of Israeli settlers to go on a rampage in Hawara and other nearby towns, torching Palestinian houses, cars, and shops.
Netanyahu on Tuesday praised the Israeli forces, while vowing to continue to pursue Palestinian assailants who attack Israelis. “Whoever hurts us — his blood on his head,” he said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh condemned the Israeli raid in a statement, saying that the “crime committed by the occupation forces reaffirms the Israeli government’s intention to thwart all regional and international efforts aimed at stopping all unilateral actions.”
The raid is the latest in a series of Israeli military operations in the West Bank to arrest Palestinians suspected of killing Israelis.
A state of joy and happiness spreads in the holy city of Karbala, especially near the two holy shrines of Imam Al-Hussein and his brother Abi Al-Fadl Al-Abbas, peace be upon them, on the occasion of the Mid-Shaban Night, the anniversary of the blessed birth of Imam Al-Mahdi, may Allah Almighty bring forward his honorable reappearance.
Pilgrims, both from Iraq and other countries, are heading towards holy Karbala to revive the Night of Mid-Sha’ban, amid an atmosphere of joy and happiness; stressing the importance of this blessed Night.
The pilgrims, interview by Shia Waves Agency, stated that they “will revive this blessed night by holding ceremonies of worship and visiting the holy shrines and will light candles of delight.”
They added that “the whole world is looking forward to seeing the holy appearance of our Imam Mahdi (may Allah Almighty hasten his honorable reappearance), as He will fill the earth with equity and justice after it had been filled with injustice and oppression.”
It is worth mentioning that security and health departments have laid tight and emergency plans to secure the Massive pilgrimage and to offer services to the honourable pilgrims.
“When we say spikes occur it is because they do occur. Otherwise I will be jumping immediately to the conclusion that this was part of a deliberate campaign of enrichment at almost 90 percent,” Grossi told journalists in Vienna on Monday.
A 90 percent uranium enrichment would be pure enough to fuel a nuclear bomb. “This would have serious consequences,” Grossi added.
Regardless of the many unresolved issues with Tehran, the IAEA chief insisted things are going in the right direction. Stating that his agency had been stuck inside a “vicious circle” with Iran, he declared: “There is a chance now that we can be moving away from this thing.”
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi is concerned about Iran’s advancing nuclear program. /Reuters/Leonhard Foeger
Grossi’s stance comes after the IAEA struck a new agreement with Iran, which includes re-installing monitoring equipment and gaining access to people of interest in an investigation into uranium traces at undeclared sites. Grossi told reporters that details of this agreement are “not yet put on paper.”
Asked to describe the current situation, the IAEA chief said he is neither an optimist nor a pessimist. “I believe that we are on a constructive path and like we always say, we have confidence but we verify everything,” Grossi added with a laugh.
“Increases in military action” at Zaporizhzhia plant
Regarding the ongoing fighting close to Ukraine’s biggest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, the IAEA has reported increases in military action near the facility, with an open discussion about offensives and counter-offensives in the vicinity of the site.
During his speech at the IAEA’s board of governors meeting on Monday morning, Grossi asked the IAEA member states: “Are we waiting for a nuclear emergency before we react?”
For months, Grossi has been trying to establish a no-combat zone around the Zaporizhzhia plant, without success. Talks between the IAEA and the involved parties at war are ongoing.
In 1946, Albert Einstein shot off a telegram to several hundred American leaders and politicians warning that the “unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” Einstein’s forecast remains prescient. Nuclear calamity still knocks.
Even prior to President Vladimir Putin’s bloody invasion of Ukraine, the threat of a nuclear confrontation between NATO and Russia was intensifying. After all, in August 2019, President Donald Trump formally withdrew the US from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, long heralded as a pillar of arms control between the two superpowers.
“Russia is solely responsible for the treaty’s demise,” declared Secretary of State Mike Pompeo following the announcement. “With the full support of our NATO allies, the United States has determined Russia to be in material breach of the treaty and has subsequently suspended our obligations under the treaty.” No evidence of that breach was offered, but in Trump World, no evidence was needed.
Then, on Feb. 21 of this year, following the Biden administration’s claims that Russia was no longer abiding by its obligations under the New START treaty, the last remaining nuclear arms accord between the two nations, Putin announced that he would end his country’s participation.
In the year since Russia’s initial assault on Ukraine, the danger of nuclear war has only inched ever closer. While Biden’s White House raised doubts that Putin would indeed use any of Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists ominously reset its Doomsday Clock at 90 seconds to midnight, the closest since its creation in 1947. Those scientific experts weren’t buying what the Biden administration was selling.
“As Russia’s war on Ukraine continues, the last remaining nuclear weapons treaty between Russia and the United States… stands in jeopardy,” read a January 2023 press release from the Bulletin before Putin backed out of the agreement. “Unless the two parties resume negotiations and find a basis for further reductions, the treaty will expire in February 2026. This would eliminate mutual inspections, deepen mistrust, spur a nuclear arms race, and heighten the possibility of a nuclear exchange.”
Of course, they were correct and, in mid-February, the Norwegian government claimed Russia had already deployed ships armed with tactical nukes in the Baltic Sea for the first time in more than 30 years. “Tactical nuclear weapons are a particularly serious threat in several operational scenarios in which NATO countries may be involved,” claimed the report. “The ongoing tensions between Russia and the West mean that Russia will continue to pose the greatest nuclear threat to NATO, and therefore to Norway.”
For its part, in October 2022, NATO ran its own nuclear bombing drills, designated “Steadfast Noon,” with fighter jets in Europe’s skies involved in “war games” (minus live weaponry). “It’s an exercise to ensure that our nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure, and effective,” claimed NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, but it almost seemed as if NATO was taunting Putin to cross the line.
And yet, here’s the true horror story lurking behind the war in Ukraine. While a nuclear tit-for-tat between Russia and NATO — an exchange that could easily destroy much of Eastern Europe in no time at all — is a genuine, if frightening, prospect, it isn’t the most imminent radioactive peril facing the region.
AVERTING A MELTDOWN
By now, we all ought to be familiar with the worrisome Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex (ZNPP), which sits right in the middle of the Russian incursion into Ukraine. Assembled between 1980 and 1986, Zaporizhzhia is Europe’s largest nuclear-power complex, with six 950-megawatt reactors. In February and March of last year, after a series of fierce battles, which caused a fire to break out at a nearby training facility, the Russians hijacked the embattled plant. Representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were later sent in to ensure that the reactors weren’t at immediate risk of meltdown and issued a report stating, in part, that: “…further escalation affecting the six-reactor plant could lead to a severe nuclear accident with potentially grave radiological consequences for human health and the environment in Ukraine and elsewhere and that renewed shelling at or near the ZNPP was deeply troubling for nuclear safety and security at the facility.”
EVEN MORE REGRETTABLY, RUSSIA HAS RAISED THE NUCLEAR STAKES IN A NEW WAY, SETTING A DISTRESSING PRECEDENT WITH ITS ILLEGAL OCCUPATION OF ZAPORIZHZHIA AND CHERNOBYL, TURNING THEM INTO TOOLS OF WAR.
Since then, the fighting has only intensified. Russia kidnapped some of the plant’s Ukrainian employees, including its deputy director Valery Martynyuk. In September 2022, due to ongoing shelling in the area, Zaporizhzhia was taken offline and, after losing external power on several occasions, has since been sporadically relying on old diesel backup generators. (Once disconnected from the electrical grid, backup power is crucial to ensure the plant’s reactors don’t overheat, which could lead to a full-blown radioactive meltdown.)
However, relying on risk-prone backup power is a fool’s game, according to electrical engineer Josh Karpoff. A member of Science for the People who previously worked for the New York State Office of General Services where he designed electrical systems for buildings, including large standby generators, Karpoff knows how these things work in a real-world setting. He assures me that, although Zaporizhzhia is no longer getting much attention in the general rush of Ukraine news, the possibility of a major disaster there is ever more real. A backup generator, he explains, is about as reliable as a ’75 Winnebago.
“It’s really not that hard to knock out these kinds of diesel generators,” Karpoff adds. “If your standby generator starts up but says there’s a leak in a high-pressure oil line fitting, it sprays heated, aerosolized oil all over the hot motor, starting a fire. This happens to diesel motors all the time. A similar diesel engine fire in a locomotive was partly responsible for causing the Lac Megantic Rail Disaster in Quebec back in 2013.”
Sadly enough, Karpoff is on target. Just remember how the backup generators failed at the three nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011. Many people believe that the 9.0 magnitude underwater earthquake caused them to melt down, but that’s not exactly the case.
It was, in fact, a horrific chain of worsening events. While the earthquake itself didn’t damage Fukushima’s reactors, it cut the facility off from the power grid, automatically switching the plant to backup generators. So even though the fission reaction had stopped, heat was still being produced by the radioactive material inside the reactor cores. A continual water supply, relying on backup power, was needed to keep those cores from melting down. Then, 30 minutes after that huge quake, a tsunami struck, knocking out the plant’s seawater pumps, which subsequently caused the generators to go down.
“The myth of the tsunami is that the tsunami destroyed the [generators] and had that not happened, everything would have been fine,” former nuclear engineer Arnie Gunderson told Amy Goodman on “Democracy Now!” “What really happened is that the tsunami destroyed the [sea] pumps right along the ocean… Without that water, the [diesel generators] will overheat, and without that water, it’s impossible to cool a nuclear core.”
With the sea pumps out of commission, 12 of the plant’s 13 generators ended up failing. Unable to cool, the reactors began to melt, leading to three hydrogen explosions that released radioactive material, carried disastrously across the region and out to sea by prevailing winds, where much of it will continue to float around and accumulate for decades.
At Zaporizhzhia, there are several scenarios that could lead to a similar failure of the standby generators. They could be directly shelled and catch fire or clog up or just run out of fuel. It’s a dicey situation, as the ongoing war edges Ukraine and the surrounding countries toward the brink of a catastrophic nuclear crisis.
“I don’t know for how long we are going to be lucky in avoiding a nuclear accident,” said Rafael Grossi, director general of the IAEA in late January, calling it a “bizarre situation: a Ukrainian facility in Russian-controlled territory, managed by Russians, but operated by Ukrainians.”
BAD THINGS WILL FOLLOW
Unfortunately, it’s not just Zaporizhzhia we have to worry about. Though not much attention has been given to them, there are, in fact,14 other nuclear power plants in the war zone and Russia has also seized the ruined Chernobyl plant, where there is still significant hot radioactive waste that must be kept cool.
Kate Brown, author of “Plutopia,” told Science for the People last April:
“Russians are apparently using these two captured nuclear installations like kings on a chessboard. They hold Chernobyl and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power reactor plants, and they are stockpiling weapons and soldiers there as safe havens. This is a new military tactic we haven’t seen before, where you use the vulnerability of these installations, as a defensive tactic. The Russians apparently figured that the Ukrainians wouldn’t shoot. The Russians noticed that when they came to the Chernobyl zone, the Ukrainian guard of the Chernobyl plant stood down because they didn’t want missiles fired at these vulnerable installations. There are twenty thousand spent nuclear fuel rods, more than half of them in basins at that plant. It’s a precarious situation. This is a new scenario for us.”
Of course, the hazards facing Zaporizhzhia and Chernobyl would be mitigated if Putin removed his forces tomorrow, but there’s little possibility of that happening. It’s worth noting as well that Ukraine is not the only place where, in the future, such a scenario could play out. Taiwan, at the center of a potential military conflict between the US and China, has several nuclear power plants. Iran operates a nuclear facility. Pakistan has six reactors at two different sites. Saudi Arabia is building a new facility. The list only goes on and on.
Even more regrettably, Russia has raised the nuclear stakes in a new way, setting a distressing precedent with its illegal occupation of Zaporizhzhia and Chernobyl, turning them into tools of war. No other power-generating source operating in a war zone, even the worst of the fossil-fuel users, poses such a potentially serious and immediate threat to life as we know it on this planet.
And while hitting those Ukrainian reactors themselves is one recipe for utter disaster, there are other potentially horrific “peaceful” nuclear possibilities as well. What about a deliberate attack on nuclear-waste facilities or those unstable backup generators? You wouldn’t even have to strike the reactors directly to cause a disaster. Simply take out the power-grid supply lines, hit the generators, and terrible things will follow. With nuclear power, even the purportedly “peaceful” type, the potential for catastrophe is obvious.
THE GREATEST OF EVILS
In my new book “Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America,” I probe the horrors of the Hanford site in Washington state, one of the locations chosen to develop the first nuclear weapons for the covert Manhattan Project during World War II. For more than 40 years, that facility churned out most of the plutonium used in the vast American arsenal of atomic weapons.
Now, however, Hanford is a radioactive wasteland, as well as the largest and most expensive environmental clean-up project in history. To say that it’s a boondoggle would be an understatement. Hanford has 177 underground tanks loaded with 56 million gallons of steaming radioactive gunk. Two of those tanks are currently leaking, their waste making its way toward groundwater supplies that could eventually reach the Columbia River. High-level whistleblowers I interviewed who worked at Hanford told me they feared that a hydrogen build-up in one of those tanks, if ignited, could lead to a Chernobyl-like event here in the United States, resulting in a tragedy unlike anything this country has ever experienced.
All of this makes me fear that those old Hanford tanks could someday be possible targets for an attack. Sabotage or a missile strike on them could cause a major release of radioactive material from coast to coast. The economy would crash. Major cities would become unlivable. And there’s precedent for this: in 1957, a massive explosion occurred at Mayak, Hanford’s Cold War sister facility in the then-Soviet Union that manufactured plutonium for nukes. Largely unknown, it was the second biggest peacetime radioactive disaster ever, only “bested” by the Chernobyl accident. In Mayak’s case, a faulty cooling system gave out and the waste in one of the facility’s tanks overheated, causing a radioactive blast equivalent to the force of 70 tons of TNT, contaminating 20,000 square miles. Countless people died and whole villages were forever vacated.
All of this is to say that nuclear waste, whether on a battlefield or not, is an inherently nasty business. Nuclear facilities around the world, containing less waste than the underground silos at Hanford, have already shown us their vulnerabilities. Last August, in fact, the Russians reported that containers housing spent fuel waste at Zaporizhzhia were shelled by Ukrainian forces. “One of the guided shells hit the ground ten meters from them (containers with nuclear waste…). Others fell down slightly further — 50 and 200 meters,” alleged Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-appointed official there. “As the storage area is open, a shell or a rocket may unseal containers and kilograms, or even hundreds of kilograms of nuclear waste will be emitted into the environment and contaminate it. To put it simply, it will be a ‘dirty bomb.’”
Ukraine, in turn, blamed Russia for the strike, but regardless of which side was at fault, after Chernobyl (which some researchers believe affected upwards of 1.8 million people) both the Ukrainians and the Russians understand the grave risks of atomically-charged explosions. This is undoubtedly why the Russians are apparently constructing protective coverings over Zaporizhzhia’s waste storage tanks. An incident at the plant releasing radioactive particles would damage not just Ukraine but Russia, too.
As former New York Times correspondent Chris Hedges so aptly put it, war is the greatest of evils and such evils rise exponentially with the prospect of a nuclear apocalypse. Worse yet, a radioactive Armageddon doesn’t have to come from the actual detonation of nuclear bombs. It can take many forms. The atom, as Einstein warned us, has certainly changed everything.