Friday, March 13, 2009

16 Lost in NF Helicopter Crash

Waves of sorrow: Search ends for 16 missing in chopper crash
Transportation Safety Board starts work on recovering sunken helicopter
Last Updated: Friday, March 13, 2009 |
CBC News
A Cormorant helicopter and a Maersk supply vessel scan a vast area of the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday in an attempt to locate survivors after a helicopter crashed east of Newfoundland.A Cormorant helicopter and a Maersk supply vessel scan a vast area of the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday in an attempt to locate survivors after a helicopter crashed east of Newfoundland. (Sgt. Steve Rutt/Canadian Forces)

The search ended Friday evening for 16 people who had been aboard a helicopter that crashed and sank in frigid waters east of Newfoundland, with grim-faced officials saying there was no chance the passengers were still alive.

Aircraft and vessels that had been combing a wide stretch of the ocean were called down at 7:30 p.m. NT in the search for any further survivors of the crash of a Cougar Helicopters aircraft that had been ferrying workers to two platforms in Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore oil industry.

One survivor had been rescued Thursday morning, shortly after the aircraft known as Cougar 911 went down with 18 aboard. One body was recovered Thursday.

Maj. Denis McGuire told reporters the grim news at a news conference late Friday afternoon.

"As of this time, there are no other persons that we've located whatsoever," said McGuire.

"It appears that there are no survivors."

Cougar 911, which was transporting workers to platforms at the White Rose and Hibernia oilfields, went down minutes after its crew reported mechanical problems.

The matter will be turned over to the Transportation Safety Board and to the RCMP, who will treat it as a missing-persons case, McGuire said.

The TSB said earlier in the day it will begin work on Friday night on a complex effort to find and raise the sunken Sikorsky S-92 chopper, which is beneath about 120 metres of water.

The announcement brought a sad but expected end to two long and trying days that have captivated people in Newfoundland and Labrador.

His face showing resignation and exhaustion, Rick Burt, the general manager of Cougar Helicopters in St. John's, told reporters that the company's main concern in the past two days has been the welfare of the families of the missing.

"We've seen their hearts, and they've expressed as much concern about how we're feeling, if you can imagine," Burt said.

"However, we've just continued to be focused on them, both our employees and our customers' employees, all the people that were on the aircraft. So, it's been a challenging day, but we've come together as a group to support each other."

The crash has drawn an outpouring of sorrow, particularly in communities where residents lost family, friends, neighbours or colleagues.

"We know these people. We've hunted together, we've fished together, hockey, politics," said Don Drew, the mayor of Bay Bulls, south of St. John's, who knew several of those who died, including town resident Derek Mullowney, a friend since childhood.

"Derek is a part of our community, a very active part. He's the type of guy everybody knew and it's gonna hit us really hard," Drew told CBC News.

A mayday was issued at 9:40 a.m. NT Thursday as the helicopter crew reported problems, McGuire said. Until Friday morning, search and rescue officials had said the mayday was issued about 30 minutes earlier, with authorities mistakenly calculating Atlantic time as Newfoundland time.

Cougar Helicopters provides shuttle services for crews flying from St. John's to offshore oil platforms.Cougar Helicopters provides shuttle services for crews flying from St. John's to offshore oil platforms. (Courtesy of Cougar Helicopters)

Authorities said the crew indicated it was "ditching," implying that a controlled crash was planned. The chopper went down about eight minutes later and sank.

Time had been precious in the search, as officials reckoned that the 16 missing people could last about 24 hours in the mandatory survival suits they wore during the flight.

Military aircraft, coast guard vessels and company ships had been on the scene since Thursday morning.

Three aircraft and four ships had been working on the search on Friday. Overnight searchers had used night-vision goggles.

Indications since Thursday afternoon, however, suggested no new signs that would have led to further rescues.

The cause of the crash is not known, although information posted to a Transport Canada online database indicated that the mayday was called because of a "main gear box oil pressure problem."

Officials, however, maintain there is no definitive word on why the chopper went down.

"We don't have any of that information right now and we can't confirm what may have happened — that would all be speculation," McGuire said Thursday night.
'That chopper went down hard'

Two empty life-rafts were recovered near debris scattered over at least six nautical miles, or about 11 kilometres.
One body was recovered from the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday after a Cougar 911 helicopter crashed not long after reporting mechanical problems. One body was recovered from the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday after a Cougar 911 helicopter crashed not long after reporting mechanical problems. (CBC)

As well, searchers have found no sign of the emergency beacons that each person was carrying in a survival suit. The beacons immediately set themselves off when a "sea switch" comes into contact with water.

Family members and friends had been bracing for the worst.

"Well, they're doing the best they can, but it doesn't look very promising right now," said Harold Mullowney, the brother of Derek Mullowney.

"It looks like that chopper went down hard and they're probably still in it. We hope they're not," Mullowney said Thursday, when hopes for a rescue were highest.

Mullowney said his brother had a brush with the Ocean Ranger disaster, which lingers prominently in the memories of most people in Newfoundland and Labrador. Derek Mullowney was off duty when the oil rig, which was exploring for oil on the Grand Banks, sank during a vicious winter storm in 1982, killing all 84 aboard.

The disaster prompted a royal commission of inquiry, which found weak safety measures and recommended a significant overhaul in training and security procedures.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Greenspirational News

We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.
C.S. Lewis

Mar. 8th is International Women's Day

Thank a feminist...



The Canadian Oil Boom
Scraping Bottom

National Geographic's photo and text expose of the Alberta tar sands

Once considered too expensive, as well as too damaging to the land, exploitation of Alberta's oil sands is now a gamble worth billions.



Turn off your lights on Saturday March 28, 2009 at 8:30 pm for one hour. Millions of Canadians will turn off their lights on March 28th for Earth Hour in support of action on climate change.

And don't stop at turning off the lights. Think about what else can be done to reduce your footprint like taking transit, unplugging unused electrical appliances and washing your clothes in cold water. The list is endless and your action will make a big difference.


Uranium Mining Poisons Native Americans
By Jeff Gerritsen

Nuclear power is often billed as clean base-load electrical energy.
However, few if any nuclear power proponents mention the unintended
consequences or the externalized costs associated with this technology to
support the unsustainable U.S. lifestyle. A crucial part of this story is
told by Native Americans.


FOX News and Animal Advocates on Meat-Eating Environmentalists

How can global warming activists accept and acknowledge that animal agriculture is responsible for roughly 20 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and that switching to a vegan diet does remarkably more to decrease a person's greenhouse gas contributions than, say, switching to a hybrid vehicle or CFLs and then not make that change, a change that is relatively easy to make, that is beneficial on multiple other levels, and that can be made immediately?


Green bin compost too much to handle locally

Due to a shortage of Ontario facilities that convert organic waste into compost, thousands of tonnes of green bin contents have now been sent to New York State for incineration.

In light of this infuriating news, how do we in the GTA start creating "green collar" jobs out of compost?

American taste for soft toilet roll 'worse than driving Hummers'

Extra-soft, quilted and multi-ply toilet roll made from virgin forest causes more damage than gas-guzzlers, fast food or McMansions, say campaigners

Prevent Cancer Now, a Canada-wide network to eliminate preventable causes of cancer, launched a new website today to help provide Canadians with resources to fight for a cancer-free future -
Among the new materials are:

· A toolkit to help fight the dangerous technology of incineration. Incinerators emit hundreds of pollutants into our air, land and water every single day, including cancer-causing agents that build-up in our bodies. Health Canada states that the large-scale burning of municipal and medical waste is the biggest source of dioxins and furans. Despite this, many Canadian cities and municipalities are now facing new incinerator proposals.

· A renewed call on the Canadian government to phase-out and eliminate all known or suspected carcinogens in manufacturing and industrial processes, food production and consumer products. Please sign our declaration.

· Information on the continued shameful practices of our federal government to actively promote the use of asbestos nationally and internationally. Visit the new website and Take Action on asbestos.

Please visit our new website today and help us make a difference. Sign up for our newsletter.
And please sign the incineration position statement -

Ontario Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Spring 2009!!!!!

As of April 22, 2009, more than 95 pesticides will be banned for sale and for use on lawns in Ontario!

Here's the official word:

It's a good news/bad news story, of course....
We lost golf courses, speciality turf (eg lawn bowling) but they have stronger restrictions/requirements for pesticide use.
Urban trees can still be sprayed, as well as injected, but it has to be determined by an arborist if pesticides are needed.
We also lost municipal authority to pass stronger bylaws.

We won:
Nearly 100 pesticide active ingredients are banned for sale and use on lawns, including 2,4-D, Mecoprop, Dicamba, Sevin, Merit, Par III, Weed n Feed, Roundup etc.
No spraying cemetaries

Susan Koswan

Powershift '09 - Feb. 27 - Mar. 2, Washington DC. - 12,000 youth gathered to fight climate change!

Thank you for making history at Power Shift 2009, the largest ever youth conference and lobby day on climate change. Thank you for raising your voice and demanding action, stopping at nothing-not even snow or bitter cold-until you were heard. You are the leaders of the next American energy revolution, one that will protect our planet while creating green jobs to build a strong and sustainable economy.

Flush hour: Oslo to run buses powered by biomethane from human sewage

Free, friendly and non-fossil - biomethane from human waste will soon power public transport in the capital city

It is available for free in huge quantities, is not owned by Saudi Arabia and it contributes minimally towards climate change. The latest green fuel might seem like the dream answer to climate crisis, but until recently raw sewage has been seen as a waste disposal problem rather than a power source. Now Norway's capital city is proving that its citizens can contribute to the city's green credentials without even realising it.

Democracy + Private Ownership = Capitalism
Democracy + Public Ownership = Socialism
Dictatorship + Public Ownership = Communism
Dictatorship + Private Ownership = Fascism

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Do we want to be remembered as the generation that saved the banks and let the biosphere collapse? George Monbiot