Associated Press on radioactive water in Japan Japan needs to find a place to store about 200,000 tons—or more than 50 Olympic-sized swimming pools—of radioactive water from Fukushima. Leaks in reactor facilities means groundwater can get in, and water was dumped into the melting reactors last year to prevent a bigger problem. Trees have already been cut down to make more room for tanks, and it may be a while before a method to neutralize the water is discovered.
USA Today examines the low bar of LEED certification Private group Green Building Council has helped developers win taxpayer money, charge higher rent, and get expedited permitting by labeling them "green." Problem: The system "rewards minor, low-cost steps that have little or no proven environmental benefit." "Cities and federal agencies now require LEED certification for new public buildings, even though they have done little independent and meaningful research into LEED's effectiveness."
MarketWatch on the arrest of a Chinese environmental advocate Liu Futang, 63, sits in prison after working for the Chinese government forestry department for 20 years. The man sold books on environmental protection, and prosecutors say the sale and distribution were illegal. Futang had long battled paper companies' deforestation efforts and microblogged on environmental protection; some suspect the arrest was based on Futang's activism, not on any true illegal activity.
Reuters on Italy's big garbage problem Italy has a garbage crisis, and the European Commission is sick of it. The EU imposed $73 million fines on Italy for hundreds of illegal waste landfill sites. Italy had already been reprimanded in 2007 to clean up some 255 landfills but since then has only put in plans to clean 132 of them. "Along with political ineffectiveness and corruption, this has meant Naples has failed to get to grips with a problem that was first recognized as an emergency 19 years ago."
Ecologist on how rain gardens help cities After a big rain in urban areas, huge volumes of water quickly enter drainage systems, put pressure on rivers, and increase flooding risk. Undeveloped land absorbs water and slowly sends it back to rivers. Adding rain gardens to urban areas helps: "In its most basic form a rain garden is a planted depression in the ground, providing porous and absorbent materials into which water can soak, with plants that can withstand occasional temporary flooding."