Environmental Must-Reads – January 14, 2013

BP takes watery approach towards reducing fine

BP WANTS a US federal judge to rule that an estimated 800,000 barrels of oil collected at the head of its runaway undersea Gulf of Mexico well in 2010 should not be counted in determining the company’s civil fine for Clean Water Act violations.

If BP Motion Upheld, Less Fine Money Coming to Gulf Coast

If a federal judge rules in favor of a recent motion by BP’s lawyers, it could mean millions and possibly billions of dollars less in Clean Water Act oil spill fines coming to the Gulf Coast through the Restore Act.

Judge OKs medical settlement in BP oil spill

A federal judge on Friday gave final approval to a settlement between BP and as many as 100,000 plaintiffs who allege they were sickened or injured by the 2010 Gulf oil disaster.

Gulf Coast flips for dolphin that survived BP oil spill

This is a story of survival, and the survivor is a dolphin named Chance.

It was the day before Thanksgiving in 2011 when a rescue team found Chance stranded on the beach in Fort Morgan, Ala.

Berwick moves to make oil spill claims

Berwick will hire outside counsel to represent the town in litigation seeking payments from BP PLC for economic damage during the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Deepwater Horizon Disaster’s Coral Effect

According to a new study, the oil from the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which poured 5 million barrels of gallon of oil into the water, would have killed off coral reefs in the Florida Keys if it reached that far south. The scientists also believe that oil and dispersant from Deepwater Horizon spill have damaged the reefs in the Gulf of Mexico, but also state that no studies have been done to corroborate this claim.

Report Fails to Settle Concerns Over Oil Spill Risk to Ogallala Aquifer

A thorough and adequate study of the impacts has not been done, a scientist says; it’s a rigorous and comprehensive review, says TransCanada’s CEO.

Tankers too risky on B.C.’s north coast, oil-spill consultant says

A marine consultant involved in B.C. oil-spill issues for a quarter century says the risks of a tanker oil spill associated with Enbridge Northern Gateway are simply too great for the project to proceed.

Was one ship enough to tow Shell oil drilling rig in Gulf of Alaska?

When Royal Dutch Shell’s oil drilling rig Kulluk and tow ship, the Aiviq, pulled out of Dutch Harbor the afternoon of Dec. 21 for a long, slow trip to Seattle, Shell says it was relying on its consultant’s weather forecast to ensure crews — and prized vessels — arrived safely.

Shell Under Investigation for Cutting Corners and Putting Arctic at Risk

The U.S. is set to become the world’s top oil producer by 2020, and new technologies in offshore oil drilling have been a significant factor in making that happen. This hasn’t come without devastating consequences like the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, so when Royal Dutch Shell set its sights on offshore drilling in the unforgiving Arctic coast, environmentalists were concerned that this was another ecological disaster waiting to happen. Ironically, Shell’s Arctic debacles have made the environmental community’s case better than they could ever make themselves.

Shell Violated Air Permits for Arctic Ships, E.P.A. Says

The Environmental Protection Agency says that Shell committed numerous violations of the air pollution permits for its two Arctic drill ships, adding to the company’s catalog of Alaskan offshore woes.

Shell Gets Massive, Involuntary Aid Package from Alaska, the US Coast Guard, and You

I’ve been working this case relatively nonstop since the 27th.

Petty Officer First Class David Mosley didn’t sound all that tired when I spoke with him yesterday, but, then, he’s a public affairs specialist, a professional. A few times he stumbled over his words, once or twice forgot specific numbers. On the whole, though, no problems as he walked me through the massive complement of US Coast Guard staff and sea vessels and aircraft deployed to fix Shell’s mistake.

Fourth-graders have concluded fracking’s bad

If it were up to nearly four dozen future voters at a Middletown elementary school, fracking would be banned in New York — and the rest of the world.

Just listen to what those fourth-graders at Maple Hill Elementary School have to say about the controversial natural gas extraction method of hydraulic fracturing,

More Americans Want Tough Fracking Regulations

A recent Bloomberg National Poll found that 66 percent of Americans want more government oversight of fracking–a big increase over the last three months. Some people completely oppose fracking, but even those who don’t want tough rules and enforcement. Bloomberg quotes a Virginia resident as saying: ““I’m a big proponent of natural gas, but I still need to be sure that we are not damaging our water supply.” Many Americans share this view.

Gov. Cuomo on the spot as N.Y. considers fracking

With nearby states cashing in but environmentalists and Hollywood stars urging him to back off, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is running out of time to decide whether his state will join the natural-gas fracking boom.

Friday marked the end of a 30-day public comment period the state set up on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, during which stakeholders, proponents, opponents and ordinary New Yorkers were able to weigh in with the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Lennon, Ono lead opponents on last day of fracking comments

Activists opposed to hydro-fracking extraction of natural gas in New York, including Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, attempted to present the state’s environmental agency with over 200,000 comments, on the last day of a public comment period on the gas drilling process.

Wastewater Radiation Does Not Concern Health Officials

Potentially hazardous uranium and radium are some of the radioactive materials being pumped into Ohio’s injection wells, such as the 13,727-foot deep one atop Kirkwood Heights.

However, officials with the Ohio Department of Health believe pumping these elements into reinforced Class II disposal wells is the best way for the Buckeye State to keep those materials out of drinking water supplies.

Regional Land Being Disturbed by Shale Drilling in Appalachia

Everyone generally accepts what the shale drilling industry says talking about the surface area it uses. We will call this the “spoil area,” an analogy to the term used in strip mining. Surface alteration is important because it is a very long term land use change.

Fukushima agency gets boost / Reconstruction bureau to get more staff, chief to be upgraded

The government plans to strengthen the Fukushima reconstruction bureau, a branch of the Reconstruction Agency, to accelerate recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake.

It will reorganize the bureau to become a more powerful base for supporting rehabilitation in Fukushima Prefecture. It also plans to increase the number of staff, which is currently about 40. The head of the new organization will be upgraded from deputy director general level to bureau chief.

Worker shortages revealed at nuclear plant after disaster

A manager’s calls for reinforcements to help contain a series of crises at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were ignored, newly released TEPCO teleconference footage has revealed.

Although Masao Yoshida, then manager of the plant damaged by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, repeatedly asked TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo to send more workers, the request was not met in a timely manner. As a result, the plant’s workers suffered extreme fatigue and heightened radiation exposure, the footage showed.

Worker: Decontamination shoddy

Contractors commissioned by the central government to decontaminate areas tainted by the Fukushima nuclear disaster lack the knowhow or manpower to handle the unprecedented work, one of the workers said.

Fukushima fish ‘may be inedible for a decade’

A marine scientist has revealed that levels of radioactivity in fish near Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear plant are higher than expected. He warns the fish could be too radioactive to eat for a decade, as samples show that radioactivity levels remain elevated and show little sign of coming down.

Nuclear fears contaminate sales for Japan farmers

Mayumi Kurasawa’s seaweed company saw seven of its factories swept away by Japan’s 2011 tsunami. Nearly two years later, sales continue to be eroded by consumer fears over nuclear contamination.

Vermont Fights Ruling It Can’t Shut Entergy Nuclear Plant

Entergy Corp. (ETR) faces appeals court arguments by Vermont that the state has the authority to shut its only nuclear power plant.

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