Environmental Must-Reads – November 15, 2013

Massive Natural Gas Pipeline Explodes In Texas Town, Causing Evacuation Of 800 Residents

A massive explosion of a 10-inch Chevron natural gas pipeline near a drilling rig in Milford, Texas, led the company to ask law enforcement to evacuate the entire town on Thursday. Milford, in rural Ellis County, is about halfway between Dallas and Waco. The cause is still unknown, and the fire is expected to rage for another day.

Entire town of Milford, Texas, evacuated after fiery pipeline explosion

A small town about 50 miles south of Dallas was evacuated out of caution Thursday after officials said a 10-inch pipeline exploded and sent flames and a plume of smoke into the air visible for miles around.

Drilling crew caused Texas pipeline explosion, sheriff says

Chevron put out a statement Thursday evening. Excerpts follow.

“Chevron is continuing to depressurize the West Texas LPG pipeline that ruptured and subsequently ignited today at approximately 9:30 AM CST. The fire continues to decrease in size as residual product is flared and burned-off. Chevron continues to monitor the nearby 14-inch LPG pipeline and is in the process of mobilizing resources to remove product from it and depressurize the line.

2 Killed in Gas Pipeline Blast in Poland

A gas pipeline exploded Thursday in a village in Poland, killing two people and injuring at least 13 as it set fire to a row of homes, authorities said.

The blast occurred in the early afternoon in the western village of Jankow Przygodzki. TVN24 footage showed yellow flames and black smoke billowing above the village’s rooftops and some houses on fire. They were still burning hours after the blast.

Broomfield fracking ban: Results flip; measure approved by 17 votes after outstanding ballots counted

The results of Broomfield’s anti-fracking measure — which appeared to have failed by a slim margin on Election Day — flipped late Thursday night, but the five-year hydraulic fracturing ban’s approval was so narrow that a recount is mandatory.

In unofficial results tallied on election night, the measure was down by just 13 votes. With outstanding votes — including military and overseas ballots — tallied on Thursday night, the anti-fracking ballot measure succeeded by 17 votes, according to unofficial final results released by the Broomfield elections office at 10 p.m.

Fracking’s Dirty Little Secret

DARYL HANNAH AND DIANE MOSS: Fracking imposes unnecessary risks on public health and on our diminishing, yet most precious of resources – water.

The Associated Press reported: “The government projects that at least 36 states will face water shortages within five years.”  In 2013, the WSJ found at least 15.3 million Americans have a natural gas well within one mile of their home that has been drilled since 2000. According to the Congressional Office of Research, more than 90% of new oil and gas wells are now fracked.

CA Offshore Fracking Uses Dangerous Chemicals, Analysis Finds

Citing the use of hazardous hydraulic fracturing chemicals and the release of oil industry wastewater off California’s coast, the Center for Biological Diversity today called on the Coastal Commission to halt fracking for oil and gas in state waters and press for tighter regulation of fracking in federal waters.

Fears Confirmed: Offshore Fracking a Toxic Mess

Offshore hydraulic fracturing operations off the coast of California use highly toxic chemicals that are often released directly into water along the state’s coast, the Center for Biological Diversity revealed today, calling on the state’s Coastal Commission to halt fracking for oil and gas in state waters.

Study to look at raising radioactive waste limits

Thousands of tons of radioactive waste are created every year by Bakken oil development and state health regulators have signed off on a risk assessment study that could allow some of it to be buried in North Dakota landfills.

The $180,000 study by Illinois-based Argonne National Laboratories, followed by any new rules for radioactive waste, will take at least a year to complete, said Scott Radig, director of the state Health Department’s special waste program.

The Scariest Real Estate Advertisement On Craigslist

An unusual real estate advertisement appeared on Craigslist Tuesday.

The ad starts as any listing for a rural area might, billing the property as “Heavily forested land with berry bushes and nut trees and hardwoods in rural mountainous setting with forks and creek.” But by the second sentence, it takes a surprising turn, describing land in Blaine, Kentucky that seemingly sits near or on several different dirty fuel projects

Why we need a fracking moratorium on public lands

Last week we got one of our first glimpses into what U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell thinks about fracking – and it wasn’t promising. Her viewpoint on this topic is important because she is overseeing the development of new rules for the controversial oil and gas extraction process for public lands. Unfortunately, she essentially called it safe, saying: “I think that there’s a lot of misinformation about fracking. I think that it’s part of the industry’s job to make sure that the public understands what it is, how it’s done, and why it’s safe.”

America Produced More Oil Than It Imported For The First Time Since 1995

The United States produced more crude oil than it imported in October for the first time in almost 20 years, the federal Energy Information Administration announced Wednesday. U.S. crude oil production averaged 7.7 million barrels per day in October while 7.6 million barrels per day were imported. Total petroleum net imports were the lowest since February 1991.

The Social Costs of Fracking Are Too Damn High!

Fracking and its dangers remain at the forefront of the environmental movement. Historically, these dangers have been seen in terms of the environmental hazards they elicit – groundwater contamination, freshwater depletion, seismic disturbance triggering, etc… However, a new report titled The Social Costs of Fracking created by Food & Water Watch examines the not so obvious impacts of fracking. Published this past September, the report looks at the social impact of fracking on the small towns that house the industry.

Pope Francis tells anti-fracking activists he’s preparing remarks about environmental pollution

Pope Francis has expressed his support for another liberal cause.

The pontiff was photographed Monday with environmental activists holding T-shirts with anti-fracking slogans during a meeting at the Vatican.

The pope met with a group of Argentine activists to discuss hydraulic fracturing, a method used to extract gas, petroleum and other underground natural resources that contaminates ground water and creates other environmental hazards.

Gulf States Get First $113M From Oil Spill Pleas

The five states that border the Gulf of Mexico are getting $113 million to improve the environment.

The grants, announced Thursday by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, are the first small chunk of $2.5 billion that BP PLC and Transocean Ltd. were fined as a result of criminal pleas last year following the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

A glance at Gulf oil spill restoration projects

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced $113 million for 22 projects to improve the Gulf of Mexico’s coastal environment using money that BP PLC and Transocean Ltd. paid following criminal pleas after the 2010 oil spill. Here’s a look at projects by state

Alabama getting $12.6 M for oil spill restoration

Alabama is getting $12.6 million for three projects designed to restore some of the natural resources affected by the Gulf oil spill in 2010.

Gov. Robert Bentley says the money approved by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is the initial part of $356 million that is expected for Alabama projects from the federal government’s plea deal with BP and Transocean.

Massive sinkhole threatens to swallow town

Meet the town that is being swallowed, slowly, by the ground.

A giant sinkhole appeared almost overnight last year in Bayou Corne, Louisiana, when a giant underground mine collapsed.

The earth opened up, leaving a gaping hole 100 metres across and hundreds of metres deep. The sinkhole began swallowing 30-metre trees, guzzling water from adjacent swamps and belching methane from a thousand feet or more beneath the surface.

Assessor: Assumption salt dome companies owe millions

Operators and owners of the massive underground salt caverns carved from the Napoleonville Dome in Assumption Parish have under-reported their facilities’ assessed values by hundreds of millions of dollars annually, the parish assessor said Thursday.

Special Report Part I: Arkansans Look to Mich. for Long-Term Oil Spill Impact

In July 2010, an oil pipeline leaked as estimated 843,000 gallons in the town of Marshall, Mich

The oil was heavy crude from Canada, similar to what spilled out of a pipeline earlier this year in Mayflower.

Special Report Part 2: Arkansans Look to Mich. for Long-Term Oil Spill Impact

In part one of our special report, we told the story of a backyard oasis ruined.

We also heard from a scientist who says the long-term effects of the spill on the environment are still unknown.

Now, we look into how the spill in Michigan is impacting people’s health.

Don’t Mess With Texas: Michael Bishop’s Battle Against TransCanada Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

If you ever doubted that one man’s stand against the oil and gas industry can make a difference, consider the case of Michael Bishop. The 65 year old Marine veteran, first year medical student, farmer, and partner in a bio-diesel engineering venture, resides in Douglass, Texas, where he is trying to stop the Keystone XL pipeline by means of multiple lawsuits.

Redford sees rail problems entering the Keystone XL debate

Some US officials raised greenhouse gas concerns as increasing amounts of Alberta’s heavy crude oil move by rail while approval of the Keystone XL pipeline’s cross-border permit continues to be delayed, Premier Allison Redford said after concluding her fifth Washington visit to lobby for the project.

Controversy over Keystone XL Pipeline continues

The Keystone XL Pipeline is called the safest and most advanced pipeline operation in North America, but it doesn’t come without its controversy.

Advocates are hoping to have the XL pipeline up and running, but environmental concerns plague the seven billion dollar project.

Dangerous Crude Oil Terminals Blocked!

This is the headline we want for all of the proposed crude oil terminals in California.  For two other proposed oil terminals in Washington, this was their reality today.  So let’s take a day to celebrate with our neighbors to the North and then double down to bring this victory here.

Railroad industry urges upgrade in oil tank car safety

After a series of fiery crashes involving trains hauling crude oil, the railroad industry called on the federal government Thursday to significantly strengthen safety standards for new tank cars and require retrofitting of the nation’s huge fleet of existing tankers.

Tank car safety has taken on greater urgency as the oil industry turns to rail to ship the massive increases in oil production that are occurring in shale fields not served by major pipelines, including North Dakota, Colorado and south Texas.

DOT-111 oil tankers deemed ‘inadequate’ may soon be replaced

Two weeks after an I-Team investigation revealed “inadequate” crude oil tankers rolling on the rails across metro Chicago, the nation’s major railroad trade association has now come out in favor of safety upgrades that would involve replacing thousands of potentially dangerous rail cars.

Japan Shelves Plan to Slash Emissions, Citing Fukushima

Japan took a major step back Friday from earlier pledges to slash its greenhouse gas emissions, saying a shutdown of its nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster had made its previous target unattainable. The unexpected announcement cast a shadow over international talks underway in Warsaw aimed at fashioning a global pact to address the threats of a changing climate.

Japan blames Fukushima as it slashes emissions target

JAPAN has blamed the post-Fukushima collapse in nuclear power generation as it announced a controversial plan to slash its previously ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The chief spokesman for the Japanese government announced yesterday that the country would replace its commitment to a 25 per cent reduction on 1990 levels with a new target that represents a 3.8 per cent rise on 1990 levels.

Some Fukushima fuel rods were damaged before 2011 catastrophe

Three of the spent fuel assemblies that will be pulled from the Fukushima nuclear plant during a year-long operation were damaged before the 2011 earthquake and tsunami crippled the Japanese facility.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), which operates the plant, said the damaged assemblies – 4.5 meter high racks with 50 to 70 rods of highly irradiated used fuel – won’t be lifted from the plant’s Reactor No. 4 when a large steel chamber, or cask, is employed to move over 1,500 assemblies to safe storage, Reuters reports.

Robot detects locations of radioactive leaks at crippled Fukushima nuclear plant

For the first time, a remote-controlled robot has detected the exact spot of radioactive water leaks from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant’s Reactor 1, local media reported.

The robot was sent close to the lower part of the Reactor 1 containment vessel at the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi on Wednesday. Its camera captured images of radioactive water leaking from two holes of the vessel into the building housing the reactor, NHK television reported.

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