Environmental Must-Reads – April 11, 2013


Oxy oil subsidiary investigated over fracking video

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – An Oxy subsidiary is under investigation after video surfaced of workers allegedly discharging hydraulic fracking wastewater into an unlined retention pond in Shafter.

Fracking Resumes Less Than a Month After 200,000+ Gallon Spill

Last month, seven homes in Wyoming County, PA had to be evacuated when a natural gas drilling rig had a blowout, and gallon after gallon of fracking waste-water began spilling out uncontrollably. Now, not even a full month later, fracking has resumed on the site with the full endorsement of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Even if promises of improved practices are kept, this is a prime example of why there needs to be a moratorium on fracking until it can be researched enough to discover how to do it with guaranteed safety – if it can be done with guaranteed safety at all.

Fracking study ‘surprisingly blasé’ about impact of minor earth tremors

A study has revealed that fracking can cause earthquakes, but people can barely detect them. However, opinions remain divided, with some scientists noting that there are other more serious concerns with the gas extraction method.

Fracking study was fully independent, says professor – as campaigners say universities have been hijacked by PR machine

The lead author of a report which compared seismic activity caused by fracking to the energy produced by someone jumping off a ladder insisted today that his study was fully independent of big energy companies.

Professor Richard Davies of Durham University, who has previously worked in exploration for ExxonMobil, said it was vital that academics in the field had direct experience in the industry.

Tiny Paonia’s unlikely win in the war against fracking

Nestled along the north fork of the Gunnison River just beneath two snow-capped Colorado peaks, the town of Paonia is a strange little secret — an eclectic mix of progressive people living a slow-paced, small-town life reminiscent of a bygone era.

How the New Interior Secretary Can Protect the Public’s Land for Generations

We applaud the Senate for confirming Sally Jewell as the new Secretary of the Interior. Jewell brings a strong business background and a personal conservation ethic to the position. We look forward to working with her as she undertakes the essential task of managing the American people’s land.

Fracked oil well in Shafter under investigation

The Central Valley Water Board says Vintage Production Company may have illegally dumped waste into the ground while fracking that oil well. While the well is the only one under scrutiny right now residents said they’ve seen this same thing happen at dozens of wells in the Shafter area.

“First this black liquid is coming out then this white liquid is coming out,” said Tom Frantz, an almond farmer in Shafter of what he saw at a well being fracked.

Methane emissions from natural gas local distribution focus of new study

Washington State University’s (WSU) Laboratory for Atmospheric Research is leading a nationwide field study to better understand methane emissions associated with the distribution of natural gas.

Beginning this month, a WSU research team led by Regents Professor Brian Lamb will quantify methane emissions throughout local gas systems (from city border to customer meter) and use the data to estimate a national methane emissions rate for U.S. natural gas distribution systems.

Fact vs. Fiction: How Renewables Outshine Fracking

The practice of hydraulic horizontal fracturing or fracking to extract natural gas from the shale beds of the U.S. began, for all practical purposes, in 2007. Since that time, the production of natural gas within the nation has increased, gas extracted from shale beds more than making up for a decline in production from conventional sources.

Williams IDs source of natural gas liquids spill in western Colorado

Oil and gas firm Williams Companies Inc. says that a broken pressure gauge on a valve, part of a pipeline carrying natural gas liquids, is the cause of a leak near Parachute in western Colorado.

Source of Parachute oil spill identified, Colorado officials investigating impact

Williams energy company officials announced Wednesday that a mechanical failure caused the hydrocarbons spill that has poisoned groundwater and forced a multi-agency scramble to protect Parachute Creek in western Colorado.

A failed pressure gauge led to a leak that spilled 10,122 gallons of natural gas liquids from a valve, starting on Dec. 20, Williams spokesman Tom Droege said. Crews have cleaned up 5,964 gallons so far, Droege said. The leak was discovered and stopped on Jan. 3, he said.

Vantage sues BP over jump in Gulf oil spill costs

US-based offshore drilling contractor Vantage Drilling has taken legal action against a BP unit on the ground that it had to pay an excess of $265.5m in financing costs in relation to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Vantage claimed that it had to look out for a last-minute alternative funding for its Platinum Explorer deep-water drilling rig, which was close to completion at a South Korean shipyard, following the blowout of BP’s Macondo well, reported Bloomberg.

BREAKING: Storm hits Mayflower, Arkansas site of Exxon oil spill. Contaminated water pumped into Lake Conway as citizen journalists report live.

A manmade disaster was made even worse by nature Wednesday night, as a severe thunderstorm hit Mayflower, Arkansas spreading the Exxon Mobil oil spill to the yards of homes along the cove and the main body of Lake Conway. For nearly two weeks, Exxon has maintained that oil has not reached Lake Conway, despite clear evidence both from aerial video and on-the-ground guerrilla reporting that showed oil had spread throughout a cove and wetlands, which are connected through ground water and drainage culverts to the main body of the lake. Images captured Wednesday night should put any doubt to rest that the main body of Lake Conway is now contaminated with oil.

911 tapes released for Mayflower oil spill

The Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office released 911 tapes from the spill in Mayflower, Ark.

The tapes painted a picture of what was going on during the moment thousands of gallons of oil began to spew into the neighborhood. You can listen to parts of the 911 tapes by watching the video attached to this story.

Arkansas AG says oil pipeline gash 22 feet long

An ExxonMobil pipeline that ruptured last month and spilled thousands of barrels of oil in central Arkansas has a gash in it that is 22 feet long and 2 inches wide, state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said Wednesday.

Mayflower officials mulling public meeting on oil spill

There has not been an open, public meeting for Mayflower residents regarding the ExxonMobil oil spill since the first 24 hours of the event March 29.

Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson said Wednesday members of the Mayflower Pipeline Incident Unified Command are mulling the idea of a public meeting.

Hose Fails Under Pressure at Repsol Well Spraying Oil Over Arctic Snow

This winter Repsol has drilled three exploratory wells on the North Slope of Alaska, in the Colville River Delta, all part of ambitious plans to set up drilling operations in the area. Two of the wells have been fully completed and are now in a testing phase before they can begin extracting oil. During the flow-back test of one of the wells a hose failed under pressure and sprayed nearly two thirds of an acre with a mixture of crude oil, drilling fluids, diesel, and contaminated water.

Alaska oil spill prompted by hose failure

An oil company shut in an Alaska North Slope well after a spill of crude oil, drilling fluids, diesel and water.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation says 6,600 gallons spilled just before 2:30 a.m. Tuesday at a Repsol E&P USA Inc. well 18 miles northeast of the village of Nuiqsut (noo-IK’-sit) on the Colville River Delta.

ConocoPhillips puts Arctic drilling plans on hold

ConocoPhillips on Wednesday said it would abandon its plans to begin drilling in Arctic waters north of Alaska because of regulatory uncertainties, underscoring the oil industry’s growing reservations about developing the icy, remote region

Oil spills into Caribbean after two ships collide

Oil spilled into Colombia’s Caribbean waters on Wednesday after two ships collided, the Colombian government said.

Can Congress overrule Obama on the Keystone XL pipeline?

As the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power takes up legislation Wednesday to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline extension, the bill raises a key question: can Congress wrest the Keystone decision away from President Obama?

The answer: Neither side knows exactly, but depending on the legislative language, Congress could very well pull it off.

Legislation offers new angle in pipeline battle

Supporters and critics of a controversial oil pipeline renewed their arguments at a hearing on legislation that would allow the project to proceed without a presidential permit.

Mishaps Underscore Weaknesses of Japanese Nuclear Plant

More than two years after multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a series of recent mishaps — including a blackout set off by a dead rat and the discovery of leaks of thousands of gallons of radioactive water — have underscored just how vulnerable the plant remains.

Fukushima plant abandoning leaky underground pools

The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant said Wednesday it will abandon seven underground reservoirs storing radioactive water after three of them sprang leaks.

The contaminated water will be transferred to more reliable containers on the ground, possibly by early June, to avoid risks of further leaks, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) president Naomi Hirose told a news conference.

Japan’s reactors still vulnerable 2 years after Fukushima

A rat causing a power outage by short-circuiting a temporary switchboard. Another blackout occurring as workers install anti-rat nets. Holes in the linings of huge underground tanks leaking radioactive water.

Japan’s crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has run into a string of problems the past few weeks that highlight its precarious state more than two years after its reactors melted down in the wake of a devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Third radioactive water leak at Fukushima power plant

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) on Tuesday confirmed the third radioactive water leak at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The liquid leaked from an underground storage tank.

Suspicion of a leak at the No. 1 tank arose after TEPCO started transferring contaminated water inside the No. 2 underground tank where leakage was detected over the weekend, according to Kyodo news agency.

Gulf States Fear Nuclear Radiation Leak after Iran Earthquake

Gulf Arab states have raised fears about nuclear radiation following an earthquake that jolted the Iranian city of Bushehr, home to the country’s only nuclear power plant.

The earthquake, which killed at least 37 people and injured hundreds of others in Iran’s southern city, sent powerful shockwaves across the Gulf region which could be felt in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
Cooper Law Firm

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