Environmental Must-Reads – August 12, 2013


A Texan tragedy: ample oil, no water

Fracking boom sucks away precious water from beneath the ground, leaving cattle dead, farms bone-dry and people thirsty

Fracking: a botch on the landscape

In the golden rule usually attributed to spin doctor Alastair Campbell, there is some dispute over the exact number of days a story has to run for before its subject is doomed. A week, say some; 10 days or a fortnight say others. What is beyond doubt is that the fracking firm Cuadrilla’s attempts to drill a hole in the Sussex countryside, which began on 25 July, has ploughed through even the longest of time limits.

You must accept fracking for the good of the country, David Cameron tells southerners

David Cameron is to insist that people living in the south of England must accept fracking, as he sets out his argument for the controversial method of extracting gas in the strongest terms yet.

Few kickbacks for British drilling

Communities near a drilling campaign under way by British energy company Cuadrilla might not get a financial kickback, a company spokesman said.

Methane Leaks from Fracking are Much Worse than We Thought

A major new study in Geophysical Research Letters by 19 researchers from NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) shows that the natural gas fields leaked 6-12% of the total methane produced, on average, throughout the month of February … that’s way bad.

Are We Trading Our Health For Oil in New, Fracking-Induced California Gold Rush?

When it comes to the health impacts of fracking and drilling in California, there are more questions than answers.

NY Landowners Denied Homeowners Insurance because of Gas Well

Back on July 9 Greg May, senior vice president of Tompkins Trust Company Residential Mortgage lending, warned residents in Berkshire, NY that gas drilling can bring high costs to landowners. One of his biggest concerns: that “homeowners insurance normally excludes coverage if there are active commercial operations occurring on the property.” Gas drilling falls into that category.

What Drilling Has Wrought in Louisiana

The petrochemical industry’s lust for resources has opened the jaws of hell near the town of Bayou Corne, La., where 350 residents were evacuated one year ago to escape being either swallowed or blown up, Tim Murphy of Mother Jones reports.

DCP Louisiana pipeline rupture of natural gas stopped: filing

A DCP Midstream pipeline rupture late Friday released 3.9 million cubic feet of natural gas into the atmosphere and an unknown amount of condensate into the ground but was stopped by Saturday afternoon, according to a notice filed with U.S. National Response Center.

Clean Air Group Skeptical About New DEP Rules

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s new air quality rules is raising the eyebrows of at least one environmental group.

While the new standards, stricter than current federal regulations, are getting the nod from the industry, the Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council is skeptical about the rules’ ability to drive down air pollution.

High Levels of Arsenic Found in Groundwater Near Fracking Sites

A recently published study by researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington found elevated levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in groundwater near natural gas fracking sites in Texas’ Barnett Shale.

Train car leaks chlorine gas in New Iberia Saturday

A Union Pacific railroad car leaked an undetermined amount of chlorine gas Saturday morning in New Iberia, prompting the evacuation of three nearby homes, Iberia Parish sheriff’s Capt. Ryan Turner said.

Video: Hunt for BP oil continues on La. Coast

More than three years after the Deepwater Horizon/BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, crews are still searching the Louisiana coast for evidence of oil pollution.

Ninety contract workers in Louisiana, the only state that still has active cleanup workers, are patrolling for oil on 76 of the 3,192 shoreline miles that were part of the oil response effort.

Oyster hatchery ‘dream building’ soon to open on Grand Isle

After years of planning and years of catastrophes, a building to house oyster hatchery operations on Grand Isle is under construction and expected to provide a big boost to Louisiana’s oyster industry.

Sentences handed out for fraudulent claims stemming from 2010 BP oil spill

Two New Orleans area women have been sentenced for filing fraudulent financial assistance applications to the Gulf Coast Claim Facility following the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

Large oil spill spreads near shore in Philippines’ Manila Bay, fishing banned

A large oil spill from an underwater pipe has contaminated waters in Manila Bay near the Philippine capital and prompted authorities on Friday to ban fishing.

The coast guard said about 500,000 liters (132,000 gallons) of diesel fuel formed a red slick stretching some 300 square kilometers (116 square miles) near four coastal towns in Cavite province.

Pamalakaya: Fishermen mull class suit vs Petron over oil spill

Fisherfolk Pamalakaya said on Monday that fishermen will pursue a class suit against Petron Corp. and the shipping firm commissioned by the oil company to carry and transport fuel to its oil depot in Barangay Poblacion, Rosario, Cavite.

Coast Guard confirms Petron underwater pipe leak caused oil spill in Cavite

Philippine Coast Guard divers have found a leak in a submerged pipeline of the giant oil firm Petron Corp. off the coast of Cavite, indicating it was the source of last week’s oil spill that turned parts of Manila Bay red and adversely affected at least four coastal towns in the province.

Strange tale of Shell’s pipeline battle, the Gardaí and £30,000 of booze

For 10 years, the Shell oil and gas behemoth has endeavoured to bring ashore a pipeline from the Atlantic into the heart-stopping beauty of Ireland’s County Mayo seaboard. And for 10 years, local people whose ancestors farmed the land and fished the ocean have been determined to stop it.

Pipeline driller still polluting

A company that faces state sanctions and fines for pipeline-construction spills in eastern Ohio continues to foul streams and wetlands.

Scott Nally, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, told Denver-based MarkWest Energy in a March 8 letter that the size and repeated nature of four spills dating to September were “unacceptable.”

Exxon Knew Its Ruptured Pipeline Was Old, Defective and Brittle, and Still Added New Stresses

Since at least 2006, ExxonMobil has known that its 1940s-era Pegasus pipeline had many manufacturing defects like the faulty welds that recently sent crude oil spewing into an Arkansas neighborhood. The company also knew that the seams of the pipe have been identified by the industry as having another dangerous flaw: They are especially brittle, and therefore more prone to cracking.

Amid Pipeline Debate, Two Costly Cleanups Forever Change Towns

As the Obama administration inches closer to a decision on whether to approve construction of the much-debated Keystone XL pipeline, costly cleanup efforts in two communities stricken by oil spills portend the potential hazards of transporting heavy Canadian crude.

Oil Sands Leak Calls into Question Extraction Techniques

A leak at an oil sands facility in Northern Alberta has so far spilled 280,022 gallons of oil across a 51 acre area since June and is becoming the focus of increasing concerns that environmentalists have about the safety of oil sands production.

‘Independent Study’ On Keystone XL Closely Linked To Fossil Fuel Companies

On Thursday, an industry research firm announced a new study predicting that construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would have “no material impact” greenhouse gas emissions. But while proponents and media outlets quickly reported on this “independent study,” the for-profit energy research firm behind the report is anything but independent.

Norwegian government study raises investment risk fears over Arctic drilling

The development of oil and gas fields in the Arctic is unlikely to prove compatible with global efforts to tackle climate change, according to the latest major report to raise concerns over the formation of a ‘carbon bubble’.

The (Russian) Arctic is open for business

In the 1990 thriller The Hunt for Red October, the rogue captain of a Soviet submarine evades the U.S. and Soviet navies by threading his way through a narrow – but precisely charted – mid-ocean trench.

In real life, the Soviet navy’s charting efforts extended to the heart of the Canadian Arctic. Soviet-era charts, available today, show more depth soundings in the Northwest Passage than Canada’s most recent charts do.

Fukushima Workers Exposed to Radiation From Spray

Ten workers at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant were exposed to radiation from contaminated mist used to cool temperatures near a quake-proof building, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) said.

Fukushima plant spilling contaminated water into the sea ‘for years’’

Workers at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant have told the ABC that contaminated water has most likely been seeping into the sea since the disaster two-and-a-half years ago.

Toxic Fukushima fallout threatens fishermen’s livelihoods

Despite his age, 63-year-old Kazuo Niitsuma believes there are many more years of fishing ahead of him. The sea is in his family’s blood, he says. His octogenarian father began working on boats when he was 12, and only retired three years ago.

But even if his health permits, Niitsuma knows he may never again get the chance to board his boat and head out into the Pacific in search of sole, whitebait, flounder and greenling.

With radiation fears rekindled, researchers seek truth off Fukushima coast

Although researchers have yet to confirm a trend in the radioactivity levels of marine life off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, there have been reasons for optimism.

Studies showed that the waters around the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant had become safer. Radioactivity levels in marine creatures greatly fluctuated, but the highest levels were attributed to cesium sticking to the seabed mud.With radiation fears rekindled, researchers seek truth off Fukushima coast

Fukushima: Since 2011, 300 Tons of contaminated Water Daily into Ocean

Contaminated groundwater accumulating under the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has risen 60cm above the protective barrier, and is now freely leaking into the Pacific Ocean, the plant’s operator TEPCO has admitted.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which is responsible for decommissioning the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, on Saturday said the protective barriers that were installed to prevent the flow of toxic water into the ocean are no longer coping with the groundwater levels, Itar-Tass reports.

Can a giant ice wall stop Fukushima radiation from leaking into the sea?

It’s been almost two and a half years since the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant and the place is still a huge, scary mess.

Here’s how The New York Times introduced this week’s grim news from the plant

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