Environmental Must-Reads – August 29, 2013


Study Finds Fracking Fluid From 2007 Kentucky Spill May Have Killed Threatened Fish Species

A joint study from the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released Wednesday found that a fracking fluid spill in Kentucky in 2007 likely caused the widespread death of several types of fish.

Wrecking the Earth: Fracking has grave radiation risks few talk about

Environmentalists point to various dangerous consequences of using fracking technology, but none can be compared to the issue of radiation exposure and radioactive contamination of the development areas it poses.

Fracking contracts can leave landowners high and dry

n economically depressed regions that were once dependent on coal would benefit from the extraction of a cleaner fossil fuel from right below their feet. Energy companies would create jobs, and landowners would get royalty payments.

California needs controls on fracking

California may be floating atop the nation’s biggest pool of oil, over 15 billion barrels that are best tapped by a technique that comes with serious risks. This state can’t ignore this energy mother lode, but it needs strong rules to curb potential harm and ease public worries.

California Coastal Commission Urged to Protect Coast from Offshore Fracking

At least a dozen offshore oil wells in California state waters have been fracked in the past three years, apparently without legally mandated review under the California Environmental Quality Act, according to new research. This new revelation doubles the number of known offshore frack jobs, putting additional pressure on the California Coastal Commission to take strong action to control offshore fracking when it meets Thursday in Santa Cruz.

Populist-enviro coalition asks Gov. Brown to halt fracking

A coalition of over 100 environmental and populist groups is denouncing fracking legislation as too weak and calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to order an immediate halt to the controversial drilling practice.

Dallas City Council Nixes Gas Drilling On Parkland

After years of back-and-forth negotiations and some recent testy accusations, the issues of erecting natural gas wells and compressors in the city of Dallas failed late Wednesday afternoon at Dallas City Hall.  But the matter may not be over, as gas interests have previously indicated they might sue the city.

Arkansas homeowners settle suit charging fracking wastewater caused quakes

Five Arkansas residents who sued two oil companies claiming wastewater disposal wells from fracking caused earthquakes that damaged their homes settled with the companies for an undisclosed sum on Wednesday, according to U.S. court documents and the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

South Africa Shale Pits Shell Against Sheep Farmers

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA)’s shale gas drilling plans for South Africa’s Karoo semi-desert are pitting the government and its energy goals against farmers and conservationists like billionaire Johann Rupert who say the land will be spoiled.

Drill next door: Here’s what it looks like when a fracking rig moves in

When my wife and I pulled into a relative’s subdivision in Frederick, Colo., after a wedding on a recent weekend, it was a surprise to suddenly find a 142-foot-tall drill rig in the backyard, parked in the narrow strip of land between there and the next subdivision to the east. It had appeared in the two days we’d been gone.

Using a form of ‘ice that burns’ to make potable water from oil and gas production

In the midst of an intensifying global water crisis, scientists are reporting development of a more economical way to use one form of the “ice that burns” to turn very salty wastewater from fracking and other oil and gas production methods into water for drinking and irrigation. The study on the method, which removes more than 90 percent of the salt, appears in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

Agreement reached to allow pipeline through Blackhand Gorge

An agreement reached last week between Enterprise Products Partners and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources will allow drilling for a natural-gas pipeline to continue through the Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve.

Jindal blasts BP, says it spent more on ads than coastal restoration

Gov. Bobby Jindal had some of his harshest words for BP on Wednesday, calling the oil giant out for spending more money on glossy advertising than on restoring the coast damaged by its 2010 oil spill.

Judge rejects BP’s latest request to halt oil spill payments

A federal judge Wednesday denied BP’s latest request for an injunction to halt payments from its multibillion-dollar settlement with victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Judge denies BP motion to stop oil spill settlement payments

Federal Judge Carl Barbier denied BP’s motion to stop settlement payments based on its allegations of fraud at the court-supervised settlement program’s offices in Mobile, Ala.

Chair: overseers for some of BP’s oil spill fines hope to have money in projects within a year

The committee that will oversee some of BP PLC’s oil spill fines hopes to put money into restoration projects within 12 months, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said Wednesday.

BP well-site leaders seek trial delay in Gulf oil spill criminal case

Lawyers for two BP well-site leaders on Wednesday asked a federal judge for a nine-month delay in their trial on charges of manslaughter in the deaths of 11 workers  killed in the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon  drilling  rig.

Gulf restoration council approves initial restoration plan, as Gov. Bobby Jindal urges quick action

A federal-state group set to oversee the spending of billions of dollars of Clean Water Act fines from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill unanimously approved Wednesday an initial comprehensive plan for restoring the Gulf Coast’s ecosystem and economy. Members of the council also promised that the first projects could be approved by June 2014, the beginning of the next hurricane season.

ConocoPhillips submits highest bid in Gulf of Mexico sale

ConocoPhillips submitted the highest bid on a single tract on Wednesday for drilling rights in the western Gulf of Mexico lease sale, which attracted the second-lowest number of bids since 1983, regulators said.

Study: Wave Data Can Improve Forecasts that Help Search and Rescue Operations and Oil Spill Response

Scientists with the Norwegian Meteorological Institute are quantifying wave effects for use in ocean models that predict the direction of surface water movement.  Calculations that go into these models have important implications and relevant applications: improving them can provide better information in time-critical situations such as accidents and disasters.

Oil spill restoration overseers approve 1st plan

The committee that will oversee some of BP PLC’s oil spill fines hopes to put money into restoration projects within 12 months, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said Wednesday.

Anglers Concerned about Green Bay “Dead Zone”

A region of water with dangerously low oxygen levels, also known as a “dead zone,” is troubling anglers and commercial fishermen in the Green Bay area. According to Fox 11, the recently discovered dead zone extends eight miles from the city of Green Bay and reaches Sturgeon Bay. The affected area could become uninhabitable for many fish, landing a hard blow to the local economy.

Central Arkansas Water fights to move Exxon pipeline

Central Arkansas Water is aware that its push to relocate the compromised Pegasus oil pipeline out of its watershed will likely become a NIMBY issue.

Oil spill at refinery leaves sheen on Delaware River

Delaware environmental officials on Wednesday were investigating an oil spill at a refinery that left a sheen floating on the Delaware River.

Oil Spill at Cuban Refinery

Workplace negligence resulted in a 15,000-liter oil spill at the Sergio Soto Refinery located in Cabaiguan, in Cuba’s central province of Sancti Spiritus. According to authorities at the facility, the situation is already under control.

Coast Guard to test new arctic oil spill tech

The U.S. Coast Guard will test advanced technologies including unmanned aerial and undersea vehicles for monitoring an oil spill in arctic ice in an exercise planned for September, the agency announced Aug. 15.

Enbridge gets OK for 1st Indiana oil pipeline segment

Enbridge Energy approval has won a federal agency’s approval to begin installing the first segment of its planned replacement of 60 miles of crude oil pipeline in northern Indiana.

Texas family loses battle against Keystone pipeline

A Texas court of appeals ended the fight of one Texas family against Keystone, throwing out the family’s lawsuit against TransCanada Corp. and clearing one of the last hurdles for the pipeline’s southern leg.

Keystone Seen as No Local Job Starter Along Prairie Route

If the Keystone XL oil pipeline gets built, Rick Balcom doubts he’ll see many construction workers at the bar of his No. 3 saloon in Buffalo, a remote town in the northwest corner of South Dakota.

Japan Regulator Urges Monitoring of Fukushima Sea

Japan’s nuclear regulator said Thursday that it is largely unknown what impact radioactive water leaking from the country’s wrecked nuclear plant is having on the Pacific Ocean and the situation must be monitored more closely.

Fukushima Watch: Previous Experiments With Ice Walls

The 1.4-kilometer-long subterranean ice wall that Japan is proposing to create around the damaged nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi may well be the biggest such structure yet, if it’s completed and switched on as planned. But it’s not completely without precedent, as JRT found.

Fukushima keeps on leaking, Japan keeps on issuing confusing explanations

Problems continue to burble up at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant — or, in this case, gush out.

We learned last month that contaminated water has been leaking from the plant into the sea at a rate of about 300 tons a day. Then last week came word of a more serious spill of 300 tons of extremely radioactive water, which the government classified as a level 3 incident on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.

Fukushima Crisis New Blow to Fishermen’s Hopes

Third-generation fisherman Fumio Suzuki sets out into the Pacific Ocean every seven weeks. Not to catch fish to sell, but to catch fish that can be tested for radiation.

Latest Fukushima Leaks Prompt Grim Assessment from Nuclear Agencies

The latest reports out of Japan about the leaks in the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant are extremely troubling. On Wednesday, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority officially raised its assessment of the latest leaks at Fukushima to level three — the highest warning given to any incident at the plant since the three reactor meltdowns in March 2011 — labelling it a “serious incident” on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale for the first time. The Nuclear Regulation Authority made a provisional upgrade last week; it then consulted with the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, which prompted the official announcement.

As Fukushima Raises Severity Level, Nuclear Expert Warns Radioactive Leaks Will Only “Get Worse”

Japan’s nuclear regulator said today it has officially raised the severity rating of the latest radioactive water leak at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to Level 3 on an international scale for radiological releases. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), said last week that 330 tons of highly radioactive water leaked from a storage tank at the facility. Crews of workers have been rushing to check for leaks in hundreds of other tanks holding radioactive water. Japanese regulators have accused TEPCO of failing to properly monitor the storage tanks. “The problem is going to get worse,” warns Arnie Gundersen, a former nuclear industry executive who has coordinated projects at 70 nuclear power plants around the United States. “Radioactive water is leaking out of this plant as fast as it is leaking in.”

Fukushima Radioactive Plume Hits U.S. California Coast in Three Years (Map)

The radioactive ocean plume from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in 2011 is slowly drifting across the ocean, following the inevitable currents and tides of the Earth’s waters. Now, scientists have discovered that this plume will reach U.S. shores within three years from the date of the incident.

Japan upgrades Fukushima nuclear leak to “serious incident,” slams plant operator for late response

Japan’s nuclear regulator on Wednesday upgraded the rating of a leak of radiation-contaminated water from a tank at its tsunami-wrecked nuclear plant to a “serious incident” on an international scale, and it castigated the plant operator for failing to catch the problem earlier.

Farmer keeps cattle affected by Fukushima disaster to monitor radiation effects

Two years ago, in the months following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster, Namie town – within the 20-kilometre exclusion zone – was completely deserted. But beef farmer Masami Yoshizawa risked exposure to very high radiation levels to feed his cattle.

Will Fukushima Mutate Sea Life?

According to the rules of 20th century science fiction, Fukushima nuclear reactors’ radiation leaks should lead to massive genetic mutations in local animals, and spawn giant monsters that will soon be rampaging through Tokyo. Or perhaps the Hulk or original Spiderman premise will play out, with a cleanup worker there being magically mutated into a superhuman of some kind. Or not. Probably not, actually.

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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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