Environmental Must-Reads – August 7, 2014


Study: Top Fracking States Ignore Findings That Their Drinking Water Is At Risk

A recent national report from the Government Accountability Office found that a higher regulatory standard is needed to ensure that drinking water sources are protected from fracking wastewater practices. But the largest circulating newspapers of the states with the highest levels of fracking production — therefore among the most vulnerable to its risks — have ignored this study.

Deep Water Fracking Next Frontier for Offshore Drilling

Energy companies are taking their controversial fracking operations from the land to the sea — to deep waters off the U.S., South American and African coasts.

Cracking rocks underground to allow oil and gas to flow more freely into wells has grown into one of the most lucrative industry practices of the past century. The technique is also widely condemned as a source of groundwater contamination. The question now is how will that debate play out as the equipment moves out into the deep blue. For now, caution from all sides is the operative word.

Drilling Company Owner Gets 28 Months In Prison For Dumping Fracking Waste Into River

The owner of a small Ohio oil and gas drilling company who ordered his employees to dump tens of thousands of gallons of fracking waste into a tributary of the Mahoning River was sentenced to a 28 months of prison on Tuesday, according to a Cleveland Plain Dealer report.

U.S. District Judge Donald Nugent also ordered 64-year-old Benedict Lupo, owner of Hardrock Excavating LLC, to pay $25,000 for unlawful discharge of pollutants under the U.S. Clean Water Act. Lupo pleaded guilty to the charges in March, admitting to having his employees dump fracking wastewater into the Mahoning River tributary 33 times.

Corps put fracking on hold in St. Tammany Parish

The Army Corps of Engineers has decided it won’t issue a permit for fracking at a site on Hwy. 1088 near Interstate 12 in Mandeville, at least not yet.

The corps says Helis Oil and Gas must first apply to drill a smaller, exploratory well, to prove there’s enough oil in the ground to justify the possible risk to wetlands on the site.

St. Tammany fracking debate in cars and carts: James Varney

School is starting up again and, judging by the cars lined up Wednesday along West Causeway Approach, attendance at Mary Queen of Peace is booming. As is St. Tammany Parish itself.

Indeed, perhaps the only thing the line made more obvious than the enduring popularity of Catholic schooling in Louisiana was the fact that people in St. Tammany like big cars. The line wasn’t dotted or sprinkled with SUVs, it was absolutely dominated by them.

Report: Groundwater Removal During Drought Could Cause Earthquakes

The drought has forced many homeowners and farmers to dig deeper wells, tapping into the California aquifer. A recent Take Part web publication, citing NASA scientists, suggests using too much of this underground water could cause earthquakes.

University of the Pacific geology professor Kurt Burmiester said the possibility is a “maybe.”

Wastewater treatment company seeks to dump 30M litres in N.B.

Thirty million litres of fracking wastewater could be disposed of in a New Brunswick municipal sewer system if the province gives permission to the Nova Scotia company seeking to dump it.

Atlantic Industrial Services, a company that takes wastewater from other companies and treats it, needs to get rid of 30 million litres of wastewater currently being held in Debert, N.S., near Truro.

State: Fracking waste tainted groundwater, soil at three Washington County sites

Leaks of fracking waste water from three impoundments in Washington County have contaminated soil and groundwater, prompting the state to issue a violation notice at one site and increase monitoring and testing at another.

John Poister, a state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman, said the problems at three of Range Resources Inc.’s nine Washington County impoundments have raised concerns and increased regulators’ scrutiny. The impoundments store flowback and waste water from multiple Marcellus Shale well drilling and fracking operations.

Group Says Fracked Oil Shipped By Rail Should Be Labeled Highly Dangerous

A U.S. oil industry group is recommending that all crude shipped by rail from North Dakota’s Bakken fields be labeled as the most-dangerous type of oil cargo, a designation that could hasten the use of new or upgraded tank cars.

On Monday, the North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC) released the final results of a wide-scale study on the quality characteristics of Bakken crude, which has been involved in several fiery oil-train derailments over the past year.

Controversial fracking ballot measures withdrawn

Millions of dollars poured into campaigns for four ballot initiatives came to naught Tuesday, after grass-roots groups and lawmakers agreed to withdraw the initiatives from November election contention.

The initiatives, known as 88, 89, 121, and 137, targeted oil and gas development in Colorado and straddled both sides of the issue. They were at the heart of a last-minute compromise on Monday between advocacy groups and Gov. John Hickenlooper. The governor asked that the ballot measures be dropped hours before groups planned to submit lists of signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office on Monday. In exchange the state would back away from a lawsuit with the city of Longmont over its 2012 ban on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial oil and gas extraction technique.

Colorado methane compromise could be model for other states

Oil companies and environmentalists can find common ground, Noble Energy CEO Chuck Davidson said Tuesday, pointing to first-of-their-kind regulations in Colorado aimed at corralling methane emissions from drilling.

State regulators approved the methane mandates in February, after Noble, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Encana Corp., the Environmental Defense Fund and other conservation groups reached agreement on the approach.

Critics say environment fared poorly in legislature

With the disastrous Dan River coal ash spill fresh in their minds, the first bill filed when state lawmakers convened in May was intended to overhaul the way Duke Energy handles the toxic waste.

But wrangling between the House and Senate left the legislation for dead as the General Assembly’s 2014 short session came to a close last week.

In North Carolina, From Anti-Environmentalist to Fake Green Crusader

Funny how one devastating coal ash spill can transform a lifelong anti-environment politician into someone masquerading as a green crusader.

Thom Tillis, the Republican candidate for Senate in North Carolina, has long been a reliable supporter of business efforts to cut back on environmental regulations. As speaker of the North Carolina House, he helped lead efforts to reduce regulation of toxic chemicals like ammonia and sulfuric acid that industries wanted to release into the air. He opposed the state’s renewable energy mandates. And he helped lift the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the state — the House even voted to make it a crime to disclose the chemicals used in the fracking liquid.

Up Close And Personal With A 40-Story Oil Rig In The Gulf

The U.S. is in the middle of an oil drilling boom that few people saw coming. After decades of decline, crude oil production is rising again. Technologies such as hydraulic fracturing in places such as North Dakota are getting . But the Gulf of Mexico still accounts for more than one-fifth of domestic oil production.

The Gulf can get overlooked because much of the work happens where few people can see it — dozens of miles from shore and deep underwater. Shell recently offered NPR an up-close look at its .

Valve failure causes oil spill at WV facility

State officials say 22,000 gallons of compressor station process water and used oil leaked from a Nitro industrial waste-handling facility.

Tom Aluise, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, says officials at Spirit Services told the state that valves on two tanks failed, causing the leak.

Delays in Developing Federal Restoration of Bryan’s “Lake Arsenic”

More than 20 years since a Bryan chemical plant closed, more than $1.1 million dollars is waiting to be spent on restoring land and water poisoned by arsenic and other products.

Locally known as the Atochem site, the current plant owner, Arkema, entered a consent agreement in federal court with the Interior Department and the state of Texas.

167 oil spill sites need remediation –Shell

Shell Petroleum Development Company has identified 167 sites which need remediation in its areas of operation.

The firm stated in its latest report that, “Of 167 sites in need of remediation identified at the start of 2013, SPDC had cleaned over 85 per cent by the end of the year.

Union Pacific plans safety improvements after oil spills

Union Pacific Railroad (NYSE: UNP) has taken steps to improve railroad safety, chief executive Jack Koraleski said Wednesday, as concerns mount over crude oil spills from rail cars.

Koraleski made the comments in an interview with BizWest during his visit to Colorado on Wednesday. The company said this week that it is investing $11 million in the next few months in rail line improvements in Colorado and Wyoming. Funded by Union Pacific without taxpayer dollars, the project began July 9 and will be completed by mid-December.

Oil trains pass within one mile of many North Country schools

After last summer’s deadly oil train disaster in Quebec, more and more questions are being raised about the tanker trains passing through small towns here in northern New York.

A growing number of tanker trains roll every day through the St. Lawrence and Champlain valleys, often bound for the shipping port on the Hudson River in Albany.

After billions spent, are pipelines safe?

Pipeline companies are viewed by Wall Street as engines of growth, especially as the oil boom in the U.S. continues.

While the industry will probably still use rail and barge for smaller markets, pipelines are often seen as the most reliable way to move large volumes of crude.

Bakken Oil Pipeline Would Bisect Minnesota, Cross 144 Waterways

Retired first grade teacher Beth Baker-Knuttila has so much she wants to tell the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission about why adding an oil pipeline near her beloved Portage Lake isn’t a good idea.

On Thursday she’ll have just three minutes to try to convince the PUC to reject a proposed Enbridge, Inc. pipeline that would cut across 144 lakes, streams and rivers, and skirt the shores of the Grand Rapids lake that has been her home for 35 years.

Group says it will stay at Enbridge Line 9 blockade indefinitely

The group spearheading a blockade of an Enbridge pipeline construction site in southwestern Ontario said Wednesday it will continue the protest until its concerns are addressed.

Some 30 activists began their campaign early Tuesday in the community of Innerkip near Woodstock at the site for the pipeline called Line 9.

Enbridge asks Wisconsin to approve oil pipeline

A 14-mile section of a multistate oil pipeline could be built in northern Wisconsin.

Enbridge Energy Co., an energy delivery company, has asked state officials to approve the final piece of its 610-mile project.

Statoil’s Arctic summer exploration campaign fails

Statoil has failed to find any oil in its summer campaign in the Norwegian Arctic, an area which the firm has called an “exploration hot spot” with high potential.

Statoil said its third well in the Hoop prospect, among the northernmost wells drilled anywhere, showed only a small pocket of uncommercial gas. Two previous wells showed no oil and only small amounts of gas.

Russia Training Oil Spill Response During Arctic-2014 Drills

Russian Gazprom and LUKOIL companies with the aid of Defense Ministry and Ministry of Emergency Situations units are carrying out a test liquidation of a 1,200 ton-oil spill in Pechora Sea as part of Arctic-2014 drills, a representative of Russia’s Security Council told RIA Novosti.

“Planes, ships and vessels belonging to Russia’s security ministries with their own rescue equipment and the participation of Gazprom and LUKOIL services have first tackled a fire on oil tanker board and then resorted to oil skimming,” the representative said.

Tepco to collect toxic groundwater at Fukushima, dump in ocean after treatment

Tokyo Electric Power Co. is planning to pump contaminated groundwater from drainage wells at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and dump it into the ocean after removing almost all radioactive materials, company officials said Thursday.

The plan is aimed at reducing the amount of toxic water building up at the complex, a problem that has been plaguing Tepco since it started trying to clean up the stricken power plant in 2011.

Reactor No. 3 meltdown occurred 4 hours earlier

A 2011 meltdown inside one of the reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant may have started about four hours earlier than was previously believed, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday.

In its latest findings, TEPCO also said that most of the nuclear fuel in the No. 3 reactor at the plant in Fukushima Prefecture melted through the pressure vessel and continued down to the bottom of the outer containment vessel. The finding may make it even more difficult to decommission the plant.

Fukushima reactor 3 meltdown was worse than estimated: Tepco

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday that its new estimate shows that all the fuel rods in reactor 3 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant apparently melted down and fell onto the bottom of the containment vessel.

In November 2011, the company had said it believed only about 63 percent of reactor 3?s fuel core had melted.

Tepco Set to Miss Target for Fukushima Radioactive Water Cleanup

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) looks likely to miss a deadline to filter out a cancer-causing radioactive isotope from water stored at its wrecked nuclear plant in Fukushima, according to Bloomberg News calculations.

Equipment delays and the failure to stop radiation contamination of groundwater indicates the utility’s president, Naomi Hirose, will be unable to meet a commitment he made to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in September last year to treat all water at the site by March 31, 2015.

Japan Says Fukushima Decontamination Must Be Area-Specific

Measures to further reduce the ongoing effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster include decontamination work in surrounding areas with realistic targets to lower radiation exposure doses, Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

“The government has set a long-term decontamination goal of reducing individuals’ annual radiation exposure to 1 millisievert or lower, equivalent to 0.23 microsievert or less in terms of air dosage per hour,” the newspaper reported, explaining the Japanese Environment Ministry’s plan.

Add comment

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

Follow Us

© Stuart H Smith, LLC
Share This