Environmental Must-Reads – December 19, 2014


After Living Next to Drilling Activity, 100 W.Va. Residents Sue Companies

Nuisance and negligence lawsuits have been filed this year throughout West Virginia related to horizontal drilling activities. Noise, air, and water pollution, traffic and debris are among complaints. It’s a new industrial world for many West Virginians living in the growing rural gas fields.

Lyndia Ervolina stood in her front yard, 75 feet or so from Route 50 in Doddridge County. She pointed to several heavy trucks passing by.

“They’re hauling water, they’re hauling sand, they’re hauling that silica sand, they’re hauling frac fluid. Anything you can think of,” she said with a strained tone in her voice.

NY unlikely to face lawsuits over fracking ban, experts say

When Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a ban on fracking in New York on Wednesday, he predicted “a ton of lawsuits” against the state. But that is unlikely as the end of a drilling boom has left the industry in no mood for a fight, industry experts and lawyers said.

“I think most of the companies in the industry are disinterested in fighting,” said Brad Gill, the executive director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, a trade group.

Could New York’s Fracking Ban Have Domino Effect?

New York’s decision to ban fracking for health reasons could reverberate beyond the state, bolstering other efforts to limit the controversial method of drilling for oil and natural gas.

While two dozen U.S. municipalities and at least two countries, Bulgaria and France, have also adopted bans, states have been slower to act. Fracking opponents say New York, which surprised them Wednesday with the boldest move of any state so far, will change that.

New York state to ban fracking over ‘red flags’ to public health

The state of New York said it would ban the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing on Wednesday because of “red flags” about its risks to public health.

The ban puts one of the last great areas of untapped potential in the Marcellus Shale off-limits to the oil and gas industry.

The decision was reached after a two-year study into the effects of fracking on the state’s air and water, and announced at a cabinet meeting in Albany.

Fracking ban in NY prompts calls for MD to follow suit

With New York’s governor banning hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in that state, environmental groups are calling on Maryland’s lawmakers to follow suit.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ended six years of study in that state and sided with his top advisers in deciding the potential environmental and health risks of “fracking,” as it’s commonly known, were too great to allow it to go forward there.

The announcement prompted environmental groups to renew their opposition to letting fracking proceed in western Maryland, which sits atop a small slice of the gas-rich Marcellus shale formation stretching from the Carolinas to New York.

No Fracking In New York? That’s OK With Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s fracking boom has led to record-breaking natural gas production, but its neighbor, New York, announced Wednesday it was banning the practice. Industry and environmental groups say New York’s decision could be good for Pennsylvania.

New York’s ban comes six years after the state placed a temporary moratorium on fracking to study the gas drilling technique. Now, officials question fracking’s economic benefits and cite environmental risks.

Cuomo on fracking ban: Health risks outweighed jobs

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday defended the state’s decision Wednesday to ban large-scale hydraulic fracturing, saying the state can’t jeopardize the public’s health for the jobs the drilling could create.

He said the Southern Tier, counties on the Pennsylvania border that would have been the primary beneficiary of fracking, can achieve economic development without the risks associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

FPL gets approval to charge customers for fracking investment

State regulators approved a proposal Thursday to allow Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest utility, to charge its customers for investment in natural gas production, an idea Duke Energy is reviewing.

FPL won approval for natural gas drilling projects in southeastern Oklahoma with the ability to recover its investment under the fuel portion of its customers’ bills.

Anti-fracking activists cheer, but for some property owners, decision is ‘worst-case scenario’

After hearing Wednesday’s hydraulic fracturing announcement, Neil Vitale conceded the future of his Steuben County dairy farm looks grim.

The 66-year-old farmer said the days of Vitale’s Organic Farm seem numbered.

“I’m not going to be in farming too much longer,” Vitale said. “My sons – they wanted to take over this place. That’s going to be hard right now.”

57,000-Gallon Oil Spill In Canada Forces Closure Of Pipeline To U.S.

Canadian energy delivery company Enbridge Inc. has temporarily shut down and isolated one of its crude oil pipelines that connects to the United States after a 1,350-barrel, or 56,700-gallon oil spill, the company reported Wednesday evening.

While the company said it’s not sure how long the cleanup will take or when the pipeline will be re-opened, it insisted that no oil was spilled out of the area within the Regina Terminal in Saskatchewan, where the incident occurred. It’s not yet clear what kind of oil was released — the 796,000 barrel-a-day Line 4 pipeline, which connects to a terminal in Wisconsin, carries heavy, medium, and light sour crude.

Oil spill claims office to start distribution of second $500 million in seafood payments next week

Oil spill claims administrator Patrick Juneau will begin the process of paying out a second, $500 million round of payments to seafood workers starting next week. But he warned it could be several months before workers see the money.

In a statement Wednesday (Dec. 17), Juneau said the first step is to notify all seafood workers who qualify for a payment under this round. The distribution process is expected to continue through mid-July 2015.

Oil spill claims administrator sets deadline for settlement claims

Individuals and businesses damaged by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill have six months left to file a claim under BP’s multibillion-dollar settlement.

In a Thursday (Dec. 18) statement, claims administrator Patrick Juneau set a June 8, 2015, deadline for all new claims for economic and property damages related to the spill. Any claims filed after that date will not be eligible for payment.

June 8 is deadline to file paperwork for BP settlement money

Gulf Coast businesses and individuals who lost money because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster have until June to file the paperwork necessary to qualify for BP’s multbillion-dollar settlement, the agreement’s court-appointed administrator said Thursday.

Lafayette lawyer Patrick Juneau said the deadline for filing claims is June 8.

Mississippi Governor Highlights Oceangoing Drone as One Tech from BP Spill Money

Gov. Phil Bryant brought a singular oceangoing drone to the Coast on Wednesday for a demonstration of the research and development sparked by the state in the wake of the BP oil spill.

“This is a unique, one-of-a-kind, first-in-this-country, autonomous maritime vessel,” said David Brannon, general manager of the National Oceans and Applications Research Center, a nonprofit research and development firm at Stennis Space Center. “It is a collaboration by C&C Technologies and ASV Ltd. of Great Britain and I would like to introduce the chief executive officer of C&C Technologies, Mr. Thomas Chance. He won’t tell you this but I will. He’s the innovator and the technical genius behind this particular design we’ll see today.”

BP & The Real State of the Gulf – Pollution Report for Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The following is a summary of the 12/17/14 daily beach oiling report issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). I will endeavor to publish this summary each day the FDEP issues such a report. While the media and public believe that the effects of BP’s Deepwater Horizon Blowout and Oil Spill have been largely eradicated, this data suggests otherwise.

It is important to note that these reports of daily oil discoveries and further environmental damage come at a time when BP is attempting to renege on its oft-stated “Commitment to the Gulf.”

UN sends team to clean up Sunderbans oil spill in Bangladesh

The United Nations said on Thursday it has sent a team of international experts to Bangladesh to help clean up the world’s largest mangrove forest, more than a week after it was hit by a huge oil spill.

Thousands of litres of oil have spilt into the protected Sundarbans mangrove area, home to rare Irrawaddy and Ganges dolphins, after a tanker collided with another vessel last Tuesday.

People in Bangladesh Are Cleaning Up A Huge Oil Spill With Their Bare Hands

In a skiff stacked with branches coated in fuel oil, a 15-year-old boy scraped oil off mangrove roots with his bare hands.

“I know it’s bad for my health,” he told VICE News, “but I’m poor and the government is paying me 400 takas [around $5] a day to do this work, so that’s why I’m doing it.”

Hundreds of others like him were busy collecting oil along the muddy banks of the Shela River, a UNESCO world heritage site in Bangladesh’s southern Sundarbans region.

In pictures: Bangladesh oil spill clean-up

An oil spill from a crashed tanker in Bangladesh’s Sundarbans waterways is threatening a rare dolphin sanctuary and part of the world’s largest mangrove forest.

Despite the threat to the environment and people’s livelihoods, some local residents are also finding ways to make money from the clean-up efforts.

Feds approve Transco pipeline through Princeton, Montgomery, environmentalists push back

A federal agency approved the proposed 42-inch pipeline to run through parts of Princeton and Montgomery in a certificate issued Thursday, with environmentalists claiming the authorization is unlawful.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — the agency with jurisdiction over the project — found it will not significantly impact the surrounding community and gave Williams Transcontinental the go-ahead it needed to move forward with the project.

Public Utilities Commission decision on Enbridge pipeline sparks protest at Minnesota governor’s office

Environmental activists are calling on Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton to come to their aid once again, asking the governor to reach out to Washington and advocate for more strict adherence to federal oil pipeline regulations.

Protesters with environmental group MN350 marched to the governor’s temporary office in the Veterans Service Building in St. Paul from a Public Utilities Commission meeting Thursday after the commission denied a request to reconsider a certificate of need permit for Canada-based Enbridge’s operations in northern Minnesota.

3,700 Fukushima evacuees running out of time to claim compensation

Some 3,700 of those forced to flee during the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011 have yet to exercise their right to claim compensation from Tokyo Electric Power Co., a company executive said Thursday.

Tepco has received claims for provisional compensation from some 166,000 evacuees who fled coastal areas around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant because of the triple core meltdown.

Fukushima N-plant’s water leak reported

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday that up to 6 tons of water have leaked after being processed with water-cleaning equipment at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The water processed at Units A and C of the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) leaked from pipes during work to transport the water to temporary storage tanks on Wednesday.

Six tons of tainted water leak at Fukushima No. 1 during Korean safety tour

Up to 6 tons of radioactive water has leaked into the ground at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The water, which had been scrubbed by Units A and C of the advanced liquid processing system (ALPS), leaked from pipes while being transported to storage tanks on Wednesday afternoon, the utility said.

Fukushima officials ask for Olympic preliminary events

The governor of Fukushima is urging Tokyo officials to spotlight his prefecture’s recovery from a 2011 tsunami and nuclear accident by holding preliminary events for the 2020 Summer Olympics there.

“We need to set a goal so that we can show how much Fukushima has recovered,” Gov. Masao Uchibori was quoted as saying by Kyodo News.

Report: Radiation Leak at Nuclear Dump Was Small

A final report by independent researchers shows the radiation leak from the federal government’s underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico was small and localized.

The report released Thursday by the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center also says no negative health effects are expected among workers or the public.

The center is associated with New Mexico State University.

After WWII, Scientists Conducted Deadly Tests With an Unexploded Nuclear Bomb Core

There were three atomic bombs originally destined for Japan. American pilots dropped the bomb code-named “Little Boy” over Hiroshima and the one called “Fat Man” over Nagasaki. The bombs carried cores containing uranium and plutonium, respectively, and immediately killed 200,000 people in the two Japanese cities.

The third core remained unexploded and was returned to physicists working at the Los Almos National Laboratory in New Mexico, reports Kyle Hill for Nerdist. There, scientists studied what would be dubbed “The Demon Core,” in an attempt to figure out what caused the chain-reaction of atomic jostling that leads to an explosion.

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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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