Environmental Must-Reads – February 13, 2014


Fracking with Acid: Unknown Quantities Injected in Texas

Read about the history of oil drilling in Texas and you’ll find references to how wildcatters would pour barrels of hydrochloric acid into their wells. The acid would eat through underground rock formations and allow more oil to flow up the well.

That was decades ago. While a lot has changed in the drilling industry since then, using acid has not. It’s only gotten bigger. And in Texas, no one seems to have any idea of just how much hydrochloric, acetic, or hydrofluoric acid is being pumped into the ground.

Gas Pipeline Explodes In Adair County

A gas line exploded in Adair County early Thursday morning, setting homes on fire and injuring at least one person.

People as far away as Lincoln County heard the blast in the Knifley community, about 15 miles south of Campbellsville, at around 2 a.m. Kentucky State Police say the explosion damaged three homes. And one person reportedly suffered burns. Kentucky State Police initially said three people were injured.

Lengthy investigation ahead in Marcellus Shale well explosion

State regulators expect it will take months to determine what caused the “surface explosion” at a Marcellus Shale well site in Greene County that injured one worker and left another one missing Tuesday morning.

State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman John Poister said the agency is continuing to monitor the situation with multiple employees near the scene, but could not begin even a preliminary investigation until the well was brought under control.

Pa. towns with no zoning rules unlikely to limit gas drilling

It seemed like a game-changer late last year when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court restored the power of local communities to limit natural gas development within their borders. After all, three out of every five municipalities on the Marcellus Shale have zoning laws to that would apply. However, in the state’s rural Northern Tier, where drilling has flourished, some towns aren’t eager to wield this new clout.

Feds approve more fracking off California coast

The federal government has approved three new fracking jobs off the shores of California as state coastal regulators voiced concerns about potential environmental impacts.

The work in the Santa Barbara Channel, site of a 1969 oil platform blowout, has not yet begun and it was not immediately clear when it would.

More fracking jobs approved off the California coast

Federal regulators have approved three new fracking jobs off the California coast, more than previously known.

The revelation comes as the California Coastal Commission meets Wednesday to discuss hydraulic fracturing, which pumps water, sand and chemicals deep into rock formations to free oil.

Anti-fracking advocates share personal stories of fracking health impacts

Environment New York, an environmental advocacy group and opponent of high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the state, said there are not only environmental and economic impacts of fracking, but a humanitarian aspect to as well.

Alongside Sen. Tony Avella, a staunch opponent of fracking in New York, Sheila Bushkin-Bedient, a member of the Institute for Health and the Environment, and Pramilla Malick, founder of StopMCS and Protect Orange County — two grassroots organizations fighting against gas infrastructure related to fracking in New York — Environment New York presented its recent compilation of stories about the effects of fracking on citizens’ health.

Anti-fracking groups petition Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly

Three social action groups in Canada’s Northwest Territories have launched a petition against fracking operations in the territory after oil giant ConocoPhillips began exploration without an environmental review.

A horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) exploration near Tulita, Northwest Territories, was allowed by the National Energy Board and the Sahtu Land and Water Bard.

Feds seek public comments for proposed natural gas pipeline in Solanco; new details released

If you have any concerns about the 9 miles of natural gas pipeline Transco wants to build in the southern end of Lancaster County, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission wants to hear from you.

FERC has opened up its formal public comment period on the pipeline as part of the proposed $675 million Rock Springs Expansion Project.

 West Virginia Creek Runs Black After Catastrophic Coal Slurry Spill

Waters are running black for roughly six miles in West Virginia’s Fields Creek after more than 100,000 gallons of toxic coal slurry poured into the waterway from a Patriot Coal processing facility Tuesday.

“This is a big deal, this is a significant slurry spill,” said Secretary Randy Huffman of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection at a news conference Tuesday evening. “When this much coal slurry goes into the stream, it wipes the stream out.”

BP Proceeds With Medical-Benefits Pact After Appeal Ends

BP Plc. (BP/) won the right to move ahead with implementing the medical-benefits portion of its $9.2 billion settlement of oil spill claims with Gulf Coast residents after an appeals court dismissed the remaining plaintiffs at their request.

Several groups of coastal residents and cleanup workers sued BP last year over claims its accord didn’t adequately compensate them for exposure to oil and chemical dispersants during the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill.

BP Oil Spill: Dolphins Plagued By Death, Disease Years After Rig Explosion

Missing teeth. Lung disease. Extreme hormone levels.

Four years after BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, gushing some 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the region is rife with death and disease, according to a major U.S. study.

Iowa fire turns into oil spill

What started as a fire at a former Iowa fertilizer plant turned into an oil spill.

KCRG reported that on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 the old Vel-Donna Plant (which now holds a small business and storage space) in Kalona became engulfed in flames.

‘Drift card’ project shows potential impact of oil spill

A small piece of plywood that washed up in Haida Gwaii shows the potentially massive reach of an oil spill in the Salish Sea, say environmental groups studying the risks associated with Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion of its Trans Mountain pipeline.

In October, the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the Georgia Strait Alliance dropped more than 1,000 “drift cards” – four-by-six-inch pieces of bright, yellow plywood, each with a unique serial number – along the oil tanker route that runs from Burrard Inlet, through the Gulf and San Juan islands, and into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Two oil spills reported in western N.D.

Health officials say two oil spills have been reported in western North Dakota, the largest of them involving nearly 300 barrels.

The North Dakota Department of Health said one spill was reported at a well site about eight miles east of Williston. Some of the 300 barrels of crude oil released sprayed off the location onto agricultural land.

Oil spill cleanup continues in Winona

Earlier this month we reported that a Canadian Pacific oil tanker leaked 12,000 gallons of crude oil for dozens of miles between Red Wing and Winona.

It was first thought by the MPCA that no major cleanup was needed. But after days of trying to clean up the mess, it’s proving to be a much tougher task than originally anticipated. On top of that, some of the oil did manage to make its way into waterways.

Navy: Oil spill in Hood Canal larger than first estimated

An oily waste spill into Hood Canal at the Bangor naval submarine base is about 13 times larger than first estimated, Navy officials said.

The Navy said in a statement that about 2,000 gallons of oily waste spilled into the scenic waterway during a transfer of ship overboard discharge Monday afternoon.

Lawmakers: Minn. needs stronger oil spill response

Recent crude oil train catastrophes in North Dakota and Canada show that Minnesota needs to beef up its ability to protect its communities from similar disasters, a pair of lawmakers said Wednesday.

Springfield house ‘uninhabitable’ after 100-gallon heating oil spill in basement

A Ledyard Street duplex was declared uninhabitable Wednesday after more than 100 gallons of heating oil spilled in the cellar due to a mishap involving faulty fuel lines on the basement oil tank, a fire official said.

Dennis Leger, aide to Fire Commissioner Joseph Conant, said a family of five was displaced from the home at 22 Ledyard St. The property was declared not habitable by the city Health Department because of the presence of oil fumes, he said.

Nigeria: 546 Million Gallons of Crude Oil Spilled in Niger Delta in 50 Years, Say NGOs

About 546 million gallons of crude oil have been spilled into the Niger Delta over the last 50 years. The quantity amounts to 11 million gallons a year, representing about 50 times the estimated volume spilled in the historic Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in Alaska, United States, in 1989.

These revelations are contained in a letter written by 13 Nigerian and five international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) on the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) Bill, before the Senate.

Keystone XL Will Significantly Increase Oil Industry Investment in the Tar Sands

A major issue in the decision around the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is the extent to which this project will drive expansion of tar sands extraction and the associated climate change. We often hear Keystone XL dismissed as insignificant. This misses the point that a decision on Keystone XL is a decision about whether the tar sands production will more than triple over its 2010 levels by 2030. It is a decision that is significant for our climate.

Tribal leaders plan to stop Keystone XL Pipeline

The State Department issued a report two weeks ago that supporters of the Keystone XL Pipeline have been waiting for. It says that the pipeline will not significantly increase carbon pollution, leaving President Obama an opening to approve the much-contested project.

If it is built, the pipeline would transport oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf coast, bisecting South Dakota just west of the Missouri River. It would cross land guaranteed for tribal use under the Fort Laramie Treaty.

Activists vow to risk arrest as Republicans push for Keystone XL pipeline approval

Dozens of Republican senators on Tuesday called on the White House to approve the Keystone XL pipeline as foes vowed to risk arrest at protests against the controversial project.

President Barack Obama will have the final say on whether to allow the pipeline that could deliver as much as 830,000 barrels per day of Canadian oil sands crude to U.S. Gulf Coast refiners, a decision not expected for many months.

Landowner group warns of perceived plans to bypass federal permit for Keystone XL

A Nebraska landowner advocacy group is warning state legislators and landowners to be aware that TransCanada, the company responsible for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, is offering easement agreements that mention bypassing the need for a presidential permit.

The Nebraska Easement Action Team Wednesday issued a strongly worded resolution condemning what it characterized as a history of deceptive practices by TransCanada and sought to bring attention to a sentence in a letter TransCanada sent this month to a Nebraska landowner.

Officials Admit Minn. Firefighters Couldn’t Handle Oil Train Fire

Six trains with 100 or more crude oil tank cars pass through the Twin Cities every day, and if one of them wrecks, state and local emergency responders don’t have the equipment needed to put out a catastrophic fire, state and local officials say.

Canadian National Railway Raises Rates for Using Older Oil Tank Cars

Canadian National Railway is charging shippers more to transport crude oil in older tank cars, one of the first signs that rail operators are actively discouraging use of the type of cars involved in several dramatic explosions.

Tepco took months to release record strontium readings at Fukushima

The operator of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant knew about record high measurements of a dangerous isotope in groundwater at the plant for five months before telling the country’s nuclear watchdog, a regulatory official told Reuters.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said late on Wednesday it detected 5 million becquerels per liter of radioactive strontium-90 in a sample from a groundwater well about 25 meters from the ocean last September. That reading was more than five times the broader all-beta radiation reading taken at the same well two months earlier.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulator Raps Fukushima Operator over Radiation Readings

Japan’s nuclear regulator has criticized the operator of the stricken Fukushima plant for incorrectly measuring radiation levels in contaminated groundwater at the site.

Almost three years since the reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi station, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) still lacks basic understanding of measuring and handling radiation, Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said on Wednesday. The utility has been widely criticized for an inept response to the March 2011 disaster.

US Sailors Sick From Fukushima Radiation File New Class Action

Citing a wide range of ailments from leukemia to blindness to birth defects, 79 American veterans of 2011’s earthquake/tsunami relief Operation Tomadachi (“Friendship”) have filed a new $1 billion class action lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power.

The suit includes an infant born with a genetic condition to a sailor who served on the USS Ronald Reagan as radiation poured over it during the Fukushima melt-downs, and an American teenager living near the stricken site. It has also been left open for “up to 70,000 U.S. citizens [who were] potentially affected by the radiation and will be able to join the class action suit.”

Could Another Fukushima-Like Accident Happen In The US? Nuclear Expert Explains How

Could a nuclear accident like the 2011 meltdown that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan happen here?

David Lochbaum, a former nuclear engineer, director of the Nuclear Safety Program for the Union of Concerned Scientists and one of the authors of the new book-length account “Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster,” thinks it’s more than possible. The safety preparations at the plant before the accident, he says, weren’t that different from the precautions taken at U.S. plants.

Residents of Fukushima town reject government’s waste storage plans

Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato urged the central government Wednesday to drop one of three towns from a list of sites earmarked for the construction of facilities to store highly radioactive waste from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster.

Fukushima seeks limit on radioactive waste disposal sites

Fukushima prefectural authorities have asked the Environment Ministry to reduce from three to two the number of sites it plans for the temporary storage of radioactive debris generated by the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster.

Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato on Feb. 12 submitted a request to Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara and Takumi Nemoto, the minister in charge of post-quake reconstruction, asking them not to build a storage facility in the town of Naraha so that its residents can return home earlier.

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