Environmental Must-Reads – January 28, 2014


Ohio EPA, health officials dismiss radioactive threat from fracking

When Pennsylvania environmental officials tested creek mud near a fracking wastewater-treatment plant last year, they found radiation at levels 45 times higher than federal drinking-water standards.

As the plant owner prepares to dredge radium from Blacklick Creek, Pennsylvania officials are examining other radiation problems related to Marcellus shale fracking. They’re testing tons of castoff rock and drilling sludge sent to Pennsylvania landfills and liquid waste routinely trucked to Ohio disposal wells.

Fracking firms ‘should pay £6bn a year tax to compensate for climate change’

Shale frackers operating in Britain should be paying £6bn a year in taxes by the middle of the 2020s to compensate for the damage wreaked on the environment, according to a study from Cambridge University.

The government has made clear drillers such as Cuadrilla Resources and IGas should provide sweeteners to local communities affected by their activities but it would also be right for shale gas producers to pay for contributing to global warming, argues Chris Hope, a parliamentary adviser and reader in policy modelling at the Judge Business School in Cambridge.

Propane freeze squeeze may harden resistance to U.S. oil exports

A shortage of propane heating fuel during a brutal U.S. cold snap this month threatens to sharpen the year’s most urgent energy policy debate – how much of its newfound shale oil and gas bounty should America export?

Millions felt the pinch last week as another wave of biting, bitter cold strained already low propane supplies in the Midwest, causing prices to surge three-fold over two weeks to record highs and forcing suppliers to ration deliveries.

Proposed fracking fluid plant raises safety concerns among residents

Residents of a rural neighbourhood in Leduc County are worried a proposed chemical plant will lower their property values and present a health and safety risk.

Multi Chem has applied to the county to build a tank farm and chemical blending facility in the Nisku Business Park.

Fracking Under Houses Could Be New Norm As U.K. Puts Environmental Concerns On Backburner

When it rains it pours. And in the U.K. right now it’s both literally flooding and also raining down hard on efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. With 14 flood warnings in effect, Environment Minister Owen Paterson has ordered for a plan that creates a long-term solution to deal with the flooding. That Paterson would talk about long-term solutions to environmental issues is interesting considering that since he’s taken up his post, climate change spending has nearly been cut in half.

Case Before Ohio Court May Impact Future Coverage for Fracking Liability

The oil drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been blamed – rightly or wrongly – for various hazards ranging from earthquakes to water pollution.

While the technique has generated a lot of media attention, so far there has not been much in the way of resolution of insurance litigation resulting from claims stemming from fracking practices.

Fracking: So where’s the economic boom that was promised?

Rich Moore had never heard of fracking or Utica shale until his union posted a job opening in September.

But they are the reasons the formerly out-of-work Detroit pipefitter now lives in a trailer in a cold, muddy Harrison County campground.

Moore is one of thousands of transient workers who live in campers, motels and apartments in shale country.

Public support for fracking in Britain falls for a second time

David Cameron is losing the battle for public opinion over fracking for shale gas because of high-profile public protests against the controversial technique, polling suggests.

The latest results of a long-running survey on British attitudes towards shale gas, undertaken by YouGov and commissioned by the University of Nottingham, show an increase in the number of people opposed to fracking and a decrease in those in favour for the second time since protests at Balcombe in West Sussex last August.

BP’s New Tactic in Oil Spill Claims: Go After the ‘Special Master’

BP has been complaining for a year that money it has promised to pay to financial victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster has been doled out to unworthy, uninjured claimants. In courthouse filings and newspaper ads, BP has targeted companies it says were not really harmed by the accident and their lawyers, as the oil giant’s estimate of the tab ballooned from $7.8 billion to $9.4 billion.

Now the oil company is taking aim at the guy doing the doling: Patrick Juneau, who was appointed by a federal judge in New Orleans to administer claims under a settlement between BP and lawyers for businesses along the Gulf Coast.

BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill’s impact on Gulf of Mexico fisheries discussed

As the 2014 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference continued on Monday in Mobile, Ala., some scientists discussed the potential impacts of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Gulf fisheries, often describing the fishery as better off than many think but always adding that there still remains much ongoing research.

Oil spill conference touches on Gulf fisheries and social toll in communities

Researchers discussed Monday some of the uncertainties and challenges of dealing with the fallout from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Conference.

The four day-long summit held at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel downtown, includes presentations and more than 800 research-based abstracts on different aspects of the chemical disaster that occurred almost four years ago.

Crews Work to Clean Up Oil Spill in Delaware River

Crews worked through the night to contain a crude oil spill in the Delaware River.

Officials say crews were off-loading crude oil from a boat in the river around 1 p.m. on Monday when a line ruptured.

After 8,400 Gallon Oil Spill, Safety Standards On Norwegian Offshore Rigs Questioned

Approximately 32 cubic meters, or 8,400 gallons, of oil spilled into the sea early Sunday morning following a leak at a Statoil-owned rig off the coast of Norway, according to media reports and a company statement.

“It has been confirmed that a limited amount of oil has leaked into the sea,” the Norway-based company said, noting that the leak had been stopped. “We are currently working on mapping the extent of the leak. The platform has been shut down.”

Yet another ‘very rare’ oil spill with ‘no impact’

Enbridge spokesman Les Scott described the Jan. 18 spill of 125 barrels of oil at the Rowatt Pumping Station along the company’s Alberta-Wisconsin pipeline as a “very rare” incident with “no impact.” (Company Responds to Rowatt Oilspill, SP, Jan. 22, 2014.) “Very rare” is a relative concept, it would seem, as is “no impact.” Oil spills must have some impact or why would the Saskatchewan Government require companies to report every spill, even small ones, and track them on its Upstream Oil and Gas Spill Database? A quick check of the online database (www.economy.gov.sk.ca/Spills) shows 91 reported spills by Enbridge between June 2006 and April 2013, when the database was last updated. That’s an average of 11 reported spills a year. I’m not sure 11 per year is “very rare,” though it probably seems that way given the pipeline moves 450,000 barrels of oil a day.

TransCanada Tries To Throw More Money At Nebraskans To Allow Keystone XL On Their Land

As the State Department’s release of Keystone XL’s final Environmental Impact Statement draws near, TransCanada is using a new tactic to try to get landowners in Nebraska to give up their land to the proposed pipeline — drastically upping their payouts for a limited time only.

Keystone Opponents Use Rail Constraints to Urge Rejection

Environmentalists are making an unusual argument in their attempt to stop the Keystone XL pipeline: that trains can’t move all the oil out of Canada.

Keystone supporters say Canada could just as easily transport the additional oil to the U.S. on trains — meaning building the pipeline won’t contribute to climate change because the oil’s coming out, pipeline or no.

Keystone XL pressure mounts before State of the Union

President Barack Obama isn’t likely to utter a word about the controversial Keystone XL pipeline during his State of the Union address Tuesday night — but that isn’t stopping fans and foes of the project from pressing the issue as the White House puts the final touches on the speech.

Landowners see offers jump seven-fold for allowing Keystone XL pipeline on property

Cash offers have been skyrocketing, as much as seven-fold, for holdout Nebraska landowners who are willing to sign quickly to allow the Keystone XL pipeline onto their property.

The landowners say they’ve received written offers from pipeline builder TransCanada Corp. in the last few weeks offering exponentially more money than initially promised, on the condition that they sign soon.

How one Nebraska farmer killed Keystone

Two thousand miles west of Washington, D.C., on the vast Nebraska prairie, you can drive for hours on roads that were once wagon trails, and rarely pass another car or truck. When one finally comes by, the driver will usually give you a little wave, like a lone hiker saluting another on a backcountry trail. And if you pull over to the side of that road, shouldered with wild sunflowers in late summer, a perfect stranger will worry enough about your stopped vehicle to circle back half an hour later to make sure that you are okay.

Pipeline explosion leaves thousands in Canada without heat

Pipeline explosion in the Canadian province of Manitoba Saturday cut heat to thousands in municipalities south of Winnipeg, where the wind chill could reach minus 45 degrees F. Monday. The pipeline explosion is the latest example of extreme cold testing energy infrastructure across North America.

Fukushima cleanup could drag on for decades

A CBS News crew got a rare look inside the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Nearly three years after the earthquake and tsunami, the plant is still emitting radiation, and likely will be for years.

Three miles from the plant, roads are still closed. Radiation levels here soar 100 times higher than normal.

Expressing thanks in Paris, Fukushima officials vow disaster reconstruction

Representatives of Fukushima Prefecture pledged to achieve reconstruction from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear crisis at an event in Paris on Monday.

At the event, held to provide updates on the progress of disaster reconstruction, senior Fukushima officials and local businessmen expressed their appreciation for French assistance in the reconstruction efforts and underlined the safety of food products from the prefecture.

Fukushima town rejects hosting radioactive waste storage facility

The mayor of Naraha told Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato on Monday that the town would not allow the construction within its borders of interim storage facilities for high-level radioactive waste generated from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

The mayor Yukiei Matsumoto demanded in a meeting with Sato that the governor request the central government to review its plan to build such facilities in the town.

Experts address Fukushima-related radiation spike concerns

Unconfirmed reports across the internet say radiation levels in the U.S. are spiking. Some sites say it’s as high as 1400 percent of normal levels, but radiation experts say those numbers are being skewed.

“There’s a lot of information that’s put out there on the internet and on blogs and whatnot that doesn’t really have a basis,” said State of Nevada Radiation Control Specialist Jon Bakkedahl.

Fukushima Radiation Disaster News: Japan Uses Drone to Check Rad Levels at Nuclear Site

Japan is using a new technology of remote-controlled drones to prevent crews from having to be exposed to harmful levels of radiation at the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami in March of 2011. Ultimately, 15,000 people were left dead and several thousand went missing in what was the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

World’s Poorest Suffer From Radioactive Sickness as Areva Mines for Uranium

More than 60 percent of Niger’s population lives on less than $1 per day, and even more have no electricity.

Still, French company Areva keeps contaminating those residents and their environment while mining away for uranium—one of the few resources the world’s poorest country still has.

1 comment

  • Radiation specialist level 1, Bakkedahl from Nevada made enormous scientific gaffe stating, “there is no increased radiation from Fukushima.” He is no PhD, and is just a level 1 rad. spec. Mr. Bakkedahl would be well advised not to take his beach towel to Half Moon Bay and roll in the sand where levels are that high over background. He also showed ignorance comparing natural potassium in bananas to Cesium 127, corium or tritium. How is it he was cleared to publish?

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