Environmental Must-Reads – July 1, 2013


Fracking waste keeps rolling into Ohio from other states

The shale drilling boom that has helped create a huge supply of cheap natural gas continues to bring more and more fracking waste into Ohio.

In 2012, 14.2 million barrels of fracking fluids and oil and gas waste were injected in Ohio disposal wells, according to data compiled by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. That’s a 12 percent increase from 2011.

Colorado doctors assured they can share fracking info to help patients

Colorado oil and gas industry regulators have given medical community leaders a written assurance that doctors can obtain and share trade-secret information about fracking chemicals for the purpose of treating patients and protecting public health.

Fracking’s Threats to Drinking Water Call for a Precautionary Approach

At least one aspect of fracking’s risks to drinking water became a little clearer this week.

A study led by Rob Jackson of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that drinking water wells located within 1 kilometer of a shale gas well in a region of northeastern Pennsylvania are at high risk of contamination with methane.

Is Fracking on the Verge of Drying Up?

There’s a fracking research study likely to be unleashed in the next several months on University of Tennessee land about an hour from the main campus in Knoxville.

Fracking Frenzy Ignores Scientific Concerns

Remember when proponents of nuclear power said that it would generate electricity “too cheap to meter”.

The hype surrounding fracking is heading in the same stratospheric direction.

Conservation group calls for transparency, peer review in Pavillion area groundwater study

A Wyoming conservation group is calling for transparency in and independent oversight of the state’s investigation of groundwater pollution near Pavillion, an investigation partially funded by the operator of the natural gas field in the ara.

Study examines pollutants at W.Va. drilling sites

A recent study found benzene and other pollutants in the air at seven natural gas drilling sites in three counties.

But the study by West Virginia University Public School of Health chairman Michael McCawley found only one site where there was concern, the Maury pad in Wetzel County where high levels of benzene were found.

WVU Prof: Benzene being emitted from local drilling sites

After studying seven different natural gas drilling sites in Wetzel, Brooke and Marion counties, Michael McCawley found high levels of cancer-causing benzene being emitted into the air.

Part 2. The Cost That Cannot Raise Its Head

There are many financial losses never accounted for in the development of gas from the Marcellus shale. The drilling platform and deeply rocked roads are essentially taken out of production forever, removed from any kind of production. Pipelines and unimproved areas are out of use for the time of use for production and the 70 to 90 years beyond required for the re-growth of timber (if ever).

Northeastern States Protest Toxic Fracking Waste

Opening a new front in the battle over fracking in New York State, citizens in yet another neighboring state—Massachusetts—called on their legislators to ban the processing of fracking wastewater.

BP Report Says Gulf Oil Spill Was Only Half As Big As Government Claims

How much oil spilled from of BP ‘s blown out Macondo well in 2010? The government has estimated that the total came to 4.9 million barrels. But a report authored by a British engineer hired by BP has found that the total volume is more like 3.3 million. When taking into account the 800,000 barrels that BP managed to capture just as it gushed out, the government figures 4.1 million barrels actually escaped into the Gulf of Mexico. BP’s hired engineer calculated just 2.46 million barrels.

Gulf shrimp prices soar on disease scare, CVDs

Prices on Gulf of Mexico brown shrimp are rising after overseas shrimp producers report problems with disease and the U.S. government set preliminary countervailing duty (CVD) rates for shrimp imports.

EPA’s Gulf Of Mexico Program Honors Texas And Louisiana Gulf Guardian Award Winners

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Gulf of Mexico Program honored individuals and organizations working to preserve and restore the Gulf of Mexico at the biannual Gulf Guardian Awards Ceremony. The awards ceremony was held at the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Meeting on June 26 in Tampa, Florida.

Health Problems Arise in Mayflower

Mayflower residents held a town hall meeting Saturday to discuss future options for restoring their ecosystem and safety following the Exxon pipeline oil spill in March.

Around thirty residents were in attendance but state government officials and Exxon weren’t represented.  More than eighty residents living in Mayflower along Lake Conway have filed a class action lawsuit against the oil company following the ruptured pipeline and subsequent cleanup efforts.

Ralliers Ask Exxon to Pay Oil Spill Fine

It’s been two years, so it’s time for Exxon to pay up. That demand will be made at a rally today in Billings on the anniversary of the Exxon crude oil spill into the Yellowstone River. The U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Administration levied a $1.7 million fine based on known safety issues that weren’t addressed. Exxon is challenging the penalty.

Oil spill in Mississippi’s Chickasawhay River under investigation

An oil spill from a well in Wayne County, Mississippi has leaked hundreds to thousands of gallons of oil into a local river. Investigation into the cause of the spill continues.

15 Acre Sinkhole in Louisiana Chews up Homes and Spits out Natural Gas

A community in Assumption Parish, Louisiana, is under threat of being permanently wiped off the face of the earth due to the actions of a salt-mining company working in the area.

In August 2012, an old salt mine that was being used to provide local petrochemical companies with brine, began to collapse, slowly creating a sinkhole that has grown to cover 15 acres.

Sinking property tax revenue a concern from sinkhole

Neighbors of the massive sinkhole in Assumption Parish are packing up and leaving, and parish leaders are worried about the impact it’ll have.

Oil Thefts Threaten Nigeria’s Economy, Environment

The first drops of crude float in the languid muddy currents of Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta, then slowly grow into the splatter of a massive crime scene.

Oil thefts, long a problem in the Niger Delta, are growing at an ever-faster rate despite government officials and international companies offering increasingly dire warnings about the effect on Nigeria’s crude production. Some 200,000 barrels a day — representing about 10 percent of Nigeria’s production — are siphoned off pipelines crisscrossing the region.

OOPS: A Recyclable Oil Absorber

When Sudipta Seal and his co-principal investigator Larry Hench applied for a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), their goal was to create a material that could remove large volumes of oil from seawater economically and using a process that would be completely green.

Interactions between Zooplankton and Crude Oil: Toxic Effects and Bioaccumulation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

We conducted ship-, shore- and laboratory-based crude oil exposure experiments to investigate (1) the effects of crude oil (Louisiana light sweet oil) on survival and bioaccumulation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in mesozooplankton communities, (2) the lethal effects of dispersant (Corexit 9500A) and dispersant-treated oil on mesozooplankton, (3) the influence of UVB radiation/sunlight exposure on the toxicity of dispersed crude oil to mesozooplankton, and (4) the role of marine protozoans on the sublethal effects of crude oil and in the bioaccumulation of PAHs in the copepod Acartia tonsa. Mortality of mesozooplankton increased with increasing oil concentration following a sigmoid model with a median lethal concentration of 32.4 µl L?1 in 16 h. At the ratio of dispersant to oil commonly used in the treatment of oil spills (i.e. 1:20), dispersant (0.25 µl L?1) and dispersant- treated oil were 2.3 and 3.4 times more toxic, respectively, than crude oil alone (5 µl L?1) to mesozooplankton.

Village Consortium Discusses Regional Impacts Of Development

A consortium of 10 Arctic, coastal village corporations recently formed the Bering Sea Alliance and invited Shell, ConocoPhillips and Statoil to a meeting in the community of Wales. The Seward Peninsula village is northwest of Nome.

Oil work to go on in Alaska’s Arctic waters, without drilling

No one will drill in Arctic waters off Alaska this year, but there is still plenty of offshore work for the oil industry to do when conditions finally allow it next month.

Fukushima Shows Nuclear-Terrorism Risks at UN Meeting

Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, whose 2011 meltdowns dislocated 160,000 people, may provide a new blueprint for terrorists seeking to inflict mass disruption, security analysts said at a United Nations meeting.

Limerick nuke plant upgrade aims to prevent Fukushima-like explosion

In an effort to prevent an explosion at nuclear plants with reactor designs similar to the one at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan two years ago, the government is requiring further improvements at some American nuclear plants, including the Limerick Generating Station.

Japan, U.S. jointly developing tech to gauge melted fuel at Fukushima plant

Japan and the United States have started to jointly research new technologies that could measure the amount of uranium and plutonium contained in melted nuclear fuel at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, officials involved in the project announced Saturday.

Government offers dosimeters–not decontamination–for Fukushima evacuees

After failing to reach its radiation decontamination target, the government proposed that evacuees from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster return to their homes and take responsibility for their own safety.

The residents called for continued clean-up efforts, but government officials offered them dosimeters instead.

27 Years Later, Radiation Still Hides Out in Chernobyl’s Trees (Fukushima’s Too)

The April 26, 1986, meltdown of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant scattered radioactive material across 58,000 square miles of eastern Europe. In a ring 18 miles from the destroyed plant, authorities set up the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone—a place where no one is supposed to live (though of course some do.) Scientific American has the story of how, though the disaster took place decades ago, radiation persists in a huge area around the defunct power plant—ready to be re-released to the environment.

Floating wind turbine headed for coast off Fukushima Prefecture

A floating wind turbine to be used for power generation off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture was towed out of Tokyo Bay on June 28 bound for a deep-sea site where it will be part of an experimental floating power sub-station.

TEPCO rejects compensation settlement for radiation anxiety

Tokyo Electric Power Co. on June 26 rejected a compensation proposal by a state arbitration body on grounds there is insufficient scientific evidence to support health anxieties by claimants about the future effects of radiation exposure, lawyers said.

Protect your children from mobile phone radiation: Researcher

The proliferation of mobile phone-related technology has led to an explosion of its usage with people all over the world increasingly getting hooked to it. There has been a raging debate regarding the health effects of low-intensity electromagnetic field radiation generated by mobile phones both in social and scientific circles. This technology has dramatically influenced lifestyles, and literature is available both in favor as well as in contradiction.

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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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