Environmental Must-Reads – July 22, 2013


Is OSU fracking-well plan drilling for research data, or cash?

Ohio State University researchers want to install and study a working oil and gas well on university land in Noble County.

The plan would open the school’s Eastern Agricultural Research Station to shale drilling and would provide an opportunity to closely examine how fracking alters the environment and assess pollution risks to the air and groundwater, supporters say.

Welcome to Portage County, the Fracking Waste Disposal Capital of Ohio

Welcome to Portage County, Ohio, the biggest dumping ground for fracking waste in a state that is fast becoming the go-to destination for the byproducts of America’s latest energy boom.

As fracking—pumping a briny solution of water, lubricants, anti-bacterial agents, and a cocktail of other chemicals into underground shale formations at high pressure to fracture the rock and extract trapped natural gas—has expanded in the Midwest, so has the need for disposing of used fracking fluid. That fracking waste can be recycled or processed at wastewater treatment facilities, much like sewage. But most of the waste—630 billion gallons, each year—goes back into the ground, pumped into disposal wells, which are then capped and sealed. A bunch of it ends up underneath Portage County.

Report: Who Pays for the Cost of Fracking in Ohio?

A new report is raising concerns on a little-examined aspect of the fracking debate, that is, the costs, and who will be left with the bill when the drillers pull out of town. The Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center examined the state’s financial assurance requirements for oil and gas drilling operations and found Ohio’s bonding requirements inadequately protect communities from the effects of hydraulic fracturing.

Youngstown Pushes for Protections From Fracking, Earthquakes and Pollution

They’re back and more determined than ever to win on election day in November 2013. The Youngstown, OH, Community Bill of Rights Committee is coordinating a new door-to-door campaign to get the required number of registered Youngstown voter signatures to put a question on the November ballot.

Activists seek to put anti-fracking charter amendment on ballot

It’s back.

After the “community bill of rights” failed in the May primary election, a group of anti-fracking activists are back at it, trying to put the initiative on the November ballot.

The bill was defeated in May by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent.

This Is What Fracking Really Looks Like

Photographer Nina Berman had just started focusing on climate and environmental issues when she read an article about fracking and its connection to the possible contamination of New York City’s drinking water. Berman resides in New York and knew very little about how the controversial process of drilling for natural gas via hydraulic fracturing worked and decided to head to Pennsylvania for Gov. Thomas Corbett’s inauguration in 2011.

Louisiana land company nominates BLM parcels

A Louisiana company nominated the more than 10,000 acres in La Plata County that are set to be leased for natural-gas and oil development in November. The leases for eight parcels of Bureau of Land Management-owned minerals south and west of Hesperus were originally going to be auctioned off in February, but were deferred by state officials a few days before the sale. State BLM officials decided in April to put the Southwest Colorado acreage, which encompasses a total of 12,000 acres in five counties, back up for auction.

Demand for frac sand falls in Wis., Minn.

Short-term demand for frac sand in western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota has fallen because there’s more available than the industry currently needs.

Demand had exploded several years ago, spurring companies to open mines and processing facilities and ship across the country for fracking operations, according to the Winona Daily News

“Four-Year Water Study Planned in Osage County”

Ada-Vamoosa Aquifer flows under much of Osage County, but no one knows how much fresh water it holds. The study will also map saltwater sources, which can be used by oil and gas producers for operations like hydraulic fracturing — or “fracking.” Identifying saltwater sources for oil and gas might reduce the industry needing freshwater sources.

Federal judge denies BP bid to suspend payments on oil spill claims

A federal judge Friday denied British oil giant BP’s bid for a preliminary injunction that would have allowed the company to temporarily suspend payments related to claims from the 2010 oil spill until an investigation into alleged fraud in the multibillion-dollar claims payment program is complete.

Judge delivers harsh retort to BP’s request to halt oil spill payments

In a blistering rebuke of BP’s criticism of the administrator who is processing claims from last year’s multibillion dollar Gulf oil spill civil settlement, a federal judge Friday scolded the company for its public attacks and quickly rejected its request to halt payments to victims of the disaster.

Oil-Spill Claims Saga: BP Keeps Paying, Corruption Probe Continues

Here’s a law-school exam question:

A court-supervised multibillion-dollar pollution settlement leads to serious allegations of corruption. A federal judge appoints a former FBI director as “special master” to investigate. But the judge orders the defendant company to continue paying claims while the investigation is under way. Discuss.

New Orleans man pleads guilty to filing false $27,000 BP oil spill claim

A New Orleans man pleaded guilty Friday to mail fraud for filing a phony claim after the BP Gulf oil spill, claiming he lost his job with a local catering company as a result of the oil spill. Jordan A. Sanchez, 27, is facing up to 20 years in prison, according to U.S. Attorney Dana Boente.

Center of the sinkhole reaches 750 feet deep

Assumption Parish emergency officials say they’ve now got a better idea just how deep the center of the massive sinkhole is in Bayou Corne.

InsideClimate News, Arkansas Times Reach Funding Goal to Conduct Oil Spill Investigation

InsideClimate News and the Arkansas Times reached the fundraising target for their innovative reporting collaboration after a three-week campaign. Two reporters will soon be on the ground to investigate the causes and consequences of the Exxon pipeline spill in Mayflower, Ark. that occurred last Mar. 29.

Arkansas officials send letter calling for response from ExxonMobil information about pipeline

Congressmen and some central Arkansas officials have sent a letter to ExxonMobil calling for information about previous inspections of a pipeline beneath the Lake Maumelle watershed that ruptured in March.

“We are extremely disappointed at the lack of response to our requests, the lack of transparency related to the integrity of the Pegasus Pipeline and the resistance to sharing information that will help us evaluate the safety of the drinking water supply for 400,000 individuals,” the letter said.

24 years after Exxon Valdez, pigeon guillemot still ‘not recovering’

Scientists are hoping to boost dwindling pigeon guillemot populations in Prince William Sound, the last species of seabird listed as “not recovering” after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, more than 20 years after the oil tanker dumped more than 10 million gallons of crude oil into the waters of Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

Mukalla residents condemn oil spill, demand clean-up, report health effects

Hundreds of protestors in Mukalla on Thursday condemned a tanker’s oil spill that took place in coastal waters on July 11. Residents gathered on the coast in front of the wrecked ship, which is marooned nearby,  to demand officials take a more proactive role in stopping the tanker’s ongoing leakage of oil.

Environmentalists to demonstrate this week against oil pipeline through Mobile County

Environmentalists and other concerned citizens are planning a lively week of demonstrations and organizing as they prepare an uphill fight in preventing an oil pipeline running 41 miles to Mississippi and through a section of Mobile’s drinking water supply.

Mexican oil pipeline explodes, injuring seven

An oil pipeline exploded in a rural area of central Mexico early Sunday, igniting a huge blaze that injured seven people, authorities said.

Petroleos de Mexico, the state oil company, said on Twitter that the blast was caused by an attempted theft of crude oil.

State department approves pipeline to Canada. No, it’s not Keystone XL.

A 430-mile-long pipeline from North Dakota to Alberta was approved by the US State Department Wednesday. The so-called Vantage Pipeline, not to be confused with Keystone XL, will mark the first time that liquids from North Dakota’s reservoirs will flow into existing Albertan infrastructure.

Keystone XL a scapegoat, TransCanada says

A decision against the planned Keystone XL pipeline from the U.S. government would be a largely symbolic move, TransCanada boss Russ Girling said.

TransCanada last week defended its environmental legacy against critics who contend the project would lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama said the project would be weighed against its carbon footprint. TransCanada said the emissions would be negligible.

In rapidly changing Arctic, US is playing catch-up

With Arctic sea ice thinning and shrinking rapidly in recent years, the US military and scientific agencies are scrambling to cope with the looming prospect of a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean.

Officials: Insufficient brake force to blame in Quebec oil train derailment

Insufficient brake force was applied before an oil train slammed into a town in Quebec on July 6 and killed 47 people, officials said Friday.

Donald Ross, chief investigator for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, said the insufficient brake force could have been due to mechanical problems with the handbrakes, or a problem with the way someone applied them.

More defendants in class-action lawsuit against railway in fatal Quebec train derailment

Three more defendants have been added to a class-action lawsuit over the oil train derailment that killed 50 people in Quebec, a team of lawyers announced Thursday.

The lawsuit, originally filed against U.S.-based Montreal, Maine & Atlantic railway and its employees, has been amended to include Irving Oil, World Fuel Services and its subsidiary, Dakota Plains Holdings, the lawyers said in a statement. The motion was filed in Quebec Superior Court.

Radioactive water leaked into sea at Fukushima

The operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant on Monday admitted for the first time that radioactive groundwater has leaked out to sea, fuelling fears of ocean contamination.

The admission came the day after Japanese voters went to the polls in an election for the upper house, handing the largely pro-nuclear party of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a handsome majority.

Number of irradiated Fukushima liquidators underestimated by 11 times

Some ten per cent of the emergency personal involved in liquidating the meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant 2011 are at risk of thyroid cancer, TEPCO revealed after being forced to reevaluate results of staff medical examinations.

IAEA experts visit Fukushima

Fifteen experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in Fukushima Prefecture on Monday to cooperate with the prefecture in decontaminating areas exposed to radiation from the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

More than 1,900 Fukushima nuke plant workers exposed to radiation, not 178 as operator claimed

More than 1,900 Japanese workers at the Fukushima nuclear plant that exploded last year and still leaking dangerous radioactive materials to the ocean, have been exposed to unsafe levels of radiation in their thyroid glands, media reports said.

Their radiation levels are more than 10 times the number previously announced by the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), The Asahi Shimbun reported.

Fukushima children frolic in play fountain built in decontaminated park

Summer fun is back for some of the children of Fukushima Prefecture struggling for a return to normalcy after the 2011 nuclear disaster: They now have a new play fountain.

The new water attraction made a big splash with the children of Minami-Soma on July 20, the first day of summer vacation. It was built in a decontaminated park so children could play without the fear of radiation exposure.

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