Environmental Must-Reads – July 25, 2013


California state senator: Dangerous chemicals being pumped underground without oversight

California oil and gas regulators have failed to monitor practices used to access shale oil, including the injection of dangerous chemicals underground, a state senator said Thursday, urging passage of her proposed oversight legislation.

Drilling Injury Lawsuit Settled for $12 Million

A lawsuit was settled last week in Harrison County for $12 million against drilling companies after an incident left a worker paralyzed. The lawsuit against Frontier Drilling and Antero Resources claimed unsafe working conditions at a job site in Salem.

Last-minute bill raises concern about repealing NC fracking moratorium

A complex fracking policy has unexpectedly emerged in the waning days of the state legislative session, giving rise to fears that lawmakers are making a last-ditch push to repeal North Carolina’s moratorium on shale gas exploration.

As Poland’s fracking future turns cloudy, so does Europe’s

It was only two years ago that Poland was positioning itself at the forefront of a shale gas revolution for Europe.

Estimated to have more untapped reserves than any other European Union nation, Poland was eager to replicate the boom from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the United States that has helped lower energy prices and carbon emissions.

Strange Byproduct Of Fracking Boom: Radioactive Socks

Oilfield filter socks, used to filter wastewater at drilling sites, have turned up in some odd corners of North Dakota, including a roadside, an Indian Reservation, a city garbage can, and tucked under other waste trucked to landfills.

The socks often contain naturally occurring radioactive materials—radium is the usual suspect—and may be dumped to avoid more costly disposal at radioactive waste depositories out of state.

Lawmaker, others say state oversight of oil field fracking is lacking

Environmentalists including a lawmaker criticized state regulators Wednesday for not adequately tracking and overseeing fracking activity in California oil fields.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves the injection of water and chemicals into the ground to stimulate production in oil wells.

Athens Fracking Ban Set For Nov. 5 Ballot

The Athens County Board of Elections has certified signatures needed to place a hydraulic fracturing ban on the Nov. 5 general election ballot in the city of Athens.

According to a news release from the Athens Community Bill of Rights Committee — the group that circulated petitions — the proposed ban on fracking and associated practices inside the city limits will be put before voters on the November ballot.

Latest blowout highlights Gulf drilling dangers

Flames erupted from an offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday night, torching a natural gas plume that had been leaking since a blowout earlier in the day. All 44 rig workers escaped before the fire began, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, but as of Wednesday morning the well was still spewing gas.

Gulf of Mexico natural gas rig blew while completing ‘sidetrack well’

The blowout that occurred on a natural gas well in the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday morning happened as Walter Oil & Gas Corp., of Houston, was completing work on a “sidetrack well” to prepare that well for new production, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. A sidetrack well uses the same hole as the original well but then spreads to a new location at the same depth.

Experts: Gas in Gulf blowout is less damaging

A blown-out natural gas well blazing off Louisiana’s coast poses fewer environmental dangers than past offshore accidents because it appears to primarily involve gas that disperses relatively easily, scientists said Wednesday.

Rig crew activated BOP before abandoning blown out well

A Gulf of Mexico rig crew tried to activate their blowout preventer’s shear rams to cut a pipe and shut off the well before they were forced to flee Tuesday, sources close to the investigation told WWL-TV.

Rig owner eyes relief well to divert gas spewing in Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana’s coast

The owner of a natural gas drilling rig aflame off of Louisiana’s coast said preparations were underway for the possible drilling of a relief well to divert gas from the site and bring the well under control.

Rig fire in Gulf may burn for 2 months, officials say

A drilling rig that caught fire late Tuesday after a natural gas well blew out about 55 miles off the coast of Grand Isle could continue to burn in the Gulf for several weeks while response crews work to permanently shut in the well, but the drawn-out drama is not expected to have devastating, long-term consequences, several industry and environmental experts said Wednesday.

Authorities see no sheen near burning Gulf rig

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement says no sheens were spotted near the well during flyovers Wednesday morning. The lack of sheen indicates the fire indicates the gas is burning off with no sign that oil or other hydrocarbons are being released into the water. Federal authorities also saw damage to the drilling rig from the air.

Fire on gas platform near Deepwater Horizon oil spill scene

Firefighters tackled a blaze on a gas platform off the coast of Louisiana, not far from the scene of the massive 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.

Rig Owner Eyes Relief Well to Divert Gas Off Coast

The owner of a natural gas drilling rig aflame off of Louisiana’s coast said preparations were under way for the possible drilling of a relief well to divert gas from the site and bring the well under control.

Experts: Gas in Gulf blowout is less damaging

A blown-out natural gas well blazing off Louisiana’s coast poses fewer environmental dangers than past offshore accidents because it appears to primarily involve gas that disperses relatively easily, scientists said Wednesday.

Jindal lashes out against coastal erosion suit

With the ink barely dry on a massive lawsuit accusing nearly 100 energy companies of devastating Louisiana’s coast and increasing the risk of catastrophic damage during a hurricane, political maneuvering over the case has already begun.

Historic lawsuit seeks billions in damages from oil, gas, pipeline industries for wetlands losses

Faced with a continuing loss of wetlands and the protection they provide to newly rebuilt levees in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the authority that oversees East Bank levee districts filed a historic lawsuit Wednesday against 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies, demanding that they immediately restore damage to the wetlands.

Transocean, Owner Of Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig, Loses Round In Gulf Spill Document Fight

Transocean Deepwater Drilling Corp. has lost a round in its fight to avoid handing over documents to a government board investigating the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion.

Transocean is appealing a federal court order enforcing a subpoena of the documents by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.

Looking back on the BP Oil Spill

The BP Oil spill had the potential to cripple Alabama’s Gulf Coast forever, and for one summer that looked like a very real and dangerous possibility.

In the summer of the spill, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism noted a 55% decrease in their normal numbers during what should have been their highest season.

Brewery Sues Over Oil Spill Cleanup Dredging Plan

A brewery has sued over a plan for dredging sediments as part of the cleanup from the Kalamazoo River oil spill three years ago.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports Bell’s Brewery on Monday sued Enbridge Inc. and the developer of a commercial park in Kalamazoo County’s Comstock Township.

Senators propose tax relief after oil spill

US Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman have introduced legislation to exempt from federal taxes all Arkansans who receive compensation from ExxonMobil for the Mayflower pipeline oil spill.

An unstoppable oil leak is flowing in Alberta

As if ruptured pipelines, train explosions and drilling rig fires weren’t enough ways for oil to damage the environment, oil companies are now creating new types of disasters.

For at least six weeks, thousands of barrels of tar sands oil have been bubbling up into the forest in Cold Lake, Alberta and neither the oil company or government scientists know how to stop the flow.

Louisiana flood board sues oil companies over erosion

The oil and gas industry has cost Louisiana hundreds of acres of coastal land that serve as a natural buffer against flooding from hurricanes, officials in charge of New Orleans-area flood protection say in a lawsuit seeking to hold dozens of companies responsible.

Shutdown of Texas-Indiana fuel pipeline can proceed –court

Enterprise Products Partners will move forward with the shutdown of a Texas-to-Indiana distillate pipeline that shippers say is critical to supply after a federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a dispute that had held up the company’s plan.

Pipeline moves past Mobile utility; deals with Mississippi spill

Plains Southcap appears to be playing hardball in an effort to get a crude oil pipeline in the ground as soon as possible from Mobile to the Chevron Pascagoula Refinery.

This is happening while its parent company, Plains All American, is still dealing with what’s been called the worst inland oil spill in Mississippi since the late 1990s.

Keystone Pipeline Opponent Will Be Active in 2014 Races

After helping to bankroll Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey’s successful Senate campaign, environmental activist Bill McKibben said Tuesday that he and his advocacy group 350.org Action will remain involved in electoral politics in 2014.

TransCanada Corporation (TRP) Defends Its New Ad Campaign For Keystone XL Against Environmental Groups

TransCanada Corporation (USA) (NYSE:TRP), the company that proposes to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, said rhetoric from environmental groups over the company’s new ad campaign for the project is baseless, a representative told International Business Times on Wednesday.

Arctic ice melt could cost an extra $60 trillion, say researchers

Methane gas released from the melting Arctic ice could accelerate global warming and tack on an extra $60 trillion to the cost the world is expected to incur from climate change.

Climate science: Vast costs of Arctic change

Unlike the loss of sea ice, the vulnerability of polar bears and the rising human population, the economic impacts of a warming Arctic are being ignored.

Most economic discussion so far assumes that opening up the region will be beneficial. The Arctic is thought to be home to 30% of the world’s undiscovered gas and 13% of its undiscovered oil, and new polar shipping routes would increase regional trade1, 2. The insurance market Lloyd’s of London estimates that investment in the Arctic could reach US$100 billion within ten years3.

How can we prevent another Quebec oil train explosion?

Regulators have been scrambling to figure out how a series of oil tankers could have rammed into the Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic earlier this month, killing dozens of people.

For those who missed the story and its shocking images, 72 rail cars filled with crude oil mysteriously jumped the tracks early in the morning July 6 near Lac-Mégantic, and proceeded to smash into a busy downtown area, exploding into a scorching fire that killed at least 47 people. The exact number of deaths is unclear, because some people remain listed as missing.

Lac-Mégantic demands MM&A foot cost of clean-up

The mayor of Lac-Mégantic is demanding that Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, the railway company involved in the train derailment and explosion that devastated the Eastern Townships community on July 6, provide the money for the clean-up process.

In Quebec Town, Fires Are Out, but Recovery Is Distant

Throughout the day, regardless of the weather, there is usually a crowd gazing out from the steps of Sainte Agnès Catholic Church. From there, they look down at a statue of Jesus, its arms outstretched in an apparent blessing over the nightmare that lies beyond a tall, temporary fence covered with black plastic and police warning signs.

Volunteers See Fukushima Radiation on the Move

The radiation-mapping project launched shortly after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster recently surpassed more than ten million data points, all gathered by a network of local volunteers.

New worries for Fukushima workers

Workers at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan say they have seen steam rising from one of the damaged reactor buildings, for the second time in less than a week.

The company that runs the plant – Tokyo Electric Power Company, also known as Tepco, says it has not been able to establish where the steam is coming from.

Hot and leaky: Fukushima two years later

Two years after one of the most significant nuclear accidents in history, the utility responsible for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, continues to struggle to gain control over the site. At a press conference held yesterday, TEPCO admitted for the first time that groundwater was carrying radioactive isotopes into the ocean. Over the past week, it has also had to identify the source of steam seen in one of the reactor buildings.

Fukushima operator acknowledges plant leaks

The operator of Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant has said contaminated ground water had likely been flowing into the sea, acknowledging such a leakage for the first time.

Tokyo Electric Power Co, or Tepco, also came under fire on Monday for the revelation that the number of plant workers with thyroid radiation exposure times exceeding the threshold levels for increased cancer risks was ten times the number it had released previously.

Tepco Says Toxic Water Leaked to Sea From Fukushima Plant

Groundwater laced with radiation from melted reactors at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi atomic plant north of Tokyo has been leaking into the Pacific Ocean, raising concern the toxic water has been flowing into the sea since the disaster at the facility more than two years ago.

Fukushima cleanup costs escalating

The clean-up after the Fukushima nuclear disaster could cost five times more than estimated, figures have revealed, as Tokyo Electric Power said on Wednesday that steam had been seen again in a reactor building.

It is the third time steam has been observed in the battered structure over the last week.

Researchers see over ¥5 trillion necessary for Fukushima cleanup

The government and municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture could end up spending over ¥5 trillion on decontamination work following the 2011 nuclear accident, researchers said.

Fukushima crisis rolls on as TEPCO admits radiation leaks

TEPCO, the owner of the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant, has admitted that the damaged reactors are leaking highly toxic radioactive contamination into the Pacific Ocean – confirming what many of us had feared for some time.

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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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