Environmental Must-Reads – March 18, 2014


Was the Los Angeles Earthquake Caused by Fracking Techniques?

Was the 4.4-magnitude earthquake that rattled Los Angeles this morning caused by fracking methods? It’s hard to say, but what’s clear from the above map, made by Kyle Ferrar of the FracTracker Alliance, is that the quake’s epicenter was just eight miles from a disposal well where oil and gas wastewater is being injected underground at high pressure.

Don Drysdale, spokesman for the state agency that oversees California Geological Survey, told me that state seismologists don’t think that the injection well was close enough to make a difference (and the agency has also raised the possibility that Monday’s quake could have been a foreshock for a larger one). But environmental groups aren’t so sure.

Fracking California’s Coast: Billions of Gallons of Fracking Pollution Legalized By Feds

If an energy company accidentally spilled 9 billion gallons of toxic waste into the ocean, the media, the public, and the government would be all over the situation.  But when it isn’t an accident, there is no reason for anyone to pay attention.

It’s fracking’s 65th birthday, and Big Oil made it a birthday card

The technology that makes hydraulic fracturing possible turns 65 today, and the American Petroleum Institute is celebrating with e-cards and lies.

“Americans have long been energy pioneers, from the 1800’s [sic] when the first wells were drilled to today,” said API Director of Upstream and Industry Operations Erik Milito in a press release promoting the birthday campaign. “As part of that history, on March 17, 1949, we developed the technology to safely unlock shale and other tight formations, and now the U.S. is the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas.”

NJ eyes ban on fracking waste from any state

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a ban on treating or storing waste products created by natural gas drillers.

A state Senate committee advanced a bill on Monday that would prohibit the treatment, discharge, disposal or storage of any wastewater, solids, sludge or other byproducts resulting from hydraulic fracturing, a technique commonly known as fracking.

Not Into Fracking? How About Some Nuclear Waste?

The U.S. shale oil-and-gas boom has something for everybody. Jobs! Community outrage! Cheap fuel! Financial intrigue! Geopolitical leverage! Dirty water!

Really, the only thing nobody’s tried to work in is nuclear waste. Until now.

Increase in Valley quakes stirs curiosity, concern

For 100 years, Mahoning County had not experienced a sizable earthquake. But a little more than two years ago, the ground in the region started to shake. There have been a dozen earthquakes in the area near Youngstown since.

In fact, earthquakes have happened at a greater rate across Ohio in recent years than they had for more than a century.

Illinois county to vote on fracking ban

An Illinois county will decide Tuesday on whether or not to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as energy companies eye the “New Albany Shale” of the Illinois Basin. The shale could hold up to 300 billion barrels of oil and sits below the county.

If passed, it would follow numerous local and statewide efforts to stop or control fracking in the United States. Los Angeles has passed a moratorium against fracking, and several cities in heavily drilled Colorado and Texas have banned the practice.

Kansas task force explores possible fracking, earthquake link

An incredible amount of earthquakes have rocked the Midwest since the first of the year, rattling the nerves of scientists who study the trembles.

Kansas officials are so concerned they have set out to find the cause of the quakes. The big concern is that Kansas is seeing more activity now than it ever has before.

Washington Legislature Fails To Pass Any Oil Train Legislation

More oil is moving through Washington state from the Bakken oil fields, putting public pressure on elected officials to pass laws protecting public health and the environment.

Bakken oil from North Dakota and Montana has proven extremely flammable, causing several explosions in North America, including one that killed 47 people in Quebec last July.

Huge increase in crude oil by rail to Bay Area concerns local leaders

Bakken crude oil from North Dakota is part of the mix of increased crude-by-rail shipments into Contra Costa County, raising concerns from local leaders about whether current regulations are sufficient to minimize risks of transporting the volatile fossil fuel.

“There’s a lot more to be learned, but Bakken (crude) is coming in now,” said Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials Division Director Randy Sawyer. “How much, I don’t know.”

Students crowd-source to raise money for oil spill dispersant experiments

A chemical engineering professor at Columbia University is using an unusual method – crowd-funding – to underwrite the cost of experiments aimed at finding a more natural and safer way of dispersing oil from spills, like the one caused by the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.

Associate Professor Faye McNeill and her undergraduate students are studying whether a pair of naturally occurring soap-like compounds can take the place of more toxic chemicals now used in dispersants.

Environmental Regulators Slow To Clean Up Oil Spill

Environmental regulators promised an aggressive cleanup after a tanker train hauling 2.9 million gallons of crude oil derailed and burned in a west Alabama swamp in early November amid a string of North American oil train crashes.

So why is dark, smelly crude oil still oozing into the water four months later?

Oil spills into Missouri River in North Dakota

As many as 33 barrels of oil have been contained after spilling from a well into floodwaters near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers in northwest North Dakota, the state’s Department of Health said Saturday.

Ice jams in the rivers resulting from warmer weather have caused the waters to rise and flood at least 16 wells southwest of Williston, but only one spilled Friday, said Kris Roberts, the head of the Health Department’s environmental response team.

Oil company likely to be sanctioned in Missouri River spill

A Colorado oil company probably will be sanctioned for not heeding a warning to properly secure a North Dakota well that was swamped by floodwaters and spilled oil near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers, a state health official said Monday.

Environmental geologist Kris Roberts said potential fines or other actions were “likely” against Denver-based Zavanna LLC, after up to 1,400 gallons of oil spilled from its well site into floodwaters in the area southwest of Williston.

Oil-Fouled waters of Nigerian Delta force residents to leave

Goi is gone, given over to nature.

Residents of the former fishing and farming community of 3,000 in the Ogoni region of southeast Nigeria, fed up with the third and largest oil spill in five years due to sabotage of pipelines, packed up and left the village in 2009-2010.

Cleanup of soil from Exxon oil pipeline spill complete

ExxonMobil has submitted a report to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality saying it has completed the cleanup of soil stemming from last year’s oil spill in Mayrflower.

The revised report was submitted last week and is subject to the department’s approval, according to a story published Sunday in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Adams County approves new crude oil pipeline

Commissioners in Adams County on Monday voted to approve construction of a new pipeline to carry crude oil from Colorado to Oklahoma.

The White Cliffs Twin Pipeline will run parallel to an existing pipeline, and about 15 feet apart, but is intended to double the capacity. Together, the pipelines will be able to move about 150,000 barrels of oil per day.

Large oil leak found in Colerain pipeline

A large oil leak was found overnight in a crude oil pipeline that runs through Glen Oak Nature Preserve in Colerain Township, fire officials said this morning.

It’s not clear yet how big the leak is, but it is contained, said Capt. Steve Conn, spokesman for Colerain Township Fire Department.

Keystone XL a threat to South Carolina coastal tourism

Secretary of State John Kerry needs to talk with U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. Better yet, he should come see the South Carolina coast firsthand.

Last year, Jewell toured Bulls Island and witnessed how only a 1-foot rise in sea level over the last century has turned a vibrant hardwood island into a “boneyard beach.” The same disaster situation from even faster-rising seas is facing South Carolina’s vibrant tourism economy, from Cherry Grove at the north to Beaufort in the south.

Oil train efforts stall in Olympia

Democrats and Republicans blamed each other after the legislative session ended last week with little agreement on how to deal with increasing numbers of oil trains entering Washington state.

Several measures to address oil shipments by rail died as lawmakers adjourned the 60-day session, including a resolution calling for tougher federal standards for tank cars and a bill aimed at ensuring that state laws on oil spill response cover oil from Canadian tar sands.

Alaska Fights Feds Over Oil Exploration

Alaska sued the Department of the Interior for rejecting its plan to seismically investigate oil and gas reserves in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Alaska claim in Federal Court that state and federal laws permit such exploration, but that Washington did not even look at its plan and are depriving Alaskans of the economic and social benefits of their own resources.

Fukushima seeks to lure caregivers with stipends

To deal with acute staffing shortages at nursing care facilities in coastal regions of Fukushima Prefecture, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will attempt to attract caregivers from outside the prefecture by offering up to ¥450,000 in school fees and relocation support, beginning in fiscal 2014, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Concerns Over Measurement of Fukushima Fallout

In the chaotic, fearful weeks after the Fukushima nuclear crisis began, in March 2011, researchers struggled to measure the radioactive fallout unleashed on the public. Michio Aoyama’s initial findings were more startling than most. As a senior scientist at the Japanese government’s Meteorological Research Institute, he said levels of radioactive cesium 137 in the surface water of the Pacific Ocean could be 10,000 times as high as contamination after Chernobyl, the world’s worst nuclear accident.

US sailors exposed to Fukushima radiation levels beyond Japan’s estimates

Crew members of the USS Ronald Reagan’s March 2011 Fukushima relief mission encountered radiation levels that far exceeded the Japanese government’s estimates, according to a report in the Asia-Pacific Journal.

The revelations contained in the report could have a bearing on the lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Company by more than 70 U.S. service members who say they suffer from long-term health effects from their participation in the U.S. navy’s response to the nuclear disaster.

Cellphone Radiation Warning: Maine House of Representatives Approve “The Wireless Information Act”

RF Safe has been following all the latest hearings on Cell Phone Radiation warning labels for several states across America. According to public records, On 3/11/2014 Maine’s House of Representatives has passed “The Wireless Information Act” with a House vote of 83 in favor and 56 opposed.

Will Cell Phones Prove as Cancerous as Cigarettes?

This week we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the first handheld cell phone, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X (pictured abpve), going on sale (which you can read more about here).

But will we one day rue the day cell phones became the world’s most ubiquitous gadget the way we discovered, after 30 years, that cigarettes can kill you?

Polaris-H detector maps nuclear radiation in real time

Turn on any old science fiction film and odds are that you’ll see someone listening to the ominous chirping of a Geiger counter. It’s very dramatic, but not very precise and, unfortunately, nuclear scientists and engineers of today are stuck with the same problem. Now, researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a faster, cheaper way for nuclear power plants to detect and map dangerous hot spots and leaky fuel rods using a camera that maps radiation in real time.

1 comment

  • Oil will never get better. We need to advocate for electric and hydrogen cell cars. See the film Who Killed the Electric Car? And demand a change in our automotive industry.

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