Environmental Must-Reads – November 12, 2013


North Dakota’s Salty Fracked Wells Drink More Water to Keep Oil Flowing

It’s well known that water has been key to the shale oil and gas rush in the United States. But in one center of the hydraulic fracturing boom—North Dakota—authorities are finding that the initial blast of water to frack the wells is only the beginning.

The wells being drilled into the prairie to tap into the Bakken shale need “maintenance water”—lots of it—to keep the oil flowing.

Oklahomans Claim Fracking Waste Polluted Their Water

The battle over a toxic Oklahoma dumpsite has taken a remarkable turn. Three years ago, 6 Investigates told you about pollution problems in Bokoshe, in LeFlore County. People there claim they are being poisoned by a coal ash disposal site. The local power plant, AES Shady Point, has dumped enough coal ash there to build a 20-acre mountain less than a mile from town. It’s loaded with chemicals like arsenic, mercury, chromium and lead, all of which are known to cause cancer.

Fracking: Advice From Arkansas

A local community has the chance to get ahead. Oil and natural gas companies are eyeing southern Illinois for fracking, but there are things the community can do to prepare before the industry invades. People living in Arkansas, where they’ve been fracking for years, have a few words of wisdom and some warnings for the Land of Lincoln.

Family fears their land will be used for fracking

You control what happens on your land. But when it comes to fracking, you may not have control of what goes on below the surface, even on your own property.

In anti-fracking circles, it’s known as forced pooling, but an energy company representative tells Local 6 the official term is integration. Let’s say you have mineral rights owners that leased their property, but one owner in the middle stood up and said no. While that is his right to refuse, it also infringes on the rights of those around him that want their land explored.

Analysis: Telling secrets to stop burning natural gas in U.S. fracking boom

The North American energy industry’s reputation for ironclad secrecy is starting to crack as producers discover a little transparency can help save millions of dollars.

That is what is motivating Continental Resources Inc, the biggest player in North Dakota’s prolific Bakken shale field, to take the unusual step of sharing its long-term drilling plans with pipeline companies.

After drought, more oil and gas drillers begin recycling water for fracking operations

When the rain stopped falling in Texas, the prairie grass yellowed, the soil cracked and oil drillers were confronted with a crisis. After years of easy access to cheap, plentiful water, the land they prized for its vast petroleum wealth was starting to dry up.

Exxon, Range Resources get an F in fracking disclosure, report says

Two dozen public oil and gas producers got failing grades for not doing enough to publicly disclose the steps they take to mitigate the risks of fracking, according to a report by four leading investment groups.

Ranking near the bottom were Exxon (NYSE: XOM), based in Irving, and Range Resources (NYSE: (RRC), based in Fort Worth.

Dem senator seeks probe of GOP chief over fracking

A Democratic senator has asked for an investigation of state Republican Chairman Ed Cox for his campaign supporting hydraulic fracturing while he has a personal stake worth millions of dollars in a gas drilling company.

Nanogrid, activated by sunlight, breaks down pollutants in water, leaving biodegradable compounds

Oil spills do untold damage to the environment–to the waters they pollute and to marine and other wildlife. The Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, for example, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, flowed unabated for three months.

Typically, such oil spills are extraordinarily difficult to clean up.

Reducing the Harmful Impacts of Oil and Gas Development Near Theodore Roosevelt National Park

“I have always said I would not have been President had it not been for my experience in North Dakota.” –Theodore Roosevelt

Would Theodore Roosevelt still be inspired to become America’s greatest conservationist president if he experienced western North Dakota today? The land he lived on is now preserved as Theodore Roosevelt National Park, but a dramatic increase in the amount of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for oil and natural gas in the area is having ill effects on the park.

Obama nominates BLM leader Neil Kornze to lead the BLM

President Obama has nominated Nevadan Neil Kornze to lead the Bureau of Land Management. Kornze has championed the administration’s plans to lease public lands for solar-energy projects. He’s also worked to boost oil and gas drilling on federal land. So it seems he’s down with Obama’s “all of the above” energy policy.

Train loaded with oil derails, explodes, pollutes Alabama wetlands

Yet another oil-hauling train has derailed and exploded, this one sending flaming cars loaded with North Dakota crude into Alabama wetlands.

The 90-car train derailed early Friday, causing flames to shoot 300 feet into the air. No injuries were reported. One family living in the marshy area was evacuated from their home following the accident. The L.A. Times has the details

Officials plan to discuss sinkhole relief well installation with homeowners

Concerned homeowners will get a chance Tuesday to learn more information about the new relief wells being installed near the giant sinkhole in southeast Louisiana.

Those wells will be placed throughout the Bayou Corne community in Assumption Parish. The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. at the command trailer at Sportsman’s Landing.

Study Demonstrates Substantial Role of Mississippi River in Oil Transport

Scientists from the University of Miami used a high-resolution prediction model to study the relationship between the Mississippi River and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Simulations showed that the Mississippi River plume created rapidly changing circulation patterns and fronts that influenced the direction of surface oil, guiding some towards the Louisiana-Texas shelf and shielding some from the Mississippi-Alabama-Florida shelf.

What’s causing Nigeria’s oil spills?

Hundreds of oil spills reported in Nigeria every year are ruining the environment and putting human lives at risk. A new report from Amnesty International says spills in the Niger Delta are the result of pipeline corrosion, maintenance issues, equipment failure, sabotage and theft.

An oil spill in America provoked outrage, but other victims are more easily ignored

People in the oil-producing areas of the Niger Delta have suffered thousands of oil spills – which have ruined livelihoods, public health and the environment. Why are they not being listened to? Because oil companies control information about the spills.

After Arkansas Spill, East Texans Seek Permanent Shutdown of Pipeline

For nearly 83 years, Jim Howell was hardly one to cause a political ruckus. But this spring, he realized that a crude oil superhighway ran through his backyard — just two feet below his patchy lawn and seven feet beyond a newly built porch displaying a sign declaring “cowpokes welcome.”

“At first I felt guilty and stupid,” Howell said about not knowing that a 20-inch-wide pipeline passed so close to his compact brick house. Guilt turned to alarm as he read more about it, and as representatives from ExxonMobil, its operator, showed up to add a row of yellow- and black-striped warning markers. The pipeline, named Pegasus, was the same one that ruptured about 320 miles northeast of here in March, spewing at least 210,000 gallons of heavy Canadian crude into neighborhood streets in Mayflower, Ark.

Exxon holding off on Pegasus pipeline restart

A spokesman from Exxon Mobil said there are no plans to restart the 65-year-old Pegasus oil pipeline until U.S. federal safety regulators give their consent.

About 5,000 barrels of a diluted form of heavy Canadian crude oil spilled from a 22-foot rupture in the pipeline in Mayflower, Ark., in March. The pipeline remains closed.

Alabama Oil Train Derailment Raises New Crude-by-Rail Safety Questions

The second explosive oil-train derailment this year, which has finally burned out in rural Alabama, may raise new questions about the safety of the crude-by-rail boom, pointing to problems beyond those that surfaced following the earlier tragedy in Quebec.

Alberta premier making Keystone pipeline push

Alberta Premier Alison Redford is making a full-court lobbying press for the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline as the White House decision on the project draws closer.

Redford will have meetings in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday with officials from the State Department, which is leading the federal review of Keystone, the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

What Will Canada Give to Get Keystone XL?

Alison Redford, premier of the Canadian province of Alberta, is coming to Washington tomorrow to lobby Congress on behalf of the Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline, which would boost her economy but raise global carbon emissions and endanger the environment of the states it would pass through on its way south. Or, as she puts it, she wants Americans to understand “the responsible energy development and the strong environmental policies we have in Alberta.” Good idea, premier. Let me help.

Canadian National Railway Suffers Fourth Derailment in Month

A Canadian National Railway Co. train derailed in northern Ontario this past weekend, and an estimated 40 carloads of grain left the tracks, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada said.

The board said it was deploying a team to investigate the accident, which took place some 1,700 km (1,056 miles) northwest of Toronto, near Fort Frances and close to the Ontario-Minnesota border.

Greenpeace activists detained for Arctic oil protest moved to St. Petersburg jail

Thirty Greenpeace activists detained in Russia for protesting at an oil rig in the Arctic have been moved to a jail in St. Petersburg.

The activists had been held in a jail in Murmansk, in northern Russia, since their arrests on Sept. 24.

Fukushima Floating Offshore Wind Turbine Starts Generating

A development to harness the power of the wind about 20 kilometers (12 miles) off the coast of Fukushima, site of the March 2011 nuclear disaster, began generating power on an operational basis today.

The project, funded by the government and led by Marubeni Corp. (8002), is a symbol of Japan’s ambition to commercialize the unproven technology of floating offshore wind power and its plan to turn quake-ravaged Fukushima into a clean energy hub.

Fukushima evacuees express anger, resignation at government policy shift

A framed photograph in Etsuko Oura’s temporary housing shows an aerial view of the house that her husband and son had built 100 kilometers away in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture.

That 430-square-meter home, surrounded by yuzu citrus and pomegranate trees, is gone, swept away by the tsunami in 2011. Her husband, Ryuichi, died at age 76 in late 2011 as he was designing a new hillside home close to the original house in Okuma, co-host of the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Record radioactivity level found at Fukushima plant well

A record high level of 710,000 becquerels of beta-ray sources, such as radioactive strontium, was detected per liter of water in an observation well at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Nov. 12 the water was taken Nov. 10 at the well 10 meters north of a tank that leaked 300 tons of highly contaminated water before the problem was discovered in August.

Japan readies additional $30 billion for Fukushima clean-up: sources

Japan’s government is finalizing plans to borrow an additional 3 trillion yen ($30 billion) to pay for compensating Fukushima evacuees and cleaning up the area outside the wrecked nuclear plant, said people with knowledge of the situation.

Fukushima animation shows how difficult clean-up is going to be

The Fukushima animation below is TEPCO-produced, so beware the spin and the feel-good “nothing to see here” certainty.

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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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