Environmental Must-Reads – November 26, 2012


BP, workers head to court over criminal charges in Gulf disaster

BP is preparing to plead guilty to manslaughter and other crimes arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico rig explosion and oil spill but isn’t expected to do that during an initial appearance Tuesday in New Orleans federal court.

Monster sinkhole sparks catastrophe worries

Southern Louisiana is in danger of experiencing an environmental calamity rivaling the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, thanks to a massive, expanding sinkhole that is gobbling up the forest and lighting up YouTube with videos of this startling phenomenon.

Filipino worker burned in oil platform explosion dies hours after seeing family

NOLA.com is reporting one of four Filipino oil workers injured in last week’s explosion died this morning. The Philippines Embassy reported Avelino Tajonera’s death.

BP’s punishment a charade

The Justice Department has entered into the largest criminal settlement in U.S. history with the giant oil company BP in connection with the 2010 disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 people and caused the worst oil spill in American history. BP pleaded guilty to 14 criminal counts, including manslaughter, and agreed to pay $4 billion over the next five years.

Just the start for BP?

After striking criminal deal on Deepwater Horizon, firm braces for huge civil hit

Oil rig worker dies of injuries from Black Elk explosion in Gulf

One of the men burned last week in an explosion and fire on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico died on Friday of his injuries, an official said, bringing the confirmed death toll from the accident to two.

Chevron, Ecuadoreans to clash in Toronto court

The world’s highest-profile environmental legal battle, which pits U.S. energy giant Chevron Corp. against a group of Ecuadorean villagers over decades of oil pollution in the Amazon, is set to make its Canadian courtroom debut this week.

Ex-worker says problems with Wyo. pipeline ignored

A former TransCanada engineer claims the company knew that its Bison natural gas pipeline in Wyoming had faults before it ruptured last year but ignored the problems in the rush to bring it online.

Pipeline Protest Draws Pepper Spray From Deputies

WELLS, Tex. — The first construction workers to arrive at TransCanada’s Keystone XL construction site on Monday morning found climbing ropes tied to their equipment. Three protesters had hung platforms from pine trees, hoisted them 50 feet into the air and secured them to TransCanada construction equipment. Then they had shimmied up. The equipment could not be moved without pulling the protesters out of the trees.

Two Tanker Incidents off BC Coast Confirm Tar Sand Supertanker Concerns

Two separate incidents involving container ships off the coast of British Columbia have local First Nations questioning the prudence of transporting tar sands crude in the region’s hazardous waterways. The incidents, occurring within less than 48 hours of each other, lend new support to those who oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline that would bring over 200 oil-bearing supertankers through the area each year.

With Ban on Drilling Practice, Town Lands in Thick of Dispute

LONGMONT, Colo. — This old farming town near the base of the Rocky Mountains has long been considered a conservative next-door neighbor to the ultraliberal college town of Boulder, a place bisected by the railroad and where middle-class families found a living at the vegetable cannery, sugar mill and Butterball turkey plant.

But this month, Longmont became the first town in Colorado to outlaw hydraulic fracturing, the oil-drilling practice commonly known as fracking. The ban has propelled Longmont to the fiercely contested forefront of the nation’s antifracking movement, inspiring other cities to push for similar prohibitions.

Pa. company plans gas pipeline across NY S. Tier

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — A Pennsylvania company is planning a 75-mile natural gas pipeline across three Southern Tier counties to connect with the Millennium Pipeline.

The Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin reports (http://press.sn/TnCY3V ) that EmKey Gathering of Erie, Pa., plans to transport natural gas from locally-drilled wells to major energy markets.

Mass. natural gas explosion damaged 42 buildings

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Preliminary investigations show more than 40 buildings were damaged in a natural gas explosion in Massachusetts that injured 18 people, building inspectors said Saturday.

Utility worker pierced pipeline before Massachusetts gas blast

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A natural gas explosion that injured 18 people and damaged 42 buildings in Springfield’s entertainment district was blamed Sunday on a utility worker who accidentally punctured a high-pressure pipeline while looking for a leak.

Siegel: Fracking harms environment, planet’s climate

A tidal wave is about to sweep over our state. Oil companies are snapping up thousands of acres across central and Southern California. Armed with dangerous new techniques, the petroleum industry aims to exploit a vast reservoir of previously inaccessible shale oil — and the consequences for our air, water and public health could be devastating.

Hydrofracking lawsuit against Colden officially dismissed

COLDEN — Hydraulic fracturing has been the focus of much attention in the town of Colden in recent months, while this practice of harvesting natural fuel resources becomes better understood and legislation is created, across New York state.

SANDER DIAMOND: Food production, not fracking

The debate among those who believe that hydrofracking is not only safe but will also give a much needed boost to the economy of the Southern Tier and those who believe that the damage it will cause in no way justifies placing both the environment and so many people at risk has been bitter, rising to a level of acrimony not seen in decades.

Backhoe damaged pipe, led to natural gas explosion

SALT LAKE CITY — Investigators say a backhoe damaged a high-pressure line and led to a natural gas explosion in Carbon County that injured two workers.

Fracking the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes hold 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water. The good news is that legacy contaminants are decreasing more quickly than previously reported in three of the Great Lakes, but have stayed virtually the same in two other lakes, according to new research. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), the pesticide DDT and other banned compounds dropped about 50 percent in fish in Lakes Michigan, Ontario and Huron from 1999 through 2009, although there were no significant changes in Lakes Superior and Erie fish, according to the study to be published this month in Science of the Total Environment.

Proposed gas pipeline may sidestep environmental review

TransCanada’s planned 650-kilometre natural gas pipeline to Kitimat would cross about 320 watercourses including the habitat of more than 100 species at risk, such as white sturgeon, woodland caribou and marbled murrelet, company documents show.

Eagle Ford lease deadlines driving drilling

The rush is on in the Eagle Ford Shale, and some of it has more to do with legal contracts than extracting oil and gas from miles below the surface.

The clock is ticking on many of the mineral leases that South Texas landowners signed a few years ago after the first successful Eagle Ford well in La Salle County in 2008.

Anti-fracking movement picks up steam as state delays decision

Environmental activists in the Hudson Valley are calling on local governments to ban hydro-fracking. This just days after Governor Cuomo said the state will not meet next Thursday’s decision deadline on natural gas drilling. YNN’s John Wagner has more.

Anti-fracking groups cry foul on ODNR’s injection-well ‘open house’

Two groups that oppose new injection wells in Athens County for wastewater from oil-and-gas drilling have criticized the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, for holding an “open house” to discuss a proposed new well in Rome Township, rather than a true public hearing

Oil and gas workers fracked by on-the-job injuries

On a cloudy spring morning, Ethan Ritter sat behind the wheel of a dump truck, lost in the maze of oil rigs northeast of Williston, N.D. Ritter, then 21, was hauling a load of gravel for his brother, who was doing road construction. He made a full stop at the tracks; there were no boom gates, only a crossing sign. His CB radio was off and all was quiet. Ritter looked both ways, then eased on the gas and headed into the crossing.

Fracking Your Future: Campus Drilling Extends Far Beyond Pennsylvania

The oil and gas industry plans to perform hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) on college campuses in Pennsylvania, just as it currently does in close proximity to K-12 schools nationwide.

But as NPR demonstrated in a recent report, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Japan needs to address Fukushima nuclear fears, says UN

Japan needs to do more to address fears over radiation in the area around Fukushima, a UN health expert said on Monday, urging Tokyo to consult those affected by nuclear pollution.

Anand Grover, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, told reporters the government needed to depend less on experts and give more information directly to people living with nuclear fears

UN says Fukushima nuclear risks underestimated in Japan

A United Nations rights investigator says Japan hasn’t fully served the health needs of residents and workers affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis

Rice planting to resume in Fukushima

The town government of Hirono and the village government of Kawauchi in Fukushima Prefecture have decided to resume planting rice next year.

Most Fukushima nuke plant workers ineligible for free cancer checks

Of the many thousands of workers who have risked radiation exposure at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, only a paltry 3.7 percent are eligible for free cancer screenings provided by the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Toshiba Makes Robot to Aid in Nuclear Emergencies

When conditions become too dangerous for humans, we turn to robots. For example, robots have been used as bomb “defusers” and recon drones for years. As for radiation, robots can come in handy there, as well. Unfortunately, last year when Japan ran into a nuclear disaster at Fukushima they weren’t probably prepared for the incident and had to turn to the U.S. for nuclear disaster-ready robots. It seems that Japan is working directly with Toshiba to ensure they aren’t caught with their guard down ever again.

Hopes of Home Fade Among Japan’s Displaced

With the slow pace of cleanup efforts, residents of Okuma, a town evacuated in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, have become pessimistic about ever living there again.

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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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