Environmental Must-Reads – October 4, 2013


Fracking wastewater contaminated — and likely radioactive

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, extracts oil and gas from deep underground by injecting water into the ground and breaking the rocks in which the valuable hydrocarbons are trapped. But it also produces wastewater high in certain contaminants — and which may be radioactive.

Environmental Group Calls for Fracking Ban in New Report

Environment America, a group of state-based environmental advocacy organizations, released a report Thursday called “Fracking by the Numbers,” which quantifies damage done by fracking across the United States.

According to the report, fracking operations in the U.S. generated 280 billion gallons of toxic waste water in 2012. The report also found that, since 2005, fracking has used 250 billion gallons of fresh water, degraded 360,000 acres, and released 100 million metric tons of global warming pollutants into the atmosphere.

Fracking Registration Now Open in Illinois

Companies that want to conduct fracking in Illinois can now start registering with the state, but it will be a few months before permits are handed out, as legislators are still working on rules for the new law.

Shopping to reduce my fracking footprint

There’s something on which the oil and gas industry and I agree: there is a lot more to oil and gas than gasoline, electricity, and home heat. According to the American Petroleum Institute: “Thousands of products – from your toothpaste to your iPod®, your cellphone to your computer, and your vitamins to vegetables – all got their start from oil or natural gas. When you stop and think about it, America’s oil and natural gas industry is an amazingly integral part of your world.”

Groundbreaking Report Calculates Damage Done by Fracking

As federal policy makers decide on rules for fracking on public lands, a new report calculates the toll of this dirty drilling on our environment, including 280 billion gallons of toxic wastewater generated by fracking in 2012—enough to flood all of Washington, DC, in a 22-foot deep toxic lagoon. The Environment America Research & Policy Center report, Fracking by the Numbers, is the first to measure the damaging footprint of fracking to date.

Environmental group’s report attempts to quantify fracking waste

A new report from a New York-based environmental group attempts to put a number on the amount of waste generated by hydraulic fracturing across the country.

The study from Environment New York claims 250 billion gallons of wastewater were generated by fracking nationwide in 2012, including 1.5 billion gallons in neighboring Pennsylvania. The fracking process requires the use of large quantities of water mixed with sand and chemicals injected deep underground to fracture shale formations and release natural gas.

Report: Enough Fracking Wastewater to Flood the Statehouse

A new report is the first of its kind to measure the footprint of fracking in Ohio. Released by the Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center, the research finds Ohio drilling operations are producing 30 million gallons of wastewater each year, enough to flood the Ohio Statehouse under 90 feet of toxic waste. But that’s not the only toll, according to Christian Adams, state associate with Environment Ohio.

Fracking boom closes historic bridge

Abraham Lincoln crossed over it occasionally on trips from Illinois to Washington, D.C., and, until yesterday, you could have followed in his footsteps.

But as of today, the last S-bridge still in service in Ohio is closed to traffic by the Guernsey County commissioners. The bridge, which crosses over Salt Fork Creek near Middlebourne about 10 miles east of Cambridge, probably was built about 1828, said Doug Smith, a Licking County commissioner and president of the Ohio National Road Association.

American company sues Canada over fracking moratorium

Quebec isn’t entirely sure about this whole fracking thing. Amid reports from across the continent of groundwater pollution, air pollution, deforestation, and other environmental side effects of hydraulic fracturing, the Canadian province has placed a moratorium on the practice beneath the St. Lawrence River.

In BP’s Oil-Spill Saga, a Court Triumph It Might Regret

In the sprawling litigation over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP (BP) won a potentially important round in the federal appeals court in New Orleans. Now we’ll see whether the British oil giant’s victory pays off in the federal trial court—and it just might backfire.

Judge orders suspension of some BP Gulf oil spill payments over fears of bogus claims

A federal judge on Thursday ordered the administrator of a multibillion-dollar settlement over BP’s 2010 Gulf oil spill to immediately suspend making settlement offers and payments to some businesses that claim the company’s 2010 oil spill cost them money.

Court orders closer scrutiny of oil-spill claims against BP

BP has been complaining for most of the past year that its fund for compensating economic victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill was out of control, and that a New Orleans court official was approving payments to people who had not been affected at all by the disaster.

Big Oil Races Back Into the Gulf of Mexico

In October 2010, the Obama administration lifted its five-month ban on deepwater drilling in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico following BP (BP)‘s disastrous oil spill. Three years later, global oil companies are flocking back to the deepest waters of the Gulf, snatching up oil leases and drilling permits at a record level.

Report: Geismar plant explosion caused by ruptured reboiler

Williams Olefins has released a preliminary report on the cause of a deadly explosion at its Geismar plant in June.

According to reports, the fire was result of a rupture in an off-line reboiler that was in standby mode, next to a boiler that was in operation.

Ecuador’s congress Oks oil drilling in Amazon park

Lawmakers in Ecuador on Thursday authorized the extraction of oil from Yasuni National Park, a pristine Amazon reserve.

After a 10-hour debate, a loyalist congress approved President Rafael Correa’s plan by a 108 to 25 margin, with four legislators absent.

Clay substance spills during pipeline work

Environmental regulators worked Thursday to determine the cause of a spill of a clay lubricant during construction of an underground pipeline in eastern Ohio.

Southeast Directional Drilling Co. reported Tuesday it had released an unknown quantity containing the lubricant, bentonite, in Harrison County, northeast of the village of Cadiz. The spill occurred during construction of the ATEX pipeline, which will carry liquid petroleum products from Pennsylvania to Texas.

Keystone XL Pipeline is a Real Homewrecker, Especially for Foxes

The potential environmental effects of Keystone XL keep racking up, and none of them look good. We’re already looking at leaks, potential damage to lakes and rivers, problems for plants and animals, and a host of other issues — no wonder people right and left are opposing it! But one such problem strikes particularly close to the bone: endangered Northern Swift Foxes could be crushed in their dens along with their cubs as a result of pipeline construction.

Greenpeace’s Arctic 30 Charged as Gazprom Says ‘Tragedy’ Averted

Russian charged 30 people with piracy after Greenpeace activists tried to board an Arctic oil platform as OAO Gazprom (GAZP) said the protest threatened to have “tragic” consequences for workers under water at the time.

All 28 activists as well as a photographer and videographer, who were detained last month, face as long as 15 years in prison if convicted, Greenpeace said in an e-mailed statement today, referring to the group as the “Arctic 30.”

Second journalist charged by Russia over Greenpeace Arctic oil rig protest

Denis Sinyakov, a former Reuters photographer, was working on a freelance contract for Greenpeace and on assignment for a Russian news site when the group’s Arctic Sunrise icebreaker was boarded by Russian forces last month.

He was formally charged with piracy on the high seas by a court in Murmansk on Thursday.

Overflowing Tank Cause of New Leak at Fukushima

Another day, another radioactive-water spill. The operator of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant says at least 430 liters (110 gallons) spilled when workers overfilled a storage tank without a gauge that could have warned them of the danger.

Tepco Finds New Foe in Rainfall as Fukushima Tank Overflows

Contaminated water overflowed from a storage tank at the Fukushima station as heavy rains compounded Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)’s difficulties managing irradiated water at the wrecked atomic plant.

The estimated 430-liter leak occurred as crews transferred rainwater that had collected at the plant into a storage tank, Masayuki Ono, an official at the utility’s plant siting department, said today at a press conference in Tokyo.

Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant operator says another tank leaked toxic water

The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant said on Thursday another tank holding highly contaminated water overflowed, probably sending the liquid into the Pacific Ocean, in the second such breach in less than two months.

Inside Fukushima’s exclusion zone, a farmer sheltered over 500 abandoned animals

As he visited the area around Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear plant last month, photographer Damir Sagolj saw towns and villages that had been abandoned and met people whose lives had been irrevocably changed by the disaster of March 11, 2011.

Inside the exclusion zone around the plant, Sagolj found a scene he likened to “a silent horror movie.” But amidst the carnage and the deserted houses he found one man who had defied the order to leave.

Fukushima’s Fallout: The Half-Lives of Nuclear Refugees

Since the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011, the prefecture of Fukushima has entered the global imagination as a dangerous ground zero, home to a nuclear facility worryingly breached during the natural disaster. To this day, the plant still leaks toxic, radioactive water and tens of thousands of “nuclear refugees” from nearby towns are still outcasts in their own land. What remains is a place in limbo—houses abandoned, frozen in time, and a community struggling to make do.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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