Environmental Must-Reads – September 3, 2014


Scientists Find ‘Alarming’ Amount Of Arsenic In Groundwater Near Texas Fracking Sites

After testing 100 water wells atop one of the largest natural gas reserves in the U.S., scientists at the University of Texas have found that nearly 30 percent of them contain levels of arsenic above the limit considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Twenty-nine groundwater sites within 1.8 miles of active natural gas drilling had unusually high levels of heavy metals, including arsenic, the study found. And while it’s not conclusive that the contamination is because of fracking, the team of 11 biochemists say their findings provide further evidence that could link the controversial natural gas drilling technique to groundwater pollution.

Fracking boom prompts $5B Dominion gas pipeline

Spurred by the nation’s fracking boom, Dominion proposed Tuesday its largest natural gas pipeline — a nearly $5 billion project to move vast supplies produced in the mid-Atlantic to the Southeast.

Dominion and Duke Energy, along with two other partners, are seeking federal approval for a 550-mile pipeline — called the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — that would stretch from Harrison County, W.Va., through Virginia and North Carolina to Robeson County, near the South Carolina border.

New Natural Gas Pipeline Would Run Through The George Washington National Forest

Four U.S. energy companies announced Tuesday that they were joining together to build a 550-mile natural gas pipeline that, if approved, would run from West Virginia to North Carolina.

The newly-proposed, $4.5-$5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline would carry 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day, and if the pipeline gains swift approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the companies say it could be online as soon as late 2018. The pipeline would carry gas from West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania’s Utica and Marcellus shale basins.

PG&E Faces $1.4 Billion for Deadly California Pipeline Blast

California regulators want PG&E Corp.’s utility to pay $1.4 billion in fines and penalties over a fatal natural-gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, Calif.

The state Public Utilities Commission proposed fining Pacific Gas & Electric Co. $950 million over allegations that the company violated federal and state pipeline safety rules before the 2010 pipeline explosion. In addition, under the proposal released Tuesday, the company would pay $400 million for pipeline safety work that wouldn’t be covered by ratepayers and $50 million for other improvements.

Filtering, Not Chemicals, May Best Detoxify Fracking Fluids

Estimates suggest that in the next 50 years, over one trillion gallons of water will be used in shale gas extraction but research from scientists in the US suggests that environmentally detrimental compounds are being created when this fluid is recycled.

Shale gas is found in rock formations kilometers underground. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, facilitates the release of this energy dense fuel in a cost-effective and timely manner. Water, sand and a combination of other additives are pumped into the ground at high pressure, breaking the shale formations apart, allowing the gas to migrate to the surface where it can be collected.

UPDATE: Fracking Truck Driver Cited; Brine Not Found in Ditches or Streams

Some new details involving the fracking truck that crashed Monday morning in Reno.

Officials from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency were out on scene Monday overseeing the clean up after a tanker truck went off the road, flipping over an embankment and crashing into a home.

Anti-fracking charter amendment to be on Nov. 4 ballot in Youngstown

The anti-fracking “Community Bill of Rights” charter amendment will be in front of Youngstown voters for the fourth time.

The Mahoning County Board of Elections certified Tuesday that the citizen-initiative has the required signatures to be on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The Community Bill of Rights committee submitted petitions with 2,058 signatures.

Researchers Studying If Communities Benefit From Fracking

Researchers are looking at whether money from the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom helps children and families in regions where companies are drilling.

Penn State University sociology professor Molly Martin said there is a unique opportunity to compare northeastern Pennsylvania communities that have experienced the boom during the last six years with nearby ones in New York state that haven’t.

GOP, Big Oil get ice-bucket challenge with fracking water

Superstar actor Matt Damon, co-founder of Water.org, recently took the “ice bucket” challenge to a whole new level, out of this world. Damon was challenged by good buddies Jimmy Kimmel and Ben Affleck.

Damon joins a long list of celebrities on the ALS challenge, including Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Tyler Perry, Justin Bieber, Emma Stone, Mark Zuckerberg, George W. Bush, and even Bill Gates, who’s already spending billions on good causes. When he finished, Damon passed the challenge on three other buddies, George Clooney, U2 rock star Bono and NFL quarterback Tom Brady.

As Airports Find New Ways To Make Money, Pittsburgh Tries Fracking

Pittsburgh International Airport employee Bob Mrvos jokes that you could golf in the terminals’ corridors — they’re that empty, especially compared to other airports he flies into in cities like Los Angeles and Chicago.

“You walk through those airports and you can barely get through the hallway there’s so many people,” Mrvos says. “And when you land in Pittsburgh, it’s like the airport’s closed.”

Fair Lawn weighs fracking ban, despite attorney’s skepticism, report says

The council is working on an ordinance that would ban fracking and related activities in Fair Lawn over five years, the Record reported.

Fracking is the practice of injecting fluid into shale beds at high pressure to free up natural gas. It has come under criticism because of the chemicals used and released in the process.

Oil and Gas Wastewater Pits Draw Fine for Toxic Releases

A commercial facility that disposes of oil and gas waste in Eastern Utah has been fined $50,000 for releasing excessive amounts of benzene and other volatile organic compounds without a state air emissions permit.

Rusty Ruby, compliance manager for Utah’s Division of Air Quality Compliance, said the agency doesn’t have “a lot of experience” when it comes to regulating waste pits because so little is known about them, a problem common in other states where hydraulic fracturing is generating vast quantities of contaminated waste water.

Halliburton to Pay $1.1 Billion to Settle Damages in Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Halliburton, the company contracted by BP to cement the ill-fated Macondo oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, has reached a $1.1 billion settlement with thousands of businesses, individuals and local governments that suffered losses from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, the company and plaintiffs announced on Tuesday.

The settlement represents a small fraction of the damages paid out by the companies involved in the accident, which left 11 workers dead, spilled millions of gallons of oil into the gulf and soiled hundreds of miles of beaches. But it goes a long way toward resolving Halliburton’s exposure to liability claims.

Halliburton Energy Services agrees to $1.1 billion settlement over BP oil spill

Halliburton Energy Services Inc. has agreed to a $1.1 billion settlement with Gulf Coast business and property owners over the 2010 BP oil spill, plaintiffs’ lawyers announced Tuesday.

Halliburton was a subcontractor on the Deepwater Horizon rig when it exploded in April 2010, killing 11 workers, injuring 16 and setting off a disastrous months-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

What Halliburton’s $1.1 Billion Spill Settlement Means for BP

Halliburton (HAL) has wrapped up most of its lingering liability for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill with a $1.1 billion settlement announced on Tuesday. The pact will resolve accusations that Halliburton’s cement work on the ill-fated Macondo well contributed to a disaster that killed 11 rig workers and spewed millions of barrels of crude into the gulf. It also offers important hints about where the four-year-old litigation storm centered on New Orleans is headed from here.

BP seeks to oust head of Gulf oil spill claims program

BP PLC has asked a federal judge to remove Patrick Juneau as administrator of damage claims from its 2010 oil spill, saying he failed to disclose a major conflict of interest.

Tuesday’s motion says Juneau represented Louisiana in talks setting up the claims process and pushed for favorable terms for those with claims. BP says that means he’s not the neutral person required for the job.

BP: Oust claims head for conflict of interest

BP PLC has asked a federal judge to remove the administrator of damage claims from its 2010 oil spill, saying he failed to disclose a major conflict of interest and spends too much on administration: $1 billion over two years, or $1 for every $5 sent to claimants.

Patrick Juneau is not the neutral person required for the job because he represented Louisiana in talks setting up the claims process and pushed for favorable terms for those with claims, attorneys for BP said in a 43-page motion filed Tuesday with U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier.

A Massive Oil Spill Is Threatening Mexico’s Third Largest City’s Water Supply

For Mexico’s state oil giant, the expansion of organised crime into fuel theft is a growing menace. Now, a bungled attempt to illegally tap an oil pipeline has threatened an environmental disaster in the northern state of Nuevo Leon, after an estimated 4,000 barrels of crude oil poured into the San Juan River.

The alleged failed theft on August 16 caused an oil spill of up to 15 thousands tons, according to the national oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex). The slick has already advanced five miles, authorities say — and it is feared that rain forecast for the coming days and weeks will spread the contamination further.

Seven Reasons to Walk Away From Keystone XL

There is less than a month before the justices of the Nebraska Supreme court hear arguments in a case that will have a big impact on TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The court will hear the argument that ranchers and farmers in the pipeline’s path must have their lifestyles ruined first before standing up to the bullying and lies by TransCanada. I’m not making that up – it’s the actual argument that TransCanada’s apologists are saying. Good luck with that.

A loss in court for TransCanada would be significant for the premier pusher of tar sands, the dirtiest form of oil on the planet. The result would be hitting the “restart” button, with new pressure to reroute the pipeline and its highly toxic, spill-prone contents away from the Ogallala Aquifer, the source of drinking water for three million Americans and countless, drought-stricken farms and ranches.

Water discharge from Enbridge pipeline goes awry near Crane Lake

Enbridge officials are working to mitigate damage caused when freshwater was released from a pipeline near a lake in east-central Alberta.

The incident occurred in February near Crane Lake, but wasn’t discovered until Aug. 18, when a resident stumbled across it while scouting in the bush for a place to go hunting later this fall.

Graham White, a spokesman for Enbridge’s pipeline division, said the company is working with the Alberta Energy Regulator to fill in a trench created when the water was released and ran downhill toward the lake, which is off Highway 55, about 15 minutes west of Cold Lake.

Arctic drilling: Will oil lure Shell back to icy waters?

Shell could be returning to the Arctic after a two-year hiatus.

The company submitted a drilling plan to the U.S. Department of Interior on Aug. 28, which suggests it is considering returning to the icy waters in the far north to look for oil. While no final decision has been made, Shell’s submission puts the company on track to drill in the summer of 2015.

Fukushima Workers Who Fled May Have Received Garbled Orders, Reports Say

Some 650 workers who fled the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant without permission at the darkest moment of the 2011 nuclear accident may have left because they thought they had been ordered to evacuate, not because they were knowingly violating orders, according to new details of the episode reported in recent days by Japanese news media.

No Fukushima radiation found in coastal areas

It was raining when Eric Norman, Berkeley Lab physicist and University of California (UC) Berkeley professor of Nuclear Engineering, heard about the nuclear-reactor meltdown in Fukushima, Japan. “I immediately thought of Chernobyl,” he says, referring to the “nuclear rain” that fell in the days that followed the 1986 disaster in Ukraine. Norman wanted to know if, following the March 11, 2011 Fukushima breach, radioactivity could be found in Bay Area precipitation. He and his students collected weeks’ worth of rainwater around Berkeley Campus to find out.

Add comment

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