News Round-Up: May 10, 2011


Today’s essential reads.


Methane Levels 17 Times Higher in Water Wells Near Hydrofracking Sites

A study by Duke University researchers has found high levels of leaked methane in well water collected near shale-gas drilling and hydrofracking sites. The scientists collected and analyzed water samples from 68 private groundwater wells across five counties in northeastern Pennsylvania and New York.

Another Fracking Mess for the Shale-Gas Industry

When I traveled through northeastern Pennsylvania in March for my TIME cover story on shale natural gas, it wasn’t hard to find unhappy homeowners like Sherry Vargason. Vargason, who lives on a cattle farm in rural Bradford County, has leased her land for shale-gas exploration, and a well was drilled a few hundred feet from her front door. Not long after, she began to experience problems with her water, which comes from an underground well on her property. It turned out she had unusually high levels of methane in her water — so high, in fact, that it posed an explosive threat to her home.

Scientific Study Links Flammable Drinking Water to Fracking

For the first time, a scientific study has linked natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing with a pattern of drinking water contamination so severe that some faucets can be lit on fire.

Another gas pipeline project proposed through Highlands

Tennessee Gas Pipeline, a subsidiary of the Texas-based El Paso Corp., is seeking federal approval for its $400 million Northeast Upgrade Project, which would expand the existing “300 line” by 40 miles — including a 7.7-mile loop in Passaic and Bergen counties that would cross parts of Ringwood, Mahwah and West Milford.


Tarballs Linger on Alabama’s Uninhabited Beaches

Tarballs linger on Alabama’s uninhabited beaches, clustering around the edges of sand dunes and sticking to seashells and driftwood.

Clinton Seeks Arctic Spill Policy as Greenland Drilling Resumes

Clinton will travel to Greenland’s capital for a meeting of the eight nations that lay claim to the Arctic amid growing concerns about the risks to the environment in light of last year’s Gulf of Mexico spill. Cairn, the first explorer to drill off Greenland in a decade, won approval for four wells this year to tap an estimated 17 billion barrels of oil.

Legal Aid for Oil Spill-Affected Galveston Residents

In the aftermath of the BP oil spill, some in Galveston felt forgotten. There were no huge oil slicks, wildlife bathed in oil or tar balls washing up on shore. But it was a perception of tainted seafood that did affect peoples’ livelihood.


Nuclear Regulatory Commission Changed Nuclear Relicensing Rules

Critics of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the powerful industry it oversees continue to question its process for issuing license renewals at aging plants.

Japan to Close ‘Most Dangerous Nuclear Plant in the World’

The operator of a nuclear plant that has been described as the most dangerous in the world is expected to give in to pressure from the Japanese government to shut it down.

U.S.-Japan Joint Survey Reveals High Radiation Beyond Evacuation Zone

The first map of ground surface contamination within 80 kilometers of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant shows radiation levels higher in some municipalities than those in the mandatory relocation zone around the Chernobyl plant.

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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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