Weekend Environmental Must-Reads – December 22-23, 2012


Alberta Finds Mismanagement of Errors Causes Fracking Water Contamination

“There is no amount of regulation that can overcome human error,” said Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) spokesman Darin Barter. ERCB released an investigation report that cites inadequate management of risks as one of the main causes of a September 2011 accident that contaminated groundwater with toxic hydraulic fracturing chemicals, including the cancer causing agent known as BTEX (benzene, toulene, ethylbenzene, and xylene).

Fracking poses threat to countryside, warns National Trust

The National Trust has joined the ranks of groups concerned by the Government’s support for fracking, the controversial gas-exploration technique linked to minor earthquakes in the North of England last year.

No. 9: Gas pipeline explosion rocks Sissonville

A massive explosion Dec. 11 of a natural gas transmission pipeline near Sissonville is raising questions about natural gas pipeline safety in West Virginia and elsewhere.

US issues framework of fracking and water pollution study

The Obama administration issued the framework on Friday of a long-term study on whether fracking for natural gas pollutes drinking water, but will not make conclusions until 2014 about the controversial technique that is helping to fuel a domestic drilling boom.

BP settlement over Deepwater Horizon oil spill approved by federal judge

Company estimates it will pay $7.8bn to 100,000 people and business who lost money because of April 2010 well blowout

Judge Gives Final Approval to BP’s Oil Spill Settlement

A federal judge gave final approval on Friday to BP’s settlement with people who lost money and property in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The order only addressed economic and property damage claims, not separate medical benefits claims for cleanup workers and others. BP has estimated that it will pay $7.8 billion to settle more than 100,000 claims in the class-action litigation. Judge Carl Barbier of Federal District Court in New Orleans initially approved the deal in May, but held a hearing in November to weigh objections from about 13,000 claimants who challenged the settlement.

Louisiana environmental officials investigating Chalmette source of sulphur dioxide cloud that affected ferry passengers

The state continues on Saturday to investigate the source of sulphur dioxide that is blamed for complaints of eye and throat irritation by passengers aboard a ferry crossing the Mississippi River just below New Orleans, a DEQ spokesman said.

Co. denies it’s source of Friday cloud over river

A Chalmette industrial plant said it was not the source of a cloud of sulphur dioxide gas that hovered over the Mississippi River on Friday evening. The gas was blamed for complaints of eye and throat irritation by passengers aboard a ferry crossing the river below New Orleans.

Chalmette company denies it is source of gas that sickened Mississippi River ferry passengers Friday

A Chalmette industrial plant on Saturday denied that it was the source of a cloud of sulphur dioxide gas that hovered over the Mississippi River Friday evening and was blamed for complaints of eye and throat irritation by passengers aboard a ferry crossing the river below New Orleans.

A Progress Report on Fracking and Water Safety

The federal Environmental Protection Agency released a progress report on Friday about its national study of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water supplies. In nearly 200 pages, the agency lays out data, case studies and a summary of research into issues like spills and the treatment and disposal of wastewater.

EPA offers details of its controversial fracking study

The public and the energy industry got their first glimpse Friday of a long-awaited study on the possible correlation between water pollution and fracking, but Obama administration officials said the full results and definitive findings of their study won’t be released until 2014.

EPA updates on water testing in fracking study

The Environmental Protection Agency gave an update on its fracking study Friday, releasing details on water testing progress in the Marcellus.

Leaked fracking fluid contaminated groundwater near Grande Prairie: ERCB

Leaked fracking fluid has contaminated groundwater after a “serious” incident at a well site near Grande Prairie in September 2011, according to an investigation by the Energy Resources Conservation Board which regulates the energy industry.

Calgary-based Crew Energy “inadvertently” released toxic fluids at too shallow a level in a natural gas well and then failed to realize the leak was occurring underground, said the ERCB report released Thursday.

EPA’s fracturing study on track for late 2014

The federal government is on track to release in late 2014 its study on whether natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing pollute drinking water, the Environmental Protection Agency said Friday in a progress report on the closely watched analysis.

Does Fracking Contaminate Drinking Water?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today provided an update on its ongoing national study currently underway to better understand any potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources.

How Money in Politics Impacts Fracking

In the 2012 election cycle, pro-fracking interests contributed a combined total of nearly $400,000 to candidates for state legislature and county executive in New York’s Southern Tier.

Authorities: 1.8 million gallons of water leaked at drilling site

A water spill estimated at 1.8 million gallons occurred this week at the Hilcorp oil and gas exploration site in rural El Paso County east of Colorado Springs, officials revealed Friday afternoon.

Two above-ground freshwater storage tanks failed “late Sunday or early Monday,” said senior assistant county attorney Diana May.

BP Gulf Oil Spill Judge Approves $7.8 Billion Settlement

BP Plc (BP/) and the lead lawyers representing victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill won approval of the economic and environmental loss portion of a proposed $7.8 billion partial settlement of claims.

Judge approves settlement in BP class action suit over 2010 Gulf oil spill

A federal judge on Friday gave final approval to BP PLC’s settlement with businesses and people who lost money because of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Federal judge OKs $7.8 billion settlement in BP oil spill class action suit

A federal judge on Friday gave final approval to BP PLC’s settlement with businesses and people who lost money because of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf of Mexico platform fire burn victims to be discharged from Baton Rouge General

Three men who were severely burned in a oil-platform fire that occurred 25 miles southeast of Grand Isle, will be released from the hospital, according to a Baton Rouge General Medical Center press release.

Remaining oil rig burn victims released from hospital

The three remaining burn victims from the Nov. 16 explosion on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico will be discharged from Baton Rouge General Medical Center in time for the holidays, hospital officials said in a news release.

Study Finds Flaws in Pipeline Leak Detection Systems

A forthcoming federal report on pipeline safety has found that members of the general public are more likely to identify oil and gas spills than the pipeline companies’ own leak detection systems.

Bighorn River could close for pipeline removal

Phillips 66 is removing an oil pipeline from beneath a popular southeast Montana river after the line had to be abandoned because it was increasingly exposed by erosion.

U.S. ruling on Keystone pipeline could slip again – report

A top risk-management analyst warned on Friday that a decision by Washington on TransCanada Corp’s (TRP.TO) Keystone XL pipeline could get delayed again into next summer, adding more pressure to already deeply discounted Canadian oil prices.

Japanese flee Fukushima nuke disaster to faraway Okinawa, plan class-action against radiation

Okinawa is about as far away as one can get from Fukushima without leaving Japan, and that is why Minaho Kubota is here.

Petrified of the radiation spewing from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant that went into multiple meltdowns last year, Kubota grabbed her children, left her skeptical husband and moved to the small southwestern island. More than 1,000 people from the disaster zone have done the same thing.

NRC Chairman writes about enhancing safety after a visit to Fukushima, Japan

On December 21, 2012, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) blog posted a letter from Chairman Macfarlane titled A Visit to Japan: Reflections from the Chairman. She has recently returned from a trip to Japan and a visit to the evacuated areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.

A Visit to Japan: Reflections from the Chairman

This past weekend I had the honor of leading a delegation of U.S. officials to an international conference in Japan designed to keep up the global momentum of enhancing nuclear safety after the Fukushima accident.

We met in Koriyama City, some 30 miles west of the scenic Japanese coast, where recovery work continues on the four Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors that were damaged by tsunami-induced flooding and the explosive force of pent-up hydrogen.

Engineers warn: Two US nuclear plants may cause new Fukushima

Nuclear engineers have warned the Senate of the threats facing two US nuclear power facilities, which could result in enormous explosions or a Fukushima-like meltdown if natural phenomena or weather conditions cause the facilities to fail.

­Senator Joe Lieberman is the current chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Government Affairs, but will retire in 2013. Two nuclear engineers have asked him to spend his last days in Congress investigating the threats posed by two nuclear power facilities.

Seawater leak shuts down Swedish nuclear reactor

Swedish authorities have ordered the shutdown of a reactor at its largest nuclear power plant near Gothenburg following a seawater leak. The leak is the latest in a string of similar incidents that have plagued the Swedish nuclear industry.

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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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