Weekend Environmental Must-Reads – October 27-28, 2012


BP asks to abandon plugged containment dome on bottom of Gulf of Mexico

BP has asked the U.S. Coast Guard to allow it to abandon a containment dome on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico that it capped and plugged this week after concluding it was the source of oil causing repeated sheens near the site of the company’s failed Macondo well. The request was included in an exchange of e-mail messages on Sunday and Monday between James Grant, BP’s Gulf regulatory compliance and environmental manager, and Coast Guard Federal On-Scene Coordinator Capt. Duke Walker. The email messages were obtained by The Times-Picayune.

Houston company billed $321,000 for Louisiana sinkhole

Assumption Parish officials have asked Texas Brine Co. of Houston to reimburse the parish for about $321,000 spent in its response to a sinkhole now believed to have been caused by the company’s failed salt cavern.

Officials pinpoint tremor locations

Sharp tremors have been recorded four to five times since Oct. 16 as coming from the northwest corner of the Napoleonville Dome in northern Assumption Parish, parish officials and earthquake researchers reported Friday.

BP Oil-Spill Judge Postpones Trial on Fault to February

The trial over liability for BP Plc (BP/)’s 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill was postponed to Feb. 25 so the lawyers won’t lose their accommodations to Super Bowl and Mardi Gras crowds, a New Orleans judge said.

Corps Issues Permit for Alaska’s Point Thomson

Alaska officials on Friday hailed a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit decision that will open up drilling at the Point Thomson petroleum field, creating hundreds of jobs and providing key infrastructure that could advance prospects for a large-scale natural gas pipeline.

Ex-US Sen. Mitchell steps down from mediating deal over fatal Calif. gas pipeline explosion

Former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell has stepped down from overseeing private settlement talks over a deadly Northern California pipeline explosion after state regulators set up a mediation process criticized by several parties as an unfair, backroom deal.

Tar Sands Pipeline Risks Too Great, Canadian Unions Say

The U.S. presidential election has held up a decision on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, but in Canada, unions have joined environmentalists to battle another export pipeline—this one headed for the pristine west coast of Canada.

Spectra Pipeline Construction Halted By Activist

Construction on a pipeline that will bring fracked natural gas under the Hudson and into the West Village was halted for two hours Wednesday when George Pingeon, a member of the opposition group Occupy the Pipeline, chained himself to a backhoe on the construction site.

First U.S. Tar Sands Mine Approved in Utah

The race is on for the up-and-coming U.S. tar sands industry. To date, the tar sands industry is most well-known for the havoc it continues to wreak in Alberta, Canada—but its neighbor and fellow petrostate to the south may soon join in on the fun.

Oil ‘Fracking’ May Come To Southern Monterey County

Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” could make 14 billion barrels of oil reserves in the hills and valleys beyond the Monterey County town of San Ardo accessible.

Some Central Calif. Landowners May Not Have Say On ‘Fracking’

MONTEREY COUNTY (CBS 5) — California landowners could be sitting on oil rich land deep beneath the land their home sits on. It’s triggered a new oil rush with prospectors from all over the world descending on California, in hopes of tapping into 14 billion barrels of unexplored reserves.

Fracking can cause minor quakes

Fracking can cause small-magnitude earthquakes, experts are now saying, but nothing on the magnitude that would likely disrupt or damage a nuclear power plant.

Wine, fracking don’t pair well

The hillside vineyards of New York’s Finger Lakes region make money producing fine Rieslings and inviting tourists to sip white wine by the water’s edge. Now winery owners are worried about the prospect of a grittier kind of economic development: gas drilling.

Fracking: Abundant Energy, But at What Cost?

The boom in natural gas production across the United States takes advantage of a process called hydraulic fracturing. “Fracking” now accounts for more than 30 percent of the supply of natural gas and has created jobs in economically distressed parts of the United States. Natural gas burns more cleanly than other fossil fuels, especially coal, producing much lower levels of harmful pollutants as well as carbon dioxide emissions causing global warming.

EPA needs to look at anti-microbial chemicals in fracking

Certain anti-microbial chemicals used in fracking fluids need to be reviewed by U.S. EPA and specifically labeled for use in hydraulic fracturing to protect workers’ safety, a pesticide-control official says.

EPA monitors Graham spill site

The property owners responsible for cleaning up the oil spill that occurred a month ago at 300 E. Parker St. have been issued multiple notices of violation by the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Enterprise proposes pipeline expansion

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comment on a proposed 246-mile pipeline expansion that would stretch from Bloomfield to Hobbs and end in Mont Belvieu, Texas.

The project by Enterprise Mid America Pipeline would add 12 pipeline segments that would run adjacent to and tie into Enterprise’s existing system.

Pre-empting a spill threat

With crude oil shipments from North Dakota poised to turn into a gusher at the Port of Albany and down the Hudson River, the U.S. Coast Guard and state Environmental Conservation Department are confident existing plans address the threat of an oil spill on the river.

Researchers looking into tremors near Louisiana sinkhole

Researchers are trying to determine the cause of small tremors recorded in the past two weeks coming from the northwest corner of a salt dome in northern Assumption Parish.

Trace Fukushima radiation found in Northwest albacore tuna

Researchers have found tiny amounts of radioactive cesium in albacore caught off Washington and Oregon. The radiation, originating from the 2011 tsunami in Japan, is thought to pose no public-health risk, but it is allowing scientists to track the migratory patterns of tuna for the first time.

Fukushima fish unsafe for years

Fish from the waters around the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan could be too radioactive to eat for a decade to come, as samples show radioactivity levels remain elevated and show little sign of coming down, a marine scientist has warned.

Fukushima Watch: The Riddle of the Radioactive Fish

For scientists monitoring the effects of last year’s devastating nuclear accident on nearby marine life, one surprising finding stands out: Well over a year after reactor meltdowns released huge amounts of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi plant into the ocean, some fish caught offshore are still showing extremely high levels of radiation.


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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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