Tag Archives: pollution

North Dakota Finds Itself Unprepared to Handle the Radioactive Burden of Its Fracking Boom

by Rebecca Leber / Think Progress

AP Photo/Courtesy of the North Dakota Health Department, File

North Dakota recently discovered piles of garbage bags containing radioactive waste dumped by oil drillers in abandoned buildings. Now, the state is trying to catch up to an oil industry that produces an estimated 27 tons of radioactive debris from wells daily. Existing fines have apparently not been enough to deter contractors from dumping oil socks — coiled filters that strain wastewater and accumulate low levels of radiation.

“Before the Bakken oil boom we didn’t have any of these materials being generated,” the state’s Director of Waste Management Scott Radig told the Wall Street Journal. “So it wasn’t really an issue.”

The state is in the process of drafting rules, out in June, that require oil companies to properly store the waste in leak-proof containers. Eventually, they must move these oil socks to certified dumps. However, North Dakota has no facilities to process this level of radioactive waste. According to the Wall Street Journal, the closest facilities are hundreds of miles away in states like Idaho, Colorado, Utah, and Montana.

 

Even though it is illegal, contractors have taken the occasional shortcut to dump the oil socks in buildings, on the side of the road, or at landfills. And the rate of dumping incidents has been on the rise as drilling activity has increased in the Bakken shale region, according to one North Dakota Department of Health study. Dump operators now even routinely screen garbage for radiation.

If things don’t improve, oil drillers may risk turning parts of the state into EPA Superfund sites, which would mean a long and expensive clean-up.

North Dakota’s oil activity has delivered a string of bad news for the area that disrupts the rosy portrayal of the state’s economic growth. The oil boom has brought along with it more frequent oil and wastewater spills, skyrocketing rent and homelessness, as well as drug addiction and STDs.

Haw River Makes Most Endangered List

  • America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2014

    No. 1 — San Joaquin River, Calif.

    No. 2 — Upper Colorado River System, Co.

    No. 3 — Middle Mississippi River in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky

    No. 4 — Gila River, N.M.

    No. 5 — San Francisquito Creek, Calif.

    No. 6 — South Fork Edisto River, S.C.

    No. 7 — White River, Co.

    No. 8 — White River, Wash.

    No. 9 — Haw River, N.C.

    No. 10 — Clearwater/Lochsa Rivers, Idaho

     

A fragile and in places modest waterway, the Haw River has run its 110-mile course through decades of environmental battering from industries and cities.

Now substantially restored from its worst years, the Haw still faces significant threats from polluted water runoff, degrading sewer pipes and health hazards in Jordan Lake that the state has been slow to clean up.

That’s why a national clean-river advocacy group has named the Haw as No. 9 on its list of the Top 10 most endangered rivers in the country. American Rivers will announce this year’s list on Wednesday.

It’s not a list of the most polluted rivers in the country. Rather, it’s a public-relations tool for local activists to use to try to save rivers that can realistically benefit from help before it’s too late.

“It’s to encourage people to take the threat to heart, and take action so it’s no longer a problem,” Peter Raabe of the American Rivers North Carolina office said Tuesday. “In particular, for the Haw, the solution is relatively simple: Reinstate the cleanup plan.”

The Haw is a tributary of Jordan Lake, a dammed reservoir that is a major recreation area and the drinking water supply for five counties. In 2009, state legislators wrapped up four years of efforts and wrote a plan to clean the lake by installing wetlands, retention ponds and other stormwater controls in development projects upstream. But upstream municipalities have balked at the huge costs involved.

The General Assembly has put most of those rules on hold, and decided to try out new technology — floating rotation devices to clear the lake of harmful algae — to see if that will be a far cheaper solution than the hundreds of millions of dollars it would cost to implement the full cleanup plan. Environmentalists argue the only way to clean things up is to focus on the source of pollution by enacting all of the rules.

But there has been little motivation to tackle an expensive problem that only gets attention when something goes wrong, as it did in February when a sewer line crack in Burlington spilled 3.5 million gallons of untreated sewage into the Haw River.

“Most of it is underground,” Raabe said. “Whether you’re flushing the toilet or watching water go into the drain, you don’t have to think about it again. It’s not a pot hole you’re running over in your car every day. It’s really easy to put it in the back of your mind and not have to worry about until there’s a major break or kids swimming become sick because there’s too much algae.

“We need a crisis to move some of these discussions forward. We’re not in crisis mode yet, but if we keep going down the path we have been there will be a crisis.”

Saving what you love

Joe Jacob has been paddling the Haw for the past three decades. A former biologist for the Nature Conservancy, he now runs a canoe and kayak outfitter in Saxapahaw.

Jacob says the river looks better than it did before the federal Clean Water Act of 1972 started improving waterways like the Haw. But it’s the less visible effects that build up over time that worry him.

“If humans lived to be 300 years old we would see the impacts of what we do,” Jacob said Tuesday. “Nature isn’t working in cycles of 60 or 70 years.”

Jacob said he started his riverside business to encourage people to care about what happens to the Haw. “If you don’t love and care about something you’re less like to defend it,” Jacob said. “That’s what we’re about.”

Jacob hopes the American Rivers list will further that goal.

“I am glad it’s getting this kind of attention,” he said. “It may hurt business but it may help save the river. … Conservation is good for businesses – not necessarily so in reverse.”

Jacob says the role of government is to do the things that individuals can’t.

“Right now, the North Carolina legislature and governor’s office is failing to take care of our natural resources,” he said. “If they don’t change that perspective the river is going to get worse and worse and worse and worse and worse.”

But a spokesman for the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources says it is already implementing part of the Jordan Lake rules by testing and monitoring the lake to make sure that nutrients from development don’t exceed a specific limit. And if the floating devices work, that would be a big savings for taxpayers.

“The governor and DENR’s No. 1 priority is to ensure that the lake remains a safe and reliable drinking water supply for existing and projected demand, and that the lake meets federal standards under the Clean Water Act for recreation and fishing,” spokesman Jamie Kritzer said.

The legislature is supposed to decide what to do next in late 2015. Raabe says the Haw is on the national list because it could be saved within the next year and a half.

 Twitter: @CraigJ_NandO

Continue reading

And the river ran gray

Reposted from GoDanRiver.com

Duke Energy unsure how long it will take to stop ash leak that has discolored Dan River

  • Submitted photo

    The Dan River turned grayer and grayer downriver as the ash traveled, and by Tuesday the familiar brown of the river running through Danville had changed to a depressing gray; even some of the vegetation along its banks was covered in gray ash. Continue reading

300,000 Without Water After Coal Industry Chemical Spill In W. Virginia

Crews clean up a chemical spill along the Elk River in Charleston, W.Va., Jan. 9, 2014.

By Diane Sweet January 10, 2014 4:11 am Reposted from  Crooksandliars.com
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declares a state of emergency after spill contaminates Elk River, “Only safe use is to flush or put out fire.”

A chemical spill into West Virginia’s Elk River has led to a tap water ban for up to 300,000 people, shut down bars and restaurants and led to a run on bottled water in some stores as people looked to stock up.

The only safe use for the company’s water is to flush down a toilet or put out a fire, Lawrence Messina, spokesman for the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety announced on Twitter Thursday evening. Continue reading

Dirty Energy Road Show March 29th

March 29th @6:00pm

@ Internationalist Books and Community Center  405 W. Franklin St. Chapel Hill, NC

The Dirty Energy Road Show is an educational presentation examining the parallels of coal and nuclear issues and connecting them to other form of dirty energy and climate change. It also looks at work being done to transition us away from these dirty industries and towards a more sustainable and healthier future. Continue reading

Fracking Moratorium Urged

This is re-posted from Jan. 9 (Bloomberg Business) — The U.S. should declare a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in populated areas until the health effects are better understood, doctors said at a conference on the drilling process.

Gas producers should set up a foundation to finance studies on fracking and independent research is also needed, said Jerome Paulson, a pediatrician at George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington. Top independent producers include Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Devon Energy Corp., both of Oklahoma City, and Encana Corp. of Calgary, according to Bloomberg Industries.

“We’ve got to push the pause button, and maybe we’ve got to push the stop button” on fracking, said Adam Law, an endocrinologist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, in an interview at a conference in Arlington, Virginia that’s the first to examine criteria for studying the process.

Fracking injects water, sand and chemicals into deep shale formations to free trapped natural gas. A boom in production with the method helped increase supplies, cutting prices 32 percent last year. The industry, though, hasn’t disclosed enough information on chemicals used, Paulson said, raising concerns about tainted drinking water supplies and a call for peer- reviewed studies on the effects. The EPA is weighing nationwide regulation.

Longstanding Process

“We need to understand fully all of the chemicals that are shot into the ground, that could impact the water that children drink,” Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts, a senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a phone interview. The industry is trying “to block that information from being public,” he said.

The gas industry has used hydraulic fracturing for 65 years in 30 states with a “demonstrable history of safe operations,” said Chris Tucker, a spokesman for Energy In Depth, a Washington-based research and advocacy group financed by oil and gas interests, in an e-mail. Drilling in shale deposits in the eastern U.S. began in 2004.

Gas drillers have to report to the U.S., state and local authorities any chemicals used in fracking that are “considered hazardous in high concentrations” in case of spills or other emergencies, Tucker said. Those reports don’t include amounts or concentrations, he said.

The industry created a public website last April for companies to voluntarily report lists of chemicals used in individual wells, including concentrations. Colorado and Wyoming have passed laws requiring drillers to file reports to the website, Tucker said.

Hazards Unknown

Despite those disclosures, U.S. officials say they don’t know all of the hazards associated with fracking chemicals.

“We don’t know the chemicals that are involved, really; we sort of generally know,” Vikas Kapil, chief medical officer at National Center for Environmental Health, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at the conference. “We don’t have a great handle on the toxicology of fracking chemicals.”

The government has found anecdotal evidence that drilling can contaminate water supplies. In December, the EPA reported that underground aquifers and drinking wells in Pavillion, Wyoming, contained compounds that probably came from gas drilling, including glycols, alcohols, benzene and methane. The CDC has detected “explosive levels of methane” in two wells near gas sites in Medina, Ohio, Kapil said.

He said he wasn’t authorized to take reporters’ questions after his presentation.

Chemicals Used

Fluids used in hydraulic fracturing contain “potentially hazardous chemical classes,” Kapil’s boss, Christopher Portier, director of The National Center for Environmental Health, said last week. The compounds include petroleum distillates, volatile organic compounds and glycol ethers, he said. Wastewater from the wells can contain salts and radiation, Portier said.

U.S. natural gas production rose to a record 2.5 trillion cubic feet in October, a 15 percent increase from October 2008.

A moratorium on fracking pending more health research “would be reasonable,” said Paulson, who heads the Mid- Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment in Washington, in an interview. His group is funded in part by the CDC and Environmental Protection Agency, he said, and helped sponsor the conference with Law’s organization, Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy.

Tucker called the CDC’s participation in the conference “disappointing,” saying the conference is “a closed-door pep- rally against oil and natural gas development.”

Representatives of Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group, registered to attend the conference.

–With assistance from Katarzyna Klimasinska in Washington. Editors: Adriel Bettelheim, Reg Gale

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Wayne in Washington at awayne3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Adriel Bettelheim at abettelheim@bloomberg.net

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2012/01/09/bloomberg_articlesLXJW7C0YHQ0X.DTL#ixzz1j13gAv00

Tell Flyleaf Books to Stop Supporting Pro-Fracking Industry Hacks & Cancel Dec 7th Event This Event Has Now Been Cancelled – No action Needed

Urgent Action Needed! Pro Fracking PR Hack Descends Upon Chapel Hill: Tell Flyleaf Books to Cancel Event Immediately! (Please Forward Widely) UNC’s Humanities in Action program plans to bring the president of an oil and gas company that makes money off of hydraulic fracturing to speak in support of this dangerous natural gas extraction practice at a local independent bookstore called Flyleaf Books. There will be no one present to tell the other side of the story: that fracking has caused major disasters all over the country from well explosions, to methane leached in to water aquifers, poisoned families, carcinogens and hundreds of toxins leached into our rivers. The event is scheduled for December 7th from 3:30-5 p.m. and tickets cost $20.

Let’s stop this corporate charade – Tell Flyleaf Books to cancel this event! Our water and environment are more important than corporate profits! Quotes from their flyer: “We live in a society that cannot function in its present state without access to copious amounts of fossil fuels. How can we extract these resources …? What is the science behind oil and gas extraction? Where are the deposits and how can we get them? Dr. Carl Trowell, President of WesternGeco, the geophysical services division of Schlumberger, will be on hand to explain oil and gas exploration and drilling from the perspective of those who do it.”

Say no to corporate greed and defend our water supply by contacting Flyleaf books now at (919) 942-7373 located at 752 Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard, Chapel Hill, NC 27514. And e-mail, too at info@flyleafbooks.com It is time to say no to dirty energy!  You can also contact the humanities department at UNC at 919-962-1544 and e-mail human@unc.edu

www.slb.com  The Oil Company making money off of poisoining people’s well water

Galsand The Movie

Frack Accidents

EPA Finds Fracking Chemical in Wyoming Gas Drilling Town’s Aquifer

Wells drilled deep into an aquifer in Pavillion, Wyo., contain high levels of cancer-causing compounds and at least one chemical used in fracking.
By Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica
Nov 13, 2011

Drill rig in a natural gas field in Wyoming/Credit: SkyTruth, flickr
As the country awaits results from a nationwide safety study on the natural gas drilling process of fracking, a separate government investigation into contamination in a place where residents have long complained that drilling fouled their water has turned up alarming levels of underground pollution.

A pair of environmental monitoring wells drilled deep into an aquifer in Pavillion, Wyo., contain high levels of cancer-causing compounds and at least one chemical commonly used in hydraulic fracturing, according to new water test results released yesterday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The findings are consistent with water samples the EPA has collected from at least 42 homes in the area since 2008, when ProPublica began reporting on foul water and health concerns in Pavillion and the agency started investigating reports of contamination there.

Last year—after warning residents not to drink or cook with the water and to ventilate their homes when they showered—the EPA drilled the monitoring wells to get a more precise picture of the extent of the contamination.

The Pavillion area has been drilled extensively for natural gas over the last two decades and is home to hundreds of gas wells. Residents have alleged for nearly a decade that the drilling—and hydraulic fracturing in particular—has caused their water to turn black and smell like gasoline. Some residents say they suffer neurological impairment, loss of smell, and nerve pain they associate with exposure to pollutants.

The gas industry—led by the Canadian company EnCana, which owns the wells in Pavillion—has denied that its activities are responsible for the contamination. EnCana has, however, supplied drinking water to residents.

The information released yesterday by the EPA was limited to raw sampling data: The agency did not interpret the findings or make any attempt to identify the source of the pollution. From the start of its investigation, the EPA has been careful to consider all possible causes of the contamination and to distance its inquiry from the controversy around hydraulic fracturing.

Still, the chemical compounds the EPA detected are consistent with those produced from drilling processes, including one—a solvent called 2-Butoxyethanol (2-BE)—widely used in the process of hydraulic fracturing. The agency said it had not found contaminants such as nitrates and fertilizers that would have signaled that agricultural activities were to blame.

The wells also contained benzene at 50 times the level that is considered safe for people, as well as phenols—another dangerous human carcinogen—acetone, toluene, naphthalene and traces of diesel fuel.

The EPA said the water samples were saturated with methane gas that matched the deep layers of natural gas being drilled for energy. The gas did not match the shallower methane that the gas industry says is naturally occurring in water, a signal that the contamination was related to drilling and was less likely to have come from drilling waste spilled above ground.

EnCana has recently agreed to sell its wells in the Pavillion area to Texas-based oil and gas company Legacy Reserves for a reported $45 million, but has pledged to continue to cooperate with the EPA’s investigation. EnCana bought many of the wells in 2004, after the first problems with groundwater contamination had been reported.

The EPA’s research in Wyoming is separate from the agency’s ongoing national study of hydraulic fracturing’s effect on water supplies, and is being funded through the Superfund cleanup program.

The EPA says it will release a lengthy draft of the Pavillion findings, including a detailed interpretation of them, later this month.