Archive for the 'contaminated water' Category

BP confirms oil spill into Lake Michigan from Whiting refinery

Photo retrieved from: www.nbcchicago.com

“It remains unclear how much oil spilled into the lake or how long the discharge continued. Workers at the refinery reported an oil sheen on the water about 4:30 p.m. Monday, and an official from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the leak was plugged by the time he arrived at 9 p.m.

Mike Beslow, the EPA’s emergency response coordinator, said there appeared to be no negative effects on Lake Michigan, the source of drinking water for 7 million people in Chicago and the suburbs. The 68th Street water intake crib is about eight miles northwest of the spill site, but there were no signs of oil drifting in that direction.

Initial reports suggest that strong winds pushed most of the oil toward a sandy cove on BP’s property between the refinery and an Arcelor Mittal steel mill. A flyover Tuesday afternoon revealed no visible oil beyond booms laid on the water to prevent the oil from spreading, Beslow said.

“There is no known impact to wildlife or human health at this time,” Beslow said.

Frigid temperatures caused some of the oil to harden into a waxy consistency that made it easier to collect, said Scott Dean, a BP spokesman. Crews used vacuum trucks to suck up any liquid oil that washed ashore.”

Read more: Chicago Tribune

 

 

Dahr Jamail | New Mexico: Where Polluting Groundwater Is Legal

Photo retrieved from: www.earthworksaction.org

“New Mexicans get 90 percent of their drinking water from groundwater. Yet the governor of this drought-plagued Southwestern state has given the copper industry carte blanche to pollute what is left of that essential resource.

New Mexico’s Republican governor is the industry-friendly Susanna Martinez, whose administration has been the bane of those concerned about the state’s environment and increasingly precious water resources from the moment she took power in January 2011.

“The Martinez administration behaves like a corporation focused on quarterly numbers,” northern New Mexico resident William deBuys, author of seven books, including A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest, told Truthout. “Given the state’s long-term prospects under the warming and drying influence of climate change, New Mexico should be placing high priority on building its water resilience, including protection of its groundwater. Unfortunately, the Martinez gang doesn’t understand this, or doesn’t care. Susanna’s national aspirations and the hunger of her cronies for immediate profits trump everything.”

These are strong words, but deBuys is far from alone in his analysis.

William Olson is a hydrologist and geologist who worked 25 years for the state of New Mexico, including as the Environment Department’s chief of the Ground Water Quality Bureau as well as with the water quality control commission for 13 years.”

Read more: Truth Out

 

An Environment-Wrecking Pipeline Hangs in Limbo

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“The Keystone XL is the final of four phases of the Keystone Pipeline system that brings highly corrosive oil called diluted bitumen (dilbit) from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada south to the Gulf of Mexico to be refined.

Oil sands, by far the most polluting of any fuel, require huge quantities of energy to be extracted and leave behind byproducts like “petcoke”, a high-sulphur coal-like substance that burns dirtier than coal.

The U.S. portion of the fourth phase would be built between the frontier town of Morgan, Montana and Steele City, Nebraska, where it would join existing pipelines headed south.

This final northern segment would cross several major rivers including the Red Rivers, the Missouri and the Yellowstone Rivers and pass over the Ogallala Aquifer, a shallow underground water table that supplies over a quarter of the United States’ irrigated land.

If it is completed, the pipeline would transport fuel equivalent to 181 million metric tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of 51 coal plants.

Though technically skirting the reservation’s borders, the proposed pipeline would pass between Pine Ridge and the Rosebud Reservoir, where communities draw their water.

“In our mind, that’s our water,” Plume told an August gathering in Bridger, South Dakota. “We love our water and we have to protect our water.”

Plume says the Lakota have been joined by non-native ranchers and farmers in places like Nebraska who fear contamination could ruin their cropland.

Spills

With the Alberta oil sand boom pumping out record levels of Canadian crude, accidents are on the rise. In March 2013, between 5,000 and 7,000 barrels of Canadian heavy crude spilled from a gash in ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas, leading to catastrophic environmental damage.”

Read more: IPS

Citarum polluters more than 71 companies: Deputy governor

Photo retrieved from: www.planetforward.ca

“West Java Deputy Governor Deddy Mizwar has said more than 71 companies were thought to be involved in environmental pollution in the Citarum River basin.

“Based on our data, the number of industrial players polluting the Citarum River is far higher than that stated in the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) report. The BPK earlier reported there were 17 companies. It’s not 17, it’s more than 71 companies,” said Deddy in Bandung on Wednesday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

Speaking to journalists after attending a plenary meeting at the West Java Legislative Council (DPRD), Deddy said if only 17 companies were polluting the Citarum as stated in the BPK report on the audit, which was carried out in 2012-2013, damage to the river basin would not be as severe it was.

He acknowledged that the budget allocated by the government to tackle pollution in the Citarum River was quite substantial. “We have spent a lot of money over time, but there have been no significant results,” said Deddy.

In 2013, environmental organization Green Cross Switzerland and international nonprofit organization Blacksmith Institute named the Citarum River among the world’s 10 most polluted places.”

Read more: Jakarta Post

 

States move to limit EPA’s clean water authority

Photo retrieved from: www.msnbc.com

“Florida, Texas and Alaska are nowhere near the Chesapeake Bay. But that hasn’t stopped those states from trying to intervene in the EPA’s cleanup of the mid-Atlantic estuary.

Earlier this month, the attorneys general from those states and 18 others filed an amicus brief [PDF] on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation, which is suing to limit the extent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort. The Farm Bureau argues that the EPA exceeded its authority in regulating the amount of pollutants flowing into the bay, which the federal agency says is severely contaminated.

At question is how far the EPA can go in setting limits to ”the maximum amount of pollution a body of water can receive and still meet state water quality standards.” According to the Farm Bureau, the EPA exceeded its legal authority by trying to determine how much individual polluters would have to cut back, instead of just setting an overall so-called “Total Maximum Daily Load” and allowing the states to determine how it would be parceled out.

“These are uniquely local decisions that should be made by local governments,” said Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman in a statement. “That is why this power is specifically withheld from EPA in the Clean Water Act.”

The amicus brief, which was signed by 18 Republican attorneys general and three Democrats, seconds this line of argument. Although all but one of the 21 signatories hail from states which do not border the Chesapeake Bay, they say that the case has national implications. A legal regime which gives the EPA the power to closely regulate pollution in the bay could give it equivalent power in contaminated bodies of water across the United States.”

Read more: MSNBC

 

In Plan to Dump Contaminated Soil, Classic New Jersey Politics Emerge

Photo retrieved from: www.nytimes.com

“Beyond this fence, a 125-acre expanse of yellow swamp reeds, vines and cottonwood trees extends north to the Rahway River. Decades ago, American Cyanamid ruined this wetlands expanse, once home to rich oyster beds, with cyanide-contaminated sludge, the chemical detritus of the past century.

Years ago, it was partially cleaned and covered with a few feet of topsoil. With the passing of the seasons, nature has commenced its repair work.

But the Christie administration has another idea for this land. It appears poised to let a company, Soil Safe, truck in millions of tons of petroleum-contaminated soils and dump it on this site, which lies directly west of Staten Island and the Arthur Kill.

When Soil Safe is finished, a mound 29 feet high would cover most of this acreage.

The scientific staff at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection examined this proposal, and a number of members came away appalled. They said a flood could erode the Rahway River bank and cause the mound to collapse into the water.”

Read more: The New York Times

 

As Fracking Booms, Growing Concerns About Wastewater

Photo retrieved from: www.e360.yale.edu

“In a study conducted last year, researchers from the environmental consulting firm, Downstream Strategies, attempted to trace fracking water — from water withdrawal to wastewater disposal — at several wells in the Marcellus Shale formation in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

“We just couldn’t do it,” said Downstream Strategies staff scientist Meghan Betcher, citing a lack of good data and the wide range of disposal methods used by the industry. What the study did find was that gas companies use up to 4.3 million gallons of clean water to frack a single well in Pennsylvania, and that more than half of the wastewater is treated and discharged into surface waters such as rivers and streams.

Increasingly, the fracking boom in the Marcellus Shale and across the United States is leaving behind some big water worries — concerns that are only growing as shale gas development continues to expand. Pennsylvania, which has experienced a frenzied half-dozen years of hydraulic fracturing, is now the U.S.’s third-largest producer of natural gas. The Downstream Strategies report noted that from 2005 to 2012, Pennsylvania and West Virginia issued permits for nearly 9,000 natural gas wells that use hydraulic fracturing technology, which pumps a high-pressure mixture of water, chemicals, and sand deep into shale formations to extract natural gas.

The vast volume of water needed to extract that natural gas, and the large amounts of wastewater generated during the process, is causing increasing concern among geochemists, biologists, engineers, and toxicologists.”

Read more: Yale Environment 360

West Virginia Creek Runs Black After Catastrophic Coal Slurry Spill

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“Waters are running black for roughly six miles in West Virginia’s Fields Creek after more than 100,000 gallons of toxic coal slurry poured into the waterway from a Patriot Coal processing facility Tuesday.

“This is a big deal, this is a significant slurry spill,” said Secretary Randy Huffman of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection at a news conference Tuesday evening. “When this much coal slurry goes into the stream, it wipes the stream out.”

The spill comes just one month after the Elk River disaster, when 10,000 gallons of coal cleaning detergent Crude MCHM leaked into the river, contaminating the water supply for millions of residents living in and around the capital, Charleston.

Emergency officials said Tuesday that a “smaller amount of the slurry” had already traveled from the creek to the Kanawha River near the town of Chesapeake, West Virginia. Chesapeake is situated roughly 13 miles south along the Kanawha River from Charleston.

“This has had significant, adverse environmental impact to Fields Creek and an unknown amount of impact to the Kanawha River,” Huffman said of Tuesday’s spill which occurred at Patriot Coal’s Kanawha Eagle operation.

The spill was reportedly caused by a malfunction of a valve inside the slurry line. And although the valve broke sometime between 2:30 and 5:30 Tuesday morning, Patriot Coal did not call the DEP to alert them of the leak until 7:40 Tuesday morning, the Charleston Gazette quoted Huffman as saying.

There are some conflicting reports as to whether the slurry contains Crude MCHM or another chemical, polyethylene glycol. Regardless, the Gazette reports, the slurry contains a variety of substances and heavy metals such as iron, manganese, aluminum, and selenium that “are likely more toxic” than either Crude MCHM or polyethylene glycol.”

Read more: Common Dreams

 

Huge Leak of Coal Ash Slows at North Carolina Power Plant

Photo retrieved from: www.nytimes.com

“From 50,000 to 82,000 tons of coal-ash slurry flowed into the Dan after the collapse of a corrugated metal drainpipe only a few feet beneath a 27-acre pond, known as an impoundment. Duke Energy, the utility that owns the impoundment and the Dan River Steam Station in Eden, N.C., which closed in 2012, says that 27 million gallons of contaminated water also leaked into the river. Coal ash, a murky gray sludge that is the residue from burning powdered coal to generate electricity, contains high levels of toxic elements, including lead, mercury, selenium and arsenic.

The state said it began testing the Dan’s waters on Tuesday for the presence of 28 toxic metals. A spokesman for the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Jamie Kritzer, said Thursday that the first results would be available by Friday.

The department said that five downstream communities that take drinking water from the river were monitoring and filtering the water and had deemed it safe.”

Read more: New York Times

 

Fukushima Wash-Up Fears in U.S. Belie Radiation Risks: Energy

Photo retrieved from: www.bloomberg.com

“Seaborne radiation from Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant will wash up on the West Coast of the U.S. this year.

That’s raising concerns among some Americans including the residents of the San Francisco Bay Area city of Fairfax, which passed a resolution on Dec. 6 calling for more testing of coastal seafood.

At the same time, oceanographers and radiological scientists say such concerns are unwarranted given existing levels of radiation in the ocean.

The runoff from the Japanese plant will mingle with radiation released by other atomic stations, such as Diablo Canyon in California. Under normal operations, Diablo Canyon discharges more radiation into the sea, albeit of a less dangerous isotope, than the Fukushima station, which suffered the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.”

Read more: Bloomberg