Archive for the 'sink holes' Category

This Sinkhole Sucked Down 11 Barges Like They Were Rubber Duckies

Photo retrieved from: www.motherjones.com

“Lake Peigneur, the site of one of the state’s most spectacular industrial disasters in 1980, kept coming up in my conversations with residents of Bayou Corne, the Cajun community in south Louisiana that has been evacuated for more than a year due to a massive, mining-induced sinkhole that now spans 24 acres—and is still growing. Last week, the state filed suit against Texas Brine and Occidental Chemical Company for damages relating to the disaster. (Read my story on Bayou Corne, which appears in the September/October issue of Mother Joneshere.) So on a sticky Sunday morning in June, I crossed over the Atchafalaya spillway to see the place for myself.

In November of 1980, in the process of generating revenue for (of all things) an environmental cleanup fund, a Texaco oil rig accidentally punctured the top of a salt mine situated beneath the lake. The water above emptied into the mine, creating a whirlpool that sucked 11 barges into the caverns below, turned the lake from freshwater to saline, and caused the Delcambre Canal to flow backwards. Three days later, nine of the 11 barges “popped up like iron corks,” the Associated Press reported; the other two were never found. Miraculously, all 55 workers who were inside the mine at the time of the accident managed to escape.

The disaster caused drilling in Lake Peigneur to cease—at least for a time. The lake showed signs of recovering from its industrial past after that, although it was several hundred feet deeper and stocked with a new species of fish that could live in the saltwater ecosystem. But industry slowly began to creep back.”

Read more: Mother Jones

Ecuador Court Orders Chevron To Pay $8 billion

About 916 pits were used by Texaco Petroleum, the US oil major, and PetroEcuador, the state company, for the 23 years before Texaco’s exit from the country in 1992. Photo retrieved from: www.http://pangaea-yep.com

“A court in Ecuador’s Amazon jungle ordered Chevron Corp to pay more than $8 billion in damages on Monday in a closely watched environmental suit, the plaintiffs’ lawyer said.

But the U.S. oil company vowed to appeal, meaning the long-running case dating from drilling in the South American nation during the 1970s and 1980s could last for years more.

The case, which activists portray as a fight for justice against rich polluters but Chevron says is more to do with opportunism, has triggered related legal action in U.S. courts and international arbitration.

It is being monitored by the oil industry for precedents that could lead to other large claims. Chevron had expected to lose the case in the Ecuadorean court.

In a statement on Monday, Chevron did not give any figure from the ruling by the court in Lago Agrio, but said it believed the judgment was “illegitimate” and “unenforceable in any court that observes the rule of law.”

It said the United States and international tribunals had already taken steps to bar enforcement of the ruling.

Pablo Fajardo, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the court had ordered Chevron to pay more than $8 billion damages.

The lawsuit had originally demanded $27 billion.

LENGTHY APPEALS

Residents of Ecuador’s Amazon region have said faulty drilling practices by Texaco, which was bought by Chevron in 2001, caused damage to wide areas of jungle and harmed indigenous people in the 1970s and 1980s.”

Read more: Los Angeles Times

More Fireworks as Lawyers for Ecuador Plaintiffs Fire Back at Chevron

Highly toxic production water pours into a waste pit at an old Texaco oil facility near Dureno in Ecuador's Amazon rainforest in 1993. When Texaco left Ecuador in 1992, the company abandoned nearly 1,000 unlined toxic waste pits which continue to pollute the water in the region to this day. Photo retrieved from: www.beforeitsnews.com

“Only days after Chevron turned around and sued the victims of its abuses in Ecuador’s rainforest, accusing them of racketeering and extortion for demanding cleanup, lawyers for the Ecuadorian plaintiffs fired back. Patton Boggs, the high-profile DC law firm now representing the plaintiffs filed its own suit yesterday, accusing Chevron and its lawyers at Gibson Dunn of “tortiously interfering” with the firm’s representation of the Ecuadorians. Tortious interference is a matter of common law and is also referred to as intentional interference with contractual relations.

This is exactly where it gets into a bunch of legalistic mumbo-jumbo for most people (including yours truly) but Patton Boggs’ press release announcing the filing of its suit lays bare Chevron’s legal manipulations for the sideshow they are. The Complaint referred to in the beginning is Chevron’s latest legal assault on the Ecuadorians, their preposterous RICO suit:

What is clear from the Complaint is that Chevron has little interest in litigating the merits of the claims, brought by the indigenous people of Ecuador, that its predecessor Texaco’s conduct has caused an ecological disaster in an environmentally sensitive rainforest the size of the State of Rhode Island. Rather, Chevron wants to litigate about the behavior of the lawyers, consultants, and spokespersons who have dared to represent these people during the past 18 years. Chevron simply cannot escape three glaring facts:”

Read more: Amazon Watch

Front-Line City in Virginia Tackles Rise in Sea

Photo retrieved from: www.nytimes.com

“As sea levels rise, tidal flooding is increasingly disrupting life here and all along the East Coast, a development many climate scientists link to global warming.

But Norfolk is worse off. Situated just west of the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, it is bordered on three sides by water, including several rivers, like the Lafayette, that are actually long tidal streams that feed into the bay and eventually the ocean.

Like many other cities, Norfolk was built on filled-in marsh. Now that fill is settling and compacting. In addition, the city is in an area where significant natural sinking of land is occurring. The result is that Norfolk has experienced the highest relative increase in sea level on the East Coast — 14.5 inches since 1930, according to readings by the Sewells Point naval station here.

Climate change is a subject of friction in Virginia. The state’s attorney general, Ken T. Cuccinelli II, is trying to prove that a prominent climate scientist engaged in fraud when he was a researcher at the University of Virginia. But the residents of coastal neighborhoods here are less interested in the debate than in the real-time consequences of a rise in sea level.”

Read more: New York Times

Why Israel, Palestine And Jordan Are Rallying Around A Single Cause

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“Fathi Huweimel leans carefully over the edge of a jagged slab of broken asphalt, peering down into a 60-foot-deep crater that was level ground just yesterday. All around him sprawl the ruins of Ghawr al Hadithah, once a farming village in central Jordan but now a jigsaw of broken houses, shattered roads and abandoned tomato fields growing wild amid the massive holes pocking the earth. To the east, the village gives way to desert fringed by stark, sere mountains. To the west, a few hundred yards away, lie the glimmering waters of theDead Sea.

“We’ve had about 75 holes open up in the last two years,” says Huweimel, a thickset man with a broad mouth and deep brown eyes who has lived all of his 45 years in the area. He works as a field researcher with Friends of the Earth-Middle East, an environmental organization. “Everyone is leaving,” he continues. “Those who stay are staying because they have no choice.”

The holes first started appearing in the 1980s, but the pace at which new ones open up has increased dramatically in recent years. Miraculously, no one has been killed by a cave-in yet, though there have been some close calls. A group of seven women — including Huweimel’s aunt — were harvesting tomatoes together one day when the ground collapsed with a roar just 2 meters in front of them. A small salt factory that employed about 100 people was evacuated before it collapsed.

The cause of all this destruction is water — or, rather, the lack of it. The ground is collapsing into sinkholes because the water beneath it is retreating. And the water is retreating because the Dead Sea, a storied feature of the landscape since at least biblical times, is drying up.”

Read more: Alternet

Land sinking as Dead Sea shrinks

The Dead Sea in Jordan is shrinking at an alarming rate – a development that has led to the creation of some 3,000 sinkholes along the sea’s coasts.

The sea has shrunk by a third since the 1960s when its major water source – the River Jordan – was diverted for upstream projects in Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

But for many people, the projects have backfired and the farmers who work near the sea say the once verdant and fertile land has become increasingly barren.

Al Jazeera: Land Sinking as Dead Sea Shrinks