Category Archives: Pollution

Recent developments in the fight against mountaintop removal, Maria Gunnoe letter to Obama

Maria Gunnoe and mountaintop removal via EcoWatch

Maria Gunnoe and mountaintop removal via EcoWatch

On Friday, Jeff Biggers for EcoWatch reported on a federal judge ruling that the US Army Corps of Engineers does not have to consider studies on the health impacts of mountaintop removal when issuing permits.

Biggers notes that this comes just a couple of weeks after Maria Gunnoe, an organizer for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, sent a letter to Obama urging him to renew funding for exactly such studies that were being conducted by the USGS, until funding was withdrawn last year.

Gunnoe Appeals to President … Judge Dismisses Health Studies on Mountaintop Removal
By Jeff Biggers, EcoWatch. August 22, 2014.

In a breathtaking but largely overlooked ruling this week, a federal judge agreed that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may disregard studies on the health impacts of mountaintop removal mining in its permitting process, only two weeks after Goldman Prize Award-winning activist Maria Gunnoe wrote an impassioned plea to President Obama to renew withdrawn funding for U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research on strip mining operations and redouble federal action to address the decades-old humanitarian disaster.

Read the whole article and Maria Gunnoe’s letter here.

Find out more about Maria Gunnoe and the New Voice’s Speakers Bureau on GJEP’s website.

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Filed under Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Mountaintop Removal, Pollution

Earth Watch: Michele Roberts on environmental racism and fence-line communities

imgresListen to Michele Roberts, national co-coordinator for Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform and a co-author of the new report, Who’s in Danger: Race, Poverty and Chemical Disasters.

Earth Watch is coordinated by GJEP in partnership with KPFK. 

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Filed under Earth Radio, Earth Watch, KPFK, Pollution, Uncategorized

Coal plant spills 5,000 gallons of oil into Ohio River

Duke Energy’s Beckjord coal plant, New Richmond, Ohio. Photo credit: Brett Ciccotelli via EcoWatch

Duke Energy’s Beckjord coal plant, New Richmond, Ohio. Photo credit: Brett Ciccotelli via EcoWatch

EcoWatch’s Anastasia Pantsios gives a compelling overview of this spill, which might seem ‘small,’ and why it matters. The spill happened late Monday, leading the Coast Guard to close a stretch of the river yesterday. The plant, located near Cincinnati, spilled between 5,000 to 8,000 gallons of fuel oil, and is owned by Duke Energy. It’s closing soon, but apparently doesn’t want to go without leaving its good neighbors something to remember it by.

8,000 Gallons of Oil Spill Into Ohio River From Duke Energy Coal Plant
By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch. August 19, 2014.

This one’s not a big one in the scheme of things. But to those impacted—especially in Ohio, where algae bloom recently caused the water supplying nearly a half million people in the Toledo area to be undrinkable for several days—it’s bad news. Monday morning, reports the Columbus Dispatch, the Coast Guard closed down a 15-mile length of the Ohio River after Duke Energy’s W.C. Beckjord Station outside Cincinnati dumped approximately 8,000 gallons of oil into the river, according to a Coast Guard estimate.


Ohio-based Sierra Club organizer Neil Waggoner said of Monday’s spill:

This is yet another example of dirty fossil fuels putting us at risk. We pay with our health. We pay for the dangerous cleanup with our tax dollars. At the same time that Duke Energy was spilling oil in our river, it’s also asking the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to bail out its old, polluting coal plants by passing extra costs on to its customers. If utilities in Ohio invested these dollars in clean energy, we could breathe easier, have safe water and power our lives without suffering the dangers of refineries and coal plants.

Read more at EcoWatch.


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Filed under Coal, Oil, Pollution

10 million gallons of toxic wastewater evicts Mexican schoolchildren

On Climate Progress, Ari Phillips reports that the Buenavista Copper Mine let more than 24 hours pass before reporting a massive spill in north Mexico. They could no longer deny the incident when residents down river began reporting miles and miles of orange water. There are even rumors that the spill may contain trace amounts of cyanide. Nearby schools have been evacuated and children are expected to stay away for at least a week.

Located just south of the U.S. border, the mine is one of the largest in the world. As the flagship mine of Grupo Mexico, Buenavista helped the group’s second quarter profits soar above $500 million. That’s one quarter’s profits. There are four quarters in a fiscal year. In other words, a global mining conglomerate that makes millions in ONE QUARTER can’t prevent or clean-up a toxic spill that is destroying the environment and forcing children out of their schools. In that first day, the company could have made substantial steps to limit the damage caused by the spill. Instead, they hid behind their oak desks in their corporate offices and tried to pretend it didn’t happen.

Guess what? It did.

Rio Bacanuchi after the spill. Photo: Earth First

Rio Bacanuchi after the spill. Photo: Earth First

Mining Spill Near U.S. Border Closes 88 Schools, Leaves Thousands Of Mexicans Without Water
by Ari Phillips, Climate Progress, August 18, 2014

An acid spill from a large copper mine in northern Mexico is keeping 88 schools closed starting Monday due to uncertainty over the safety of drinking water. The 12-day-old spill, which sent 10 million gallons (40,000 cubic meters) of toxic wastewater into portions of the Bacanuchi and Sonora rivers, may keep schools closed for over a week according to the Associated Press.


 Mine officials have been criticized for not reporting the massive acid spill to authorities for around 24 hours, with residents downstream detecting the spill the next day as it turned dozens of miles of river orange. According to Carlos Arias, director of civil defense for the northern state of Sonora, the spill was caused by defects in a new holding pond, where overflow from acids used to leach metal out of the crushed rock is stored. Arias said a pipe either blew out or lost its positioning on August 7th, sending the sulfuric acid downstream.

Read the full article on Climate Progress.

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Filed under Corporate Globalization, Mining, Pollution, Uncategorized, Waste, Water

Air Pollution Increasing Around Tar Sands

Environmental activist Tom Steyer stands in from of the Syncrude tar sands facility in Alberta, Canada. Credit: NEXTGEN Climate Action via Think Progress (photo and caption)

Environmental activist Tom Steyer stands in from of the Syncrude tar sands facility in Alberta, Canada. Credit: NEXTGEN Climate Action via Think Progress (photo and caption)

According to Think Progress, a recent study by the Alberta government shows air pollution rising in those areas where tar sands oil is mined and processed. Such evidence of rising air pollution adds to the overall picture of how tar sands extraction impacts front line communities.

Chemical Air Pollution Around The Tar Sands Is Getting Worse, Data Shows

By Emily Atkin, Climate ProgressAugust 15, 2014.

Chemical air pollution surrounding the primary areas where tar sands oil is mined and processed in Canada is on the rise, according to new data released by the Alberta government.

The 2012 data released Thursday showed that levels of both sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide — chemicals that help cause acid rain, smog, and myriad health problems — have risen to levels two and three on a government-set scale of four at several monitoring sites between Fort McMurray and Fort McKay. Level four is the highest limit allowed to protect human health, but the report said levels two and three are still cause for concern and that there should be further investigation into the source of pollution. Nitrogen dioxide is also a greenhouse gas.

Read more at Think Progress.

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Filed under Pollution, Tar Sands

The People are Tired of Corporate Pitches: “There will be no oil going through this land”

Elders and other resisters addressed the Energy East TransCanada Pipeline “Open House” at Kenora, Ontario on August 12 and the people told Energy East to go away. This beautiful article from Reclaim Turtle Island tells the story in words and video.  These brave people will move you.

Elder Nancy Morrison addresses Kenora, Ontario TransCanada/East Energy Open House, august 2014 - Photo Crystal Greene

Elder Nancy Morrison addresses Kenora, Ontario TransCanada/East Energy Open House, august 2014 – Photo Crystal Greene

Anishinaabeg loudly oppose TransCanada’s Energy East project at Kenora open house

By Crystal Greene, Reclaim Turtle Island. August 14, 2014.

Anishinaabeg and fellow Energy East pipeline resisters made a presence inside and outside Lakeside Inn on Tuesday, Aug. 12 for TransCanada’s second Kenora, Ont., open house

This time, the people weren’t interested in hearing TransCanada’s “information session” pitch. The tradeshow set-up had booths, corporate fact-sheets, and enough staff for one-on-one interactions to keep concerned citizens unaware of each other’s objections to the proposed Energy East pipeline.

Many in attendance had already made up their minds against the Energy East project proposal to convert the 50+ year-old natural gas carrying “Canadian Mainline,” and build new pipeline sections, into what could be North America’s largest tarsands pipeline, with 1.1 million barrels of diluted bitumen per-day from Hardisty, AB to marine terminals at Saint John, NB for international export.

Read and view the full piece here

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Indigenous Peoples, Oil, Pollution

Another story about race and America this week

Photo by Carlan Tapp

Photo by Carlan Tapp

With the news and images, and ongoing battle, from Ferguson at the forefront of everyone’s mind, another story of race and America made news. Residents of a predominantly African American community have charged the state of Alabama with violating their civil rights when it dumped toxic coal ash in their community. The EPA is now investigating their claims.

A recent report has shown the damaging effects of coal ash not only on water, but also through the toxic dust released into the air.

Both stories vividly show how race and class work in the US to try to trap communities and deny the rights and quality of life deserved by all.


Earthjustice. August 14, 2014.

Washington, D.C — Investigators from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency interviewed residents of the predominantly black and low-income community of Uniontown, in Perry County, Ala., this week, to probe charges that their civil rights were violated when the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) decided to re-permit a municipal landfill containing four million cubic yards of poisonous coal ash.

The coal ash came from a massive spill in Kingston, Tennessee, where coal ash burst through a dike in 2008 and sent a billion gallons of toxic waste across 300 acres of riverfront property, destroying two dozens homes. It was the largest coal ash spill in U.S. history.


Photo comes from Carlan Tapp’s blog: He seems cool and it’s a great picture.

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Filed under Coal, Pollution, Waste

Oil clean-up chemicals can be just as harmful as the spill itself

An article in the Halifax Media Co-op outlines how chemicals used to clean up oil spills can be just as deadly to marine life as the oil itself. The idea of using harsh chemicals to clean up a chemical spill leaves us wondering: What are they trying to save if Corexit and other dispersants remove oil, but still cause damage?

Of course, if we stopped relying so much on fossil fuels, stopped drilling in areas with fragile ecosystems, stopped drilling period… we wouldn’t even have this issue to begin with.

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon explosion poured into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly three months before the well was finally capped. Photo: Office of the Governor of the State of Louisiana

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon explosion poured into the U.S. Gulf of Mexico for nearly three months before the well was finally capped. Photo: Office of the Governor of the State of Louisiana

Making it go away: oilspills, corexit and Nova Scotia’s offshore

by Robert Devet, Halifax Media Co-op, August 11, 2014

K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax) – A chemical known as corexit 9500 will be the main line of defense if an oilspill occurs once Shell starts drilling exploratory wells offshore of Nova Scotia.

This becomes clear from Shell’s Environmental Impact Statement that is winding its way through the federal approval process

Corexit, and other dispersants like it, are used to dissolve oilspills. It contains chemicals that break up the oil into tiny droplets that sink so they can be degraded by bacteria.

Critics say that the chemical kills marine life and makes people sick.

These same critics also argue that dispersants merely hide the effects of spills. Fewer visuals of birds covered in oil, but the trade-off are clouds of miniscule oil droplets floating below the ocean’s surface and settling on the ocean bottom.

Read the full article here.

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Filed under Oceans, Oil, Pollution, Water