Tag Archives: carcinogens

Fracking our food supply

By Elizabeth Royte, November 28, 2012.  Source: The Nation

This article was produced in collaboration with the Food & Environment Reporting Network, an investigative reporting nonprofit focusing on food, agriculture and environmental health.

Photo: The Nation

Photo: The Nation

In a Brooklyn winery on a sultry July evening, an elegant crowd sips rosé and nibbles trout plucked from the gin-clear streams of upstate New York. The diners are here, with their checkbooks, to support a group called Chefs for the Marcellus, which works to protect the foodshed upon which hundreds of regional farm-to-fork restaurants depend. The foodshed is coincident with the Marcellus Shale, a geologic formation that arcs northeast from West Virginia through Pennsylvania and into New York State. As everyone invited here knows, the region is both agriculturally and energy rich, with vast quantities of natural gas sequestered deep below its fertile fields and forests.

In Pennsylvania, the oil and gas industry is already on a tear—drilling thousands of feet into ancient seabeds, then repeatedly fracturing (or “fracking”) these wells with millions of gallons of highly pressurized, chemically laced water, which shatters the surrounding shale and releases fossil fuels. New York, meanwhile, is on its own natural-resource tear, with hundreds of newly opened breweries, wineries, organic dairies and pastured livestock operations—all of them capitalizing on the metropolitan area’s hunger to localize its diet.

But there’s growing evidence that these two impulses, toward energy and food independence, may be at odds with each other.

Tonight’s guests have heard about residential drinking wells tainted by fracking fluids in Pennsylvania, Wyoming and Colorado. They’ve read about lingering rashes, nosebleeds and respiratory trauma in oil-patch communities, which are mostly rural, undeveloped, and lacking in political influence and economic prospects. The trout nibblers in the winery sympathize with the suffering of those communities. But their main concern tonight is a more insidious matter: the potential for drilling and fracking operations to contaminate our food. The early evidence from heavily fracked regions, especially from ranchers, is not reassuring.
Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Hydrofracking, Pollution, Water, Women

Shell Chemical equipment failure causes flame and flares in St. Charles

By Juliet Linderman, December 3, 2012.  Source: The Times-Picayune

Photo: Diya Chacko/nola.com

Photo: Diya Chacko/nola.com

For more than 30 hours, Shell Chemical, located on the Motiva Enterprises campus in Norco, has been experiencing elevated flares, shooting flames and leaking thick black smoke into the air above St. Charles Parish. According to a report submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center, the plant is releasing unknown amounts of hydrogen sulfide, butadiene and benzene, a known carcinogen.

Shell Chemical reported the incident to the NRC at approximately 8 am on Sunday, Dec. 2, citing no deaths or injuries associated with the accident.

According to Department of Environmental Quality Press Secretary Rodney Mallet, an unknown unit within the plant sustained damages, and Motiva has opted to send the chemicals typically routed to the damaged unit to a flare to be burned, rather than shutting the unit down altogether and rebooting it. The quantity of chemicals being funneled to the flare, as well as anticipated emissions, are unknown at this time. Neither DEQ nor NRC has specified whether the material is coming from Shell Chemical or Motiva.
Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Oil, Pollution, Waste

Group: Toxics linger after Chevron fire

Note: But Chevron says there is “no significant risk.”  No surprises there…

–The GJEP Team

By Peter Fimrite, November 18 2012. Source: San Francisco Chronicle

August 6th fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, CA. Photo: Tony Lee/SF

Cancer-causing chemicals linger around homes and in gardens over a 9-square-mile area more than three months after a catastrophic fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, according to an environmental justice group.

Independent testing by Global Community Monitor found that toxic fallout from the giant plume of smoke and soot that spewed from the plant on Aug. 6 blanketed an area stretching from Albany to San Pablo with dangerous hydrocarbons.

Five of eight samples of dust at different residential locations around the refinery had high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, in the dust and soil, said Denny Larson, executive director of the Richmond group, which tests for toxic substances in urban communities and advocates for tighter regulations and monitoring.

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Oil, Politics, Pollution