Tag Archives: pollution

Fracking Study: Gas Production In Pennsylvania May Be Polluting Creek With Radioactive Waste

Oct 2, 2013 by , Source: Global Possibilities

Fracking Study

From Climate Central’s Bobby Magill:

Fracking may be contaminating a Pennsylvania river with radioactive waste, a Duke University study to be published this week shows.

Scientists found elevated levels of radioactivity in river water at a site where treated fracking wastewater from oil and gas production sites in western Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale is released into a creek.

The natural gas-rich Marcellus shale is seeing a drilling boom, part of a nationwide rush to use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, techniques to extract shale gas and oil. Studies have shown that energy production, including the waste water associated with fracking — a method of injecting chemicals, sand and water deep underground to crack rock formations to release oil and natural gas — may release significant fugitive methane emissions, helping to drive climate change.

Duke researchers looked at sediment samples collected downstream of the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility in Indiana County, Penn., and found that radium levels were 200 times greater in those samples when compared to those collected upstream of the plant. The plant processes fracking flowback water — highly saline and radioactive fluid that is returned to the surface as part of the fracking process.

Researchers have long been concerned about concentration of bromide, chlorides and other contaminants being discharged from the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility. One researcher, Conrad Volz, former director of the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities at the University of Pittsburgh, testified before the U.S. Senate in 2011 about the high level of contaminants in Josephine’s effluent.

“The treatment removes a substantial portion of the radioactivity, but it does not remove many of the other salts, including bromide,” said study co-author Avner Vengosh, a Duke professor of geochemistry and water quality.

Radioactivity levels were found to be elevated in sediment near the outflow from the plant, and they were high enough that only a licensed radioactive disposal facility is qualified to accept them, said co-author Robert B. Jackson, Duke professor of environmental science. Radioactivity has accumulated in the river sediments and exceeds thresholds for safe disposal of radioactive waste, he said.

Radioactivity found in the creek downstream of the fracking wastewater treatment plant is in low concentrations initially, but the study’s results show what happens when a large amount of fracking wastewater is treated in one location for a long period of time, said Jackson, whose previous research showed “systematic evidence” of methane contamination in drinking water associated with natural gas extraction in the Marcellus.

“Each day, oil and gas producers generate 2 billion gallons of wastewater,” Jackson said Tuesday. “They produce more wastewater than hydrocarbons. That’s the broader implication of this study. We have to do something with this wastewater.

“The use of fossil fuels has a direct climate connection,” he said. “Hundreds of billions of gallons of wastewater is a consequence of our reliance — our addiction — to fossil fuels. That’s another price we pay for needing so much oil and gas.

Cornell University environmental engineering professor Anthony Ingraffea, whose research has shown that climate change-driving methane emissions from shale gas extraction in the Marcellus may be significant, said methane concentrations could also be high in the fracking flowback wastewater the Josephine Brine plant treats.

“Entrained in that flowback is methane,” he said. “Even before that waste goes to a place like Josephine, it’s stored in open pits, or stored in vented tanks. As such, it’s going to off-gas, not just methane, but VOCs (volatile organic compounds).”

Ingraffea said the Duke study shows that one of the major problems with the rapid expansion of shale oil and shale gas development is that it requires an extremely high volume of water for fracking, which means there’s a high volume of waste associated with it.

“That waste has to be properly captured, stored, transported and, ultimately, disposed of,” Ingraffea said, something the Duke study shows Josephine and other wastewater treatment plants like it are not accomplishing.

The Duke study, “Impacts of Shale Gas Wastewater Disposal on Water Quality in Western Pennsylvania,” will be published this week in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

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Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Hydrofracking, Pollution

Earth Minute: RoundUp Herbicide Contaminating People and the Environment

Note: Global Justice Ecology Project collaborates with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK each week for an Earth Minute on Tuesday and an EarthWatch segment on Thursday.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture, Pollution, Water

Ottawa failing to protect Canadians from pollution, report says

Note: Its no surprise to anyone paying attention that the Harper government’s aggressive resource extraction agenda is harming Canadian people – disproportionately First Nations – and ecosystems.  While this new report calls for a ‘boom’ in environmental regulation to match the ‘boom’ in resource development, maybe the Harper government should instead look to the ‘boom’ in eco-defense and resistance.  The real answers lie in Idle No More; the Innu defending their land against Hydro Quebec and Plan Nord; the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation fighting against tar sands; Sarnia fighting against Enbridge’s tar sands pipeline; Barriere Lake Algonquin fighting illegal logging…Canadians are standing up everywhere to advance a different agenda that protects the rights of First Nations, ecosystems and communities.

-The GJEP Team

By Shawn McCarthy, February 5, 2013.  Source: The Globe and Mail

nafta-fracking16rb1The Harper government is failing to protect Canadians’ health and environment from the pollution risks associated with the resource industry boom across the country, the Federal Environment Commissioner said in a report to Parliament.

In a series of audits released Tuesday, Commissioner Scott Vaughan pointed to several shortcomings, including the absence of regulations for toxic chemicals used by the oil industry and the lack of preparedness for major tanker accidents off the West Coast or for catastrophic oil spills on the East Coast.

Mr. Vaughan said Ottawa continues to subsidize the oil industry despite a commitment to the G20 to end such support. However, the government is dramatically scaling back its support, and is reviewing outdated liability limits that could leave taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars after a major accident.

The environmental auditor said Ottawa needs far more vigorous enforcement to keep pace with the anticipated growth in investments in pipelines, offshore drilling, oil-sands development, shale-gas production and mining, though opposition critics have accused the government of slashing environmental assessments in recent budget bills.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Hydrofracking, Idle No More, Illegal logging, Indigenous Peoples, Mining, Oceans, Oil, Tar Sands, Waste, Water

Polluting paper mill on protected Lake Baikal could close

28 September, 2012. Source: RT

RIA Novosti / Petr Malinovskiy
Photo: RIA Novosti / Petr Malinovskiy

A pulp and paper mill located on the UNESCO-protected Lake Baikal could soon be closed, said Vice-Premier Arkady Dvorkovich. It’s the latest official promise to end its 46 year pollution of the world’s largest fresh water lake.

“Though many such plants are working, most likely, the mill will have to be closed,” Dvorkovich said.

The Baikal pulp and paper mill is currently in the hands of receivers, as it has debts of 1.9bln roubles. But financial situation won’t be the only or first issue to be considered before a final decision is made.

The issue of closing down the mill located next to one of the most ecologically precious sites has been subject to heated debate for a long time. On the one hand, the mill’s been dumping waste into the lake since it started operating in 1966. On the other, about 15,000 people living in the town Baikalsk are somehow connected with the mill.

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Cascadia Forest Defenders occupy billboard near sawmill-biomass plant

By Camilla Mortensen, September 26, 2012.  Source: EugeneWeekly.com

Cascadia Forest Defenders are probably most know for  tree sits and occupying government offices — most recently over logging in the Elliott State Forest, but when it comes to logging, mills and biomass plants are a part of the equation, so today CFD is occupying a billboard near the Seneca Sawmill/Seneca Sustainable energy plant:

Eugene, OR- This afternoon members of Cascadia Forest Defenders occupied a billboard outside of the West Eugene Seneca Sawmill with a banner that read, “SENECA JONES: BAILOUTS, CLEARCUTS, & POLLUTING WEST EUGENE”.

Seneca Biomass is a wood burning power plant in West Eugene that opened in the spring of 2011 amid public protest. Though the project has been marketed as “green energy,” Seneca Biomass failed its first EPA air pollution test last fall. The plant releases an estimated 17,900 pounds of air toxins into West Eugene Neighborhoods annually —t his in addition to the 73,000 pounds already released annually from the mill itself. There are three schools within three miles of the Seneca Biomass facility.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Greenwashing, Pollution, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Study links kidney disease in Sri Lanka’s farm belt to agrochemicals

By Amantha Perera, August 21, 2012. Source: IPS

New research on the high prevalence of kidney disease in Sri Lanka's farming areas mentions a possible link to heavy metals in the water, associated with fertiliser and pesticide use. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS

New research on the high prevalence of kidney disease in Sri Lanka’s farming areas mentions a possible link to heavy metals in the water, associated with fertiliser and pesticide use. Photo: Amantha Perera/IPS

COLOMBO – A new report links the high prevalence of chronic kidney disease in Sri Lanka’s main agricultural production regions with the presence of heavy metals in the water, caused by fertiliser and pesticide use.

Over the past two decades, dozens of studies have been conducted on the large number of kidney patients in Sri Lanka’s agro-rich north-central region. However, none had conclusively identified a clear cause.

But on Aug. 14, a group of Sri Lankan doctors released a report that they said was compiled as part of an ongoing joint research project by the Sri Lankan government and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The report states that: “Exposure to a combination of factors that are toxic to the kidneys (rather than one single factor) seems to cause this kidney disease. Toxic factors identified up to now include nephrotoxic agrochemicals, arsenic and cadmium.”

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Northwest tribes fight for treaty rights in the face of coal-transport plan

By Terri Hansen August 15, 2012. Source: Indian Country Today

Fall Chinook salmon run
Photo: U.S. Department of Justice website

Treaty fishing rights are meaningless if there are no healthy fish populations left to harvest, say Pacific Northwest tribes, fishers and tribal environmental organizations.

But that is exactly what is happening on the Columbia River in Washington State as habitat degradation has led to a decline of salmon and diminished the treaty harvest to levels not seen in nearly 40 years. And a proposal to transport coal through these sensitive waterways threatens to undermine the salmon population even more, tribal leaders say.

Tribal fishers like Billy Frank Jr. fought hard battles to uphold the tribes’ treaty right to fish. When the 1974 Boldt federal court decision established tribal co-management of Washington State fisheries and affirmed the affected tribes’ treaty rights to half the harvestable salmon, their harvest finally increased.

Now the coal industry is seeking to export millions of tons of Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal to lucrative Asian markets through six proposed shipping terminals on Oregon and Washington waterways. If the coal companies prevail, it will degrade salmon and cultural-foods habitat as well as affect treaty rights, say organizations like the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC); the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Tribal Lands Program; tribal nations including the Lummi in northwest Washington and the Yakama in eastern Washington, and tribal voices such as Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs elder Bruce Jim.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Coal, Indigenous Peoples, Pollution, Water

El Niño exerts a deadly effect: lighter rains, more fires, more pollution

By Jeff Tollefson, 12 August 2012, Source: Nature

Fires for land clearance, such as this one in Sumatra, are more prevalent in El Niño years, reducing air quality and increasing the number of pollution-related deaths. Photo: Reuters/Corbis

An unexpected link between the climate event El Niño and a rise in the number of deaths in southeast Asia is revealed in research published today in Nature Climate Change1.

El Niño events, which displace warm water into the eastern Pacific Ocean and produce cool waters near Indonesia, exert their effect by suppressing the monsoon rains that usually put a dampener on the use of fire to clear land for agriculture. The resulting additional pollution can account for as many as 15,000 deaths in El Niño years, the study says.“We usually think of deforestation and fires in terms of global carbon emissions, but we are seeing this regional impact on public health as well,” says Miriam Marlier, a graduate student at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, who led the study.

The work focused on an area that is home to 540 million people, stretching from Indonesia to the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. Marlier and her team used emissions estimates derived from satellite observations for 1997–2006, which they plugged into a pair of atmospheric chemistry models to analyse air pollution in the region.

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