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Sunday, January 12, 2014

More fracking contamination news and other such good news from rjs

Report: Fracking Operations Are Contaminating Well Water In 2 States - Complaints of water contamination in two states have been tied to oil or gas drilling, according to an Associated Press investigation. The AP looked at well water contamination complaints in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Texas and found that two states — West Virginia and Pennsylvania — had linked some complaints to fracking. In Pennsylvania, since 2005, more than 100 well-water contamination complaints have been confirmed, meaning that the well water in question was found by authorities to be polluted, There were nearly 900 complaints claiming that drilling operations had affected private well water in the state in 2012 and 2013 alone. West Virginia had about 122 complaints that claimed drilling was affecting well water over the last four years, with four of them linked to oil and gas drilling.  It’s unknown what sort of pollution caused the complaints that were confirmed to have been due to fracking — it could have been chemicals from the fracking operation, which oil and gas companies aren’t federally obligated to release, or methane, which according to the AP is the more common form of fracking-related water pollution.  The investigation sheds light on the hundreds of complaints made in these four states alleging contamination from drilling operations, and it adds to evidence that fracking can pollute well water. A July Pennsylvania study found the methane concentration of residential water wells at homes one mile from a fracking well was six times higher than it was in homes located farther away from wells, while levels of ethane, another natural gas component, were 23 times higher in homes closer to fracking wells. Fracking has been tied to other instances of water contamination as well — an October report found that in New Mexico, chemicals from fracking waste pits have contaminated water sources at least 421 times.

PA Gov Accused Of ‘Trying To Confuse The Public’ With Environmentally-Friendly Fracking Agreement (Updated) - On Monday, Corbett announced that he had entered into a voluntary agreement with Pennsylvania’s oil and gas drillers to comply with buffer zones under Act 13, which had required fracking operations, deep-shale drilling pads and conventional oil and gas wellbores to be at least 100 or 300 feet from environmentally sensitive areas, depending on the type of drilling. Those buffer zones — also called the “setback provisions” — were struck down in December when a state Supreme Court judge ruled them unconstitutional.  The reason the buffer zones were ruled unconstitutional, however, was that drillers were not actually required to comply with them, according to Jordan B. Yeager, an attorney who represented plaintiffs in the case against Act 13. Because drillers were not required to comply, the law in essence meant that natural gas companiescould drill anywhere they wanted, regardless of local zoning laws. “The provision had a mandatory waiver requirement. So as long as the drilling company said ‘we’ll take steps back to protect the waters,’ the Pennsylvania [Department of Environmental Protection] had to grant a waiver to the setbacks,” Yeager, who represents the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, told ClimateProgress on Tuesday. “Those setback provisions were completely illusory. That’s why it got struck down.”  Act 13′s setback provisions were struck down in part because of Article 1, Section 27 of Pennsylvania’s state Constitution, which the gives the state “not just the authority, but the duty” to protect the state’s natural resources, Yeager said. In other words, the state has an obligation to protect waterways and wetlands from drilling, regardless of whether Act 13 is in place or not. Provisions under the state’s Clean Streams Law and the federal Clean Water Act also require the state to guard its waters from fracking operations and pollution.

After Trying ‘All Other Means,’ Protesters Are Now Super-Gluing Themselves To Fracking Sites -- It’s 2014, and three people in England have already super-glued themselves to various anchored items around hydraulic fracturing sites in acts of protest. According to a report from the Manchester Evening News, two anti-fracking protestors were arrested on Tuesday for protesting at the Barton Moss fracking site in Manchester. This was not a normal protest, however — the women reportedly parked their Blue Ford Escort in front of the site, cut a hole in the bottom of the car, placed a barrel full of concrete in the hole, and superglued themselves into the barrel.  The women — arrested for willful obstruction of a public highway — knew they would be arrested for the stunt, fellow campaigner Mandy Roundhouse told the Evening News.  “They have done letter-writing, they have done going on marches, they have tried all the other means and nothing is working so they have had to resort to this,” Roundhouse said. “It’s not a decision they have taken lightly.” It is not the first time anti-fracking protestors in England have gone to extreme measures to protest fracking, which is a method of extracting fossil fuels that generally increases the flow of oil or gas from a well. On Thursday, another anti-fracking protester super-glued herself to the gates of Barton Moss, causing delays for trucks that usually drive through to and from the site.  The protests follow recent news in mid-December that two-thirds of the U.K.’s land will be available for fracking firms to license — a major fracking effort that the government reportedly hopes will result in hydraulic fracturing delivering about 25 percent of the U.K.’s annual gas needs.

Exclusive: Permit Shows Bakken Shale Oil in Casselton Train Explosion Contained High Levels of Volatile Chemicals - On January 2, 2014, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a major safety alert, declaring oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in the Bakken Shale may be more chemically explosive than the agency or industry previously admitted publicly. This alert came three days after the massive Casselton, ND explosion of a freight rail train owned by Warren Buffett's Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and was the first time the U.S. Department of Transportation agency ever made such a statement about Bakken crude. In July 2013, another freight train carrying Bakken crude exploded in Lac-Mégantic, vaporizing and killing 47 people. Yet, an exclusive DeSmogBlog investigation reveals the company receiving that oil downstream from BNSF — Marquis Missouri Terminal LLC, incorporated in April 2012 by Marquis Energy — already admitted as much in a September 2012 permit application to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Rather than a normal permit, Marquis was given a "special conditions" permit because the Bakken oil it receives from BNSF contains high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), the same threat PHMSA noted in its recent safety alert.  Among the most crucial of the special conditions: Marquis must flare off the VOCs before barging the oil down the Mississippi River. (Flaring is already a highly controversial practice in the Bakken Shale region, where gas is flared off at rates comparable to Nigeria.)  It's a tacit admission that the Bakken Shale oil aboard the exploded BNSF train in Casselton, ND, is prone to such an eruption.

Buffett Looks at Pipelines after North Dakota Train Wreck: Amid fears that regulators may move to tighten safety rules for crude oil shipments from North Dakota after the fiery derailment last week of an oil train, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has announced plans to acquire the pipeline development unit of Philips 66. Berkshire Hathaway, the owner of the BNSF oil train that derailed last Monday, has reportedly made a deal to acquire the Phillips Specialty Products unit of Phillips 66, which develops polymers to maximize pipeline flow potential, in a $1.4 billion stock deal. Analysts at the Motley Fool have suggested that the acquisition is Buffett’s way of “tipping his hand as to where he and Berkshire Hathaway might go elephant hunting next.” The suggestion is that acquiring Phillips 66’s special unit is both an investment in oil and gas transport by pipeline and a longer bet on increased US domestic consumption.   The fear is that the North Dakota derailment, which follows on the Quebec train disaster, will see a tightening of regulations on crude oil shipments from North Dakota, but this could also apply to pipelines, which have had their own disasters.

Why the U.S. Oil Boom may go off the Rails -- Lawmakers and U.S. regulators began asking questions about the safety of transporting oil on the nation's rail system following a December derailment in North Dakota. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a safety alert following the late December derailment of a BNSF line carrying oil from the Bakken reserve area in North Dakota. No injuries were reported in the 106-car accident near Casselton, though the derailment sparked an explosion and fires that burned for more than 24 hours. "PHMSA also advises emergency responders to be alert to the risks of crude oil transportation due to the increased volume of transportation and the wide range of crude oil properties," the agency said. The Association of American Railroads, which welcomed the PHMSA advisory, said 495 million barrels of petroleum and petroleum products were delivered on the U.S. rail system last year, a 31.1 percent increase from the previous year. The North Dakota Industrial Commission said more than 90 percent of the state's oil production comes from the Bakken and Three Forks areas. October's production level of 941,637 barrels of oil per day was a new all-time record, though there isn't enough pipeline capacity to keep up. Robert Harms, chairman of Republican party in North Dakota, said oil production in the state may be too much too soon and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said he wanted federal authorities to either overhaul, or eliminate, older rail cars involved in the BNSF derailment.  So-called DOT-111 rails cars were involved in a 2013 accident in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, which left more than 45 people dead after a train carrying Bakken oil slipped its tracks and exploded.

AGAIN! Canada crude oil and propane train still burning after derailment in New Brunswick - A train carrying crude oil and propane is still burning in the Canadian province of New Brunswick after partially derailing overnight. More than 100 residents of nearby Plaster Rock were evacuated from the village on Tuesday night after 15 cars and one locomotive derailed. Officials are using helicopters to determine the full extent of the fire. A derailment in Quebec last July killed 47 people, prompting concerns about the oil-by-rail business. Another train carrying crude oil exploded in late December in the US state of North Dakota. Officials said there had been no injuries or deaths in the latest derailment on Tuesday as it had taken place in a sparsely populated area 20 miles (32 km) from the US border. But they were worried about secondary explosions. "The biggest concern is the propane cars," the Plaster Rock fire chief Tim Corbin told broadcaster CBC. "If they happen to explode, we're looking at major damage." Canadian railway officials said four of the cars that derailed were carrying propane and four others had crude oil. "At this point, we haven't determined to what extent each of those cars is involved," 

a few on the WVa situation which kathy brought up last night...
West Virginia Declares State Of Emergency After Coal Chemical Contaminates Drinking Water - Residents of nine counties in West Virginia have been told not to use or drink their water after a chemical used by the coal industry spilled into the Elk River on Thursday. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency as more than 100,000 customers, or 300,000 people, are without safe drinking water.  “Don’t make baby formula,” said West Virginia American Water Company president Jeff McIntyre. “Don’t brush your teeth. Don’t shower. Toilet flushing only.” The chemical, 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol (MCHM), is used to wash coal of impurities and spilled from a tank at Freedom Industries into the river. While the amount of MCHM that spilled wasn’t immediately known, West Virginia American Water has been conducting water quality testing every hour. According to Laura Jordan, a spokesperson with the water company, they believe the chemical is leaking at ground level and “there is a possibility this leak has been going on for sometime before it was discovered Thursday,” WSAZ reported.  Local officials described MCHM as smelling like licorice and looking like “cooking oil floating on top of the water.” The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources said symptoms of MCHM exposure include “severe burning in throat, severe eye irritation, non-stop vomiting, trouble breathing or severe skin irritation such as skin blistering.” Though the spill occurred Thursday morning, West Virginia American Water didn’t provide its customers with a warning until evening and, as Al Jazeera reported, several were angered by the lack of information, particularly regarding what should be done if they had already used or ingested the water.   Early Friday, Tomblin announced that the White House approved a federal emergency declaration to help with the urgent water situation. Soon after the governor’s declaration on Thursday, residents flooded local stores for bottled water and disposable dishes. 

Crisis In West Virginia: Wal-Mart Calls In Police To Guard Bottled Water Delivery -- The Federal Emergency Management Authority has confirmed that it will deliver more than 1 million liters (264,172 gallons) of clean water to residents of the nine counties in West Virginia after a chemical used by the coal industry spilled into the Elk River on Thursday. Approximately 300,000 people in West Virginia were told not to drink or use their water after approximately 5,000 gallons of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol (MCHM) — a chemical used to wash coal of impurities — spilled from a tank owned by Freedom Industries. West Virginia American Water Company president Jeff McIntyre warned consumers not to use tap water for baby formula, brushing teeth, or showering. “Toilet flushing only,” he said. The reports sent people rushing to stock up on bottled water, stripping store shelves around the area, including local Wal-Marts. Tension over the availability of clean water in the area seemed to be growing. At around 3:00pm, the Kanawha County police scanner lit up with reports of a shipment of water that was about to come in to a nearby Wal-Mart, asking for police presence while employees could restock. “It was chaos, that’s what it was,” 

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