Duke’s maligned handling of toxic coal ash is claimed typical for industry

Over 200 contaminations and spills document water contamination and deformed fish near coal ash sites.

Source: www.utilitydive.com

>” Duke Energy faces criminal charges and a $100 million fine for a 2014 spill of 39,000 tons of coal ash into North Carolina’s Dan River but environmental activists say its mishandling of coal ash waste is not atypical of the coal industry.  […] EPA released a final ruling on handling coal ash last December but both utility industry and environmental groups were dissatisfied. It creates requirements and standards for the management of coal combustion residuals (CCRs or coal ash) under Subtitle D of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). That subtitle governs solid waste. There is not yet adequate data, the EPA said, to justify managing coal ash under Subtitle C of RCRA, which pertains to hazardous waste.

“Coal ash is a toxic soup of heavy metals,” said NC WARN Energy Expert Nancy LaPlaca. “Pretending it is not hazardous waste is outrageous.”

Utilities are “pleased” that the EPA found it did not have adequate information to regulate coal as hazardous waste, explained Schiff, Hardin Partner/Utilities Counsel Josh More. But “EPA is pretty explicit this is not their final determination.” It failed, he added, because “it is a self-implementing program.”  […]”<

 

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Crude Oil Spills From Pipeline Into Yellowstone River, Montana

Residents have reportedly smelled and tasted oil in their drinking water downstream from the spill, and the city’s water plant has stopped drawing from the river.

Source: thinkprogress.org

>” […] On Saturday morning, a pipeline in Montana spilled up to 50,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River, the pipeline’s operator confirmed Sunday night. […]

The 12-inch diameter steel pipe breached and spilled anywhere from 12,600 to 50,000 gallons of oil nine miles upriver from the town of Glendive, with an unknown amount of it spilling into the partially frozen river, according to a statement from Bridger Pipeline LLC. The company said the spill occurred at 10 a.m. and they “shut in” the flow of oil just before 11 a.m. — meaning that though the pipeline section could still empty itself of its contents, no new addition oil would flow into the spilled area.

“Oil has made it into the river,” Bridger spokesperson Bill Salvin confirmed to the AP on Monday. “We do not know how much at this point.” Observers spotted oil, some of which was trapped under the ice, up to 60 miles downstream from Glendive. Paul Peronard, the EPA’s on-scene coordinator, said crews were attempting to use booms to prevent the spill from spreading further but the ice on top of the river was forcing them to “hunt and peck” through it.  […]

“We think it was caught pretty quick, and it was shut down,” said Montana Governor Steve Bullock spokesperson Dave Parker, noting that the river was frozen over near the spill, which could help isolate the spill.

Parker told MTN News that “the Governor is committed to ensuring that the river is completely cleaned up and the folks responsible are held accountable.”

In 2011, an Exxon Mobil pipeline spilled 63,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone near Laurel, Montana. Days after the spill, goat rancher Alexis Bonogofsky was hospitalized for acute hydrocarbon exposure after noticing oil slicks along the riverbank abutting her ranch. She lived far enough downstream that any evacuation order missed her, she said. There was concern then that the cause of the spill was related to climate-change-influenced raging floodwaters that exposed the normally deeply-buried pipe to damaging debris.

Even two years later, the state was still fighting with Exxon over damages to the area from the spill and the clean-up process, leaving fish, birds, and wildlife dead or injured and interrupting environmental studies, recreation, and fishing.

Bridger’s pipeline runs from the Canadian border down through Montana across the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers and east into North Dakota, dubbed the Poplar System. It is on the opposite side of Wyoming from, and downstream of, Yellowstone National Park, but the river empties into the Missouri River.

The proposed — and controversial — northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline would bethree times the diameter of the breached Bridger pipeline, and pump more than 34 million gallons of oil per day through the Dakotas down into Nebraska and into the southern leg in Oklahoma and Texas. Many landowners and local residents are concerned about what a potential spill would mean for critical watersheds and aquifers — not to mention what subsequent increased tar sands oil production means for Canadian watersheds.”<

 

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University Researchers Find Abandoned Wells Leak Substantial Quantities of GHG’s (Methane)

After testing a sample of abandoned oil and natural gas wells in northwestern Pennsylvania, the researchers found that many of the old wells leaked substantial quantities of methane.

Source: www.princeton.edu

>” […] To conduct the research, the team placed enclosures called flux chambers over the tops of the wells. They also placed flux chambers nearby to measure the background emissions from the terrain and make sure the methane was emitted from the wells and not the surrounding area.

Although all the wells registered some level of methane, about 15 percent emitted the gas at a markedly higher level — thousands of times greater than the lower-level wells. Denise Mauzerall, a Princeton professor and a member of the research team, said a critical task is to discover the characteristics of these super-emitting wells.

Mauzerall said the relatively low number of high-emitting wells could offer a workable solution: while trying to plug every abandoned well in the country might be too costly to be realistic, dealing with the smaller number of high emitters could be possible.

“The fact that most of the methane is coming out of a small number of wells should make it easier to address if we can identify the high-emitting wells,” said Mauzerall, who has a joint appointment as a professor of civil and environmental engineering and as a professor of public and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School.

The researchers have used their results to extrapolate total methane emissions from abandoned wells in Pennsylvania, although they stress that the results are preliminary because of the relatively small sample. But based on that data, they estimate that emissions from abandoned wells represents as much as 10 percent of methane from human activities in Pennsylvania — about the same amount as caused by current oil and gas production. Also, unlike working wells, which have productive lifetimes of 10 to 15 years, abandoned wells can continue to leak methane for decades.

“This may be a significant source,” Mauzerall said. “There is no single silver bullet but if it turns out that we can cap or capture the methane coming off these really big emitters, that would make a substantial difference.” […]”<

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The Precautionary Principle | Canadian Environmental Law Association

The precautionary principle denotes a duty to prevent harm, when it is within our power to do so, even when all the evidence is not in. This principle has been codified in several international treaties to which Canada is a signatory. Domestic law makes reference to this principle but implementation remains limited.

Source: www.cela.ca

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Corroded Pipeline with History of Leaks – Major Shell Oil Spill into Niger Delta

“We saw dead fish, dead crabs. … This spill occurred seven, eight nautical miles from the shore … [so] the volume runs into thousands of barrels,” said Alagoa Morris, head of the Niger Delta Resource Center for Environmental Rights Action.

Source: royaldutchshellplc.com

>” […] Some 3,800 barrels spilled recently, according to an investigation by Shell and government officials. It ranks as one of the worst in Nigeria for years, local environmental activists said.

A Shell spokesman said that some 1,200 barrels had been recovered as of Tuesday, and “recovery efforts are continuing” at the site on the Okolo Launch on Bonny Island.

Shell said the spill was caused by a failed crude theft. Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, loses tens of thousands of barrels per day to oil theft that often causes spills, although many are also caused by corroded pipelines.

Shell shut down its 28-inch pipeline carrying Bonny Light crude Nov. 22, but the origin of the spill was from the smaller 24-inch pipe, which was shut last year.

Crude washed up in pools in front of beach shacks in the affected site, coating the roots of palm trees and leaving a trail of dead sea life. In some areas, people scooped up the crude to fill drums and jerry cans.

“We saw dead fish, dead crabs. … This spill occurred seven, eight nautical miles from the shore … [so] the volume runs into thousands of barrels,” said Alagoa Morris, head of the Niger Delta Resource Center for Environmental Rights Action.

“We can’t go fishing anymore. It has destroyed our fishing equipment,” Bonny fisherman Boma Macaulay said, adding that it was the worst spill he had seen for at least five years.

Shell is under pressure to pay damages on other spills. Parliament said last month that it should pay nearly $4 billion for a spill at the offshore Bonga oilfield.

The Bodo community in Ogoniland is also suing for two massive spills in 2008 that devastated the area. […]”<

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Could desalination solve California’s water problem?

Desalination would seem to answer every prayer to fix California’s water shortages. But turning the sea into drinking water is not so easy. The state’s first major desalination plant, under construction in Carlsbad, is a major test for the industry and wary environmental groups.

Source: www.sacbee.com

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Fossil Fuel Development in the Arctic is a Bad Investment

Source: www.earth-policy.org

>”Currently, about 10 percent of the world’s oil and one-quarter of its natural gas production come from the Arctic region, which has warmed by more than 2 degrees Celsius since the mid-1960s. Countries that border the Arctic Ocean are staking claims to expand their rights beyond the traditional 200-mile exclusive economic zone in anticipation of future oil and gas prospects. According to current estimates, the United States has the largest Arctic oil resources, both on and offshore. Russia comes in second for oil, but it has the most natural gas. Norway and Greenland are virtually tied for third largest combined oil and gas resources. Canada comes in fifth, with almost equal parts oil and natural gas.

In developing these resources, Russia is leading the pack. Production has started at almost all of the 43 large oil and natural gas fields that have been discovered in the Russian Arctic, both on land and offshore. Russia drew its first oil from an offshore rig in Arctic waters in December 2013. […]

[…] operating in the Arctic brings great risks. The shrinking Arctic sea iceallows waves to become more powerful. The remaining ice can be more easily broken up into ice floes that can collide with vessels or drilling platforms. Large icebergs can scour the ocean floor, bursting pipes or other buried infrastructure. Much of the onshore infrastructure is built on permafrost—frozen ground—that can shift as the ground thaws from regional warming, threatening pipe ruptures. Already, official Russian sources estimate that there have been more than 20,000 oil spills annually from pipelines across Russia in recent years.  Arctic operations are far away from major emergency response support. The freezing conditions make it unsafe for crews to be outside for extended periods of time. Even communication systems are less reliable at the far end of the Earth. Why take such risks to pursue these dirty fuels when alternatives to oil and gas are there for the taking?

Rather than searching for new ways to get oil, we can look for better ways to move people and goods. Bus rapid transit, light rail and high-speed rail can move more people for less energy than a car can. And for the cars that remain on the road, electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles—powered by a clean energy grid—are much more efficient than those with a traditional internal combustion engine. Encouraging bicycle use through bike lanes andbike-sharing programs gets people active and out of cars.

Natural gas, which is mainly used to produce electricity, can be replaced with power generated by wind, solar, and geothermal projects. Many countries are demonstrating what is possible with renewables. Denmark already gets one-third of its electricity from wind. Australia is now dotted with 1 million rooftop solar systems. Iceland generates enough geothermal power to meet close to 30 percent of its electricity needs. These are just a few examples of looking past the old familiar solution to a better cleaner one. The risky search under every rock and iceberg for oil and gas deposits is a costly distraction from investing in a clean energy future.”<

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Fracking linked to BC’s liquefied natural gas gambit

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A surplus of natural gas in North America explains why the B.C. government is so desperate to launch a new industry

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>“The prices that the [B.C.] government is looking at in paving the roads with gold is basically based on these short-term factors that are not likely to persist,” Lee said.

Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman did not make himself available for an interview to respond to Lee’s comments.

B.C. misread U.S. energy revolution

The B.C. government missed the mark with its earlier forecasts on royalties because it failed to predict an explosion in U.S. energy production.

This largely came about through hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as “fracking”, and horizontal drilling. Technological innovations in fracking generated huge new supplies, causing North American natural-gas prices to plummet.

The falling prices resulted in fewer royalties flowing into the B.C. government treasury.

Fracking involves pumping huge amounts of water along with sand and chemicals into shale-rock formations to free trapped gas.

Horizontal drilling enables companies to retrieve locked supplies by moving the drill bit across a deposit rather than going straight down.

A single platform can send horizontal drills in a multitude of directions, enhancing efficiency and saving money.

In his 2013 book, The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters (Penguin), Gregory Zuckerman chronicled how a handful of U.S. energy-industry outcasts refined these techniques and caused an American energy revolution.

“To me, it’s fascinating that this resurgence started in 2007 and 2008, which is right when America was sort of on its back,” he told the Straight by phone.

Zuckerman, a Wall Street Journal reporter, said that the United States is now producing about eight million barrels of oil per day, up from five million barrels per day in 2008.

In addition, U.S. natural-gas production rose more than 21 percent between 2008 and 2013.

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson has predicted that the U.S. will be energy self-sufficient by 2020.

The Frackers reveals that the people who spearheaded this sharp increase in energy production were not working for major oil companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, or Chevron.

Rather, they were an assortment of little-known wildcatters from Texas and Oklahoma—George Mitchell, Aubrey McClendon, Tom Ward, and Harold Hamm—who became billionaires as a result.

They crisscrossed areas with shale reserves, buying drilling rights from property owners. Although there has been a lot of howling from environmentalists about the contamination of water supplies with fracking chemicals, the industry continues to grow.

“Everyone focuses on fracking—and fracking is key, as is horizontal drilling—but the most important thing is that innovators like Mitchell got it to work in shale, which everyone kind of ignored, especially the big guys and the experts,” Zuckerman said.

By targeting shale, Zuckerman maintained, Mitchell changed the country and the world.

That’s because manufacturers with high natural-gas input costs—such as makers of chemicals, tires, cement, and aluminum—are basing operations in the United States because of the low natural-gas prices. And Zuckerman said that this will give the U.S. a competitive advantage against other countries for years to come.

“Some economists say as many as two million jobs are going to be created,” he stated.<

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Critical lack of long-term radioactive waste storage as Japan finalizes energy policy

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The United States’ top nuclear regulator said Friday that atomic energy users, including Japan, must figure out how to ultimately store radioactive waste.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>Japan has no final waste repository, not even a potential site. The U.S. government’s plan for building a repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada has been halted by strong local opposition due to safety concerns.

“In the nuclear community, we of course have to face the reality of the end product — spent fuel,” Macfarlane told reporters.

She urged countries that are contemplating or embarking on a nuclear power program to formulate back-end plans at an early stage.

The new policy under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-nuclear government is pushing to restart as many reactors as possible if deemed safe under the new, stricter safety standards that took effect this past summer. The new policy, whose draft was discussed Friday by a government panel, is also expected to stick to Japan’s shaky fuel cycle program despite international concerns about the country’s massive plutonium stockpile.

Japan is stuck with 44 tons of plutonium at home and overseas after unsuccessfully pushing to establish a fuel cycle, with its fast breeder reactor and a reprocessing plant never fully operated. Experts say Japan’s plutonium stockpile poses a nuclear security threat and raises questions over whether Japan plans to develop a nuclear weapon, which Tokyo denies.

Japan also has more than 14,000 tons of spent fuel in cooling pools at its 50 reactors, all of which are offline. Some pools are expected to be full in several years, and are expected to be moved to a dry cask facility just completed in northern Japan.<

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Connecticut Storm Proofing with Micro-Grid Developments

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Press Release Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Oct. 30 that nine towns that are part of a pilot microgrid program, including Windham and Storrs, are eligible for additional funding.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>A pilot microgrid program, administered by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, was created under Public Act 12-148 to increase the safety and quality of life for Connecticut residents during electric grid outage situations.

Microgrids provide electricity to critical facilities and town centers on a 24/7, daily basis. They will also include a system of “trips” and “transfers” to isolate the microgrid and provide power within its network even when there is a large-scale outage.

The first round of the program awarded $18 million in grants to microgrid projects in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Groton, Hartford, Middletown, Storrs/Mansfield, Windham and Woodbridge as part of the Governor’s Storm Legislation.

Those projects are expected to become operational over the course of the next 18 months, with the first projects slated to come online in early 2014. […]

“Our first-in-the-nation microgrid program is an essential tool to help minimize hardships to our residents and businesses when severe storms occur. We all know that it is not a question of if, but when the next super storm will strike, and it is essential we do everything we can to be prepared,” Gov. Malloy said.

Commenting on the additional funding, DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said, “It is essential to public safety that power be maintained to critical facilities and town centers even when the electric grid is down… Connecticut and the northeast continue to experience more severe and more frequent storms, so it is vital that the state aggressively pursues the development of microgrids statewide so that we are in a better position to provide critical services to the state’s residents and businesses.”<

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