Tuesday, August 10, 2010

EPA to Hold Public Meeting on Fracking / Binghampton, NY

In March 2010, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will study the potential adverse impacts that hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” may have on drinking water.

As part of the study, the EPA is hosting four public information meetings on the proposed study. New York’s meeting is Thursday, August 12, at the Anderson Center at SUNY Binghamton. The public is encouraged to attend and submit comments. Click here to register; http://hfmeeting.cadmusweb.com/RegistrationForm.aspx
Join us at the hearing as Katherine Nadeau, our water & natural resources program director, submits comments voicing concerns about the harmful effects of fracking.

If you can’t be in Binghamton on the 12th, click here to submit your own comments, be sure to erase any email addys in the "from" line and put in your own; https://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&ik=73cb654079&view=cm&fs=1&tf=1&ver=hzlfigpOvHg.en.&am=!2gZsQgdxOZixhb4e0fcmo5d1BsQ7Zu83uzNm4XPyJKOoGQsrRRI#to%253Dhydraulic.fracturing%252540epa.gov%2526cmid%253D1
The deadline for written comments is August 26.
WHAT: Public Hearing on the EPA’s proposed study of Fracking
WHERE: Osterhout Concert Theater in the Anderson Center for the Performing Arts, SUNY Binghamton.
WHEN: Morning Session: 8:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.
Afternoon Session: 1:00- 5:00 p.m
Evening Session: 6:00 – 10:00 p.m.
REGISTER: http://hfmeeting.cadmusweb.com/RegistrationForm.aspx
MORE INFORMATION: Admission requires registration, even to just observe the hearing. A photo ID is required for speakers and perhaps for people in the audience as well. A rally (more details to come) is also being planned.

Click here to find out more about the EPA’s study on fracking; http://www.epa.gov/safewater/uic/pdfs/hfresearchstudyfs.pdf

Sunday, August 8, 2010


A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

[1] Date: 3 Aug 2010
Source: The Times, London, pp.6-7 News [edited]
[subscription required]

Some statistics from chart shown at URL above:
105 days since disaster
632 miles of coastline currently affected
57 539 square miles closed to fishing
3257 dead birds
1823 dead turtles (including 700 Kemp's Ridley turtle, endangered
species, rarest and smallest sea turtle -- see photo link at end)
56 dead mammals [dolphins]
5300 response vessels
30 200 personnel in cleanup

Bob Thomas, biologist and director, Center for Environmental
Communication at Loyola University: "[I]t's more important what's
happening at the bottom of the food chain among the plankton, [fish]
larvae and eggs, because that's the future."

Steve Murawski, chief scientist for fisheries at NOAA (National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration): "Testing after Hurricane
Katrina which caused millions of gallons of pollutants to flood
coastal fishing grounds, found that oyster beds had fully recovered
within 7 months." He also said it was possible that the fishing ban
had more than compensated for the fish and mammals killed by the oil.

Communicated by:

[2] Date 2 Aug 2010
Source: "The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP
Oil Spill Restore the Gulf" [edited]

Flow Rate Technical Group reports that the well initially was dumping
62 000 barrels of oil per day after the spill and that it dwindled to
53 000 barrels when it was capped as the well was depleted. This
means that approximately 4 million barrels were released into the
Gulf [net after 0.8 million were captured by BP tankers - Mod.JW].

US Environmental Protection Agency releases a study of 8 dispersants
which concludes that Corexit 9500 "is generally no more or less toxic
than mixtures with the other available alternatives" and that
"dispersant-oil mixtures are generally no more toxic to the aquatic
test species than oil alone."

Communicated by:

[Article [1] gives a tally of wildlife killed by the oil slick, which
is possibly only the tip of the iceberg since there was no systematic
survey and many corpses probably sank without a trace. But it also
gives some encouraging news about the probable swift recovery of fish
and oysters -- providing consumers do not shun seafood of Gulf Coast
origin through misguided fears that it may not be fit for human consumption.

The BP oil spill ranks as the 2nd-worst in world history, behind the
Kuwaiti oil fires in 1991, which released as much as 336 million
gallons [8 million barrels at 42 US gallons crude per barrel] into
the Persian Gulf. One has to wonder how long it took for the sea life
there to recover -- does anyone have any data?

Photo of Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle (_Lepidochelys
kempii_): - Mod.JW]

[see also:
Oil contamination, wildlife - USA: (Gulf Coast, MI) cleanup 20100731.2575]

ProMED-mail makes every effort to verify the reports that
are posted, but the accuracy and completeness of the
information, and of any statements or opinions based
thereon, are not guaranteed. The reader assumes all risks in
using information posted or archived by ProMED-mail. ISID
and its associated service providers shall not be held
responsible for errors or omissions or held liable for any
damages incurred as a result of use or reliance upon posted
or archived material.
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Saturday, August 7, 2010

BP to Blame for Reported Massive Fish & Ocean Life Die-Off?

A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: 6 Aug 2010
Source: WLOX.com [edited]

Another fish kill fuels debate over what's causing wildlife deaths
In all her years walking the Pass Christian beach, [a resident] said
Thursday [5 Aug 2010] morning was different. "I've really never seen
this many seagulls. I walked this beach for about 5 years and it's
really phenomenal. It's beautiful to see, but it's unusual," said Alley.

It didn't take long to figure out what had attracted all the birds.
WLOX (Radio station for South Mississippi) saw massive dead fish on
the beach and in the water, along with crabs and sting rays.

Department of Marine Resource (DMR) officials said it was the 3rd
fish kill reported to them in recent months. DMR officials sent a
team out to take samples from a fish kill, but they said they already
had a good idea of what happened.

"When we see real warm water, which is what's happening, we have low
oxygen conditions," said Joe Jewel, DMR Assistant Director. "That's
what we're attributing to the fish kills that we're aware of right
now. Warm water, low oxygen, that's what's causing these fish kills."

Two commercial fishermen told WLOX they don't believe the heat is
enough to cause as many fish kills as we've been seeing in our area
lately. They say it's just not normal. Instead, they blame chemical
dispersants for robbing the water of oxygen.

Jewell said, "What is unusual is that we have the oil spill. We have
a lot of citizens that are concerned about the oil. They're concerned
about that relationship, but our scientists out there investigating
these fish kills and the DEQ has scientists that are out there."

"They're taking water samples and oxygen samples and what we can
determine right here at this point is that it's not related to the
oil," said Jewell.

DMR officials continued to stress that their tests show the seafood
is safe to eat and they will continue to run tests.

[Byline: Danielle Thomas]

Communicated by:
HealthMap Alerts via ProMED-mail

[It is unlikely at this point in time that the oil spill or the
dispersants had anything to do with the fish kill. It is much more
likely that there is red tide, or hot water causing the problem.
While it is difficult to believe that the water temperature of the
ocean can change, it does, and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are
especially warm anyway. The Gulf region has been plagued this summer
with extremely high temperatures and the normally warm water is even
hotter than usual.

Hopefully the appropriate samples will get taken and disease will
either be ruled in or ruled out. - Mod.TG]

[see also:
Undiagnosed die-off, fish - USA: (CA) 20100805.2640
Undiagnosed die-off, fish - USA (02): (MN) catfish 20100804.2630
Undiagnosed die-off, fish - USA: (MN) catfish 20100731.2573
Undiagnosed die-off, fish - USA: (NC) 20100728.2532
Undiagnosed die-off, fish - USA: (PA, ID) corr. 20100718.2410
Undiagnosed die-off, fish - USA: (PA, ID) corr. 20100718.2409
Undiagnosed die-off, fish - USA (WA) natural causes 20100718.2408
Undiagnosed die-off, fish - USA: (HI) puffer fish 20100716.2384
Undiagnosed die-off, fish - USA: (PA, ID) 20100716.2373
Undiagnosed fish die-off - USA: (MI) RFI 20100618.2056
Undiagnosed fish die-off - USA (02): (WV, OH, PA) olumnaris 20100610.1946
Undiagnosed fish die-off - USA: (WV, OH, PA) 20100601.1827
Undiagnosed fish die-off - USA: (NJ) koi herpesvirus susp. 20100528.1773
Undiagnosed die-off, fish - USA: (NY), viral hem. septicemia
susp. 20100519.1649]

ProMED-mail makes every effort to verify the reports that
are posted, but the accuracy and completeness of the
information, and of any statements or opinions based
thereon, are not guaranteed. The reader assumes all risks in
using information posted or archived by ProMED-mail. ISID
and its associated service providers shall not be held
responsible for errors or omissions or held liable for any
damages incurred as a result of use or reliance upon posted
or archived material.
Donate to ProMED-mail. Details available at:

Visit ProMED-mail's web site at .
Send all items for posting to: promed@promedmail.org (NOT to
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For assistance from a human being, send mail to:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Forbes: The Dangers of Fracking

Gas Industry Faces The Dangers Of Fracking
Christopher Helman, 09.28.09, 08:30 PM EDT

Politicians want to regulate the use of hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas wells. If the industry is smart, it will reform on its own.

HOUSTON -- Last week the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection shut down some operations of natural gas driller Cabot Oil & Gas after 8,000 gallons of toxic chemicals were spilled on the ground and into a creek in Susquehanna County.

Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas ( COG - news - people ) says a hose ruptured during a process called hydraulic fracturing, a method used to break apart tight rock formations, allowing gas to escape, in which a million gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals are shot down a well under immense pressure.

More than 80% of all wells drilled in the U.S. today use some kind of "fracking." And in the Marcellus basin, a shale rock formation that stretches across Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and West Virginia, usage is more like 100%. Without the high flow rates created by the frack, the gas wouldn't be economical to go after. With the fracks, geologists figure the Marcellus has more than 50 trillion cubic feet of gas, enough to meet all of U.S. needs for two years.

But can hydraulic fracturing be trusted? This wasn't Cabot's first fracking fracas. Pennsylvania's DEP cited the company last February for contaminating wells used for drinking near drill sites.

In a 2007 case unrelated to Cabot, an Ohio house exploded from what state regulators determined was a buildup of methane bubbling up water pipes from wells polluted by drilling operations. Nineteen neighboring homes were evacuated. Last April at least 10 cows died in Louisiana after drinking fracking chemicals collected at a drilling site operated by Chesapeake Energy ( CHK - news - people ).

So what's in this stuff? Hydrochloric acid, solvents, surfactants, petroleum-based lubricants, corrosion inhibitors, microbe killers. Basically, it's a lot of the same carcinogenic chemicals found in household cleaners like Formula 409 and Drano.

Most of the fracking fluids are recovered from the gas wells, stored in ponds, transferred to tanks and trucked to processing plants. Most wells are drilled away from and much deeper than drinking water sources. But it only takes a few mishaps to destroy public faith.

It's vital that the oil and gas industry voluntarily implement tougher standards on the implementation of hydraulic fracturing, the recovery of chemicals from wells and the safeguards to avoid contaminating groundwater with chemicals of any kind. Or politicians will let the Environmental Protection Agency do it for them.

In June, the FRAC Act (Fracking Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals) was introduced simultaneously in the U.S. House and Senate. The act would call for hydro-fracking to be regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Thus fracking would be subject to EPA's permitting process governing the underground injection of other chemicals.

This doesn't sound outlandish except to the oil and gas lobby, which points out that the EPA has none of the bureaucracy in place to accept or evaluate applications for FRAC permits, let alone issue one. If the act were to pass, the effect would be at least a temporary halt to all well fracking nationwide. In a study paid for by the American Petroleum Institute, researchers at IHS Global Insight figured that if well fracturing were halted today, U.S. natural gas production would fall 45% by 2014 and 57% by 2018. A ban would likewise cost 2.9 million jobs and decimate the business of leading frack-jobbers like Schlumberger ( SLB - news - people ), Weatherford and Halliburton ( HAL - news - people ) (which was the primary contractor on Cabot's well).

But that's the worst-case scenario. Assuming there's a (slightly less efficient) frack method that can pass muster with the EPA, the result would be just 10% less gas by 2014. The added cost to the industry would not be too much to bear. The IHS Global study figures that complying with existing rules for underground injections would cost less than $100,000 per well in shale zones. That's not a lot. Analysts at Tudor, Pickering & Holt in Houston figure that Cabot's current drilling costs are running $3 million a well. At $4 per thousand cubic feet Cabot's recent wells can pay that back in six months.

Even the biggest users of hydrofracking, like Aubrey McClendon, chief executive of leading shale driller Chesapeake Energy, concede that the industry needs to "demystify" the practice. Speaking at a conference last week, McClendon, according to Reuters, said, "We need to disclose the chemicals that we are using and search for alternatives to the chemicals we are using."

Chesapeake is keen to tap northern reaches of the Marcellus in the Catskills and Finger Lakes regions of New York State. This area, however, serves as the source of drinking water for New York City. Because of its pristine quality, New York City has been able to forego building a $6 billion water filtration system. Last year, City Comptroller William Thompson said that if water pollution from fracking in the watershed necessitated filtration, it could mean 30% higher water rates for New Yorkers. State politicians' likely revenue source for such a system: a special tax on energy companies.

Last week, nine U.S. senators--a mix of Democrats and Republicans from gas-rich states--sent a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who, with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is cobbling together the Senate's version of climate change legislation passed by the House earlier this year. In the letter, they reminded Boxer that natural gas, which has roughly half the carbon emissions of coal and 30% less than oil, should be treated as "a vital bridge fuel as we transition to the new energy economy." In exchange for legislation incentivizing expanded gas usage, the senators proposed funding an EPA study of the dangers of hydraulic fracturing to drinking water--the better to help Congress regulate it.

This move might sideline the FRAC Act for now, but should indicate to the likes of Halliburton that they'd better get to work on some new ways to get at all that gas.

How can anyone with a mind or conscience call this a "cleaner" form of energy production? Radioactive drinking water is no answer to current environmental dilemma created by companies only intereste....


Study: Receipts could be harmful to your health

"Cash-register receipts from many fast-food outlets, groceries,
pharmacies, big-box stores and U.S. post offices contain high levels
of the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol A. A study released
late today by the Environmental Working Group reported that a
laboratory analysis it commissioned found the plastic component BPA on
40 percent of receipts from McDonald's, CVS, KFC, Whole Foods, Wal-
Mart, Safeway and other businesses. BPA is used to coat thermal paper,
which reacts with dye to form black print on receipts handled by
millions of Americans every day. In laboratory tests, the chemical has
been linked to a long list of serious health problems in animals.
Several environmental activists, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-
Calif., also have called for removing BPA from canned
goods." [editor's note: Umm ... excuse me, but isn't the main reason
for keeping receipts from purchases ... to use them to offset alleged
"tax liabilities" to the Gestap ... err, IRS? - SAT] (07/27/10)


Monday, August 2, 2010

EPA Releases Corexit Toxicity Test, Everything "A-OK"


EPA Press Office

Aug. 2, 2010

EPA Releases Second Phase of Toxicity Testing Data for Eight Oil Dispersants

WASHINGTON —The US Environmental Protection Agency today released peer reviewed results from the second phase of its independent toxicity testing on mixtures of eight oil dispersants with Louisiana Sweet Crude Oil. EPA conducted the tests as part of an effort to ensure that EPA decisions remain grounded in the best available science and data.

EPA’s results indicate that the eight dispersants tested have similar toxicities to one another when mixed with Louisiana Sweet Crude Oil. These results confirm that the dispersant used in response to the oil spill in the gulf, Corexit 9500A, when mixed with oil, is generally no more or less toxic than mixtures with the other available alternatives. The results also indicate that dispersant-oil mixtures are generally no more toxic to the aquatic test species than oil alone.

“EPA has committed to following the science at every stage of this response - that’s why we required BP to launch a rigorous dispersant monitoring program, why we directed BP to analyze potential alternatives and why EPA undertook this independent analysis of dispersant products,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “We have said all along that the use of dispersant presents environmental tradeoffs, which is why we took steps to ensure other response efforts were prioritized above dispersant use and to dramatically cut dispersant use. Dispersant use virtually ended when the cap was placed on the well and its use dropped 72 percent from peak volumes following the joint EPA-U.S. Coast Guard directive to BP in late May.”

The standard acute toxicity tests were conducted on juvenile shrimp and small fish that are found in the gulf and are commonly used in toxicity testing. The tests were conducted on mixtures of Louisiana Sweet Crude Oil and eight different dispersant products found on the National Contingency Plan Product Schedule – Dispersit SPC 1000, Nokomis 3-F4, Nokomis 3-AA, ZI-400, SAFRON Gold, Sea Brat #4, Corexit 9500 A and JD 2000. The same eight dispersants were used during EPA’s first round of independent toxicity testing.

All eight dispersants were found to be less toxic than the dispersant-oil mixture to both test species. Louisiana Sweet Crude Oil was more toxic to mysid shrimp than the eight dispersants when tested alone. Oil alone had similar toxicity to mysid shrimp as the dispersant-oil mixtures, with exception of the mixture of Nokomis 3-AA and oil, which was found to be more toxic than oil.

While there has been virtually no dispersant use since the well was capped on July 15 – only 200 gallons total applied on July 19 – EPA’s environmental monitoring continues.

EPA required rigorous, ongoing monitoring as a condition of authorizing BP’s use of dispersant in the gulf. Dispersants prevent some oil from impacting sensitive areas along the gulf coast. EPA’s position has been that BP should use as little dispersant as necessary and, on May 23, Administrator Jackson and then-federal on-scene coordinator Rear Admiral Mary Landry directed BP to reduce dispersant usage by 75 percent from peak usage. EPA and the Coast Guard formalized that order in a directive to BP on May 26.

Before directing BP to ramp down dispersant use, EPA directed BP to analyze potential alternative dispersants for toxicity and effectiveness. BP reported to EPA that they were unable to find a dispersant that is less toxic than Corexit 9500, the product then in use. Following that, EPA began its own scientific testing of eight dispersant products.

EPA released the first round of data – on the dispersant products alone – on June 30. Today’s results represent the second and final stage of the independent acute toxicity tests.

View the toxicity test results: http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/dispersants


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