Saturday, August 31, 2013

Truths and Consequences

  In 1967 when I was 12 years young we (my family) moved- from Connecticut to Carpinteria CA aka "The World's Safest Beach"- a small town south of Santa Barbara,Ca.

We lived in Carpinteria as the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill occurred in the waters off the California:a coast : the largest oil spill in United States waters at the time.

I saw (an oxymoron?) the vanishing sand peter-out as the beach's pristine beauty was denuded to one of rock and gravel.
Later that year the sand mysteriously returned to re-nourish the beach .

In 2008 my family went on a summer outing to The Finger Lakes region in western-central New York.

Again. environmental mayhem has threatened the waterways vibrancy., which present challenges in marine applications, as well.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the BP oil spill, the BP oil disaster, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the Macondo blowout) was an oil spill that began in April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico on the BP-operated Macondo Prospect, considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, estimated to be between 8% and 31% larger in volume than the earlier Ixtoc I oil spill.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl disaster of 1980.initiated primarily by the tsunami of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011.


“Water should never be treated as a nonrenewable resource; it should always be treated with the respect it deserves as the foundation of life on the planet.”Natural shorelines are the undeveloped fringe areas along the edge of a waterbody, which connect the shallow aquatic portion of the waterbody with adjacent upland. These riparian areas provide important environmental functions, such as regulating water quality (including temperature, clarity, nutrients, and contaminants) and sustaining critical habitat for a variety of aquatic and terrestrial organisms (including invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, shorebirds and waterfowl, and mammals).
diagram of a natural shoreline with plenty of animals and plants
Changes or disruptions to riparian areas can threaten the survival of species that rely on this kind of habitat during their various life stages. They depend on these areas for breeding, spawning, nesting, feeding, growing and escaping from predators. Protecting such critical habitat is important - especially on lake shores that are experiencing development pressure and on over-developed lake shores that have limited natural shorelines remaining.    Read more

Wastewater Complication

 Flowback water (which literally “flows back” during the fracking process) is a mixture of fracking fluid and formation water (i.e., water rich in brine from the targeted shale gas-rich rock). Once the chemistry of the water coming out of the well resembles the rock formation rather than the fracking fluid, it is known as produced water and can continue to flow as long as a well is in operation. (For more, see "Natural Gas, Hydrofracking and Safety: The Three Faces of Fracking Water.”)

As a general rule, you would not want to take a shower much less drink flowback or formation water, nor would you want to just pour the stuff into a river or stream (although that has been known to happen, as described here and here). Fracking wastewater can contain massive amounts of brine (salts), toxic metals, and radioactivity. And so the gas companies have a problem: what to do with the stuff.   Continue reading

Now a paper published this week in the journal Environmental Science and Technology by Nathaniel Warner formerly of Duke University and colleagues focuses on another of those environmental costs: disposal of wastewater.
Most of us have heard of "hydraulic fracturing."  It's a way to get fluids out of the ground by drilling a well, then pumping liquid under pressure down the hole. The liquid fractures nearby rocks, thereby releasing a substance (generally natural gas these days) that has been trapped in the rocks.
Hydraulic fracturing, as the term implies,  involves pumping large amounts of water, sand, and chemicals into oil wells to loosen deposits segregated by walls of rock.  -- both at the front end with fracking fluid, the water-based chemical cocktail that is injected into the shale, and at the back end where there is flowback water and produced water.

We don't even know all the chemicals being used during the fracking process. But many of of the ones we do know about are well-documented  for causing cancer, birth defects, and disorders of the nervous system. The same is true of many naturally occuring but highly toxic substances that are unearthed throughout the process. These materials are disturbed by drilling or dracking, then seep into the water supply..

“This is really not about banning energy. We’re not trying to turn people’s lights out,” said the campaign organizer for Citizens for Healthy Fort Collins. “We’re just trying to make sure our kids don’t wind up sick. We think if there’s problems, we need to talk about the issues.

California Poll: Overwhelming majority want protection from fracking

SAN FRANCISCO --A new poll of key California State Assembly districts found that the overwhelming majority of respondents are concerned about fracking, want protections from threats to their air and water, and believe oil and gas companies should be held to a higher standard of accountability than they currently are, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The legislative session began with a swell of bills aiming to regulate and even ban the controversial oil exploration practice in California. However, the powerful Western States Petroleum Association succeeded in defeating all but one fracking bill .

 U-M research: Fracking could create jobs but poses many hazards

The roads, power grid and heavy equipment associated with fracking wells can cause erosion and sedimentation, water contamination from chemical spills or equipment runoff, habitat fragmentation and lowered groundwater levels, the environmental portion of the reports state.

“While we may know what chemicals are injected, these chemicals do react in the formation, and we aren’t sure what the end products are,” he said. “What we inject in isn’t necessarily what comes out. And that poses another risk.”

 EPA Must Come Clean on Fracking Contamination (Op-Ed)