Archive for category Good Information, Good Decisions

Fracking in Texas

Sharon Wilson gives us the scoop at Earth island Journal:

…authorities either lack the resources to deal with the air pollution, water contamination and other problems that accompany natural gas production; are limited in their response by inadequate laws and regulations; or continue in the long Texas tradition of favoring the oil and gas industry at the expense of citizens. Texas is just one of the places across the country where OGAP is working with communities impacted by the nation’s natural gas boom. Our new report gives voice to the families and communities on the front lines of a public health crisis that is spreading from the Barnett Shale to other parts of the state. It pulls together for the first time detailed results of air and water testing as well as health effects data linking residents’ symptoms to toxic chemicals used in drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).

What’s most urgently needed is a new attitude: “Regulators and elected officials must protect residents whose health and safety are threatened, rather than industry profits.”

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A Culture of Complicity at Work in Fukushima

The old boys network comes though time after time, and did so at the nuclear plant at Fukushima. The plant has had serious problems since 2000, “including cracks in the shrouds that cover reactor cores,” says The New York Times. But regulators, politicians, and company executives colluded in keeping the lid on:

Investigators may take months or years to decide to what extent safety problems or weak regulation contributed to the disaster at Daiichi, the worst of its kind since Chernobyl. But as troubles at the plant and fears over radiation continue to rattle the nation, the Japanese are increasingly raising the possibility that a culture of complicity made the plant especially vulnerable to the natural disaster that struck the country on March 11.

Do we have any reason to think that things are different in the good old USofA. I think not. “Best practices” is a B-school aspirational concept, and is used to sell books and other merchandise, but it’s not used to actually operate nuclear power plants, or deep sea oil drilling rigs. In those worlds the Best Practice is to set up a PR smoke screen.

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Dr. Helen Caldicott on Nuclear Fallout

Fukushima is worse than Chernobyl. Radioactivity concentrates in food. We’ve got to get over our hubris; our arrogance threatens our way of life. Video lasts 10 minutes.

Wikipedia entry on Caldicott, Australian anti-nuclear activist.

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Fracking Discussion on Blogging Heads TV

Andrew Revkin and Abrahm Lustgarten discuss fracking (27 minutes). This discussion is going to become more and more intense as fracking itself becomes more intense. Fracking makes more natural gas available than before, but at what cost? Do we even know how to estimate the costs? What about the physician’s oath: Do no harm?

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Fracking Fracks Up in Pennsylvania

From The New York Times:

A blowout at a natural gas well in rural northern Pennsylvania spilled thousands of gallons of chemical-laced water on Wednesday, contaminating a stream and forcing the evacuation of seven families who live nearby as crews struggled to stop the gusher.

See Catskill Mountainkeeper for more information and more links.

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4 minute video summarizing Fukushima disaster to date

Nature has uploaded the video:

For more comprehensive and detailed information, see their news special.

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No Fracking Way!

They’re at it again.

The New York Times informs us that  “Oil and gas companies injected hundreds of millions of gallons of hazardous or carcinogenic chemicals into wells in more than 13 states from 2005 to 2009, according to an investigation by Congressional Democrats.” The wells are being drilled to tap reserves of natural gas contained in deep rock formation. The chemicals are injected along with water and sand to release the gas. The process is known as hydraulic fracturing, aka hydrofracking, aka fracking.

Frankly, this sounds like one of those deals where they don’t really know what they’re doing. So you try this and that and, if it works, it works, and you keep on trying:

Some ingredients mixed into the hydraulic fracturing fluids were common and generally harmless, like salt and citric acid. Others were unexpected, like instant coffee and walnut hulls, the report said. Many ingredients were “extremely toxic,” including benzene, a known human carcinogen, and lead.

Instant coffee and walnut shells! Shall we try a little castor oil? Maybe a little ipecac? How about some eye of newt? Toe of frog? Then comes the wool of bat and tongue of dog.

Maybe dance a little jig while they’re at it.

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