Tag Archives: chemicals

Fracking debate heating up in New Zealand

12 Aug

Heated debate over fracking, the mining process which could be used to extract gas in western Southland, is raging in the gas heartland of Taranaki.

A protest group, Climate Justice Taranaki, has called for a ban or moratorium on the practice, which it believes threatens aquifiers with toxic chemicals.

The issue has become an environmental flashpoint across the globe, but Taranaki is the first New Zealand region where there have been anti-fracking protests.

“What we are seeing, especially in the United States and Australia, is groundwater aquifiers being depleted and poisoned by toxic chemicals,” Climate Justice spokeswoman Emily Bailey said. “The resource companies don’t seem to be telling us what’s going on.”

Fracking is conventionally used to improve the flow of oil and gas wells by injecting a water-chemical mix into a well and subjecting it to high pressure, which forces the rock surrounding the well to crack open, releasing more oil and gas. In Southland, it could be used to extract shale gas from potentially huge deposits recently discovered under the Waiau Basin.

Anti-frackers believe the practice uses toxic chemicals which can permeate underground aquifiers and contaminate water.

The panic over fracking for shale gas was ignited by a provocative film, Gasland by Josh Fox, which claimed to expose the huge environmental damage caused by fracking in parts of the United States.

Article by Alex Fensome. For more information and full article go to source of cross-posting here

For more recent articles on the anti-fracking movement in New Zealand visit here, here and here

Special Investigation: The Pesticides and Politics of America’s Eco-War

10 Jun

By Ludwig

Keith Starvrum stands on the banks of Willapa Bay, where the low tide has revealed long lines of mudflats speckled with empty oyster shells. The sun is making a rare appearance in southwestern Washington State, but the perfect spring weather fails to cheer up the lumbering Starvrum, whose loud outbursts and biting sarcasm keep his employees’ eyes rolling. He served overseas as a special ops soldier in his youth and he has some interesting things to say about the recent uprisings in Arab countries and the CIA’s dirty habit of quietly “rearranging” governments amid apparent political turmoil. But he has a lot more to say about oysters.

Starvrum points to a lone oysterman gathering the day’s catch from neighboring mudflats and shakes his head. Starvrum used to harvest oysters from the thick mud exposed by the low tide, but he has not brought in a catch in three years. He refuses to participate in the lucrative business, a traditional mainstay of the local economy, because the pesticides sprayed on adjacent mudflats drifted onto his oyster beds.

“That’s why we don’t sell our oysters, ’cause we know what they’re in,” Starvrum says. “But when we do, they will be 100 times better.” Other oystermen have used pesticides to kill pests for generations, but Starvrum did it differently. He harvested oysters by hand, without using chemicals, and hauled them right from the bay to the kitchen of a small hotel on the same property. The rest were shipped to natural foods restaurants. Starvrum says his oyster farm was “as organic as you can be in Willapa Bay.”

The pesticides that finally drove Starvrum to cancel his oyster harvests were not sprayed by his fellow oystermen, however. State agencies sprayed the chemicals to combat a saltwater marsh grass “infestation.” Like industrial gardeners weeding a giant brackish plot, government workers came in boats and helicopters, slowly spraying thousands of gallons of herbicides into the bay’s shallow waters.

For the full piece click here

Hydrofracking in Ozark National Forest, Arkansas, Challenged

20 May

A view of a bluff in the 1.3 million acre Ozark National Forest

 

Reported by: KARK 4 News

 

A federal lawsuit has been filed in Little Rock to prevent gas drilling under Greers Ferry Lake in north central Arkansas and in the Ozark National Forest in northwest Arkansas.

Those bringing the suit against three agencies of the United States government are a large group of environmental organizations and individuals from across north Arkansas. Their filing seeks to stop all drilling until studies have been conducted to comply with applicable environmental laws and to demonstrate that hydraulic fracturing of gas wells is not potentially harmful to the environment.

The complaint filed by the plaintiffs alleges that there is already gas drilling taking place in the Ozark National Forest, and that the number of wells is far in excess of estimates made in 2005 by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which is responsible for leasing gas on government-owned lands. These wells use the process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which forces large volumes of water mixed with chemicals into underground formations to improve gas production.

The suit claims that the drilling activities will severely damage the National Forest, and that the effects of the “fracking” process upon surface and ground waters, the air and other parts of the environment are unknown and uncertain, and should be studied more thoroughly before being used in the Forest.

The plaintiffs allege that BLM and the U.S. Forest Service have violated the law by not having conducted environmental impact statements and Resource Management Plans for the Forest area as required by the Mineral Leasing Act, the National Forest Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

Regarding Greers Ferry Lake, the suit states that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued licenses to natural gas companies to conduct seismic surveys at Greers Ferry Lake of underground formations beneath the lake and surrounding public lands that could yield natural gas. Three licenses for seismic surveys have been issued, and work on two of them have been completed. Work on the third license, issued in October, 2010, is currently underway, and the suit alleges that plaintiffs anticipate that drilling activity under the Lake will occur following completion of the seismic work.

The suit asks that the Federal Court enjoin Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and the Corps of Engineers from issuance of any additional gas leases until environmental impact statements and resource management plans have been completed and approved; and that BLM be ordered to halt any activities being conducted by any persons under any gas leases already issued by it in Arkansas.

The plaintiffs are represented by Richard H. Mays of the Mays & White law firm in Heber Springs.  Mays has been involved in a number of high-profile environmental cases in Arkansas.

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