For Immediate release: Climate Ground Zero Delivers Toxic Blasting Dust to Capitol Building in Charleston, West Virginia When: Monday, November 25 at 1:00 P.M. Where: The Liberty Bell Memorial near the back steps of the Capitol Building. “Blasting mountaintops to mine for coal has been controversial in Appalachia since the 1970′s when it was first […]
9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask By Max Fisher, Published: August 29 at 12:50 pmE-mail the writer The United States and allies are preparing for a possibly imminent series of limited military strikes against Syria, the first direct U.S. intervention in the two-year civil war, in retaliation for President […]
Why the U.S. Should Stay Out The Long War in Syria by GARY LEUPP Two years ago, Barack Obama announced that Syrian President Bashar Assad must “get out of the way.” “The time has come,” he declared on August 18, 2011, “for President Assad to step aside.” Needless to say, Assad ignored him. He was […]
ASHEVILLE — Sampling of test wells surrounding two ash lagoons covering nearly 100 acres at Duke Energy’s Asheville power plant leaves no doubt that groundwater has been contaminated. > View Duke Energy well contamination in a larger map Illegal discharges of toxic heavy metals also have been detected seeping from the ash-laden ponds into the […]
Unprecedented mass lease cancellation occurs near homes of some of fractivism’s most effective mobilizers. Photo Credit: Pincasso/ Shutterstock.com July 19, 2013 | Certain powerful images really stick with you when you watch Gasland or Gasland 2. First is the shot of the tap water on fire. Equally powerful are the images of the film’s director […]
A small part of Ohio has secured the ignominious honor of becoming the most successful frackwater dumping ground in the state. Welcome to Portage County, Ohio, the biggest dumping ground for fracking waste in a state that is fast becoming the go-to destination for the byproducts of America’s latest energy boom. As fracking—pumping a briny […]
By David Rosenberg Posted Friday, July 19, 2013, at 1:13 PM Jodie Simons demonstrates how her sink water, full of methane, lights on fire. Simons’ household’s water was pristine before gas drilling started, but now they’ve been without clean drinking or bathing water for months. Nina Berman/NOOR Photographer Nina Berman had just started focusing on […]
Will Work for Change: Activists say their work might not be lucrative, but it’s fulfilling “It sounds noble but in reality, I’m broke.” by Lauren Daley Photo courtesy of Mel Packer Mel Packer with Marcellus Protest Someone has been shouting “get a job!” at Vincent Eirene since he was a little boy. The thing is, […]
10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down Fact-checking some of the gun lobby’s favorite arguments shows they’re full of holes. —By Dave Gilson | Thu Jan. 31, 2013 3:01 AM PST 620 By cutting off federal funding for research and stymieing data collection and sharing, the National Rifle Association has tried to do to the study of […]
Climate Ground Zero Delivers Toxic Blasting Dust
to Capitol Building in Charleston, West Virginia
When: Monday, November 25 at 1:00 P.M.
Where: The Liberty Bell Memorial near the back steps of the Capitol Building.
“Blasting mountaintops to mine for coal has been controversial in Appalachia since the 1970′s when it was first introduced. We believe it has never been legal or regulated. It destroys the streams that are the headwaters for our nations great rivers. The communities that live here have fought in every war since the American Revolution yet they are being dishonorably displaced and even their cemeteries are being desecrated, blasted, and buried in toxic mining spoils. Most importantly, new studies have shown that breathing the blasting dust can be fatal. It is past time to end the blasting,” said Mike Roselle, director of Climate Ground Zero
“If this does not stop, and stop soon, our next actions will be on the blasting sites.
At present, two million pounds of explosives are detonated every day, save Sunday, in Appalachia.
No one should have to live under this,” said James McGuinness, one of the protesters with Climate Ground Zero.
End Mountain Top Removal
Additional background information available at climategroundzero.org
Contact: Mike Roselle Climate Ground Zero cell: 205 999 8391
Illegal discharges of toxic heavy metals also have been detected seeping from the ash-laden ponds into the nearby French Broad River.
For environmentalists following the issue, those are reasons enough for state regulators to take immediate steps to address the pollution.
That’s also why they are dismayed with a proposed settlement of a lawsuit against Duke by the N.C. Division of Water Quality.
The consent decree announced last week calls for more testing of problems already well-documented and little in the way of stopping the contamination, said Hartwell Carson, French Broad Riverkeeper with the Asheville-based environmental group Western North Carolina Alliance.
“It’s basically a way to drag this out as long as possible,” Carson said. “This is definitely a deal to study this almost indefinitely, when what we know is there are violations of the Clean Water Act and state groundwater standards.
“And everyone knows where it’s coming from. It’s coming from the unlined hole in the ground that’s full of toxic coal ash.”
State officials contend that while the proposed settlement outlines a series of steps to assess the contamination at the Lake Julian plant and Duke’s Riverbend facility in Gaston County, it also requires the utility to develop plans for addressing the problem.
“You have to determine the extent of the contamination before you know what it is you have to do to clean it up,” said Jamie Kritzer, spokesman for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “We’re doing our due diligence to do just that. We have to act within the guidelines set forth by state law, and that’s what we’ve done.”
New attention on old problem
North Carolina has 14 plants that burn coal to heat water, creating steam that turns turbines to produce electricity. About 10 percent of what is burned becomes ash — a black, powdery material that is sluiced into holding ponds.
The Asheville plant has two ponds. One built in 1964 covers 45 acres, and the other constructed in 1982 is 46 acres.
At spots, the ash is 60 feet deep, and together the lagoons can hold some 450 million gallons.
The issue of coal ash grabbed the nation’s attention in 2008 when an ash pond at Kingston Power Plant in Tennessee ruptured, inundating homes downhill with some 1.1 billion gallons of toxic coal ash slurry.
Despite the age of Duke’s coal ash ponds near the French Broad, the state first required groundwater testing three years ago. Those tests found levels of contamination well above state health standards with toxic heavy metals associated with coal ash.
Carson also collected samples from seeps and springs flowing into the French Broad next to the plant that tested positive for many of the same toxic substances. Such unpermitted discharges violate the federal Clean Water Act.
In addition, a study by the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment released last year found that the facility discharges arsenic, selenium, cadmium and thallium in concentrations above U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.
“There really is no question about the contamination,” said D.J. Gerken, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center in Asheville. “We have no doubt there is enough confirmation of the contamination to require action.
“They are kicking the can down the road when it comes to fixing the source.”
Frustrated by a lack movement on the state’s part, the law center, representing several environmental organizations, in January filed notice of intent to sue Duke Energy over violations of the Clean Water Act.
That was followed in March with the filing of the state’s suit in Wake County Superior Court against the utility.
The complaint contends continued operation of the plant in violation of groundwater standards “without assessing the problem and taking corrective action poses a serious danger to the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state of North Carolina and serious harm to the water resources of the state.”
In addition to groundwater contamination, the lawsuit claims inspectors discovered seeps of materials making their way into the river. The chemicals include thallium, a highly toxic element associated with nerve damage, along with boron, selenium, iron and magnesium.
The proposed settlement includes a timeline of required actions to address violations or threatened violations of state statutes and rules for water quality protection. It also calls for an initial fine of $99,112.
Failure to comply with provisions of the order also would subject the utility to fines of $1,000 per day for the first 30 days and $5,000 per day thereafter for each violation.
Lawsuit a first
Erin Culbert, spokeswoman for Duke Energy, said the utility has complied with the conditions of all its permits and that water quality in the French Broad is good.
“We all share the same objectives in protecting water quality, which is reflected in this agreement,” she said. “Key provisions in the agreement call for more rigorous information gathering, monitoring and reporting of discharges to groundwater and surface waters.”
Gerken said the settlement is inadequate. The state already has the information it needs to force immediate action, he said.
“The state submitted a sworn statement saying there is contamination, and instead of taking action they are looking to study what they already know,” he said. “There are no firm deadlines in this agreement.
“There’s all of this study and analysis. Meanwhile, we have coal ash in unlined lagoons that we know is still contaminating groundwater. They are still dumping coal ash into these ponds.”
But Kritzer noted the lawsuit is the first in history filed by the state to address unpermitted discharges from coal ash ponds.
“The lawsuit talks specifically about the cleanup of the pollution,” he said. The settlement requires not only “a thorough assessment of the extent of the contamination, but a corrective action plan for how this problem will be addressed going forward.”
Gerken said he believes the state filed its lawsuit as a means to circumvent the Southern Environmental Law Center from lodging a complaint with the court.
“The notice we issued was for a lawsuit under the Clean Water Act,” he said. “The way the law works, if the state within 60 days files a lawsuit, we can’t file a second lawsuit on the same claims. Instead, we have to intervene in the state’s case.”
Gerken said his organization has filed a motion with the court to make it a party to the case, and a judge has yet to rule.
The public has until Aug. 14 to submit comments on the proposed settlement.
“We recognize this is a matter of great public interest,” Kritzer said. “We are striving to be as forthright and as transparent as possible.”
EPA proposed regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste in 2010, but no action has been taken.
According to the Duke University study, the burning of coal to generate electricity produces about 130 million tons of ash each year in the United States. It found that discharges from coal ash ponds “lack consistent monitoring and limit requirements that are relevant to composition of (ash) effluents.”
Unprecedented mass lease cancellation occurs near homes of some of fractivism’s most effective mobilizers.
Photo Credit: Pincasso/ Shutterstock.com
July 19, 2013 |
Certain powerful images really stick with you when you watch Gasland or Gasland 2. First is the shot of the tap water on fire. Equally powerful are the images of the film’s director Josh Fox on his porch strumming his banjo, in the woods on his property, walking by the local stream, and celebrating the pristine beauty of the nearby Delaware River. The film keeps returning to the land that Fox treasures, cluing us in on why he turned down a sizeable offer to lease for gas drilling, and what drove him forth with his camera on a fact-finding journey that culminated in the first Gasland, the film that ignited the fractivism movement.
The offer on the table in Fox’s corner of Wayne County, PA was part of the first incursion of fracking into the Northeastern U.S. The arrival of landsmen— the gas company representatives offering quick and easy money with no downside if people signed away the mineral rights to their land, had already been going on in the Western U.S. As it plays out road by road, town by town, and state by state, fracking baldly reveals the downsides of the myth of American individualism. Americans prize the right to do what they want on their property. But other people’s rights wind up violated when what Neighbor A chooses to do contaminates the water supply, impinges on the quality of life, or destroys the property value of Neighbor B.
And that cross point—one person’s rights to drill versus others’ rights to protect their homes, community and water supply is central to every community’s divide over fracking. It’s science’s job to assess benefits versus risks. It’s government’s job to mediate my rights versus yours. When science fails to study, when government fails to monitor, it’s neighbor against neighbor. When millions of dollars spent on ad buys and lobbyists assure that marketing slogans like “energy independence” appear everywhere from Superbowl commercials to State of the Union talking points, then local battles erupt in places like Wayne County. Since 2007, when leasing began in Wayne County, Fox’s once idyllic rural community has been embattled. And so is a nation divided at a crossroads of energy choice and climate change.
But over the last few weeks, that changed for Wayne County. Hess and Newfield, the two major gas companies leasing land there, decided to cancel their leases in Marcellus shale, and move out of Wayne and much of northeastern PA. The companies sent letters stating that they “have elected to release your lease, thus your lease will not be continued to the development phase,” terminating approximately 1,500 leases covering over 100,000 acres of land.
“I can’t believe it and I can’t stop crying,” Fox said, adding that he is deeply grateful for this “amazing victory.” “This proves that people passionate and organized can actually win sometimes. We won’t stop until we win everywhere.”
It’s no happenstance that the unprecedented mass lease cancellation occurred in a region that is home both to Josh Fox, fractivism’s heroic Pied Piper, and to the first fractivist organization founded in the Northeast U.S., Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS)— making it a triumph both for Fox and for the dedicated grassroots effort by a community of neighbors that began in 2007.
Fox was inspired to film his investigation of fracking’s impacts on average citizens in 2008 after attending a local public event hosted by DCS co-founders Joe Levine, Jane Cyphers and Barbara Arrindell. The first Gasland film is dedicated to them. When faced with the shared threat of fracking, this trio pooled their skills to organize. Levine is an architect conversant with land use, zoning, and local ordinances and officials; Cyphers is an educator; and Arrindell has a background in science, which made it easy for her to grasp the geological complexities beneath the marketing phrases.
A small part of Ohio has secured the ignominious honor of becoming the most successful frackwater dumping ground in the state.
Welcome to Portage County, Ohio, the biggest dumping ground for fracking waste in a state that is fast becoming the go-to destination for the byproducts of America’s latest energy boom.
As fracking—pumping a briny solution of water, lubricants, anti-bacterial agents, and a cocktail of other chemicals into underground shale formations at high pressure to fracture the rock and extract trapped natural gas—has expanded in the Midwest, so has the need for disposing of used fracking fluid. That fracking waste can be recycled or processed at wastewater treatment facilities, much like sewage. But most of the waste—630 billion gallons, each year—goes back into the ground, pumped into disposal wells, which are then capped and sealed. A bunch of it ends up underneath Portage County.
Nestled in the northeast corner of Ohio, about halfway between Cleveland and Youngstown, this 500-square-mile county pumped 2,358,371 million barrels—almost 75 million gallons—of fracking brine into 15 wells last year, driving enough liquid into the ground to fill a train of tanker cars that would stretch 37 miles. Most of the waste came from out of state.
According to the Akron Beacon Journal, almost 58 percent of the waste injected into Ohio wells is trucked in—much of it from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. More than 200 disposal wells dot the state, which has looser regulations than its neighbors. The Columbus Dispatch recently reported that Ohio injected just over 14 million barrels of fracking waste into disposal wells in 2012, and more than 8 million came from other states—an uptick of 19 percent from 2011. And despite Republican Gov. John Kasich saying he’s not thrilled about the amount of waste crossing state lines, federal commerce protections prevent the state from barring legal substances from being shipped in. Because Ohio regulates its own disposal wells, the waiting period to get approval to drill a new well is about five weeks, compared to upwards of eight months in Pennsylvania, where the feds are in charge. That might explain why Ohio has more than 20 times as many wells as its neighbor.
“People are concerned,” says Maureen Frederick, one of three county commissioners for Portage, “and rightly so.” According to Frederick, the county not only has no say over the wells, but it also doesn’t see so much as a cent of the revenue collected. Well permits cost $1,000, and the state charges $0.20 per barrel for out-of-state waste and $0.05 for in-state waste, meaning the state collected roughly $2 million for the 14 million barrels of frackwater that were pumped into the ground in 2012.
Portage, which is home to Kent State University, was mostly a farming community 25 years ago, and it has benefited from the growth of ancillary industries that come with fracking. But Frederick, who lives less than a mile from a disposal site, said she wasn’t aware of any economic boon that has followed the injection wells. Local realtors, on the other hand, were “observing the difficulty of people wanting to buy property, and those looking to sell being worried about their property values,” as residents’ concerns about groundwater contamination and earthquakes have grown.
Many of the wells in Ohio are repurposed oil and gas wells that are grandfathered in and exempt from current standards, and government regulators raised concerns about disposal wells contaminating groundwater as far back as the 1980s. At the time, the EPA knew of 23 cases nationwide where drinking water was contaminated by Class II wells. But a recent ProPublica investigation found another 25 cases of alleged contamination from Class II wells between 2008 and 2011 alone. In 1989, the Government Accountability Office, then called the General Accounting Office, filed a report that “says that we have some problems with Class II wells,” says Briana Mordick, a staff scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “They actually wrote up proposed improvements to the regulations, but those regulations have never been updated.” Even perfectly sounds wells have leaked after waste was injected at higher pressure than the rock formations holding it could bear. In southern Ohio, waste from one well migrated up through 1,400 feet of rock.
Two of the three members of the Portage County Commission have voiced their support for a recent bill that would ban injection wells, but even the bill’s sponsor doesn’t think it will get traction in the GOP-controlled state House of Representatives. “I abhor having the distinction of being the injection well capital of Ohio,” Frederick says. But there’s not much she can do about it.
Thomas Stackpole is an editorial fellow in Mother Jones’ Washington, DC, bureau. He has also written for The New Republic and MSN News. Email him tips at tstackpole [at] motherjones [dot] com. You can follow him @tom_stackpole.
Utah is ground zero for Alberta-style tar-sands strip mining in the United States.
More than 140,000 acres of Utah’s eastern highlands are already open to tar-sands strip mining, and regulators have permitted mining on nearly 6,000 acres near the Book Cliffs; only a difficult court battle stands in the way of mining on the first of those lands.
Tar-sands mining would do tremendous damage, decimating wildlands, destroying sage grouse habitat and depleting and polluting Colorado River water needed by endangered fish — as well as millions of people. Once it begins, mining could set in motion a wildly inefficient cycle of energy and water use, igniting a carbon bomb that will further dry the Colorado River, melt the Arctic and acidify our oceans.
Please take a moment today to send Gov. Herbert a letter urging that he abandon his disastrous tar-sands mining plans.
(NaturalNews) Genetically engineered wheat contains an enzyme suppressor that, when consumed by humans, could cause permanent liver failure (and death). That’s the warning issued today by molecular biologist Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury in Australia.
Heinemann has published an eye-opening report that details this warning and calls for rigorous scientific testing on animals before this crop is ever consumed by humans. The enzyme suppressor in the wheat, he says, might also attack a human enzyme that produces glycogen. Consumers who eat genetically modified wheat would end up contaminating their bodies with this enzyme-destroying wheat, causing their own livers to be unable to produce glycogen, a hormone molecule that helps the body regulate blood sugar metabolism. This, in turn, would lead to liver failure.
“What we found is that the molecules created in this wheat, intended to silence wheat genes, can match human genes, and through ingestion, these molecules can enter human beings and potentially silence our genes,” said Heinemann in a press conference on the threat of GM wheat (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FI7n_caiTvE).
“We found over 770 pages of potential matches between these two genes in wheat and the human genome,” he continued. “We found over a dozen matches that are extensive and identical, and sufficient to cause silencing in experimental systems. The findings are absolutely assured. There’s no doubt that these matches exist. …from this information, we know that it’s plausible there will be an adverse effect and therefore that’s why we’re calling for a particular battery of experiments to be done before humans eat this wheat.”
Professor Judy Carman, biochemist and director of the IHER, Flinders University, Adelaide, added: “If this silences the same sort of gene in us — as it silences in the wheat — then, well, children who are born with this enzyme not working tend to die by the age of about five. And adults with this problem, just kind of get more and more sick, and more and more tired, until they get very very ill indeed.”
She continues, “Before this comes near any human feeding studies, you need to undertake thorough animal safety assessments, where you actually look to see if the animals get sick. So you need to see if this genetic modification survives digestion and gets into the bodies of the animals. You need to see what effect it has on them. You need to do proper long-term toxicology studies… you need to check for cancer, you need to see if there are any reproductive problems, and you need to check for allergies…”
CLARIFICATION: This note was added after initial publication to help clarify the status of GM wheat. Currently, GM wheat is not commercialized. It’s not yet found in everyday foods. But the GMO industry is trying to commercialize it while skipping any real safety testing and buying off regulators to declare it safe. GM corn, of course, is already widely used in foods, as is GM soy. But GM wheat is not yet in the food supply. If we don’t resist the domination of the biotech industry, however, it soon will be.
GMO pushers want you and your children to be the guinea pigs
As you consider this information, keep in mind that GMO pushers want you and your children to eat GMOs that have never been safety tested on anyone! You are simply supposed to believe in the safety of GMOs, like a cult followers, without any scientific evidence proving it.
In today’s corporate-run quack science agricultural system, YOU are the human guinea pigs. There is no science behind the safety of GMOs, and in fact the real science shows that GMOs cause infertility, sickness and disease in the animal tests that have been done. GMOs are a threat to humanity, and those who promote them are junk science villains who have sold their souls to the criminal biotechnology industry.
The GMO industry is so evil that it doesn’t even want you to know you’re eating GMOs! That’s why industry giants are funneling tens of millions of dollars into a scheme to try to defeat Proposition 37 in California (www.CArighttoknow.org) which would legally mandate the labeling of GMOs on food products.
Even popular brands that “sound” natural are actually fighting against GMO labeling: Kashi, Larabar, Cascadian Farm, R.W. Knudsen, Silk and other brands have all betrayed consumers and are now the subject of a global Natural News boycott.
In commenting on all this, Dr Brian John of GM-Free Cymru said:
“What we see here is yet another example of a GM wheat variety released into the environment without any proper assessment of health and safety issues. CSIRO and the Australian and New Zealand regulators have long had a strategy of promoting GM crops which nobody actually wants, with a degree of enthusiasm that verges on criminal negligence. We see a very similar scenario in the UK, where GM wheat is being grown at Rothamsted in spite of strong public opposition and in spite of zero market demand, just to satisfy the whims of politicians and multinational corporations. It is high time for this absurd and dangerous experiment with GM technology to be stopped in its tracks, since new evidence of harm to health and the environment now seems to be appearing on a weekly basis.” (http://gmwatch.org/latest-listing/51-2012/14181-gm-wheat-health-dange…)
I am a molecular biologist. I have been an academic at the University of Canterbury since 1994. Prior to that, I was employed by the US National Institutes of Health. My doctorate was conferred by the University of Oregon at Eugene (1989) and my Bachelor of Science (with honours) degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1985). I am involved in risk assessment research and participate in risk assessment through evaluation of assessments provided to regulatory bodies and through the development of international guidance documents for risk assessment. I have over 100 scholarly works published on the topic of molecular biology, genetics, risk assessment and other scientific matters within my expertise. I publish in leading international journals and my work has been recognised by prestigious professional organisations for its excellence.
A pesticide called Clothianidin is potentially killing bees and threatening our food supply. An EPA consultation on whether to suspend the use of these toxic pesticides closes on Tuesday. Let’s seize this opportunity to save the bees and flood the EPA with public support to stop these pesticides! Send an urgent message to the EPA now
Monsanto’s Mon810 corn, genetically engineered to produce a mutant version of the insecticide Bt, has been banned in Poland following protests by beekeepers who showed the corn was killing honeybees.
Poland is the first country to formally acknowledge the link between Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn and the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that’s been devastating bees around the world. Many analysts believe that Monsanto has known the danger their GMOs posed to bees all along. The biotech giant recently purchased a CCD research firm, Beeologics, that government agencies, including the US Department of Agriculture, have been relying on for help unraveling the mystery behind the disappearance of the bees.
Now that it’s owned by Monsanto, it’s very unlikely that Beeologics will investigate the links, but genetically engineered crops have been implicated in CCD for years now.
Nearly all of our infant formula, including every one of the millions of bottles distributed free by the government, contains genetically engineered corn or soy, as well as milk from cows injected by bovine growth hormone.
The FDA doesn’t conduct or even require a single safety study on GMOs. They allow companies like Monsanto to do their own safety tests. Keep in mind that the FDA also assured us that Monsanto’s past products – DDT, PCBs and Agent Orange – were perfectly safe. This was before they were banned. Today, Monsanto can put GMOs into baby bottles, sippy cups, and breakfast cereal, without even telling the FDA or consumers.
Because of their less-developed immune systems, infants and young children are more sensitive to toxins found in GMOs. And diseases linked to GMOs in animal-feeding studies are skyrocketing among America’s children. This can’t be a coincidence.
Children are More Vulnerable
• Infants and young children are more sensitive to toxins found in GMOs.
• Their immune system and blood brain barrier are not fully developed.
Again, diseases are skyrocketing among America’s children. Their disorders include the same ones identified in GMO animal feeding studies by the physicians group, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine.
Enough is enough. Tell the FDA that they must stop companies from feeding our babies genetically modified infant formula and baby food and to stop using our kids as guinea pigs.