Leak at tar sands plant fouls Athabasca River

Suncor Energy is one of Canada's top tar-sands oil producers and a big pusher for the Keystone XL Pipeline (see Globe & Mail, Oct. 25, 2011). They are, of course, key players in the continental NAFTA shadow government. So why are we reading about their contamination of the Athabasca River in the Edmonton Journal (March 26) and not the New York goddam Times? Just asking.

Tainted water poured for hours before broken Suncor pipe sealed
EDMONTON — A waste-water pipe at Suncor’s oilsands plant leaked into a pond of treated water Monday, and the resulting diluted water flowed into the Athabasca River, a company official said Tuesday.

Suncor spokeswoman Sneh Seetal said a pipe froze and burst, causing a leak that was discovered by an operator during rounds, which happens each shift. The pipe was 10 centimetres in diameter.

It is not known how much waste water flowed into the pond, which contained water that had already been treated and was ready to be returned to the river.

Communities downstream from the plant were notified about the incident and tests are underway to determine if the river water has been affected. Tests results will be available in the coming days.

Both the company and government officials emphasized they are taking the incident seriously.

Yes, of course. Meanwhile, as our good friends at Chevron fight in the courts to stiff Ecuador for oil-spill damages to the Amazon rainforest, they helpfully give one of our own natural areas—Utah's Willard Bay State Park—a little taste of the same treatment. From AP, March 24:

Chevron fuel spill in Utah much worse than thought
WILLARD, Utah — A Chevron fuel spill near a northern Utah bird refuge is much worse than originally thought as up to 27,000 gallons might have leaked, authorities said.

A split in a pipeline that runs from Salt Lake City to Spokane, Wash., is suspected of releasing diesel fuel into soil and marshes at Willard Bay State Park, according to the U.S. Transportation Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The agency has filed a corrective action order against Chevron Pipe Line Co. that requires it to gain government approval before the pipeline can reopen. The order also requires Chevron to operate the pipeline at only 80 percent of normal pressure once it reopens.

Great. Talk about closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. And those of us who call for a crash conversion from the fossil fuel economy are the "unrealistic" ones?

Fuck you.

 

Exxon fouls Arkansas

From Raw Story, March 30:

An Exxon-Mobil oil pipeline ruptured Friday afternoon in the town of Mayflower, Arkansas, forcing the evacuation of 20 homes and shutting down sections of interstate highway. According to Little Rock’s KATV, a hazardous materials team from the Office of Emergency Management has contained the spill and is currently attempting a cleanup.

The burst pipe is part of the Pegasus pipeline network, which connects tar sands along the Gulf coast to refineries in Houston. Thousands of gallons of crude oil erupted from the breach around 3:00 p.m. on Friday, spilling through a housing subdivision and into the town’s storm drainage system, fouling drainage ditches and shutting down Highway 365 and Interstate 40.

Residents were evacuated to avoid health hazards from crude oil fumes and to keep stray sparks from igniting the standing oil. Emergency workers contained the spill by hastily constructing earthen dams.

 

Nuclear near-miss in Arkansas

Arkansas almost got the double whammy. What a convenient illustration of the false choices we are presented by capitalism. Which flavor of dystopia do you choose? From CNN, March 31:

An accident at a nuclear facility in Arkansas killed one person Sunday, a county coroner said.

The accident took place "in a non-radiation area, and there has been no risk to public health and safety identified," the Arkansas Department of Health said in a statement.

The facility is Arkansas Nuclear One, a water reactor in Russellville.

"We can understand the concern of all Arkansans about the situation at Arkansas Nuclear One," Dr. William Mason, head of the department's Preparedness and Emergency Response branch, said. "We are closely monitoring what's happening there and will make recommendations for additional action if the need arises."

The statement added that Mason "urges residents to take this time to review their Emergency Instructions Booklet" and emergency information in phone directories.
 

Oil spills all over the fucking place

Clean-up efforts are continuing near White River, Ont., where more than 63,000 liters of oil were spilled from a freight train after 22 cars went off the rails. (CBC, April 4) An estimated 50 barrels of oil spilled from a pipeline operated by a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell into a waterway outside Houston on April 4, according to the US Coast Guard. Shell clean-up crews were working to clear the crude out of Vince Bayou, which connects to the Houston Ship Channel, leading into the Gulf of Mexico. The spill was contained but the total amount of oil was still being verified, the Coast Guard said. (Dow Jones, April 4) Following a leak at its petrochemical plant in Chalmette, La., ExxonMobil announced that it had released 100 pounds of hydrogen sulfide and 10 pounds of benzene, a volatile compound known to cause cancer. (RT, April 5) 


Utah's hero beavers pay high price for defending habitat

From AP, March 27:

A group of at least six beavers at a Utah bird refuge have emerged as key players in helping contain a fuel leak that left half of them with severe burns. The Chevron fuel spill leaked about 27,000 gallons of crude oil into soil and marshes at Willard Bay State Park last week after a split in a Salt Lake City-to- Spokane, Wash. pipeline.

The beavers' dam blocked a hefty portion of diesel from rolling onto the bay, though it's uncertain exactly how much, officials said. Three of the beavers were rescued earlier this week, and three more that were rescued Tuesday night are being cared for under a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah program.

"That dam absolutely saved the bay," said Dalyn Erickson, a wildlife specialist running the program. The dam held fuel in place and kept it from going any further, she said.

The beavers that were part of the group rescued Tuesday night had burns on their skin and eyes, and only patches of fur left on their bodies. Erickson said she worries that some of the newly rescued beavers might not survive the fallout from the spill...

The leak is Chevron's third in Utah in the last three years. In June 2010, a spill involved more than 30,000 gallons of crude oil near Red Butte Gardens in Salt Lake City. And in December 2010, a leak near the same site involved about 21,000 gallons.

Reminds me of a vignette from William S. Burroughs:

At Los Alamos Ranch School, where they later made the atom bomb and couldn't wait to drop it on the Yellow Peril, the boys are sitting on logs and rocks, eating some sort of food. There is a stream at the end of a slope. The counselor was a Southerner with a politician's look about him. He told us stories by the campfire, culled from the racist garbage of the insidious Sax Rohmer – East is evil, West is good.

Suddenly, a badger erupts among the boys – don't know why he did it, just playful, friendly and inexperienced like the Aztec Indians who brought fruit down to the Spanish and got their hands cut off. So the counselor rushes for his saddlebag and gets out his 1911 Colt .45 auto and starts blasting at the badger, missing it with every shot at six feet. Finally he puts his gun three inches from the badger's side and shoots. This time the badger rolls down the slope into the stream. I can see the stricken animal, the sad shrinking face, rolling down the slope, bleeding, dying.

"You see an animal, you kill it, don't you? It might have bitten one of the boys."

The badger just wanted to romp and play, and he gets shot with a .45 government issue. Contact that. Identify with that. Feel that. And ask yourself, whose life is worth more? The badger, or this evil piece of white shit?

The beavers just wanted to protect their bay from this mysterious substance that was fouling it, and they got "burns on their skin and eyes, and only patches of fur left on their bodies," AP informs us. Some of them got respiratory damage and are fighting just to breathe. Contact that. Identify with that. Feel that. And ask yourself, whose lives are worth more? The beavers, or the executive officers of Chevron?

Seriously.


Cover-up in spill at Alberta oil processing plant?

From Upstream Online, June 12:

Houston-based Apache's Canadian affiliate on Wednesday was investigating the cause of a 60,000-barrel spill of produced water in northern Alberta that occurred earlier this month.

Apache said clean-up and remediation efforts were continuing after the "release" of briny water at one of the company's CO2 enhanced oil-recovery projects in Zama, about 150 kilometres north-west of High Level, Alberta.

The spill occurred on 1 June after a water-injection pipeline malfunctioned. The pipeline was shut the same day and the cause of the incident is unknown, Apache said.

About 104 acres were affected and no injuries were associated with the spill, according to Apache estimates. Local reports said the spill took place in a wetlands-rich area.

"Apache has implemented its response plan that identified and eliminated the source of the water release, and has taken steps to contain the release as the company continues to map, sample and monitor the impacted areas," the company said in a statement.

It said the Zama river has not been affected and that the public is not at risk, although the Globe and Mail newspaper reported that the spill had reached some tributaries of the river. Apache said it is now mobilising water treatment equipment to begin restoration efforts.

Produced water flows to the surface with small amounts of oil and gas before being treated and re-injected into the producing formation. The water that spilled at Zama had already been treated to remove hydrocarbons, Apache said.

When asked by the Globe and Mail why it took more than a week for authorities to disclose the spill, a spokesman for the Energy Resources Conservation Board, the provincial regulator, said "there were no real public impacts".

The Globe & Mail informs us:

The substance is the inky black colour of oil, and the treetops are brown. Across a broad expanse of northern Alberta muskeg, the landscape is dead. It has been poisoned by a huge spill of 9.5 million litres of toxic waste from an oil and gas operation in northern Alberta, the third major leak in a region whose residents are now questioning whether enough is being done to maintain aging energy infrastructure. 


"Driverless" tanker train explodes, destroys Canadian town

Welcome to the (utterly dystopian) future. The details are still sketchy, but an overview of the coverage in a Daily Kos post tells us that a train carrying petrochemicals exploded in a Canadian town July 6, forcing the evacuation of up to 1,000 people. The blast sent a fireball and black smoke into the air, destroying dozens of buildings in Lac-Megantic, some 250 kilometers east of Montreal. The type of "petrochemicals" is still not clear—nor are reports that the train was "driverless."

A charming covergence of rule by petro-oligarchs and rule by robots.

Bitumen leak on Alberta pipeline

From iNews8801 AM, Edmonton, July 21:

Alberta Energy Regulator says a "release of bitumen emulsion" was discovered on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range and a member of a First Nation in the area says it continues to leak.

The cleanup started in May but no hard number on an amount spilled has been released.

Crystal Lameman, of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation says she heard about the leak through a government release and has had an extremely difficult time finding out more information.

"When they reported it they don't even know how long it had been spilling for and we're going on three weeks now and it is still spilling," explains Lameman. "When you have an active weapons range where they're doing active testing and you're extracting bitumen that involves seismic monitoring, I don't even know how those two things could ever go together."

Lameman tells iNews880 that Canadian Natural Resources Limited operates the line.

Lameman says this is not a spill but a pipeline blowout due to this new extraction method. She says the Alberta Energy Regulator release doesn't even say the spill has been capped off.
 

Oil spill amid Colorado flooding

From the Denver Post, Sept. 18:

MILLIKEN — Industry crews have placed absorbent booms in the South Platte River south of Milliken where at least 5,250 gallons of crude oil has spilled from two tank batteries into the flood-swollen river.

The spill from a damaged tank was reported to the Colorado Department of Natural Resources Wednesday afternoon by Anadarko Petroleum, as is required by state law.

State officials have responded to the spill site, which is south of Milliken near where the St. Vrain River flows into the South Platte.

Nearly 1,900 oil and gas wells in flooded areas of Colorado are shut, and 600 industry personnel are inspecting and repairing sites, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. 


Another oil train derailment

Nearly 30 cars of the 90-car crude oil train on the Alabama & Gulf Coast Railway derailed near Aliceville in western Alabama Nov. 9. Some dozen of the cars went up in flames that only finally died down 24 hours later. (Reuters, Nov. 11; LAT, Nov. 9)

Pipeline explosion evacuates Texas town

A Chevron drilling crew punctured a gas pipeline near Milford, Tex., Nov. 14, triggering an explosion that led emergency personnel to evacuate the town, according to the Ellis County Sheriff's Office. Just two weeks ago, a pipeline near the town of Smithville, Tex., spilled 17,000 gallons of crude oil, impacting a rural area and two livestock ponds. The pipeline is owned by Koch Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Koch Industries. (Ring of Fire, Nov. 15)

"North Dakota Derailment Shows Dark Side of America's Oil Boom"

That's the headline of an unusually frank piece in Time Dec. 31. It opens:

Here's the good news about Monday's massive train accident in North Dakota: it looks like no one was hurt. And that might seem amazing after seeing video of the disaster, which saw a freight train carrying crude oil collide with a train carrying grain that had derailed earlier. The collision sent fireballs shooting up more than 100 feet, and left the oil train in flames. The train cars burned through the night, and officials called on the 2,400 residents of nearby Casselton, N.D. to leave their homes as the winds shifted overnight, blowing black soot toward the town.

Still, the fact that apparently no one was injured in the explosion is mostly a matter of luck — not to mention the general lack of people in North Dakota. Had the accident occurred near a more populated town, we might have seen something closer to the catastrophe that struck the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, where a runway train hauling 72 carloads of crude oil derailed, triggering an explosion that killed 47 people and destroyed 30 buildings. Nor are these two the only recent accidents involving freight trains carrying crude oil. In November, a train hauling oil to the Gulf Coast from North Dakota derailed in Alabama, setting off more fires, and in October, a train carrying crude derailed in Alberta, igniting a blaze and causing the evacuation of nearby residents.

These accidents came at the end of the year in which shipments of oil by rail boomed, increasing 17 times faster last year than domestic production of oil — which is itself booming. With the middle of the country brimming with crude oil thanks to the shale revolution in North Dakota — as well as Canadian oil sands crude coming down from Alberta — there’s a desperate need to move oil to markets on the Gulf Coast and East Coast. With pipeline construction slower, and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline still being debated, oil companies have turned to rail, which can quickly connect remote areas of production to markets. The rail industry is now hauling more crude than at any time since the days of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil a century ago. All of which raises the question: Is all this safe?

It then goes on to answer itself: "Yes and no..." We are supposed to be comforted by the fact that "pipelines spill more often than rail." Gee, thanks.

Another oil train derailment

A Canadian National Railway train carrying crude oil and propane is still burning after it derailed and broke into flames the evening of Jan. 7 near the village of Plaster Rock in northwestern New Brunswick. (ENS, Jan. 8)

West Virginia chemical spill leaves 300,000 without water

Up to 300,000 people have for four days been unable to use tap water for anything besides flushing toilets in parts of West Virginia after as much as 7,500 gallons of an industrial chemical leaked into the Elk River. Reuters tells us:

Water tainted by the spilled 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or Crude MCHM, smells faintly of licorice. Contact with the water can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, rashes and reddened skin. Around 70 people had visited emergency rooms with these symptoms by Sunday, said Karen Bowling, Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

Some 1,045 people have called the West Virginia Poison Center since the spill to say they or someone in their household had been exposed, she said.

...but doesn't actually tell us where the Crude MCHM actually came from.

Does anyone remember what happened in Hungary three and a half years ago? No, because these disasters continue to be seen as isolated "accidents" and not the functioninig of an ecocidal system.

Suit in West Virginia spill to name water utility

How perfect. Bloomberg informs us that the company responsible for the West Virginia chemical spill is actually namd "Freedom Industries"! Local authorities are saying the company may not have acted swiftly to warn of  the leak of some 7,500 gallons of the rogue coal-processing chemical. But a class action suit being prepared also names the West Virginia unit of American Water Works (AWK), "the largest publicly traded water utility in the country. The sole intake for the Charleston-area water system is a mere mile-and-a-half down the Elk River from the Freedom Industries chemical-storage facility."

The Freedom Industries website boasts that it "has the experience and manpower to handle all of your companies [sic] needs" Apparently, this manpower does not include proofreaders. The website does not seem to contain a word about the chemical spill.

Rand Paul's "freedom"... to contaminate your drinking water

Oh, charming. Just weeks before the West Virginia disaster, GOP lawmakers proposed legislation for "Freedom Zones" (sic!) where the Clean Water Act would be basically suspended. From EarthJustice:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his colleague Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced a bill they call the “Economic Freedom Zones Act of 2013.” Among other things, the bill would exempt polluters in high-poverty regions from complying with (and would bar the U.S. EPA from enforcing) water pollution permitting requirements under Clean Water Act section 402. (Adding insult to injury, the two politicians are billing this proposal as an anti-poverty measure.)

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that authorities are starting to approve use of drinking water in impacted West Virginia communities again—but the plume is headed into the Ohio River, and downstream localities are weighing how to react.

As it is, the "Freedom Industries" plant seems to have slipped through the regulatory cracks... The New York Times reported, "According to Department of Environmental Protection officials, Freedom Industries, which owns the chemical tank that ruptured, is exempt from Department of Environmental Protection inspections and permitting since it stores chemicals, and does not produce them."

Just what America needs. Less regulation of toxic industry. Thanks, Rand.
 

Freedom Industries prez faces fed fraud charges

Gary Southern, president of Freedom Industries during the January 2014 chemical spill into the Elk River, is facing charges of bankruptcy fraud, wire fraud and lying under oath. According to the criminal complaint filed in federal court in Charleston, WV, Southern lied under oath about his role at Freedom Industries prior to the spill in order to deflect blame from himself and protect himself financially. (WVNSTV, Dec. 8)

Another oil train derailment

From NPR, Jan. 20:

Train carrying crude oil derails on Philadelphia bridge
Train cars carrying crude oil and sand derailed on a Philadelphia bridge early this morning, leaving the cars intact but leaning over the Schuylkill River.

The Coast Guard and the rail company CSX said the cars derailed on the Schuylkill Arsenal Bridge at around 12:30 a.m. and there was no evidence that they spilled any of their cargo.

Yet.

Worker missing in Pennsylvania gas well blast

An explosion at a Chevron gas well in Dunkard, Pa., the morning of Feb. 11 hs left one employee injured and another missing and feared dead. The fire is still blazing, and we are assured that "state officials don't believe the burning natural gas is toxic." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
 

Oil spills go off the rails

From McClatchy, Jan. 21:

WASHINGTON — More crude oil was spilled in U.S. rail incidents last year than was spilled in the nearly four decades since the federal government began collecting data on such spills, an analysis of the data shows.

Including major derailments in Alabama and North Dakota, more than 1.15 million gallons of crude oil was spilled from rail cars in 2013, according to data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
 

Oil spills still going off the rails

An underground gas line exploded Feb. 13 in Adair County Ky, leaving a crater in the ground 60 feet deep by 50 feet wide, and destroying two homes. (ABC) That same day, 21  cars of a freight train hauling oil and gas derailed in Vandergrift, Pa. (Pittsburgh Post-Gzette)

Oil spill closes Mississippi River

The U.S. Coast Guard says a 65-mile stretch of the Mississippi River is closed between Baton Rouge and New Orleans until further notice while crews clean up oil from a barge that struck a towboat. The collision happened Feb. 22 near Vacherie. In St. Charles Parish, officials say public drinking water intakes on the river are closed as a precaution. (Baton Rouge Advocate)

Oil pipeline ruptures in North Dakota

From AP, March 21:

Cleanup workers have contained about 34,000 gallons of crude that spewed from a broken oil pipeline in northwestern North Dakota, a state health official said Friday.

North Dakota Water Quality Director Dennis Fewless said the breach occurred Thursday morning on Hiland Crude LLC's pipeline about 6 miles northeast of Alexander. A gasket on the above-ground pipeline appears to have failed near a compressor station, spewing about 800 barrels of crude, Fewless said. A barrel holds 42 gallons.

Oil spill closes Houston ship channel

As many as 170,000 gallons of heavy oil have spilled into the Houston Ship Channel after a barge and a ship collided March 22. Oil had been found as far as 12 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Officials closed the shipping channel to lay oil-absorbent booms and skim oil from the water. The Coast Guard called the incident a “significant spill,” but more due to its location than its size. (US News & World Report)
 

Oil spill fouls Ohio wildlife reserve

The EPA now says 20,000 gallons of crude oil spilled from a damaged pipeline into the Glen Oak Nature Preserve in southwest Ohio last week — double the initial estimates. The spill came from a five inch crack in the Mid-Valley Pipeline, running 1,000 miles from Texas to Michigan. The pipeline operator, Sunoco Logistics, says the pipeline has been repaired and reopened. A company spokesman told the Associated Press that the cause of the spill is still under investigation. (Think Progress, March 25)

BP doubles estimate of Lake Michigan oil spill

Three days after spilling crude oil into Lake Michigan, BP has doubled its spill estimate to between 470 and 1228 gallons. The leak happened at its refinery in Whiting, Ind. Although some of the oil has been cleaned up, it's unclear how much is left in the lake, a drinking water source for about seven million Chicagoans. Located just across the Illinois-Indiana state border, Whiting is home to the sixth largest refinery in the U.S. The refinery just went through a $4 billion "modernization project," giving it "the capability of processing up to about 85 percent heavy crude." (Climate Connections, March 28)

Oil spill fouls Virginia drinking water

Lynchburg has declared a state of emergency and Richmond has begun to switch to an alternate water supply after a CSX train carrying crude oil derailed in Lynchburg's central district April 30, spilling oil into the James River upstream from Richmond's primary water supply. (Richmond Times Dispatch)

Pipeline leak fouls Nebraska panhandle

Residents in Nebraska's Lyon county face dying soy beans, brown grass covered in a dark oily substance and an overwhelming odor following a still unexplained mishap during repairs on the Panhandle Eastern Pipeline. (Emporia Gazette, June 23)

Colorado: oil, gas spills happening twice daily

A Denver Post analysis of Colorado oil and gas spills so far in 2014 reveals that they are happening twice a day “and usually without anyone telling residents.”

That rate, 467 spills for the first seven months of this year, suggests that the state will surpass last year’s record of 575, the paper reported, due to a surge in oil and gas development and more stringent reporting rules. The state oil and gas commission said that tougher enforcement is also a factor.

Colorado now has about 52,000 active oil and gas wells, with much of the recent growth occurring along the populous Front Range north and northeast of Denver. The rapid pace of drilling and its proximity to many communities has sparked a simmering revolt, with the prospect looming of an epic election season battle over ballot proposals to allow more local control of oil and gas development. A drive to obtain enough signatures to place those measures on the ballot will conclude on Aug. 4.

Since 2010, the paper reported, about 21% of the nearly 2,500 reported spills have contaminated either ground or surface water. (ThinkProgress, July 29)

Mining waste contaminates drinking water in BC

From ThinkProgress, Aug. 5:

Hundreds of people in British Columbia can't use their water after more than a billion gallons of mining waste spilled into rivers and creeks in the province's Cariboo region.

A breach in a tailings pond from the open-pit Mount Polley copper and gold mine sent five million cubic meters (1.3 billion gallons) of slurry gushing into Hazeltine Creek in B.C. That’s the equivalent of 2,000 Olympic swimming pools of waste, the CBC reports. Tailings ponds from mineral mines store a mix of water, chemicals and ground-up minerals left over from mining operations.

The flow of the mining waste, which can contain things like arsenic, mercury, and sulfur, uprooted trees on its way to the creek and forced a water ban for about 300 people who live in the region. That number could grow, as authorities determine just how far the waste has traveled. The cause of the breach is still unknown.

This after this year's similar disaster in West Virgina, the cut-off of algae-infested water in Toledo (NYT) and the controversy over water cut-offs to residents who fell behind in payments in Detroit (Michigan Live)... it isn't a comforting picture of the future. Not to mention the severe drought in California...

Man bites dog: fracker gets prison for pollution

The owner of a small Ohio oil and gas drilling company who ordered his employees to dump tens of thousands of gallons of fracking waste into a tributary of the Mahoning River was sentenced to 28 months of prison on Aug. 5, according to a Cleveland Plain Dealer report. US District Judge Donald Nugent also ordered 64-year-old Benedict Lupo, owner of Hardrock Excavating LLC, to pay $25,000 for unlawful discharge of pollutants under the Clean Water Act. Lupo pleaded guilty to the charges in March, admitting to having his employees dump fracking wastewater into the Mahoning River tributary 33 times. (ClimateProgress)

BC mine tailings spill nearly 70% bigger than first estimated

From the Vancouver Sun, Sept. 3:

Imperial Metals' estimate of the size of the spill from its Mount Polley mine tailings dam collapse is nearly 70 per cent greater than the initial estimate.

The B.C. government has estimated that 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic meters of finely ground rock containing potentially-toxic metals was released by the collapse of the dam on Aug. 4.

But Imperial Metals has estimated the size of the spill at 10.6 million cubic metres of water, 7.3 million cubic metres of tailings and 6.5 million cubic metres of "interstitial" water. That’s enough water and material to fill nearly 9,800 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Interstitial water is the water suspended in the spaces between the finely ground rock of the tailings.

"It's a bit disconcerting — its speaks to the crudeness of the initial estimate," said Mining Watch Canada program director Ramsey Hart of the increased spill estimate.

Imperial Metals did not respond to a request Wednesday for comment.

Hart said there will need to be a better accounting of the spill's size, including the volume of tailings deposited in the lake and in the Hazeltine Creek watershed.

Families flee gas leak at Ohio fracking well

From the Columbus Dispatch, Dec. 17:

About 25 families in eastern Ohio have been unable to live in their houses for the past three days because of a natural-gas leak at a fracking well that crews cannot stop.

Bethany McCorkle, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the state agency that regulates oil and gas, said crews lost control of the Monroe County well on Saturday.

Families were evacuated from about 25 houses within a 1.5-mile radius of the well, located near the Ohio River about 160 miles east of Columbus.

The well is not on fire, but the gas could be explosive. "There’s still a steady stream of natural gas coming from the wellhead," McCorkle said yesterday.

In a little good news, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that week that his administration will block fracking in the state, following a state Health Department report findings the risks outweigh the benefits. (Jurist, Dec. 19)

Nuke plant fouls Lake Michigan

This one is pretty hilarious for those who plug nuclear power as an alternative to dirty fossil fuels. From the Detroit Free Press, Jan. 3:

An oil cooling system on the turbine of a southwest Michigan nuclear power plant leaked oil into Lake Michigan for about two months, according to plant officials.

Officials with the Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant near Bridgman reported the leak to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as state and local authorities, on Dec. 20, according to an event notification posted on the NRC's website. Plant officials believe 2,000 gallons of oil leaked into the lake, and a retroactive examination of system oil levels leads plant personnel to believe the leak may have been ongoing since about Oct. 25...

Pipeline breach spills oil into Yellowstone River

From the Great Falls Tribune, Jan. 18:

BILLINGS – Montana officials said Sunday that an oil pipeline breach spilled up to 50,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River near Glendive, but they said they are unaware of any threats to public safety or health.

The Bridger Pipeline Co. said the spill occurred about 10 a.m. Saturday. The initial estimate is that 300 to 1,200 barrels of oil spilled, the company said in a statement Sunday.

Some of the oil did get into the water, but the area where it spilled was frozen over and that could help reduce the impact, said Dave Parker, a spokesman for Gov. Steve Bullock.

Right, never "any threats to public safety or health." 

Drill waste spill South Dakota's worst

Nearly 3 million gallons of saltwater generated by oil drilling have leaked from a North Dakota pipeline—the largest such spill since the state’s current oil boom began and nearly three times worse than any previous spill. Two creeks have been affected, but the full environmental effect might not be clear for months. Officials have discovered chloride concentrations in Blacktail Creek as high as 92,000 milligrams per liter—far higher than normal concentrations of about 10 to 20 milligrams per liter. the line was operated by Summit Midstream Partners. (Daily Kos, WC Native News, Jan. 22)

Another day, another gas pipeline bursts

A gas line explosion in West Virginia's Brooke County remains under investigation. Operator Enterprise Products is working with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to determine the cause of the explosion, which took place about an hour away from Pittburgh and near the Ohio River. (Daily Kos)

Frackers break environmental regs. We are shocked!

A new report from Environment America Research & Policy Center shows that all types of fracking companies, from small to large, are prone to violating rules intended to protect human health and the environment. The report, Fracking Failures: Oil and Gas Industry Environmental Violations in Pennsylvania and What They Mean for the US, analyses Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry over a four-year period and found that the top offenders of regulations—averaging more than one environmental violation every day—represented a wide range of companies from Fortune 500 companies like Cabot Oil, to mom-and-pop operators, to firms like Chevron. (EcoWatch, Jan. 27)

Ethanol from derailed train leaked into Mississippi

From the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, Feb. 6:

Canadian Pacific crews have started the process of cleaning up a derailed freight train north of Dubuque, after having built a temporary, unpaved access road to bring equipment to the remote site.

Three railcars carrying ethanol caught fire and at least eight leaked their contents after 15 railcars and two locomotives of an 81-car train traveling to New Jersey derailed Wednesday along a stretch of track owned and operated by Canadian Pacific, according to company spokesman Andy Cummings. There were no injuries.

One of the railcars remained burning until about 8 a.m. Thursday. At least three cars plunged into the nearby Mississippi River.

All but one of the derailed railcars were carrying ethanol. The other derailed car was a "buffer" car, a railcar used to separate the locomotives from the ethanol-carrying railcars.

Another disaster in West Virginia

From West Virginia MetroNews, Feb. 16:

Train derailment sends crude oil cars into Kanawha River; explosions erupt
MOUNT CARBON, W.Va. — Multiple tanker rail cars carrying crude oil derailed Monday afternoon in Fayette County, triggering explosions and a 100-yard-high flames as several cars rolled through a residential subdivision and into the Kanawha River. CSX officials say “at least one rail car appears to have ruptured and caught fire.”

At least one house was destroyed, but police have found no evidence of fatalities. CSX said one person was treated for potential inhalation (of fumes).

In a statement Monday evening CSX said its teams “are working with first responders to address the fire, to determine how many rail cars derailed and to deploy environmental protective and monitoring measures on land, air and in the nearby Kanawha River.

California refinery blast

An explosion and fire ripped through a gasoline processing unit at an ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, Calif, on Feb. 18, slightly injuring four workers and shattering windows of surrounding buildings. (Reuters)

Spill threatens Galena River

A BNSF Railway train loaded with crude oil that derailed and caught fire near Galena, Ill., March 5 afternoon is still burning today. (InForum, AP) Open Secrets website indicates that BNSF spent $3 million in lobbying last year, presumably against oversight.

More oil train derailments

The small town of Heimdal, North Dakota, was evacuated May 6 after a BNSF train carrying crude oil derailed and several cars burst into flames. Several nearby farms have also been ordered evacuated. (NBC)

On March 7, a train owned by the Canadian National Railway Co derailed  over a bridge above the Makami River near the town of Gogama, Ontario, sending thirty-five cars full of crude oil off the tracks, at least five of which ended up in the water. A large fire and huge black clouds of smoke followed. (CommonDreams)

WHY WE FIGHT

An oil spill in California on May 19 spewed a slick in the ocean that now stretches some four miles and is extending towards the popular Refugio State Beach west of Santa Barbara. Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline is identified as the responsible company. A January 1969 spill off Santa Barbara became what was, at the time, the nation's worst offshore oil disaster. (CNN, CNN)

History of safety violations at company in Santa Barbara spill

From Yahoo News, below a picture of an oil-fouled pelican on a Santa Barbara beach:

All eyes are on Plains All American Pipeline now that cleanup teams are working around the clock to curb the environmental damage caused by the massive crude petroleum spill in California earlier this week.

The rupture on Tuesday caused 105,000 gallons of oil to spew onto a Santa Barbara beach and its offshore waters. That is five times the Houston-based company’s initial estimate for the "worst-case scenario."

By late Thursday, responders had retrieved a mere fraction — about 9,000 gallons — of the spill that tarnished 9 miles of a scenic stretch along the Golden Coast.

Environmentalists are directing their anger at Plains for failing to prevent such a disaster, particularly in light of what they consider frequent red flags: a history of federal safety infractions.

Plains was cited for 10 crude oil spills between June 2004 and September 2007 in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Kansas — resulting in a $3.25 million civil penalty in 2010.

In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Plains had agreed to spend about $41 million to upgrade 10,420 miles of its pipeline, resolving its Clean Water Act violations.

Since 2006, the Los Angeles Times reports, Plains has racked up 175 violations of safety and maintenance codes; an analysis of federal records revealed that the company’s rate of incidents per mile of pipe was more than three times the national average.

These breaches include "pump failure, equipment malfunction, pipeline corrosion and operator error," according to the newspaper.

Another gas line explosion

Emergency crews evacuated homes in Jordan township, Pa., near the Lycoming/Columbia county line, after a natural gas line explosion and rupture. The line was quickly shut off by Williams Gas workers. Evacuated residents were taken to a fire statation before being allowed to return to their homes. (WNEP, Moosic, June 9)

Oil spill in Hudson River's future?

NYC's The Villager on June 11 reports on efforts by state Sen. Brad Hoylman and environemntal groups to pressure General Electric to more fully clean up the PCBs it has dumped in the Hudosn River before cutting and running from the Empire State. The 200-mile contaminated stretch of the river from Glens Falls to Lower Manhattan is now a federal Superfund site, and GE has been dredging since 2009. But Hoylman and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) charge that the EPA low-balled the extent of the problem. So GE is about to dismantle its cleanup facility and split—which would apparently leave "the equivalent of a series of Superfund-caliber sites in the Hudson River."

Meanwhile, a new threat to the river has emerged—that of a devastating oil spill:

Hayley Carlock, environmental attorney for Scenic Hudson, explained that every week there are 25 to 35 trains carrying crude oil along the banks of the Hudson.

Around three years ago, Bakken crude was discovered in North Dakota and production skyrocketed. The amount of crude oil shipped by rail in the U.S. has increased 4,000 percent since 2012, said Carlock, "and that’s why the risk has risen so greatly."

Bakken crude is unrefined petroleum that is very flammable, she explained.

Much of it — over one-third of the Bakken crude — goes down the Hudson River from Albany to New York City, and is destined for refineries in New Jersey and Philadelphia.

A derailment of a train loaded with Bakken crude could lead to devastating explosions and fires, Carlock said. If the Bakken crude were spilled into the Hudson, the best-case scenario would be that only 20 to 25 percent of the oil could be recovered, she said.

The Hudson Valley is "the last place that something like this should be shipped," Carlock warned.

"We all have to be concerned with that," Hoylman concurred.

No shit. Link added. Amid this breakneck expansion, the Republicans of course  continue bait Obama as being too slow to open to public lands to energy exploitation—while the White House has just approved plans by the Bureau of Land Management to permit new oil leases on some 30,000 acres of Colorado's Pawnee Grassland. (Bakken.com, May 15) And also to permit coal mining on thousands of acres of the Powder River Basin (which has already been massively opened to mining and fracking)... (ThinkProgress, June 1)

Another day, another oil spill...

Four tank cars leaked an estimated 35,000 gallons of oil after a train hauling fuel from North Dakota derailed in rural northeastern Montana July 17. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway train was bound for Anacortes, Wash., when it derailed about five miles east of the small town of Culbertson, near the North Dakota border, officials said. A hazardous-materials team contained the spill with earthen dams, and the oil didn't appear to affect any waterways, according to federal and state officials. (AP)

Mine waste spill turns Colorado river orange

From the Denver Post, Aug. 8:

DURANGO — A spill that sent 1 million gallons of wastewater from an abandoned mine into the Animas River, turning the river orange, set off warnings Thursday that contaminants threaten water quality for those downstream.

The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed it triggered the spill while using heavy machinery to investigate pollutants at the Gold King Mine, north of Silverton.

Health and environmental officials are evaluating the river as it flows through San Juan and La Plata counties. They said the wastewater contained zinc, iron, copper and other heavy metals, prompting the EPA to warn agricultural users to shut off water intakes along the river and law officials to close the river to recreational users.

Colorado mine waste spill update

The Environmental Protection Agency now says one of its safety teams accidentally released contaminated water from a mine into the Animas River. The spill sent heavy metals, arsenic and other contaminants into a waterway that flows into the San Juan National Forest. The EPA initially said 1 million gallons of wastewater had been released, but that figure has risen sharply. (NPR, Aug. 10)

Shell Oil toxic gas leak in Texas; river caches fire in Russia

On Aug. 9, hundreds of thousands of pounds of toxic gas were accidentally released from the Shell Oil facility in Deer Park, Tex. According to reports from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, 326,166 pounds of butadiene escaped through an open valve. (Houston Chronicle)

Meanwhile, amateur footage shows a large oil fire on the surface of the Moscow river after an underwater pipeline burst Aug. 12. The Moscow oil refinery, owned by Gazprom Neft, told Reuters it was unaffected by the fire, and did not own the pipeline where the incident occurred. Local news agencies reported that one child and two adults suffered burns from the incident. (The Guardian)

North Dakota oil well 'out of control'

Oil and saltwater are still spilling at an “out of control” rate from a North Dakota oil well owned by Oasis Petroleum Inc. that blew out over the weekend, UPI reports. So far, more than 67,000 gallons of crude and roughly 84,000 gallons of saltwater-brine (a toxic byproduct from the oil and gas drilling process) have leaked, according to Reuters. The well site is located in Mountrail County, approximately 15 miles south of the city of White Earth. The North Dakota Department of Health said that the spill has impacted a nearby river. (EcoWatch, Oct. 20)

Diesel spill on Willamette River

From AP, Oct. 26:

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Coast Guard says more than 400 gallons of diesel were spilled into the Willamette River near Portland.

Authorities say the spill happened on Monday at about 5 AM near the Kinder Morgan Bulk Terminal northwest of Portland. The spill came from a fuel barge and was caused by a tank overfill.

The barge is owned by Kirby Offshore Marine, which has contracted an oil spill response company to handle the clean up. A temporary floating barrier - called a boom - and absorbent pads have been placed around the spill site. Officials are also investigating down river for possible residual pollution.

Coast Guard inspectors are monitoring the situation and "working to ensure minimal impact to the environment."

Yes, very reassuring.

Wisconsin train derailment leaks ethanol into Mississippi

A BNSF Railway train derailment in Wisconsin's Buffalo County on Nov. 7 sent 18,000 gallons of ethanol into the Mississippi River. The following day saw the derailment of a Canadian-Pacific Railway train in Watertown, Wis., spilling 1,000 gallons of oil and causing 35 local homes to be evacuated. (WBAY, Green Bay)

Uranium concentrate spill in Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan's Southwest Booster reports that a highway has been shut down near the town of Swift Current due to a spill of a tractor-trailer hauling uranium concentrate. No evacuation was ordered only because the area is uninhabited.

California methane leak capped —at last

A leaking gas well that spewed tons of methane into the air and forced thousands of Los Angeles residents from their homes has been permanently sealed after four months, California officials said Feb. 19. The announcement confirmed earlier reports by the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) that the well at its facility at Aliso Canyon in the upscale Porter Ranch district had been plugged. (AFP) But Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) says the Aliso Canyon leak "sheds light on national problem," claiming research that shows "methane is leaking at every stage of the oil and gas supply chain."

Homes evacuated in upstate NY ethanol spill

From WBFO, Buffalo, March 2:

Train derails in Ripley causing ethanol leak, dozens evacuated
Crews are working to remove some of the 16 cars on an eastbound Norfolk Southern freight train that derailed in southwestern New York and forced the evacuation of several homes because of leaks in two ethanol tankers. Evacuated residents, meanwhile, were wondering when they could finally go home.

A rail company spokesman and police dispatchers say the derailment occurred around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in the town of Ripley, about 60 miles southwest of Buffalo. Officials say there were no injuries and no fires, but two of the three cars containing hazardous materials leaked.

Flooding flushes oil, fracking chemicals into Texas rivers

From the Austin American-Statesman, April 30:

Recent Texas floods have inundated oil wells and fracking sites, flushing oil and fracking chemicals into rivers.

State emergency officials have taken dozens of photos that show sheens and plumes spreading from tipped tanks and flooded production sites during Sabine River flooding in March. Photos showed similar scenes in last year’s floods of the Trinity, Red and Colorado rivers.

"That's a potential disaster," Dr. Walter Tsou, past president of the American Public Health Association, told the El Paso Times. "Cattle that drank the fracking fluid actually died an hour after drinking it. There are potential carcinogens that can lead to leukemia, brain cancer and other endocrine disruptors that can affect premature births."

The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas drilling, said it has responded effectively to such incidents. “I’m confident that once the agency is notified, we’re taking appropriate measures,” spokesman Rich Parsons said.

But of course.

Oil train cars derail in Columbia River

From KATU, Portland, OR:

MOSIER, Ore. -- A Union Pacific train towing oil cars derailed and caught fire in the Columbia River Gorge Friday, evacuating schools in the nearby town of Mosier and closing down Interstate 84 between Hood River and The Dalles.

According to Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt, 11 cars in the 96-car train derailed around noon near Mosier, about 70 miles east of Portland.

The train was hauling oil from Eastport, Idaho, and was headed for Tacoma, Washington. It was carrying Bakken crude oil, a type of oil known to be highly volatile.

According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, one car is fully engulfed in flames and another one is on fire. From KATU's Chopper 2, however, it was clear that more than one car was on fire -- perhaps as many as four. Another Union Pacific representative, Justin Jacobs, acknowledged several were "aflame" and said oil leaked from at least one car. The company is providing personnel and support to respond to the incident, he said.

Shell spills again

Less than two weeks after dumping nearly 90,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Shell Oil is at it again. The company's San Pablo Bay Pipeline, which transports crude oil from California’s Central Valley to the San Francisco Bay Area, leaked an estimated 21,000 gallons into the soil near in San Joaquin County. (Greenpeace, May 26)

Massive fracking explosion in New Mexico

An oil field in San Juan County, NM, erupted in flames July 11. The fire broke out at a fracking site owned and operated by WPX Energy, setting off several explosions and temporarily closing the nearby Highway 550. Fifty-five local residents were forced out of their homes. The site—located in the Mancos shale deposit area and known as the 550 Corridor and a part of Greater Chaco Canyon—contains six new oil wells and 30 temporary oil storage tanks holding either oil or produced water. All 36 storage tanks caught fire and burned, the Tulsa-based energy company said. (EcoWatch)

Saskatchewan oil spill threatens Prince Albert water supply

From Canada's Global News, July 22:

A Saskatchewan government official, who did not want to be named, said booms set up to contain a pipeline spill on the North Saskatchewan River have failed.

According to Calgary-based Husky Energy, 200,000 to 250,000 litres of crude oil and other material leaked from its pipeline and into the river on Thursday.

The pipeline was turned off and booms were put in place to contain the spill. However, a government official said the oil was lifted overtop of the booms by high water levels and headed toward North Battleford...

Prince Albert, a city of about 35,000 people, posted a release on Facebook Friday evening warning residents that it would likely shut down its water treatment plant intake from the river on Sunday as a precaution.

Prince Albert officials asked residents to stock up on water by filling bathtubs and water jugs to prepare for the possible shutdown.

“It is anticipated that a plume from an upstream oil spill will be reaching Prince Albert as early as Sunday, July 24,” the release said.

Fuel spill into creek in Colorado Springs, killing fish

From AP, Aug. 27:

A tanker truck crash in Colorado Springs has spilled thousands of gallons of gasoline into a creek, killing a slew of fish... [T]he truck hit a parked vehicle in the southern part of the city and rolled onto its side Friday morning, spilling about 8,000 gallons of fuel into Fountain Creek.

Kyle Davidson, a spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, says cleanup crews were pulling dead fish out of the creek "by the bucket."

The agency expects to know exactly how many fish were killed and which species were most affected in a few days. The creek is home to numerous fish, including longnose dace, white suckers and fathead minnows.

The Environmental Protection Agency is using vacuum trucks to suck up the gasoline.

Police believe speed played a role in the crash.

"Speed" as in velocity, or as in crystal meth? Just asking.

Radioactive waste found at North Dakota oil field landfill

The North Dakota State Health Department is probing an oilfield waste landfill operated by IHD Solids Management after the detection of a significant amount of illegal radioactive matter. The radioactive material was detected twice in two separate inspections that took place in May and June. Now the Health Department has ordered a third-party inspection of the landfill and instructed the operator to remove 950 tons of waste and take it out of the state, after radioactivity checks of all 12 oilfield waste landfills in the state revealed levels of between 5 and 80 picocuries, the latter standing 30 picocuries above the new maximum allowed for oilfield waste.

But the controversial 50-picocurie limit was only approved in January, and oilfield landfill operators have yet to apply for permits under the new requirement. They currently have permits that allow no more than 5 picocuries at the landfills. (OilPrice, Sept. 1) 

Alabama pipeline leaks 252,000 gallons

A gasoline pipeline leak that was reported last week near Helena, Ala., spilled approximately 6,000 barrels—or 252,000 gallons—of gasoline in a remote area of Shelby County, the pipeline owner said today. Colonial Pipeline, the Georgia.-based company that operates 5,500 miles of pipeline from Houston to the New York harbor, announced the volume estimate Sept. 14 on its spill response web site. (AL.com)

Gasoline shortages loom following pipeline spill

Six states—Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and North Carolina—are facing possible gas shortages after the Colonial Pipeline spilll. The states have all declared states of emergency, citing concerns about "fuel supply disruptions" and "disruptions of gasoline." The governor of North Carolina declared the state of emergency to "help ensure that there will be adequate supplies of fuel across the state and prevent excessive fuel pricing." (ABC, Sept. 17)

Gasoline spill fouls Susquehanna River

A broken Sunoco pipeline in Pennsylvania's Lycoming County dumped 55,000 gallons of gasoline into the Susquehanna River. As the river, swollen with 6 to 8 inches of rain that fell overnight, rushes south, Lancaster County officials are gearing up to prevent contamination of the local water supply. (Lancaster Online, Oct. 21)

Alabama's Colonial Pipeline blows again

The Colonial Pipeline again exploded in Alabama's Shelby County Oct. 31. One was killed and at least seven injured in the blast. The incident has sent gasoline proces in the South souring. The explosion, which sent flames and thick black smoke soaring over the forest, happened about a mile west of where the pipeline ruptured in September. (AP)

220 'significant' pipeline spills in 2016

Three major US pipeline spills within the last month are just a small part of the 220 significant incidents reported so far this year—and 3,032 since 2006—that provide a stark reminder of the environmental hazards of an aging pipeline infrastructure. The costs of these leaks since 2006 has amounted to $4.7 billion. (EcoWacth, Oct. 25) 

Oil spill near site of Dakota Access protests

In a grimly ironic postscript to the protests against the Dakota Access pipeline, North Dakota just saw a local creek contaminated by a pipeline sill. State officials estimate more than 176,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from the Belle Fourche Pipeline into the Ash Coulee Creek. State environmental scientist Bill Suess says a landowner discovered the spill on Dec. 5 near the city of Belfield, which is roughly 150 miles from the site of the Dakota Access pipeline protest camps. (CNBC, Dec. 12)

Oil spill contaminates Colorado creek

A BP pipeline running along Sauls Creek in Bayfield, Colo., was discovered ruptured last week, spilling methane-contaminated wastewater into the creek and forcing the emergency construction of an earthen dam to contain the contamination. (Durango Herald, Dec. 20)

Oil spill contaminates Saskatchewan aboriginal lands

A Tundra Energy pipeline in the western Canadian province of Saskatchewan has leaked 200,000 liters (52,834 gallons) of oil on lands of the Ocean Man First Nation. The spill came seven months after another major incident in Saskatchewan, in which a Husky Energy Inc pipeline leaked 225,000 liters into a major river and cut off the drinking water supply for thousands of residents. (Reuters, Jan. 24)

Worker missing in Louisiana pipeline blast

A Phillips 66 employee is missing and a contract worker hospitalized after an explosion and fire at a pipeline station in southern Louisiana. The incident led to the evacuation of about 60 homes in Paradis, St. Charles Parish. (Reuters, Feb. 10)

Oil spill contaminates Colorado creek —again

From