Thursday, 23 October 2014

Scientists Just Discovered How To Determine If Water Contamination Comes From Fracking

 A team of U.S. and French scientists say they have developed a new tool that can specifically tell when environmental contamination comes from waste produced by hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking. In peer-reviewed research published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology on Monday, the researchers say their new forensic tool can distinguish fracking wastewater pollution from other contamination that results from other industrial processes — such as conventional oil and gas drilling. Fracking is a controversial oil and gas well stimulation technique that uses a great deal of water, mixed with chemicals, to extract oil and gas from miles deep underground. Once the rock is fractured by the high pressure fluid, fossil fuels follow the fracking fluid to the surface. The disposal of this often-radioactive water mixture, known as “fracking fluid,” is widely considered to be one of the biggest environmental threats that fracking poses, along with the emissions of greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide. There have been many claims of water contamination since the technique gained popularity in 2008, but it’s been difficult to determine if fracking was really the cause — mainly because fracking companies are not required to disclose what chemicals they use in the process (the mixture is often considered a trade secret). With the new tool, though, scientists no longer need to know the chemical make-up of the fracking fluid to determine whether it’s getting into the environment, Duke University geochemist Avner Vengosh told ThinkProgress on Monday. “This is one of the first times we’ve been able to demonstrate that, here, you have a spill in the environment, and yes, this is from fracking fluid and not from other source of contamination,” Vengosh said. “It’s a pretty cool way to overcome the issue of trade secrets.” In order to do this, Vengosh and a team of researchers from Dartmouth College, Stanford University, and the French Geological Survey among others created a tool that they say can trace the “isotopic and geochemical fingerprints” of the fracking process. In simpler terms, the tracer picks up what the researchers say is a unique, chemical fingerprint left behind by the fracking fluid injection process. The tracers track two elements — boron and lithium — which occur naturally in shale formations. When fracking fluid is injected underground, those two elements are naturally released along with oil, and the fracking fluid then becomes enriched with the elements. When the fluid comes back to the surface, Vengosh said they have an isotopic fingerprint that is different than any other type of wastewater, including wastewater from conventional oil and gas operations. “Many of the fracking operations today are happening in areas that have a legacy of 20, 30 years of conventional oil and gas development,” Vengosh said. “So when there’s contamination, [fracking companies] can say ‘Oh, it’s not us — it’s the legacy of 30 years of operations here.” “We now have the tools to say, well, sometimes you’re right and sometimes you’re wrong,” he added. As fracking has boomed across the United States, so has the use of water to do it. A 2013 report from Environment America showed that fracking wells nationwide produced an estimated 280 billion gallons of wastewater in 2012 — a huge number considering more than 55 percent of fracked wells are in areas experiencing droughts. Vangosh was also part of a research team that found there are more risks of drinking water contamination from fracking wastewater than was previously believed. In a peer-reviewed paper released last month, he and other scientists from Duke and Stanford found that even when fracking wastewater goes through water treatment plants, and is disposed of in rivers that are not drinking water systems, the treated water still risks contaminating human drinking water. That’s because there are generally drinking water systems downstream of those rivers, and treatment plants aren’t doing a good job of removing contaminants called halides, which have the potential to harm human health.

Source: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/21/3581800/duke-fracking-waste-tracker/

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Nova Scotia to ban fracking.

Nova Scotia(n) political leaders refer to their 'having respect for those who place their trust in us'.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/09/04/3478734/nova-scotia-fracking-ban/

Bit like Cameron & Co eh?! Ed.

STOP CAMERON'S NEW FRACKING LAW - Sign the petition and circulate widely.

Stop Cameron's new fracking law!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

UK Govt to allow any substance to be buried beneath homes.

The following article demonstrates just how far we have come in recent years in terms of definitions of democracy. The Cameron Govt seem to think that they can ride roughshod over everyone’s rights in almost every area of life. Hopefully, this one will come back to bite them in the bum electorally in the not too distant future. Ed.

UK Government to allow fracking companies to use 'any substance' under homes 

Proposed amendment in Infrastructure Bill would make mockery of world class shale gas regulation claims, campaigners say Damian Carrington Tuesday 14 October 2014 The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/14/uk-to-allow-fracking-companies-to-use-any-substance-under-homes ---- The UK government plans to allow fracking companies to put “any substance” under people’s homes and property and leave it there, as part of the Infrastructure Bill which will be debated by the House of Lords on Tuesday. The legal change makes a “mockery” of ministers’ claims that the UK has the best shale gas regulation in the world, according to green campaigners, who said it is so loosely worded it could also enable the burial of nuclear waste. The government said the changes were “vital to kickstarting shale” gas exploration. Changes to trespass law to remove the ability of landowners to block fracking below their property are being pushed through by the government as part of the Infrastructure Bill. It now includes an amendment by Baroness Kramer, the Liberal Democrat minister guiding the bill through the Lords, that permits the “passing any substance through, or putting any substance into, deep-level land” and gives “the right to leave deep-level land in a different condition from [that before] including by leaving any infrastructure or substance in the land”. The trespass law change has attracted controversy before, when the government decided to push ahead despite the opposition of 99% of the respondents to its consultation. Author and activist Naomi Klein said it flouted basic democratic rights. Ministers were also accused of rushing legal changes through parliament at the start of 2014, which removed the need to notify each home in an areas of fracking plans. The new amendment permitting “any substance” was attacked by Simon Clydesdale, a campaigner at Greenpeace UK: “Ministers are effectively trying to absolve fracking firms from responsibility for whatever mess they’ll end up leaving underground. This amendment makes a mockery of the government’s repeated claims about Britain’s world-class fracking regulations. Far from toughening up rules, ministers are bending over backwards to put the interests of shale drillers before the safety of our environment and our climate.” Tony Bosworth, at Friends of the Earth, said the amendment would allow companies to dispose of fracking fluid, often contaminated with toxic metals and radioactive elements. “The government appears to be trying to sneak through an amendment which would allow fracking firms to reinject their waste under people’s homes and businesses. Reinjection has caused countless problems in the US and you have to question how far this government will go to make fracking a reality.” A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said: “Shale and geothermal have the potential to bolster our energy security, create jobs and growth and provide a bridge to a greener future. These changes are vital to kick starting shale and make sure it’s not delayed by one single landowner. These new rules are all part of our robust regulatory framework [making] sure public safety is always our number one priority.” “Operators must demonstrate that where any chemicals are left in the waste frack fluid this will not lead to pollution of groundwater. The Environment Agency will not permit the use of chemicals where these are hazardous to groundwater,” she said, adding that the amendment did not change the need for companies to obtain all the necessary planning and environmental permits. On the prospect of the new amendment being used to bury nuclear waste, the Decc spokeswoman said the amendment gave the right to put substances into deep-level land only in the context of exploiting gas and petroleum. But Ralph Smyth, a barrister at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said the amendment was very loosely worded and risked unintended consequences. “This seems another example in the Infrastructure Bill where the rushing to remove obstacles has led to officials making it up as they go along, without thinking through the consequences,” he said. “Powers to alter deep-level land in any way under people’s houses or ‘putting any substance’ under schools or homes is surely going too far.” He noted that the Infrastructure Bill stresses the maximum economic recovery of gas and oil and that storing waste underground as part of drilling operations would increase the economic viability of fracking. Ken Cronin, the chief executive of fracking trade body UK Onshore Oil & Gas, said: “The onshore oil and gas industry is committed to baseline monitoring before, during and after any shale activity to ensure the highest safety and environmental standards. We need to study all of the additional amendments to the Infrastructure Bill in detail but any amendments that do not support high environmental and safety standards will not be supported by the onshore oil and gas industry.” If you have any questions about this email, please contact the guardian.co.uk user help desk: userhelp@guardian.co.uk. guardian.co.uk Copyright (c) Guardian News and Media Limited. 2014 Registered in England and Wales No. 908396 Registered office: PO Box 68164, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1P 2AP

Monday, 13 October 2014

62% of French citizens opposed to fracking - 32% 'mostly' opposed.

Recent survey by pollsters BVA for the journal 20 Minutes found that 62% of French citizens are hostile to shale gas operations, 31% somewhat opposed and as many again are strongly opposed. BVA Institute says that the topic unites the Left ( 80% of left-wing voters are against the exploitation of shale gas ), but divides the right ( 51% of right-wing voters are in favour ). Sociologically, women ( 67% ), 18-34 year olds ( 66% ) and upper socio-professional categories ( 70%) are the most hostile to the exploitation of shale gas. The conclusion is therefore that Sarkozy ( who promises a complete U turn in the matter should he be elected President ) "defends a largely unpopular idea".

On Sunday, Ecology Minister Segolene Royal re-iterated her promise that there would be no exploration or exploitation of shale gas during her tenure.

Read the report here in French: http://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/environnement/gaz-de-schiste/une-large-majorite-de-francais-opposee-au-gaz-de-schiste_708677.html

Looks like Sarko could be advocating something which as the article suggests could even unite right and left. Ed.