Sunday, November 10, 2013

PNN - Polluters & their PALS, Strike Back

PNN - Polluters & their PALS, Strike Back


Luis Cuevas              7:30pm
Steve Horn                7:45pm
Rachel Kejewski       8:15pm
Will Bennington        8:43pm

1. Generous Help?
US has “kindly offered” to help Japan with the decommissioning of the Fukushima reactors and the problems with the ongoing leakages of radioactively contaminated water.
Chief Nuclear Officer Chris Crane (left) and Exelon Generation President John Young (right) welcomee U.S. Senator Barack Obama

Chief Nuclear Officer Chris Crane (left) and Exelon Generation President John Young (right) welcomee U.S. Senator Barack Obama

Is the US being the good Samaritan? Unfortunately not. Before the US will provide assistance, Japan has to sign the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage(CSC). This is an international treaty that supposedly provides an international regime on nuclear liability — the who-should-pay-for-a-nuclear-accident issue.

But the real aim of the CSC, along with other international conventions on nuclear liability, is to protect the nuclear industry. It caps the total compensation available after a nuclear accident at a level much lower than the actual costs. The companies that supply nuclear reactors and other material are exempt, they don’t have to pay anything if there is an accident. The operators of nuclear plants are the only ones accountable for paying damages but the CSC protects them too by not requiring them to have enough money or financial security to cover the costs of an accident.

From the beginning of the use of nuclear power 60 years ago, the nuclear industry has been protected from paying the full costs of its failures. Governments have created a system that protects the profits of companies while those who suffer from nuclear disasters end up paying the costs. The world’s big reactor sellers, such as GE, Hitachi and Toshiba, pay nothing if there is a disaster at one of the reactors they sell.

Fukushima is a cruel example of this unfair practise. GE designed the Fukushima reactors and built them along with Hitachi and Toshiba. Yet these companies are not being held accountable to cover the costs of the mess their reactors created. It’s taxpayers who end up bailing out the nuclear industry.

Even worse: the now nationalised Fukushima operator TEPCO just booked its first profitssince the Fukushima disaster: $1.44 billion. At the same time, TEPCO has said it won’t pay the costs for decontamination work in areas around the Fukushima plant that will likely exceed $30 billion. Sounds fishy to me…

Fracking outfit Range Resources slapped Texas homeowner Steve Lipsky with a $3 million defamation suit to bully him into silence about his polluted water but Lipsky is fighting back. Lipsky is a wealthy man, not used to being bullied, but the frackers think they can use their control of the state of Texas to bulldoze him. They have bought off the Texas Railroad Commission that supposedly regulates fracking in Texas, and intimidated the USEPA into inaction so they don't intend to let minor matters like safe drinking water, private property rights and the first Amendment get in the way of their pursuit of profits.
On October 10, 2013, the Fort Worth Court of Appeals ruled that Range Resources could move forward with their defamation suit against Lipsky, based in part on accusations that Lipsky is misleading the public about being able to set his water on fire
In 2010 the EPA issued an emergency order over Lipsky's contaminated water, but then retracted the order a little over a year later with no justification. An AP investigation discovered that Range had successfully pressured the EPA into submission. Although the EPA had water chemistry measurements that showed Lipsky's water was dangerously polluted, the EPA withheld the evidence and vacated the emergency order, apparently for political reasons. The EPA's actions left Lipsky vulnerable to Range's SLAPP suit.
At first, the Environmental Protection Agency believed the situation was so serious that it issued a rare emergency order in late 2010 that said at least two homeowners were in immediate danger from a well saturated with flammable methane. More than a year later, the agency rescinded its mandate and refused to explain why.
Now a confidential report obtained by The Associated Press and interviews with company representatives show that the EPA had scientific evidence against the driller, Range Resources, but changed course after the company threatened not to cooperate with a national study into a common form of drilling called hydraulic fracturing. Regulators set aside an analysis that concluded the drilling could have been to blame for the contamination.
For Steve Lipsky, the EPA decision seemed to ignore the dangers in his well, which he says contains so much methane that the gas in water pouring out of a garden hose can be ignited.
"I just can't believe that an agency that knows the truth about something like that, or has evidence like this, wouldn't use it," said Lipsky, who fears he will have to abandon his dream home in an upscale neighborhood of Weatherford.
Because the EPA backed off the case, the Texas Railroad Commission, a regulator completely captured by the oil and gas industry it supposedly regulates, was able to hold a kangaroo court proceeding to present the appearance that Range Resources was the second coming of Snow White minus the seven dwarfs. Range was then in a position to try to silence its critics with the help of a Rush Limbaugh-loving judge.
This didn't stop the Railroad Commission - a regulatory agency that governs all things oil and gas related in Texas - from holding their own hearings that cleared Range Resources, based on evidence provided by the company. The EPA chose not to participate nor did the Lipskys since both were only given ten days to prepare, making a fair hearing improbable.
Range Resources spent millions of dollars putting on a one-sided case for the Railroad Commission, attacking all of the EPA's findings. Dr. Geoffrey Thyne, who conducted the testing for the EPA, reviewed the Railroad Commissions' findings that cleared Range Resources. He wrote:  "My conclusion, that the gas well could be the source of methane in the (Lipsky) water well, was based on the chemical and isotopic data. After reviewing the Range presentation to the Texas RRC my opinion is unchanged."
The Lipskys sued Range Resources after the EPA named the company the party responsible for contaminating the well. The family was promptly counter-sued by Range Resources for defamation.
The presiding judge, Trey Loftin, dismissed the Lipskys' claims, citing lack of jurisdiction, but allowed Range’s defamation suit to proceed.
However, Bloomberg news uncovered a campaign flier that showed that Judge Loftin had an ethics problem in the case.
With aspects of the case still pending in his courtroom, Judge Trey Loftin sent fliers to voters saying he forced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to back down.
Loftin, who is campaigning to keep his state judgeship in a county west of Dallas, also sent out materials with the image of talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who credited the judge’s ruling in favor of driller Range Resources Corp. (RRC), based in Fort Worth, Texas, for getting the EPA to reverse course.
According to Kossack TexasSharon, who has obtained a report from a firewalled investigation, Range Resources has been submitting bogus results to the EPAto cover up large-scale water contamination in Lipsky's development.
   Bryce Payne, a soil scientist hired by Perdue’s neighbor as part of the area’s long-running water contamination case, says the contamination in the area is much bigger than Perdue’s one high reading. He says EPA has accepted “bogus” test results from Range and its contractors for Perdue’s water well and 17 more belonging to her neighbors.
    The results submitted to EPA by Range, he said, include contradictory data. One set shows acceptably low levels of methane in most of the water wells, while the other shows that those low levels can’t be correct.
In September 2013, tests showed gas coming out of Lipsky's water well measuring 162,000 parts per million (ppm). 50,000 ppm is considered a level for potential explosion. Air samples taken directly from the water well headspace vent showed levels exceeding 900,000 parts per million. Several residents alerted the Railroad Commission of new high-test levels, prompting the agency to reopen its investigation.
Apparently Range's owners think they can get away with all of this because they own the state of Texas and have intimidated the EPA into silence. Clearly, they have captured the Texas Railroad Commission and the state of Texas.
Television news reporters have found communications that show Range Resources failed to cement a well to prevent contamination from gas bearing layers below from flowing up to the domestic water supplies that Lipsky and his neighbors used. The Texas Railroad Commission knew the cause of the contamination, but then denied the contamination existed happened in the official proceedings.
In a review of Railroad Commission records, News 8 discovered correspondence between Range Resources and state regulators in which the driller agreed it had a problem. In response to that 2010 violation, Range proposed to fix its wellhead pressure problem by "circulating the cement to the surface."
Range added, "this work is to eliminate any chance that gas could be migrating from any zone" down below.
“It tells me that they waited over a year to actually realize they should have cemented to surface and realize that apparently they knew they had a problem,” Lipsky said.
But Range Resources never added the cement down well. No repairs were ever made, and the violation for gas pressure on the wellhead was later dropped by the Railroad Commission, which went on to rule that Range was not responsible for the flames coming out of the Lipsky water well.
The state also says the well is in full compliance with the law.
Despite the evidence that the fix is in, Lipsky isn't giving up. Perhaps it's because he's a wealthy conservative who still believes that the system works for people like him. Perhaps it's because he still believes that the government will protect private property rights against pillaging by large corrupt corporations. Perhaps it's because he has invested millions into his luxurious property. However, there's a chance that Lipsky is learning that his millions are small change to the oil and gas industry and they intend to destroy him and anyone who has the courage to try to stop their depredation.
Steve Lipsky is now working with attorney Brent M. Rosenthal, who is preparing to petition for a writ of mandamus in the Texas Supreme Court asking to dismiss Range's remaining claims for defamation and business disparagement against Steven Lipsky.
"I will assert," Rosenthal says, " as I have before the Fort Worth Court of Appeals, that Range's claims are meritless and threaten the exercise of First Amendment rights by Steve Lipsky and anyone else who speaks out on issues of public concern.  I hope that organizations fighting for first amendment rights and social justice, as well as those involved in the environmental movement, will be concerned about the case and will work to persuade the courts to reject claims like Range's claim against the Lipskys.

3. Range Resources escalates mafia style tactics
by TXSHARON on JULY 21, 2011
This is the kind of hubris that takes down empires and sinks giant ships.

Range is suing Steve Lipsky who has the contaminated water in Parker County and Alisa Rich who initially tested his water and found it was contaminated with methane, benzene and some other toxins.

Get this: Range claims they were already working with the Texas Railroad Commission and they were doing an investigation. FOR FOUR MONTHS the Texas Railroad Commission investigated while the homeowners had water in their home that would light on fire. FOR FOUR MONTHS!

Range claims Lipsky and Rich “conspired” to get the EPA to intervene. Nah!!! Why would they do that when we have the Texas Railroad Commission?

In its counterclaim filed Thursday in state district court in Parker County, Fort Worth-based Range contends that it has spent more than $3 million to defend itself and suffered “significant harm to its well-deserved reputation as a high-quality driller and operator” in the Barnett Shale. LINK

Raise your hand if you think Range Resources has a “well-deserved reputation as a high-quality driller and operator.” Anybody? Oh wait, is that you Ed? Oh, and there’s that certain S-T reporter who does love him some Range. Anybody else? Yeah, that’s what I thought. I laughed like a hyena when I read that. I’m still laughing. Allen Stewart, Lipsky’s attorney “called the countersuit’s claims a ‘far-fetched fairy tale.’”

I’d say Range Resources’ reputation matches perfectly with the Texas Railroad Commission’s reputation. They’re two peas…

I would like to volunteer my services to Stewart. I have dozens of videos and hundreds of photos that show how Range Resources likes to cut corners at every opportunity and has total disregard for people who live in the Gas Patch and the rules and laws they are supposed to follow. I bet I can round up dozens of witnesses who will testify under oath that nothing Lipsky or Rich could ever do harmed the reputation of Range Resources. They did that themselves a long time ago.

I know the Texas court system is largely owned by the Big Gas Mafia but I hope they dismiss this case as frivolous.

4. BP GULF GUSHER - Increases Flesh Eating Bacteria
The Alabama Gulf Coast attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, and since the 2010 BP Oil Spill, tens of thousands of tar balls.

A couple hundred miles away at Auburn University, Dr. Cova Arias, a professor of aquatic microbiology, conducts research on the often-deadly and sometimes flesh-eating bacteria Vibrio Vulnificus. Arias’ research at Auburn, and through the school’s lab at Dauphin Island, has focused on Vibrio’s impact on the oyster industry which was brought to a standstill three years ago by the BP Oil Spill. In 2010, out of curiosity, Arias set out to discover if Vibrio were present in the post-spill tar balls washing up on the Alabama and Mississippi coasts. She was highly surprised by what she found.
“What was clear to us was that the tar balls contain a lot of Vibrio Vulnificus,” said Arias.
Arias can show an observer Vibrio in the lab as it appears as a ring on the top of the solution in a test tube. Vibrio is not something, though, that a person can see in the water, sand, or tar balls.
But, Arias’ research shows it there, especially in the tar balls, in big numbers.

According to Dr. Arias’ studies, there were ten times more vibrio vulnificus bacteria in tar balls than in the surrounding sand, and 100 times more than in the surrounding water.

“In general, (the tar balls) are like a magnet for bacteria,” said Arias. Arias’ theory is that Vibrio feeds on the microbes that are breaking down the tar. She and researchers looked at tar balls that washed in to the same areas they had previously studied so they could therefore make valid comparisons to before the oil spill.  “What we also found was in water, the numbers were about ten times higher than the numbers that have reported before from that area,” said Arias So the water alone had ten times as much Vibrio as before the oil spill, and the tar balls themselves had 100-times more Vibrio than the water.

Dr. John Vande Waa , an infectious disease specialist at the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile says a person can get Vibrio two ways, by eating infected seafood, usually raw oysters, or by being in infected waters, either salt water or brackish. In this form, Vibrio is a fast-acting flesh-eating bacteria.

“The destruction in arms and legs, the flesh eating component, it’s two parts ,” said Vande Waa. “One is that the organism itself can destroy the tissues. The other is sepsis. The bacteria is in their bloodstream, it affects all the organs. Within my own experience of cases, the mortality has been approaching 40-50 percent.”

When entering through the skin, Vibrio is contracted thru some sort of cut or abrasion. The young or old, or someone with a compromised immune system, is more likely to get Vibrio.

Dr. Vande Waa says exposure to Vibrio should be taken seriously by everyone in marine environments, due to the random, but deadly, nature of bacteria.
“It can be very little exposure,” he said. “Just the wrong place at the wrong time.”
It’s not a way anyone would want to die.

“I hope and pray to God I never have to see something like that again in my life,” said David Cox. His stepfather Wayne Anderson of Irvington was killed by Vibrio in September.

Anderson was a life-long fisherman. It was something in the water where he spent his life that took his life. Cox says it started as a small bump on Anderson’s leg.
“It spread very quickly,” said Cox. “The pain was unbearable. You could just see the redness getting darker, the blisters getting bigger.” Anderson was dead in less than 48 hours.

“He wasn’t one to complain about pain and to see him there begging for someone to do something, it was very helpless,” said Cox. “Honestly, it was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life.”
There have been almost two dozen cases of Vibrio in Alabama over the last five years, according the Alabama Department of Public health.

Florida recorded 160 Vibrio cases from 2007-20012, with 54 of them being fatal. There have been more than 30 cases in Florida this year. An Escambia County man died in October. A 43-year-old Milton woman, Tracy Lynn Ray, died on November 1st. Relatives tell News-5 she was a frequent beach goer.

Arias recommends that people at the beach not touch the tar balls with their bare skin.
“You may have micro-abrasions so you don’t even know you have a cut,” said Arias. “So, I would stay away from the tar balls.”

But the results of Arias’ research have not been widely reported. As Tropical Storm Karen last month washed in a new batch of tar balls at Orange Beach, sunbathers and beach walkers were oblivious to the dangers.

“No, not really, it doesn’t seem to be a concern,” said Mike Hadley of St. Louis Mo.
 “I don’t think that a tar ball that has sand and shells on it is going to impact my health or me enjoying the beach at all,” said another beach goer.

The bacteria-filled tar balls are an object of beach goer curiosity. “I was just looking for shells in the sand and came across it,” said Tara Hadley of St. Louis. “Just looking, I picked it up thinking it was a shell.” Martha Ellison of Prattville, walking the beach with her teenage daughter, admits to handling tar balls on a routine basis.

“Yeah. I’ve gotten them all over our fingers, stepped on them, gotten them on our feet.”
So far, there has been no documented case of someone getting the flesh-eating disease from tar balls. Still, Arias urges caution. “We don’t know if you can get infected with Vibrio Vulnificus by touching a tar ball, but the possibility is there,” she said.

BP stresses that there has been no human case of Vibrio attributed to contact with tar balls. A BP statement sent to News Five read: “The Arias study does not support a conclusion that tar balls may represent a new or important route of human exposure for Vibrio infection, or that the detection of Vibrio in tar balls would impact the overall public health risk, since there are other far more common sources of Vibrio, such as seawater and oysters.”

BP says it asked the Alabama Department of Public Health in 2012, if its beach clean-up workers were at risk. Dr. Thomas Miller, ADPH Deputy Director for Medical Affairs, replied in a letter that there was no evidence of increased cases of Vibrio since the oil spill. Miller indicated, however, that could have been a result of fewer tourists being at the beach.

Arias says the only other significant study of Vibrio and tar balls was conducted following a spill off the coast of Nigeria and showed similar results. Arias has not done any follow-up work since 2010, citing a lack of funds, but says she would like to do further research.

5.Groundwater Contamination May End the Gas-Fracking Boom 
(Scientific American)
 In Pennsylvania, the closer you live to a well used to hydraulically fracture underground shale for natural gas, the more likely it is that your drinking water is contaminated with methane. This conclusion, in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA in July, is a first step in determining whether fracking in the Marcellus Shale underlying much of Pennsylvania is responsible for tainted drinking water in that region.

Robert Jackson, a chemical engineer at Duke University, found methane in 115 of 141 shallow, residential drinking-water wells. The methane concentration in homes less than one mile from a fracking well was six times higher than the concentration in homes farther away. Isotopes and traces of ethane in the methane indicated that the gas was not created by microorganisms living in groundwater but by heat and pressure thousands of feet down in the Marcellus Shale, which is where companies fracture rock to release gas that rises up a well shaft.

Most groundwater supplies are only a few hundred feet deep, but if the protective metal casing and concrete around a fracking well are leaky, methane can escape into them. The study does not prove that fracking has contaminated specific drinking-water wells, however. “I have no agenda to stop fracking,” Jackson says. He notes that drilling companies often construct wells properly. But by denying even the possibility that some wells may leak, the drilling companies have undermined their own credibility.

The next step in proving whether or not fracking has contaminated specific drinking-water wells would be to figure out whether methane in those wells came from the Marcellus Shale or other deposits. Energy companies claim that the gas can rise naturally from deep formations through rock fissures and that determining a source is therefore problematic. Yet some scientists maintain that chemical analysis of the gas can reveal whether it slowly bubbled up through thousands of feet of rock or zipped up a leaky well. Jackson is now analyzing methane samples in that way.

Another way to link a leaky fracking well to a tainted water well is to show that the earth between them provides pathways for the gas to flow. Leaky wells have to be identified first, however. Anthony Ingraffea, a fracking expert at Cornell University, is combing through the inspection reports for most of the 41,311 gas wells drilled in Pennsylvania since January 2000. Thus far, he says, it appears that “a higher percentage” of Marcellus Shale fracking wells are leaking than conventional oil and gas wells drilled into other formations. Stay tuned.

6. Fukushima Update
    Dr. Helen Caldicott, Physician: [The health survey of children in Fukushima Prefecture] found 40% have thyroid abnormalities, which is incredibly rare in pediatrics.

    Dr. Helen Caldicott in Japan (Source: OurPlanet-TV)

    Some of these children almost certainly are bound to develop cancer of the thyroid. And indeed one 12 year old boy has already been diagnosed with it. And a girl aged about 16 may have already developed cancer. They are testing her now.

    It took 5 years for the children around Chernobyl to develop cancer. These children are showing symptoms and signs that they may well develop cancer in the future, indicating that they got a really high dose of radiation, higher than at Chernobyl. [...]

    I predict we’ll see an epidemic of leukemia and cancer and congenital malformations in this exposed population over the next 70 years or longer. [...]

7. Expert confirms radioactive water on way to West Coast and arriving in next few months; Will we really be told if it’s dangerous? 

ABC Los Angeles, Nov. 7, 2013: Fukushima: In-depth look at potential fallout [...] The Fukushima nuclear power plant continues to spew radiation. It’s 5,300 miles from Los Angeles — and still not far enough. [...] Nuclear Engineer Dr. Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, confirmed that ocean currents are carrying the radioactive water to the West Coast. “There are several hundred tons of radioactive water that are pouring into the ocean at the site every day,” Makhijani said. According to a study published in the Journal Deep Sea Research 1, it will begin arriving this March. But Makhijani says there’s no need to panic. The radiation will be diluted, and levels found on the West Coast are very low and not considered dangerous… so far. But the question is, will we really know? “I think we should be doing a better monitoring of food. I don’t think the EPA and FDA are doing a good enough job,” Makhijani said. [...]

Susie Taylor for Ms. Magazine, Nov. 5, 2013: [...] I was standing in the middle of the road adjusting my camera in view of the Daichii reactor No. 2 when my friend Sonny delivered the news. International wires were buzzing with talk of Fukushima as the Japanese government revealed knowledge of a disaster far worse than imagined: 300 tons of contaminated water were surging into the Pacific Ocean every day since the tsunami broke land more than two and half years ago. I replied with a speechless stare and returned to what I was doing. [...] [Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's] administration negligently concealed information concerning the fallout of Fukushima, while continuing to endanger millions of lives as strontium-90, cesium-137 and radioiodine I-131 wreak havoc in the world’s oceans. [...] Standing in the midst of Fukushima’s fallout on that hot day in July, I had a visceral sense of the trouble at hand. Though assigned to produce a video for TIME with my partner, I couldn’t focus on work. Tears surfaced as I thought of the deserted towns we passed [...] Then I looked out to sea. Somewhere beneath the shoreline, lethal radioactive water was gushing outward [...]

Fukushima Mystery? TV: Japan expert says radiation levels in ocean too high to be explained by groundwater flow alone — Must be coming from “other contamination routes” entering Pacific — “Devastating impact” to come?

    Yoichiro Tateiwa, NHK reporter: [Professor Jota] Kanda argues government statistics don’t add up. He says a daily leakage of 300 tons doesn’t explain the current levels of radiation in the water.

    Jota Kanda, Tokyo University professor: According to my research there are now 3 gigabecquerels [3 billion becquerels] of cesium-137 flowing into the port at Fukushima Daiichi every day. But for the 300 tons of groundwater to contain this much cesium-137, one liter of groundwater has to contain 10,000 becquerels of the radioactive isotope.

    NHK: Kanda’s research and monitoring by Tepco puts the amount of cesium-137 in the groundwater around the plant at several hundred becquerels per liter at most. He’s concluded that radioactive isotope is finding another way to get into the ocean. He’s calling on the government and Tepco to identify contamination routes other than groundwater.

    Kanda: If we focus on groundwater too much without contemplating other causes, the situation won’t be resolved. There must be routes other than groundwater that are contaminating the ocean. So what we have to do now is consider all possibilities as we figure out a solution to the problem.

    NHK: Professor Kanda says the volume of radioactive particles discharged into the ocean is much smaller than the volume released immediately after the accident. But, he says there may be other sources of contaminated water stored up inside the plant’s infrastructure. He says that water is highly contaminated, and if it gets into the ocean it will again have a devastating impact.

    See also: Japan Expert: Contamination from Fukushima

8. Chris Christy - BIG win with only 38% of voters
   outspent his opponent - 

9. What about the Republican Middle? versus the Republican fringe?

10. The Coming out party in Florida - NAN RICH - hard campaigning 
      as soon as Crist anointed out of the BOX - he appeared with Obama

11. Announced in TPM / Even local TV News ? Crist - 

12. That Snowden - has done a great service to the American Press
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