Archive | Pollution & Toxins

Oil Spill Kills Birds, Closes Beaches near Alameda, California

ALAMEDA, Calif., Nov. 1 (UPI) — Fishing has been suspended and beaches are closed near an oil spill that occurred during the fueling of a 600-foot Panamanian tanker, California officials said.

The Dubai Star left a 2-mile-long, 200-yard-wide oil spill of approximately 100 gallons near Alameda, Calif., due to a mechanical failure during the fueling the Contra Costa (Calif.) Times reported Sunday. The spill killed an undetermined number of birds, the newspaper said.

“We expect the cleanup to last for days,” Petty Officer Levi Read of the U.S. Coast Guard said Saturday.

Crews were checking coastlines for tar balls. Officials said the spill could reach shorelines at Bay Farm Island, Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island.

Alameda Point, Crown Beach and Middle Harbor beaches were closed and boat launches were shut down at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline. The beaches were closed to afford wild birds a place of refuge to escape the oil, the newspaper said.

The California Department of Fish and Game suspended shellfish harvesting and fishing in the areas affected by the oil spill.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Birds, Fish, Pollution & Toxins, Regional0 Comments

Cargo Ship Leaks Oil in Gulf of Mexico from Inside of Mississippi River Near Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 1 (UPI) — A hole in the hull of a cargo ship near the Mississippi River near Louisiana caused a 12,000-gallon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The Pac Alkaid reported to the Coast Guard that it was leaking oil while anchored near the Venice Mississippi River Delta, the (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Saturday.

The Pac Alkaid was ordered to move farther from the shore to mitigate the ongoing spill’s damage to the shoreline, the newspaper reported.

The Louisiana Responder, a 220-foot boat owned by Marine Spill Recovery Corp., and O’Brien’s Response Management are working with the Coast Guard, to clean up the oil leak, but waves and oil dispersal have made that difficult, the Times-Picayune reported.

Divers inspected the hull were waiting Saturday for parts for plugging the hole to arrive, the Coast Guard said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

U.S. Coast Guard Helping to Fight San Francisco Bay Oil Spill

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 30 (UPI) — The U.S. Coast Guard said Friday it is working with California officials to respond to a fuel-oil spill in San Francisco Bay.

The Coast Guard said in a news release that Friday morning’s spill began when a Panamanian-flagged vessel Dubai Star was conducting bunkering operations with a fuel barge.

During the operations, an undetermined amount of fuel oil went into the water at Anchorage Nine in San Francisco Bay. As a precaution, a 100-yard security zone was set up around the spill site.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Erik Swanson told the San Francisco Chronicle that following the spill, a one-mile sheen could be seen on the bay near the two vessels.

Nathan Ballard, a spokesman for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, said the Coast Guard estimates the spill could involve as little as five gallons of oil or less.

The Chronicle said the spill appears much larger than just a few gallons based on aerial footage.

It remains unknown what caused the spill and it was not reported whether the spill has been completely contained.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

EPA Report Details how Coal Ash has Damaged and Killed Fish & Wildlife while Contaminating Water Sources, Too

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 (UPI) — Coal ash released into waterways has killed fish and other wildlife, damaged their reproductive capacity and contaminated wells, U.S. regulators say.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a 230-page report on coal ash Tuesday, The Nashville Tennessean reported. The report comes 10 months after a spill of 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash slurry at the Kingston power plant operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The EPA is considering labeling coal ash as toxic waste, a move the industry opposes.

Mary Anne Hitt, deputy director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, is lobbying for strong federal regulation of coal ash.

“We applaud the EPA for addressing coal’s toxic legacy head-on, for delving deeper and completing this long-overdue investigation,” Hitt said in a statement.

The toxins in coal ash include arsenic, mercury and selenium. Arsenic and selenium can kill fish and cause reproductive problems when it does not kill them. Arsenic is a suspected carcinogen in humans and selenium damages human nervous systems. Mercury can cause kidney damage in humans and animals.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Coal, Fish, Other, Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

Containment of Australian Oil Spill Still Weeks Off

SYDNEY, Oct. 29 (UPI) — An oil spill in the Timor Sea off Australia may take weeks to contain, and could be heading toward a whale breeding area, officials and environmentalists say.

Engineers are making a fourth attempt to plug the leak on the damaged West Atlas rig that has been seeping oil for nearly nine weeks, the BBC reported Thursday.

Engineers trying to cap a nearly 10-inch hole, said officials for PTTEP Australasia, the company operating the rig. In addition, boats have been spraying chemicals to help disperse the slick and stop its spread.

Australia’s Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism said the damaged rig could be leaking up to 2,000 barrels of oil a day. However, PTTEP Australasia’s Chief Financial Officer Jose Martins said the company’s estimated spillage is closer to 400 barrels a day, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. said.

“There is no scientific way of actually measuring the amount of oil coming out because it’s a leak … you can’t quantify it,” Martins said. “And everything that we see and if you try and triangulate all the numbers together it points to the number being about 400 barrels a day. So trying to exaggerate it doesn’t … change our reaction.”

Martins said during an Australian radio interview that the leak was difficult to locate because it was about 2 miles below the ocean surface.

“The precise nature of the leak will be subject to inquiry, an investigation by regulatory authorities,” he said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Chemicals, Energy, Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

EPA Finds Lead High Levels Around Smelter Despite Cleanups for Past Decade

HERCULANEUM, Mo., Oct. 28 (UPI) — More than 100 properties near a Missouri smelter that have been through cleanup in the past decade have high levels of lead in the soil, federal regulators say.

Testing by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found lead levels at more than 400 parts per million in 129 properties near the Doe Run Smelter in Herculaneum, Mo., the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Of these properties, 104 have had soil remediation.

“While Doe Run has taken some steps in recent years to reduce lead emissions, those efforts clearly fall short of what was necessary,” EPA acting Regional Administrator William Rice said in a statement. “The recontamination we are seeing in Herculaneum is unacceptable.”

Doe Run argued the testing shows the problem is not that severe. Officials said if test results are averaged on each property, only 29 have lead levels above 400 parts per million, the limit the EPA considers safe.

Many of those 29 properties are in a zone where the company has offered buyouts to the owners.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Pollution & Toxins, Regional, Remediation0 Comments

Dangerous Puerto Rico Oil Fire Extinguished

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Oct. 25 (UPI) — Firefighters Sunday extinguished a blaze that had raged at a Puerto Rican oil depot for three days following an explosion, authorities said.

Crews monitored the smoldering site, guarding against the fire reigniting, CNN reported.

The White House had declared a state of emergency to free up federal aid for the Caribbean island, officials said.

At least 1,500 people had been forced from their homes as 17 oil tanks were destroyed at the Caribbean Petroleum Corp. facility in Bayamon near San Juan, CNN said.

The fire began shortly after midnight Friday with an explosion that shook the ground with the force of a 2.8 magnitude earthquake, local authorities said. The fire cost Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States, at least $6.4 million, Gov. Louis Fortuno said.

Federal agents were treating the depot as a crime scene and investigating graffiti found on two San Juan tunnels that referred to the fire and the depot’s owners, FBI Special Agent Harry Rodriguez told CNN.

President Barack Obama’s emergency declaration frees federal money for aid and authorizes U.S. federal agencies to coordinate disaster assistance.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in People, Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

Australia Said Slow to Clean Up Oil Spill

SYDNEY, Oct. 26 (UPI) — The Federal Opposition said the Australian government is being complacent in intercepting an oil leak from a rig near Western Australia’s north coast.

The oil rig, run by PTTEP Australasia, has leaked oil for more than nine weeks into the Timor Sea, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Sunday. Attempts to intercept the spill have been delayed three times and a fourth try is scheduled for Tuesday, the news agency reported.

“It’s been nine and a half weeks of complacency, nine and a half weeks of belching oil and nine and a half weeks of continued failure,” Greg Hunt, the Opposition’s spokesman for the environment, said.

Hunt said the government should bring in international experts to take care of the situation and accused the government of ignoring an enormous marine disaster.

“It’s an out of sight out of mind philosophy, if this spill were occurring off the coast of Sydney or Melbourne, the Federal Government would be up in arms,” Hunt said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Philosophy, Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

Timor Sea Oil Leak Likely Spilling Faster

CANBERRA, Australia, Oct. 26 (UPI) — Oil leaking into the Timor Sea from the Montara rig could be five times faster than previously thought.

The spill began Aug. 21 after an accident on PTTEP Australasia’s offshore rig nearly 100 miles off the remote Western Australian coast, known for its rich marine environment.

PTTEP estimates that between 300 and 400 barrels of oil a day is pouring into the ocean, but the Australian Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism said Thursday it could be as much as 2,000 barrels a day. Conservationists estimate that the oil is covering an area of at least 5,800 square miles.

A fourth attempt to intercept the leak has been unsuccessful and is now planned for Tuesday. When the accident occurred, PTTEP had estimated it would take 50 days to plug the leak, 1.6 miles below the seabed.

Australia’s federal environment minister, Peter Garrett, said he was confident everything possible was being done to stop the oil leak.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said that the cost of the cleanup had reached more than $5 million. PTTEP has agreed to meet the costs.

The opposition’s spokesman for environment Greg Hunt called for the government to bring in international experts to deal with the situation.

“It’s been nine and a half weeks of complacency, nine and a half weeks of belching oil and nine and a half weeks of continued failure,” Hunt told the Australian Broadcasting System. He said the spill is a marine disaster of epic proportions and the federal government is “ignoring it”.

“It’s an out of sight out of mind philosophy. If this spill were occurring off the coast of Sydney or Melbourne the federal government would be up in arms,” Hunt said.

Following a three-day expedition through the polluted waters, WWF Director of Conservation Gilly Llewellyn said, “There were times when we were literally in a sea of oil from left to right and as far as we could see ahead of us — it was heavily oiled water and it was sickening because in this we were seeing dolphins surfacing.”

Llewellyn stressed that, based on previous oil disasters, the damage from Montara will be long lasting. “We know that oil can be a slow and silent killer. Impacts from the Exxon Valdez disaster are still being seen 20 years later, so we can expect this environmental disaster will continue to unfold for years to come,” she said.

Meanwhile, on Friday PTTEP took control of five new exploration licenses, giving PTTEP access to an additional 571 square miles of Australian waters near the leaking Montara rig. Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson and Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board supported the $11 million purchase of new oil assets.

Australian Marine Conservation Society spokesman Darren Kindleysides said PTTEP’s track record should have been considered before access was granted to new oil fields.

“Clearly PTTEP’s track record has been pretty shabby in recent months,” Kindleysides said, The Age reports. “Major questions still hang unanswered over why this spill happened and why it hasn’t been plugged yet.”

Despite concerns about the impact of the two-month oil leak, the Australian government stressed that the company would be “treated the same as any other company.”

“PTTEP is a major international oil company with strong technical capability and financial capacity,” said government spokesman Michael Bradley.

“The causes of the Montara well leak are unknown at this stage. … PTTEP will continue to be treated by government on a non-discriminatory basis in its activities and operations here in Australia,” Bradley said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Causes, Conservation, Energy, Other, Philosophy, Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Agrees to Mercury Emissions Deadline

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (UPI) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to issue rules covering power plants’ mercury emissions by 2011, documents indicate.

A consent decree filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington detailed an agreement with environmentalists and public health groups in which EPA officials agreed to a Nov. 16, 2011, deadline to close longstanding gaps in its regulation of mercury and other toxic substances from coal- or oil-burning power plants, The New York Times reported.

Less than one-third of U.S. coal-burning power plants have basic “scrubbers” for such pollution, in which tiny particles of mercury, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, dioxins and other toxic substances are thrown into the atmosphere, John Walke of the Natural Resources Defense Council told the Times.

But energy industry groups and big electricity consumers are likely to challenge the rules emerging from the consent decree in court, the newspaper said.

Scott Segal of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council reportedly warned that forcing utilities to speed up their ongoing efforts to cut mercury emissions would raise electricity costs and send pollution-producing manufacturing activities overseas.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Coal, Electricity, Energy Industry, Other, Pollution & Toxins, Toxic Substances0 Comments

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