Fracking Campaign

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Floored by Health Authorities Decision

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Around every corner there are threats to our health and safety.  The CDC found cancer risks from laminated flooring imported from China could reach 30 in 100,000, but didn’t think it important enough to suggest people remove the flooring.  REALLY!  How is 30 people out of 100,000 getting cancer from the flooring not considered assault with a deadly weapon?  The weapon being the flooring and the deadly being cancer.

I include the CDC/ATSDR statement to show just how inept our government health agencies have become.

On February 10, 2016, CDC/ATSDR released a report entitled Possible Health Implications from Exposure to Formaldehyde Emitted from Laminate Flooring Samples Tested by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. On February 12, CDC/ATSDR was notified that a private individual who reviewed the report suspected that a conversion error might have been made. CDC/ATSDR staff reviewed the report and discovered that an incorrect value for ceiling height was used in the indoor air model.  As a result, the health risks were calculated using airborne concentration estimates about 3 times lower than they should have been. Neither CDC/ATSDR nor the report’s peer or partner reviewers or reviewers noticed the error.

Change in conclusion for short-term health effects

After correcting the measurement error in the model, CDC/ATSDR revised the report’s conclusion about possible health effects from exposure to formaldehyde. In the report that used an incorrect value for ceiling height, we concluded that exposure to the low end of the modeled levels of formaldehyde in the CPSC-tested laminate flooring could cause increased irritation and breathing problems for children, older adults, and people with asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). In the updated report, which used the correct value for ceiling height, we concluded that irritation and breathing problems could occur in everyone exposed to formaldehyde in the laminate flooring, not just sensitive groups and people with pre-existing health conditions.

Change in conclusion for long-term health effects

We also increased the estimated lifetime cancer risk from breathing the highest levels of formaldehyde from the affected flooring all day, every day for 2 years. The lifetime cancer risk increased from the previous estimate of 2 to 9 extra cases for every 100,000 people to between 6 and 30 extra cases per 100,000 people. To put these numbers into perspective, the American Cancer Society estimates that up to 50,000 of every 100,000 people may develop cancer from all causes over their lifetimes.

Our recommendations remain the same.

Although the conclusions in the report have been revised, CDC/ATSDR recommendations to protect health have not; we continue to recommend that people with the affected laminate flooring:

  • Reduce exposure -  We provide information on how residents can reduce exposure to sources of formaldehyde in their homes
  • See a doctor for ongoing health symptoms – We recommend that residents who have followed the steps to reduce formaldehyde in their homes and still have ongoing health symptoms (breathing problems or irritation of the eyes, nose, or throat) only in their homes, should see a doctor to find out what is causing the symptoms.
  • Consider professional air testing if irritation continues.

What happened to the acceptable cancer risk of 1 in a million?

As you can see the agency tried to justify their inaction by saying that the American Cancer Society estimates that up to 50,000 of every 100,000 people may develop cancer in their lifetime.  That number  may be higher than that if people are also exposed to this flooring.  This outrageous cancer estimate proves that we need to remove these cancer threats as they are found and not just suggest that people see a doctor for ongoing symptoms

So lets see now, if you have contaminated tomatoes, onions or other food related disease the health agencies are all over it.  They tell consumers to not buy or wash thoroughly the vegetable or food product of concern.  However, when you have a consumer product that can affect everyone exposed to it there is no immediate health alert or no product recall what so ever.  WHAT!

Why do tomatoes get more attention, investigation and result in consumer warning to be careful than toxic chemicals in the environment that is literally killing children?  Young children are sick and dying across the country and our politicians don’t seem to care.

Will we ever stop the poisoning of our children, our water, our soil, our plant?  I fear not because we are not a problem veggie.  We all deserve to be protected, just like the government protects a tomato.

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ExxonMobil Beaumont, TX Polyethylene Plant Plant-wide Failure

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Emergency dispatchers Thursday received numerous calls about flaring at The ExxonMobil Beaumont, TX Refinery & Chemical complex. Just as I was leaving a meeting in Houston, TX to work with leaders about chemical refineries and oil/gas pipelines this horrible situation happened.

The flaring is the result of power outages in the area.  Beaumont Fire Rescue told 12News it was notified by ExxonMobil that its Beaumont facility had 8 flares going to help maintain safety levels because of the outages.

Plant officials had this to say, “This is ExxonMobil Beaumont Polyethylene Plant on Highway 90 an EXXONMOBIL Beaumont Refinery & Chemical Complex. We can confirm that a plant-wide power failure resulted in significant flaring. We can confirm that non-essential personnel have been dismissed per protocol and are actively engaged at the complex with the goal of returning to normal operations.”

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Climate Change – What In The World Are We Doing

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Climate Change Actions are moving forward to reduce impacts across the globe. But at the same time, some of the most destructive practices of the gas and oil industry continue as fossil fuels are extracted, stored and transported. Creating as much or maybe even more damage than society is reducing. It is a living contradiction. What in the world are we (society) doing?

As I visit communities or take calls from leaders I’m told their water is poisoned from fracking. No one will take responsibility, no one will provide clean drinking water for families and  families can’t afford to pay for a new water supply themselves. Well heads leak methane and other chemicals on a daily basis. Leaders are still being told natural gas is the answer to coal. Always and either or situation instead of none of the above choices are acceptable.

I hear from community leaders that there was a train accident that destroyed their home, community and sense of safety. Pipelines have cause explosions, fires and contamination across the country in record numbers.

All of these problems significantly contributed to our climate crisis either in production, transport or accidents. Moreover, people are speaking out in record numbers about the need for change, not only in Paris but in communities that dot the world which no one even has heard of before. It’s confusing, infuriating, and just plain insane.

Let’s look at what’s happening in California. A massive amount of methane gas is currently erupting from an energy facility in Aliso Canyon, at a startling rate of 110,000 pounds per hour. This has led to the evacuation 1,700 homes so far. The gas involved in this leak is methane, the main component of natural gas, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to climate change impact. About one-fourth of the anthropogenic global warming we’re experiencing today is due to methane emissions.

Leaks like the current one in California, are a major contributor. In Pasadena, for instance, just 35 miles from the leak in Aliso, investigators found one leak for every four miles.

So far, over 150 million pounds of methane have been released by the Aliso Canyon leak. The cause of the leak is still unknown however more than 38 percent of the pipes in Southern California Gas Company’s territory are more than 50 years old, and 16 percent are made from corrosion- and leak-prone materials.

The company said, their efforts to stop the flow of gas by pumping fluids directly down the well have not yet been successful, so we have shifted our focus to stopping the leak through a relief well. Alright how long will that take, the relief well process is on schedule to be completed by late February or late March.

Let me remind you that the gas is now leaving the facility at a rate of 110,000 + pounds per hour. Multiply that with 24 hours a day and several months it’s astonishing. And this is just one leak in California.

So how exactly is society worldwide going to directly impact/reduce climate changes when we have one thumb in the hole to plug up the releases while the other hand is digging through the earth to intentionally release greenhouse gases?

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Huge natural gas leak in California will take months to fix, officials say

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“The escape of tons of natural gas from storage under a Los Angeles neighborhood is not likely to be fixed for at least another two months because of the specific dynamics of the leak, according to officials.

The leak at Porter Ranch, already several months old, has forced the relocation of several thousand residents who said the stench made them sick.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday that the leak persists because workers were unable to plug it and instead have the painstaking task of drilling two relief wells.

Officials with Southern California Gas, which operates the Aliso Canyon Underground Storage Facility, estimate the new wells may not be finished until the end of February, or even later. The new pipes will meet where the well emerges from rock that forms the “capstone” which seals the gas in place.

The natural repository is huge – nearly one cubic mile at a depth of a mile and a half, according to the newspaper – and holds natural gas brought from as far away as Canada. The gas company holds it underground, then distributes it to nearly 22 million customers in the region.

Southern California Gas tried to plug the damaged well after the leak began in October, but both an ice blockage and upward pressure averaging 2,700 pounds per square inch wouldn’t let the mixture of mud and brine work.

Amid concerns that trying to force the mixture down might create a larger leak, the company decided to drill two relief wells, said Jason Marshall, chief deputy director of the California department of conservation, which regulates natural gas wells…”

Read more from the Guardian

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Put the Super Back in Superfund!

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Today CHEJ released a new report on the mismanagement of the Superfund program and the need to reinstate polluter pays fees.

Superfund: Polluters Pays So Children Can Play 35th Anniversary Report is released as part of a National Day of Action where groups across the country are participating in different ways to deliver the message: polluter pays fees need to be reinstated!

32 groups in 24 states plus Puerto Rico representing 31 Superfund sites provided site profiles and quotes about the need to reinstate the polluter pays fees. The profiles are part of this new report. Some groups around the country are delivering cakes to their representatives celebrating the 35th Anniversary of Superfund and a card asking them to be a Superhero and support reinstatement of the polluter pays fees.

Some of the key findings in the report  include:

  • Funding for Superfund is insufficient to properly manage the program.

  • This funding shortfall has resulted in fewer completed cleanups each year; fewer cleanups started each year; inadequate funding of ongoing projects; an increase in the time to complete projects; and a steady stream of unfunded projects.

  • The expansion of the Superfund Alternatives program, in which responsible parties agree to cleanup a site and avoid being listed on the National Priority List, provides benefits to the polluter while hampering citizen participation that is provided for under the Superfund program.

  • The Superfund program has been so badly mismanaged by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that an unprecedented act of Congress has proposed transferring EPA oversight of a Superfund site to the Army Corps of Engineers.

  • Congress must reinstate the polluter pays fees. Without collecting the corporate fees to replenish Superfund, there is simply not enough money to do the critical job of cleaning up hundreds of abandoned toxic waste sites.

For more information, questions, or comments, please contact Lois Gibbs at lgibbs@chej.org.

To view the executive summary of the report, click here

To view the full report, click here

To view the community quotes, click here

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What Chemicals Are Used in Fracking? Industry Discloses Less and Less

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“Since 2013, energy companies that report their hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the FracFocus website have become less forthcoming, increasingly citing the use of proprietary compounds to limit disclosure, according to a new study from the journal Energy Policy.

The paper, written by two Harvard University researchers, is the most comprehensive analysis of FracFocus to date. They examined more than 96,000 disclosure forms filed between March 2011 and April 2015, highlighting trends and offering suggestions to improve the site’s accuracy and completeness.

FracFocus is the nation’s largest dataset on chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. It was launched in 2011 as a voluntary tool for oil and gas operators, and later adopted by individual states to fulfill their chemical disclosure regulations. More than 20 states currently require companies to report the fracking compounds they use, through FracFocus…”

Read More from Inside Climate News

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New study indicates gas drilling could impact rivers, streams

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Depending on where and how it’s done, natural gas drilling does have the potential to impact Pennsylvania’s waterways, an independent study reveals.

Kenneth M. Klemow, professor of biology and environmental science and director of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research at Wilkes University, was one of the contributors to a new study examining how natural gas development affects surface water, such as creeks, streams and rivers.

In their paper, “Stream Vulnerability to Widespread and Emergent Stressors: A Focus on Unconventional Oil and Gas,” Klemow and five colleagues look at how vulnerable the bodies of water are in the six main shale plays across the U.S., including the Marcellus Shale.

“What we’ve developed is a predictive model,” Klemow said. “We have not proven anything about whether shale gas development is affecting streams or not.”

Watersheds are areas from which all the water beneath it or on it drains into the same place, whether creek, stream, river or lake. Surface water is used for drinking water, recreation, and feeds into fisheries, Klemow said.

Read more from Standard Speaker

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Study Finds Fracking Increases Reproductive Risks

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The enormous growth of unconventional natural gas fracturing (also known as fracking) in recent years has come at the expense of knowing little if anything about the health risks associated with this practice. As production as slowed due to dropping gas prices in the past year or so, several studies have come out that raise serious questions about the health impact of this process. A study published earlier this month by a group of researchers at the John Hopkin’s School of Public Health concluded that “expectant mothers who live near active natural gas wells operated by the fracking industry in Pennsylvania are at an increased risk of giving birth prematurely and for having high risk pregnancies.” This paper was published in the journal Epidemiology.

In this paper, the authors examined more than 9,000 births in 40 counties in northern and central Pennsylvania between January 2009 and January 2013. They compared electronic birth outcome data with information that estimated the cumulative exposure to fracking activity in the region. This information included how close wells were to homes where the mothers lived, what stage of drilling the wells were in, the depth of the wells, and how much gas was generated from the well during the mother’s pregnancy. This information was used to generate a cumulative index of how active each of the wells were and how close they were to the women.

They found that living in the most active area of drilling and production activity was associated with a 40 percent increase in the likelihood of a woman giving birth before 37 weeks of gestation (considered pre-term) and a 30 percent increase in “high risk” pregnancies, a designation that can include elevated blood pressure and excessive weight gain during pregnancy. In total, 11 % of the pregnancies were born preterm, with 79% born between 32 and 36 weeks.

Other research in recent years has also shown a connection between fracking wells and low birth weight. “There are now four studies that have looked at various aspects of reproductive health in relation to this industry and all have found something,” Brian Schwartz, the lead author of the Hopkins study, said in an interview. In one of these studies, researchers found an increased risk of congenital heart and neural tube defects in babies whose mothers lived within 10 miles of a natural gas well in rural Colorado.

In a media statement released with the study, the authors made clear that the study can’t pinpoint the specific reason why pregnant women living near the most active wells had the worst pregnancy outcomes. But Schwartz pointed out that every step of the drilling process has an environmental impact. “When the well pads are created, diesel equipment is used to clear acres of land, transport equipment and drill the wells themselves. Drilling down thousands of feet and then horizontally many more thousands of feet requires heavy equipment to break up the shale where the gas sits. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) then involves injecting millions of liters of water mixed with chemicals and sand to fracture the shale. The fluids are then pumped back to the surface. The gas itself also releases pollutants.” Schwartz also noted that living near fracking well results in increased noise, road traffic and other changes that can increase maternal stress levels.

“Now that we know this is happening we’d like to figure out why,” Schwartz says. “Is it air quality? Is it the stress? They’re the two leading candidates in our minds at this point.”

As with many other environmental and public health risks, the more we look, the more we find. We already know that fracking contributes to the impact of climate change because of the large amount of methane that’s released. It’s beginning to look more and more like it also has serious effects on the health of the people who live nearby.

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Rating the States on Their Risk of Natural Gas Overreliance

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Two-thirds of U.S. states may be putting their electricity consumers at financial risk because of an overreliance on natural gas, says an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Is your state one of them? Find out from the Union of Concerned Scientists Natural Gas Overreliance Map.

Expectant mothers with exposure to high levels of unconventional natural gas development are more like to have premature births and high-risk pregnancies, a new study says.

Pennsylvania study finds link between gas drilling and premature births

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Women are more likely to have premature babies and high-risk pregnancies the more they are exposed to unconventional natural gas development, according to a new study based on more than 10,000 babies born in the shale-gas region of Pennsylvania.

Expectant mothers with exposure to high levels of unconventional natural gas development are more like to have premature births and high-risk pregnancies, a new study says.

The study, released by Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health on Thursday, found that mothers who lived near the highest levels of gas-industry activity were 40 percent more likely to give birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy than those where the industry was least active.