Posted on January 24, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Cleanup hampered by icy conditions
Cleanup crews try to contain oil from a pipeline spill in the Yellowstone River, near Glendive, Montana. Photo courtesy EPA.
FRISCO — Sonar surveys show that the failed Poplar Pipeline in Montana is exposed on the river bed for approximately 50 feet near the site of a breach that may have spilled as much as 50,000 gallon of oil into the Yellowstone River.
After the spill, oil sheens were spotted on the river as far as 60 miles downstream, according to the EPA. Residents in the town of Glendive, a few miles from the spill, were warned not to drink their tap water after testing found traces of oil in the town’s water supply, but after additional testing, the town’s drinking water system was deemed safe on Jan. 23.
According to the EPA, the bottom of the river bed is about one foot below the pipeline in one area, though the last official inspection of the pipeline in 2012 indicated that it was buried about eight feet below the riverbed. The EPA said the exposed section of pipeline doesn’t explain how the spill happened, but the information will help investigators determine the cause of the breach. More EPA updates at this web page. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, fracking, oil drilling | Tagged: Bridger Pipeline, Environment, EPA, fossil fuels, Glendive Montana, Montana oil spill, oil spills, Poplar Pipeline, water quality, Yellowstone River oil spill | 2 Comments »
Posted on January 15, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Activists say report downplays threat to water
FRISCO — California regulators this week released the first section of a new environmental review of fracking impacts. But the study fails to take a hard look at many of the potentially harmful impacts, according to environmental activists.
The review by California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources was released even though state scientists are still six months away from completing their analysis of the risks and harms of the controversial form of oil and gas extraction, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, energy, Environment, fracking, water quality | Tagged: California, energy, Environment, fracking, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 10, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
‘This is important because cyanobacteria are on the increase in response to global change …’
Blue-green algae blooms can feed themselves by unlocking nutrients. bberwyn photo.
FRISCO — Fish-killing bacterial blooms are becoming more common in lakes around the world as the climate warms, and new research shows that aquatic microbes themselves can drive nitrogen and phosphorus cycling, resulting in a on-two environmental punch.
The findings of the study suggest cyanobacteria — sometimes known as pond scum or blue-green algae — that get a toe-hold in low-to-moderate nutrient lakes can set up positive feedback loops that amplify the effects of pollutants and climate change and make conditions even more favorable for blooms, which already pose a threat to water resources and public health worldwide. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, water, water quality | Tagged: blue-green algae, Cyanobacteria, Environment, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 20, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Chesapeake Bay in a Landsat photo.
Water temps up 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit in 50 years
FRISCO— The huge Chesapeake Bay watershed — the country’s largest estuary — is warming steadily, USGS scientists say, warning that increase in temperatures is likely to have big consequences for the region’s ecosystems. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, climate change, Environment, global warming, water, water quality | Tagged: Chesapeake Bay, climate change, global warming, USGS, water quality | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 21, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Clearing the roads in Frisco, Colorado.
A little bit of salt on your french fries is fine; a lot of salt on the road kills trees and fish
FRISCO — Highway engineers and scientists know that that massive use of chemical road de-icers has significant environmental impacts. Salt and the various derivatives used to keep roadways open kills trees and degrades water quality.
Just last year, the EPA found salt building up in groundwater near highways in the eastern U.S. Across the country, the U.S. spends $2.3 billion each year on the removal of highway snow and ice plus another $5 billion to mitigate the hidden costs associated with the process.
The hidden costs include long-term impacts of salt, sand and chemical deicers on the natural environment and road infrastructure as well as short-term impacts on semi-trailer trucks and other vehicles from rust and corrosion. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, Environment, I-70, transportation, water quality | Tagged: Environment, road de-icers, road salt, transportation, water quality | 2 Comments »
Posted on November 20, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Calcium loss turning lakes to ‘jelly’
Acid rain has fundamentally changed the chemistry and biology of some lakes.
Tiny jelly covered plankton are displacing other organisms in some Canadian lakes to the detriment of fisheries and public water supplies. Photo courtesy Michael Arts, Canada Centre for Inland Waters.
FRISCO — The toxic legacy of acid rain lives on in lakes in Canada, and possibly other places around the world, according scientists who say they’ve traced a trend of reduced calcium levels leading to a “jellification” of some lakes.
Specifically, the changes in water chemistry have reduced populations of calcium-rich plankton such as Daphnia — water fleas that dominate these ecosystems. Falling calcium levels mean Daphnia cannot get the nutrients they need to survive and reproduce, leading to a rise in other plankton species, including small jelly-clad organisms.
According to the new research, populations of those organisms has exploded in lakes across eastern Canada in the past 30 years. The average population of these small invertebrate jellies in many Ontario lakes doubled between the mid-1980s and the mid-2000s. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, water, water quality | Tagged: acid rain, Canada, Environment, Plankton, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 22, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Signs of oil and gas development are visible on a landscape level from 35,000 feet in the air.
Stable tracers can help pinpoint ground and surface water contamination
FRISCO — There’s more and more evidence that fracking wastewater can — and sometimes does — pollute ground and surface water, but it’s not always easy to trace the pollution, especially since drillers often keep secret their fracking fluid recipes.
But after field tests at a spill site in West Virginia and downstream from an oil and gas brine wastewater treatment plant in Pennsylvania, scientists say they can reliably identify hydraulic fracturing flowback fluids that have been spilled or released into the environment by using stable boron and lithium tracers that distinctive chemical fingerprints. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Environment, fracking, groundwater pollution, water quality | 1 Comment »