Monday, January 27, 2014

Stories reflecting the following : A harsh, costly legacy left by dirty energy: Wyoming May Act to Plug Abandoned Wells as Natural Gas Boom Ends / The legacy of uranium mining and milling pollution / Fukushima Update: Highest Radiation Levels Found to Date / Reagan sailors press on in radiation lawsuit

Wyoming May Act to Plug Abandoned Wells as Natural Gas Boom Ends

A well site in Campbell County, Wyo., in 2009. More than 1,200 drilling operations have been  abandoned in the state, with more casualties expected.

Published: December 24, 2013

DENVER — Hundreds of abandoned drilling wells dot eastern Wyoming like sagebrush, vestiges of a natural gas boom that has been drying up in recent years as prices have plummeted.
The companies that once operated the wells have all but vanished into the prairie, many seeking bankruptcy protection and unable to pay the cost of reclaiming the land they leased. Recent estimates have put the number of abandoned drilling operations in Wyoming at more than 1,200, and state officials said several thousand more might soon be orphaned by their operators.
Wyoming officials are now trying to address the problem amid concerns from landowners that the wells could contaminate groundwater and are a blight on the land.
A harsh, costly legacy left by dirty energy

Dan Randolph, The Durango Herald, December 18, 2013

When most people think of reasons to oppose nuclear energy, they think of the risk of catastrophic failure at the power plant and the lack of any long-term solution for the spent, highly radioactive waste produced by the power plant. What is often omitted are the legacies of mining and milling the uranium ore that feeds the power plants.

The legacy of uranium mining and milling pollution left in the Four Corners region is well-known but poorly understood.

Earlier this week, there was a reminder of the long-term costs associated with nuclear energy. A bankruptcy court found that Kerr-McGee (now fully owned by Anadarko Petroleum) acted fraudulently when it spun off its chemical and uranium components into a new company, Tronox. Kerr-McGee spun off Tronox in 2005, and very shortly after that, Anadarko bought Kerr-McGee. Anadarko had considered buying Kerr-McGee earlier, but only did so when it got rid of these environmental-legacy issues.

In 2009, Tronox filed for bankruptcy. As part of that bankruptcy, the court explored whether Kerr-McGee acted fraudulently by leaving Tronox with environmental legacies that effectively forced Tronox into bankruptcy.

The court found that: “Defendants cannot claim they merely ‘managed’ a liability. If Defendants’ conduct were simply management of legacy liabilities, all enterprises with substantial existing environmental liability would be encouraged to do exactly what Defendants did – manage the liabilities so as to leave them attached to a fraction of the assets unable to bear them.”

In short, Kerr-McGee, which mined and milled uranium on the Navajo Nation since 1952, dumped the cleanup costs onto a company that could not afford to pay them. It is not a new strategy.

As a result of the court ruling, Anadarko may have to pay between $5.1 billion to $14.1 billion to various creditors. The Navajo Nation, which was left with many mines and the Shiprock Mill site to clean up, could receive around $1 billion.

The lesson is not just that uranium mining and milling can leave huge long-term burdens on the communities it occurs in, but also that those that economically benefit may try to cut and run when the bills come due.

Unfortunately, BHP/Billiton, the huge mining conglomerate that has owned the Navajo Mine for the past 50 years, may get away with the exact same game. After profiting from excessively poor enforcement, including a nearly complete lack of proper evaluation of the legacy issues surrounding millions of tons of coal-ash waste buried in the mine, BHP is now selling the mine to the Navajo Nation. When the chickens come home to roost with these legacy costs, will the Navajo Nation be faced with cleaning up BHP’s mess by cutting basic services to its people and communities, or will the pollution be left to fester?

The saga of uranium mining and milling, and the attempts to get proper and needed cleanup, has lasted for decades. Perhaps Anadarko will be forced to pay. Likewise, perhaps, at some point in the future, BHP will be forced to pay fully for the cleanup at the Navajo Mine. Dan Randolph is executive director of the San Juan Citizens Alliance.

Fukushima Update: Highest Radiation Levels Found to Date

Fukushima Radiation2By Christina Sarich via Nation of Change
If you’ve been paying attention to the Fukushima incident, you will want to be informed of this newly released information by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). 63,000 becquerels of radioactive materials have been detected in groundwater samples taken from a well at the No. 1 nuclear plant, just five miles from the coast, a massive increase from the previous high level of radiation leakage detected at just 67 becquerels, according to the company. 
The sample was taken less than two weeks ago, and the company is taking no measures to be certain the tainted water doesn’t flow into the sea. Even TEPCO’s own standards require that anything tainted with strontium, tritium and caesium to these levels should not be dumped into the Pacific Ocean. In a recent press release, the company outlines the tritium and cesium density of the Daiichi plant water samples.
Why are Strontium, Caesium and Iodine Health Hazards?
Strontium-90, one of the toxins that is now pouring into the Pacific at mind-numbing rates, has numerous health repercussions. According to the U.S., Environmentel Protection Agency (EPA) “When people ingest Sr-90, about 70-80 percent of it passes through the body. Virtually all of the remaining 20-30 percent that is absorbed is deposited in the bone. About 1 percent is distributed among the blood volume, extracellular fluid, soft tissue and surface of the bone, where it may stay and decay or be excreted.”
The EPA likely never intended for people (or sea life, for that matter) to ingest the levels of Strontium-90 that have been flooding into our oceans when they wrote this advisory. There is no way a human being can process 70-80 percent of Strontium-90 at such high exposure levels. Numerous medical experiments and studies have proven this. We have no precedence for a radioactive disaster of this magnitude, except Chernobyl and bats exposed to lower levels of radiation during that disaster, went, well, batty. They grew tumors from the ionizing radiation. This is just one species, aside from humans, that were affected. The International Atomic Energy Agency reports:
“There have been at least 1800 documented cases of thyroid cancer children who were between 0 and 14 years of age when the accident occurred, which is far higher than normal. The thyroid gland of young children is particularly susceptible to the uptake of radioactive iodine, which can trigger cancers, treatable both by surgery and medication. Health studies of the registered cleanup workers called in (so-called “liquidators”) have failed to show any direct correlation between their radiation exposure and an increase in other forms of cancer or disease. The psychological affects of Chernobyl were and remain widespread and profound, and have resulted for instance in suicides, drinking problems and apathy.”

Fukushima radiation hits San Francisco

Quicklink submitted by Scott Baker  This shocking video was taken December 23rd 2013 with a quality Geiger Counter at Pacifica State Beach (Surfers Beach), California. The Geiger counter goes past the alarm stage whenever it is pointed at the Pacific Ocean from the San Francisco beach. Fukushima radiation is here. Merry Christmas! See also the recent series of alerts from the citizen-based Radiation Network.

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This shocking video was taken December 23rd 2013 with a quality Geiger Counter at Pacifica State Beach (Surfers Beach), California.
Geiger Counter used:
Background radiation is 30 CPM. Near the ocean it’s 150 CPM. The fine mist coming from the ocean waves seems to be what makes the Geiger Counter jump.
Fukushima radiation disaster info:
Massive starfish deaths on West Coast:
We all must come to the realization that swimming in the Pacific Ocean (let alone eating anything out of it) is a thing in the past. And it’s only going to get worse, as it’s unstoppable. This is by far the worst man-made disaster in human history, and our garbage media and government say nothing.

Operation Tomodachi

Sailors wash down the deck of the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan during Operation Tomodachi relief efforts off the coast of Japan in 2011. (MC3 Alexander Tidd/Navy)

Reagan sailors press on in radiation lawsuit

71 who served during 2011 aid mission suing Japanese power company

Dec. 28, 2013 - 06:00AM

By Meghann Myers
Staff Writer

group of sailors who were aboard the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan as it rendered aid in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan nearly three years ago are taking another shot at a lawsuit over the health problems they say they’ve suffered since their radiation exposure.
Their attorney, California environmental law expert Paul C. Garner, has until Jan. 6 to amend their complaint against the Tokyo Electric Power Co. and resubmit it for a judge’s ruling.

“What we say is this: The TEPCO people knew what was happening there,” Garner told Navy Times. “They certainly knew the severity of what was happening, because now you have radiological releases into the environment ... and the tsunami just washed it all in, and washed it all out, and the Reagan was in the backwash.”

Garner originally submitted the case a year ago. A federal judge in Southern California granted the company’s Nov. 26 motion to dismiss the case, but Garner and the sailors will have another chance, he told Navy Times.

Garner agreed to drop some of the allegations in the lawsuit, including a conspiracy charge, and said the judge would reconsider the case in the new year.

The case began with former Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Lindsay Cooper, 24, who was aboard the Reagan in March 2011, bringing humanitarian aid to Japan as part of Operation Tomodachi, following the earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

When she got back, Garner said, she suffered drastic weight losses and gains over short periods of time, gynecological issues and a noticeable loss of energy. Her family got her in contact with the attorney, who now has 71 plaintiffs listed, with myriad health issues.

“Leukemias, bleeding, thyroid problems, polyps, testicle removal, optic nerve removal,” Garner said. “And the list goes on and on, unfortunately.”

Garner estimated about one-third of the plaintiffs remain on active duty, adding that one is still assigned to the Reagan. He did not have a full breakdown of their duty statuses.

The lawsuit alleges that TEPCO officials knew how serious the radiation leak was and knew that American troops were heading to Japan to offer relief, but did nothing to warn them of what they were sailing into.

A spokesman for the Navy, which is not a defendant in the case, said Reagan crew members weren’t exposed to enough radiation to cause long-term health effects.

“For perspective, the worst-case radiation exposure for a crew member on USS Ronald Reagan is less than 25 percent of the annual radiation exposure to a member of the U.S. public from natural sources of background radiation, such as the sun, rocks and soil,” spokesman Lt. Greg Raelson said.

Raelson added that aircrews delivering supplies to Fukushima were given medication to stave off thyroid gland exposure to radiation, and the ships were monitored for levels of radioactivity and equipment was washed down to remove radioactive materials.

Garner maintains the connection between the mission these sailors participated in and their current illnesses can’t be denied.

“It’s hard to imagine that all of these people are suffering now when they were all basically in their early 20s, in good health, and looking forward to life,” he said.

Though he might not be able to prove that it’s all due to Fukushima, Garner said he thinks the burden should be on the other side.

“It just seems to me that based upon Chernobyl and everything that occurred there ... that it should really be a situation where the naysayers have to demonstrate that it did no harm to these people,” he said.

If the case is decided in the plaintiffs’ favor, Garner said, he plans to set up a fund for the victims to pay for their ongoing medical care.