Extract. Contaminate. Deny. Profit.
February 27, 2020 10:05 AM   Subscribe

“A lot of guys are coming up with cancer, or sores and skin lesions that take months to heal,” he says. Peter experiences regular headaches and nausea, numbness in his fingertips and face, and “joint pain like fire.” Beyond Fracking, America’s Radioactive Secret (Rolling Stone) “ Fourteen years later, not one assessment of the damage to natural resources after the two 2005 hurricanes has been completed. None of the 140 parties thought to be responsible for the spills has been fined or cited for environmental violations.” How Oil Companies Avoided Environmental Accountability After 10.8 Million Gallons Spilled (ProPublica) Satellite images confirm fears, Ohio gas well blowout leaked more than many countries do in a year (Ars Technica) “ The movie highlights DuPont's legal maneuvering, showing the company seeking to evade liability by "notifying" customers that the chemical was in their water at levels the notice suggested were "safe" — starting a time clock running for the statute of limitations on DuPont's liability.“ Dark Waters shines a light on DuPont’s history of covering up contamination.
posted by The Whelk (20 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
“We don’t normally penalize [companies] for act of God events,” Greg Langley of the DEQ said. “We just get right to remediation.”

And so Louisiana federates risk and subsidizes billions of damages for the gulf oil industries, extraction and refiners alike. Sorry, I'm not supposed to have opinions like that, but this isn't my jurisdictional responsibility and it's just so blatant.

It is striking to me that NOAA isn't mentioned in that article. They're the ones responsible for assessing marine impacts, putting the price tags on mangroves and fish as they say. I honestly wonder why. NOAA is the part of the US federal system that generated that $8.8 assessment against HP for the DWH/Macondo spill in 2016. I'm not 100% clear on how the system works, but NOAA has done that job at least once.
posted by bonehead at 10:20 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Here's a link to an older story about Mr. Billot, mentioned in the Dark Waters/Dupont article. Very disturbing story; I'm looking forward to seeing this film.
At least twice a month I drive right past the cracker plant mentioned in that article. It's kind of amazing how fast it went up and how complex and awesome it looks, especially at night. In the early '80s I used to swim in the river near there. What a world.
posted by FormerMermaid at 10:42 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Sorry. My comment above refers to the ProPublica article: How Oil Companies Avoided Environmental Accountability After 10.8 Million Gallons Spilled
posted by bonehead at 10:45 AM on February 27


every time I see the Dupont name pop up, I'm reminded of two things:

- a very young Jeff Gordon winning one of his first NASCAR races and saying, "I'd like to thank God and Dupont," in his post-race interview -- Dupont being his sponsor.

- when Black Sabbath settled in LA for a period of months to write and record their cocaine driven fourth album, the mansion they rented (and inevitably trashed) was owned by the Dupont family.

I don't know what if anything these may have to do with the topic in question except, I suppose, Land of the Weird -- we're in it.
posted by philip-random at 11:02 AM on February 27


This is one more example of why anyone who cares about the environment should be supporting nuclear power.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:05 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Because of course there are only two options.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:21 PM on February 27 [12 favorites]


The Rolling Stone article about radioactive contamination in fracking brine was 100% new information to me. I have a very close friend who works for an oil company, and he's an environmental compliance engineer. I think I'm going to get him a dosimeter for his birthday. It's definitely NOT a part of his PPE gear list.
Regarding the movie "Dark Waters", this was another blast of new, and horrible, information. Teflon is ubiquitous in my outdoor gear (Gortex, and a ton of other related products). Happily, we haven't had Teflon cookware in our home since the early 80s. Mark Ruffalo does a great job, it's a very good movie.
posted by Carmody'sPrize at 1:53 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]




Yes, Kirth_Gerson, there is wind, solar, nuclear - we need to expand use of ALL these power sources ASAP to cut fossil fuel emissions.
posted by PhineasGage at 2:13 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Wind and solar can't cover the whole grid unless we improve energy storage, most electricity in the grid is created seconds before it is used. Turbines have physical momentum that keeps electricity flowing around the grid even when energy demand drops. And power plants have backup turbines that they bring online as demand shoots back up. There's also geothermal and hydroelectric (and tidal) as potential sources of energy though.

Yes, we just finished this section in the high school energineering class I teach. The kids made presentations.
posted by subdee at 2:39 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Here's my personal story about natural gas... I met my boyfriend of the last four years on a summer gig going door to door to raise money for an environmental org. Hydrofracking was our main issue that we used to solicit donations. The majority of the donations paid for our operation to go door to door, but I suppose that knocking on doors, signing folks up for mailing lists and encouraging them to write letters to congress at least raises awareness.

It was a difficult job, I'm not a salesperson. We and other environmental orgs working on the same issue defeated a law that would've allowed an offshore natural compression facility to be built, at least. We got lucky in this state, in Pennsylvania they pushed for exceptions to environmental protections lightning quick, before the public could object. Natural gas was sold to the American public as a question of National Security and energy independence, why would we then turn around and export it overseas? (The purpose of the proposed compression facility.) There were already a lot of horror stories then, in 2013.

(The story of how I met my boyfriend is pretty funny, actually, because we have similar values but we both hated that job. It was run a bit like a cult. Anyway, he lasted two weeks. I lasted six weeks. Two years later, I ran into someone else from that job at a jazz festival and we got drinks. A month later, I felt like calling that guy up but couldn't remember his name. Long story short, I hit RJ up by accident and we've been together ever since.)
posted by subdee at 2:47 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Solar. Wind. Period.

I live in Seattle and have panels and solar thermal, I pay my electric bill off my panels, and charge two electric cars. All new construction should require solar. Nuclear? Fuck that.
posted by Windopaene at 5:00 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


I didn't know this and I used to work in an oil adjacent environmental field. I sent it to several colleagues today and they didnt know either. I got back a pile of emails saying holy fucking shit!! from people who respond to spills etc and had no idea. This isn't just litle known, its a cover up.

Radioactivity is bad, those levels are kind of insane. Chunks of Ohio / western Pennsylvania could be permenently uninhabitable already.

My mind is genuinely blown.
posted by fshgrl at 6:34 PM on February 27 [6 favorites]


@ Dr. Twist: The Radium-226 Oregon has very recently discovered has a half-life of 1600 years. State law limits activity to 5 pico-curies per gram. Samples were found with activities of 1700 pc/g.

Radon-226 emits alpha-particles, which can't penetrate very far into surfaces ... they can be stopped by the skin, which explains the skin lesions reported by workers.

Worse yet is breathing any of this liquid ... the lungs and gut have no protection. Obviously, the drivers have been kept in the dark deliberately ... so they've not protected themselves as they might have.

This is a crime in so many ways. And for what? Right now the US is the largest NatGas exporter in the world.
posted by Twang at 7:08 PM on February 27 [6 favorites]


This business about the brine spreading is giving me heart palpitations. And then they sue and fight to introduce legislation to protect the practice. To me this is depraved indifference. In a civilized country the boards of directors and executives of these companies would all have their assets seized and be imprisoned for these heinous crimes.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:14 PM on February 27 [8 favorites]


Right now the US is the largest NatGas exporter in the world.

Yeah... energy security... energy independence... right...
posted by subdee at 8:27 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Wind and solar can't cover the whole grid unless we improve energy storage, most electricity in the grid is created seconds before it is used. Turbines have physical momentum that keeps electricity flowing around the grid even when energy demand drops. And power plants have backup turbines that they bring online as demand shoots back up. There's also geothermal and hydroelectric (and tidal) as potential sources of energy though.

Yes, we just finished this section in the high school energineering class I teach. The kids made presentations.


Very little additional energy storage is required if you are willing to spend on a US-sized grid according to the latest research.

I didn't know this and I used to work in an oil adjacent environmental field. I sent it to several colleagues today and they didnt know either. I got back a pile of emails saying holy fucking shit!! from people who respond to spills etc and had no idea. This isn't just litle known, its a cover up.

They didn't know about NORM from oil production or they didn't know how high the levels were from these formations? Everyone in the oil world knows about NORM but I was also surprised just how high some of the activity levels were.
posted by atrazine at 3:48 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


From Vox: "An Expert's Case for Nuclear Power.
posted by PhineasGage at 7:36 AM on February 28


My uncle owns some property very near a rural southern CO DuPont factory that exploded back in the fifties. I'm still very curious if he has ever tested the soil.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:29 AM on February 28


The expert is Jessica Lovering, a fellow with the Energy for Growth Hub, as reported by Matthew Yglesias. She advocates for unlimited growth. You may think all of that is just great. I don't.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:35 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


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