Thursday

Early Evidence Suggests Fracking Is Contaminating U.S. Livestock

Some scientist suspect fracking chemicals are hurting  or killing farm animals, and entering the food supply. Environmental advocates believe that examples of animals near oil and gas drilling sites being harmed — in Louisiana, for example, 17 cows died after an hour’s exposure to spilled fracking fluid — are an early warning of a wider threat. Exposed livestock “are making their way into the food system, and it’s very worrisome to us,” said the co-author of one groundbreaking study of the issue. A Cornell University veterinary toxicologist noted, “There are a variety of organic compounds, metals, and radioactive material [released in the fracking process] that are of human health concern when livestock meat or milk is ingested.” Food & Environment Reporting Network, The Nation

Criminal charges filed against former executive of coal company involved in 2010 mine disaster. David C. Hughart, former president of a Massey Energy subsidiary, was charged with conspiracy to violate federal mining safety laws. Federal authorities said he was expected to plead guilty in a widening criminal investigation that began after the 2010 Upper Big Branch explosion in West Virginia that killed 29 miners. Hughart, a longtime executive at Massey who left weeks before the disaster, is the most senior company official to be prosecuted. His apparent willingness to cooperate with authorities signals that prosecutors are turning their attention to even higher targets at Massey, since bought out by Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources. Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press

BP suspended from bidding on federal contracts. The Environmental Protection Agency action stems from the company’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in 2010 that led to 11 deaths and the largest U.S. offshore spill.  It follows BP’s agreement to settle criminal charges for $4.5 billion, the largest such payment ever in a criminal settlement with the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Although the EPA did not say how long the ban will last, regulations generally limit such suspensions to 18 months. However, it could last until the end of legal proceedings, and BP and the Justice Department are still locked in a dispute over civil charges. In 2011, BP was the top fuel supplier to the U.S. military, with contracts of about $1.35 billion. The Washington Post

Hazardous materials leak at Ohio chemical plant prompts proposed fines of $545,000. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration accused Dover Chemical in Dover, Ohio of 47 violations, including four willful violations, the agency’s most serious charge. The charges stemmed from a chemical leak in May that led to the plant’s evacuation and the shutdown of a nearby highway. OSHA said the incident stemmed from piping problems that previously were identified, but weren’t fixed by the company. No one was hurt but David Michaels, OSHA’s chief, said he is “alarmed by the egregious nature of the violations we uncovered.” The company was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates follow-up inspections. The Times-Reporter (New Philadelphia, Ohio), OSHA

New Hampshire firm struck by explosions agrees to pay $100,000 to settle safety charges. Under the deal with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, New England Wood Pellet in Jaffrey, N.H. also agreed to take fire prevention measures and  hire a third-party expert to oversee its efforts. Explosions erupted at the company in October 2011, sparking fires that took 15 hours and more than 100 firefighters to put down. OSHA, which originally proposed fines of $147,000, faulted the company for allowing sawdust to build up. “It’s well known that sawdust can present explosion hazards in addition to fire hazards. New England Wood Pellet cannot afford to gamble with the possibility of additional fires and explosions,” an OSHA official said.  OSHA, Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.)

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

Print Print  

Leave a comment