Mexico has been hit hard these past few weeks with two separate mine waste spills. One was a toxic mine spill that occurred two weeks ago in the state of Sonora, which I blogged about previously. Here, 10 million gallons of sulfuric acid spilled from the Buenavista copper mine, contaminating two rivers and leaving thousands of people without access to water. Reports also found fish kills and cattle who drank the water dead. Just a week after, a tailings spill contaminated a river in Durango.
Last week I travelled to Albuquerque to attend an EPA-hosted national technical conference on “Mining Influenced Waters” – a toned-down phrase that describes water pollution caused by mining. The cases laid out were all severe enough to warrant multi-million dollar remedial actions and treatment operations, and at most of these sites, someone will be footing the bill forever.
That’s right. A growing number of mine sites discharge such severely polluted water that they will require water treatment for hundreds to thousands of years, or “in perpetuity” to meet water quality standards that protect human health and aquatic life. Earthworks released a report in 2013 that documents this escalating national dilemma.
Some communities do not even know that mile long 100-car unit trains hauling explosive crude oil pass through their neighborhoods until they hear the rumbling of the tracks. Last summer, one of these trains derailed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people. Additional tragedies, including one in downtown Lynchburg, Virginia last April, spotlight the enormous danger posed by what some now call “Bomb Trains”. Driven by the expansion of fracking for oil, especially in North Dakota, these rolling hazardous dangers carrying their climate-warming fossil fuels spilt more flammable crude oil last year than in the previous forty years according to Federal Railroad Administration records.
Unconventional oil and gas extraction – colloquially referred to as fracking – is set expand and take over Argentina, which has some of the largest reserves of shale oil and gas in the world. The Argentinian government is providing incentives to attract international fossil fuel companies to drill there. Given that the country recently defaulted on some of its restructured debt, a push for development will likely only intensify in the coming months. Under-regulated and under-monitored fracking, however, has already led to a series of environmental and health issues in the U.S. and beyond.
Just a week after the Mount Polley disaster, another mine waste spill has occurred, this time from a copper mine in Mexico. About 10 million gallons of toxic mine waste spilled from the Buenavista mine into nearby rivers. Water restrictions have been imposed on thousands of people.
You can’t say that the politics of oil and gas in Colorado have been dull lately.
Last week, on the day that signatures for four statewide oil and gas ballot initiatives were due, Governor Hickenlooper announced with Representative Polis that the four initiatives would be withdrawn as part of a political deal.
What does it mean to be 'surrounded' by the fracking industry and oil and gas development? Is it a few wells in your neighborhood? A compressor station in your town?
For Pam Judy and her family in Carmichaels, Pennsylvania it's all that and more.
The Judy family’s home is 0.21 miles away from the closest well and 0.16 miles away from the Cumberland/Henderson compressor station. Within one mile of their home there are 16 unconventional and 21 conventional wells.