Archive for the 'Global Warming and a New Energy Economy' Category

Start Oyster Creek cleanup as soon as plant closes

By Janet Tauro, Clean Water Action, NJ Board Chair – Follow on Twitter @CleanWaterNJ

The situation continues to deteriorate at the Oyster Creek nuclear plant in Lacey Township, New Jersey.

Federal regulators are moving toward increased oversight following an unplanned, emergency shutdown this month after valves that control steam pressure malfunctioned . It was the fifth unplanned shutdown since 2013, and as time goes by for the corroding dinosaur plant, mechanical problems continue to mount. Investigators are looking for the cause, and also determining if plant owners, Exelon, are skipping costly repairs and maintenance since the plant will close in 2019.

Oyster Creek’s design is the same as Fukushima’ and inherently flawed. Its reactor cavity is undersized and would not be adequate to contain the huge amount of radioactive steam produced in the event of core damage. As a retrofit, vents were installed in the late Eighties, but they lack radiation filters and don’t open automatically. If there was a catastrophic event, clouds of highly radioactive steam would be blasted into surrounding communities.

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has consistently ignored recommendations from senior staff who advocated for radiation filters, and upgrades to the vents so that they would open automatically. Reports indicate that operators at Fukushima delayed opening the vents knowing they would be unleashing highly radioactive steam on their families, friends, and homes.

Oyster Creek is an unnecessary risk for New Jersey. Its contribution to the grid can be offset through energy efficiency, and renewables. The 1,100 megawatts of solar energy produced in state last year easily exceeded Oyster Creek’s 650 megawatt output.

It’s time for Oyster Creek to close, and a full decommissioning that would employ about 650 skilled workers for up to 15 years should begin as soon as the reactor is switched off. After 46 years of exposing the public to radiological releases, tritium leaks into the groundwater, thermal pollution of Barnegat Bay, and fish kills, the least Exelon can do is clean up their mess when they close.

That will take political will and sustained efforts from the environmental community and concerned citizens.





Californians are at risk because Californians’ fracking health risks are ignored

By Rosanna Esparza, Kern County Organizer , and Jhon Arbelaez of Earthworks

Clean Water Action, in partnership with Earthworks, recently published California’s first infrared analysis of oil & gas air pollution’s impact on communities.

When we began research for this report nearly a year ago, we discovered a disturbing lack of data specific to California on the health effects from oil & gas in our state. With a production of nearly 200 million barrels of oil in 2013 alone, this lack of data raises serious questions about our state’s priorities when it comes to protecting the health of its citizens.

We examined two communities. Our analysis found that residents living along with oil & gas production in Lost Hills (Kern County), and Upper Ojai (Ventura County), are at increased risk for health impacts from exposure to oil and gas air emissions.

Californians at Risk: An Analysis of Health Threats from Oil and Gas Pollution in Two Communities recorded and analyzed oil and gas air pollution using specially tuned infrared video – the same technology that companies and regulators use to detect leaks. By using a multi-faceted approach, we were able to show that  Upper Ojai and Lost Hills are being exposed to air pollution associated with oil & gas development. The FLIR camera allowed us to detect invisible-to-the-naked-eye emissions from processing facilities, wells, storage tanks, and unlined evaporation pits.

Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to Spring!

By Chris Bathurst, National Canvass Director

It is light longer. Temperatures are climbing and birds are migrating. You are probably excited about the prospects of spring, followed closely by summer (especially if you live anywhere in the northeast).

Your friendly door to door Clean Water Action organizer is also welcoming the change of season. We are very proud of our field staff for their intrepid work throughout this entire challenging winter – save for say our California and Texas team of course. Read the rest of this entry »

Working Together for Change

By Paula W, Pittsburgh Phone Organizer

Working as a political canvasser can be frustrating. Especially when certain politicians seem more intent on digging in, maintaining the status quo, and working for a very small set of special interests. But we can change that – when we partner together.

Most of us who work to protect our environment care deeply about the issues we are working on. It’s certainly not the money that is the payoff – it’s the people. Working at Clean Water affirms the importance of a shared belief or vision: creating a better environment for all of us. I may never get to meet some of our members in places like Rhode Island, but knowing that, with their support, we can impact millions is huge. It is so motivational for my co-workers and myself. Read the rest of this entry »

Oil and Gas Industry Influence: It’s not just the Drinking Water Study!

By John Noël, National Oil and Gas Campaigns Coordinator – Follow John on Twitter (@Noel_Johnny)

Today Inside Climate News and Desmogblog published unsettling details on the oversized influence of the natural gas industry over EPA’s long awaited Study of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas and Its Potential Impact on Drinking Water Resources. Thousands of documents made possible by a Greenpeace Freedom of Information Act request detail just how lopsided the relationship was between companies, namely Chesapeake Energy and Range Resources and the EPA – specifically when trying to reach an agreement on potential prospective cases studies. The idea behind prospective case studies was for EPA to monitor the operations of a natural gas well from beginning to end, including baseline water quality samples before drilling began. This type of case study seems like a critical and non-controversial aspect of any study designed to identify potential impacts to drinking water from fracking operations. That was not that case. Read the rest of this entry »

On the Right Side of History with a Commonsense Veto of the Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

By John Noel, National Oil and Gas Campaign Coordinator – Follow John on Twitter (@Noel_Johnny)

Today we are thrilled to hear the President vetoed S.1, a bill which would approve the Keystone Pipeline and put millions at risk of groundwater contamination while significantly increasing carbon pollution from the dirtiest oil on the planet.

The risk of spills from the pipeline are  put squarely on the backs of landowners, farmers and Native American communities in the pipelines path, while the benefits of the project are concentrated to a few in the fossil fuel industry. Clean Water Action applauds this great news and commends the prolonged grassroots movement that led the call to deny the pipeline and instead chart a course for a truly clean energy future.

California’s Oil and Gas Injection Mess

By Andrew Grinberg, California Oil and Gas Program Manager – Follow Andrew on Twitter (@AndrewBGrinberg)

AG Blog post imageThis is one of the most outrageous things we’ve heard in a long time. As California faces one of the worst droughts in recorded history, State officials have disclosed that California has allowed the injection of oil and gas wastewater and other contaminated fluids into aquifers that are suitable to be used as drinking water. Oil and gas wastewater is nasty stuff, high in salinity, toxic chemicals and sometimes containing radioactive material. New data just revealed that the wastewater from fracking in California contains cancer-causing benzene and other toxic chemicals hundreds of times the legal limit for drinking water.

The last thing we want is for these chemicals to end up in our drinking water, but as of now oil companies are continuing to inject even more waste into the aquifers. Outrageously, the state agency in charge of overseeing these operations (the Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources or “DOGGR”), has continued to allow these waste injection activities, despite identifying more than 2,000 wells that are actively injecting into federally protected sources of drinking water. Read the rest of this entry »

New Standards Will Protect the Most Vulnerable

Rosanna Esparza, Kern County Oil and Gas Program Organizer

Oil and Gas Operations

Oil and Gas Operations

The majority of Californians live in counties with unhealthy air. But nowhere is the air unhealthier than in the San Joaquin Valley.

The San Joaquin Valley has never met the federal health standards for smog. Never. In fact, Valley residents face some of the worst smog pollution in the country. If you live in Kern County, home of the largest oil fields in California, the air you breathe may put your health at risk. Residents face a host of pollutants and toxic chemicals from the oil & gas industry, smog-forming emissions from fuels, vehicles, machinery and engines.

How bad is it? Read the rest of this entry »

15,000,000 Pounds of Toxic Waste Every Day

By Jennifer Peters, National Water Campaigns Coordinator – Follow Jennifer on Twitter (@EarthAvenger)

A year ago today, a storm water pipe beneath a Duke Energy coal ash pond near Eden, NC broke and spewed an estimated 140,000 tons of toxic ash and contaminated waste water into the Dan River. 140,000 tons is certainly a lot of pollution, but what you might not know is that coal-burning power plants across the country discharge an estimated 15,000,000 pounds of toxic waste water in to our nation’s rivers, lakes and bays every day. That’s the equivalent of a Dan River-sized coal ash spill happening every 18.6 days or approximately 20 times a year.

In fact, no other industry comes even close to polluting our nation’s waters with this amount of toxic waste. Wastewater from coal plants contains a toxic brew of heavy metals, arsenic, nutrients and other nasty chemicals that are known to be harmful to humans and aquatic life. And the 15,000,000 pounds a day (or 5.5 billion pounds a year) is only a rough estimate of what we know based on permitted discharges. In reality, many of the ponds where plant wastewater is stored are unlined and unmonitored and, all too frequently, leak or fail. Read the rest of this entry »

EPA Smog Rule is Good for Well, Pretty Much Everyone

By John Noël, National Oil and Gas Program Coordinator – Follow John on Twitter (@Noel_Johnny)

On Thursday I testified at the EPA smog pollution hearing on what seemed like a no-brainer proposal. EPA plans to strengthen its smog standards to reflect the most recent science on the devastating impacts of air pollution. This is a good thing for everyone who breathes.

Tackling this crippling form of power plant pollution is incredibly important and should be supported by everyone. Clean Water Action strongly supports EPA’s pollution reduction plan and we urged the Agency to set the smog protections at 60 parts per billion to provide the greatest protections for public health possible under federal law. A few of the most blatant health impacts linked to smog include chronic asthma and other respiratory and lung diseases, reproductive and developmental harm, and even premature death. Read the rest of this entry »

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