With a spate of huge stories breaking in the past few weeks, you might not have caught the massive environmental crisis in northern Mexico that began earlier in August.
According to the Associated Press, local politicians claim that Grupo Mexico, a private mining company in Sonora with a troubling track record of hazardous waste violations in Mexico and the U.S., was slow to report a disastrous fault in its leaching ponds, which hold industrial acid used in the mining process. The spill released around 10 million gallons of acid into the Bacanuchi and Sonora Rivers.
Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach called environmental disaster - British Columbia
A complete water ban affecting about 300 local residents is in effect after five million cubic metres of tailings pond wastewater from the Mount Polley copper and gold mine was released early Monday into Hazeltine Creek.
That’s an amount of water equivalent to about 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Local residents are calling it an environmental disaster.
MANDAREE, N.D. - A pipeline has leaked 1 million gallons of oil drilling saltwater into the ground at a North Dakota Indian reservation, and some of the byproduct ended up in a lake that provides the reservation with drinking water, company and tribal officials said.
Cleanup at the Fort Berthold reservation site continued Thursday, two days after the leak was discovered. It was expected to last for weeks, said Miranda Jones, the vice-president of environmental safety and regulatory at Houston-based Crestwood Midstream Services Inc.
Jones said the leak at the underground pipeline, owned by Crestwood subsidiary Aero Pipeline LLC, likely started over the Fourth of July weekend. The pipeline was not equipped with a system that sends an alert when there is a leak, she said, and the spill was only discovered when the company was going through production loss reports.
"This is something no company wants on their record, and we are working diligently to clean it up," Jones said.
An unknown amount of the fluid entered Bear Den Bay. That bay leads to Lake Sakakawea, which provides water for the reservation, occupied by the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes in the heart of western North Dakota’s booming oil patch. But company and tribal officials said the spill has been contained and has not affected the lake.
"We have a berm and a dike around it, around that bay area, to keep it from going into the lake," said Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Tex Hall.
Saltwater is a naturally occurring, unwanted byproduct of oil and natural gas production that is between 10 and 30 times saltier than sea water. The state considers it an environmental hazard.
The briny byproduct also may contain petroleum and residue from hydraulic fracturing operations.
Kris Roberts, an environmental geologist with the North Dakota Department of Health, said damage from the toxic spill could be seen when he visited the site on Tuesday.
"We’ve got dead trees, dead grasses, dead bushes, dying bushes," he said.
Karolin Rockvoy, a McKenzie County emergency manager, said it was apparent from looking at vegetation that the spill went undetected for some time.
The number of saltwater spills in North Dakota has grown with the state’s soaring oil production. North Dakota produced 25.5 million barrels of brine in 2012, the latest figures available. A barrel is 42 gallons. There were 141 pipeline leaks reported in North Dakota in 2012, 99 of which spilled about 8,000 barrels of saltwater. About 6,150 barrels of the spilled saltwater was recovered, state regulators said.
(Reuters) - A CSX Corp train carrying crude oil derailed and burst into flames in downtown Lynchburg, Virginia on Wednesday, spilling oil into the James River and forcing hundreds to evacuate.
In its second oil-train accident this year, CSX said 15 cars on a train traveling from Chicago to Virginia derailed at 2:30 p.m. EDT. Photos and video showed high flames and a large plume of black smoke. Officials said there were no injuries, but 300-350 people were evacuated in a half-mile radius.
City officials instructed motorists and pedestrians to stay away from downtown, while firefighters battled the blaze. Three railcars were still on fire as of 4 p.m., CSX said.
The fiery derailment a short distance from office buildings in the city of 77,000 was sure to bring more calls from environmentalists and activists for stricter regulations of the burgeoning business of shipping crude oil by rail.
Explosion, fire at natural gas pipeline hub forces evacuation of Wyoming town
A small town in southwest Wyoming was evacuated Wednesday after an explosion and fire at a natural gas processing facility and major national pipeline hub. There were no reports of injuries.
The gas has been shut off, but people who were in Opal, about 100 miles northeast of Salt Lake City, went to an area about 3 miles outside of town as a precaution, said Lincoln County spokesman Stephen Malik. The town has about 95 residents.
"They were downwind from the plant," said Lincoln County Sheriff Shane Johnson. "The fire was still very active, and because of the nature of the processing that goes on there, that was the call that was made for safety reasons."
Johnson said he didn’t know when people would be allowed back into Opal.
No structures in the town were affected, and the fire was confined to the facility operated by pipeline operator Williams Partners LP, county officials said. Williams is based in Tulsa, Okla.
The explosion occurred in the plant’s cryogenic processing tower, a structure that chills unrefined natural gas to separate out impurities, but officials didn’t yet know what caused the blast.
All employees at the gas processing plant were accounted for, Williams spokesman Tom Droege said.
The fire at the plant was extinguished within a couple of hours. Williams spokeswoman Michele Swaner in Salt Lake City said all 17 or 18 company employees were evacuated and accounted for. She added it was too early to determine the extent of the damage or the cause of the explosion. (via | The Columbian)
4:30 pm — the fire may be out but the natural gas is still leaking according to the report on OPB
By Brian Maffly | The Salt Lake Tribune First Published Mar 26 2014 04:16 pm • Last Updated Mar 26 2014 10:53 pm
Federal officials are investigating an apparent spill from an aging Garfield County oil field that has contaminated a wash flowing into Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
The Bureau of Land Management’s Utah state office, which administers the monument, sent a team to examine the leak Wednesday, a day after receiving photographs from hikers who discovered oil damage over a 4-mile stretch of Little Valley Wash. The spill, which may have occurred years ago, is the second time in as many years officials have looked into oil escaping the Upper Valley oil field, operated by Citation Oil and Gas Corp.
The hikers took several photographs on Saturday of the wash’s sandstone walls, sandy beds and areas where water flows over rocks or small ledges, all covered with a black substance.
The oil appears to have been flushed down the wash months ago, but the photographs were the first time BLM was alerted to the problem, according to agency spokesman Megan Crandall. BLM’s state office dispatched a petroleum engineer and other inspectors to the site on Wednesday.
But late Wednesday she learned from the field team that the oil could have been released years ago, possibly before Citation acquired the wells.
"It looks like this spill is very old," Crandall said. "With recent flooding it has turned all back up and moved around."
Even if the spill is years old, subsequent flooding could pick up the oil and move it, contaminating surface water and causing further environmental damage.