Fracking Companies Warned to Scale Back Operations Linked to Earthquakes or Get Sued
Weitz & Luxenberg, in partnership with Public Justice, served a Notice of Intent to Sue today on behalf of the Sierra Club, demanding four energy companies operating in Oklahoma scale back operations that have been linked to increasing seismic activity in the area.
The notice formally requests that Sandridge Exploration and Production, New Dominion, Chesapeake Operating and Devon Energy Production Company substantially reduce the amount of production waste they are injecting into ground wells in Oklahoma or face further legal action.
#Fracking Increases #Oklahoma #Earthquakes from Two a Year to Two a Day http://t.co/HvqKF1nHRK via @ecowatch— envirojourney (@envirojourney)1443445185.0
Despite clear and compelling evidence linking the fracking and oil industries to the increasing number of earthquakes in Oklahoma, these companies continue to operate in a way that threatens the health, environmental, aesthetic and economic interests of the people of this state.
It is time these companies take responsibility for the impact they are having on their surroundings and change their operations to protect the future of Oklahoma.
Seismic activity has been steadily increasing in frequency and intensity in Oklahoma, and has recently been linked to the growing volume of production waste that is injected into the ground by oil and fracking companies. Prior to 2009, Oklahoma recorded a maximum of 195 earthquakes in any given year. By 2014, seismologists recorded more than 5,000 earthquakes and, in 2015, experts predict there will be more than 6,000. Since late 2009, the rate of magnitude 3.5 or larger earthquakes in north central Oklahoma has been almost 300 times higher than in previous decades.
At the same time, the total volume of production waste injected into ground wells has grown from two billion barrels in 2009 to more than 12 billion barrels in 2014. The four companies listed in the Notice of Intent to Sue contributed more than 60 percent of the total volume of production waste injected into ground wells in Oklahoma in 2014.
The Oklahoma Geological Survey determined in the spring of 2015 that “the majority of recent earthquakes in central and north-central Oklahoma are very likely triggered by the injection of produced water in disposal wells” and that “seismologists have documented the relationship between wastewater disposal and triggered seismic activity." The U.S. Geological Survey also fully supports this conclusion.
Weitz & Luxenberg, Public Justice and the Oklahoma Sierra Club are formally requesting that the four companies take immediate steps to reduce the amount of production waste injected into ground wells to levels deemed safe by experts. They are also asking that the companies reinforce structures that current forecasts show could be damaged or destroyed by large earthquakes and establish an independent earthquake monitoring and prediction center to analyze and predict the relationship between the injection of production waste and increased seismic activity.
If these companies are not willing to modify their operations and protect the safety of the community in this area, the citizens of Oklahoma will sue in federal court. The companies have 90 days from service of the Notice to remedy their violations. If they do not, suit will be filed in federal district court after those 90 days.
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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