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Posts Tagged ‘Water Quality’

river water75% of Texas streams could remain vulnerable to pollution due to House Bill 5078 passed by the House of Representatives on September 9th. HB 5078 would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from applying the protections of the Clean Water Act to more than half the nation’s rivers and streams. This includes 143,000 miles of Texan streams that flow into vital waterways such as the Edwards Aquifer, the Trinity River, Caddo Lake, Galveston Bay, and the Rio Grande.

Texas waters are already considered the 2nd most polluted in the nation, according to a report by the Environment Texas Research and Policy Center. Data from 2012 showed the Lower Brazos River watershed as ranking first for the highest amount of toxicity released with 33,475,464 toxicity-weighted pounds. Over 80,000 pounds of carcinogenic chemicals were discharged into Texan waterways. These chemicals persist in the environment and have the potential to cause birth defects, infertility, cancers, and developmental problems in children.

“Texas’ waterways should be clean – for swimming, drinking, and supporting wildlife,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas Research and Policy Center.  “But too often, our waters have become a dumping ground for polluters.  The first step to curb this tide of toxic pollution is to restore Clean Water Act protections to all our waterways.”

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has publically demanded that Texas immediately take steps to reissue Clean Water Act permits to some 80 facilities that have been operating without the necessary paperwork.

Not pleased with what they felt was a decision to, ” jump the gun prematurely with this notice,” the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality quickly put out a statement saying it had been cooperating with the EPA to resolve the problems, and already had two proposals on the table.

The EPA and Texas/TCEQ/Gov. Perry  have been locked in battle for some time now that has moved from a dispute over environmental issues into an ugly all out war over state rights with Gov. Rick Perry using the dispute during the election cycle as an example of the federal government and the administration’s meddling in what he believes are state affairs.

This newest dispute is over water discharge permits. The EPA says many of the facilities in question have had their paperwork delayed due to concerns raised by the EPA  regarding the toxicity of the discharges and that their move to ask Texas to resolve the issue stems from their concern that, in some cases, the expired permits are allowing facilities to discharge toxic waste.

The EPA’s regional director, Al Armendariz, shot back, “We are taking a stand for clean water. The streams, lakes and bayous of our great state deserve to be protected from chemicals, bacteria and toxic metals. Our children and future generations should be able to swim and fish anywhere in the state without worries about pollution.”

Let’s see how many lawsuits Texas will file over this one.

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In a three part story, KHOU-TV reports on a four-month investigation into radioactive contaminants in the Houston area drinking water. Revelations that came to light shows hundreds of water providers around the Gulf Coast region are providing their customers with drinking water that contains radioactive contaminants that raise health risks, according to state lab results and public health scientists. The data, from thousands of state laboratory tests from water providers across Texas, provided by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), ranged from 2004 to the present.

Watch part one of this investigative report.
Radiation in Houston’s Tap Water

The radiation was first discovered as a part of required testing, under federal regulations, of all drinking water provided by community water systems in America. (more…)

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtpSgqUZ3oA]

A few days ago, Larry King interviewed T. Boone Pickens and if you were watching it, you heard him condemn the spill and the US dependence on oil then he raved about natural gas and how safe it is to drill for it.

Pickens is not the first. Many have claimed that natural gas is better, safer, and cheaper. Simply, that is not the case. I have written about a couple of natural gas blow outs and pipe fractures in Texas this month alone but this documentary examines several other elements of natural gas impact than just rigs blowing up.

Yesterday, HBO aired a documentary that is both eye-opening and disturbing. It is called GasLand, in which Josh Fox, the director travels across the United States to explore the damage and contamination that has resulted from drilling for natural gas. In the documentary, Fox points out the different impacts of natural gas; on our drinking water, the air we breathe, and the nature that surrounds us. If the pictures of evaporating water mixed gas into the air to get rid of the waste (process done by gas-drilling facilities) won’t tell how bad natural gas is, then I am pretty sure watching people lighting their contaminated faucet water on fire will.

Fox collects water samples from homes with contaminated water and sends them to a lab for examination. I will leave it to you to watch his outrageous findings in the documentary.

In case you missed it, Josh Fox’s GasLand will be airing on HBO at the following (central) times:

Thursday, June 24: 12:00PM

Thursday, June 24: 11:30PM

Saturday, June 26: 11:00AM

Wednesday, June 30: 08:45AM

For more information, visit the HBO schedule page or the webpage for GasLand.

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Citizens aware of extreme drought conditions point to potential serious conflict over water if coal plant were built

(Abilene) – The Multi-County Coalition, Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and individuals from the West Texas areas of Sweetwater and Abilene raised questions about how a proposed Tenaska coal plant would affect water availability and water quantity in the region.

Water Availability

The Tenaska coal plant project, still in the early permitting stages, would obligate between one million to ten million gallons of water per day for a cooling process.

“Particularly in West Texas, we are aware of how any period of drought puts great stress on our basic water resources,” said Professor Jeff Haseltine. “The city of Abilene is taking extraordinary steps to ensure a safe and reliable water supply far into the future, and it simply makes no sense to tie up massive amounts of water to cool a coal plant. We need to continue to find ways to use all of our water resources for the direct benefit of our own community, not for the profit of an out-of-state corporation.”

Next to municipalities, power plants – both coal and nuclear use the largest volumes of water in the state.

Water Quality

The groups at Thursday’s Abilene City Council hearing spoke about mercury that the proposed Tenaska coal plant would emit if built.

“The Tenaska plant would pump 124 pounds of mercury per year into the atmosphere and that mercury from Tenaska would fall onto the rivers, streams, and lakes in the region,” said Ryan Rittenhouse of Public Citizen. “West Texans do not want to stand by and allow that fate for their vital water resources and wildlife.”

According to chemist Neil Carman with Sierra Club, (more…)

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Oral Hearing Set for June 23rd-June 24th in Bay City, TX

Citizen opposition to more nuclear reactors in Texas continues. On June 23rd-24th an oral hearing will be held before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board on the Citizens’ Petition to Intervene in South Texas Project (STP) Nuclear Power Plant Units 3 and 4.

SEED Coalition, Public Citizen and South Texas Association for Responsible Energy are petitioners seeking to intervene in the proposed expansion of South Texas Project.

“Building two more nuclear reactors at STP is not in the best interest of the local community,” said Susan Dancer, a local wildlife rehabilitator. “Pursuing the most expensive and most water intensive energy source in a time of extraordinary drought and economic recession makes no sense. The local community will get stuck with more radioactive waste and bear heavy infrastructure costs if the proposed reactors get built. The existing reactors have not solved local economic problems.” Dancer chairs the Bay City based organization South Texas Association for Responsible Energy (STARE).

Attorney Robert V. Eye will represent the petitioners before the designated Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel and argue the admissibility of the 28 contentions citizens filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on April 21st. These contentions point out the inadequacies and the incompleteness of South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company’s (STPNOC) combined operating license application (COLA) to construct and operate South Texas Project Units 3 and 4. NRG Energy and San Antonio’s municipal utility CPS Energy are both applicants for the proposed reactors, which fall within STPNOC.

“NRG has failed to comply with new federal regulations regarding aircraft impacts,” stated Mr. Eye. “These new regulations are very specific and require the applicant to plan for catastrophic fires and/or explosions that would cause the loss of major critical functional components in the plant. After 9-11, an aircraft attack on a nuclear power plant is a real and credible threat. Moreover, fire hazards represent about half of the risk of a nuclear reactor meltdown. NRG’s noncompliance with these regulations puts citizens around South Texas Project in a dangerous position, which is completely unacceptable.” (more…)

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Inside a Hog Confinement

Inside a Hog Confinement

I would like to discuss an issue that has been important to me for several years, but does not get much attention outside the Midwest or agriculture heavy states like North Carolina. In these states much of the landscape is covered by large indoor animal feeding units. These confinements, or Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOS), hold thousands of hogs or turkeys and are typically disliked by the people living near them.

Unfortunately, CAFOs are also common here in Texas. The last several years have seen an increase in the number of CAFOs in Texas. McLennan and Erath counties are home to many CAFOs that house cattle and chickens, and their is a major hog confinement industry in much of the panhandle.

Regardless of what kind of animals are produced in CAFOs they inevitably generate several tons of animal waste, which is accompanied by persistent and strong foul odors that are easily detectable miles away. This also generates spills and runoff that contribute heavily to water pollution, making local rivers and lakes undesirable for fishing, swimming and most other purposes. The confinements are often owned by absentee land owners, including some of America’s largest corporations, who are frequent recipients of government money which is used to expand their operations.

Here are some of the facts:

1. A typical hog confinement can hold up to 10,000 pigs.

2. Confined livestock produce an estimated 500 million tons of excrement per year.

3. CAFOs release Hydrogen Sulfide, Ammonia, particulate matter and other highly toxic pollutants into the air and water.

4. These pollutants are detrimental to human health and individuals living near these have high levels of: diarrhea, excessive coughing, sore throats, fatigue and depression.

5. Workers in CAFOs are found to be at high risk for respiratory diseases: asthma, acute bronchitis, sinusitis, rhinitis, and pulmonary endema.

6. Manure from these is stored liquid forms in lagoons that spill and leak into soil and water.

7. A spill from a single lagoon in North Carolina once released 25 million gallons of liquid hog waste into local water ways. Hundreds of smaller spills of thousands of gallons occur each year. EPA estimates: 35,000 miles of contaminated rivers. (more…)

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