Judith Lavoie's blog

Wed, 2014-12-10 06:18Judith Lavoie
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Chemicals Released During Fracking Could Harm Reproductive Health: University of Missouri Study

Fracking pollutes water

Chemicals released into the air and water during fracking operations may result in human health problems ranging from birth defects to decreased semen quality, a U.S study has found.

University of Missouri researcher Susan Nagel and colleagues from the Institute for Health and the Environment and the Center for Environmental Health conducted the most extensive review to date of research on fracking by-products and effects on human reproductive and environmental health. They concluded that exposure to chemicals used in fracking may be harmful to human health.

The paper, Reproductive and Developmental Effects of Chemicals Associated with Unconventional Oil and Natural Gas Operations, published in the peer-reviewed journal Reviews on Environmental Health recommends further study.

We examined more than 150 peer-reviewed studies reporting on the effects of chemicals used in unconventional oil and gas operations and found evidence to suggest there is cause for concern for human health,” Nagel said.

Thu, 2014-10-30 07:31Judith Lavoie
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Jumbo Glacier Ski Resort Threatens Grizzlies in Southern B.C., Into U.S.: Scientists

Grizzly bear

Grizzly bears in the Central Purcell Mountains are more vulnerable than shown in 15-year-old research being used by proponents of Jumbo Glacier Resort and, if the resort is built, it could threaten grizzly populations through southern B.C and into the U.S, says one of Canada’s leading grizzly bear experts.

Michael Proctor, who has studied grizzly bears in the Purcell and Selkirk mountain ranges in southeastern B.C. for almost 20 years and whose work is regularly published in scientific journals, recently completed two ecological analyses of the Purcell grizzly population and found, based on data-driven population surveys, that bear populations are about 50 per cent smaller than previous estimates.

In 1999, government scientists estimated the area to be at 93 per cent of carrying capacity for grizzlies, but Proctor’s research, completed more than a decade later, found grizzly capacity to be at 54 per cent. The capacity is the population an environment can sustain.

Sat, 2014-05-03 11:48Judith Lavoie
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Salish Sea Orca Whales Not Mating, Socializing in Polluted Soundscape

orca whales, salish sea, kinder morgan, coal export terminals

Vessel noise is already hindering endangered southern resident killer whales from communicating and finding fish and the noise bombardment will get worse if proposals for coal terminals and pipelines in B.C and Washington State are approved, said scientists and environmentalists at a conference looking at the health of the Salish Sea.

“Ships dominate the soundscape of Puget Sound,” said Scott Veirs, Beam Reach Marine Sciences and Sustainability School program coordinator and professor, speaking at the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference.

Veirs and his students take underwater sound recordings off Lime Kiln Park on San Juan Island, an area where the killer whales are known to spend time, and then model the echo-location and communication consequences for the resident killer whales. The resident killer whale population has dropped this year to 80 animals in three pods, the lowest number in more than a decade.

Fri, 2014-05-02 10:42Judith Lavoie
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U.S. Officials Search For Answers On Bitumen Spills As Canada Eyes Enbridge, Kinder Morgan Oil Pipelines

EPA sampling during Enbridge bitumen spill

U.S officials are struggling to figure out how bitumen from the Alberta oilsands will behave if there is a spill either from a pipeline or into the Salish Sea, the fragile ocean environment between Canada and the U.S.

As the U.S. debates the future of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport Alberta oil to the Gulf Coast, and Canada looks at Kinder Morgan's proposed twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline and the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway project, there is a growing urgency to find out how diluted bitumen behaves if there is a spill, said scientists, policy makers and environmentalists gathered in Seattle for the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference this week.

“Does it float or not float? That's the question,” said Gary Shigenaka, marine biologist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hazardous materials response division, flashing a picture of thick, black bitumen extracted from the oilsands.

NOAA is studying the behaviour of bitumen and the diluent with which it is mixed to make the peanut-butter like substance flow through pipelines, but, so far, there are few concrete answers, Shigenaka said.

Studies show that although diluted bitumen — dilbit — initially floats in water, it sinks when it is mixed with sediment, which would happen in high turbulence or in areas such as a river estuary, Shigenaka said.

Fears about the behaviour of bitumen in water have been growing since the 2010 spill of about 3.2 million litres (843,000 gallons) of thick crude into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. It was the first spill of diluted bitumen from Alberta into a waterway, and agencies struggled to cope with a substance that released toxic fumes from the diluent and then sank as the bitumen mixed with river sediment.

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