Entries in Contamination (4)


Celebs, Officials Collect Water for Hydro-Fracking Victims in PA

Taylor Hill/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Actor Mark Ruffalo and film director Josh Fox denounced a controversial form of gas drilling Tuesday morning at New York's City Hall, where they collected water to bring to 11 Pennsylvania families whose tap water is flammable.

Their well water has been contaminated since 2008, when the Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. leased their land to use for hydraulic fracturing, or hydro-fracking.  The process extracts natural gas by drilling more than a mile into the earth and pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals to open up fissures in the stone through which it can escape.

When one resident's well exploded several months ago, the state investigated and found that faulty casings in the drilling well had caused methane to seep into local drinking wells.

In addition to methane, the water contains unsafe quantities of heavy metals, radioactive material and toxic chemicals such as ethylene glycol, also known as antifreeze.  Dimock Township residents complained of health problems after drinking and bathing in the water, and so the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PDEP) has forced Cabot to deliver clean water to the affected families for the past three years.  The PDEP also planned the construction of a water pipe line that would deliver clean water to the region.

But when Thomas Corbett was sworn in as governor in January 2011, things changed.  The pipeline construction was stopped, and the PDEP approved a decision to have Cabot stop delivering clean water to the 11 families in Dimock.

Corbett received $1.6 million in campaign funds from the oil and gas industry, according to Common Cause PA.  The industry spent $747 million on Pennsylvania state and Congressional elected officials.

"All I can say is corrupt politics, corrupt politicians," Ruffalo said.  "It's pretty fishy.  The DEP was building a pipeline that Cabot was going to have to pay for to the tune of $12 million.  For $1.6 million, Cabot bought off Corbett, and as soon as he came into office, he killed the pipeline..."

The governor's office was not immediately available to comment, but PDEP head Mike Krancer wrote in a letter to the editor of Public Opinion Online, "The real issue here is not safety; it's about a very vocal minority of Dimock residents who continue to demand that taxpayers should foot the bill for a nearly $12 million public water line along Route 29 to serve about a dozen homes.  This issue has, and continues to, pit neighbor against neighbor in Dimock."

Fox, whom Bloomberg News called the "Paul Revere of fracking," decided to direct the documentary Gasland after receiving an offer from a natural gas company in 2008 to lease his family's land in Milanville, Pa., for $100,000.  Fox was inspired to travel to more than 20 U.S. states -- not to mention Australia, Africa and the U.K. -- to interview people about the effects of fracking.  He's now working on a sequel, which will be released in June 2012.

When asked why the PDEP allowed Cabot to stop delivering clean water to the families in Dimock, Fox said, "There's a very simple answer to that: corruption, incompetence or both.  This is no way, shape or form a scientific decision.  There is absolutely no basis in science or fact. It is purely political.  It is unconstitutional.  Article 1, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution states that Pennsylvania citizens have a right to clean air and clean water."

But PDEP officials say their actions are not unconstitutional, and that Cabot satisfied the requirements outlined in their agreement before they stopped providing water to the 11 families.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Cleanest US Beaches Are in Delaware, Minnesota, New Hampshire

David De Lossy/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With beach season well underway and the Fourth of July holiday weekend approaching, an environmental advocacy group is out Wednesday with its annual beach report, ranking the nation's cleanest and most contaminated shores.

Judging by water cleanliness and not by beauty, the Natural Resources Defense Council gives its "Superstar Beach" rating to two beaches in Delaware and to one in each Minnesota and New Hampshire.

Futhermore, the group finds that the dirtiest beaches are in California, primarily in Los Angeles County, with three making the NRDC's list of beaches with persistent contamination problems.

The NRDC's David Beckman says the number of beach closures and advisories on dirty beaches over the past year is the second-highest since the council has been tracking them, standing at over 24,000.

"The two big problems, when it comes to America's beaches, are pollution runoff in urban areas and from agriculture," says Beckman. "It contains bacteria and viruses that can make you sick if you come into contact with them.  And you can also get the same bacteria and viruses from sewage spills."

Michelle Mehta with the NRDC says swimmers exposed to the contamination can suffer from "gastrointestinal problems, ear, nose and throat problems, and skin rashes."

Here are the four beaches ranked as "Superstar Beaches" by the NRDC:

-- Delaware: Rehoboth Beach-Rehoboth Avenue Beach
-- Delaware: Dewey Beach
-- Minnesota: Park Point Lafayette Community Club Beach
-- New Hampshire: Hampton Beach State Park

And here are the 10 beaches that have had persistent contamination problems:

-- California: Avalon Beach
-- California: Cabrillo Beach Station
-- California: Doheny State Beach
-- Florida: Keaton Beach
-- Illinois: North Point Marina North Beach
-- New Jersey: Beachwood Beach West
-- Ohio: Villa Angela State Park
-- Texas: Ropes Park
-- Wisconsin: Eichelman Beach
-- Wisconsin: South Shore Beach

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


BP Oil Spill: Worries About Seafood, Water Remain One Year Later

ABC News(EMPIRE, La.) -- One year after a deadly explosion triggered a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, concerns still remain about the safety of the water and the seafood being fished from it.

On April 20, 2010, BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 people and sending 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf.

The spewing oil wrecked havoc on the marine life, killing and soiling hundreds of birds, stranding dolphins and turtles, and putting a halt to the fishing industry in the area.

Many of the fishermen who were out in the oil-ridden waters still worry today that their produce -- shrimp, oysters and crabs -- are not yet safe to eat.

"I ain't worried about the money.  I'm worried about the people's health," said Rudy Camardelle, a fisherman in Lafitte, Louisiana.  "They can't be sending these boats out out there and catching these shrimp, selling these shrimp to these people.  And these shrimp might be 'taminated or something."

The fear of contaminated seafood is also having still having an effect on local businesses.

Theo Bourgeois, a charter boat captain in Lafitte, says his bookings are down 60 percent because of worries the fish are contaminated.

"The problem is a lot of my business out of state, people from up north.  And they're not interested in coming down, man.  They really feel it's still contaminated with pollutants and stuff.  And it's gonna be hard to convince them that's not so," Bourgeois said.

Yet, others agree with government officials who have deemed seafood from the Gulf safe to eat.

"I'm gonna tell everyone it was great," said Christy Ball, a visitor from St. Louis who ate a crab po' boy at a restaurant in Lafitte on Tuesday.  "I know there's a fear about it.  We've heard it.  And I don't believe it all.  And I think you have to be open minded about it.  You have to read up on what's going on.  And I think we all feel pretty good about it."

Although BP, the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal agencies say the Gulf is oil-free as far as they can tell, several Louisiana officials and wildlife officials disagree.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Contaminated IV Bags Being Investigated After Nine Die in Alabama

Paul Tearle/Thinkstock(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- Amid news that nine patients have died, health officials in Alabama are looking into what caused intravenous feeding bags at multiple state hospitals to become contaminated with bacteria.

The Alabama Department of Public Health said a total of 19 patients have become infected with the bacteria Serratia marcescens after being hooked up to the IV lines.  On Tuesday, they announced that close to half of the patients had died.

The department said the contamination was spotted at six hospitals in Alabama -- Baptist Princeton, Baptist Shelby, Baptist Prattville, Medical West, Cooper Green, Mercy and Select Specialty Hospital.  With help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the outbreak was traced back to the pharmacy Meds IV.

Meds IV was notified of the contamination and recalled all of its IV bags.  The hospitals affected also stopped using the pharmacy's bags immediately.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio