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Entries in water (5)

Wednesday
Dec072011

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

Friday
Sep022011

Texas Drought: People and Animals in 100 Degree Heat

Burke/Triolo Productions/Comstock/ Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Texas state officials are planning how to evacuate several endangered species at risk because of the record drought. The state is home to 86 threatened species.

Parched skies and relentless 100 degree heat are turning this summer into one of the worst in history for parts of Texas. Joggers run in the early morning before the heat intensifies; people working in downtown Houston seek shelter in the city's underground tunnel system rather than venturing out on the scorched city sidewalks. Football players practice in the morning to beat the heat, and children spend recess in air conditioned gyms at school.

The heat has driven wildlife into the open -- one homeowner southwest of Houston, who was wondering what was happening to his disappearing watermelon crop, set up a camera, and snapped a photo of a coyote in his backyard, stealing a watermelon.

Lynn Cuny is the director of the Wildlife Rescue Center in Kendalia, near San Antonio. Her group is running rescue services around the clock -- at last count she had 81 baby deer in her sanctuary. Her advice to homeowners encountering wildlife in their backyards: "Please be patient, these animals are desperate for water and often backyards are the only source."

Deer are roaming in the middle of the day down Texas roads, and calls are coming in to animal control centers about raccoons, feral hogs, and other animals straying into yards in a desperate hunt for water that is not falling from the skies.

Droughts aren't new in Texas -- one in the 1950's set records -- but this one could beat that. Rain was so rare back then that when it finally rained in West Texas on April 25, 1951, the event was noted on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse in San Angelo.

Hopes are pinned on a tropical disturbance out in the Gulf of Mexico, which the National Hurricane Center says will be named Lee.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug302011

Has Irene Polluted Shoreline Beaches?

ABC News(TRENTON, N.J.) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has ordered people back to the beach now that Hurricane Irene has blown through the state, although his own environmental agency is still testing waters for sewage, bacteria and debris churned up by the storm.

"Get the hell back on the beach," the notoriously blustery governor tweeted Monday as Irene faded away.

The state's Department of Environmental Protection issued a warning on its website Monday that raw sewage was spilling from a lake into the ocean near Asbury Park, just three blocks south of where Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno held a press conference encouraging visitors to make one last trip to the state's beaches for Labor Day weekend.

"We're open for business," Guadgno said.

Larry Ragonese, spokesperson for the DEP, said the agency had begun testing all of the beaches up and down the coast for water quality and expected to have the results posted by the end of the week on njbeaches.org.

"Obviously you have tremendous runoff of stormwater," Ragonese said. "And everything that is on land and sea kind of meet. So we're looking for any kind of bacteria, anything unusual. We're also looking for debris, from docks or boats. You don't want a life vest popping through the water."

Ragonese said it was likely that stormwater from Irene could have overwhelmed sewer systems and caused overflows, and that the department would be monitoring the water closely.

State environmental officials are testing beaches all along the Irene's path from North Carolina to New York as Labor Day weekend approaches.

Until the test results come in, beaches and the ocean will remain open, Ragonese said.

"It's up to each town along the coast. They're the ones as far as safety that would determine that," Ragonese said.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug042011

Mars Water? NASA Probe Shows Brown Streaks in Martian Craters

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The planet Mars has offered new evidence that water trickles down the slopes of its craters, say scientists examining pictures from a NASA probe in Martian orbit.

Mars water? Scientists say the pictures don't prove it, but they fit with other evidence from other probes.

The spacecraft, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, has been circling Mars since 2006, and during that time, Mars -- which has seasons like ours -- has gone around the sun three times. Each year, MRO photographed brown streaks in the Martian spring and summer. In the colder seasons, they disappeared.

"The best explanation for these observations so far is the flow of briny water," said Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona, the principal investigator using the ship's high-resolution camera system.

Mars, located at least 35 million miles farther from the sun than us, is far colder than Earth. But if water is thick with salt and other minerals, its freezing point would be lower than it is for clear water here.

McEwen and his team published their findings in Friday's issue of the journal Science. They reported that the streaks appeared only on steep slopes. They could be hundreds of yards long, and often resembled gullies on Earth.

Other readings showed no chemical signal on the Martian surface, leading the scientists to suggest it may dry very quickly, or be just below the upper layer of Martian dust.

"These dark lineations are different from other types of features on Martian slopes," said Richard Zurek, the project scientist for MRO, in a statement. "Repeated observations show they extend ever farther downhill with time during the warm season."

This is not the first suggestion of Martian water. For the last 15 years, NASA has been looking for it, because water would be a very good sign for past -- or even present -- microbial life there.

In 2004, the Mars rover Opportunity found chemical compounds that scientists said most likely would have formed if there had once been standing water on the Martian surface. Steven Squyres, the rovers' chief scientist, said at the time he could imagine Mars, eons ago, with pools of ruby-red brackish water where today there is only dust.

In 2008, another probe, called Phoenix, landed near Mars' north pole, and produced some pictures showing strange blobs on the struts of its landing legs. Briny ice? Scientists argued for months.

But NASA has made no secret of its hope to find water on Mars.

"NASA's Mars Exploration Program keeps bringing us closer to determining whether the Red Planet could harbor life in some form," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said today, "and it reaffirms Mars as an important future destination for human exploration."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

Wednesday
Apr132011

Long Island Serial Killer: Dive Teams Prep to Search Water

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Police dive teams are prepping for an underwater search of bays near a barrier island off New York's Long Island area where at least nine bodies have already been found.

Teams in Suffolk County are checking the waterways, but bad weather might prevent the scuba teams from carrying out their dives Wednesday, Suffolk County police said.

The use of scuba teams are an indication that police fear even more bodies could be hidden in the remote area near some of the area's most popular beaches.

Police are also considering chopping down the thick brush throughout the area that has made the seach so difficult, despite the use of cadaver dogs, horses, fire truck aerial ladders and a helicopter. Police fear that when the brush starts blooming in the coming weeks the search would become even more difficult.

The hunt for bodies and clues has grown to a small army of 125 police from Long Island, state police and FBI specialists.

It was revealed on Tuesday that the serial killer who dumped his victim's bodies in the thick brush along several miles of the Long Island beachfront may have dismembered several of them, law enforcement authorities have told ABC News.

ABC News has also learned that at least one of the victims died by "homicidal asphyxiation," which could mean strangulation or being smothered.

The grisly twist were the latest revelations as police continued to uncover the trail of bodies left there by at least one killer.

Investigators have determined that bones found Monday were human, bringing the body count to nine and possibly 10 victims. It's still not clear whether a skull found alone Monday was part of victim number nine or would be victim number 10.

The bodies were strung out over a 3.5-mile stretch of beach with five of the bodies spaced out about 500 feet apart, police said.

While at least several of the victims appear to have been killed and dumped by a serial killer, authorities had not yet ruled out the possibility that more than one killer was responsible for the growing pile of human remains, which included those of a child. ´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio