Category: Hazmat


pt 1-2

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Land contaminated by waste from factories in Lanzhou, Gansu province. (File photo/Xinhua)

Land contaminated by waste from factories in Lanzhou, Gansu province. (File photo/Xinhua)

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  • China Begins Soil Pollution Clean-up amid Doubt over Funding

    BEIJING (Reuters) – China has announced its first pilot projects to treat metal pollution in soil and prevent farmland from further contamination, but critics say the government’s overall efforts are underfunded and inefficient.

    The Ministry of Finance will subsidize soil pollution prevention and treatment in three cities in the central province of Hunan, state media reported, as pilot efforts to halt developments that have rendered 3.33 million hectares (8 million acres) of Chinese farmland too polluted to grow crops on.

    Hunan was the source of rice containing dangerous levels of toxic cadmium sold in the southern city of Guangzhou last year.

    Under the plan, the Ministry of Agriculture will monitor and control metal residues to prevent them from leaking into the soil, while the rice crop will be replaced with cotton and other non-edible products.

    But government efforts to protect agricultural and urban soil fall massively short of what is needed, said Lan Hong, a professor at Renmin University’s School of Environmental and Natural Resources.

    In the current five-year plan, the Ministry of Finance has budgeted 30 billion yuan ($4.8 billion) in spending on soil pollution prevention efforts, but Lan said it would cost at least 140 billion yuan, nearly five times above the budget, to solve the problem.

    “The funding is based on data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection, but it is at the lower end of estimates. Some of the environmental damage will only be exposed after many years,” Lan told Reuters.

     

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    Plants used to weed out soil pollution

    Chinese scientists have developed soil remediation technologies to prepare for large-scale applications.

    The technologies focus on using plants to absorb heavy metal contaminants in soil.

    The technologies were developed by the Center for Environmental Remediation of the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Resources Research under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which began research 10 years ago.

    Soil contamination is serious in China, with large areas of cropland polluted, said Lei Mei, a professor at the center.

    Soil remediation technologies have been applied on 133 hectares of land in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Henan, Yunnan and Hunan provinces and Beijing on a trial basis, and Lei said she believes the technologies will have “good application prospects”.

    A report from the Ministry of Environmental Protection on Thursday showed that about 19.4 per cent of farmland in China was polluted, according to Xinhua News Agency.

    “The publication of the survey result is a milestone for soil remediation in China,” Lei said.

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    Beijing still not releasing soil pollution data: Xinhua

    • Xinhua
    Technical staff examine soil contaminated by heavy metal pollution. (File photo/Huang Chih-liang)

    Technical staff examine soil contaminated by heavy metal pollution. (File photo/Huang Chih-liang)

    China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection will not issue data related to soil pollution for the time being but will discuss the situation after an in-depth investigation, the ministry confirmed on Thursday. The ministry said it will be difficult to investigate soil pollution nationwide, adding that it will conduct further investigations in heavily polluted areas.

    In January, Beijing lawyer Dong Zhengwei sent an application to the ministry asking it to issue soil pollution data, as well as create detailed measures to handle it.

    The ministry said in February that the data is a state secret and refused to issue it. Dong was not satisfied and sent a second request. In response the ministry said soil pollution is still being investigated and related data remains a state secret, adding that data will be released after further evaluation. After news of Dong’s requests spread online, many people began to wonder just how polluted the country’s soil is.

    Ma Jun, head of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said in an interview with the Legal Daily that polluted soil may affect public health via food, crops and underground water.

    “Soil pollution is related to public health. Therefore, the public should have the right to be informed about the situation,” Ma said.

     

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    FARM NEWS

    China says massive area of its soil polluted


    by Staff Writers
    Beijing (AFP) April 17, 2014


    More dead pigs found in China river: report
    Beijing (AFP) April 17, 2014 – At least 170 dead pigs have been found in a Chinese river, state media reported Thursday — the latest in a string of similar incidents that have raised fears over food safety.
    The animals were found floating in a tributary of China’s second-longest waterway, the Yellow River, in northwestern Qinghai province, the official Xinhua news agency said.The grim discovery follows a series of scandals involving dead pigs in Chinese rivers. Last year 16,000 carcasses were found drifting through the main waterway of the commercial hub of Shanghai.In Qinghai — the furthest west such an incident has been reported — “the source of the dead pigs is still under investigation,” Xinhua said, citing local authorities.Industry analysts say sick pigs are sometimes dumped in rivers by farmers hoping to avoid paying the costs of disposing of the animals by other means.Around 500 dead pigs are recovered every month from a Chinese reservoir in the southwestern province of Sichuan, state-run media reported in March.

    Authorities also found 157 dead pigs last month in a river in central Jiangxi province.

    China is a major producer of pork, which surveys have found to be the country’s most popular meat.

     

    A huge area of China’s soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

    Of about 6.3 million square kilometres (2.4 million square miles) of soil surveyed — roughly two thirds of China’s total area — 16.1 percent is thought to be polluted, the environmental protection ministry said in a report.

    The study, which appeared on its website, blamed mining and farming practices among other causes.

    “The national soil pollution situation is not positive,” the ministry said, adding that more than 19 percent of the farmland which was surveyed is polluted.

    The ministry last year described the results of its soil pollution survey as a state secret and refused to release the results, a move which incensed environmental campaigners.

    The government has come under increasing pressure in recent years to take action to improve the environment, with large parts of the country repeatedly blanketed in thick smog and waterways and land polluted.

     

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    The American Interest

    Filth to Table

    Relentless Pollution is Poisoning China’s Food, Soil

    © Getty Images

    In many parts of China, officials are caught between two competing priorities: industrial development and food production. Most often, officials’ prime concern is industrial development—characterized by factories and mining, usually—since it is the bigger driver of economic growth. But, predictably, unfettered industrial development results in extremely poor conditions for food production. And it’s getting worse. Much worse. An article in yesterday’s New York Times has some sobering statistics.

    An alarming glimpse of official findings came on Monday, when a vice minister of land and resources, Wang Shiyuan, said at a news conference in Beijing that eight million acres of China’s farmland, equal to the size of Maryland, had become so polluted that planting crops on it “should not be allowed.” [...]

    One-sixth of China’s arable land — nearly 50 million acres — suffers from soil pollution, according to a book published this year by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The book, “Soil Pollution and Physical Health,” said that more than 13 million tons of crops harvested each year were contaminated with heavy metals, and that 22 million acres of farmland were affected by pesticides.

    The result of farming on polluted land is unsurprising: poisoned food. 155 batches of rice collected from markets and restaurants in Guangdong Province in May were found to have excess levels of cadmium.

     

    Read More Here

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    ENERGY TECH

    Alberta investing in CCS for oil sands


    by Daniel J. Graeber
    Edmonton, Alberta (UPI) Apr 18, 2013


    Canada gives OK to West Coast LNG terminal
    Calgary, Alberta (UPI) Apr 17, 2013 – The approval of an export license for Triton LNG Ltd. from a port in British Columbia gives Canadian energy companies access to new markets, a regulator said.
    Canada’s National Energy Board gave approval for a 25-year application to send about 320 million cubic feet of liquefied natural gas per day from a port to be located either at Kitimat or Prince Rupert, British Columbia.NEB said the approval is in response to the glut of natural gas in North America.

    “One of the major impacts of this increase is lower demand for Canadian gas in traditional gas markets in the United States and eastern Canada,” it said in a statement Wednesday. “As a result, the Canadian gas industry is seeking to access overseas gas markets.”

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has sought to add a layer of diversity to an energy export economy that depends on the United States. Asian markets are among the world’s largest consumers of LNG and Harper recently signed a free-trade deal with South Korea.

    NEB said the terminal for LNG hasn’t been constructed yet and needs further regulatory approval before it can begin.

     

    The provincial government in Alberta, Canada, said it set aside more than $1 billion for carbon storage and storage facilities for oil sands projects.

    Provincial Energy Minister Diana McQueen said two projects tied to the oil sands sector would be able to store more than 2.7 million tons of carbon dioxide each year.

    “With [these projects], we are showing the world we take the responsible development of our resources seriously and we’re becoming a world leader in CCS technology,” she said in a statement Thursday.

    Alberta holds some of the largest oil deposits in the world at its Athabasca deposit, located in the east of the province.

    The heavier grade of crude oil found there is seen as a threat to the environment because it’s carbon-intensive to produce.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    An open-pit mine in the oil sands, Fort McMurray, Alberta

    Pictures: Satellite Views of Canada’s Oil Sands Over Time

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    Scientists Find 7,300-Mile Mercury Contamination ‘Bullseye’ Around Canadian Tar Sands

    By Emily Atkin December 30, 2013 at 1:45 pm Updated: December 30, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Scientists Find 7,300-Mile Mercury Contamination ‘Bullseye’ Around Canadian Tar Sands

    Just one week after Al Jazeera discovered that regulatory responsibility for Alberta, Canada’s controversial tar sands would be handed over to a fossil-fuel funded corporation, federal scientists have found that the area’s viscous petroleum deposits are surrounded by a nearly 7,500-square-mile ring of mercury.

    Canadian government scientists have found that levels of mercury — a potent neurotoxin which has been found to cause severe birth defects and brain damage — around the region’s vast tar sand operations are up to 16 times higher than regular levels for the region. The findings, presented by Environment Canada researcher Jane Kirk at an international toxicology conference, showed that the 7,500 miles contaminated are “currently impacted by airborne Hg (mercury) emissions originating from oilsands developments.”

    The Canadian government touts Alberta’s oil sands as the third-largest proven crude oil reserve in the world, next to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The region’s heavy crude oil is mixed with clay, bitumen, and a good deal of sand — hence the name “oil sands.” This makes for a unique and energy-intensive extraction process that some scientists say produces three times the greenhouse gas emissions of conventionally produced oil. Environment Canada has said it expects production emissions from tar sands to hit 104 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020 under current expansion plans.

     

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    TEPCO accidentally floods wrong building with 200 tons of radioactive water at Fukushima plant


    TEPCO accidentally floods wrong building with 200 tons of radioactive water at Fukushima plant

    Approximately 200 tons of highly radioactive water were redirected to the wrong building at the disaster stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant on April 14 when pumps that were not supposed to be used were incorrectly turned on, this according to plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO). The plant’s officials assured that there were no other channels the contaminated water could leak out of from the building, but the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) ordered the utility to monitor for leakage just the same.

    TEPCO said that the highly contaminated water – used for cooling the molten down reactors – has been wrongly directed to a group of buildings that house the central waste processing facilities. The embattled operator said that the basements of these buildings were supposed to function as emergency storage for contaminated water anyway, but the water was not supposed to be directed to the buildings at this point. Fukushima workers noticed something was wrong on April 10, as the water levels in buildings that should have been pumping out water were noticed to be going up instead of down.

     

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    Published on Apr 14, 2014

    Published on Feb 19, 2014
    Nuclear Hotseat~Host Libbe HaLevy

    Please REMIX and SHARE this important information with Credits to:
    Libbe HaLevy and Nuclear Hotseat
    http://www.NuclearHotseat.com/blog

    INTERVIEWS:
    Don Hancock of the Southwest Research and Information Center on the fire and radiation release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, NM — two separate incidents within 10 days that point to a company culture that fails to take proper precautions.
    CONTACT: sricdon@earthlink.net

    Indian filmmaker Pradeep Indulkar, director of “High Power,” winner of the 2013 Uranium Film Festival Yellow Oscar for Best Short Documentary. To book the film or purchase a DVD,
    CONTACT: highpower@docwebs.com

    NUMNUTZ OF THE WEEK:
    Close this week, but we revisit the Fukushima Kids’ Cancer Seminar to learn how their slogan, “Especially because this is Fukushima, we need the best cancer education in Japan!” Learn what happens when the event’s organizer gets asked how that creepy slogan got picked and why children of Fukushima need “cancer education.”

    PLUS:
    *”Experts” miss possible Hanford implications in Washington state rare birth defect cluster;
    *Massive cracks found at Fukushima near radioactive water storage tanks;
    *Fukushima dental assn. to study radiation in baby teeth (shades of Operation Tooth Fairy);
    *UK nuclear sites at risk of flooding;
    *The Irish will soon be able to sue the UK for Sellafield radiation damages;
    *The NRC DUCK! and Cover Report;
    *Radcast w/Mimi German;
    …and more!

    LINKS:
    Interview w/Tokyo-based physician Shigeru Mita on the need to evacuate from Tokyo, an interview by Nelson Groom for Vice.com: http://nsgroom.wordpress.com/2014/02/

    Petition to support journalist Mari Takenouchi and support her effotts to protect children living in areas contaminated with radioactivity: http://www.credomobilize.com/petition

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    Earth Watch Report  -  Hazmat

    Radioactive lab material, which may have been sent to scrapyard, are considered low risk by nuclear safety commission. (Charla Jones/The Globe and Mail)

    Radioactive lab material missing from Sunnybrook research centre

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    HAZMAT Canada Province of Ontario, Toronto [Sunnybrook Research Institute] Damage level Details

     

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    HAZMAT in Canada on Thursday, 10 April, 2014 at 03:36 (03:36 AM) UTC.

    Description
    A small amount of radioactive material has mysteriously disappeared from a Toronto research facility. The Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI) announced Wednesday evening that a locked, lead-lined cabinet containing radioactive material went missing some time after June or July of last year. The working theory is that the cabinet was mistakenly sent to a scrapyard, said Michael Julius, the institute’s vice-president of research. Although SRI is located at Sunnybrook hospital, Dr. Julius said the missing cabinet is not a threat to patients. “There is no impact on patient safety. I really do want to underscore that,” he said. Staff at SRI first noticed the cabinet was missing during a routine audit on March 21. The cabinet, a heavy 75-cubic-centimetre object, was clearly labelled as containing radioactive material. Inside were 14 radioactive items, only one of which poses a potential health risk, Dr. Julius said. That item, about half the size of a dime and used to calibrate X-ray machines, contains the radioactive isotope Americium-241, commonly found in smoke detectors. It was encased in its own locked, lead-and-steel box inside the cabinet. “If you managed to get it out of the smaller box – which would be a feat, I have to tell you – if you were to put it in your pocket, for example, and left it in your pocket for a day or two, you could get a radiation burn,” Dr. Julius said.

     

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    Go to the Globe and Mail homepage
    Radioactive lab material, which may have been sent to scrapyard, are considered low risk by nuclear safety commission. (Charla Jones/The Globe and Mail)

    Radioactive lab material missing from Sunnybrook research centre

    A small amount of radioactive material has mysteriously disappeared from a Toronto research facility.

    The Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI) announced Wednesday evening that a locked, lead-lined cabinet containing radioactive material went missing some time after June or July of last year. The working theory is that the cabinet was mistakenly sent to a scrapyard, said Michael Julius, the institute’s vice-president of research.

    Although SRI is located at Sunnybrook hospital, Dr. Julius said the missing cabinet is not a threat to patients. “There is no impact on patient safety. I really do want to underscore that,” he said.

    Staff at SRI first noticed the cabinet was missing during a routine audit on March 21. The cabinet, a heavy 75-cubic-centimetre object, was clearly labelled as containing radioactive material.

    Inside were 14 radioactive items, only one of which poses a potential health risk, Dr. Julius said. That item, about half the size of a dime and used to calibrate X-ray machines, contains the radioactive isotope Americium-241, commonly found in smoke detectors. It was encased in its own locked, lead-and-steel box inside the cabinet. “If you managed to get it out of the smaller box – which would be a feat, I have to tell you – if you were to put it in your pocket, for example, and left it in your pocket for a day or two, you could get a radiation burn,” Dr. Julius said.

     

    Read More here

     

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    KING 5.com

    Sick Hanford workers speak out for first time

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      by SUSANNAH FRAME / KING 5 News

      Bio | Email | Follow: @SFrameK5

      Posted on April 8, 2014 at 10:49 PM

       

      Exposure to potentially harmful chemical vapors sent 26 workers at the Hanford Site to a Richland hospital or an on-site medical clinic in the two-week period starting March 19.

      For the first time, two of those workers talk on camera with KING 5 about their experience — and the symptoms and problems they continue to exhibit nearly two weeks after breathing in vapors that vented from underground tanks and pipes that hold vast amounts of toxic chemicals and radioactive isotopes.

      On March 19 health physics technician Steve Ellingson and a partner were near the AY and AZ tank farms at Hanford when they noticed a chemical smell.

      “It got really bad. We could smell it, we could taste it. It has a coppery taste,” Ellingson said. “We both started to have problems with our chest and our throats.”

      They exited the area after the smell seemed to get worse. Afterward, he said he couldn’t get the taste of out his mouth, and he began to experience nausea.

      Over the next few days, Ellingson said he was evaluated at the on-site medical clinic, at a local emergency room and by his own doctor. None could find the cause for his symptoms, which he said worsened after the first day, with lung irritation, violent coughing and fatigue continuing to this day.

      “It’s like I can’t get a good deep breath. It’s like a shallow breath all of the time,” he told KING 5 two weeks after the exposure.

      Becky Holland, also a health physics technician at Hanford, breathed chemical vapors a week later while working with a team at the T tank farm. The group was preparing to shoot video of the inside of one of the waste storage tanks.

      After a riser cover was removed, Holland said the group began to smell fumes. The group moved upwind to escape the smell, but the fumes only seemed to get worse — even workers wearing respirators reported they could smell it. An emergency evacuation order was issued.

      Holland said he began to feel bad immediately. “I started feeling kind of numb, my face, and instant headache,” Holland said. “And then I started shaking really bad and sweating. It scared me.”

      A 28-year veteran of the Hanford Site, Holland said, “I’ve smelled things before. I’ve been exposed to things before, but never been exposed to something or been affected the way that I was [on March 26].”

      Holland was rushed to Kadlec Medical Center in Richland. “I was scared. I was shaking. I was profusely sweating and [had] a horrible headache,” she said.

      She was evaluated and released the same day. The headache continued, she said, and the next day she began to experience nosebleeds so severe and persistent that she later had the inside of her nose cauterized.

      “I’ve never experienced anything this bad,” Holland said.

      “I’ve walked through this stuff a hundred times,” said Ellingson, a 22-year Hanford veteran. “I’ve tasted it. I’ve smelled it and it’s never bothered me. But now for two weeks I’ve had trouble and I don’t like it.”

      Cleared for work

      The 586-square-mile Hanford Site is home to 177 tanks holding the waste generated by more than four decades of plutonium production — a messy process that involves using caustic chemicals to dissolve nuclear reactor fuel rods to extract small amounts of plutonium. Twenty-five years after plutonium production ceased at the site, 56 million gallons of highly radioactive chemical waste remains to be treated for long-term storage. The tanks hold chemicals such as ammonia, butanol, formaldehyde and mercury. Much of the waste actively emits gas, which is vented through filters designed to remove radioactive particles. Chemicals, however, often pass through.

      All 26 workers who reported being exposed to chemical vapors starting on March 19 were quickly cleared to return to work by the on-site clinic.

       

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      KING 5.com

      Hanford worker exposed again to airborne irritant

      Hanford worker exposed again to airborne irritant

      Credit: KING 5 News

      The HPMC Hanford Occupational Health Service clinic in Hanford’s 200-West Area.

      by SUSANNAH FRAME / KING 5 News

      Bio | Email | Follow: @SFrameK5

      Posted on April 9, 2014 at 6:41 PM

       

      A Hanford worker who was sickened by exposure to chemical vapors on March 19 was exposed to  another unknown substance Wednesday, prompting a trip to Hanford’s on-site medical clinic.

      Sources told KING 5 that the worker, who missed approximately 10 days of work after March 19 and is under a physician’s order to avoid lung irritants on the job, had trouble breathing after working in an area that was not free of aggravating substances.

      The sources said the worker was taken to HPMC, the on-site medical clinic at Hanford, where he was evaluated, released and declared fit to return to work on Thursday, despite his continued breathing problems. The medical professionals told the worker that he is to stay indoors Thursday and work at a desk, the sources said.

      Twenty-six workers have been transported to the hospital or HPMC after detecting chemical vapors in different Hanford waste tank farms. The Department of Energy and its contractors at the site have insisted that worker safety is a top priority and that the affected workers were evaluated by independent health experts before being returned to duty.

       

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      Earth Watch Report  -  Hazmat

      "James

      James Holland, hydrologist/geologist with the Kanab Field Office of the United States Bureau of Land Management, examines an oil-covered rock with the Forest Service’s Joe Harris and BLM’s Sarah Schlanger in Little Valley Wash in the Upper Valley region of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

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      April 01 2014 07:40 AM Environment Pollution USA State of Utah, [Little Valley Wash, Grand Staircase National Monument] Damage level Details

       

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      Environment Pollution in USA on Tuesday, 01 April, 2014 at 07:40 (07:40 AM) UTC.

      Description
      Hikers exploring the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah last week happened upon an oil spill over four miles in length in an area known as Little Valley Wash. The spill is thought to be old, based on the dense, asphalt-like consistency of the oil, said Larry Crutchfield, Bureau of Land Management public affairs specialist. And it’s a good thing the oil is so thick, he added, because that means the spill will stay put for a while. “The good news is that there is no oil actively moving in the wash,” Crutchfield said. Because the oil in the wash is nearly as thick as asphalt, he added, it is not posing an immediate threat to surrounding areas. However, he said there is evidence suggesting it did move last September when massive monsoon rains created a violent flash flood in the wash. The area typically does receive some rain in the springtime, he said, but not nearly enough to fill the part of the wash where the oil is, which is far upstream. The BLM isn’t taking any chances, however, and plans to secure the area with booms and other equipment to help protect monument resources and water sources. Although preliminary reports last week suggested the spill may have originated from a leak that occurred last month in a nearby pipeline operated by Citation Oil, Crutchfield said the oil found in the wash is very unlikely to have come from a recent leakage.”The Citation oil line did spring a pinhole-sized leak,” Crutchfield said. That leak spilled about 10 barrels of oil before it was discovered and patched last month. The oil that flows through the pipeline has a low viscosity and would be very fluid, he said �” not the thick, viscous, asphalt-like substance found in the wash. The oil in the wash appears to have been there for some time, he said. In fact, investigators currently suspect the spill had been buried beneath the wash until it was exposed by a violent flash flood last fall, which explains why the spill hadn’t been reported in previous years. When asked who might have buried the spill, Crutchfield said it’s quite possible that it was covered by sediment deposited by an earlier flood. There is no way of knowing for sure before BLM investigators complete their assessment of the incident. “We have an idea of where the oil may have come from, but it would be entirely inappropriate for me to speculate at this point,” Crutchfield said. The first priority, he said, is to assess the danger that the oil poses to the surrounding environment. “The important thing at this stage is that we are taking action,” he said. “Citation Oil is taking action. We are working together to figure out what exactly happened.”

       

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      Sun Independent.com

      Massive oil spill discovered at Grand Staircase National Monument

       

      Monday, 03-31-2014, 08:30 PM
      Written by Michael Flynn

      Hikers exploring the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah last week happened upon an oil spill over four miles in length in an area known as Little Valley Wash.

      The spill is thought to be old, based on the dense, asphalt-like consistency of the oil, said Larry Crutchfield, Bureau of Land Management public affairs specialist. And it’s a good thing the oil is so thick, he added, because that means the spill will stay put for a while.

      “The good news is that there is no oil actively moving in the wash,” Crutchfield said. Because the oil in the wash is nearly as thick as asphalt, he added, it is not posing an immediate threat to surrounding areas. However, he said there is evidence suggesting it did move last September when massive monsoon rains created a violent flash flood in the wash.

      The area typically does receive some rain in the springtime, he said, but not nearly enough to fill the part of the wash where the oil is, which is far upstream. The BLM isn’t taking any chances, however, and plans to secure the area with booms and other equipment to help protect monument resources and water sources.

       

      Read More Here

       

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      Published: Friday, April 4 2014 7:46 p.m. MDT

      James Holland, hydrologist/geologist with the Kanab Field Office of the federal Bureau of Land Management, left, points to asphalt-like patches of oil in Little Valley Wash in the Upper Valley region of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument near Escalante on Friday, April 4, 2014. Holland, along with Joe Harris of the Forest Service, Mark Bing, central regional manager of Citation Oil and Gas Corp., Terry Tolbert, wildlife biologist, and Julie Sueker of Arcadis Environmental Consulting Group, hiked the 4-mile stretch of the wash where the oil was discovered.

      Laura Seitz, Deseret News

       

      ESCALANTE, Garfield County — Remnants from at least one large oil spill found by hikers on March 23 in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument has officials wondering how and when the damage occurred.

      As many as 4 miles in the Little Valley Wash now contain the aftermath of the spill, with about 1.5 miles of 6-inch thick oil flows contained in the mostly dry stream bed. Bureau of Land Management officials who manage the monument say it’s likely the leak happened decades ago.

      BLM officials hypothesize that the spill became encased in sediment deposits over time, making it difficult or impossible to see in most areas. Last September, intense floods washed down the drainage, possibly unburying the oil deposit and carrying parts of it downstream for 2.5 miles.

      Boulders and tree trunks in the drainage now demonstrate the depth of the initial oil flows, with steady black lines as many as 2 feet above the stream bed. Black splotches are found in other areas, with vegetation collecting the oil as it flowed along with the flood waters.

      Long stretches of oil patches not mixed with sediment have liquified in regions exposed to the sun.

      “It’s not what we want to see here,” associate monument manager Sarah Schlanger said during an examination of the area Friday.

       

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