A federal judge dealt a $100,000 fine Thursday to Fuel Bio One LLC, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, for discharging more than 45,000 gallons of wastewater from its commercial biodiesel fuel production facility into the Arthur Kill, a waterway separating New Jersey from Staten Island, New York.Read more
Well sealed. Spill gone. Litigation? No end in sight. Nearly a decade after BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill fouled the Gulf of Mexico, the company asked a Fifth Circuit panel Thursday to dismiss claims of hundreds of litigants for noncompliance with a pretrial order.Read more
Nearly 30 years after Congress passed a law to ensure that chemical spills get reported, the federal agency tasked with studying these spills still has no reporting requirements in place. A federal judge told the agency Monday that it has 12 more months to shape up.Read more
RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – The Fourth Circuit held Wednesday that an arsenic leak from a Virginia coal ash pond is not a violation of the Clean Water Act, The ruling is a blow to environmentalists who are currently arguing otherwise around the country.
In a 24-page opinion, U.S. Circuit Judge Paul Niemeyer, a Reagan appointee, was unmoved by the plaintiff Sierra Club’s argument that ponds containing toxic discharge from coal-fired power plants were seeping dangerous chemicals into groundwater in violation of the Clean Water Act.
The Sierra Club, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, claimed Dominion Virginia Power had allowed rainwater to seep into and ultimately through coal ash ponds linked to a Chesapeake Bay-area power plant, and that arsenic was carried into the groundwater around the facility, and , eventually, into oceans, rivers in streams.
The Clean Water Act only allows the government to punish entities who dump without a permit into “navigable” waters. For years environmental groups have tried to link coal ash ponds to navigable water sources, however Niemeyer, in line with judges before him, adopted a literal interpretation of the federal law and found otherwise.
Neimeyer said the law requires violating water sources to be a “discrete conveyance” which includes “any pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, container, rolling stock, concentrated animal feeding operation, or vessel or other floating craft.”
“Here, the arsenic was found to have leached from static accumulations of coal ash on the initiative of rainwater or groundwater, thereby polluting the groundwater and ultimately navigable waters,” Neimeyer wrote. “In this context, the landfill and ponds were not created to convey anything and did not function in that manner; they certainly were not discrete conveyances.”
In a statement, lawyers for the Southern Environmental Law center said they were disappointed with the court’s decision and warned of the continued threat posed by the existing ash ponds.
“Of the 3.4 million tons of coal ash at the site, 2.1 million tons of coal ash is sitting in unlined lagoons, with the ash in some areas extending six feet below sea level,” the group said. “Any closure proposal for this facility should ensure that arsenic is no longer dumped in the river, and take into account the vulnerability of the site to storm surges, hurricanes, and daily tidal erosion in order to protect the citizens of Chesapeake.”
The group, and its clients at the Sierra Club, however, found a silver lining in the decision in the court’s linking the presence of arsenic in the ground water with the ponds.
“Arsenic is in the water and Dominion put it there,” said Nachy Kanfer, acting eastern regional director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “But the court found we could not bring an enforcement under the Clean Water Act to address that pollution.”
Kanfer pointed to similar suits aiming to consider coal ash ponds point sources that were heard in Kentucky and Tennessee and have worked their way into higher courts in those regions. He said he attended 6th Circuit hearings in those cases and the judges seemed interested in understanding the matter.
“This decision is not the last word on the matter,” he said.Read more
A pipeline company was convicted of nine criminal charges Friday for causing the worst California coastal spill in 25 years, a disaster that blackened popular beaches for miles, killed wildlife and hurt tourism and fishing.Read more
Environmentalists claim in a federal lawsuit that the U.S. Coast Guard has not developed a sufficient response plan for the cleanup of potential major oil spills in northern Michigan.Read more
Waters off an Indonesian port city reek like a gas station after an oil spill and fire that killed four people over the weekend, an official said Wednesday.Read more
The Third Circuit said Thursday that three units of oil refiner Citgo must pay most of the $100 million-plus bill for cleaning up a 2004 oil spill in the Delaware River.Read more
Hurricane Harvey triggered dozens of toxic releases from Houston chemical plants and refineries, and officials say the public health risks are unknown due to Texas’ industry-friendly rules that left it up to companies to report such incidents.Read more
The state of South Dakota confirmed Thursday an oil spill of approximately 5,000 barrels from the Keystone Pipeline in rural northeastern South Dakota, near the North Dakota border.Read more
Residents within three zip codes on the southern edge of Baltimore received an emergency message on their phones Monday telling them to remain sheltered in place following the release of a chlorosulfonic acid cloud from a Solvay Industries plant.Read more
Millions of years before human existence, much less monument designations, a colossal stairway laid its foundation on the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. Over time, tectonic shift exposed the youngest rock layers of the Colorado Plateau: chocolate, vermillion, white, gray and pink cliffs. The five giant steps, which geologist Clarence Dutton first called the “Grand Staircase” in the 1870s, ascend northward hundreds of miles to Bryce Canyon, creating much of the picturesque topography in Southern Utah.Read more
A rural pump station leak along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline has bolstered environmentalists’ and tribes’ claims that the project should be shut down.Read more
A federal judge will allow a trio of environmental nonprofits to press claims the city of Gulfport, Florida illegally dumped raw sewage into the Gulf of Mexico and other waterways.Read more
A report released this week on the cross-border sewage spill that polluted San Diego beaches reveals a breakdown in communication by Mexican officials who did not immediately inform U.S. agencies of the contamination.Read more
Royal Dutch Shell’s Nigeria subsidiary “fiercely opposed” environmental testing and is concealing data showing thousands of Nigerians are exposed to health hazards from a stalled cleanup of the worst oil spills in the West African nation’s history, according to a German geologist contracted by the Dutch-British multinational.Read more
The San Diego City Council voted Tuesday to keep a state of emergency in place for raw sewage from Mexico that has been polluting U.S. waters, particularly since a massive sewage spill in February.Read more
Oil and gas spills related to fracking have occurred far more often than previously reported, and the quagmire of reporting rules state-by-state may be to blame for the discrepancy between reports and reality.Read more