A 2015 pipeline spill of liquid natural gas in western North Dakota initially reported as just 10 gallons is at least hundreds of thousands of gallons larger and may take another decade to clean up, state health officials said Tuesday.Read more
A steel company apologized for a spill of cyanide and ammonia that led to a fish kill and prompted the closure of beaches along Lake Michigan.Read more
After the Trump administration gave hardrock-mining companies a pass on proving their financial ability to tackle cleanup costs in the event of a spill, the D.C. Circuit shot down a challenge Friday to force the regulatory change.Read more
Officials began to clean up a massive oil spill Friday that dumped nearly 800,000 gallons of oil and water into a California canyon, making it larger — if less devastating — than the state’s last two major oil spills.Read more
Fed by wells seeping oil since a hurricane toppled an offshore platform in 2004, an oil sheen off the coast of Louisiana has become a Gulf of Mexico landmark. A new government report disputes the driller’s claims the site is leaking an average of just 2.4 gallons per day.Read more
The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 Monday that state regulators did not adequately consider the environmental impact of a potential oil spill on the Lake Superior watershed when they approved a plan to replace a rundown pipeline.Read more
A chemical leak that caused a toxic plume to hang for hours over a northern Chicago suburb Thursday sickened dozens of people, seven of whom are in critical condition, officials said.Read more
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether three Citgo-affiliated companies must pay most of the $100 million-plus bill for cleaning up a 2004 oil spill in the Delaware River.Read more
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