Monday, December 29, 2014

COREXIT - BP oil spill dispersants concern Nova Scotia environmentalist

Bill C-22 is 'an absolute, total abdication of regulatory responsibility'

CBC News Posted: Dec 29, 2014 9:38 AM AT Last Updated: Dec 29, 2014 9:38 AM AT
Crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill washes ashore in Orange Beach, Ala., on June 12, 2010.
Crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill washes ashore in Orange Beach, Ala., on June 12, 2010. (Dave Martin/Associated Press


A Shelburne County environmentalist is raising concerns about a toxic chemical that could be used off Nova Scotia in the future.

When the Deepwater Horizon oil platform erupted in flames in 2010, it spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico, but some research says the cleanup was worse because about 6.8 million litres of the chemical Corexit 9500A was used to disperse the oil.

The dispersant used by oil company BP, when mixed with crude oil, was found to be 52 times more toxic than oil alone to some microscopic plankton-like organisms called rotifers.

"When you mix this stuff with the oil, you create a compound that is substantially more dangerous than even the dangerous dispersant on its own or even the dangerous oil on its own and this is the issue that we have," says John Davis, a founder of the No Rigs Coalition.

He says Shell has already put out bids to use Corexit if there is a spill at a well planned for the Shelburne Gully.

"The creators of CoRexit will tell you it's less toxic than dish soap. All you have to do is read the warning label to know that it’s a highly, highly dangerous chemical.… There is no doubt in my mind that if Shell made the effort they could find ways to clean up the oil and not just be prepared to disperse it and put it under water and out of sight," he says.
'Total abdication of regulatory responsibility'

Davis says there is legislation in place to prevent the use of chemicals like Corexit, “but what happened here is that the federal government has decided to put forward legislation called Bill C-22 — which in fact creates a circumstance where the oil company can go and utilize the product, the dispersants, and then report after the fact to the regulatory agencies. It is an absolute, total abdication of regulatory responsibility.”

Bill C-22 was introduced by the federal minister of Natural Resources earlier this year.

It would pre-approve emergency plans for oil and gas companies to deal with spills, such as the speedy use of dispersants, or chemicals used to break oil into smaller particles in the event of an oil spill at sea.

Davis says he worries the chemical could end up on the Georges Bank, pointing out the Labrador Current would carry any material right to the fertile fishing grounds.



"It’s that [upwelling of water] that provides much of the nutrients that makes Georges Bank such an important biological place — and so important to us as an economical generator," he says.

A publication in the February 2013 issue of the scientific journal Environmental Pollution, found that on their own, the oil and dispersant were equally toxic. But when combined, the oil and dispersant increased toxicity to one of the rotifer species by a factor of 52.
'High and immediate human health hazards​'

Dispersants cause giant pools of spilled oil floating atop the sea to break up into tiny droplets that then dilute with water just below the surface. The process helps creatures including turtles, birds and mammals that need access to the surface, and also ensures less oil flows ashore where it can choke coastal wildlife. However, it increases the amount of oil just below the surface, potentially contaminating the organisms that live there.

Scientists at the Autonomous University of Aguascalientes in Mexico and the Georgia Institute of Technology now say Corexit 9500A is far more harmful than previously thought to a key dweller of those sub-surface depths.

An Environment Canada study states the dispersant is 27 times safer than common dish soap, but some say that figure is dangerously misleading. The study also states that five of Corexit's 57 ingredients are linked to cancer and can pose "high and immediate human health hazards."

In all, the British Petroleum oil leak was the largest offshore petroleum spill in U.S. history, sending 4.9 million barrels (584 million litres) of crude into the Gulf of Mexico.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

An open letter to the South Shore on oil exploration and extraction

NOTE:  In addition to the presentation at Municipal Council next month, below, John Davis will be on CBC on Monday: “Information Morning” interview between 7 and 7:30 on Monday morning, December 29th.

Shell Oil Company
Shell Oil Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



This is one of the most thorough and correct assessments of the management, control and impacts that can be expected from current oil explorations off Nova Scotia. The assessment applies almost equally, but with wide variation in dispersion, to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It is a must read for residents of these shores in Nova Scotia, PEI, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec.

Art MacKay

*******************************
Published on December 16, 2014
The Shelburne County Coast Guard

By John Davis
Shell Oil is moving steadily through the regulatory process which will allow the drilling of exploratory wells on the edge of the Scotian Shelf in an area known as the Shelburne Gully. It looks very much as if this process on the Scotian Shelf will become a major offshore oil play for many years to come. Shell’s plans are to drill up to 7 exploration wells over a 4 year period (2015-2019). This represents a $1 Billion investment. British Petroleum holds a lease to the North East of the Shell holdings. They are planning a similar project.
Randy Hiscock, Manager of Business Development and New Ventures at Shell, stated recently”
“the earliest drilling could take place in the Shelburne Basin in late 2015, and that depends on the results of the seismic research, rig scheduling and getting the proper equipment in place.”
Mr. Hiscock went on to say, “Oil is what Shell is banking on. “The sun is rising hopefully on a new day in offshore Nova Scotia.” “We look forward to getting some wells out, having some exploration success and being here for at least another 70, 80 or 90 years.”
This is very good news for the Nova Scotian economy but it is a clear indication that there is work to be done on the South Shore to see that good working relationships are created and maintained between our coastal communities, our fishing industry and, what is for us, a new offshore industry. Paramount in this process is for Shell to demonstrate a respect for the environmental integrity of the South Shore and a respect for our primary economic engine, our fishing industry.
As an example of the type of issues we face, and this is one of many, let’s look for a moment at potential fishing ground impacts and spill response plans starting with section 8.0.0 of the environmental assessment produced by the consulting firm, Stantec.
Shell states in the plan:
“Shell is committed to responding to an offshore oil spill with a full complement of response tools and strategies including surface, aerial and subsea dispersants; mechanical recovery; in situ burning; shoreline protection and recovery and well control.”
Shell could very well be committed to this list of response tools and strategies but it is essential that South Shore communities to take a close look at the realities surrounding their actual ability to contain and secure spilled oil. Mechanical recovery as it exists at

Saturday, December 20, 2014

CLF Scoop: Exciting News on Renewables in New England

Posted: 19 Dec 2014 07:27 AM PST

The ISO's on-going effort to integrate renewable energy into the New England power grid is not only on track but is accelerating. ISO-New England is the FERC-licensed entity that runs the New England power grid.

Specifically, two distinct but related changes are under way right now. First, on December 3, the ISO – for the first time in history – introduced negative price offers into New England's wholesale electricity markets. You can read about what that means, and why it is so important for renewable energy, in my previous blog post, here. The second change is that the ISO is on a trajectory to make variable output renewable sources (like wind and solar) fully dispatchable in New England's real time wholesale electricity market. You can read about what this means here.

One more piece of information – about the ISO's tariff – is crucial to understanding how these two related phenomena are going to radically change New England wholesale electricity markets for the better. The ISO's tariff is the document that sets out – in exquisite detail – the rules and procedures that govern New England's electricity markets. The tariff itself runs to 395 pages, and that is without Appendices A through K that add hundreds more pages.

Here is the crucial point: Under the ISO's tariff, only generation resources that are fully dispatchable get to set the clearing price for electricity. That clearing price, which can be different for every hour of the day, is the price that every generator on the system receives for its electricity output during the relevant hour. Now that renewables are being made fully dispatchable, renewable resources (like wind) will, for the first time in New England history, be able to set the clearing price for electricity. And that is happening at the same time as the ISO is introducing negative pricing!

Because I have the honor of representing CLF on several ISO committees, I have had a close-up view of this process actually working; it is really exciting. At an ISO meeting earlier this month, we went through a line-by-line and word-by-word review of the actual changes in the ISO's tariff that will make wind and run-of-river hydro power fully dispatchable. ISO will decide on the final tariff language in January, and plans to file the tariff changes with FERC in February. Wind and hydro should be be fully dispatchable in the New England electricity market in late 2015; and the ISO plans to make other renewables, like solar, fully dispatchable by 2018.

And, as I said above, negative prices became possible on December 3. In fact just over a week later, on Thursday, December 11, the wholesale price of electricity in New England dropped to minus $151.73 during one hour of the ISO's "Operating Day." Today (December 19) we had a clearing price of zero for an hour this morning, and then the clearing price dropped to minus-$47.67. Negative wholesale electricity prices in New England are not merely a theoretical possibility; they have been happening this month.

Needless to say, owners of conventional, fossil-fueled generating plants are very unhappy about these changes. As I explained in my previous blogs, most clearing prices are set by fuel costs. Because renewable generators have no fuel costs (sunshine and wind is free), it is renewable generators that are most likely to make negative-price bids in electricity markets. But when renewable generators set the clearing price at below zero, that is the clearing price for that hour for all generators (including the fossil-fuel generators which do have fuel costs)!

The old pricing paradigm for electricity changing – and it is renewable energy that is forcing the change. Fossil fuel (and nuclear) generators are not happy about it, because clearing prices below zero will undermine (and may eventually destroy) their entire business model. To its credit, the ISO is moving ahead with the changes, despite the manifest unhappiness of the fossil-fuel industry.

It is very, very cool to see intermittent renewables being made fully dispatchable, able to set prices, and getting integrated like this into the region's wholesale energy markets. In the past, environmentalists frequently heard the argument that, sure, renewables have some environmental benefits, but they are just too darned expensive. At some time in the foreseeable future, renewables are going to be setting (very low) prices in the wholesale electricity markets, and suddenly everyone will perceive them differently. In the future, we may see renewable energy being extolled for its low prices and direct benefits to ratepayers.

The post Exciting News on Renewables in New England appeared first on Conservation Law Foundation.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

FUNDY TIDES is out! Edition of 18 December 2014

 
FUNDY TIDES
New Brunswick's Online Newsmagazine
Published by
Art MacKay
18 December 2014
Leisure World Environment Business Art & Entertainment Technology #nb #bayoffundy
 
Today's headline
Shale gas moratorium details unveiled by Brian Gallant - New Brunswick - CBC News
thumbnail www­.cbc.ca - The Gallant government's moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for shale gas will be introduced in the legislature Thursday. Premier Brian Gallant told a news conference Thursday the moratorium will b...
 
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

FUNDY TIDES is out! Edition of 17 December 2014

 
FUNDY TIDES
New Brunswick's Online Newsmagazine
Published by
Art MacKay
17 December 2014
Business Leisure Politics World Environment Science #cdnpoli #nb
 
Today's headline
Brian Gallant clarifies Justin Trudeau's Energy East pipeline comments - New Brunswick - CBC News
thumbnail www­.cbc.ca - New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant has been forced to clarify some recent comments by federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau about the Energy East pipeline. Trudeau told La Presse TransCanada Corp....
 
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

FUNDY TIDES is out! Edition of 16 December 2014

 
FUNDY TIDES
New Brunswick's Online Newsmagazine
Published by
Art MacKay
16 December 2014
Leisure World Politics Education Business Environment #nb #nbpoli
 
Today's headline
Furnace oil prices driven up by pre-election changes - New Brunswick - CBC News
thumbnail www­.cbc.ca - A decision by the New Brunswick government to make consumers pay diesel prices when they buy furnace oil has driven the cost of the fuel in the province to among the highest in the region. Daphne R...
 
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Monday, December 15, 2014

FUNDY TIDES is out! Edition of 15 December 2014

 
FUNDY TIDES
New Brunswick's Online Newsmagazine
Published by
Art MacKay
15 December 2014
Leisure Business Environment Science Technology Politics #bayoffundy #nb
 
Today's headline
Podcasts | NB: Spin Reduxit | cbc.ca Podcasts
www­.cbc.ca - Dec. 15, 2014: The Mandate but not a Clear Mandate Edition Dan and Jacques discuss the various debates over Liberal promises, and the cut-off of severance for two PC appointees. Plus the CBC's Juli...
 
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Saturday, December 13, 2014

FUNDY TIDES is out! Edition of 13 December 2014

 
FUNDY TIDES
New Brunswick's Online Newsmagazine
Published by
Art MacKay
13 December 2014
Business Leisure Sports Politics Science Stories #nb #newbrunswick
 
Today's headline
Dennis Oland ordered to stand trial for 2nd-degree murder - New Brunswick - CBC News
thumbnail www­.cbc.ca - Dennis Oland will stand trial for second-degree murder in the death of his father, prominent New Brunswick businessman Richard Oland, more than three years ago, a judge has decided. Provincial cour...
 
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