Suncor Open Thread/Updates, December 11 News/Links
Now its “A Haven for Birds” AND industrial pollution!
We were quickly booted from approaching the area surrounding the oil booms at the meeting of the Sand Creek and South Platte River. No EPA or officials were on site – just a dude in a big white truck who was reluctant to tell me his employer.
The extent of the contamination is still unclear. If the leak involves tar sands diluted bitumen, the contamination could be more severe. Tar sands diluted bitumen spills are associated with significantly more submerged oil which cannot be contained by surface booms. Spill responders are still struggling to handle the submerged oil at Enbridge’s Kalamazoo oil spill. However, this spill shows the weakness in spill response and is yet another example of the very real risks inherent in tar sands infrastructure projects.
A DeSmog reader alerted us to this update today, which indicates that, if it weren’t for the diligence of the unnamed fisherman, an Idaho man who read his blog, and the Denver Post’s follow-up call to EPA, this spill might have spread farther thanks to an incompetent initial response by the state of Colorado. “It’s not like the fisherman reported the spill and everyone jumped into action. The actual process is remarkable.” Indeed, remarkably scary.
Suncor Energy faces $130,500 in penalties for more than two dozen health and safety violations at its refinery in Commerce City.
Suncor allegedly failed to test monitors properly for hydrogen sulfide, a toxic and flammable gas, and failed to follow safety standards while processing hazardous chemicals, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which issued the citations.
Federal emergency-response coordinators say an underground plume spreading from Suncor Energy’s refinery north of downtown Denver is the source of the black goo leaking into Sand Creek and the South Platte River.
“The material appears to be coming from Suncor property, migrating under the Metro Wastewater property and daylighting in Sand Creek,” said EPA emergency-response manager Curtis Kimbel.
Round-the-clock work “has significantly reduced the amount of material that has gone into the river,” Kimbel said. “We have not seen dead fish or birds.”
***Notes: Fisherman in local discussion forums have report dead carp showing up on river banks, we noticed a female mallard duck near the site that was unable to fly and extremely disoriented – no obvious physical damage.
The samples were consistent with chemicals identified in earlier EPA results released in 2010 and are generally below established health and safety standards. To ensure a transparent and rigorous analysis, EPA is releasing these findings for public comment and will submit them to an independent scientific review panel. The draft findings announced today are specific to Pavillion, where the fracturing is taking place in and below the drinking water aquifer and in close proximity to drinking water wells – production conditions different from those in many other areas of the country.
The mainstream approach to climate change does not seem to be working so some scientists and policymakers say it may be time to look into something completely different: re-engineering Earth’s climate.
Indeed, if the world is suddenly awash with oil, somebody forgot to tell the oil market. Oil remains stubbornly above $100 per barrel of Brent crude, the main international benchmark. Most analysts agree this is because supply is struggling to keep pace with demand, despite weakening western economies. But if all this extra oil is coming on-stream, how come?
Part of the reason is down to short-term unforeseen disruptions, such as the Deepwater Horizon disaster in theGulf of Mexico last year which delayed many drilling projects, and the Libyan revolution which cut global supply by almost 1.6 mb/d. The impact of these events should fade in time but there are clearly deeper forces at work. Producing oil is getting harder.