Skip to main content

View Diary: The survival of the human race depends on fate of KeystoneXL and fracking (353 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  It downplayed other risks (29+ / 0-)

    A serious leak could destroy a major aquifer than people and farms rely on. Millions would lose their access to clean water.

    Zen is "infinite respect for all things past; infinite service to all things present; infinite responsibility for all things future."--Huston Smith's Zen Master

    by Ree Zen on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 11:29:33 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Perhaps that's part of the plan. (11+ / 0-)

      Pollute the aquifer and use the water for fracking.  Benefit from increasing scarcity of clean water and food.

    •  Where would you foresee this happening? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      emelyn

      Where along the pipeline route would an aquifer that serves as the source of water for millions be rendered unusable by a release from the pipeline?  I'm curious what you're visualizing here.

        •  Not really (5+ / 0-)

          No.  A release from the pipeline would almost certainly be a very localized situation and would not contaminate a significant part of the aquifer. That was the reason I asked my question. Because the answer is: no place.  It wouldn't happen because it couldn't happen.

          In the article you've cited, Dr. Goecke is correct. By her comments, Ms. Kleeb exhibits no real understanding of the fate and transport of hydrocarbons in the subsurface.

          •  you have absolutely no proof of this (7+ / 0-)
            A release from the pipeline would almost certainly be a very localized situation and would not contaminate a significant part of the aquifer.
            you presume to speak for millions of people and billions of $$ of agribusiness that depend on the clean water from that aquifer to survive and thrive?

            Your arrogance and their loss.

            Your comment is hide-ratable, but the community needs to see exactly what we're up against.

            Shame on you.

            “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

            by ozsea1 on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 04:22:03 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Umm...yes I do (8+ / 0-)

              I have over 30 years of experience studying, evaluating, and remediating hydrocarbons in the environment.

              Hydrocarbon releases almost always lead to fairly localized contamination problems due to several factors, including the physical behavior of non-aqueous phase hydrocarbons in the subsurface and the propensity for dissolved-phase hydrocarbons to biodegrade and attenuate due microbial metabolism.

              Now, chemicals like trichloroethene and methyl tert-butyl ether can lead to extensive, basin-wide contamination problems. Petroleum hydrocarbons generally do not.

              I received a similar response during the Deepwater Horizon matter, when I disagreed, based on my knowledge and experience, that that disaster would destroy the aquatic and near-shore ecosystem of the Gulf, or even that airborne hydrocarbons brought inland by storms would contaminate aquifers.  Those concerns, while understandable for people unfamiliar with the chemistry and behavior of contaminants in the environment, were unjustified; as is the concern that pipeline releases would contaminate large parts of the Ogallala aquifer.

              •  What about the chemicals used to dilute the tar? (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ozsea1, caul, Chi, StrayCat

                Assuming we can even find out what they are using (not a good assumption if it's anything like the fracking industry).

                I wonder what extra chemicals might come into play during a spill?

                "It was clear that any research would be in the nature of a post mortem." - Rachel Carson

                by todamo13 on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:57:56 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  That's a good question (0+ / 0-)

                  From what I've read, and it's a reasonable assumption, it's primarily benzene;  a compound that -- while mobile in the environment -- also readily degrades due to microbial activity.

                  But I'll keep checking to see if any more exotic compounds come into play.

                  •  Benzene is a trace "contaminant" (0+ / 0-)

                    maybe about 0.3% or so.

                    If there was a lot of it, there's no way it would be used for this purpose, it could be purified and sold as a much higher value product (up to 10 to 20x as much, depending on the degree of purity).

                    •  After doing some checking (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Roadbed Guy

                      It appears that the most common material used to reduce the viscosity of the tar sands oil is natural gas condensate, predominantly naphtha.  Naphtha is the name for a range of hydrocarbons between C5 and C12, so it would be readily susceptible to biodegradation and attenuation in the environment.

                      •  Yeah, the lists of the chemicals involved (0+ / 0-)

                        are readily available on the internet - so the "we don't have a clue" type comments that pop up on this site confuse me.

                        I suppose in a narrow sense that is true because each batch of diluent likely has a different proportion of the various chemicals, but it's not some deep dark secret that only the like so Donald Rumsfeld (one of his unknown unknowns?) or Dick Cheney can know about.

              •  Well, the experience with the BP oil disaster (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ozsea1

                tells another story, doesn't it?

                Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

                by StrayCat on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 05:09:34 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  And to address your first sentence: (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sky Net, Zornorph, johnnygunn

              I presume to speak for no one but myself.

              And I disagree that opinions from qualified scientists, based on sound science, is "hide-ratable."  That's nonsense.

            •  I did a bit of checking for you (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jaimas, Zornorph, Roadbed Guy

              Perhaps you might be interested in some information from entities I hope you might trust, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

              USGS:

              Biodegradation of Petroleum Hydrocarbons

              Biodegradation is a major weathering process of crude
              oil and an important natural attenuation process. Rates of biodegradation vary with different microbial populations, hydrocarbons, and geochemical and hydrological conditions present in the subsurface. Nearly all soils and sediments have populations of bacteria and other organisms capable of degrading petroleum hydrocarbons (Kennedy and others, 2000; Potter and Simmons, 1998; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1999; Wiedemeier and others, 1995).

              Hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria can be present in low numbers in unpolluted environments; however, microbial populations can adapt and reach high densities after coming into contact with released petroleum compounds (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 1994). Generally, petroleum hydrocarbons and other organic molecules with abundant carbon-hydrogen bonds are good food sources (electron donors) because they
              contain high-energy electrons.

              Soil and ground-water bacteria use a variety of natural
              electron acceptors in the degradation process. The use of these final electron acceptors is not arbitrary but is based on energy transfer efficiency and availability (Montgomery and others, 1994). The most common inorganic electron acceptor in ground water is dissolved oxygen (DO). Once DO has been depleted, bacteria will preferentially use the next most efficient electron acceptor—usually this is nitrate (NO3) or insoluble manganese (Mn4). After NO3 and Mn4 have been depleted, the bacteria will use ferric iron (Fe3), followed by sulfate (SO42), and carbon dioxide (CO2), respectively. During the reduction of these electron acceptors CO2, ammonia (NH3), soluble manganese (Mn2) and iron (Fe3), sulfide (S2), and methane (CH4) are produced.

              Bacteria responsible for biodegradation commonly are
              categorized by their terminal electron acceptor processes
              (TEAP). Types of bacteria include aerobic bacteria, which
              use DO as their TEAP, nitrate-reducing bacteria, iron- and
              manganese-reducing bacteria, sulfur-reducing bacteria,
              and methanogenic bacteria.

              Pseudomonas bacteria are free-swimming aerobic bacteria known to degrade BTEX (Chapelle, 2000). Biodegradation rates for the various types of petroleum hydrocarbons depend on the TEAP occurring. The sequence of preferential electron acceptor processes has been shown to cause zones of different electron-accepting processes dominating in different redox zones in contaminant plumes (Godsy and others, 1999).

              Geochemical and microbiological data can be used to delineate the zones and to obtain information on possible degradation rates. Biodegradation rates of low to moderate weight aliphatic, alicyclic, and aromatic hydrocarbons can be high if ideal conditions are present. Resistance to biodegradation typically increases as the molecular weight of the hydrocarbon increases (Wiedemeier and others, 1995).

              At the Bemidji, Minn. crude oil spill site, microorganisms have degraded BTEX compounds in the ground water,
              and biodegradation has slowed the movement of BTEX
              compounds (Cozzarelli and others, 2001). Many of the soluble hydrocarbons are degraded in an anoxic zone that has developed downgradient of the oil body, but benzene has been more recalcitrant under anoxic conditions and has migrated farther downgradient than other BTEX hydrocarbons (Eganhouse and others, 1996). Field studies at a crude oil spill site in India indicated that up to 75 percent of the hydrocarbons present could be biodegraded within a year if the proper geochemical and microbial consortia are present (Gogoi and others, 2003).

              Multiple lines of evidence generally are needed to
              demonstrate biodegradation processes at contaminated sites (National Research Council, 1993; Wiedemeier and others, 1995). The lines of evidence used to examine biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons include (1) chemical data that indicate decreasing concentrations of petroleum hydrocarbons, (2) geochemical data that indicate depletion of electron acceptors, and (3) laboratory or field microbiological data that indicate the bacteria present at a site can degrade petroleum hydrocarbons (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1997).

              EPA
              Effect Of Biodegradation (on petroleum hydrocarbon [PHC] plumes)

              An aerobic biodegradation zone (see Figure 1) is typically present along the perimeter of the PHC plumes
              in groundwater and soil gas. Within this bioactive zone, natural microbial activity can degrade many PHCs into nontoxic end products like carbon dioxide and water (although some biodegradation pathways
              can produce compounds like methane, as discussed later). Because soil microbes consume oxygen to
              degrade PHCs, oxygen may become depleted where contaminant concentrations are elevated such as in
              the interior of a groundwater or vapor plume. The aerobic biodegradation zone generally develops around
              the perimeter of the contaminant plume, where oxygen transport from the atmosphere or oxygenated
              groundwater (depicted as dashed arrows in Figure 1) can replenish the oxygen consumed from degradation in this bioactive zone. Atmospheric oxygen migrates into the subsurface through diffusion and advection (e.g., barometric pumping of soil gas into and out of the subsurface in response to changes in barometric pressure), as well as dissolved in infiltrating rainwater.
              PHC plumes in the saturated (groundwater) and unsaturated (soil) zones can reach a relatively stable
              condition, with oxygen replenished and contaminants biodegraded at the same rate chemicals are released
              from a source through dissolution and volatilization.
              If the source is removed, this equilibrium is disturbed and biodegradation can reduce the size of the plume, shrinking it back toward the original source area to the point that the plume may dissipate completely over time (Wilson et al., 1986). As documented in monitored natural attenuation guidance and literature (Wilson et al., 1986; EPA, 1999), under favorable conditions biodegradation can provide an effective contaminant removal-and-control mechanism for PHCs in groundwater, which effectively limits contaminant migration and reduces plume extent over time. Given that oxygen is usually more available in soil and unsaturated zones overlying groundwater (where air is present in the soil pore space), it follows that similar processes effectively limit vapor-phase PHC plumes in soil. See page 5, Fate And Transport Processes For Vapor-Phase Contaminants, for more information about PHC biodegradation in the unsaturated zone, including typical observed vertical concentration patterns in soil gas profiles.

              In contrast to PHCs, chlorinated solvents biodegrade much more slowly, often incompletely, and primarily under anaerobic conditions in the subsurface. Although anaerobic biodegradation of chlorinated compounds can effectively limit contaminant migration in the saturated zone in some cases (EPA, 1998), chlorinated plumes (dissolved groundwater and vapor) often extend farther than typically observed petroleum contaminant plumes (see Figures 1 and 2). Other than biodegradation, vapor transport mechanisms for PHCs and chlorinated
              compounds are similar (see page 5)

              •  That's all very nice (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                caul

                however, due to regulatory capture, I'm less sanguine than your pov.

                “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

                by ozsea1 on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:12:40 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  That's what pisses me off (1+ / 2-)
                  Recommended by:
                  MGross
                  Hidden by:
                  ozsea1, cville townie

                  You don't like what scientific agencies have to say, so you dismiss it as "regulatory capture."

                  Yet you are completely ignorant, as best as one can tell from your statements, of the actual science.

                  You're letting your ideology interfere with your acceptance of scientific information.

                  I can only wish you realize that your posture is pretty much equivalent to the client deniers on the right.

                  But I'm not hopeful that you are so insightful.  I've met your kind before. "Immune to evidence" is a label that has been applied.

                  Are you so terribly foolish to think that the weight of science on the fate and transport of hydrocarbons, which has been developed over more than two decades and is available for review by anyone with the gumption to do so, has been perverted by the Keystone XL debate?

                  I know you mean well, but the term "morans" springs to mind.

                  •  nope (0+ / 0-)

                    I didn't owe you a long tedious explanation, especially as it would duplicate some excellent comments in this comment thread that thoroughly debunk your talking points.

                    Obviously, your defensive response means I inadvertently touched a nerve;  you are afraid your pov may be weak after all.

                    I don't know and dont care.

                    Your insult crossed the line, though.

                    “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

                    by ozsea1 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 06:54:55 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You can't fix stupid (0+ / 0-)

                      But you can address ignorance, which is why I tried to explain things to you and provided links to authoritative references that summarize some of the facts about which I was talking.

                      But rather than learn, rather than overcoming your ignorance, you chose to clap you hands over your ears and eyes and ululate.

                      Fine.  I can't make you learn.

                      By the way, it's against site rules to click the "hide" radio button on a comment by someone with whom you are having a disagreement.  But, as with your rejection of facts and science, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that you also would reject the norms of the site on which you display your ignorance.

                      Have a nice day, oz.  You really should try to learn rather than reject facts and opinions that (not surprisingly) fail to  comport with your ignorant and fallacious preconceptions.  

                      •  you should cut the condescension (0+ / 0-)

                        it completely undermines your points, valid or invalid.

                        Simply (since you seem determined to dig an even deeper rheorical hole for yourself) -

                        There is ample evidence that the potential for a petrochemical spill to work its way into and thereby contaminate the Ogallala Aquifer is probable; greater than even odds.

                        Those odds are unacceptable.

                        I may have left the matter as "my sources vs your sources", but you, perhaps afraid that your pov wasn't really tenable, got personal.

                        I'm almost embarrassed for you.

                        “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

                        by ozsea1 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 01:23:53 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                •  In short (0+ / 0-)

                  You don't know what the fuck you're talking about.

              •  You can now buy bags of these critters (0+ / 0-)

                to bioremediate the oil on one's driveway.

                It's pretty cool, really.

      •  You really don't know the answer Ernest? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jaimas, ozsea1, caul, Chi

        A major leak in an aquifer would pollute the drinking water.
        Look what happened in WV recently.

        There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people. Howard Zinn.

        by snoopydawg on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 04:56:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  What About Atrazine? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aitchdee, FrankenPC, caul, Chi

      Atrazine, one of the most widely used herbicides, is an ongoing environmental issue throughout the grain producing regions of Mid-America - - including Nebraska.

      Nearly every county in eastern Nebraska has levels of atrazine in ground and surface water significantly in excess of EPA standards.  Atrazine runoff isn't hypothetical.

       photo AtrazineUse2011_zpsc300bf58.jpg

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site