The Bluegrass Pipeline

The Bluegrass Pipeline, which was supposed to carry natural gas liquids from Southwest Pennsylvania through Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia to the Gulf Coast, has been cancelled. Read the story from the non-profit Public Source.

Rail cars moving crude oil need makeover

Late on  Nov.  26, 2013, a train derailment and chemical spill forced hundreds of residents to be evacuated from their homes in Willard, Ohio, about 65 miles southwest of Cleveland. Thousands of gallons of styrene monomer, a highly flammable chemical, leaked from the tank of a CSX railroad DOT-111 rail car into the nearby soil.   No injuries were reported and the cold weather helped ensure that the chemical didn’t ignite. The Federal Railroad Administration has not released yet the results of its investigation into the cause of the derailment or the chemical spill. Brian Humphress, Willard’s city manager, said emergency responders, state and federal agencies, and CSX handled the clean-up smoothly and the town appears to have recovered well from the accident.    But officials in other states and in federal agencies are starting to question the safety of the DOT-111 and whether the aging rail car should be used to carry new types of cargo such as crude oil from fracking. Public Source,  a Pittsburgh-based non-profit journalism organization and fellow Investigative News Network member, takes an in-depth look at the issue.

A new pipeline from PA fracking fields stirs controversy in the Bluegrass State

STAMPING GROUND, Ky. — The land agent first came knocking on Vivian and Dean House’s door in July. They sat on the patio of the retired couple’s 85-acre farm in this Central Kentucky town and chatted. The guy was friendly, the kind of guy Dean could talk to about fishing. He put the couple at ease and told them his company was interested in running a pipeline through their land.

The Irwin Street legacy: how not to clean up a brownfield

The ugly 22-acre plot in Dayton is overrun with high weeds, dotted with partially demolished cinder blocks, and surrounded by a tall chain-link fence. 636 North Irwin Street near the Mad River is not a pretty site, yet it’s one of the most hotly contested properties in the state of Ohio. It has a 20-year history of soil and groundwater contamination which carry potential threats to the city’s drinking water. The state of Ohio has slapped $15 million in fines against the property’s owners and raised the ire of environmental groups who say the state hasn’t done enough to either collect on the fines or get rid of the problem. Teresa Mills, Ohio organizer for the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, an environmental advocacy group in Columbus, said the state should be acting more aggressively to clean up North Irwin Street.

U.S. Coast Guard publishes proposed policy on moving frack wastewater by barge

The U.S. Coast Guard, which regulates the country’s waterways, will allow shale gas companies to ship fracking wastewater on the nation’s rivers and lakes under a proposed policy published Wednesday. The Coast Guard began studying the issue nearly two years ago at the request of its Pittsburgh office, which had inquiries from companies transporting Marcellus Shale wastewater. If the policy is approved, companies can ship the wastewater in bulk on barges on the nation’s 12,000 miles of waterways, a much cheaper mode than trucks or rail. The public will have 30 days to comment. Under the policy, companies would first have to test the wastewater at a state-certified laboratory and provide the data to the Coast Guard for review.

The algae bloom crisis challenges agribusiness to change as toxins rise in Lake Erie

The tilling and fertilizing practices of Ohio farmers have been named the culprit in causing toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie and other waterways in the state. But the pace of reforming those practices has been slow and has public officials and farmers wondering how to hasten it. Solutions so far have favored large farm businesses that can afford the new equipment for dispersing chemical fertilizers. They’ve also favored the fertilizer industry. Compounding the challenge of solving the algae bloom problem has been the difficulty in documenting that problem.

State fish advisories aren’t reaching Ohio’s anglers

Information on health impacts of mercury lacking

It’s a hot, sunny day at Gordon Park on Cleveland’s east side, and the fish are biting. Seven-year-old Robert Pruitt dangles his line over the bulkheads and waits for a pull. When his line suddenly goes taut, he’s so excited that he almost forgets what to do. He looks at his great-grandmother, Eunetta McGlothan, 79, who’s sitting on a nearby picnic bench and yelling at him to reel it in. Robert pulls a glimmering sunfish from Lake Erie and shows it to McGlothan.