Gas leak in North Sea reminiscent of BP oil spill

Originally published on

By Carrie Mihalcik

Gas has been spewing into the air for over a week due to a major leak at the Elgin offshore platform in the North Sea. All 238 workers were evacuated and a two-mile evacuation radius was set up around the platform, which is about 150 miles off the coast of Scotland. The New York Times reports that the volume of gas leaking from the well threatens to make the air both poisonous and explosive over a wide area and poses a significant environmental danger.

Total, the French energy company that owns the platform, has been spending $1 million dollars a day to plug the leak, according to Reuters. Their efforts to plug the leak last week failed. Total now plans on drilling two relief wells to stop gas from leaking at the top of the platform once conditions have been deemed safe for both men and equipment.

Total has enlisted the help of international experts to stop the leak, including U.S. firefighting and engineering firm Wild Well Control, which helped tackle BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010.

EPA extends deadline for final ruling on fracking pollution standards

The Environmental Protection Agency has again delayed issuing air pollution standards for natural gas wells that use hydraulic fracturing – also known as fracking. In a statement on Monday the EPA said it needs more time to “fully address the issues raised in the more than 156,000 public comments we received on the proposed rules.”

April 17 is the new EPA deadline. The rules are designed to significantly reduce smog-forming volatile organic compounds and air toxins from gas wells, compressors, storage tanks and other fracking related equipment. Studies have linked the toxins produced in fracking to increased health risks – including cancer, asthma and pulmonary disease.

Frackers and farmers in a bidding war for water

Farmers in Colorado are facing tough competition for excess water diverted from the Colorado River Basin. The Denver Post reports that companies providing water to hydraulic fracturing well sites were the top bidders at Colorado’s main auction for unallocated water this spring, a water supply once exclusively claimed by farmers. Each gas well requires between 500,000 to 5 million gallons of water and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission projects that the water needs for fracking will increase significantly by 2015.

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