By Ben Kleppinger
Published 12:51 pm Saturday, February 24, 2018
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has denied a request for a stay in a case concerning a natural gas pipeline that runs through Boyle County.
FERC, the federal agency charged with regulating all natural gas pipelines in the country, ruled last year that energy company Kinder Morgan could stop using Tennessee Gas Pipeline No. 1 for natural gas, in effect giving the go-ahead for a plan to use the pipeline for “natural gas liquids” (NGLs), a collection of byproducts from fracking in the northeast. A trio of environmental groups filed a motion for rehearing in the case and asked for a stay of FERC’s order. The stay would have prevented Kinder Morgan from pursuing its plan until FERC decides whether to rehear the case. But FERC denied the stay in an order filed Tuesday, finding that “justice does not require a stay and therefore (FERC) denies the motion for stay.” However, the order specifically notes that FERC has not ruled yet on whether it will rehear the case.
“In order to support a stay, the (environmental groups) must substantiate that irreparable injury is ‘likely’ to occur. The injury must be both certain and great and it must be actual and not theoretical,” the order reads. “Bare allegations of what is likely to occur do not suffice.”
The three groups are Allegheny Defense Project, a group based in Pennsylvania; and two Kentucky-based organizations — Kentucky Resources Council and Kentucky Heartwood. In court documents, they are often referred to simply as “Allegheny.”
“Allegheny makes little effort to substantiate a claim of irreparable injury” in its motion for a stay, the FERC order argues. “Allegheny states that they have ‘members who live, work and recreate along the proposed pipeline route’ and who have ‘been active in community meetings and protests against the pipeline.’ But Allegheny has failed to provide specific information regarding the purported injury inflicted upon their members by the Tennessee Abandonment and Capacity Restoration Project.”
FERC’s denial quotes Allegheny’s original filing, which argued that the pipeline project would involve “direct surface and subsurface impacts, and will alter the landscape.”
“These generalized claims of environmental harm do not constitute sufficient evidence of irreparable harm that would justify a stay,” the order reads. “In support of its claim of irreparable harm, Allegheny also points to the ‘distinct possibility of leakage and of catastrophic failure’ of the pipeline after it is converted from gas vapor to gas liquids service. But the September 2017 order does not authorize any subsequent use of the pipeline. As we explained, the (FERC’s) ‘jurisdiction over the subject pipeline ends once it is abandoned in accordance with the conditions’ specified in the order.”
That argument — that approving abandonment of the line for natural gas purposes can be considered separately from the environmental impacts of using the pipeline for NGLs — is what Allegheny took issue with in its initial filing.
Allegheny filed its “request for rehearing and motion for stay of order” with FERC on Oct. 30. The document lays out Allegheny’s arguments that FERC misinterpreted the law and took the pipeline industry’s side over residents’ in its Sept. 29 order allowing “abandonment” of Tennessee Gas Pipeline No. 1.
“(FERC) improperly segmented and limited its review of the impacts of the conversion … thus dodging a complete, rigorous environmental study of the total project impacts,” the Allegheny filing argued. “… (FERC’s) efforts to facilitate (Kinder Morgan’s) repurposing of this natural gas line while limiting its scope of environmental review is precisely why Justice Douglas cautioned that federal agencies ‘are notoriously under the control of the powerful interests who manipulate them through advisory committees, or friendly working relations, or who have that natural affinity with the agency which in time develops between the regulator and the regulated. Just as Justice Douglas used the example of the former Interstate Commerce Commission being overly sympathetic ‘to take the business and railroad view of things,’ so too is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission overly sympathetic ‘to take the business and (natural gas) view of things.'”
FERC’s denial of the stay doesn’t buy into Allegheny’s argument.
“Where, as here, a party seeking a stay is unable to establish that it will suffer irreparable harm absent a stay, the commission need not examine other factors,” FERC stated in the denial.
Opponents of the pipeline plan argue that NGLs are more explosive, more toxic and much heavier than natural gas; that Pipeline No. 1 was not built to handle the added load or flow in the opposite direction; and that a leak or explosion could be devastating to local environments and economies along the path of the pipeline.
Kelly McKinney/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Feb 14, 2018
For years now, Kentucky counties and other municipalities, as well as various area environmental groups, have spoken up against an effort by energy infrastructure company Kinder Morgan to repurpose a natural gas pipeline to transport liquid gas. Now, an effort is underway to take their plea directly to the source of their concerns.
Craig Williams with the Kentucky Environmental Foundation presented a letter to the Madison County Fiscal Court Tuesday that the foundation intends to send to Steven J. Kean, president and CEO of Kinder Morgan. The letter reinforces the significant amount of opposition to the project, and asks that the company consider abandoning the effort, Williams said.
Kinder Morgan recently obtained approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to abandon 964 miles of natural gas pipeline (the Tennessee Gas Pipeline) in six states, including Kentucky. Approximately 24.5 miles of the pipeline are in Madison County.
The plan was proposed in 2015 and would see the 70-plus-year-old pipeline, built for transporting natural gas from Louisiana to Ohio, become a natural gas liquid pipeline pushing the substance from the north to south.
Magistrates voted to allow judge-executive Reagan Taylor to sign the letter in support.
"This is a hazardous issue that we don't want flowing through our county," magistrate John Tudor said.
Williams said the company has been unable to move forward with the project because it hasn't found any market interest, so he hopes company executives will be amenable to dropping its plans.
Williams said he is taking the letter to other Kentucky counties the pipeline flows through, as well as to Eastern Kentucky University president Michael Benson.
"We're making an end run here," Williams said, adding that he also plans to network with Tennessee counties in the line of the pipeline.
Safety concerns over the pipeline's age, and ability to withstand the pressure to move liquid gas have prompted the resistance.
"The pressure it takes to move a gas is less than the pressure it takes to move a liquid," Williams said.
Ordinances the fiscal court enacted in the summer of 2016 also might be a deterrent for the project's continuance, Williams said.
Despite letters of opposition from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Kentucky Gas Association and Tennessee Gas Pipeline, the fiscal court in June 2016 unanimously approved ordinances that would require conditional use permits before a hazardous liquids pipeline may be re-purposed or a large natural gas pipeline compressor can be constructed.
The letter to Kean is not the only recent action taken by Kentucky organizations. Three environmental groups filed a Petition for Review on Jan. 31 with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals asking the court to review the decision by (FERC) approving the abandonment and re-purposing of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, according to a press release from the Kentucky Environmental Foundation. The petitioning organizations — Kentucky Resources Council, Allegheny Defense Project and Kentucky Heartwood — argue that the FERC failed to give adequate consideration to the unique safety and environmental risks posed by approving the re-purposing of the seven-decade-old pipeline for transporting heavier, more volatile natural gas liquids.
According to its website, Kinder Morgan is one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in North America and owns an interest in or operates approximately 85,000 miles of pipelines and 152 terminals. The company's pipelines transport natural gas, gasoline, crude oil, carbon dioxide (CO2) and more.
Kentucky Heartwood files in U.S. Court of Appeals to block Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas Pipeline conversion project
For Immediate Release, February 6, 2018
Contact: Ryan Talbott, Allegheny Defense Project, (503) 329-9162
Tom Fitzgerald, Kentucky Resources Council, (502) 875 2428
Jim Scheff, Kentucky Heartwood, (859) 334-0602, email@example.com
Groups petition U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. for review of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Order Approving “Abandonment” and “Repurposing” of Tennessee Gas Pipeline
Federal agency failed to consider unique safety and environmental hazards posed by conversion of aging natural gas pipeline to transporting hazardous liquids
BEREA, KY – Three environmental groups filed a Petition for Review with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on January 31st asking the Court to review a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approving the abandonment and repurposing of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP), owned by energy infrastructure company Kinder Morgan. The petitioning organizations, Kentucky Resources Council, Allegheny Defense Project, and Kentucky Heartwood, argue that the FERC failed to give adequate consideration to the unique safety and environmental risks posed by approving the repurposing of a 24” diameter, 70+ year-old natural gas pipeline for transporting heavier, more volatile natural gas liquids (NGLs).
Natural gas liquids are hydrocarbon byproducts of oil and gas extraction. The “fracking boom” in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia has created a glut of these materials, which are used in the plastics and other industries. FERC approved the “abandonment in place” of one of Tennessee Gas’ natural gas pipelines; the first step in Kinder Morgan’s plan to reverse the flow in order to transport NGLs to processing and export facilities on the Gulf Coast. The pipeline traverses 6 states and 18 Kentucky counties.
Particular concerns have been raised in Kentucky, with the pipeline passing through populated areas of Richmond in Madison County and Danville and Herrington Lake in Boyle County. Both counties have passed zoning requirements relating to hazardous liquids pipelines in order to have some say in whether or not hazardous liquids pipelines are compatible with existing land uses.
The pipeline also poses risks to the exceptional biodiversity of the Green River upstream and through Mammoth Cave National Park. The river provides habitat for 151 species of fish, with 29 mussel and fish species that are considered imperiled or vulnerable, and 7 listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Unlike natural gas, a portion of the NGLs can leak or spill into surface and groundwater and soil, causing serious and lasting environmental impacts.
The petitioners filed a Request for Rehearing with FERC last October. FERC failed to issue a decision on the Petition for Rehearing, instead issuing a “tolling order,” stating that the request was being reviewed but not decided upon. FERC-issued tolling orders allow pipeline projects to move forward while delaying citizens timely access to judicial review. The Petitioners believe that the failure of FERC to act within the time allowed for a decision on rehearing, set by Congress, made the underlying decision to approve the pipeline abandonment immediately subject to judicial review.
Over the course of FERCs environmental analysis, more than 900 comments were submitted, almost entirely opposed to the project. Among those expressing concern were the Madison County Fiscal Court, the Clark County Fiscal Court, the Boyle County Fiscal Court, the Marion County Fiscal Court, the Barren County Fiscal Court, Kentucky State Senate Majority Whip Jimmy Higdon, the Bluegrass Areas Development District, the Danville-Boyle County Chamber of Commerce, the City of Danville, the Danville Independent School District and Danville Schools Board of Education, and the Rowan County Board of Education.
“The reversal and conversion of this pipeline to transport NGLs will further induce fracking in Pennsylvania, fragmenting our forested watersheds with more roads and well pads,” said Ryan Talbott, executive director of the Allegheny Defense Project. “FERC, however, refused to even consider those impacts before approving Kinder Morgan’s proposal. Such a short-sighted, industry-friendly review may benefit Kinder Morgan’s bottom line but it comes at the expense of Pennsylvanians’ right to clean water and intact forests.”
By Carl Meyer in News, Energy | December 6th 2017
Two people were killed and two were injured when a Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline exploded in Illinois on Tuesday, the company has confirmed.
The deaths and explosion come at a time when the pipeline firm is battling to build its Trans Mountain expansion project in Western Canada in the face of fierce opposition.
On the morning of Dec. 5, 59-year-old Rory Miller and his son, 30-year-old Ryan Miller were killed when a buried gas pipeline operated by the Texas-based multinational exploded in Lee County, Ill. about 150 kilometres west of Chicago, according to the Associated Press.
As of the evening of Dec. 6, 20-year-old Michael Koster is in critical condition and 20-year-old Kyler Acklund was treated for injuries and released from the hospital.
Local resident Colleen Clausen described "100-foot" flames to WTVO / WQRF TV local news division Eyewitness News.
"We weren't sure if a bomb went off," Clausen is quoted as saying.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office said two tractors got stuck, and one hit the pipeline, a Dow Jones report stated. It said the two killed were found dead at the scene and area residents rushed the other two injured to hospital.
Lexey Long, a spokeswoman for Kinder Morgan, told National Observer the impacted pipeline has been “isolated and the area was secured.”
The company is working with local, state and federal agencies on response efforts, has notified regulatory agencies and is working with customers on impacts to service, she said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the injured and deceased,” said Long.
Mandatory call wasn't placed, Kinder Morgan saysIn its statement, Kinder Morgan said a mandatory call wasn’t placed alerting the company to digging in the field.
“Unfortunately, a required one call notification was not provided to the company prior to the work being performed,” said Long.
Matt Krogh, a campaign director for environmental group Stand.earth, said in an interview that he agreed that people should call a company before digging or doing work around an active gas line.
But he added that the issue also emphasizes the risk of gas pipelines to communities.
“Certainly having a gas pipeline on your property is something that people should be very aware of, and probably worried about,” said Krogh, who specializes in campaigns against what the Stand.earth describes as "extreme oil" production and extraction.
“It’s a one-time tragedy, but we keep seeing pipelines explode, and leak.”
Krogh said the the situation “serves as a sobering reminder” of the fact that thousands of people are exposed to pipelines in the United States and Canada.
“One way or the other, what you have is a Texas-based company that is running a series of risky propositions in the form of pipelines,” he said.
Newsweek: WHY THE MILITARY IS STILL ALLOWED TO USE OPEN BURNING AND DETONATION TO DESTROY HAZARDOUS WASTE EXPLOSIVES IN THE U.S.
By Dan Ross
This article first appeared on FairWarning.org
Two years ago, after Erin Card moved within two miles of the Radford Army Ammunition Plant in southwest Virginia, she began noticing threads of smoke that occasionally rose above the heavily wooded site. She started asking about the source, and was stunned by what she learned: Toxic explosives were being burned in the open air. “It just seems crazy to me,” says Card, 36.
There is no proof that the fumes have harmed Card’s family, which has lived in the Radford area for more than a decade. Yet her husband has suffered from cancer (he’s now in remission), and the eldest of their young boys, 5-year-old Rex, had a cyst by his thyroid removed. “Sometimes,” Card says, “I feel sick to my stomach with worry.”
The open burning and detonation of hazardous waste explosives is banned in many countries, including Canada, Germany and the Netherlands. And in the United States, private industry long ago abandoned the primitive disposal practice, which is blamed for toxic air, soil and water pollution.
But the U.S. military and Department of Energy have been allowed to continue the open burning and detonation of explosives and, in a few cases, even radioactive wastes under a 1980 exemption from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA granted the exemption to provide time to develop better disposal techniques. Yet today, the U.S. allows open burning and detonation in at least 39 locations, according to federal data. That includes 31 military sites, at least five Department of Energy operations and one private business that handles wastes for the Department of Defense.
The government also continues the practice in Guam and the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, where open detonation, practice bombing and weapons development have fueled controversy for more than 60 years.
“It’s crazy that in the 21st century, they’re still allowed to do it,” says Marylia Kelley, executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs, an environmental watchdog group monitoring the cleanup of an open burn site at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Northern California. Developers hope to begin construction soon on thousands of homes within a mile of the open burn site at Lawrence Livermore—which, Kelley argues will expose residents to a range of toxic emissions. “It’s an extremely crude technology,” she says.
The EPA, which didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment for this story, allows the open burning of waste explosives if it won’t bring “unsafe releases” into the surrounding environment. But burning and detonating explosives in the open appear to do just that. In a presentation he gave last year to fellow agency employees, Ken Shuster, a veteran EPA expert in hazardous waste disposal, described the “tremendous amount” of air, soil and groundwater contamination caused by open burning.
In fact, the open burning of explosives routinely releases some of the most potent known toxins, including the carcinogens cadmium and dioxins, according to Brian Salvatore, a Louisiana State University expert on toxic emissions. “There’s a whole assortment of them, and it’s really awful,” he says.
In an email, Army spokesman Wayne V. Hall said the Defense Department has reduced its use of open burning and open detonation and is evaluating new technologies to cut back further. Hall says the department uses open detonation in emergencies, when its officials determine munitions are unsafe for storage or transport and when no other option exists because of the munitions’ “size and explosive content.”
The latest defense spending bill included an amendment requiring the National Academy of Sciences to study alternatives to open burning. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat who helped push through the amendment, has long championed the cleanup in her home state of Wisconsin at the Badger Army Ammunition Plant, which used to conduct open burning. “This will ensure that other sites are not contaminated the way that the Badger site was,” Baldwin wrote in an email.
But some believe the National Academy’s study—to be completed by June 2018—is mere foot-dragging, since alternatives such as contained incinerators have long been available, and the Defense Department has faced calls to use them for decades. As far back as 1991, the EPA told the Pentagon that “safe alternatives” to open burning and detonation “can and should be developed.” In 1997, Congress told the Defense Department to move ahead with environmentally clean disposal methods for munitions, rockets and explosives within five years, but little came of it.
Pentagon officials often argue that open burning is cheaper than the alternatives. But the EPA’s Shuster says it is a “myth” when you factor in the environmental cleanup costs—sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars—at open burn sites. “We’re finding that’s it not so cheap if you include the total costs,” he told his colleagues in his presentation.
Ted Prociv, former deputy assistant to the Secretary of Defense for chemical and biological matters, says the military should be conducting practical tests using alternative disposal systems already available and then deciding on whether to ban open burning and detonation. Prociv is currently a project coordinator for one such system, the Davinch detonation chamber, which he says was used to dispose of chemical weapons in Japan as far back as 1992. A ban, Prociv says, is “the only thing that’s going to get these guys to do anything.”
Doing something is imperative, Prociv says, because the munitions stockpile needing to be destroyed is staggering. According to a recent Government Accountability Office report, the total as of February 2015 was 529,373 tons. The Pentagon estimates that from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2020, another 582,789 tons will be added.
Part of that stockpile sits at the Blue Grass Army Depot near Richmond, Kentucky. The base issues news releases to alert surrounding residents before any open burning or detonation takes place. Many can hear the blasts can from miles away. Among them: Craig Williams, program director of the Kentucky Environmental Foundation. “When you start hearing things blowing up, theoretically you’re supposed to be prepared,” he says.
An opponent of open burning who previously campaigned for the Defense Department to dispose of chemical weapons safely, Williams says a “monstrous” legislative quagmire awaits anyone challenging the practice, given the long-standing resistance to change and the polarized politics in Washington.
But the consequences of inaction could be dire. The EPA’s Shuster, in his recent presentation, described “unbelievable” high levels of toxic groundwater contamination from the open burning of explosives, involving chemicals such as RDX, TNT and perchlorate. He said the contaminants, all linked to human health problems, in some cases have penetrated drinking water systems.
As for the toxic air emissions, LSU’s Salvatore said they sometimes aren’t properly monitored. He said that’s partly because the most sophisticated technologies to detect fine particulates are rarely used, and also because the emissions are very widely dispersed. “You have no stack or chimney to concentrate the focus of the emissions. They just go willy-nilly everywhere,” he said.
Inadequate air and groundwater monitoring can extend beyond the perimeter of bases as well, sometimes making it difficult to verify the source of toxic contamination in surrounding areas. Perchlorate, for example, is a contaminant released through open burning at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant in southwest Virginia. Nearby drinking water supplies are contaminated with perchlorate. Although plant officials say it’s unlikely the problem comes from open burning, they acknowledge that it hasn’t been “determined definitively.”
A dearth of data makes it hard to prove any definitive links between open burning and chronic health problems among nearby residents. A 1991 Boston University study found that people living near a former open burn site in Massachusetts had higher than expected rates of lung cancer and that a causal link to open burning was possible.
Some suspect that chronic health problems suffered among soldiers who worked at burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq is related to their exposure to toxic substances—an argument made by Joseph Hickman in his 2016 book, The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America's Soldiers. But conventional explosives being burned in the U.S. are merely one type of the hazardous materials—including gasoline, pesticides, medical wastes, animal and human carcasses and possibly chemical weapons—that were destroyed in those war zones. The Department of Veterans Affairs is still studying the long-term health effects from exposure to these sites.
The lasting environmental impact from some open burning, however, is difficult to dispute. At Wisconsin’s Badger Army Ammunition Plant, which stopped open burning in 1996, hundreds of monitoring wells track miles of groundwater pollution. Large groundwater plumes contaminated with chemicals such as DNT and chlorinated solvents from two former burn sites there still flow into the Wisconsin River, according to the Army’s monitoring well data. “The Army said that they’re going to be out here for decades monitoring the groundwater,” said Laura Olah, executive director of Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger.
A spokesman for Badger, Mike Sitton, confirms the groundwater monitoring will continue for decades because the Army is using a passive process known as monitored natural attenuation to break down the contaminants naturally. He said the monitoring ensures that there will be little risk to public health.
Occasionally, open burning and detonation has proven controversial enough to prompt shutdowns. That was the case at the Sierra Army Depot in Northern California, where powerful blasts rattled the windows of nearby homes. In 1999, the depot was the second-worst source of toxic chemicals in all of California, according to EPA data. Local residents and environmentalists fought back by suing, and reached a settlement in 2001 that limits the Army to open burn or detonate munitions only in an emergency.
Public pushback also shut down open burning at the former Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant, now known as Camp Minden. Plans to open burn some 15 million pounds of M-6 propellant provoked uproar, forcing the plant two years ago to instead install a contained burn system to incinerate the stockpile. (Now that the incineration of the waste explosives is nearly complete, the contained burn system also is due to be shut down and removed, following a campaign by local activists to prevent Camp Minden from becoming a long-term disposal site.)
But incinerators won’t single-handedly solve the problem of emitting dangerous chemicals, experts say, as some still emit dangerous chemicals such as dioxins, furans and nitrogen oxides. Makers of alternative disposal technologies, like the Davinch detonation chamber, argue that their systems are necessary to dispose of munitions when incinerators can't do it cleanly. Still, the technology behind incinerators is advancing fast. For example, the emissions from the incinerator at Camp Minden were, according to the system’s operators, cleaner than the ambient air.
Incinerators are one of the options being reviewed at the Holston Army Ammunition Plant in Kingsport, Tennessee, where smoke from open burning has clouded the skies since the 1940s. A 2012 Army Corps of Engineers report identified two alternative disposal methods that can be used to destroy “all present and future wastes” at Holston, but the Army still is “pursuing alternative technologies,” said Justine Barati, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department’s Joint Munitions Command.
Barati, in an email, said the plant operates in “strict compliance” with its permit conditions. But it appears that hasn’t always been the case. In 2015, the Tennessee Division of Solid Waste Management found that Holston had illegally burned, among other things, materials contaminated by toxic compounds called PCBs.
For Mark Toohey, a 61-year-old juvenile court judge whose hometown is nearby Kingsport the smoke seemed like no more than a minor nuisance for decades. In fact, he didn’t even know whether it was coming from Holston or from one of the region’s heavy-polluting plants. But five years ago, when the plumes started getting thicker and darker, Toohey was horrified when he finally learned that the source was toxic explosives being burned in the open air at the military site.
Toohey, who lives a mile and a half from Holston, blames the smoke for triggering the chronic asthma and severe sinusitis that his wife suffers. Their daughter, who lives close by, has similar health issues.
Now, when the fires burn on base, the Tooheys shut themselves inside and close all of the doors and windows. He can’t believe the Army allows this environmental hazard to continue. “What,” he asks, “does this say about how caring they are about the people around these sites, including their own employees?”
This story was reported by FairWarning, a nonprofit news organization based in Pasadena, California, that focuses on public health, consumer and environmental issues.
By Ashley Stevens
After coming home from the Vietnam War, Craig Williams was looking forward to some normalcy. But in 1984, he discovered that the Department of Defense was tasked with getting rid of over 500 tons of toxic nerve gas and other chemical weapons that were stockpiled in his small Kentucky hometown.
That’s when, filmmaker Ben Evans says, Williams and other concerned citizens began the fight of their lives, which ultimately sparked the formation of the Kentucky Environmental Foundation.
“It really started as a small group of Kentuckians in Berea who were trying to figure out how to stop this plan to incinerate a bunch of chemical weapons that are stored at the Bluegrass Army Depot out in Richmond,” Evans says. “Right there next to Berea.”
Now, nearly three decades later, Evans’ latest documentary “NERVE: How a Small Kentucky Town Led the Fight to Safely Dismantle the World’s Chemical Weapons” chronicles the process.
It’s a project that has been nearly that long in the making, as much of the archived footage used by Evans was captured by documentary filmmaker Joe Gray, who in the 90s, wanted to produce a film that examined the question of how to dispose of deteriorating chemical weapons.
Although Gray followed the hearings and shot raw footage of interviews, he never received the funding he needed to edit and produce a documentary on the subject. That’s where Evans has picked up — presenting the archived footage alongside new interviews with key players from that time, like Williams.
“What’s inspiring about the film is that they went from ‘Not in my backyard’ to ‘Not on this planet’ — to kind of borrow a line from the film,” Evans says. “They realized this would end up somewhere and someone else would suffer the consequences and the same situation was happening at these other sites.”
“NERVE,” which is the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2016 Environmental Film Festival at Yale, has its Louisville premiere Wednesday at 7 p.m. It will be shown at Bellarmine University’s Cralle Theater and is free and open to the public. More information is available here.
MADISON COUNTY, Ky (LEX 18) -- The same chemical nerve agent that killed the half-brother of North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un is stored in Central Kentucky.
The Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County is home to the country's only stockpile of VX Nerve Agent. They are one of only two places in the US that still stores Chemical Weapons. The other is in Colorado, but they do not store the deadly VX Agent.
“Our stockpile has three agents: mustard agent, GB agent, and VX agent, which is the most lethal of the chemical warfare agents on the planet,” said Craig Williams, the project director with the Kentucky Environmental Foundation.
Williams has worked for decades with officials in coming up with a way to dispose of the chemicals at the Depot.
Construction of a plant to do just that, with limited risk to safety and the environment, is complete. He said they are planning on beginning disposal in 2020. A UN treaty from the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention bans VX. The plans to get rid of the agent at the Depot means a lot of preparedness for Emergency Management in Madison County.
“Once they actually start destroying those chemicals, my understanding is that will be a 24 hour a day operation, and we'll have somebody in this building 24 hours a day to monitor it as they destroy those chemicals,” said Micahel Bryant, the Madison County EMA Director.
It will take about three years for the plant to get rid of all of the chemicals at the Blue Grass Army Depot.
Kentucky Department of Natural Resources
Non-Coal Mining Division
300 Sower Boulevard, 2nd Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601
COMMENTS IN RE: Permit No. 099-9404, Red River Materials, LLC, December 13, 2016
These comments are submitted by the Kentucky Environmental Foundation regarding the application of Red River Materials, LLC, a Kentucky Limited Liability Company with its principal office in Lexington, Kentucky, for a non-coal mining permit. The application seeks permission to conduct non-coal surface mining using the contour and pit method on approximately 86.4 acres
IMPACT ON PUBLIC HEALTH
The introduction of a quarry into the community could present a range of concerns regarding impacts to public health.
IMPACT ON WATERSHED(S)
Since the Red River, which borders the proposed mine site, is Powell County’s only source of public water, in order to assure that the proposed mining will not adversely affect the hydrology of the area and the watershed into which the property drains, a hydrogeologic investigation of the property and relationship to Red River, various branches, creeks, streams, aquifers, springs, and to any private groundwater users in the area is appropriate.
In addition The Wild and Scenic designation also applies to the stretch of river that passes through the gorge, but it does not protect the entire Red River watershed from human impacts. Recently members of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance, an environmental nonprofit, collaborated with the state’s Division of Water and the U.S. Forest Service to create the Red River Gorge Restoration and Watershed Plan, which addresses potential threats to the water quality of four creeks that flow into the iconic river. These threats include high levels of sediment resulting from road construction, and contaminated runoff from residential areas. Because portions of these tributaries are located on private property, the watershed plan recommends “best management practices” that property owners can implement in order to reduce the amount of polluted runoff. Maintaining a riparian buffer of stream side vegetation, which prevents bank erosion, is just one solution that private landowners can choose to implement.
The nonprofit organization has also secured an implementation grant from the Kentucky Division of Water, which they hope to use to create financial incentive programs for homeowners. The grant money will fund other stream restoration projects as well, such as the removal of two culverts on Indian Creek that are currently impeding the passage of fish. This proposed mining would likely heavily impact this plan and the community in a negative way.
IMPACT ON TOURISM/LOCAL ECONOMY
Tourism is the top industry/revenue producing “industry” within the area of and nearby the proposed mine site. Researchers estimate that approximate 7,500 climbers visit the Red River Gorge each year and spend an estimate $3.6 million in the six counties surrounding the Red River Gorge. In addition thousands visit to simply hike, paddle, camp and enjoy the natural beauty of this area. The proposed mine site would not only be in close proximity to many of the natural tourist destinations in the Red River Gorge/Daniel Boone National Forest area, but would be visible from the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway, Eastbound lane as tourists traveled to the Slade Exit towards Natural Bridge. Runoff, dust, and other debris (as well as potential noise pollution) from the proposed mine site would adversely alter the view-shed of the area and thus negatively impact tourism, a staple industry of this area.
IMPACT ON TERRESTRIAL SPECIES
The placement of a proposed quarry is in close proximity to known roosting sites for several species of federally endangered bats.
Federally Endangered Bat Species Documented or Likely Present Within one (1) Mile of Proposed Quarry:
The Virginia big-eared bat (documented) and the Indiana bat (likely) are Federally Listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The Northern long-eared bat is Federally Listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Eastern Small-footed Myotis and Rafinesque big-eared bat are on the Kentucky Nature Preserves Rare Species List.
The Virginia big-eared bat, one of the rarest mammals in North America, is known to use sandstone rock shelters less than one (1) mile of the proposed limestone quarry. The largest known population occurs in the Daniel Boone National Forest in limestone caves and sandstone rock shelters in this area. Indiana bats and Northern long-eared bat likely use forested areas within the proposed limestone quarry for roosting.
“Range: Virginia big-eared bats occur in isolated populations in eastern Kentucky, eastern West Virginia, southwestern Virginia, and northwestern North Carolina.
Causes of Decline: Human disturbance is probably the biggest factor contributing to the decline of these bats. Disturbance during hibernation causes bats to lose stored fat reserves, and repeated disturbance can cause the bats to die before spring (when insect prey are again available). If female bats are disturbed during the maternity season, they may drop their young to their deaths or the whole colony may abandon a roost for a less suitable location.” Taken from: (http://fw.ky.gov/Wildlife/Pages/Virginia-Big-Eared-Bat.aspx)
Blasting from the quarry could damage karst/cave systems and rock features that harbor these critically endangered bats. Sonic disturbance caused from blasting could gravely impact and interfere with the bats’ natural echolocation processes. It should be noted that ALL bat species are under duress due to the often fatal disease, white-nosed syndrome that has wiped out as much as 90% of certain species of bats once considered common.
AQUATIC LIFE IMPACTS
Kentucky Arrow Darter (fish), known from the Red River Drainage, proposed for federal listing. Limestone sediments from the quarry can increase watershed damage, affecting numerous endangered fish and mussels. (see attached County Report of Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern Plants, Animals, and Natural Communities of Kentucky
Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, December 2015 EXHIBIT “D” ). The resulting limestone enriched runoff would also create a disturbance in the balance of the Red River ecosystem by allowing for unfettered growth of algae and other invasive species that thrive on limestone-enriched waters.
Consultation with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) conducted by independent biological consultants should be required in order to assure no jeopardy, hazard, or physical damage to protected species, and to comply with both state and federally mandated laws concerning endangered/threatened flora and fauna.
The Cabinet has been made aware through public comments that there exists a number of karst features, including sinkholes and caves, on and near the property proposed to be mined. The presence of such features raises several concerns regarding the potential for environmental damage and hazard to public safety.
The presence of mature karst features may allow any blasting conducted in association with the quarry to adversely impact those properties and structures, since such features could provide a pathway for transmitting both air-blast and ground vibrations in a manner that is not readily controlled, and may concentrate the force of such blasts. The applicant should be required to retain a consultant qualified in the investigation and mapping of karst features, in order to develop and provide a thorough mapping of sinkholes, caves, and other karst features. Additionally, a blasting plan should be required that specifically addresses the potential for transmittal of blast vibrations through karst features, in order to protect the integrity of nearby residential structures and properties.
The presence of mature karst features presents a second concern that warrants investigation, which is whether there are cave resources in the vicinity that could, directly through quarrying or indirectly through changes in hydrology or through blast vibrations, be adversely affected in a manner that would violate the Kentucky Cave Protection Act.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of these concerns.
Kentucky Environmental Foundation
128 Main St, Berea, KY 40403
Plans to radically repurpose a 70-year-old pipeline that runs through Kentucky and four other states — and that would imperil Danville’s water supply and Mammoth Cave National Park — should not advance without a full environmental impact study.
A recent questionable recommendation that the project does not merit a full review appears to stem from an illogical technicality. The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission based this recommendation on just one phase of the plan, but disregarded the gist of the plan, which is the part that raises serious concerns about public safety and the environment.
Energy giant Kinder Morgan is seeking FERC’s approval to abandon a Tennessee Gas pipeline that has long carried natural gas north from the gulf. The proposal is to then convert the aged pipeline to move heavier, more pressurized and highly volatile fracking byproducts southward from drilling operations in Ohio to Texas.
ADVERTISINGThe staff report to the federal commission maintains that because abandoning the pipeline would not “cause” the conversion there is no need for FERC to undertake a more rigorous study of the environmental impacts. The project is designed to eventually deliver up to 450,000 barrels a day of natural gas liquids, such as butane, propane and ethane for use in manufacturing chemicals, to Texas.
The staff also explained that if the commission grants abandonment of the pipeline, its subesequent conversion to carry drilling byproducts would not fall under FERC’s jurisdiction. The FERC staff further passes the buck by saying that “the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state agencies would be responsible for reviewing environmental impacts of the conversion.”
This bureaucratic hairsplitting is irresponsible. Kinder Morgan would not be asking to “abandon” the pipeline if it did not plan to quickly convert it to a new and riskier use. The two phases make up one piece, and the whole plan should be considered in a detailed environmental impact statement.
The pipeline conversion proposal is just the sort of action the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 said should be subject to rigorous review because the potential impacts are significant. The pipeline runs through towns and neighborhoods, near schools and college campuses, in 18 Kentucky counties, from Simpson to Greenup.
The National Park Service has expressed concerns about pipeline spills affecting Mammoth Cave, the world’s longest cave system, and the surrounding karst topography and groundwater.
The pipeline spans Harrington Lake, which is the primary source of drinking water for Danville and other communities. The company wants to rebuild the pipeline under the lake.
The Kentucky Environmental Foundation contends that separating the project into two parts is “an intentional effort” by Kinder Morgan to “avoid a full and careful” review of its intentions.
In addition to the Berea-based foundation, fiscal courts in Garrard and Clark counties, the Danville-Boyle Economic Development Partnership and the Bluegrass Area Development District have requested a full environmental impact statement.
We join them in that reasonable and responsible demand.
FERC will accept comments on the need for an environmental impact study until Dec. 2. Go to www.ferc.gov and look for the Documents and Filings link, case number CP15-88-000. Or call 202-502-8258 for help or send comments by letter to:
Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE, Room 1A
Washington, DC 20426
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/opinion/editorials/article117823058.html#storylink=cpy
Craig Williams quoted by the Richmond Register in reference to the local natural gas pipeline.
Original story by Bill Robinson for the Richmond Register Find the original here.
Earlier this month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission delayed until Nov. 2 a decision on whether to require an environmental impact study before Kinder Morgan can be allowed to repurpose a 24-inch natural gas pipeline that runs across Madison County on its way from Pennsylvania to Louisiana.
A decision was expected by Sept. 2, according to Craig Williams of the Berea-based Kentucky Environmental Foundation.
His group was notified of the delay because it filed study seeking an EIS rather than a less-stringent environmental assessment or EA for the project, Williams said.
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