Tag Archives: Alaska

FRACKING HELL ~ A CATASTROPHE!

WHAT IS FRACKING?
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a method of forcing
natural gas or oil from rock layer deep below the earth’s surface.

FRACKING

 FRACKING4HOW FRACKING WORKS:
1) A pressurized mixture of sand, water and chemicals is injected into a horizontally drilled well.
2) The mix cracks the shale and fills the cracks with sandy grit allowing natural gas to flow up the well.
3) The recovered water is stored in lined pits or taken to a treatment plant. 

Hydraulic Fracturing: How it works”, YouTube video uploaded  by Imperial Oil , Sept. 19, 2012 ~

“Animation of Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking)”, a YouTube video was published on Apr 26, 2012 ~

ALASKA FRACKING:… ALASKA MAP2Alaska is a major component in fracking and it is big in the future. Alaska has around 2 billion barrels of oil and 80 trillion cubic feet of gas. This is enough to fill the Alaska pipeline for 12 decades. The wells of Alaska are located in two areas. The biggest spot for the fracking to occur is the North Slope, where most of the wells are… The other area of fracking takes place in the Kenai Peninsula on the South coast of Alaska… Not only can gas and oil be extracted from fracking, but so can 500 million barrels of recoverable natural gas. This recoverable natural gas comes from the North area. Alaska fracking is a good way to extract oil because it can cover many wells at one time, making the process less expensive… because the fracking takes place in the north part of Alaska, there is no human harm done because it does not take place in developed areas, where many people normally live. Fracking in Alaska takes place in the undeveloped areas.

FRACKING  IS CONTROVERSIAL AND HARMFUL:
FRACKING5Around 25% of the oil extraction in Alaska uses fracking… Alaska fracking can be harmful to the environment as well as the animals because it puts chemicals in water that harms these two. This is why Alaska fracking has been a controversial topic for many years. Because of this, there have been hearings for new laws and regulations for this type of oil extraction in Alaska. FRACKING9These types of laws and regulations, if passed, would be very strict. Some of the regulations could involve oil extraction companies giving more information about the chemicals used that could potentially harm any areas containing water. The contamination of water can cause a lot of problems in the future for Alaska.

EARTHNEWEARTHQUAKES, CHEMICALCHEMICAL SPILLS,

TOXIC DRINKING WATER

RADIOACTIVEAND RADIOACTIVE WASTE

DUMPING,

AND THE LIST GOES ON……!!!

A MUST SEE ~ The following YouTube video, “Fracking Hell: The Untold Story”, uploaded on Jan 11, 2011 by LinkTV.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_fracking

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THE DEADLY CANADIAN GOLD RUSH!

GOLD RUSH

The following are excerpts taken from the Jan/Feb issue of Water Canada magazine, “How is mining’s legacy affecting water in Canada’s north?” by Mia Bennett

With pickaxes and pans in hand, tens of thousands of people flooded the Yukon in 1896 in search of gold in its snowy creeks.
I’ve included two really great videos on the Alaska (Klondike) gold rush at the end of this blog.
GOLD RUSH DIAMOND YELLOWKNIFE3Three years later, the rush came to an abrupt end as miners left for Alaska. Fast forward to 1991, when diamonds were discovered in the Northwest Territories’ (NWT’s) Slave Geological Province. This discovery set off a mining boom in northern Canada that continues today. According to the Mining Association of Canada, companies are expected to invest $140 billion over the next ten years in search of minerals like diamonds, gold, and iron, primarily in GOLD RUSH7Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, but also in the Yukon. In the barren, remote expanse of Canada’s circumpolar region –
only 100,000 people live across the three territories – oversight and regulation is difficult. This is particularly problematic as climate change renders many current mining standards inadequate. Lakes and streams scattered across the tundra are vulnerable to destruction, leachate, and tailings. As the rush for northern metals and minerals continues, good planning and tough oversight by mining companies, indigenous stakeholders and government are necessary to protect water resources.

Damage done – Mine construction can wreak havoc before the by-products of mining even have a chance to pollute the environment. In 1998, BHP Billiton opened the Ekati Diamond Mine, Canada’s first combined underground and surface diamond mine, in the NWT’s Lac de Gras area. GOLD RUSH DIAMOND MINETo reach the diamond-strewn kimberlite pipes sitting underneath shallow crater lakes, the company dewatered and fully or partially impacted nineteen lakes and additional streams. The company was also permitted to store rocks and manage pit water in Desperation Pond, used by Arctic grayling (a freshwater fish) for spawning, rearing, forage, and overwintering.

CDN FISHERIES AND OCEANSWhile the company paid Fisheries and Oceans Canada $1.5 million to recreate lost lake habitat, the new lakes did not equal the original ones in health and biodiversity. In one artificial habitat, colder stream water and paltrier vegetation resulted in Arctic grayling that had, on average, less than half as much mass as their counterparts in natural streams. Northern fish species reproduce and grow slowly and are especially sensitive to pollutants, making lake destruction even more harmful than in the south. Moreover, many fish stocks provide commercial value to fishermen and nutritional value to indigenous peoples…MINING WATCH CANADARandy Hart, Mining Watch Canada’s program coordinator, suggests that an alternative, though more expensive, way to deal with tailings might be to store them on land in a cement-like, hardened form. “This allows you to have a close to walk-away situation, where you aren’t also destroying a lake ecosystem,” he says.

Changing paradigms – GOLD RUSH DIAMOND MINE LOGO Indigenous pressure has helped enact stricter oversight of mines. During negotiations over Ekati, First Nations organizations got BHP Billiton to agree to fund the creation of an Independent Environmental Monitoring Agency (IEMA) to oversee their management of the surrounding environment. BHP Billiton also developed a Watershed Adaptive Management Plan. When the IEMA discovered that nearby Kodiak Lake had begun eutrophying due to sewage deposition, making oxygen levels dangerously low for fish, the company was asked to aerate the lake. The fish were able to survive another season. When oxygen levels dropped a second time, the company began depositing its sewage elsewhere. While adaptive management requires consistent environmental monitoring, problems can often be stopped before they get out of hand…CAPSTONE MINING Regulations are nothing without enforcement. “Recently, we discovered that Capstone Mining was told by Yukon Government Client Services & Inspections that they were allowed to contravene their water license,” says Karen Baltgailis, executive director of the Yukon YUKON CONSERVATION SOCIETYConservation Society. She doesn’t think that any environmental damage occurred, but still has worries. “The fact that our regulators can’t be depended upon to ensure that mining does not cause impacts to our water is a really big concern.” Hart observes that in Nunavut, while the land claims agreement specifies a regional monitoring program, instead there is what he calls a “hodge-podge of project-specific monitoring that goes on based on company needs as opposed to broader, territory-wide needs.” He adds that the same could be said largely for other regions of the north. Hart believes that if a regional baseline monitoring organization were instituted, that would actually provide a “huge advantage” to companies, which otherwise have to start from scratch each time when considering cumulative impacts and regional issues. While weak enforcement is a harder problem to tackle than the lack of monitoring, even when violations are discovered, the fines are often not very high. FAY LAKEIn 2008, 4.5 million litres of processed kimberlite overflowed a containment wall at Etaki, flooding the nearby tundra and frozen Fay Lake. CBC News reported that BHP Billiton might have to pay “hefty fines of up to $100,000”— pennies compared to the company’s profits…The dangers – Mine drainage –  A bigger hazard to aquatic ecosystems is acid mine drainage, which occurs when water comes into contact with sulphide bearing rocks or tailings. The resulting sulphuric acid oxidizes metals like copper and zinc, rendering the water metal bearing and acidic. Acid mine drainage is especially a problem in underground mines. These are often located below the water table, so water has to be continually pumped out. Once a mine is abandoned, pumping often ceases and allows leachwater to flow out. Pollution of groundwater sources is risky in places like Yukon, where aquifers underlay two-thirds of the territory. Whereas pollution of surface water can sometimes be contained, contaminated groundwater can spread extensively. Fortunately, in many northern underground mines such as Nunavut’s closed Polaris Zinc Mine, permafrost prevents acid mine drainage, as all the surrounding water is frozen in the rocks and soil. But as temperatures climb, intrusion of water into underground mines with sulfuric rocks could become problematic… Threats to oceans  – At the same time as melting permafrost is hindering mining on land, melting sea ice is creating new opportunities – and risks – at sea. MARY RIVEROn Baffin Island, Nunavut, the planned Mary River Iron Ore Mine would use nine ice breaking freighters year-round to transport iron ore through the Northwest Passage, potentially disturbing the shore, icepack, and marine mammals. Hart asserts, “It’s the most significant marine transportation project that’s ever been proposed for the Canadian Arctic, massively increasing shipping traffic. Along with shipping comes chronic low-level pollution from small oil spills and bilge water. We often focus on massive spills and shipwrecks, but from my understanding, a significant amount of oil and contaminants is released into the marine environment on an ongoing basis outside of major catastrophes.”…

After the gold rush – HANDS WITH GOLD NUGGETSLike the gold rush a century ago, the current boom will end one day, too, and proper de-commissioning plans need to be prepared. There are 10,000 abandoned mines across all of Canada in various states of disrepair. The grandiose names of contaminated sites in the north represent ghostly boom towns of decades past: Discovery Mine, Giant Mine, Port Radium Mine. At various sites, mining has left behind a wasteland of radioactive tailings, cyanide-laced water, and sediment plumes…The Canadian Arctic is so sparsely populated and so far from most people’s minds that the adage, “out of sight, out of mind,” too often rings true, especially once a mine is closed. If an operator declares bankruptcy, however, the costs of decommissioning can be passed on to the taxpayers, hitting closer to home…The mining industry has demonstrated a more progressive approach to water management than in the early twentieth century. This is in part thanks to the involvement of indigenous people’s and stronger government regulations. For all its faults, Agnico-Eagle serves as an example of one company that has put forth some efforts to reduce its impact on the environment. Connell notes that all of its operations now require water management strategies…

Harmonizing economy, environment, and technology – Given the region’s low population base and lack of alternative industries like agriculture or manufacturing, mining plays an important role in northern economic development. Profits and water quality, however, do not need to be a zero-sum game. Technology now exists to make operations safer for the environment.

GOLD RUSH LAKESMoreover, in the territories, development has generally proceeded hastily without an eye towards long-term sustainability. It’s easily forgotten that mining is temporary, while both humans and nature will rely on surrounding waters indefinitely. One day, the temperature could rise high enough that even precautions like Meadowbank’s “worst-case scenario” tailings cover are inadequate. But in the near future, if the right balance is struck between conservation and development, we can avoid a legacy of overflowing tailings ponds and acidic rivers and instead enable clean, productive northern waters and fisheries. The consequences of not doing so will far outlast any profits.

1898 Alaska Klondike Gold Rush Story, Dawson City, Yukon River, published on Oct 26, 2012 by Jeffrey Martin ~ Segment of a short 1950s film that was called ‘City of Gold’ about Dawson City during the Klondike Gold Rush in the Alaska / Yukon Canada area. This is the first half of a prior posted segment that can be used with the Alaska Goldmine ice-breaker class exercise.

The Klondike Gold Rush: Photographs from 1896-98, uploaded on Apr 17, 2008 ~ This spectacular video is based on the best-selling book “The Klondike Gold Rush: Photographs from 1896-1899.” by Graham Wilson. This is the mother lode of the north – a stunning record of the last great gold rush.

RARE WHITE ORCA SEEN OFF RUSSIA

 “It’s a moment for celebration. It’s a strikingly beautiful animal!!”

Scientists have spotted an extremely rare all-white adult orca off Russia‘s coast and are wondering if it’s the same animal photographed by scientists near Alaska‘s Aleutian Islands…

On a sparkling summer morning in 2010, a group of Russian scientists working near the Kamchatka Peninsula spied a giant swimming ghost: an exceedingly rare, all-white killer whale, diving and surfacing as part of an ordinary orca pod. “It was startling to see this 2-meter-high white dorsal fin shooting up among the other killer whales,” said Erich Hoyt, who oversees the Russian whale-research group that announced the 2-year-old sighting this week by releasing photographs and video. “It takes your breath away.” … Hoyt agreed Tuesday that the Russian whale, his team has nicknamed “Iceberg”, may well be the same creature that made those appearances in Alaska… It’s really 50-50 at this point.”

The discovery of Iceberg near the Bering Sea’s Commander Islands is making news around the globe this week, with many reports characterizing him as the first documented male albino orca to survive to adulthood. But Hoyt and other marine biologists say it’s not clear whether Iceberg is albino, or if the cetacean is just somehow genetically different from its peers. That’s one of the many questions that Hoyt, co-director of the Far East Russia Orca Project and an internationally acclaimed whale biologist, hopes to answer when his team returns to Russian waters this spring…

Documented sightings of albino marine mammals are scarce… Perhaps the most famous example was Chimo, known as T4, a young female orca captured in British Columbia in 1970 and displayed for two years at a Victoria, B.C., aquarium. When Chimo died, researchers found the whale suffered from Chediak-Higashi syndrome, an immune disorder that dilutes pigmentation. It kills mammals before adulthood… No one can say how many white orcas there are. The distance between the Aleutians and Russia is nothing for whales that most likely travel between the North Pacific and Hawaii, Hoyt said… In fact, part of the reason it took Hoyt’s team nearly two years to release images is that researchers wanted first to get more information… * When they return to the islands in the next few weeks, they hope to have better luck.* In fact, they hope to look Iceberg in the eye. A pink hue would suggest he’s a true albino. If nothing else, Hoyt said, his team hopes to see and take more pictures of this mystical-looking creature that people already seem to be identifying with as a symbol of wild nature.

“Killer whales are so starkly black that when you see an all-white one it’s pretty amazing,” Hoyt said. “It’s a moment for celebration. It’s a strikingly beautiful animal!!” Either way, Hoyt’s team had other news, too. Iceberg wasn’t the only oddly coloured whale they saw. They saw two young mottled-white whale calves, which suggest Iceberg was healthy enough to father offspring…by Craig Welch Seattle Times environment reporter.

Link – The Seattle times http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2018062072_whitewhale25m.html?prmid=4939

First all-white orca bull ever observed off the Far East Russian Coast

   We can only hope that in the very near future we’ll be thrilled to see more photos or videos of “Iceberg” and his offspring!!!