December 2015 – SJ Environmental Justice

First of all, let me begin by clarifying what The Barnett Shale is. The Barnett Shale is a geological formation consisting in sedimentary rocks that underlie under the Dallas- Ft Worth Metroplex. 5.000 miles long portion of rocks sitting under 17 counties. The productive portion of the shale is under Johnson, Tarrant, and Dallas counties. It’s considered as being the largest producible reserve of natural gas found on shores of the United States. Also, oil has been found here but in smaller quantities.

Because gas was hard to extract so it can be produced in commercial quantities the gas and oil companies use hydraulic fracking; The hydraulic fracturing is a technique that fractures the rocks with pressurized liquid.

The high-pressure injection of the hydraulic liquid ( a mix of water, sand, and thickening agents) produces breaks in the rock formation. The gas, petroleum, and sodium chloride ( salty water) will flow freely through these cracks. The hydraulic fracturing was introduced in 1947 and used by millions of oil and gas wells.The hydraulic fracking is a controversial subject. In many countries, the fracking was already banned but the advocate of it sustain that the economical gain received from the approachable hydrocarbons are an critical factor for not to be banned in the United States. The potential environmental impact can’t be ignored either. The risk of water and ground contamination, air pollution, noise pollution, public health problems, and earthquakes are growing problems associated with fracking.

A major part of the formation is under the urban area of Dallas- Ft Worth. Ideas like drilling in the public parks, so the local governments may obtain royalties if any minerals are found, or seeking compensations for the damage roads caused by overweight trucks from the local trucking companies, are discussed frequently. Most of the roads in the area are not designed to sustain the high traffic of the heavy duty equipment, and they are destroyed, so the local government is seeking for compensation from the drilling companies.

From 2002 to 2010 the Barnett Shale was the most productive shale in the U.S. In 2010 there were 14.000 wells in the Barnett Shale and 3.000 more got new permits in the same year. In January 2013, the Barnett Shale produced over 4 billion cubic feet of gas each day which represented almost 7 % of all the natural gas produced in the United States. The first company drilling wells in the Barnette area was Mitchel Energy in 1981, but the first successful and cost effective drill was made in 1998. After 1998 competitors realized that, the gas can be extracted profitably, so they started buying leases. By 2008, the landowners that had wells on their land were paid bonuses between $500 and $69.000/ ha

The cleanup costs of the toxic byproducts of drilling may not be worth the tax revenue and the environmental effects of the contaminated drinking water, air pollution from natural gas compression.

The Great Pacific garbage patch is an extensive collection site of plastic trash in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The plastic patch was discovered in 1997 by a racing boat captain, Charles Moore, on his way back from Hawai to California. It is actually a trash vortex of ocean debris trapped by the currents in one of the 5 Pacific Ocean rotating currents. There are 5 similar patches all around the world.

The Pacific Ocean garbage patch was formed gradually by the accumulation of marine trash by the currents in one particular place, called the horse latitudes. The horse latitude it’s characterized by high pressure, which suppresses precipitations and cloud formation and mixes calm winds with strong winds.

The trash is captured by currents and carried to this particular area from the coastal water of U.S and Japan All this trash was generated from improper waste management. 80% of it comes from land at the marinas, ports, rivers, dock and the rest of 20% are from fishing vessels, stable platforms, and cargo ships.

It takes 6 years for a plastic bottle to travel from the North Pacific coast of the United States to the garbage patch and under one year if it’s coming from Japan Continue reading The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

                             The Aral Sea was the 4th largest lake in the world before 1960 with 26.300 sq miles, when the rivers that were making it, were diverted by the Soviet Union.
    The translation of the name “Aral Sea” is the Sea of Islands because the lake is situated between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and it had over 1000 islands that once were dotting the lake.
    The two rivers the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya fed by the snowmelt from the mountains and precipitations were diverted to transform the desert of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, into cotton farms and other crop farms like cereals, rice, and melons.

    The construction of the irrigation canal started in 1940, but it was poorly constructed allowing the water to leak and evaporate.

    The Aral Sea was an endorheic lake, which is a lake formed by the accumulation of water from rain, melting snow or ice ending up in a lower elevation point. An endorheic lake allows no flow to other external bodies of water and can only disappear by evaporation because the bottom of the lake it’s occupied by a salted ground. Continue reading The Shrinking of Aral Sea