Fracking may be implicated in US fish kill

1 November 2011

Consol Energy has agreed to pay more than $205 million in federal fines and pollution control costs associated with an algae bloom that killed thousands of fish and other aquatic life in Dunkard Creek (Wheeling, USA).  The penalties assessed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may be only the beginning for Consol as now the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is suing the company for contributing to the death of nearly 65,000 fish, mussels and salamanders in Dunkard Creek in September 2009.

One item Consol may have in its favor is the opinion of Wheeling-based EPA biologist Lou Reynolds who wrote a series of e-mails, starting in November 2009, that indicated he believed the fish kill may have been partially due to natural gas activity.  According to the New York Times, Reynolds wrote several emails, some of which indicated he believes Marcellus Shale drilling and fracking may have contributed to the problems at Dunkard Creek.  ”There is water that is removed from these streams for use in Marcellus fracking,” he wrote. “There is always some amount of water that gets left in the tank and hoses that then get put into other streams. By far, this is the most likely way that (golden algae) will be moved around.”

For what may be the first time ever, potentially toxic bluegreen algae was discovered this summer in the Rideau River within Ottawa’s city limits.  The blue-green alga was identified in August off Nichols Island, near the Rideau Canal’s Long Island lock station north of Manotick.  Ontario Ministry of Environment staff collected samples and found “minor evidence of toxins.”  But since the algal bloom had already almost disintegrated, it posed no threat to public health, according to Ottawa Public Health. Blue-green algae have been present in stretches of the lower Rideau waterway for at least the past three years.

Protection of South Africa’s renowned freshwater biodiversity has received a boost with the release of groundbreaking scientific data and supporting geo-informatics maps which identify priority areas for conservation.  It is the first time that such a tool – which allows freshwater ecosystem and biodiversity goals to become part of the planning and decision-making processes – is available.  The National Freshwater Ecosystems Priority Areas (NFEPA) project took three years to complete, with the help of more than 100 specialists in the field.

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