Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 29th, 2014

Fracking (Fracturing) waste’s radioactivity? To be recycled in oil drilling?

Horror zeal to extracting oil and gas stories.

RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI posted on  Associated Press this Jan. 14, 2014 

Lab study cuts fracking waste’s radioactivity

HOUSTON (AP) — Researchers believe they have found an unlikely way to decrease the radioactivity of some hydraulic fracturing wastewater: Mix it with the hazardous drainage from mining operations.

The wastewater is created when some of the chemical-laced water used to fracture thick underground rocks flows back out of the wellbore.

The water is tainted with chemicals, toxins and in some parts of the country — such as Pennsylvania — naturally occurring radioactive materials, such as radium.

Research has shown that even wastewater that had been treated with conventional means was changing the chemistry of rivers when discharged into waterways.

In 2011, Pennsylvania barred drillers from taking the wastewater to treatment facilities, forcing them to haul the fluid waste to be disposed in underground injection wells in Ohio.

This, along with a lack of freshwater in other parts of the country needed to drill new wells, has scientists and the industry looking for creative solutions.

The discovery by Duke University researchers would allow oil and gas drillers to combine flowback waters from the fracking process with acid drainage from mining, or any other salty water.

The solid materials that form, which include radioactive materials, are removed and dumped at a hazardous waste landfill, and then the now cleaner water is used to drill a new well, said Avner Vengosh, the Duke professor who oversaw the project, which included scientists from Dartmouth College and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

The metals and radium in the drilling wastewater automatically attract to sulfates — or salts, he explained.

It’s a romance. It’s inevitable it will combine,” said Vengosh, a professor of geochemistry and water quality.

Vengosh’s research was published in December in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, but still needs to be field tested, he said.

Finding solutions for safely dealing with contaminated water and having enough usable water to drill new wells is crucial for the oil and gas industry. It has booming in recent years due to new methods of hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — a method that uses millions of gallons of chemical-laced water to crack thick layers of underground rock so fossil fuels can flow out.

But as drilling spreads to more areas, the industry has faced obstacles. In the gas-rich Marcellus shale region of Pennsylvania, wastewater disposal is problematic.

In drought-prone areas, such as Texas and California, drillers face a shortage of freshwater. As a result, the industry is seeking to recycle wastewater.

Vengosh’s researchers blended fracking wastewater from the Marcellus shale with acid drainage from mines, materials collected in western Pennsylvania by the industry.

The researchers had hypothesized that the salts, metals and radium would combine so they could be removed as solids, leaving behind water clean enough to be used in another fracking operation, though not quite pure enough to be potable.

After two days, they examined the chemical and radioactive levels of the 26 different mixtures they had created and found that within the first 10 hours the metals — including iron, barium and strontium — and most of the radium had combined to form a new solid. The salinity of the remaining fluid had been reduced enough to be used in fracking, Vengosh said.

“I’m not sure it resolves all the problems, but it can have some improvement,” Vengosh said.

Ben Shepperd, president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, which represents drillers in an oil-rich, desert-like area of West Texas, said maximizing water use is a top priority for the industry.

Those of us who live, work and play near oil and gas activities place a premium on efficient water uses,” he said in an email.

But Tad Patzek, chairman and professor of the petroleum engineering department at the University of Texas in Austin, cautioned that the method could present problems in the field. The remaining water would still be jam-packed with chemicals and toxins, he noted.

“That water can get spilled,” Patzek said. “That water can get into a shallow aquifer. There are many other considerations.”

Still, freshwater and wastewater are such serious issues that Donald Van Nieuwenhuise, director of the University of Houston’s geosciences program, said researchers are seeking solutions on several fronts: by recycling flowback water, by creating ways to use less water to begin with or by using a liquid other than water to crack the rock.

Texas doesn’t have acid mine waste, an environmental threat to the Appalachian basin, to mix with the fracking fluids, but the method could be applied in the Lone Star state differently, Van Nieuwenhuise noted.

The contaminated drilling water could be mixed with fluids from brine aquifers that are too salty to be used as drinking water, he said.

“This is novel. It’s a really neat idea,” he said, adding that solid waste is safer than liquid and the amount created in this process would be manageable.

___

Plushnick-Masti can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RamitMastiAP

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The accents of the Israeli team

For many, following all the ins and outs of the Israeli-Palestinian saga can be confusing.  Hamas did that, the Israeli army did that.

They started the war. No, they started the war.  They broke the ceasefire.  No, they broke the ceasefire.  Hummus belongs to them. No, it belongs to them.

It is all very overwhelming.  One thing is glaringly clear.

American journalists seem to have a much easier time having conversations with Israeli officials than they do with their Palestinian counterparts.  The reason is obvious.

All of Israel’s official mouthpieces speak perfect unaccented English.  And why wouldn’t they?  After all, they are not from Israel.

 

Amer Zahr published this August 6, 2014:

Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, and speaker living in Michigan. He is also the editor of “The Civil Arab.” Email Amer Zahr.

Here are the cast of characters acting as Israel’s cheerleaders to the American public.

1. Peter Lerner is the foreign press spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces.  He was born in London in 1973.  He immigrated to Israel in 1985.

Hebrew, one of the two official languages of Israel (yes, Arabic is an official language too, because Israel is a democracy), is his second language.  You might have wondered why Peter Lerner sounds more like a spokesperson for the Queen than he does for Israel.  Why wouldn’t he? He is, after all, a foreigner in the land of Israel.

20140805_zahr

2. Dore Gold is a diplomat who has served in many Israeli governments.  He was once Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.  He is currently the president of an Israeli think tank in Jerusalem.  He was born in Connecticut, attended high school in Massachusetts, and earned a BA, MA, and PhD from Columbia University in New York City.

He has appeared on television numerous times during Israel’s latest offensive defending and explaining the policies of the Netanyahu government.  As you might expect, his English is perfect.  Mr. Gold lives in Jerusalem.

He might even live in a house that once belonged to Palestinians:  trust me, in Jerusalem, it’s a safe bet.  You might have wondered why Dore Gold sounds like a Yankees fan.  Why wouldn’t he? He is, after all, a foreigner in the land of Israel.

3. Mark Regev is the official spokesman of the Netanyahu government.  In 1960, he was born in Australia, where he grew up and finished college.

He immigrated to Israel at the age of 22, when he began his graduate studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  He has remained in his adopted homeland ever since.  Hebrew is also his second language.

You might have wondered why the official Israeli spokesman sounds like Crocodile Dundee.  Why wouldn’t he? He is, after all, a foreigner in the land of Israel.

4. Michael Oren was most recently Israel’s ambassador to the United States.  He was born in upstate New York.  He earned his MA and PhD from Princeton University in New Jersey.  He immigrated to Israel in his mid-twenties. He has lectured at dozens of American campuses.

He articulately defends Israeli policies on American televisions across our great country.  Well, he is usually articulate, if you don’t count his recent interview on MSNBC when he suddenly (and quite conveniently) couldn’t hear Andrea Mitchell when she asked him about reports that Israel had eavesdropped on John Kerry last year.

But even when he flusters and fumbles, he speaks eloquent East Coast English.  You might have wondered why Michael Oren sounds like an American university professor.  Why wouldn’t he? He is, after all, a foreigner in the land of Israel.

5. Micky Rosenfeld is the Israeli police spokesperson to the foreign press.  He speaks English flawlessly.  That’s because he is English.  Yup, he was born in England and grew up there.  He is blond and blue-eyed.  There’s nothing wrong with that, of course.  He grew up with Duran Duran, the English Premiere League, and bland food.

The garlicky cuisine of his new homeland must have come as a bit of a shock to him.  You might have wondered why Micky Rosenfeld sounds like Piers Morgan.  Why wouldn’t he? He is, after all, a foreigner in the land of Israel.

6. Ron Dermer is Israel’s current ambassador to the United States of America. He has been all over CNN in recent weeks.  He attended the University of Pennsylvania before moving to Israel is his twenties.  He was born in 1971 in Miami Beach, where both his father and brother were once the mayor there.

He is one of Netanyahu’s closest advisers, writing many of his speeches, in English I assume.  He is highly educated, yet for some reason he still sounds obnoxious and rude during just about every interview.  You might have wondered why Ron Dermer sounds like a whiny kid from Florida. Why wouldn’t he? He is, after all, a foreigner in the land of Israel.

 

Now I don’t really mind that all of these Israeli messengers speak perfect English in American, Australian, and British accents.  However, I do mind that with all that Western education they still can’t pronounce “Hamas.”

They insist on continuing to say “Khamas.”  This is just offensive.  Hamas is already frightening enough with its crappy rockets, ancient rifles, and hooded militants.

Do they really have to add that chilling “kha” sound?

Do they do that with all “h” sounds?

It would make some nursery rhymes seem just downright scary.  “Khumpty Dumpty sat on a wall” just sounds alarming.  C’mon guys. It’s “Hamas,” like “happy.”  Just think that.  Hamas. Happy. Hamas. Happy. See, it works.

In any case, this is the cast of characters acting as Israel’s cheerleaders to the American public.

Justifying racial supremacy, ethnic cleansing, and indiscriminate bombing campaigns definitely sounds better when it’s done in an accent we can all relate to.

But I’m sure every American listening to them still wonders why all these Israelis sound like the next door neighbor.  Why wouldn’t they?  They are, after all, foreigners in the land of Israel.  Foreign colonist settlers.

 

Twitter helps Chicago find sources of food poisoning

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up charging the restaurant in question with a violation.

“We know that the majority of cases of food-borne outbreaks really never end up getting reported to the local health department anywhere in the country,” Dr. Bechara Choucair told Reuters Health in a phone call.

“We realize the people might not pick up the phone and call the doctor, but they might go to Twitter and complain to the world that they got food poisoning from eating out,” he said.

 

Choucair and his colleagues in the Chicago Department of Public Health wondered if there was some innovative way for them to identify new cases of foodborne outbreaks in Chicago that are regularly missed.

So they enlisted a technological collaborative group called Smart Chicago to help them.

“Smart Chicago collaborative helped us develop an app that literally sifts through hundreds of thousands of tweets every day that are coming from Chicago or linked to Chicago that might include a reference to a food borne illness,” Choucair said.

The app, called Foodborne Chicago, uses an algorithm to identify tweets that might be related to food poisoning symptoms in or near Chicago.

The app then responds to the person who sent the original tweet, saying, “That doesn’t sound good. Help us prevent this and report where you ate here,” and includes a link to an online form for reporting the details.

Foodborne Chicago tweets as @foodbornechi.

 

As Choucair and his coauthors noted in a paper in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the program was launched in March 2013.

During the first 10 months of the program, Foodborne Chicago identified 270 tweets describing complaints of food poisoning.

A total of 193 complaints were then submitted through the website, which lead to unannounced health inspections at 133 restaurants.

 

The health inspectors found at least one critical violation in 20% of those restaurants. The usual rate for one critical violation during regular health inspections is about 16

About 16 percent of the restaurants reported through Foodborne Chicago failed inspections and were closed.

“The overwhelming majority of people are really excited to know that their local government is listening – but not only just listening – is actually taking their complaint seriously and acting on it,” Choucair said.

Chicago isn’t the only city to use new technology to track food poisoning. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene examined restaurant reviews from an online review website to identify foodborne illness complaints.

“I think it’s really progressive of health departments to start looking at signals online to figure out where to put their resources,” Ben Chapman told Reuters Health in a phone call.

Chapman is a food safety specialist and researcher with North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He wasn’t involved in the study.

‘The focus is on trying to identify outbreaks that may not have been seen from traditional public health signals through hospitals or reportable disease databases, so yeah, it’s really good stuff,” Chapman said.

Chapman said there could be an issue with resources when people have to follow up with extra inspections based on all those tweets and online signals.

“But the good outweighs the bad,” he said.

Chapman said there is a movement for health departments to integrate their inspection reports directly into websites like Yelp, so that people can take that information into consideration when they’re searching for restaurants.

Choucair said his team would like to see this app utilized by other health departments across the country.

“The codes for the app are open to the public, we want people to use it,” he said.

For developers, the open-source software is available on GitHub, here: bit.ly/1zA0DPT.

SOURCE: 1.usa.gov/1mrYzmR CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, online August 15, 2104.

 

 


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