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EPA Plans to Allow Unlimited Dumping of Fracking Wastewater in the Gulf of Mexico

Mike Ludwig, Truthout
Waking Times

Environmentalists are warning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that its draft plan to continue allowing oil and gas companies to dump unlimited amounts of fracking chemicals and wastewater directly into the Gulf of Mexico is in violation of federal law.

In a letter sent to EPA officials, attorneys for the Center for Biological Diversity warned that the agency’s draft permit for water pollution discharges in the Gulf fails to properly consider how dumping wastewater containing chemicals from fracking and acidizing operations would impact water quality and marine wildlife.

The attorneys claim that regulators do not fully understand how the chemicals used in offshore fracking and other well treatments — some of which are toxic and dangerous to human and marine life — can impact marine environments, and crucial parts of the draft permit are based on severely outdated data. Finalizing the draft permit as it stands would be a violation of the Clean Water Act, they argue.

The EPA is endangering an entire ecosystem by allowing the oil industry to dump unlimited amounts of fracking chemicals and drilling waste fluid into the Gulf of Mexico,” said Center attorney Kristen Monsell. “This appalling plan from the agency that’s supposed to protect our water violates federal law, and shows a disturbing disregard for offshore fracking’s toxic threats to sea turtles and other Gulf wildlife.”

The Center has a history of using legal action to stop polluters and challenge the government to enforce environmental regulations, so the letter could be seen as a warning shot over the EPA’s bow. Earlier this year, lawsuits filed by the Center and another group won a temporary moratorium on offshore fracking in the Pacific Ocean, and the groups are currently preparing to challenge fracking in the Santa Barbara Channel under the Endangered Species Act.

Offshore fracking involves pumping water, chemicals and sand at extremely high pressure into undersea wells to break up rock and sand formations and clear pathways for oil and gas. Offshore drillers also treat wells with corrosive acids, such as hydrochloric acid, in a process known as “acidizing.”

The technologies have been used hundreds of times to enhance oil and gas production at hundreds of Gulf wells in recent years, and environmentalists say use of the technology could increase in the future as the industry seeks to maximize production in aging offshore fields. Still, little was publicly known about these “well treatments” until Truthout and environmental groups began filing information requests with federal regulators.

Regulators and the fossil fuel industry say offshore fracking operations have a good safety record and tend to be smaller in size compared to onshore operations, but environmentalists continue to worry about the chemicals used in the process because many of them are known to harm marine wildlife. Plus, dolphins and other species in the Gulf are still suffering from the lingering effects of the 2010 BP oil spill.

Under the EPA’s current and draft permits, offshore drillers are allowed to dump an unlimited amount of fracking and acidizing chemicals overboard as long as they are mixed with the wastewater that returns from undersea wells. Oil and gas platforms dumped more than 75 billion gallons of these “produced waters” directly into the Gulf of Mexico in 2014 alone, according to the Center’s analysis of EPA records.

These large volumes of wastewater cannot contain oil and must meet toxicity standards, but oil and gas operators are only required to test the waste stream a few times a year. Monsell said these tests could easily be conducted at times when few or no fracking chemicals are present in the wastewater.

The EPA expects these chemicals to have little impact on the environment because the large volumes of wastewater and the ocean dilute them, but the Center points out that much of the EPA’s data on the subject comes from studies prepared in the 1980s and 1990s. Offshore production technology has advanced since then and hundreds of frack jobs have occurred in the Gulf in the past five years alone.

“All they have to do is ask the Interior Department for this information, because they just compiled it all for us,” said Monsell, referring to the thousands of documents recently released to Truthout and the Center under the Freedom of Information Act.

These documents, released under a legal settlement between the Interior Department and the Center, show that regulators approved more than 1,500 frack jobs at over 600 Gulf wells between 2010 and 2014 with permit modifications that were exempted from comprehensive environmental reviews.

Monsell said the EPA’s permit is just another example of a federal agency “rubber-stamping” permits for offshore fracking without taking a hard look at how the technology impacts the environment. The EPA, she argues, should prohibit the dumping of hazardous fracking chemicals and other wastes directly into ocean altogether.

“It’s the EPA’s job to protect water quality from offshore fracking, not rubber-stamp the dumping of the wastewater from this dangerous, disgusting practice,” Monsell said.

The draft permit does prohibit the dumping of oil in the Gulf and proposes a new rule that would require oil and gas operators to keep an inventory of the fracking and acidizing chemicals kept on board. This inventory must be made available to regulators upon request. The government’s most up-to-date list of offshore fracking chemicals is now 15 years old, and the Interior Department regulators are currently working to update it.

Monsell worries, however, that these inventories would not track how much of the chemicals are dumped overboard, and the public will not be able to access them unless the EPA or Interior Department requests copies first. Even then, watchdogs may have to wait on the government to process more information requests in order to make those inventories public.

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Loud Boom Shook Ground as Daytime Meteor Fireball Explodes over Cape Town, South Africa

A bright meteor exploded over Cape Town, South Africa around 18:05 UTC on January 16, 2019 (20:05 local time). Bright light produced by the object was followed by very loud sound and ground shaking.

The American Meteor Society has so far received 6 reports about this event. If you witnessed it, please fill out this form.

People from all over the Cape, from Hermanus to Franschhoek, Cape Town and all the way to the Swartland, have been talking about the ‘massive flash of flight’ that appeared suddenly in the twilight sky, The Citizen reports.

According to witnesses, this bright object was followed by a loud bang that shook the ground and rattled houses and windows.

Trajectory and eyewitness heatmap - South Africa fireball, January 16, 2019. Credit: AMS

Trajectory and eyewitness heatmap – South Africa fireball, January 16, 2019. Credit: AMS

The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) confirmed that it had received hundreds of reports, The South African reports.

While no official statement has yet been issued by the organization, Riana Steenekamp, media spokesperson for Overstrand Municipality, says that she has been in contact with SANSA, and that they have indeed verified the event.

Initial analysis suggests parts of the object landed in the Helderberg vicinity.

The Watchers

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Planet Earth

Fireball Meteor Captured by Home Security Camera in Michigan

Last week, reports from states all over the Midwest started pouring in about a brilliantly bright meteor that streaked across the sky in the middle of the night.

Dan Kloosterman’s home security camera in Byron Center was facing in just the right direction to catch the glorious sight at 3:10 a.m. Friday. In Plainfield Township, Christine Ford’s security camera got the image from another angle.

The video verifies several reports filed with the Amercian Meteor Society of a fireball meteor that night.

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According to the society, a meteor is considered a “fireball” if it is exceptionally bright, or as bright as the planet Venus, in the night sky. The video submitted to 24 Hour News 8 is exceptionally bright.

As with most fireball meteors when the sky is at least partially clear, reports have come in from several states.

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If you happen to see a fireball meteor through our mostly cloudy West Michigan skies, be sure to report it here and send any photos or video you get to ReportIt@woodtv.com

Ellen Bacca
WOOD TV

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10 of Most Influential Ancient Women in History

Women influenced the course of world history no less than men did. They intrigued, seized power, and changed the map of the world.

In this article, there are the most famous women who influenced the world through their activities. But before reading about ancient women, you can get some info that will break any Ukrainian woman stereotype.

1. Cleopatra

10 of Most Influential Ancient Women in Histopry
Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra in the movie Queen Cleopatra of Egypt(1963), directeed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Cleopatra seduced the famous dictator Julius Caesar and gained the throne of the Egyptian queen. Also, she seduced Mark Antony and helped her son become the heir to the throne, and most importantly, contributed to the development of the history of Egypt.

2. Livia Drusilla

10 of Most Influential Ancient Women in Histopry
Livia Drusilla: The first Roman Empress

Her influence leaves no doubt. Livia was originally the wife of Tiberius Claudius Nero, a Roman diplomat. From him, she bore two sons. Over time, Libya brought one of her sons to power. According to rumors, clearing the way for her children, Livia contributed to the death of all relatives of her second husband, Octavian.

3.Hypatia

10 of Most Influential Ancient Women in Histopry
Hypatia of Alexandria was a true sight to behold. And she was killed because of it.

As you know, ladies-scientists were something unusual for a long time because women were not allowed to study. However, it all began in ancient Greece. Few people today know the name of Hypatia, a woman-mathematician. It is interesting that we still use her inventions in everyday life.

4.Vannozza dei Cattanei

10 of Most Influential Ancient Women in Histopry
Vannozza dei Cattanei was charismatic and clever enough to run not one, but two inns, or ‘osterias’ as they are called in Rome. It is likely there that her charms caught the attention of Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, whom she scandalously entered into an affair with, despite his vows of celibacy. He later became Pope Julius II.

This woman became famous for her romantic relationship with Pope Alexander VI Borgia. The result of their love was four children, and Vanozza became one of the most influential women of her time. By the way, Pope officially recognized his children.

5. Zenobia

10 of Most Influential Ancient Women in Histopry
Queen Zenobia’s Last Look Upon Palmyra, by Herbert Gustave Schmalz (1888 CE). Original on exhibit, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

She was the second wife of King Palmyra Odenat II. However, soon Odenat dies at the hands of an assassin (there is a version that his loved wife killed him). Anyway, Zenobia became the ruler of Palmyra with her son. The famous philosopher Longinus educated him. Her troops quickly conquered Egypt, Syria and the eastern part of Asia Minor.

6. Mania

When Mania’s husband Zenid died, the aggressor was awake inside her. She hired Greeks and seized several cities in the district, personally taking part in battles, giving orders, and sharing loot – in general, everything that the commander-strategist did in antiquity. Nobody managed to defeat her, but one man seduced her daughter, got into trust, and then killed Mania.

7. Lucretia

10 of Most Influential Ancient Women in Histopry
Detail of Lucretia by Rembrandt van Rijn

Lucretia was a wife of the commander Tarquinius Collatin, lived in the 6th century BC. She was beautiful and generous. Once, the son of the Roman king Tarquinius Proud seduced Lucretia, threatening to kill her. She didn’t hide anything from her husband, but the burden of shame was great, so she committed suicide. This case was a turning point in the history of Rome.

8. Elena Augusta

10 of Most Influential Ancient Women in Histopry
The Vision Of St Helena, Paolo Veronese

Helena Augusta spread Christianity throughout the Roman Empire which became important in history. Under her leadership, the Life-Giving Cross and other important relics were found in Jerusalem. Thanks to this woman, a large number of Christian churches were built, some of which survived to the present day.

9. Agnodice

10 of Most Influential Ancient Women in Histopry
Agnodice | 4th Century BCE Athens, and was the first female physician to gain an official practice.

This Greek woman was the first gynecologist in the history of medicine. Agnodice, being dressed as a man, secretly attended medical classes. In the end, the fraud was revealed, and Agnodice received the right to practice medicine officially, thanks to which she opened this path to all subsequent women-doctors.

10.Joanna Papissa

10 of Most Influential Ancient Women in Histopry
Legend has it that a pope who ruled between 855 and 877 AD, Pope John, was actually a woman.

This is the woman who allegedly sat on the Pope’s throne. There is neither the evidence that she is a mythical person nor the facts of her existence. Until the 15th century, there were no denials of her existence, but later, the identity of Papissa began to be questioned.

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