Category Archives: Environment Issues

Learning the long and short term effects of pollution in various industries that can prove toxic to every society.

Toxic Relations with Uranium

radioactive, radioactivity, uranium, toxic mining
Radioactivity awareness signs should be public

The quest for money, fast or easy, can, or is, usually found in the worst of places. A person feels there’s a ‘need’ for monies that only instant gratification can satisfy without considering the consequences. It’s like a sign that says, ‘Step into Rush Hour Traffic! Win a Million Dollars!’ Now, would anybody really do that?

The allure and promise of big dollars will attract everybody’s attention. Mining corporations and businesses KNOW this. It’s a need that promises improving one’s quality of life but Uranium mining itself, does have a cost. One can and do, trade their health and life in exchange, for those big dollars. Is risk of cancers really worth the trade? Maybe, after all some will say, we only live once, why not enjoy it while we can?

Exploring and learning about Uranium, we will find it is a white radioactive, metallic element, found in pitchblende (veins) and certain other metals, in Earths’ continental crust. It combines easily with minerals in Earths’ rocks versus iron-rich variety and can be found in naturally low concentrations, in the soil, water and rocks.

Toxic interactions with Uranium begins immediately when disturbed, amassed and it concentrates, when piled together. It’s immediate and natural emissions,of radioactive energy bombards it’s surrounding environment with alpha, beta and gamma rays. Further refining through use of chemicals to separate the uranium, releases toxic fumes, in the form of radon gas emissions.

The refining process creates radioactive waste, stored in ponds, which can take millions of years, to reach a non-radioactive state. Radioactive decay refers to the spontaneous release or ‘ionised radiant energy’ in the form of alpha, beta, gamma rays and/or radon gas, from unstable atoms. These are dangerous to the surrounding environment and the human body, due to the ability to separate atoms including those in our own bodies. The bigger the Uranium mining expands includes expansions of the waste ponds.

The human body can heal itself with low concentrations of radioactivity but it does have limits and heals at it’s own pace. Exposure to radiation begins with initial exploratory drilling and producing a ‘core sample’ of the soil. Living or working, in or near, a Uranium mine can have many, receiving various rates of exposure, to radiation. Once mining begins, the wind and water can carry radioactive particles to the surrounding fauna, animals, waters, land and ultimately affect our own food chain.

Do you still want to get rich with a high pay job but risk your life? Exposure may affect the reproductive systems of both genders of humans and animals. Environmentalists, scientists and concerned citizens living nearby do their best to inform the public. Corporations push for silence to be the order of the day and some governments comply. Do you really want such dangers lurking near you, your family, community?

Learning in Motion

Further Learning Resources

Uranium Mining and Health

Uranium Health Effects

Environmental Impacts on the Navajo Nation from Uranium Mining

I hope you found this article informative and gained some new insight. Please feel free to leave your comments and share your new found knowledge with others. Use the ‘Contact’ form to make a request on a topic of your own interest. It is FREE to subscribe by email or RSS feed.

Article (C)2009 An Informal Cornr, all rights reserved. Ginsense writes articles on business skills, development, health, science, technology and society and enjoys advocating for independence, security and a better world for all of us.

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Chromium Mining Ontario – Health and Environmental Impacts

miners gear
miners gear

Chromite is a stable mineral containing iron and chromium. Chromium is an element with the ability to be changed into various states and are as follows : Cr-0, II, III, IV, V and VI which refers to the number of bonds each state is capable of producing. Chromium III and VI (trivalent and hexavalent) can be found naturally or produced by human activity, in the environment. Are you aware that excessive amounts of Cr-VI is highly toxic for the human body?

Chromite mining is performed, to produce a ferrochrome alloy, for stainless steel, textile dyes, wood preservation, leather tanning, rust resistant qualities, high heat tolerance, inks, plastics paints and other surface coating uses. Chromium 6 (Cr-VI) can be found in low quantities within many of these products and/or produced through oxidation from Cr-III into Cr VI depending on activity around a chromite deposit or refinery.

Natural transformation of Cr-VI to Cr-III occurs within our own bodies from our saliva and stomach acids, and can be found naturally, at tolerable levels, in our foods and water. A person’s natural ability to ‘reduct‘ Cr-VI to Cr-III is a major reason behind statements, ‘ingestion of Cr-VI is NOT toxic‘. A lack of chromium in our diets is believed to lead to problems with sugar metabolism and nerve problems. Supplements of chromium are available if a deficiency is identified.

Toxicity occurs when the body absorbs too much chromium for man, animal and plants, leading to disease, deformities and/or death.

Problems in control and prevention of chromium release, can occur at varying stages of chromite mining. Exposure and activities in the above ground atmosphere has found Cr-III converts to a mobile Cr-VI state. Waste materials such as dust, waste water, slag, waste rocks and tailings contain various levels of chromium and Cr-VI and other waste metals. These can be spread by wind and running rain water or other extreme weather conditions, if protective and secure containment measures, are not in place.

Conditions, such as exposure to manganese oxides, calcium, fire, water treatment, waste incinerators, smelting and chromite refining processing can oxidize stable Cr-III into mobile Cr-VI.

Efforts to reduce Cr-VI to Cr-III has been found to depend on atmospheric conditions, available low oxygen levels in soils, water and sediment, interactions with organic matter, reductants, microorganisms and low pH values. Decreasing availability of reductants such as coke, char and coal has resulted in use of experimental substitutions, which are not always successful.

The Metal Effluent Regulations in Canada, (Mining Watch, Canada-Living Near a Chromite Mine) have no standard for the discharge of chromium into the environment. Canadian and Ontario hazardous waste guidelines are less stringent compared to other nations.

Greater quantities of Cr-VI are found in emissions from industries producing chrome plating, chemical manufacturing of chromium, and evaporative cooling towers. Exposure to Cr-VI can take place through three routes:

  • Ingestion, drinking contaminated water or food (humans can convert Cr-VI to Cr-III)

  • Inhalation, breathing contaminated air (recognized as a carcinogen)

  • Dermal contact, skin contact with contaminated water or soil

The length of time to chromium exposure, will determine the levels of harmful health effects, which may not be noticable at first because illness and disease, progress over time. One may find hints of exposure to a toxic environment by simply observing their surrounding plant life. Speed of disease progress between man and plants are different, but effects of exposure to chromium toxins, can provide clues. A call for soil, water and air quality testing along with a visit to your own physician may become a necessity.

The long term effects of chromite mining in Canada, are almost a complete unknown, since such mining has not been a major interest, only exploration. Most chromite mining has been done in far warmer and drier regions compared to plans for operating in extreme winter environment of Canada. There is no true comparable nation, to allow forecasting or preparation, for problems that may occur.

The economic benefits of this mining project may be extremely attractive but the long term vision must include the end result. The long term effects on the surrounding lands, waters, plants, animals and humans, from chromite mining, must be seriously considered. Chromium -6 is not easy to remove from soil nor dissolves in water. It can sit in hexavalent form for many years.

Lastly, consideration must be given to the GUTTED  Canadian environmental standards, which may leave communities and environment,  open to unregulated toxic waste dumping and/or maintenance. What is truly more important? a few years infusion of jobs and money with risk to health, for ALL? or permanent long term health for ALL?

Learning in Motion

Extra Reading

Chromium Toxicity

Water Safety Test Kits

FREE Download – Chromium Toxicity in Plants

Portable Water Purification Systems

I hope you found this article informative. Please feel free to leave your comments and share your thoughts. Send me a email if you have a request on a topic of interest, a guest post, or to say Hello! I hope you visit again.

Copyright Article (C)2014, all rights reserved. Ginsense creates and posts articles online about business development, micro business, health, science, technology and social issues.

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Poisoned Fracking Waters Last Forever

forest waterWater is a natural resource and a necessity for life, for every man, woman, child, plant and animal on our planet, to survive. It is that liquid which falls upon our planet as rain and feeds our seas, lakes, rivers and is the main component of all living matter. We know that pure water is colorless, odorless, tasteless, transparent and is made up of hyrdogen and oxygen, H2O. So why is ‘hydraulic fracturing‘ a huge concern?

The idea of creating wealth and prosperity sounds great, on the surface. Money to go around for everybody in varying amounts. So, what lies behind this industry that has people concerned? Drilling holes for gas and oil doesn’t seem so horrible. We dig holes for water wells. There is a difference though. Drilling for oil and gas use chemicals and create permanent, toxic, waste water which can greatly affect clean water sources and all life forms.

Our Earth has naturally formed water aquifers. Groundwater that is contained at varying depths underground, with permeable material (sand, clay, gravel) and non-permeable rock. They have been used for thousands of years by Man as water sources. This water is near clean since it’s gone through ‘nature’s own filters‘ such as sand, gravel, clay and rocks. It’s considered ‘potable‘ water.

Potable : fit for drinking

A big oil or gas business decides they will start to drill using ‘hydraulic fracturing’, with government approval. A part of the drilling process includes pumping of sand, water and ‘additives’ at very high pressures, to keep the thermal friction of the drill bit down and hold ‘fractures’ open. They will and do, find one of these aquifers. They won’t have pumping or additives while they send this drill further till they hit the bottom of the aquifer.

Seals, usually concrete are then added around the drill pipe at the bottom of the aquifer. It is assumed this will stop and/or prevent ‘contamination‘ of the aquifer. Drilling below the aquifer continues and ‘additives’ in the solution are once again, added. Additives that are used, are as follows :

  • Acid to clean ‘cement’ in pre- perforated (temp sealed) pipes
  • Hydrochloride acid (HC1), used in pools
  • Corrosion inhibitors
  • Radioactive isotopes (to track flow, short lifespan)
  • Sintered bauxite (proppant, keep flow open, allow flow of fluids)
  • Zirconium oxide (proppant, keep flow open, allow flow of fluids)
  • Gluteralheride (prevent bacterial growth)
  • Potassium (and other salts, clay control)
  • Peroxydisulfates (a ‘breaker’, breaks down gelling viscosity, increase ‘flow’)
  • Scale inhibitors (prevent high concentrations of calcium sulfate, carbonate + barium sulfate)

A few concerns are, there is not enough long term research available with the effects on full mixtures of the chemicals used. It’s said, there’s only a tiny percentage of chemicals used but fail to mention – used EACH day of operation. How much does 0.01-0.001% of chemicals per day add up to, per month? three years? Over the life of a typical gas well, up to 100,000 US gallons (380,000 l; 83,000 imp gal) of chemical additives may be used.

Acid used to ‘open‘ temporarily ‘cement‘ sealed pipe perforations- could, or how would, this particular chemical, over the long term, affect concrete seals, in an underground aquifer? A sample of some unanswered questions. A big business will say that ‘patents‘ need to be protected which would provide detailed lists of chemicals used therefore closed to the public, for closer examination.

Creating fractures in the Earth may provide exit portals for other gases such as methane, benzene, radon or other volatile compound emissions (Encana Gas Leak). Not to mention, fractures may occur towards an aquifer- since there is no real control, in directing a fracture. Is there safeguards in place for such ‘leaks’? Speaking of leaks, what about the leaks that occur over time in the pipes themselves, from deterioration? What about slurry overflow, from wastewater pools? Direction of slurry flow in rain? Or effects on migratory birds swimming in open pools of wastewater due to addition of rain? Evaporation from these wastewater pools? What of the risk of sinkholes? Blowouts?

fracProcessB

Drilling near natural fault lines has also caused earthquakes. Siesmologists and monitoring equipment is kept nearby or on stand-by. Most micro-earthquakes may not be taken too seriously by the industry but is a concern to people. What if a fault is ‘fractured’ that releases pressure causing a massive quake? Would wastewater pits survive such a catastrophe? Or any natural disaster that may come along?

A few recommendations made by people have been as follows:

  • make full disclosure of chemicals mandatory
  • results for full cumulative effects on groundwater, surface water and air
  • politics and other bodies not interfere, sway or disrupt Environmental studies
  • full water cycle be studied, water to air to ground and back
  • soil, water and air be continuously monitored near and around these industries
  • remove profit and financial concerns, make environment a priority
  • strict alcohol and drug testing on workers, to prevent accidents
  • Environment protection be provided transparency and accessibility
  • explore improving treatment of frack water (evaporation, pyrolysis, too expensive)
  • have spill projections and protections in place before a spill
  • monitor long term effects of chemicals used
  • priority on risk vs benefits
  • report of gas emissions from frack water should postpone or halt drilling
  • report hazardous waste should be public priority
  • state of health ong term reports for those living near drilling sites be monitored
  • report rate of well failures
  • report long term effects of abandoned wells
  • report effects of well sites in high rain climates
  • priority on ensuring concrete ‘seals’ are not leaking (Gas Migration Update)
  • require pre-drill water, soil and air tests for comparison testing
  • require wastewater treatment before disposal
  • require baseline contamination levels of water sources before drilling starts
  • use cleaner bio-degradable chemicals
  • intesify penalties on violations
  • remove exemptions on use of dangerous hazardous chemicals
  • ensure water use for whole area of population cannot be compromised
  • non-disclosure agreements for drilling operations should be removed

I would prefer that we live in a world, that is able to provide clean water for our homes, farms and gardens. We can turn on the taps for drinking or enjoy watching birds and wild critters at the lake. It is a major resource that should receive 100% of our full attention and protection. If there’s any type of apocalyptic world coming, it would be a poisoned environment.

I hope you found this article informative. Please feel free to leave your comments and share your own observations or experiences. Use the ‘Ask a Question’ form on a topic of your own interest. It is FREE to subscribe by email or RSS feed.

Article(C)2009 An Informal Cornr, all rights reserved. Ginsense writes articles on business skills, development, health, science, technology and society and enjoys advocating for independence, security and a better world for all of us.

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