Shales are radioactive in Illinois

Groups warn of radiation exposure associated with fracking

From an Article by Barb Eidlin, The Southern, Carbondale, Illinois, June 22, 2017

CARBONDALE — Concerned citizens and opponents of the controversial oil and gas extraction method commonly known as fracking met Wednesday night at the Carbondale Township offices to discuss the risks of radioactive exposure associated with the extraction process.

The gathering was prompted by the recent application for a High Volume Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing permit applied for by Woolsey Operating Company, LLC, HVHHF.

The event was hosted by Illinois Green Party and Southern Illinoisans Against Fracking.

Rich Whitney, Vice-Chairman of the Illinois Green Party and S.A.F.E Steering committee member for said that to the best of their ability, the groups had determined that the location of the well site proposed by the permit is a few miles northwest of Enfield in White County.

Whitney said that the extraction process is a potential public health hazard.

“In addition to the chemical contamination of the environment and the proven link between earthquakes and injecting waste fluids deep underground under high pressure, the process also comes with a risk of exposure to radioactive elements.”

According to Whitney, studies show that naturally occurring radioactive materials are present in unusually high quantities in Southern Illinois shale.

During drilling and fracking operations, when elements like radium, uranium, thorium or other radioactive elements are present in the sediment or rocks that contain oil and gas, they will be brought to the surface as drill cuttings or in the drilling fluid, known as drilling mud, circulating up from the drill bit.

Whitney cited a 2014 study published in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives that shows that consuming radium in drinking water can cause lymphoma, bone cancer and leukemia. It also states that radium also emits gamma rays which raise cancer risk from external exposures.

A 1997 U.S. Geological Survey of oilfield production sites in White county found that 7 out of 9 of the sites they surveyed were judged to have “high radioactivity.”

“If you look at what has been happening in recent years in Pennsylvania and North Dakota, the radioactive contamination coming out of those wells has been a disaster for those communities,” Whitney said.

According to Whitney, a 2006 Duke University study shows that radioactive contaminates have “gotten all over” the well sites and some of the waste disposal sites.

Additionally, he said, illegal dumping has led to radioactive contaminates in municipal dump sites. “That’s not to say that this is going to happen in Illinois, but the company has a foot in the door, and so people need to start educating themselves. We don’t want Illinois to be turned into a state wide Superfund site.”

Whitney also said that radioactive oil and gas waste is exempt from most federal regulations on radioactivity, and that the regulations adopted in Illinois roughly three years ago are mainly concerned with testing for radioactivity.

They say nothing about what companies must do if hazardous levels of radioactive emissions are detected.

Additionally, Whitney said, there is no regulation to test work areas for levels of radioactivity that would call for OSHA standards of occupational safety, and no provision for workers to wear radiation detection badges or devices.

Whitney said that the volume of waste from fracking will be far higher that from conventional drilling sites since the length of the wells can be over a mile long.

This means that hazardous radioactive elements being brought to the surface will also be proportionally greater that in conventional drilling.

If a Woolsey’s permit is approved, a public hearing will be held at the Enfield United Methodist Church Family Life Center, Corner of West Main and South Jennette St., in Enfield from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm on July 5, 2017.

Information about the organizations opposing fracking can be found at the Shawnee Green Party Facebook page, or the S.A.F.E. website at:

Don’t Fracture Illinois


Book Review: Climate of Capitulation (to Fossil Fuels)

by Duane Nichols on June 25, 2017

OMG: Maybe the Bible is a Chinese hoax?

Climate of Capitulation — An Insider’s Account of State Power in a Coal Nation

Book By Vivian E. Thomson, University of Virginia (MIT Press), April 2017


The United States has pledged to the world community a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 26–28 percent below 2005 levels in 2025. Because much of this reduction must come from electric utilities, especially coal-fired power plants, coal states will make or break the U.S. commitment to emissions reduction. In Climate of Capitulation, Vivian Thomson offers an insider’s account of how power is wielded in environmental policy making at the state level. Thomson, a former member of Virginia’s State Air Pollution Control Board, identifies a “climate of capitulation” in state government—a deeply rooted favoritism toward coal and electric utilities in states’ air pollution policies.

Thomson narrates three cases involving coal and air pollution from her time on the Air Board. She illuminates the overt and covert power struggles surrounding air pollution limits for a coal-fired power plant just across the Potomac from Washington, for a controversial new coal-fired electrical generation plant in coal country, and for coal dust pollution from truck traffic in a country hollow.

Thomson links Virginia’s climate of capitulation with campaign donations that make legislators politically indebted to coal and electric utility interests, a traditionalistic political culture tending to inertia, and a part-time legislature that depended on outside groups for information and bill drafting. Extending her analysis to fifteen other coal-dependent states, Thomson offers policy reforms aimed at mitigating the ingrained biases toward coal and electric utilities in states’ air pollution policy making.

About the Author

Vivian E. Thomson is Professor in the Departments of Environmental Sciences and Politics and Director of the Environmental Thought and Practice BA Program at the University of Virginia.

Review Commentary

“Vivian Thomson kicks ash and names names in this no-holds-barred exposé on the coal industry and its efforts to seize control of the environmental policy apparatus. Climate of Capitulation is a must-read at a time when entrenched fossil fuel interests have strengthened their hand and pose a heightened threat to efforts to avert dangerous climate change.”

—Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Penn State University; coauthor, with Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles, of The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy


“Voluntary commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Climate Convention will only be implemented if they are in the self-interest of the parties involved. It would seem, for now, that national authorities in the United States fail to perceive their strong self-interest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, emission reductions in the United States may depend mostly on action at the state and local levels. Vivian Thomson shows, in this book, how these problems are considered at the state level and what can be done to facilitate state-level action.”

—José Goldemberg, former President, University of São Paulo; former Secretary of State for Science and Technology, Brazil; Time magazine “Hero of the Environment”


Vote for What’s Right for the People and the Earth!

June 24, 2017

The Halliburton Loophole Started an Attack on the Environment Letter to FrackCheckWV and Tom Bond from George Neall, June 22, 2017 What has been taking place in WV, PA and other states since 2004/2005 is a carefully choreographed action plan devised by the oil and gas industry. The first step was getting the “Halliburton loophole” [...]

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Another Explosion in Barbour County Kills Prominent PA Man

June 23, 2017

Industrial site explosion kills McDonald fire chief From an Article by Andrew Goldstein, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, June 20, 2017 The chief of the McDonald Volunteer Fire Department died Tuesday in an explosion at an industrial site in West Virginia while working a contracting job. Scott Albertini, 53, had been a member of the fire department [...]

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Pipelines Are Not Being Planned to Serve West Virginia

June 22, 2017

$-Living With Our Energy Choices Long Term-$ Letter to the Editor of the Weston Democrat, Weston, WV,  June 20, 2017 A recent talk to the local Rotary, by a spokesman for the gas industry, seriously needs a rebuttal. Fracking and pipelines are not a solution to West Virginia’s problems, but a continuation of the economic [...]

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History Reminds Us that Economic and Environmental Narratives are Intertwined

June 21, 2017

EDITORIAL: Pittsburgh myth, Paris reality Guest Editorial by Patrick Gallagher, Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh From: Science: June 16, 2017: Vol. 356, Issue 6343, pp. 1103 When announcing his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, President Trump reminded the world that, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, [...]

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It Appears that Exxon has Committed Climate Fraud

June 20, 2017

A Tale of Two Numbers: Exxon’s Alleged Climate Fraud From an Interview by Living on Earth, June 16, 2017 CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Steve Curwood. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has subpoenaed the records of several ExxonMobil executives as part of his probe into allegations that Exxon knew about the dangers of [...]

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WVPB Features the 1000 Year Flood of 2016 One Year After

June 19, 2017

Inside Appalachia: A Year Of Recovery from the Flood of 2016 Premieres Tuesday, June 20 at 6:30 PM on WVPB Following historic flooding last year that killed 23 people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses, residents across the Mountain State are still grappling with a long recovery. In this TV special from WVPB’s Inside [...]

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Environmental Justice Under Challenge in Marcellus Region

June 19, 2017

Natural Gas Industry Brings A Fake Grassroots Group To Eastern Pipeline Fights From an Article by Alexander C. Kaufman, Huffington Post, June 12, 2017 The industry-funded “Your Energy” is trying to mobilize a movement to counter pipeline protesters. Amid intensifying fights over new natural gas pipelines in Virginia, New Jersey and New England, the gas [...]

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Big Oil & Gas Promotes Fossil Fuels in Our Children’s Classrooms

June 18, 2017

Pipeline to the classroom: how big oil promotes fossil fuels to America’s children –Documents show pro-industry organizations target schoolchildren and teachers From an Article by Jie Jenny Zou and Joe Wertz, Center for Public Integrity & State-Impact Oklahoma (NPR), June 15, 2017 This story was a collaboration between the Center for Public Integrity and StateImpact [...]

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