Martha Reclamation Program: Dump and Run

Toxic Soup: Ashland's Radioactive Sludge Pits

Toxic Soup: Radiation at Blaine Elementary School

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kentucky Supreme Court Rules in Favor of...Ashland

Oh, by the way, back on March 18 the Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed the decision by the Court of Appeals in favor of Ashland Oil in the Cantrell v. Ashland case.  Anyone surprised?

Despite all the legal maneuvering, the gamma rays and alpha particles are still doing their thing!

Smile, You're on Candid Camera Ashland Oil

On January 6, 2010 we wrote a blog about how the court in the Cantrell v. Ashland case disallowed the plaintiff’s videotape of Ashland’s contractors polluting a creek with liquid pumped from a radioactive sludge pit that they were contracted to clean up.  The jury never got to see what Ashland was doing in the name of “remediation.”  Well, thanks to a mysterious benefactor, the videotape is on the web and we all can see what the jury was not allowed to see.

First, a bit of background.  Ashland Oil negotiated an agreement with the state of Kentucky to identify and clean up radioactive sites in the Martha Oil Field.  An instance of this “remediation” was filmed in 1996 and was submitted as evidence in the Cantrell v. Ashland court case in which the plaintiffs sued Ashland for damages to their property.  The court did not allow this tape to be shown to the jury for several reasons listed here.

We can see the videotape here.  Here is what’s happening on the video:

0:04 – 0:15       Shows the extent of the sludge pit.  What a mess.
0:15 – 0:26       This is the waste line running from the sludge pit to the creek.
0:38                 A worker holding some kind of instrument
0:50                 This is the intake to the waste line that runs to the creek
0:59                 Check out the red “Danger” tape around the sludge pit
1:14 – 1:31      A backhoe loads some radioactive soil into a truck to be hauled away
1:31                 Shows a view of the creek

The court thought this tape would be prejudicial, so they disallowed it.  Remember, this is a clean up at just one remediation site.  Think about this clean up happening hundreds of times under one of the following possible scenarios:
-         The remediation efforts have specific procedures that:
o       Encourage dumping radioactive liquids from the cleanup site into creeks; or
o       Prohibit dumping radioactive liquids from the cleanup site into creeks, but the workers did it anyway; or
-         The remediation efforts do not have specific procedures of how to dispose of radioactive liquids from the cleanup site, so the workers improvised.

Any one of these scenarios results in a radioactive creek, so you see why the land owners are suing for property damages and don’t believe that the cleanup has been done properly.  Anyone think this property has been damaged?  How about that creek?  How about whatever is downstream?  Hopefully no cattle were drinking out of that creek.

Ashland, clean up your mess, again and again!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Exxon Must Pay $1.2 Million for Workers’ Radiation Exposure

Bloomberg reports that Exxon Mobil must pay $1.2 million to 16 workers exposed to radiation while cleaning used oil drilling pipes.  You can decide who won or lost.  Exxon Mobil denied it did anything wrong and argued that as none of the plaintiffs claimed radiation-related health problems, they couldn't recover damages.  Sound familiar?

(Hat tip: Mike Holmstrom)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Transcript of the WDR Radio Feature

A transcript of the WDR radio feature about radiation in the oil and gas industry is now up on their website here for the benefit of those of us who weren't up at 5:05 this morning to hear it.

Also, a PODCAST is here.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

German Broadcaster WDR Reports on Martha

German public broadcaster Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) today has published a story about Ashland Oil's radioactive contamination in Martha as part of their reporting on the problem of radioactive waste in the oil and gas industry.  Images that go with the story are here.  They are also broadcasting a radio feature on the topic here at 5:05 am Martha time on Sunday with a rebroadcast on Monday at 2:05 pm Martha time.  So break out your German / English dictionaries and enjoy.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Media Frenzy in Martha, Kentucky

We want to shout out thanks to the Toxic Soup boys.  If it wasn't for a lot of their film work putting a face on Ashland's shenanigans we would be just another wide spot in the road.  Here is an article from the Big Sandy News about the visit of reporter Nina Magoley from German radio WDR to the area, gathering material about Ashland Oil's radioactive mess for a German audience.  It's amazing that it has become more likely for a reporter to come from Germany to Martha, Kentucky than from Lexington or Louisville.  That sound of crickets chirping is the level of interest from our state's major media centers.

However, not only was the Big Sandy News on the story, but so was the Paintsville Herald.  So its good to know that while the big media boys in Lexington and Louisville were sleeping, as usual, local reporting was still playing a vital role in the community.  Those big newspapers may be dinosaurs, but small town local papers are still alive and kicking.

By the way, anybody ever seen Wade Smith when he's NOT wearing shades?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Toxic Soup at the 2010 Atlanta Film Festival

We are a little bit late, but a big congratulations goes out to the boys of Toxic Soup for getting their film into the 2010 Atlanta Film Festival.  Break a leg, or something like that!