SETAC MultiBrief
Aug. 22, 2013

Thousands weigh in on proposed fracking rule
The Hill
The Obama administration has received more than 5,000 comments on its proposed regulation for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on public and Native American lands. The wealth of responses from the public shows a heated interest in the government's effort to expand its oversight of oil and gas development.More

New study finds high levels of arsenic in groundwater near fracking sites
A recently published study by researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington found elevated levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in groundwater near natural gas fracking sites in Texas’ Barnett Shale. While the findings are far from conclusive, the study provides further evidence tying fracking to arsenic contamination. More

Dr. William H. Benson appointed NHEERL Associate Director for Ecology
Environmental Protection Agency
The National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory is pleased to announce that Dr. William H. "Bill" Benson, a widely respected leader both within and outside of EPA, has accepted the permanent role of Associate Director for Ecology. In this role, Bill will provide day-to-day leadership and coordination of the entire Ecology Effects Research Program, as well as work closely with his counterparts in the laboratories and centers.More

Deaths in El Salvador linked to toxicity in agricultural products
Latinos Post
Health services in El Salvador have reported the death of at least 5,808 people since 2002, due to a disease whose origins are still unknown. According to information shared by NTN24, most of those affected have been agricultural workers in the Pacific zone. For this reason, the government of El Salvador is looking for a way to regulate toxic products used in the agricultural industry since they could be the main cause of the strange kidney disease.More

Japan nuclear agency upgrades Fukushima alert level
BBC News
Japan's nuclear agency has upgraded the severity level of a radioactive water leak at the Fukushima plant from one to three on an international scale. Highly radioactive water was found to be leaking from a storage tank into the ground at the plant. More

Climate panel cites near certainty on warming
The New York Times
An international panel of scientists has found with near certainty that human activity is the cause of most of the temperature increases of recent decades, and warns that sea levels could conceivably rise by more than 3 feet by the end of the century if emissions continue at a runaway pace.More

New insight on vulnerability of public supply wells to contamination
U.S. Geological Survey
Key factors have been identified that help determine the vulnerability of public supply wells to contamination. A new USGS report describes these factors, providing insight into which contaminants in an aquifer might reach a well and when, how and at what concentration they might arrive. About one-third of the U.S. population gets their drinking water from public supply wells.More

Tangled web of liability trails deadly oil-train disaster
Environmental Health News
Quebec's government recently added rail giant Canadian Pacific Railway Corp. to its list of companies deemed responsible for cleanup costs following last month's deadly oil train derailment. The railway has vowed to fight the provincial order, setting the stage for a lengthy legal battle as dozens of companies and officials quarrel over who should have to pay for the disaster.More

New pesticide labels will better protect bees, other pollinators
Environmental Protection Agency
In an ongoing effort to protect bees and other pollinators, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has developed new pesticide labels that prohibit use of some neonicotinoid pesticide products where bees are present. The new labels will have a bee advisory box and icon with information on routes of exposure and spray drift precautions.More

Importance of clean-fuel zones
By Archita Datta Majumdar
A few years ago, award-winning science writer and eco-expert Fred Pearce made a shocking and rather eye-opening statement that "just 16 of the world's largest ships can produce as much lung-clogging sulfur pollution as all the world's cars." Coastlines are filled with bigger and "badder" ships, each of which can guzzle up fuel equivalent to a small power station. It's a staggering thought, especially when you consider how these poisonous fumes are now being termed as major killers.More

High-speed rail agency says fed law trumps California environmental rules
The Fresno Bee
An appellate court brief in a high-speed rail lawsuit from California's Bay Area could have far-reaching implications in the rest of the state — including the San Joaquin Valley, where the first stretches of the statewide bullet-train network are supposed to be built. Recently, the California High-Speed Rail Authority filed a brief with the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento claiming that federal environmental laws — typically considered less stringent than the California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA — supersede state regulations.More

Mississippi River Bridge construction an impressive environmental feat
Wisconsin State Journal
More than a decade ago, Wisconsin's Cass Street bridge was refurbished and a second bridge was installed. Together, the two have become a symbol of La Crosse, Wis. First and foremost, a project of this magnitude requires a great deal of forethought, assessment and planning. From an environmental perspective, the bridge project demands careful attention.More