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Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb

 
hmmmmm.........1+1=?
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01/04/2006 09:53 PM
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Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb
Published on 16 Dec 2004 by Baltimore Sun (Common Dreams). Archived on 16 Dec 2004.

Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb
by John Atcheson



The Arctic Council's recent report on the effects of global warming in the far north paints a grim picture: global floods, extinction of polar bears and other marine mammals, collapsed fisheries. But it ignored a ticking time bomb buried in the Arctic tundra.

There are enormous quantities of naturally occurring greenhouse gasses trapped in ice-like structures in the cold northern muds and at the bottom of the seas. These ices, called clathrates, contain 3,000 times as much methane as is in the atmosphere. Methane is more than 20 times as strong a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.

Now here's the scary part. A temperature increase of merely a few degrees would cause these gases to volatilize and "burp" into the atmosphere, which would further raise temperatures, which would release yet more methane, heating the Earth and seas further, and so on. There's 400 gigatons of methane locked in the frozen arctic tundra - enough to start this chain reaction - and the kind of warming the Arctic Council predicts is sufficient to melt the clathrates and release these greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Once triggered, this cycle could result in runaway global warming the likes of which even the most pessimistic doomsayers aren't talking about.

An apocalyptic fantasy concocted by hysterical environmentalists? Unfortunately, no. Strong geologic evidence suggests something similar has happened at least twice before.

The most recent of these catastrophes occurred about 55 million years ago in what geologists call the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), when methane burps caused rapid warming and massive die-offs, disrupting the climate for more than 100,000 years.

The granddaddy of these catastrophes occurred 251 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, when a series of methane burps came close to wiping out all life on Earth.

More than 94 percent of the marine species present in the fossil record disappeared suddenly as oxygen levels plummeted and life teetered on the verge of extinction. Over the ensuing 500,000 years, a few species struggled to gain a foothold in the hostile environment. It took 20 million to 30 million years for even rudimentary coral reefs to re-establish themselves and for forests to regrow. In some areas, it took more than 100 million years for ecosystems to reach their former healthy diversity.

Geologist Michael J. Benton lays out the scientific evidence for this epochal tragedy in a recent book, When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time. As with the PETM, greenhouse gases, mostly carbon dioxide from increased volcanic activity, warmed the earth and seas enough to release massive amounts of methane from these sensitive clathrates, setting off a runaway greenhouse effect.

The cause of all this havoc?

In both cases, a temperature increase of about 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit, about the upper range for the average global increase today's models predict can be expected from burning fossil fuels by 2100. But these models could be the tail wagging the dog since they don't add in the effect of burps from warming gas hydrates. Worse, as the Arctic Council found, the highest temperature increases from human greenhouse gas emissions will occur in the arctic regions - an area rich in these unstable clathrates.

If we trigger this runaway release of methane, there's no turning back. No do-overs. Once it starts, it's likely to play out all the way.

Humans appear to be capable of emitting carbon dioxide in quantities comparable to the volcanic activity that started these chain reactions. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, burning fossil fuels releases more than 150 times the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by volcanoes - the equivalent of nearly 17,000 additional volcanoes the size of Hawaii's Kilauea.

And that is the time bomb the Arctic Council ignored.

How likely is it that humans will cause methane burps by burning fossil fuels? No one knows. But it is somewhere between possible and likely at this point, and it becomes more likely with each passing year that we fail to act.

So forget rising sea levels, melting ice caps, more intense storms, more floods, destruction of habitats and the extinction of polar bears. Forget warnings that global warming might turn some of the world's major agricultural areas into deserts and increase the range of tropical diseases, even though this is the stuff we're pretty sure will happen.

Instead, let's just get with the Bush administration's policy of pre-emption. We can't afford to have the first sign of a failed energy policy be the mass extinction of life on Earth. We have to act now.

John Atcheson, a geologist, has held a variety of policy positions in several federal government agencies.


[link to www.energybulletin.net]
© 2004 Baltimore Sun
Anonymous Coward
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Re: Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb
It's not a "time bomb".

Why are all humans so concerned with themselves, and with feeling we have a "right" to exist forever, given by some fantasy figure we call "God"?

The methane is part of Earth's "self-defense" mechanism - in the case of methane, it is from entering a runaway cooling cycle. Earth is all about cycles that happen over eons, and that cause the extinction of any species not prepared for them when change occurs.

Humans will likely not survive the next extinction phase on Earth. Perhaps we will even have a hand in creating it. No matter. What is important, of course, is that EARTH will survive, and regenerate the next version of "life" during the next cyclical evolutionary phase on this planet.
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yak
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hi sexy
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hi sexy
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Re: Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb
China mine: 25 dead, 141 missing
Sunday, November 28, 2004 Posted: 6:36 PM EST (2336 GMT)



BEIJING, China (CNN) -- At least 25 miners have been killed and hopes are slim for a further 141 trapped underground after a gas explosion at a coal mine in northwest China.

So far 127 of the 293 miners working at the time of the explosion have been rescued, Chinese state run media reported Monday.

The explosion occurred at coalpits located about 8,000 meters away from the ground entrance.

[link to www.cnn.com]



What Stinks in South Haven?
By Lesley Randall, News 3 Reporter
January 4, 2006 - 9:35PM
SOUTH HAVEN (NEWS 3) - It's a bizarre mystery in downtown South Haven. City officials are puzzled, while retailers are plugging their noses.

You can't see the problem, but you sure can smell it! Those who have had a good whiff of "it" say it smells like rotten eggs, a dead animal.. even bad perfume!

"It seems to be a very organic smell," says shopkeeper Marta Amar. "The smell penetrates your body.. It's almost like it's inside of you."

[link to wwmt.com]
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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Re: Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb
Rapid Release of Sea-Floor Methane Caused Extreme Global Warming 55 Million Years Ago

ARLINGTON, Va.—Scientists have just returned from two months at sea aboard the oceanographic drill ship JOIDES Resolution where they studied the effects of a larger than expected methane release 55 million years ago that may have caused extreme global warming.

In March, the scientists traveled to a site near Walvis Ridge—an ancient submarine mountain chain off Africa—as part of the NSF-supported Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 208. The researchers searched for evidence of roughly 2,000 gigatons of methane they believe escaped into the ocean and atmosphere to cause the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, an extreme global warming event that is unique in Earth history in both magnitude and rate of warming.

Sediments far below the seafloor hold clues to the cause of this warming. Evidence for the dissolution of methane was recorded in debris that settled, layer by layer, on the ocean floor over thousands of years.

Cores of sediment brought up from the study site suggested a significant amount of methane dissolution, said ODP scientist Jim Zachos of the University of California at Santa Cruz, perhaps twice the original estimate.

"It far exceeds what has been estimated by models, assuming a release of 2,000 gigatons of methane," added Dick Kroon of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, a fellow researcher aboard JOIDES Resolution.

The initial results also suggest that Earth's recovery to a "normal state" took as long as 100,000 years.

Geochemists speculate that the methane escaped from sea-floor clathrates, methane-trapping ice-crystals that are distributed in sediments on the outer edges of continental margins worldwide. For reasons that remain unknown, the clathrates suddenly began to decompose on a massive scale at the time of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, increasing the amount of methane in the atmosphere and oceans.

The rapid release of so much methane, and the methane's oxidation to carbon dioxide, would have significantly altered ocean chemistry, and ultimately the atmosphere and global climate. The process appears to have lasted for a period of 40,000 years, scientists say, warming Earth by more than five degrees Celsius.

"We suspect the melting of clathrates and subsequent rapid release of methane was initiated by a gradual warming that pushed the climate system across a threshold," said Zachos. Once started, the release of methane and the resultant warming likely fueled the release of more methane, a phenomenon of concern for future global climate change, he added.

ODP is an international partnership of scientists and research institutions organized to study the evolution and structure of the Earth. It is funded by NSF with substantial contributions from international partners. [Cheryl Dybas]


[link to www.nsf.gov]
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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01/04/2006 10:50 PM
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Re: Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb
MYSTERY BOOMS

North Carolina Big Boom Shakes Houses

Dec 20 late afternoon what's being described as a big boom shook houses along the
coast. Phone calls started pouring into the WECT newsroom shortly after 4:00, with
people questioning what the noise was. People described it as a loud bang, others like
several explosions, windows rattled and homes shook under the force. The nuclear
power plant reports no problems. No one sure what caused the noise. One theory is
that it is a shift in the continental shelf or possibly a sonic boom.
Mystery boom, WECT news:

Florida Strange Shaking

Dec 16 a mysterious force shook buildings from Pascagoula, Mississippi to Florida, but no
one knows what caused it. Around 9:15 am Friday morning a thunderous sound
rumbled through the Gulf Coast. Those who felt it described it as a big, loud boom or a
sonic boom which rattled their windows and shook houses.
Strange Shaking, Dec 16, 2005 News 5:





comment from another thinker

If you smell a sewage smell it is methane and
if you smell a rotten egg smell it is Hydrogen sulphide.
This is the gas used in gas chambers to kill people.
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Re: Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb
Mysterious 'booms' continue with puzzling regularity in Richmond


From NBC12 News
Friday, November 19, 2004





Those mysterious booms on Richmond's Northside continue to be-fuddle city officials. They've been happening for three weeks now and residents say no one can tell them why.

The latest “boom” was just last night. Based on a map of 911 calls received since the booming noises began, the majority came from the area near Palmyra and Gloucester.

For three weeks, city officials have explored a multitude of scenarios. They've come up empty and still the booms and shakes continue. Officials have looked into every logical explanation: a buildup of sewer or natural gas -- both of which have been ruled out for now.

As well as other possibilities: including furnaces blowing up (that would be a one time occurrence), weather patterns like thunder, not likely says the city, construction, trains colliding, sonic booms -- all a no go.

City officials won't admit they're stumped, but they're certainly frustrated.

“It's certainly disruptive and disconcerting when it happens. But I think people understand it's not a public safety issue at this point," says city spokesman Bill Farrar.

Another possibility is someone playing pranks. Solving the mystery of these "booms" has now become a full-fledged investigation -- involving the fire department as well as emergency management services on both the city and state level.
[link to www.nbc12.com]
Astralholic

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01/04/2006 11:00 PM
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Re: Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb
So...

What could happen to Earth...
...a Mars atmosphere, or a Venus one??
Anonymous Coward
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This is something to seriously ponder. I wonder how much time we have left?

Don't forget about the fires in 2 or 3 states at that occured at the same time.
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Re: Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb
Methane is also associated with Hot Springs (where a fire has just been burning today in hot springs Arkansas)

and volcanoes.

Numerous house explosions, chemical plant explosions, refinery fires.

two mine disasters in China

Gas leaks in Japan similiar to oklahoma.

strange gas-chemical-like illness in Russia.
addj
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01/04/2006 11:24 PM
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> The methane is part of Earth's "self-defense" mechanism

Wow someone else gets it :p
Anonymous Coward
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Don't forget all the exploding cows from methane cow farts. cow
Anonymous Coward
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Re: Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb
57970, add another from today...methane smell in Braintree, MI. Here's the article:

***************************************
Jan 4, 2006 11:59 pm US/Eastern
SUSPICIOUS SMELL PLAGUES SOUTH SHORE

(CBS News) BRAINTREE Folks living in East Braintree have been dealing with an offensive odor for the past week and town officials have no idea where its coming from.

The Braintree Fire Department starting taking complaints from residents in the Quincy Avenue/Fore River Basin area on December 30th. They likened the smell to methane gas.

They've ruled out a nearby hazardous waste treatment site but have been unable to pinpoint the source of the smell. Deputy Fire Chief Kenneth McHugh believes the odor is coming off the water. McHugh has notified neighboring Weymouth and Quincy Fire Departments of the problem.

Fire officials and keyspan crews have gone around checking the area.

The odor is not believed to pose a public health or safety risk.
[link to cbs4boston.com]
Anonymous Coward
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01/05/2006 12:22 AM
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Re: Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb
No, no..I goofed -- that's not in MI. Braintree is in Massachusetts. The one you posted earlier was in MI, I believe. Someone correct me in my geography if need be.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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Re: Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb
Thanks for adding that post.

Still looking for others...
Anonymous Coward
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Re: Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb
if you check the calendar, this arctic melting started after 1999, when we observed large numbers of persistant condensation trails being laid in our atmosphere (some say the switch to jp-8 fuel caused the change in contrails)

if this much melting can happen in 7 years, by the change of jet fuel, it appears that we opened pandora's box without realizing it

and, NO, the Kyoto protocol will NOT stop this process

those who attempted to stop global warming by depositing aerosols in the skies have actually speeded up the process, how ironic
malu

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i read once that methane bubbles are what causes all the craziness in the bermuda triangle, as the bubble raises under a ship and bursts, it causes a huge vaccum, and the ship disappears,,, just something i read *shrugging shoulders*
"By way of deception, thou shalt do war."

Israel's Mossad

"The truth shall set you free."

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Motto
neti
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01/05/2006 09:23 AM
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I agree.

The effects of a sudden release of methane are set out also in this article.


KILLER IN OUR MIDST
Methane Catastrophes in Earth's Past and Near Future
[link to www.killerinourmidst.com] [link to www.dcn.davis.ca.us] [link to www.kor.dk]

"Though this methane would quickly be oxidized -- to carbon dioxide -- in the atmosphere, even its short-term presence would deliver a sudden and stunning jolt of heat to the planet. The derivative carbon dioxide would maintain much of that heat for several centuries, or even millennia.

A methane catastrophe, therefore, is an abrupt surge of greenhouse gas that could rival or exceed the carbon dioxide warming of the planet. It can potentially overwhelm the natural heat regulatory system of the Earth, which operates in a much more gradual way, and on a much more protracted time scale. The quantity of methane that could be released is so massive there is no remedial action that people will be able to take to mitigate it except in the most superficial way. Once a methane catastrophe begins, there will be major consequences for the planet and its inhabitants, human and other, and we will be able to do little except wait it out. Methane, in a very real sense, is the joker in the deck of global warming."
Anonymous Coward
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CAN A SINGLE GAS BUBBLE SINK A SHIP? Yes, according to an experimental and theoretical analysis performed by researchers at Monash University in Australia (David May and Joseph Monaghan,

Joe.Monaghan@sci.monash.edu.au).

The ocean floor contains vast quantities of methane gas hydrates, ice-like crystals of methane surrounded by cages of water molecules. If disturbed, these methane gas hydrates can erupt from the floor and rise to the surface as gas bubbles, some of which can be very large.
Copious amounts of methane hydrates exist in the North Sea, which lies in between the United Kingdom and continental Europe. At a large eruption site in the North Sea known as the Witches Hole off the coast of Aberdeen, a sonar survey recently uncovered the presence of a sunken vessel, but the cause of the wreck remains undetermined.
Simple experiments have previously shown that many small bubbles rising to the surface could sink a cylinder of water (and conceivably a ship), by causing a loss of buoyancy (Denardo et al., American Journal of Physics, October 2001). But could a single large gas bubble do the trick?
The Monash researchers investigated this possibility in a simple, roughly two-dimensional system.

Trapping water between a pair of vertical glass plates, and launching single gas bubbles from the bottom, they used a video camera to observe a single large bubble's effect on a small piece of acrylic shaped like the hull of a boat. Along with numerical simulations of this scenario, the experiments showed that the bubble could sink the ship, if the bubble's radius was comparable to or greater than the ship's hull. Sinking would occur because a mound of water formed above the bubble as it approached the surface.
As the bubble reached the surface, it would temporarily lift the ship.

However, water in the mound would then flow off the sides of the bubble, forming deep troughs at either side, and the water flow would carry the boat to one of the troughs.

In addition, the eventual rupture of the bubble would create high-velocity jets of fluid that moved into the troughs, creating vortices that further pulled down the boat. The researchers say that their numerical simulations could test other scenarios, including those involving multiple large bubbles, more realistic boats, and ultimately a full three-dimensional simulation.

(American Journal of Physics, September 2003).
Anonymous Coward
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and in prophecy of the Bible, this earth will burn up and a new heaven and new earth will be created

once this gas reaches the atmosphere and saturates it, a firey planet will be the result eventually
malu

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too bad we haven't harnassed this gas, somehow,, sounds like a lot of energy being wasted?

could prevent some future wars perhaps?
"By way of deception, thou shalt do war."

Israel's Mossad

"The truth shall set you free."

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Motto
Anonymous Coward
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[link to wwmt.com]
SOUTH HAVEN (NEWS 3) - It's a bizarre mystery in downtown South Haven. City officials are puzzled, while retailers are plugging their noses.

You can't see the problem, but you sure can smell it! Those who have had a good whiff of "it" say it smells like rotten eggs, a dead animal.. even bad perfume!


Suspicious Smell Plagues South Shore Neighborhoods

(CBS News) BRAINTREE Folks living in East Braintree have been dealing with an offensive odor for the past week and town officials have no idea where its coming from.

The Braintree Fire Department starting taking complaints from residents in the Quincy Avenue/Fore River Basin area on December 30th. They likened the smell to methane gas.

They've ruled out a nearby hazardous waste treatment site but have been unable to pinpoint the source of the smell. Deputy Fire Chief Kenneth McHugh believes the odor is coming off the water. McHugh has notified neighboring Weymouth and Quincy Fire Departments of the problem.

Fire officials and keyspan crews have gone around checking the area.

The odor is not believed to pose a public health or safety risk.
Anonymous Coward
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i suppose if we could harness lightning we could also harness out of control methane releases
Anonymous Coward
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Tarps, fans mask a noxious Mother Nature

GLENDA ANDERSON; The (Santa Rosa, Calif.) Press Democrat
ANDERSON SPRINGS, Calif.– For years, decaying rocks near her home made entertaining friends outdoors a potentially embarrassing situation for Jackie Felber.
As guests were confronted with a noxious smell that seemed to come out of nowhere, they would typically fall silent, assuming a human source.

Felber would quickly explain that the stench was coming from organic rock deep beneath the scenic, mineral-rich hills above her Northern California home.

“They’re like, ‘Sure,’” Felber said.

Believable or not, Felber was telling the truth.

When they decay, the rocks above her house produce mercaptan, a substance found in skunk glands, decaying wood and feces. It’s also added to propane gas to alert people of leaks, said Lake County Air Pollution Control Officer Robert Reynolds.

Mercaptans are noticeable in minuscule concentrations and unbearable in high doses.

Bombs containing mercaptan gas were detonated in two chain stores in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Monday in what authorities suspect was an effort by competitors to disrupt sales. The gas made at least 77 people ill, none seriously.

But in Anderson Springs, Felber and other residents of the narrow, wooded canyon near The Geysers in western Lake County are breathing easier these days.

The stink released by the rocks appears to be under control, said Reynolds. He said it’s been nearly a year since anyone has complained about an odor that could be traced to the rocks, an indication that the latest effort to confine and filter the odor is working.

As part of a joint effort by Calpine – the region’s prominent geothermal power producer – area residents and the air quality district, tarps were used to seal the ground where the gas was escaping. Solar-powered fans suck the gases through an activated carbon filter, then release them into the air.

“It made a world of difference,” said Santa Rosa business consultant Jeff Gospe, whose in-laws own a home in Anderson Springs. “The situation was intolerable before. It smelled very much like a refinery.”

Still, capping the malodorous situation doesn’t mean Anderson Springs is smell-free. The odor of sulfur dioxide from the hot springs bubbling up at the end of the Anderson Springs canyon remains, but it’s generally noticeable only at that location, Gospe said.

It’s a welcome relief for the canyon’s longtime residents, who were chronically subjected to the rotten-egg smell of hydrogen sulfide escaping from The Geysers steam fields in the early days of energy production.

[link to www.thenewstribune.com]
malu

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south haven is one hour south of where i live, grand haven, mi. ,, hilarious that i hear about this here first!

1doh1

i will have to head down there today with some flares,, should be fun! lol
"By way of deception, thou shalt do war."

Israel's Mossad

"The truth shall set you free."

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Motto
Anonymous Coward
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new form of waxy natural gas causing problems in Colorado:

[link to www.postindependent.com]

Normally, in producing natural gas, Barrett also encounters low volumes of condensate that are like gasoline and never freeze. However, it has discovered an odd pocket of oil with natural waxes that solidifies below 70 degrees. It gums up equipment designed to remove it, then bypasses the separator systems and ends up in the pits, Zavadil said.

"It's something we haven't really seen in the Piceance Basin," he said.

The discovery will allow Barrett to produce small amounts of oil in a region where natural gas production predominates. But it also created the condensate problem, which Barrett inadvertently compounded. Zavadil said the company moves recycled water from pit to pit for use in the well fracturing process. In the process, it introduced the condensate into other pits.

Macke said the COGCC doesn't allow condensates to remain in pits more than 24 hours because it can be a threat to wildlife and groundwater.

Said Rada, "I do have concern that some of it's in the soil because I watched the soil burn."

Zavadil said that while oil and water don't mix easily, it's important to remove condensates from the surface of the pits quickly to reduce the chances of that happening. The condensates also create an odor that is exacerbated by bacteria that feed on the condensates, he said.

Dardynski said the smell has been bad in her neighborhood, and has made people sick. But she also worries about the health effects of breathing smoke from the burns.

"What they ended up burning off, we'll never know the crap that's in there. ... These guys can separate this stuff. They don't have to burn it off. It's the cheap way."

Garfield County Commissioner Trési Houpt said it sounds as if Barrett is guilty of poor planning in letting the condensates build up, and she would have rather seen the company remove them than burn them.

But she thinks it also failed to contact and educate people about why it was burning off the pits and why the practice isn't dangerous.

"People were really concerned and surprised that that occurred, and that shouldn't have happened," Houpt said.

"It's one of my greatest frustrations with the (gas drilling) activity that's going on in this county - for the most part there is very poor communication."
Anonymous Coward
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if i remember correctly, some companies are injecting salt water into wells after oil and gas is extracted

i wonder if salt water interacting with natural gas would cause this waxy gas mixture?
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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Re: Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb
Fish kills- lack of oxygen.



Town cleans up rotting fish at north end

Two more fish kills reported, cause still undetermined

By Crystal Walton
Staff Writer

The dead fish problem on Wrightsville Beach is beginning to dissipate, but two additional fish kills have been reported in the area.
“Things are washing out,” town
manager Bob Simpson said.
Millions of dead menhaden began washing up on Wrightsville Beach on Dec. 18, and the cause of the fish kill is still undetermined. The dead fish have washed out to sea along the beachfront, but Simpson and town staff began a cleanup on the north end because the tide was not pulling out the rotting fish.
As town employees worked to clean up the decaying fish on the north end, a
similar fish kill was reported near the south end of the beach.


___“We cleared a half a mile of fish,” Simpson said. “In some places, they were six inches deep.” The workers scooped up the menhaden and buried them in holes, filling the holes back over with sand.
“It was a mess,” Simpson said. “There were millions of fish up there.”




Fritz Rohde, of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, confirmed that there was a fish kill reported in Masonboro Inlet on Friday. The dead menhaden were
washing up toward Bradley Creek and in the marshlands.
“There were hundreds of thousands of them,” Rohde said. “But not to the extent of what happened on Wrightsville Beach.”
There was also an additional report of a menhaden kill on the southern tip of Topsail Island on Monday, but Rohde said that was still under investigation. “We are still looking at that,” he said.
more

[link to www.luminanews.com]
Anonymous Coward
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Re: Methane Burps: Ticking Time Bomb
using google news i found many reports of noxious gas smells
most of them come up with a localized excuse for the smell, quite creative they are!

i wonder what is happening because large numbers of gases are being released into the atmosphere from varied sources