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Pennsylvania Is Ground Zero For U.S. Shale Gas Drilling Boom

Guardian | Last June, Tony Zaffuto arrived at his fieldstone cabin in the forested hills of Pennsylvania's SB Elliott state park to find a notice pinned on the front door: "Danger. Do not occupy dwelling".

A blowout at a gas well in another popular camping spot, in the woods of the Punxsutawney hunt club, also in Clearfield County, had shot a 23-metre (75ft) combustible gusher of gas and toxic waste water into the air. It took the gas company, EOG Resources, 16 hours to control the well and the authorities had to carry out an evacuation.

It was not Zaffuto's first encounter with the dangers of natural gas drilling. In 2009 the spring that was the cabin's only source of water was contaminated by toxic waste from a pond serving the gas wells. Five other nearby water wells were also contaminated.

And yet Zaffuto is right behind Pennsylvania's natural gas boom. He supports the idea of US energy security and he wants his country to reduce oil imports.

"Throughout all this, I am pro-drilling, but I want to see it done correctly," Zaffuto, a businessman whose family have owned the cabin since 1921, said. "Having it done correctly will not cripple the industry. If there is money to be made they will comply. If there is enough natural resource of gas in the ground, they will drill and they will abide by the regulations. It's simple."

But how can rigorous new environmental standards be imposed on an industry well advanced in the 21st century's first big energy rush?

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China Begins Tapping Shale Gas Potential

The Guardian | China has begun trials of a controversial drilling technique to exploit the world's largest reserves of shale gas, as it attempts to cope with the increasing energy demands of a fast-growing economy while reducing its dependence on coal.

In the past two weeks, engineers have completed the country's first horizontal shale gas well in Sichuan and government officials have begun drafting a national strategy to identify a trillion cubic metres of exploitable resources by 2020.

Supporters say China has the potential to emulate the United States, where extraction of shale gas has tripled the lifespan of US gas reserves and offered a lower-carbon alternative to coal.

"Shale gas is a game-changer for the US and should do the same for China," said Ming Sung, Asia representative of the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force and an advocate of closer energy links between the two nations. "This should be one of the centre-pieces for China's energy strategy. As with any new technology development, we must balance benefits versus potential environmental impacts. The experiences of the US are valuable here."

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Virginia Nuclear Plant Shutdown Due To Tornado

Washington Times | An unconfirmed tornado landed outside the Surry Nuclear Plant in Virginia on Saturday and automatically shutdown the site’s two reactors, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The apparent tornado affected an electrical switchyard next to the plant, cutting off the electrical feed to the station, in Surry County, about 17 miles northwest of Newport News.

Both reactors shut down automatically at about 7 p.m. and backup diesel generators kept power going. Plant operators have partially restored offsite power to both plants, said owner Dominion Virginia Power.

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Fukushima Evacuees Demand Compensation

Axisoflogic.com | Residents and business owners in Japan who have been forced to leave their homes amid radiation fears on Wednesday demanded immediate damages from the company at the centre of the nuclear crisis.

About 20 people who have been evacuated from areas near the Fukushima Daiichi plant protested outside the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) headquarters, calling for a quick decision on possible compensation.

The company's president, Masataka Shimizu, apologised during a rare public appearance and said he would compensate the tens of thousands of people whose lives have been disrupted by the nuclear emergency.

Japanese media suggests other domestic utilities could be asked to help pay damages, an approach adopted in the aftermath of the Three Mile Island disaster in the US in 1979.

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U.S. Water Supplies & Milk Samples Test Positive For Radiation From Fukushima

Infowars.com | The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to release new data showing that various milk and water supply samples from across the US are testing increasingly high for radioactive elements such as Iodine-131, Cesium-134, and Cesium-137, all of which are being emitted from the ongoing Fukushima Daiichia nuclear fallout. As of April 10, 2011, 23 US water supplies have tested positive for radioactive Iodine-131 and worst of all, milk samples from at least three US locations have tested positive for Iodine-131 at levelsexceeding EPA maximum containment levels(MCL).

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