Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cultures of Energy Liveblog 3

16 million gallons, many many cubic feet of natural gas. How come their reports were so clean? Much was at stake. The largest cash payout.

In most cases the test results are not radically dissimilar to the plaintiffs'. When you look at the data, there are differences but there is a huge amount of collaboration, coincidence, correspondence. They broadly corroborate one another.

So how to diametrically opposed interpretations of contamination emerge?

Chains of association: chemical bonds, legal contracts, bodies. How the production of scientific knowledge, the spatiotemporal complexity of hydrocarbons, and the vagaries of legal reasoning, allow for multiple interpretations.

In the litigation context, toxicity needs to be seen as incontrovertible. Defendants insisted that there was no link between toxins and environment.

Ecuador's law was not retroactive. The judge departed from both: measured action in the face of indeterminacy.

Chemical bonds and risk criteria. Reams of data on the chemical composition of thousands of soil samples. Crude is a complex brew of thousands of hydrocarbons. "Total petroleum hydrocarbon" is the umbrella term: TPH. Measurable amount of petroleum based hydrocarbons in the environment.

BTEX: benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene
PAH: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

TPH doesn't assess risk; does give any meaningful account of the measurable compounds in the measure
nor does it give insight on future interactions, which are key to understanding toxicity

TPH Working Group: "TPH concentration data cannot be used to quantitatively estimate human health risk."

With this paradox in mind the TPH working group was formed. Consortium to develop scientifically defensible info to establish soil cleanup levels.

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