Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates Fall 2017
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* For information on PA state gas legislation and local control: http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-
WMCG continues to work for the protection of air and water quality in Westmoreland and surrounding areas. We have been working with MAWC for more comprehensive testing of air and water at the Beaver Run Reservoir where there are 47 hydraulically fracked gas wells. After considerable research and discussion with several scientists, WMCG also met with Hazmat and county commissioners to present our recommendations for better testing at air incidents in the county. In Murrysville, 100 students (the number varies from 60 to 100 students depending on the report) had to be examined at the hospital after a serious air incident, yet the air contaminant was never identified. That situation should not be repeated.
Thank you to Dorothy Hufford for coordinating Hazmat and commissioners meetings, Lou Pochet for his work on correspondence and research, and to Dr. Cindy Walter who serves as research/science consultant on these issues.
*** SEND EMAIL-- St Barnabus Health System sponsors gas industry seminar.
Speakers are from Shell and the Marcellus Shale Coalition. Please send an email to St Barnabas.
What I wrote:
"The sponsorship of a gas industry seminar by St Barnabas defies reason and any code of ethics. To understand the effects of the gas industry and cracker plants, please read about the health of people in cancer valley Louisiana.
Is the administration of St Barnabas aware that physicians in Pennsylvania have asked for a moratorium on fracking due to concerns about health effects; that the ban on fracking in Maryland and New York was sought by health professionals united with others concerned about air and water quality.
Have your administrators read any of the hundreds of studies on the health effects of those exposed to pollution associated with fracking, premature births, lower birth weights, higher mortality rates of babies, cancer, respiratory disease, hematological disease....
This is the most outrageously unethical sponsorship the gas industry has co-opted as of yet.
As other religious groups (nuns just blocked gas activity in PA) fight for the health of residents, a health organization works for an industry that will increase health problems in the area? Where is the concern about the welfare of the unborn? Please cancel this seminar immediately for the above stated reasons."
***Shale & Public Health Conference Nov 13, 2017
Registration Now Open
The fifth annual Shale & Public Health Conference will be held Monday, November 13, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (registration/sign-in at 8:30)
The conference is presented by the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and hosted by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh's University Club.
Conference itself is free - $14 for buffet lunch
Featuring new research and practical applications:
New health registry research results
The latest Geisinger studies from Johns Hopkins' Brian Schwartz MD and Tara McAlexander MPH
Citizen Science: Air Monitoring
Researching the health impacts of an ethane cracker and petrochemical development
Dr. Walter Tsou MD MPH, past president of the American Public Health Association and former Health Commissioner of Philadelphia.
If you are coming from out-of-town, a block of discounted hotel rooms is available at the Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center, (412) 682-6200, Code 1126841SH.
***Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Fund (PEDF)
ENVIRONMENTAL LAW CHANGED FOREVER
Huge Win for the Environment
A New Era for PA Environmental Law
The State Supreme Court’s June 20, 2017 decision, PEDF v. Wolf, is being recognized universally as the beginning of a new era for environmental law.
Respected leaders from across the state, including Franklin Kury, the author of the Amendment to our State Constitution, came together at a Forum at WHYY studios in Philadelphia to discuss the case.
The final panel of that event featured PEDF Attorney John Childe and former DCNR and DEP Secretary, John Quigley, moderated by President of Penn Future Larry Sweiger. At the end, everyone present recognized that Environmental Law had changed forever in Pennsylvania.
Some folks are not aware that when every public official in Pennsylvania takes their Oath of Office, that they swear to uphold our State Constitution, the whole PA Constitution – which includes Article 1, Section 27.
From your Township Supervisors to the Governor. All of them. Keep reminding them of it.
***Pennfuture Excellent on PEDF "So it came to be that, four years after Robinson, (in the PEDF case) the state Supreme Court converted Chief Justice Castille’s plurality opinion from an eloquent essay on the meaning of the ERA into binding legal precedent in Pennsylvania."
***JordenYaeger on PEDF With a five-justice majority now backing a stronger application of the amendment, THE COURT IS INSISTING THAT ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS ARE ON PAR WITH OTHER CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS LIKE PROPERTY RIGHTS AND FREE SPEECH, SAID JORDAN YAEGER, A LAWYER FOR THE DELAWARE RIVERKEEPER NETWORK AND PENNSYLVANIA LAND TRUST ASSOCIATION.
“And all branches of government and all levels of government can be held accountable if they take action that would injure our right to a healthy environment,” Yaeger said.
***John Derbach, Widener, on PEDF case “You have a majority of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that is now saying that the text of Article 1 Section 27, and the public trust responsibilities imposed by that text, binds the state of Pennsylvania and limits the way in which the state of Pennsylvania manages its public natural resources,” said Dernbach. “That has never been said before by a majority of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
John Childe, the attorney for the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation, called the decision a big win. https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2017/06/20/pa-supreme-court-upholds-broad-interpretation-of-environmental-rights-amendment/
*** Att. Childe, PA Environmental Defense Fund, on PEDF If you read the parentheses after each numbered item, it explains the importance of the PEDF case that dealt with drilling on state lands-the extent of that drilling and the use of royalties. It has important implications for the Supreme Court's position on fracking and Article 1 Section 27.
***Highland Twp.’s Home Rule Charter Stripped By Court
"Highland Township’s home rule charter has been stripped of its oil/ gas provisions by a federal judge.
Magistrate Judge Susan Baxter in Erie ruled in favor of Seneca Resources Corp.
Baxter declaring the oil and gas provisions of the voter-adopted home rule charter “invalid, unenforceable and unconstitutional.”
(Home rule has been a way for communities to protect themselves from oil and gas development.)
***PT Argues Against Wells
"In court Protect PT attorney Ryan Hamilton said the zoning board's decision was capricious and arbitrary and did not properly consider environmental risks of the drilling.
The group argued that Apex's plan to store fracking water at the proposed well sites created a hazardous situation. Attorney John Sweeney, solicitor for the Penn Township Zoning Hearing Board, defended the approval. He said opposition to the special zoning exemptions for the Apex well sites had to be based on specific allegations of harm to the community. That didn't happen here,” Sweeney said. http://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/12867367-74/apex-energys-approved-well-sites-in-penn-twp-face-court-challenge
PT Validity Challenge A hearing is scheduled to challenge the validity of Penn Township’s Mineral Extraction Overlay (MEO) that accompanies Ordinance No. 912-2016, Chapter 190. Protect PT will present evidence and testimony about the defects of the MEO at a hearing starting on JANUARY 22, 2018.
Penn Township solicitor Michael Korns said the Township will defend its ordinance.
“Our ordinance is a reasonable balance in allowing for this activity while protecting environmental protections of our community,” he said. “Frankly, we have one of the toughest ordinances in the county.” http://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/12804543-74/protect-pt-seeks-court-order-to-halt-fracking-in-penn-township
***No Court For Upper Burrell Challenge At This Time
The challenge to the ordinance was not heard in court. It is in the process of being settled.
***Commonwealth Court Denies Zoning Appeal Of Middlesex Case -June
“The Commonwealth Court has denied the third appeal of a Middlesex Township zoning ordinance amendment that allows gas development in the residential-agricultural zoning district.
The Clean Air Council, Delaware Riverkeeper Network and three township residents appealed.
Attorney Jordan Yeager, who represents the objectors, said the latest court decision is “clearly inconsistent with established law.” He said the case law the judges used in their decision is currently under review and should not have been used to decide the case.” (Paula Grubbs, Eagle Staff Writer)
***Climate Change Defense "In a decision that is being called "groundbreaking" and "precedent-setting," a district court judge in Minnesota has ruled that he will allow oil pipeline protesters to present a "necessity defense" for charges related to a multi-state action by climate activists last October.
"Finally, we'll get to bring climate experts into a court of law, to describe the distance between our current reality and what physics demands of us if we hope to leave a stable planet for our kids."—Emily Johnston, defendant
In his decision last week, Judge Robert Tiffany ruled that four activists who participated in the #ShutItDown action—in which pipelines across five states were temporarily disabled, halting the flow of tar sands oil from Canada into the U.S.—may present scientists and other expert witnesses to explain the immediate threat of climate change to justify their action. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/10/17/victory-valve-turners-judge-allows-necessity-defense-climate-trial
***Unanimous Vote to Limit Fracking to Industrial District In Monroeville
"Monroeville council voted unanimously to limit oil and gas wells to the M-2 industrial zoning district rather than permitting them as a conditional use in all zoning districts in the municipality.
Resident David Mintz said he was still concerned about allowing drilling in the industrial district. “Even with that, there are a lot of residents that live near the M-2 industrial district. He asked if Monroeville could totally ban oil and gas drilling." http://www.post-gazette.com/powersource/policy-powersource/2017/10/13/Monroeville-council-oil-and-gas-amendment/stories/201710120022
***Seismic Testing Co. Fights Monroeville
"Saying the small city of Monroeville, Pennsylvania, is hurting its business with strict regulations, fracking surveyor Geokinetics asked a federal judge to intervene.
Monroeville became the area’s third community to regulate seismic testing with a unanimous vote last month by the city council. In its Oct. 11 complaint filed in the Western District of PA, Geokinetics scoffs at the notion that lawmakers had a valid reason for their interference." https://www.courthousenews.com/fracking-surveyor-hauls-obstinate-town-court/-burrell-natural-gas-well-pad-decision-delayed
***Murrysville Pending Status Allows for Injection wells.
“Pending status” means that any injection well applications that are filed before the ordinance is officially adopted must abide by the existing proposal, which includes the following tenets:
• Injection wells will be permitted in the municipality's business-zoned districts as a conditional use;
• A minimum site size of 10 acres;
• Frontage on, and direct vehicular access to, an arterial or collector street;
• A setback of 1,200 feet from any protected structure like a house, church, public building, park or school;
• A setback of 100 feet between the well and property" line.http://triblive.com/…/meeting-focuses-on-plum-fracking-wast…
***Despite Opposition, Plum Council OKs Marcellus Shale Well Pad
“An oil and gas exploration company got the green light from Plum council last week to proceed with its plans to build a well pad in the borough.
Huntley and Huntley of Monroeville is developing its Midas well on 92 acres near Coxcomb Hill Road in Plum.”
***Oakmont Adopts Ordinance With Rules For Seismic Testing
"Any company that wants to do seismic testing in Oakmont will have to meet multiple regulations, under an ordinance that council adopted in a unanimous vote.
The borough would collect a $500, non-refundable permit fee and anyone who violates the ordinance could be fined up to $1,000 per day.
Other restrictions in the ordinance, such as when testing can occur, have yet to be finalized.” http://triblive.com/local/plum/12450383-74/oakmont-adopts-ordinance-with-rules-for-seismic-testing
***Gas Well Traffic Impact ---Taken from the Penn Township FB page:
“The following is a summary of the proposed impacts that we see from well site construction through completion phases. These are only estimates and can vary. The Poseidon and Drakulic Well Pads are scheduled to begin immediately. Please refer to the information below that was provided by Huntley and Huntley.
At this time, the following truck schedule is planned for the Poseidon well pad:
• Well pad Construction: 45 days, average 2.5 trucks/day = 112 total truck trips
• Rig Mobilization: 100 trucks over four days
• Drilling Phase: 30 days, average 8.3 trucks/day = 249 total truck trips
• Hydraulic Fracturing: 30 days, average 29 trucks/day = 870 total truck trips
* Eliminated approximately 2,100 water truck trips by purchasing water from municipal water source and piping it to the location
• Support Facilities: 30 days, average 8 trucks/day = 240 total truck trips
• Production: ~50+ years, average 1 truck/month
Note that there will be periods of inactivity between the stages of drilling and completing the well, during which time there will be no truck traffic coming to and from the well pad. The arrangements that we made to pipe water in from the water authority eliminates a large amount of traffic.
Huntley & Huntley Energy Exploration, LLC”
***Lawrence County Drilling Is Industrial for Tax Purposes But Not Zoning
You Cant Have It Both Ways Mr. Leslie
“County Solicitor Tom Leslie is in a bit of a pickle...he must defend the county tax assessment board's position that unconventional gas drilling should be taxed at an industrial rate, but in Pulaski Township where he is also the solicitor for the township zoning hearing board, he is on record affirming that unconventional gas drilling is NOT industrial.” (June 2017)
Other Fracking News
***4 Water Wells Contaminated In West Burlington Twp. Casing Fails in 2012, Not Confirmed until 2017
"Following a recent inspection of a Chief Oil and Gas well in West Burlington Township, the DEP has confirmed that multiple violations in 2012 caused four nearby private water well systems to be contaminated at Jennings Unit 2H gas well.
According to the DEP, the violations were first reported on June 18, 2012, but were confirmed on Oct. 23, 2017, after the investigation was completed. Those affected have been notified.
DEP reports that FOUR OF THE VIOLATIONS OCCURRED AS CHIEF OIL AND GAS’S CASING AND CEMENTING FAILED TO PREVENT THE CONTAMINATION OF THE SURROUNDING GROUNDWATER.
Additionally, Chief Oil and Gas failed to report a defect “in a well that has defective, insufficient or improperly cemented casing within 24 hours of discovery.” It did not submit a plan or correct the defect for approval by the DEP within 30 days, according to the DEP."
***Pipeline Demonstrators Arrested in Lancaster Scores of demonstrators gathered on land in Lancaster County that is owned by a Catholic order of nuns that allowed activists to build an outdoor chapel on the planned pipeline route. More than two dozen people have been arrested at a protest of a $3 billion pipeline built to carry gas from NE PA to Southern states.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last month gave final approval for construction of a 197-mile stretch of the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline in Pennsylvania. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a bid to halt construction.” https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/pennsylvania/articles/2017-10-16/protesters-arrested-at-pipeline-construction-site
***Sunoco Pipeline Impacts Well Water- More Than 61 Spills
“A PA DEP official waved a red flag to higher ups in January over potential issues with Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline construction on private water wells.
Though we don’t regulate it, this private well issue has the potential to really blow up…,” wrote Domenic Rocco, waterways and wetlands program manager for the DEP’s Southeast regional office.
Several residents of West Whiteland Township, Chester County who have been impacted by the drilling related to Mariner East 2 pipeline construction told StateImpact, as well as Sunoco officials at a public meeting, that they were not notified prior to the start of construction. In that case, 15 households had to stop using their well water after Sunoco’s drilling operation impacted the aquifer.
Among the 61 new spills documented by DEP and turned over as part of the lawsuit was an incident in Middlesex Township, Cumberland County, reported on June 2, in which about 80 gallons of water and drilling fluid “seeped upwards towards the surface in an “exceptional value” wetland. The spilled material was recovered, the document said.
In another spill, also on June 2, an estimated 1,500-2,000 gallons of drilling fluid escaped into another exceptional value wetland in the same township, according to the report, submitted by Sunoco to the DEP.” https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2017/07/20/dep-staffers-warned-superiors-of-dangers-to-private-water-wells-from-pipeline-construction/
In a filing with the Environmental Hearing Board, the groups provided DOCUMENTATION OF MORE THAN 61 DRILLING FLUID SPILLS THAT HAVE OCCURRED IN LESS THAN A TWO-MONTH PERIOD SPANNING FROM LATE APRIL TO MID-JUNE.
***Horizontal Drilling for Pipelines Can Connect Underground Waters
“Data from the DEP show 18 “inadvertent returns” of drilling fluid in three regions of southern PA. Sunoco spokesman, Jeff Shields said inadvertent returns are expected by regulators to occur, and have been anticipated in contingency plans that are part of the company’s permits for the cross-state gas liquids pipeline.
Of the post-agreement incidents recorded on the DEP’s website, the largest appears to be of 1,000-2,000 gallons of fluid that spilled into a wetland in Westmoreland County on Sept. 22, prompting an “ongoing” investigation by the department.
In Morgantown, Berks County, resident David Anspach says his well water has been contaminated with the e-coli and fecal coliform bacteria because drilling by Sunoco on his property appears to have diverted water from his septic system to the aquifer that supplies his well.
Anspach, 35, says he experienced gastrointestinal problems as a result of drinking the water, and had a colonoscopy as a result. He and his family stopped drinking the well water in mid-August after tests showed the two contaminants were at high levels.
David Velinsky, Vice President of Science at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Syas the horizontal drilling for the pipeline has the potential to connect previously discrete underground waterways in the same way that horizontal drilling does when combined with fracking for natural gas, Velinsky said.
“Horizontal drilling is certainly creating pockets and connections that weren’t there before,” he said. “If all of a sudden this is showing up, it’s telling me that maybe his septic system is getting connected to his drinking water. It begs the question that something’s going on there.”
***Is Wastewater Poisoning Our Water?
"In 10 to 100 years we are going to find out that most of our groundwater is polluted," said Mario Salazar, an engineer who worked for 25 years as a technical expert with the EPA's underground injection program in Washington. "A lot of people are going to get sick, and a lot of people may die."
The boom in oil and natural gas drilling is deepening the uncertainties, geologists acknowledge. Drilling produces copious amounts of waste, burdening regulators and demanding hundreds of additional disposal wells. Those wells — more holes punched in the ground — are changing the earth's geology, adding man-made fractures that allow water and waste to flow more freely.
"There is no certainty at all in any of this, and whoever tells you the opposite is not telling you the truth,' said Stefan Finsterle, a leading hydrogeologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who specializes in understanding the properties of rock layers and modeling how fluid flows through them. "You have changed the system with pressure and temperature and fracturing, so you don't know how it will behave."
Regulators refer to such waste as salt water or brine, but it often includes less benign contaminants, including fracking chemicals, benzene and other substances known to cause cancer.
Yet, in response to questions from ProPublica, the EPA acknowledged it has done very little with the data it collects. The agency could not provide ProPublica with a tally of how frequently wells fail or of how often disposal regulations are violated. It has not counted the number of cases of waste migration or contamination in more than 20 years. The agency often accepts reports from state injection regulators that are partly blank, contain conflicting figures or are missing key details, ProPublica found.
While drilling a disposal well in southern Ohio, workers for the Aristech Chemical Corp. (since bought by Sunoco, and sold again, in 2011, to Haverhill Chemicals) were overwhelmed by the smell of phenol, a deadly chemical the company had injected into two Class 1 wells nearby. Somehow, perhaps over decades, the pollution had risen 1,400 feet through solid rock and was progressing toward surface aquifers.
Myers' new model said that chemicals could leak through natural cracks into aquifers tapped for drinking water in about 100 years, far more quickly than had been thought. In areas where there is hydraulic fracturing or drilling, Myers' model shows, man-made faults and natural ones could intersect and chemicals could migrate to the surface in as little as "a few years, or less." https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-fracking-wastewater-wells-poisoning-ground-beneath-our-feeth/
***Map Shows Children At Risk
"A new map and analysis claims almost 311,000 Pennsylvania children -- including 73,000 in Allegheny County -- attend daycares or schools within a half mile of oil and gas wells or processing facilities, and therefore face increased health risks due to toxic emissions from those facilities.
The map, released by Earthworks and Moms Clean Air Force, both national environmental organizations, also shows there are 1,118 schools and more than 1.5 million Pennsylvanians residing within a half mile of the state’s 108,000 oil and gas production and processing facilities.
Citing peer reviewed studies in Pennsylvania, Colorado and Utah, the environmental organizations say that unhealthful oil and gas production emissions, including methane, benzene, toluene, xylene and hydrogen sulfide, can put children at increased risk for cancer, respiratory illness, blood disorders and neurological problems and can increase fetal defects.” http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2017/10/12/marcellus-shale-gas-wells-emissions-child-health-risks-mapped/stories/201710120177
***Major Compressor Leak Goes Unreported- 200 Tons In A Couple Of Hours
"Sept 2, 2017 the Harmony compressor station in NE PA spewed twice as much gas into the air as a typical compressor station does in a year. Yet THE LEAK WAS NOT MADE PUBLIC BY ANY STATE AGENCY OR BY THE COMPANY. Associated press learned of the huge methane leak during a review of calls to the US Coast Guard National Response Center hotline for discharges. The station's operator DTE Energy should have immediately notified county emergency management officials at the time of the release (as required by state regs) so the county could have taken steps to make sure residents were out of harms way.
Residents living downwind have complained of headaches, breathing trouble of other health problems they blame on air emissions from the compressor. DEP SAYS NOTIFICATION OF RESIDENTS FALLS TO THE COUNTY WITH DEP ASSISTANCE IF NECESSARY.
The release DID NOT PROMPT A STATE INVESTIGATION BECAUSE METHANE EMISSIONS AREN'T COVERED BY THE OPERATING PERMIT FOR COMPRESSOR STATIONS. DEP is developing a new permit as part of Gov Wolf's pledge to reduce gas emissions. Operators would have to use best available technology to detect and plug leaks of methane.
According to DEP the average compressor station released 97 tons of methane in 2015, 107 tons in 2014. Experts say the actual amount is likely far higher because of the difficulty in quantifying the emissions. Harmony released more than 200 tons of methane in a couple of hours.” https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/pennsylvania/articles/2017-09-24/county-public-remained-in-dark-about-big-methane-leak
***Sick Residents Do Their Own Monitoring in Susquehanna Co.
Citizen Monitoring Becoming More Necessary and Common
"Rebecca Roter’s (Susquehanna Co, PA) Christmas 2014 was a doozy. On Christmas Eve, she got a rip-roaring nosebleed and then Ray, her 1-year-old dog, got sick on Christmas morning and died the next day. At the time, Roter, 56, lived within a mile of the Williams Central Compressor Station and several shale gas well pads in Susquehanna County. She believes pollution from the surrounding activity made her sick.
An air quality monitor she had on her porch showed high levels of particle pollution over four hours that Christmas Eve. Elevated levels regularly occurred over seven months. Roter had the monitor because she was participating in a citizen science project to test the air near her home.
She monitored for seven months using Specks — low-cost air monitors that measure fine particulate matter called PM 2.5 — as part of Citizen Sense, a project led by University of London researchers. PM 2.5 exposure has been linked to many health issues, including respiratory, heart and neurological problems." http://publicsource.org/how-one-resident-near-fracking-got-the-epa-to-pay-attention-to-her-air-quality/
***Activists and photojournalists collaborate to shed new light on the impact of natural gas extraction through data and art. https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/vv7zq3/marcellus-shale-documentary-project
One of the photos-- Butler County 2014:
***Eminent Domain –Williams Seizes Property
“Next week, I likely face having my land seized by pipeline builder Williams Cos. using the power of eminent domain.
Like most Americans, I believed eminent domain was to be used sparingly, for projects for which there was a compelling need and great public benefit. The Atlantic Sunrise pipeline is not that kind of project.
It is about cashing in on a stranded asset, gigantic corporate profit and the unwillingness to use an existing right of way because seizing new property from American citizens is easier.
The gas in the pipeline proposed for our community will not be odorized. We get no warning. For safety, inspectors will fly the route looking for dead vegetation. I wonder about October through March when everything is already dead. I have done all I know to do. I am exhausted.”
***PennFuture Opposes $1.65 Billion Tax Incentive For Shell’s Polluting Cracker Plant
"Here's an excerpt from PennFuture President and CEO Larry J. Schweiger's op-ed that ran in NEXTPittsburgh: "Large taxpayer-funded tax breaks should be reserved for businesses and industries that support clean energy and a clean environment. A $1.65 billion dollar tax incentive would have been far better used for the promise of 50,000 Amazon jobs instead of the scourge of polluted air and water for 600 permanent jobs at the Shell petrochemical plant, a subsidy that equates to $2,670,000 per job."
***BNP Paribas, France, Plans to Stop Working With Shale Players and Shift To Renewable Investments
"BNP Paribas, France's biggest listed bank, said it would no longer work with oil and natural gas companies that primarily do business in shale or oil sands as it plans to boost support for renewable energy projects. (Reuters)
***Conventional Vertical Wells Damaged By Horizontal wells “I believe nearly every vertical well in Kingfisher County will be negatively impacted by horizontal frack jobs at some point,” OEPA founder Mike Cantrell told The Oklahoman. “We’re just trying to get people to get fair value for their property up front before the damage is done,” he added.
Matt Skinner, spokesman of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, told The Oklahoman that the commission had investigated and verified 20 cases of damaged vertical wells due to horizontal drilling nearby, with most of the damaged wells showing environmental damage. Another 55 wells await inspection or are already under review.
“We have a well-established vertical world, and we have a new horizontal world. The issue is how can these two worlds live together,” Skinner said.
***Fracking Harms Local Economy in Ohio as Injection Well Accepts Huge Amounts of Waste
“My Town being Poisoned”
“Our local economy now depends on tourism and farming – specifically organic farming, which requires extra and costly certifications and inspections. These lush hills are good for hiding wells, as they once secreted moonshine stills. By contaminating the environment with chemicals, fracking wastewater wells may threaten agriculture as well as the cabin rental businesses which thrive here. Canoe and kayak liveries, zip-lines, stables and campgrounds dot the woods.
People rent to hunters; the county is legendary for its record-setting bucks. But in 2016, ODNR began selling off land in the nearby Wayne national forest, the state’s only national forest. ODNR auctioned the land not just for injection wells, but also for fracking itself: for drill pads, for bulldozed roads, for heavy truck traffic.
In April 2017, an unprecedented 3.0-magnitude earthquake struck the forest, in an area with seven Utica shale fracking sites within miles. Fracking in the Wayne national forest has been suspended, pending further review.
The trucks, though, keep coming. Day and night, tanker trucks carrying “brine” pull up to the injection wells of my county and unload waste into the ground. Deliveries to injection wells happen 24 hours a day, a volume which is simply stunning: nearly 29m barrels injected into the ground of Ohio in 2015 alone, four million of those to my small county. In particular, the produced water contains a host of components which are potentially problematic”. Components of this kind of wastewater can include “suspended solids (TSS), bacteria, naturally occurring radioactive material (Norm), dissolved solids, and hydrocarbons”, and contain “materials such as barium and strontium.” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/sep/21/appalachia-ohio-fracking-wells-toxic
***Scotland Bans Fracking
The Scottish government has banned fracking after finding overwhelming public opposition and little economic justification for the industry.
***Republicans Fight Gas Tax To Keep Wolf From Re-Election
PA Sen. Wagner-R was recorded telling House Appropriations Committee Chair Stan Saylor to block a tax on Marcellus Shale gas to hurt Gov Tom Wolf re-election chances. Wagner said: "Stan you cannot let this severance tax get thorough and it gets to the governors desk, because if that happens the governor is going to get re-elected. Stan, you take that to the bank." (AP, Latrobe Bulletin)
***PA, Delaware, NY Ban Fracking in Delaware River Basin-- raises questions about the lack of protection for other PA waters. " Environmental groups have long opposed gas drilling near the Delaware, citing the possibility of contamination of drinking water supplies and renowned fisheries. Pennsylvania regulators have identified 289 cases statewide in which a private water supply was affected by gas drilling." (Latrobe Bulletin) Yet, here in Westmoreland County, we have almost 50 fracked wells right on reservoir property, next to the drinking water source for much of Westmoreland. Be fair Governor Wolf ---Support a ban here too.
***Kentucky’s Radioactive Frack Waste
“Produced water from fracking contains a cocktail of industry-secret chemicals, heavy metals and naturally occurring toxic or radioactive elements like selenium and radium. To deal with the fluids, companies either reuse it, store it in surface ponds, send it to wastewater treatment facilities, or truck it to injection wells.
A leaky pond or an ill-equipped wastewater treatment plant can leach contaminants into groundwater or drinking water supplies, meaning public health and the environment could be at risk of exposure. And wastewater injection has been linked to "induced" earthquakes
Kentucky is still legally wrangling over its handling of more than 1,000 cubic yards of out-of-state radioactive fracking waste that ended up at the Blue Ridge Landfill two years ago. The waste came from drilling operations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio and was further concentrated by a wastewater treatment plant in Fairmont, West Virginia. The facility’s treatment process apparently increased the waste’s radionuclides and radioactivity, with an intensity nearly 400 times higher than EPA standards.
***Loyalhanna Lake- 40 Cases Of Drill Lubricant Seepage
“The environmental effects of Sunoco Pipeline's horizontal drilling to install its Mariner East II pipeline beneath Loyalhanna Lake are still to be determined, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The drilling at Loyalhanna from May through mid-July resulted in 40 cases where drill-bit lubricant has seeped to the surface,
The inconvenient timing of drilling has taken a toll on use of the associated Bush Recreation Area in Loyalhanna Township, Corps officials say. . “There were times when things were inaccessible because of their trucks or when they were responding to a (lubricant) release.”
A section of the parking lot was blocked off last week as a precaution because of the possibility of seepages when pipe was being pulled through the drilled underground cavity.
***Construction of the Mariner East II pipeline has resulted in dozens of spills of drilling fluid in 10 counties, including Westmoreland, since April, according to documents released by DEP.
Westmoreland County had 11 reported spills, the second-highest number after Cumberland County. The Westmoreland spills occurred in Derry (three), Hempfield (one) and the Loyalhanna Lake National Recreation Area (seven), according to the documents." http://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/12533925-74/mariner-east-pipeline-construction-led-to-spills
***Map Shows Where Brine is Being Spread-- Indiana and Cambria Cos. with a significant application in the area below Nanty Glo
"The application of liquid oil and gas waste from conventional wells onto roadways for dust control and road stabilization is permitted in PA, provided that operators adhere to plans approved by the DEP. There are brine spreading guidelines that operators are required to follow, but overall, DEP considers roadspreading to be a beneficial use of the liquid oil and gas waste products." https://www.fractracker.org/2017/08/roadspreading-og-waste-dumping/
***Methane in Well Water "The well water at Ken Morcom and Kim Grosso's house is laced with so much explosive methane that a PA regulator who went there to collect samples decided it would be safer to coast her SUV down the driveway.
Morcom and Grosso want to leave but doubt they could sell a house with tainted water. So, a few weeks ago, they asked the gas driller they blame for polluting their well to buy them out.
The DEP said Cabot has not yet fixed all affected water supplies, nor has it shown that all its gas wells have stopped leaking natural gas into the aquifer. As a result, the agency has refused Cabot's requests to lift a moratorium on drilling in a 9-square-mile area of Dimock." http://abcnews.go.com
***17 Million Americans Exposed To Toxic Fumes Researchers (Eliza Czolowski) from PSE Health Energy, the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvey Mudd College looked at the measurement for the number of people living near active oil and gas wells nationwide.
"More than 17 MILLION Americans are exposed to toxic fumes that could give you cancer, heart disease, dementia, or cause birth defects.
Five percent of the US population lives a mile or less away from an oil or gas well.
These wells contaminate the air, water and soil around the exposed area
People living within a mile of these toxic fumes have an increased risk for getting cancer, asthma, heart disease, dementia or a neurological problem.
Residential proximity to these operations has also increased adverse birth outcomes, including pre-term birth, lower birth weight, neural tube defects and congenital heart defects. So pregnant women living near these wells could be putting their fetuses at an increased risk to have one of these defects.
Acute exposure to these air pollutants can cause irritation in the eyes, nose, throat and lungs while causing chronic conditions for people around them long term."
***4 x The Lymphocyctic Leukemia In Children Near Fracking
“The study, led by Lisa McKenzie, a researcher at the Colorado School of Public Health Anschutz Medical Campus, found that children suffering from acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), the most common childhood cancer, were more than four times more likely to be living in areas with the highest density of gas wells. “We were a little surprised at the size of the association — four times higher,” said McKenzie, in an interview in her office. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.”
***Stakes Too High To Ignore Madelon Finkel, a professor of clinical healthcare policy and research at Weill Cornell Medical College, in a 2016 article in the American Journal of Public Health. “We have no idea what the long-term effects might be,” she said, and concluded that the stakes were too high to be silent. “Ignoring the body of evidence, to us, is not a viable option anymore.”
***PA Higher Incident of Infant Mortality Near Fracking-Mangano, 2017
A new study has linked fracking to a higher incidence in infant mortality, perinatal mortality, low-weight births, premature births and cancer in infants and children.
Funded by the Pittsburgh Foundation and written by Joe Mangano, co-founder and president of the Radiation and Public Health Project, the study used data from state agencies to examine eight heavily fracked counties in Pennsylvania — four in the northeast and four in the southwest region of the state, counties that account for the majority of the state's natural gas drill wells and gas production. In all categories but child cancer, increases were greater in the northeast counties than they were in the four southwest counties. Analyzing publicly available data from the PA Dept of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mangano found that, since the early 2000s and compared to the rest of the state, the heavily-fracked counties have seen a rise in infant mortality (13.9 percent), perinatal mortality (23.6 percent), low-weight births (3.4 percent), premature births/gestation less than 32 weeks (12.4 percent) and cancer incidence in age 0-4 (35.1 percent).
The number of infant deaths in the first 28 days of life rose 29% in 10 heavily-fracked PA counties in the first years after the practice began, while the overall state rate (in not heavily fracked counties) declined 2 percent, according to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Protection.
“A major component of early infant mortality is congenital malformation, e.g., heart, neurological, and kidney defects. These effects are known to be caused by exposures to radium and uranium in drinking water,” says Dr. Chris Busby, a co-author of the study. “We found that infant death rates were significantly high in highly-fracked counties in northeast Pennsylvania with the highest number of private water wells, suggesting it is drinking water contamination driving the effect.”
At the same time, gas production rose about 12 percent, according to the Energy Information Agency." https://enviropoliticsblog.blogspot.com/2017/09/report-fracking-methane-emissions-up-20.html#.Wa8oiq2ZOLh
***Benzene-- Collett, 2017 (Colorado State University ) discovered benzene concentrations as high as 100 ppb in plumes within 100 feet from certain oil and gas operations. Most other air-emissions studies have captured region-wide emissions, by flying aircraft over a whole basin. Collett’s study also measured emissions from the various stages of oil and gas operations — from drilling to fracking to “flowback” (when injected water — actually a slurry of water, sand and fracking chemicals — comes back out), to production. He was surprised to find that emissions of benzene were highest during the flowback process.
I’d move away if I lived anywhere near there, and as quickly as possible,” [Frank Flocke, an atmospheric chemist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)] said. One canister sample drawn from a mobile van near Platteville, a small town in Weld County, showed benzene concentrations as high as 120 parts per billion, or ppb. (There is no safe level of benzene, not even 1 part per billion (ppb), according to the EPA). Many times measurements at a fixed monitoring station in Platteville showed concentrations above 1 ppb.
“People shouldn’t be living within 100 feet from a flowback operation,” Collett said.”
***USGS --Injection Well Wastewater Reaches Stream, Nagel 2017, Fayetteville, WVA
" Evidence indicating the presence of wastewaters from unconventional oil/gas production was found in surface waters and sediments near an injection well near Fayetteville, WV, according to two studies by the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Missouri, and Duke University.
These were the first published studies to demonstrate water-quality impacts to a surface stream due to activities at an unconventional oil/ gas wastewater deep well injection disposal site. The studies did not assess how the wastewaters were able to migrate from the disposal site to the surface stream. The unconventional oil and gas wastewater that was injected in the site came from coalbed methane and shale gas wells.
“Our results demonstrate that activities at disposal facilities can potentially impact the quality of adjacent surface waters.” Waters and sediments collected downstream from the disposal facility were elevated in constituents that are known markers of UOG wastewater, INCLUDING SODIUM, CHLORIDE, STRONTIUM, LITHIUM AND RADIUM, PROVIDING INDICATIONS OF WASTEWATER-ASSOCIATED IMPACTS IN THE STREAM.
“We found endocrine disrupting activity in surface water at levels that previous studies have shown are high enough to block some hormone receptors and potentially lead to adverse health effects in aquatic organisms,” said Susan C. Nagel, director of the EDC study and associate professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health at University of Missouri." https://www.usgs.gov/news/evidence-unconventional-oil-and-gas-wastewater-found-surface-waters-near-underground-injection
***Fracking Can Contaminate Rivers/Lakes with Radioactive Material
“Penn Sate and other university researchers writing in the journal, Environmental Science & Technology, said: “Large quantities of oil-and-gas wastewater with high loads of chloride, barium, strontium, radium, and organic compounds have been discharged into the Conemaugh River watershed.
“Stream sediments in Blacklick Creek immediately downstream of centralized waste treatment plant number one were found to contain [radium] levels that were about 200 times greater than activities measured in upstream and background sediments.
Their analysis detected that peak concentrations of radium, alkaline earth metals, salts and organic chemicals all occurred in the same sediment layer. The two major classes of organic contaminants included nonylphenol ethoxylates, which are endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are carcinogens. The highest concentrations coincided with sediment layers deposited five to 10 years ago during a peak period of fracking wastewater disposal.
Elevated concentrations of radium and other alkaline earth metals have now been detected in reservoir sediments about 19km farther downstream of this plant.
The highest concentration of radium found was just 14 per cent below the level at which it would have to be treated as radioactive waste in some US state
The study tested sediments and groundwater downstream of a treatment plant in Pennsylvania that was designed to make the water used as part of the fracking process fit for release into the environment.”
Letters To Editor:
Ban fracking to protect water
Recently I've been saddened that we are shortsighted and still allow industry to contaminate our life-sustaining natural resources. But I was encouraged when Gov. Tom Wolf made folks in the Delaware River Basin safer by stopping fracking in their watershed. Bravo!
The justification is scientifically sound: Fracking pollutes drinking water. The frack-free Delaware Basin is safe — but what about the rest of us? If fracking pollutes the Delaware River, then it also pollutes our rivers.
We have a right to clean water just as much as those in the Delaware Basin. In Southwestern Pennsylvania right now, nearly 50 fracked wells sit within a stone's throw of the Beaver Run Reservoir, where more than 100,000 people get water.
Companies have been allowed to frack near homes with well water and rivers that supply Pittsburgh. When these industrial sites leak, they will destroy our drinking water.
Fracking is a heavily polluting industrial activity that is not compatible with residential or agricultural areas. Jobs from fracking are unpredictable, and the industry may never deliver the local jobs promised. State income from a severance tax is unreliable and will never pay for homes without clean water.
We need a moratorium on fracking to protect our water.
DOROTHY T. HUFFORD, Unity
Renewable energy achievable
I feel the authors of the column “Working toward Pa.'s future” ignored the opportunity the clean-energy industry provides to Pittsburgh.
The renewable energy field is ready to help build a brighter, safer and smarter energy future. When fossil fuel industries talk about jobs and costs, they ignore the externalities from extraction, refining and use that endanger our citizens.
Pittsburgh felt the crushing impact of the steel-mill shutdown and we continue to grapple with lasting impacts. But we've learned. We know how fracking harms our communities, from poisoning our water to lowering property values. We also know the benefits of moving to a clean-energy economy: an industry that honors local health.
I moved from California to Pittsburgh to attend Pitt, and I've noticed a lack of concern Pennsylvanians seem to have about the environment. These issues touch all of our lives. Pittsburghers deserve clean energy that doesn't put them at risk.
Renewable energy is not only necessary but achievable, and Pittsburgh could be a leader in the industry. With over 70,000 clean-energy jobs already in Pennsylvania, support for renewable energy will improve our community by bringing more good-paying, family-sustaining jobs.
***Link to Shalefield Stories-Personal stories of those affected by fracking http://www.friendsoftheharmed.com/
***To sign up for Skytruth notifications of activity and violations for your area:
*** List of the Harmed--There are now over 1400 residents of Pennsylvania who have placed their names on the list of the harmed when they became sick after fracking began in their area. http://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list/
*** To See Water Test Results of the Beaver Run Reservoir
IUP students test for TDS, pH, metals- arsenic, chromium, and strontium.
We have not seen results for other frack chemicals including the organics BTEX group, or cesium for example. Here is a link to the IUP site:
***How to find an accredited water testing lab.
The PA DEP has a laboratory accreditation program for water testing labs to ensure data accuracy.
The entire list of water testing laboratories accredited by the
DEP is lengthy and can be found on the their web site. Once on that site, page down to "Search Environmental Laboratories" and click on the link for the Quick Reference List. You can sort the list of labs by county and choose a Commercial or Academic Lab."
***Scorecard. You can enter your zip and find information about our air quality, risk of various diseases from pollution ect.
***Dr Sahu on air modeling vs. air monitoring
***Photos From the Frontlines of Fracking
Additional Resources on fracking
Newsletter information-Please Contact Jan Milburn
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