Friday, June 1, 2012

Jan's Updates May 31, 2012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens Group Updates May 31
For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us at face book.
To view permanent documents, past updates, reports, general information and meeting information
For information on the state gas legislation and local control:
Please Cut and Paste All Links
Calendar of Events
*** Ligonier Township Supervisors Meeting- June 12, 7:00, Township Building
*** Stop the Frack Attack, Washington DC July 28,
(Sierra Club, Calvin Tillman, Earthworks)
*** Westmoreland County Commissioner Meeting
Thenext meeting date: Thurs. June 7 at 10:00 AM at the Westmoreland County Court House.
*** Tour de Frack-You Can Participate For Only One Day
The ‘Tour de Frack’ promises to be one of the most celebrated local events of this coming summer. Described as ‘activism in motion’, from July 14 to July 28 cyclists may take the whole ride from Butler to Washington DC, or they may enjoy one or two day segments of the journey.
***WQED Journalists Forum--This Thursday night (May 31) at 8:00pm on WQED, ten of the top journalists in the state will convene for a live, one-hour forum on what it's been like to cover Pennsylvania's monumental Marcellus story.
The panel includes:
Erich Schwartzel - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pipeline series and blog)
Laura Olson - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pipeline series and blog)
Tim Puko - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Drilling Down series)
Kris Maher - Wall Street Journal
Scott Detrow - NPR StateImpact and WITF Harrisburg
Laura Legere - Scranton Times-Tribune
They'll provide an insider's look like no other as they participate in a conversation about what it's been like to cover the stories, to dig for answers, to strive for balance and to keep Pennsylvanians informed about the environmental, economic and community concerns centered around Marcellus Shale drilling in PA.

***PREMIERE: "Marcellus Matters" with Doug Shields
This program, unfortunately, has already aired. We didn’t get a lot of advanced notice so if anyone can find it in the archives of PCTV or on You Tube let me know and I will put that info in the next update.
Episode #1: THE CASE AGAINST PA ACT 13 (taped May 17, 2012)
PA Townships v. Commonwealth of PA Docket No. 284 MD 2012
Host Doug Shields interviews:
Brian Coppola, Supervisor, Robinson Twp,
Andrew Schrader, Supervisor, Cecil Twp.
Deron Gabriel, Supervisor, S. Fayette Twp.
Seven PA Townships (Robinson, Cecil, Peters & Mt. Pleasant - Washington County; Yardley& Nockamixon, Bucks Co.), three individuals, Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Monroeville, PA physician Mehernosh Khan, M.D., filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, in a landmark case, challenging the provisions of Act 13 (the "Frack Anything, Anywhere Act" ).
Find out why they filed that suit and what’s at risk for local government.
The show aired on : Comcast - Channel 21 PCTV (city only) – (You may be able to watch it ‘on demand’ on PCTV’s website:
FIOS- Channel 47 (city and some areas within Allegheny County - check your local listings)
For a full calendar of Marcellus events:
All Township Residents—Call to Action !! Keep Those Resolutions Coming !!
**Lawsuit Filed --Resolutions of Township Support Urged
Attached to this WMCG Update is a resolution supporting the lawsuit against Act 13. Act 13 precludes the use of local zoning to restrict gas operations in residential areas, restricts doctors in sharing important health data, and limits counties in the use of the impact tax (a partial list).
HOW WE CAN HELP: Please print the resolution and take it to your next township supervisors’ meeting to request their support for this lawsuit. Supervisors should return the signed resolution to Brian Coppola and also to your state representatives.
Sample Statement: See our Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group blogspot, for a sample statement to supervisors. (Address is listed above)
Good references on Act 13:
Handout on Act 13 by Penn Future (short version)-
Delaware Riverkeepers Basics About Act 13
Penn Future on act 13 (detailed version)
Help Keep Diesel Fuel Out of Fracking
From Sierra Club
Tell EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to protect our communities and our health by banning diesel fuel and diesel fuel by-products in fracking.
On May 4, the EPA issued a draft permitting guidance for natural gas wells that use diesel fuels during fracking. The diesel in fracking fluids contains known carcinogens like benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylenes, all of which can damage your central nervous system, liver and kidneys.
In 2011, the natural gas industry was caught red-handed, secretly pumping over 32 million gallons of diesel fuel and diesel by-products into the ground — and right through our drinking water. This is after the industry denied using diesel in their fracking cocktails! PLEASE URGE EPA to ban the use of diesel and diesel by-products in fracking fluids.

EPA Hotline-Dumping or Spills, Releases
--The EPA number to call for illegal disposal of wastes or other suspicious activity is
1- 877- 919- 4EPA (toll free) or email:
Tips can be anonymous
--In the event of an emergency such as a spill or release of hazardous material, call the National Response Center at 1- 800 -424- 8802
Easy to use map of well sites and violations:
Clean Water Action Report on Drilling Violations
9 out of 10 drilling violations resulted in no fine from the DEP. Read More:
Fracking Quotes
*** The test results of groundwater, subpoenaed from Range but never revealed to the families near the Yeager compound in Washington County, show that the results were omitted for other (chemical contaminants) including several semi-volatile organic compounds that were present in the groundwater samples and in the company’s impoundment pit, that showed that the water was contaminated
(see item #4)
*** “ I don’t see anybody affected.” Stated by Dr Porbin, advisor of the health clinic established to give medical assistance to those individuals who believe their health has been impacted by drilling operations. (See item #3)
*** “The oil and gas extraction industry has a death rate more than seven times that for all US workers,” Letter from AFL-CIO to OSHA. (see item # 8)
1. Lower Alsace Passes Resolution (Berks County) Lower Alsace Township passed a resolution opposing Act 13 and supporting the lawsuit.
2.Protestors Occupy Rep. Ellis’s Office
“Members of MOB (Marcellus Outreach Butler) gathered at Rep. Ellis’s office to call attention to the dangers created by Act 13 and to demand justice for the 10 families in the district whose water has been contaminated by fracking operations.
The protestors, clad in hazmat suits, carried jars of contaminated water from homes of residents in Connoquenessing Township. They demanded to know why Rep Ellis sponsored Act 13 which takes away the local authority to zone gas drilling.
The protestors refused to leave the office until a staff member arranged a phone call with Ellis who was in Harrisburg. The group filled gallon jugs with water from the office bathroom to take to the families in Connoquenessing whose water was contaminated by Rex Energy.
Rep. Ellis insisted he was not aware of any cases of water contamination caused by fracking despite the fact that he previously acknowledged the problem in Connoquenessing.
The protestors left for Rep Ellis to examine, a gallon of contaminated, black water.”
(Protesters Occupy PA Rep. Ellis Office, take his tap water for fracked families, 5-22-12, Iris Bloom)
3. Health Clinic Fills with Chemical Fumes--
SW PA Health Project Advisor Skeptical that Anyone Has Been Harmed By Fracking??
“Gusts of fumes kept filling the health clinic in Burgettstown. “All of a sudden your tongue gets this metal taste on it. And it feels like its’ enlarging and it just feels like you’re e not getting enough air in because your throat gets real burny. And the next thing I know, I passed out,” said Kay Allen, who works at the clinic.
Richard Tinehart who runs the clinic in Burgettstown wonders if the drilling going on all around the area is related. DEP has started testing the air for chemicals and Raina Pippel, director tor the SW PA Environmental Health Project was contacted.
Dr Porbin, who advises the health Project and gives the nurse practitioner advice when she needs it, dismissed the idea of health problems being related to fracking. He was quoted as saying he is skeptical people are getting sick from fracking. “If its’ true, you would look around and see people dropping like flies. Its’ not the case. I don’t see anybody affected. And it’s not for a lack of looking.” Porbin wants to make sure no ones missing more mundane explanations like Lyme disease, sinus infections, and migraines. .”
{Dr. Porbin does not appear to be investigating health problems with an open mind as he has already declared his bias. What then is the purpose of the clinic and how comprehensive is the advice given to patients when the physician advisor is coming from this perspective regarding health problems related to fracking. Toxicologists and health researchers would quickly dismiss the statement that people necessarily drop like flies when exposed to harmful chemicals. Multiple short -term or long- term heath problems can and do occur from chemical exposures without people falling over dead. . jan}
(sick from fracking? doctors, patients seek answers, rob stein, maggie starbard, NPR, 5-15-12)
4. Sick Families Sue—Claim Range Resources and Water Labs Conspired
Three Washington county families who have experienced health problems are suing Range Resources and two water-testing labs for conspiring to alter water test results, thereby exposing them to hazardous chemicals. The suit claims Range knew as early as Nov. 2010 that its gas operation on the Yeager farm in Amwell Township contaminated the groundwater with chemicals from a leaking drilling waste pit and from a 3 million gallon hydraulic fracturing fluid flowback impoundment pit .
Range had told families the water was safe to drink and shower in and presented the limited test results to back up their safety claim.
Full test results subpoenaed from Range but never shown to residents, revealed that many chemical contaminants were omitted from the report including the results for several semi- volatile organic compounds that were present in the groundwater samples and in the impoundment pit.
The families relied on the tests; so they drank, cooked, and bathed in the contaminated water. In the lawsuit, they describe nosebleeds, headaches, dizziness, rashes, stomachaches, ear infections, nausea, numbness in extremities, loss of smell, and bone pain. They also are concerned about an increased risk of cancer. Some of the animals drinking the water became sick and died.
(shale drilling contaminated water, families say in lawsuit, don hopey, pittsburgh post gazette, 5-25-12)
5. PA Man Appeals DEP
A State environmental court has ruled that Loren Kiskadden of western PA can appeal a state finding that his water well was not contaminated by gas drilling operations. He claims that the DEP investigation of his complaint was inaccurate and incomplete. (court says man can appeal DEP ruling, AP Latrobe bulletin, 5-23-12)
6.Pittsburgh Frack Sand Facility Not a Welcome Neighbor-You Tube
Rook Station in Greentree Boro near Pittsburgh has a new neighbor. In the nearby rail yard, is now located a major FracTech frack sand operation. Frack sand comes in on trains and is loaded onto tractor- trailers. There is also a weighing station on site so the trucks sit and idle exposing neighbors to diesel fumes. The large trucking operations of FracTech and Modern Transportation are violating ACT 124 by allowing diesel engines to idle longer than 5 minutes.
Residents are also being subjected to sand dust which can cause silicosis. The resident interviewed showed a layer of sand on her lawn furniture and explained that it also covers their cars.
7.List of People Harmed by Fracking-
from PA Alliance for Clean Water and Air
The following list of individuals and families whose health has been harmed by fracking (or shale gas production) in the US continues to grow. (Updated as of May 2012)-
Should you encounter any issues (misinformation, broken links, etc.) or if you are/know someone who should be added to this list, please contact us at
1. Pam Judy
Location: Carmichaels, PA
Gas Facility: Compressor station 780 feet away
Exposure: Air pollution
Symptoms: Headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, nosebleeds, blood test show exposure to benzene and other chemicals
2. Darrell Smitsky
Location: Hickory, PA
Gas Facility: Range Resources Well, less than 1,000 ft
Exposure: Water – toluene, acrylonitrile, strontium, barium, manganese
Symptoms: Rashes on legs from showering.
Symptoms (animal): Eight healthy goats dead; fish in pond showing abnormal scales; another neighbor comments anonymously
The list goes on—Use the link.
8. AFL- CIO Says Frack Workers’ Health Should be Monitored
AFL CIO says fracking is harmful to workers and should be monitored by the federal government.“The oil and gas extraction industry has a death rate more than seven times that for all US workers,” the group stated in a letter to federal OSHA and Mine Safety and Health Administration. They recommended the US identify occupational concerns related to fracking and require medical surveillance of workers and monitoring their exposure to materials used in the process.
9. Methane in Water In Bradford
“Chesapeake has numerous gas wells in Bradford County where both Chesapeake and the DEP are trying to find what is causing methane gas in some drinking water wells. Methane showed up in Lee Franklin’s well and was bubbling up in a wetland area. Franklin’s father who lives up the road is also affected.
Chesapeake has provided drinking water and is installing a filter so Ted Franklin’s waster will be safe for showers and washing dishes.
Other area residents are waiting to hear of results of their water tests.”
10. Well Blowout in Bradford
A blowout at a well owned by Chesapeake in LeRoy Township, Bradford County was reported April 20. Thousands and thousands of gallons of frack fluid spilled onto farmland and into a creek due to a blowout. The fluid contaminated Towanda creek a tributary of the Susquehanna.Long- term effects were questioned but are unknown.
11.Fish Kill In Connoquenessing Creek, Butler County, PA
On May 20, 2012, a fish kill was reported at Connoquenessing Creek near the site of two recently fracked wells. 10 to15 carp ranging in size from 20 in. to 30 in. were spotted lying dead on the bottom of the creek in groups of 4 to 6. The fish were near a water-withdrawal pump for one of the wells.
From: Tour de Frack see photos
12. When Attorney General, Corbett Advised That Drilling Can Affect Property Value
In 2008, then Attorney General Corbett issued a "Consumer Advisory" advising that leasing your land for gas drilling could affect the value of your property and your ability to sell your home. (He had no advice for those who don't own the gas rights on their property or the neighbors of those who lease.)
The Western PA Multi-List revised their seller disclosure form in October of 2011 to require disclosure of whether you or a neighbor have leased for gas drilling; see Multi-List Questions 19 (k) and (l).
13. Drilling Said To Have Caused Giant Hot Mud Volcano Drilling, Not Earthquake,
“A mud volcano began erupting near Sidoarjo in East Java and for two years, as of August 2008, it was still spewing some 130,000 cubic yards a day into a steaming lake of hot mud, 60 feet deep and nearly three square miles in area. Twelve villages were affected, and at least 36,000 people displaced.
Back in 2009, Mark Tingay, a research fellow at Curtin University of Technology in Perth and the lead author of a study published in Geology, announced that researchers were fairly certain the eruption was the result of an underground blowout in a natural gas well being dug nearby. They argue that the blowout fractured overlying rock and allowed fluid to escape to the surface, the result of poor management of the well casing that is supposed to prevent such events.
Some claimed an earthquake that occurred 155 miles away a few days earlier caused this mud river, but this research indicates otherwise.”
(by Nicholas Bakalar, Discover, from January 2009 issue; published online December 10, 2008)
14. Kim McEvoy Decides To Sell Butler Home -Fracking Pollution Just Too Much
Kim of Connoquenessing Township says the flaring makes air quality extremely poor, leaving a chemical taste in the mouth (a common complaint) and causing eyes to burn and water, and headaches.
The gas well is within ½ mile of her home. DEP checked the air but only when flaring was completed.
She explains that being outside is not longer enjoyable and quality of life is greatly diminished; she plans to leave the area.
15. Difficulty Proving Cancer links
“Brian Schwartz, is an environmental epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. When asked what it would take to figure out whether there really is a link between gas operations around Dish and those people with cancer is response was, "You can't.” "You can't study that right now because it takes about 20 years, let's say, for solid tumors to develop after exposure to a chemical. So if the drilling has happened in the last five years, I cannot answer the cancer question right now."
Even if more time had passed, Schwartz says, he would still need to link each type of cancer with a chemical known to cause that cancer. And Schwartz says that just because chemicals are found does not mean they are present in levels the government has set as unsafe.
For example Leukemia, for example, might be caused by exposure to benzene. But breast cancer isn't. And cancer clusters can also be random.
Better studies are needed.
Cancer is just one of the concerns in Dish, Texas. Residents are also worried about immune diseases, reproductive problems and a wide range of symptoms.
Calvin Tillman, former mayor of Dish, became alarmed when his two boys started getting nosebleeds. They seemed to occur when the odors of gas were strongest and air quality monitoring showed higher levels of chemicals, Tillman says. Then one night his younger son had a really bad nosebleed.
"Our house literally looked like a murder scene," Tillman says. "There was blood down the wall and in the hallway. And I got up the next morning to go to work, and my wife said, 'That is it.' And at that moment we decided we've got to move out of here."
Tillman and his family moved off the shale, to a town called Aubrey, Texas. Tillman knows that's just one family's story. But he says he documented others several years earlier when he had Dish residents take a health survey asking whether they had experienced symptoms such as itchy eyes, a bloody nose or a scratchy throat.
"It came back that about half of the people that were polled had a symptom that could be related to one of the chemicals that we found in our air study," Tillman says.”
16. Checks From Gas Drilling May Decrease
Leasers make money in two ways from leasing: a per acre lump sum and monthly royalty checks once the well starts to produce. Prices have fallen due to the increase in the supply of gas and the lack of infrastructure to take the gas to market.
Companies often deduct post -production costs from royalty payments before paying the landowner. Post- production costs can include everything from the cost to compress and process the gas, to the cost of pipelines needed to transport it.
Some leases also include a shut- in clauses that allows the company to cap a well for an indefinite amount of time if it can’t turn a profit right away.
If a lease payment pushes yearly income above $385,000, the landowner will pay about 35% in federal taxes but the IRS allows landowners to receive lease payments paid out over several years so their incomes don’t force them into a high tax bracket. (checks from gas drilling may dip, AP Latrobe bulletin, 5-24-12)