Friday, November 9, 2012

Jan's Updates November 9, 2012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates
              November 9, 2012 

               Although there were many positive results at the state and national level for those candidates who represented more progressive environmental positions, results were dismal for western PA outside Allegheny County.  In our part of the state, many people we encountered at the polls, voted on one issue, primarily on the gun or anti-choice issue. As Jack and I worked throughout the day, we became increasingly dismayed by interest exclusively in the voting recommendations dispersed by the gun lobby which were being eagerly accepted and scrutinized, while there was little interest in education, women’s issues, labor, community rights, or environment-issues that affect the health and welfare of our society. (I should mention, guys in our family are hunters and we own guns, so that is not the point.) I did receive five or six positive comments on the education issue- probably because more people were aware of severe cuts to education- as I tried various one-liners to garner some votes for my candidate. We need more candidates who give us a clear choice.  But more importantly, we need an educated electorate and I don’t know how we get there when families no longer read newspapers or articles of length or complexity, just maybe having time to catch the evening news that presents less than half of the story regarding the above issues. Most of us are doing our part---more than our part, but we need to reach others who are not informed, and I think that is going to take a real change in strategy here in the rural areas. Jan


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*  To view permanent documents, past updates, reports, general information and meeting information

*  To email your state legislator:         

*  For information on the state gas legislation and local control:        


*** Westmoreland County Commissioners Meeting-  2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at the county courthouse at 10:00 AM  (NOTE: The 11/8 meeting was cancelled and re-scheduled for 11/15.)


*** Dr. Stephen Cleghorn to Speak in Middlesex

                              Sponsored by MOM    Nov. 13,    Valencia PA

               As owners of a certified organic farm and licensed goat dairy, Stephen and Lucinda committed themselves to creating a farm that, as Stephen put it, “helps to heal our environment – our atmospheric, aquatic and botanic commons by which all human and animal life is sustained.”

               In  2009, the couple learned that their land had been leased for an $80,000 signing bonus by the owner of the gas rights. When the couple bought the property in 2005 they knew the gas rights had been severed (a practice known as a “split-estate”), but their understanding was this meant they might have to put up with a relatively small “shallow” gas well being put on their farm in a location over which they would have some control. However, Stephen and Lucinda found themselves in a much different situation.  A Marcellus Shale well – which consumes 5 to 10 acres of their land – is being permitted just 3,500 feet from their house, upwind of the organic pastures on which their goats graze and their hay is made.


***Frack Forum

               Saturday, November 17    12:00-3:00 PM       Friends Meeting House, Shadyside

               By  Marcellus Protest

               Everyone concerned about fracking, new folks and old, will be welcome to the first Marcellus Protest “Frack Forum”.

               The group will be observing the second anniversary of Pittsburgh’s trail- blazing ban of fracking, which grew out of our city’s mass rally and demonstration, held in the face of a drilling industry trade show on November 3, 2010.

               There will be a potluck meal, meeting and mingling, celebration and strategizing.  Come bring your contribution to our table and to our conversation.


***The Marcellus Shale Documentary Project: A public exhibit at Pittsburgh Filmmakers Galleries, until Jan. 6-- more than 50 images telling the stories of Pennsylvanians affected by the Marcellus Shale gas industry (also online at


            (Full details, with latest updates, and a more extensive list of events, are on-line at               

Frack Links

** New and Better Frac Mapper

A new mapping utility for website visitors who want an easy-to-use point and click tool – what we are affectionately calling FracMapper.              

               (Give the maps a minute to fully present details. The legend (key) is on the right. Yellow triangles represent violations. The nice thing about the map is that the violations show background information  immediately and you don’t have to link to another site to see what the violation was.  For example:  At Twin Lakes there is a failure to remove all pit drilling supplies and restore a well site. In Donegal, a pit contained fluids and cutting. A tear was noted and fluid appeared to be over cut (poorly explained,  so I’m not exactly sure what that means.. but one would suppose conditions allow a leak to occur.) In Fairfield Township near Ligonier the operator had a spill of about 5 barrels worth of frack fluids that escaped from a frack tank because the valve was not shut properly. In Derry, pit fluid level was above the top of the pit in a couple of instances. Fluid had flowed onto the pads. Near Keystone Lake the violation read--There is a potential for polluting substance(s) reaching Waters of the Commonwealth and may require a permit. And on and on…..   Jan)


**Mike Stout & Human Union Band Video/music      Stop the Frack Attack

                Briget and Doug Shields are there. 


** Nurses Rise-Nurses for Safe Water:  ( Facebook site) “Nurses, as the most trusted of professionals, call on all health care professionals to join us in raising awareness of the clear and present danger to our water, our source of life and health, threatened by fracking.”


** Video--Maggie Henry Organic Farm in Lawrence County

               “Laurie Barr of Potter County has a new video about Maggie Henry’s farm in Bessemer, Lawrence County. Maggie has an organic farm in the historic Bessemer oil fields, where there are hundreds of unplugged abandoned wells which are conduits for methane migration, that has caused houses to explode in other PA legacy fields after Marcellus drilling started.

               Shell Oil is now drilling about 4,000 ft. from Maggie’s farm with little regard for the abandoned wells in the area. Here’s the video about the situation”:


               Laurie is the co-founder of Save Our Streams PA                ( and has a video introduction to PA’s abandoned wells. She also operates an orphaned and abandoned well Scavenger Hunt which anyone can join from wherever they are.


** Cancer Rise in Barnett Shale-  Residents Want Answers

Cancer clusters in Texas of leukemia in children and breast cancer in women-from a television news clip


** Carnegie Mellon Puts Shale Data Online

               Faced with a scattered body of research and background information about the booming Marcellus and Utica shale industries, officials and students at Carnegie Mellon University have compiled a searchable “bibliography” of more than 1,000 documents online.

               While the bibliography has more than 200 documents in the category of “economic impacts,” for example, just two are in the “crime and drugs” category. Those gaps in knowledge can point the association to areas where it can sponsor further research, Knittel said. The database includes sources that have a stated pro- or anti-drilling stance, Strauss said, but the team’s goal was simply to compile as much information as possible, not to weigh the merits of the reports or take sides.




*****To sign a petition to Investigate DEP Water Testing ******

               "We call on US Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for misconduct and fraud related to withholding information about drilling contaminants in our water."

Will you sign this petition?

If link does not work :
(See article #1 below for details)

Fracking Quotes

*** But it’s supposed to be a scientific decision based on water test results and the law. What science expertise in that does Krancer have?” George Jugovic of Penn Future on the change in DEP notification policy regarding contamination letters to the public. (see article #2)


***“She (Taru Upadhyay, technical director of the department’s Bureau of Laboratories), revealed what can only be characterized as a deliberate procedure” by the oil and gas division and the Bureau of Laboratories “to withhold critical water testing results.” Attorney Kendra Smith on the DEP purposely withholding the complete results of water testing as defined by the EPA. (see article #1)


Fracking News

1.  New York Times Picks Up Western PA Story 
            What Some Are Calling  “DEP Fraud”

               “Pennsylvania officials reported incomplete test results that omitted data on some toxic metals that were found in drinking water taken from a private well near a gas drilling site, according to legal documents released this week.

               The documents were part of a lawsuit claiming that fracking, and storage of the resulting wastewater at a site in southwestern Pennsylvania has contaminated drinking water and sickened seven plaintiffs who live nearby.

               In a deposition, a scientist for the PA DEP testified that her laboratory tested for a range of metals but reported results for only some of them because the department’s oil and gas division had not requested results from the full range of tests.

               The scientist, Taru Upadhyay, technical director of the department’s Bureau of Laboratories, said the metals found in the water sample but not reported to either the oil and gas division or to the homeowner who requested the tests, included copper, nickel, zinc and titanium, all of which may damage the health of people exposed to them, according to the Federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

               Kendra Smith, a lawyer for Loren Kiskadden, whose water was tested by the Environmental Protection Dept, contended that the department purposely avoided reporting the full results of its tests of Mr. Kiskadden’s water in June 2011 and January 2012, after using a method established by the federal EPA known as 200.7. The method tests for 24 metals, only eight of which were reported, Ms. Smith said.

               “Testimony of Ms. Taru Upadhyay was quite alarming,” Ms. Smith wrote Thursday in a letter to Michael Krancer, the state environmental secretary. “She revealed what can only be characterized as a deliberate procedure” by the oil and gas division and the Bureau of Laboratories “to withhold critical water testing results.”

               Ms. Smith noted that the metals not reported in Mr. Kiskadden’s tests have been identified by industry studies as being found as contaminants in water produced from oil and gas operations.

               In the suit, filed in the Washington County Court of Common Pleas in May, Mr. Kiskadden lists health complaints — including nausea, bone pain, breathing difficulties and severe headaches — that he says are consistent with exposure to “hazardous chemicals and gases through air and water.”  

               Toxicology tests on Mr. Kiskadden and the other six plaintiffs who live within a mile of a Range Resources drill site and wastewater pond in Amwell Township have found the presence of toluene, benzene and arsenic in their bodies, according to the complaint.

               The Amwell site is among those the E.P.A. is using in its national investigation into whether fracking affects groundwater and drinking water. “
(Pennsylvania Report Left Out Data on Poisons in Water Near Gas Site
By JON HURDLE   Published: November 2, 2012, New York Times)

The deposition of Taru Upadhyay, technical director of PA DEP
(Pennsylvania Report Left Out Data on Poisons in Water Near Gas Site
By JON HURDLE   Published: November 2, 2012, New York Times)
   ***See newsletter for chart 
2. DEP Water Notification Policy Criticized 
               “The new policy will let administrators in Harrisburg instead of field offices decide whether residential water users would receive letters notifying them of contamination. This may allow DEP officials to decide not to issue, or delay issuing contamination letters recommended by a field office. This could save the gas industry millions of dollar in water treatment or replacement.  Under the old policy, DEP water specialists would send samples to the state testing lab and review the results with department geologists. Now, a review is required by administrators up to and including Scott Perry, Deputy Secretary of DEP Office of Oil and Gas and DEP secretary Michael Krancer.  DEP District office staffers are concerned about the policy, which would allow headquarters officials to second-guess their test- based contamination determinations.
               “The MAA (this process ) used to be an advisory process, but now it’s an approval process, said George Jugovic of PennFuture.  Harrisburg is making a decision on the notification before action is taken, he said. But its supposed to be a scientific decision based on water test results and the law. What science expertise in that does Krancer have?”
               John Hanger, former DEP secretary said the DEP bears the burden of justifying why such a change was made to a science- based process that reported water test results honestly and independently and professionally. The process wasn’t broken. There was no abuse.
               In September, Range Resources met several times with the DEP to contest water contamination letters. Matt Pitzarella stated that Range had conducted its own investigation and used the best experts, and has nothing to do with “this “ case. (Which case specifically, is not stated but seems to be referring to Jim Finkler who is discussed later in the article). However according to the DEP, Range was cited in February 2012 for defective cement in casings at the well.
               Jim Finkler said his water began bubbling with methane in February and continued through spring and summer.  Finkler lives about half- mile from the Range well. He has not received replacement water from Range but the company did install a vent on his well cap.”
(DEP policy on foul water notifications is criticized, don hopey, pittsburgh post gazette)
3. Dr. Ingraffea on Well Failures - About 7%
Figure 7. Preliminary results of survey of leaking wells in the Pennsylvania Marcellus play based on violations issued by the DEP.  Violations data from : G_Compliance
**See chart in newsletter
4. Growing Concern about the Health Effects of Fracking-Earthworks Report-(from Sierra Club)
               A report issued by Earthworks and based on the largest health survey to-date is a cause for alarm. Similar conclusions were reported in the same week by the US Governmental Accounting Office, and earlier by German researchers.
Nor can residents of the gas patch gain comfort from the news that the PA-DEP may be failing to report all contaminants in tested drinking water.
The chief conclusions of the Earthworks report are:
.                    *  Chemicals associated with oil and gas development are present in communities where development occurs.
.                    *  Residents in these communities report that after gas development began, they developed new health problems—many of which are known consequences of exposure to these chemicals.
.                    *  Those living closer to gas facilities report higher rates of impaired health.
.                    *  Children living near gas development reported negative health impacts that seem atypical in the young.
.                    *  Chemicals detected by air and water sampling have been associated by state and federal agencies with both oil and gas development and with many of the health symptoms reported in the surveys.
               A spokesman for the industry-based Marcellus Shale Coalition called the Earthworks report “blatantly misleading”.
 5.  Marcellus Shale Radon in Water (From a group member)
               Radon has a half life of 3 ½ days and  is bound with Marcellus shale  methane.  If  your drinking water is contaminated with methane from Marcellus shale,  you are drinking and breathing radon. Radium, (which is what radon is decayed from), has a half-life of 1, 600 years!
               "Radon is an inert radioactive gas. This means it does not react chemically with other elements. Whatever radon is in the pipeline and is delivered to homes it is released to the home environment from kitchen stoves and space heaters. The radon is not oxidized and is not made benign or non-radioactive in the burning process.
               Since radon is an inert gas, when it is inhaled, the gas is mostly exhaled, except radon will decay to other radioactive decay products, such as polonium, bismuth and lead. These are solid, fine radioactive particles that can be inhaled and subsequently reside in the lungs."
               "...drinking radon in water causes about 19 stomach cancer deaths per year."
"Radon may also be dissolved in water, particularly well water. After coming from a faucet, about one ten thousandth of the radon in water is typically released into the air. The more radon there is in the water, the more it can contribute to the indoor radon level."
               "Unlike radon, the progeny are not gases and can easily attach to dust
and other particles. Those particles can be transported by air and can also be breathed. The decay of progeny continues until stable, non-radioactive progeny are formed. At each step in the decay process, radiation is released."
see and
(PDF]Radon in Natural Gas from Marcellus Shale
6. Mobile Air Testing Near Gas Production
               There have been various types of air testing done around Marcellus Shale gas production activities and here we take a look at mobile air testing being conducted in Washington County, Pennsylvania.
               Testing is done through ambient air sampling as well as direct measurement and characterization of emissions from Marcellus Shale gas well sites, Centralized impoundment dams, Compressor stations, Gas processing facilities and trucking operations.
               Some of the pollutants in test results might include Particulate Matter, Ozone, Nitrogen Oxides, Sulfur Dioxide, Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Methane, Large hydrocarbons and Volatile organic compounds.”
For more pictures and information:
“Production and processing sites are measured using a suite of high-resolution instrumentation in the mobile laboratory truck (a 1-second sampling). The mobile lab also samples ambient air continuously while driving to establish background concentrations. Emissions specific to a certain site can be characterized by fenceline sampling, or using tracer methods. When using the tracer method, easily identifiable inert gases are released from a stationary vehicle to help validate the assumed emission source.”
7. German and European Reports on Fracking
               A joint report from Germany's Federal Environment Agency and Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety was released in September. 
·  Hydrofracking-induced incidents can do substantial harm to water resources.
·  The greenhouse-gas footprint of shale gas is between 30 to 183% greater than that of conventional gas.
·  Some of the chemicals used in fracking should be replaced due to environmental risks.
·  Fracking should be banned in certain areas such as areas with severe tectonic risk, areas with pressurized artesian/confined deep aquifers and continuous pathways, and Germany's Zone I and Zone II drinking water protection areas* and thermal spring conservation areas (which may be the same as the spa regions mentioned above).
·  Before fracking is allowed in broad areas, a new legal framework is needed as well as additional scientific knowledge. 
The European Commission's Environment Directorate-General also issued a comprehensive report (almost 300 pages) in September. 
* There is a high risk of surface and groundwater contamination at various stages of the well-pad construction, hydraulic fracturing and gas production processes, and well abandonment, and cumulative developments could further increase this risk.
   * Air emissions from numerous well developments in a local area or wider region could have a potentially significant effect on air quality including ozone levels.
   * There is a significant risk of impacts due to the amount of land used in shale gas extraction and it may not be possible to fully to restore sites in sensitive areas following well completion or abandonment.
*There are gaps or inadequacies in EU legislation that could lead to risks to the environment or human health not being sufficiently addressed.
 *Robust regulatory regimes are required to mitigate risks.” 
Natural Resources Defense Council
Switchboard: Natural Resource Defense Council Blog Amy Mall’s Blog
The latest science from Europe on fracking NRDC
Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s GroupMission Statement
.      To raise the public’s general awareness and understanding of the impacts of Marcellus drilling on the natural environment, health, and long-term economies of local communities.
Officers: President-Jan Milburn
                 Treasurer-Wanda Guthrie
                 Secretary-Ron Nordstrom
                 Facebook Coordinator-Elizabeth Nordstrom
                 Blogsite –April Jackman
                 Science Subcommittee-Dr. Cynthia Walter
To receive our news updates, please email jan at
The deposition of Taru Upadhyay, technical director of PA DEP