Friday, December 7, 2012

Jan's Updates Dec.7, 2012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates
December 7, 2012
Please keep the fracking issue in the public eye by writing letters to the editor. Those letters are read and problems associated with fracking are not getting alot of coverage. There are good articles to refer to on health, animals, and air/water-many from publications that are not locally distributed. Pick any one of the articles in the updates that you are interested in, you can check the references, and write a brief letter. It is so important and so worth our time. Jan
*** Westmoreland County Commissioners Meeting- 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at the county courthouse at 10:00 AM.
***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
***Water for Woodlands
December 8, 2012 - 4:30pm
                                              Butler County
                                         RSVP 724-452-5556
***Test the Air, Get $10
We are researchers at Carnegie Mellon’s Human Computer Interaction Institute, organizing an air quality workshop. We would like to send you a tool for capturing particulates in the air. Use this sensor anywhere you like and then mail it back to us or bring it to our workshop. During the workshop, we will show you how to create your own particle sensors and conduct particle counts using a microscope.
Discussions around air quality, particulate matter sensing, and data visualization
will offer insights into how this approach might be scaled to larger groups.
What: Air quality workshop
When: Thursday, December 13 at 6pm
Where: GASP Headquarters, 5135 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224
If you are interested in participating in the study or have any questions regarding
the project, please contact Stacey Kuznetsov (
This research is voluntary and will take up to 3 hours. We welcome anyone over
the age of 18.You will be compensated $10 for each hour of your time during
workshops and interviews.
<<For a full calendar of area events please see “Marcellus Protest” calendar:
*** New and Better Frac Mapper new mapping utility for website visitors who want an easy-to-use point and click tool – what we are affectionately calling FracMapper.
***List of the Harmed
The following is an ever-growing list of the individuals and families
that have been harmed by fracking (or shale gas production) in the U.S.
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 (
*** Report – Gas Patch Roulette
How Shale Gas Development Risks Public Health in PA
*** Sky Truth-Sign up for reports on gas activity in your area
Sign up to receive reports on the geographic area you select. You will receive regular updates on permits issues, well spud, and violations in your area.
*** 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.”
*** 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.
***GASP Releases Citizen Handbook for Commenting on Marcellus Air Permits
Video Links
From Maxwell SU site Conference on Fracking Howarth
*To reduce global warming, it is more urgent to cut methane pollution than CO2
* Natural gas is the single largest source of methane pollution
* There will be a 40 to 60 % increase in methane pollution from shale pollution Paul Gallay, President Hudson Riverskeepers
*There has been a 60% increase in ozone pollution in Dallas Fort Worth area from fracking
*In Wyoming there is smog levels higher than in LA and benzene is above acceptable limits
*If you live within 3000 ft of fracking, there is 66% increase in some cancers (Colorado School of Public Health)
*Duke U. If your water source is within 3000 feet of drilling, there is 17 times the methane in drinking water and that the methane was not there before-it is fingerprinted to match deep earth methane.
Take Action!!!!
1. DEP Can't Guarantee Its Drilling Production Data Is Correct
The Pennsylvania DEP has added a disclaimer to its Marcellus Shale natural gas reporting webpage. The agency now tells visitors to the website that it can’t guarantee the “accuracy, completeness or timeliness” of production data that companies submit.
The change came after several experts in the oil and gas industry criticized DEP in August for not clearly telling the public that one of the state’s largest natural gas producers submitted unusable data for a biannual report. A DEP spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about the change. In most states companies report production every month, but Pennsylvania law only requires biannual reporting.
(This data is important for all kinds of estimates that are made regarding the industry. It was found that there was missing DEP data due to non-reporting by some gas drilling companies. Jan)
2. North Huntingdon Neighbors Nervous over “Highly Volatile Liquid Pipeline”
The proposed path of liquid fuel pipeline frightens North Huntingdon neighborhood
Bob Kaczynski bought a home in North Huntingdon in October, and he’s wondering whether he made a mistake. He just learned that his house lies along the path of a proposed and potentially dangerous type of gas pipeline.
Sunoco Logistics Partners LP is almost finished surveying a 45-mile route from Chartiers in Washington County to Delmont in Westmoreland County for a high-pressure pipeline to help move Western PA shale gas to markets overseas.
The route runs through backyards in Kaczynski’s neighborhood, Markview Manor, and others. Many homeowners worry about their property rights, objecting to the chance that the company could obtain rights-of-way through eminent domain.
Safety experts say residents should consider the unique — though small — risk of explosions that comes with the pressurized liquid fuel that Sunoco Logistics plans to transport.
“This just scares the heck out of me, with my grandbaby running around,” said Kaczynski, 60, formerly of Penn Hills. “I had no idea this was a consideration. That’s a little too close to the property line for that business to be going on back there.”
Unlike common natural gas that quickly dissipates into the air during a leak, the propane and ethane that would move through the 12-inch pipe can form thick clouds that hover and grow — and if the clouds find an ignition source, the results can be catastrophic.
“Those are some of the pipelines that are the scariest to me because of the risks associated with them,” said Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, an independent group in Bellingham, Wash.
Sunoco Logistics spokesman Joe McGinn wrote in an email that “new and existing lines associated with this project will be maintained and operated under our robust standards that meet or exceed federal regulations. The safety of our lines to the communities where we operate is a core principal.”
High-pressure pipelines typically lie far from residential areas because of their explosive potential, safety experts said.
“I think pipeline is the way to go for any high-volume energy products that can be transported by pipelines. All that considered, these pipelines are different from your typical natural gas lines,” said Brigham McCown, a Dallas lawyer and consultant who was the first acting head of the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. “There is a heightened risk associated with these types of lines that needs to be taken into account while they’re being planned.”
McGinn said Sunoco Logistics sent hundreds of letters to government officials and homeowners whose properties the company is surveying as part of the 50-foot right of way. He said the company has a 24-hour hotline (855-430-4491) for people with questions.
“We are ... focused on making local residents, elected and emergency officials aware of our pipelines,” McGinn said.
State leaders deemed the project important for growth of the gas drilling industry and the struggling gas processing industry. Gov. Tom Corbett, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, and others lauded it as a job creator in remarks they gave to the company for its September announcement touting the project’s progress.
The pipeline would move as many as 70,000 barrels of fuel east every day from the MarkWest Energy Partners LP plant in Chartiers, which separates the propane and ethane that come up from the region’s shale layer in quantities too large to go into standard natural gas pipelines.
Range Resources Corp., the dominant driller in Washington County, supplies most of that gas and has contracts to ship half of it to Europe.
The project would connect with existing high-pressure lines in Delmont so the gas can flow to Marcus Hook, near Philadelphia, for shipping.
Company officials said they’re looking for land in open spaces, said state Rep. George Dunbar, R-Penn, who fielded complaints from landowners in Westmoreland County. They’re likely to stick to existing rights of way, including roads and power lines, to make quicker land deals and for safety reasons, Dunbar said.
Sunoco Logistics plans to spend more than $600 million on the project and a sister line from the MarkWest plant to Canada. The Philadelphia-bound segment, named Mariner East, could employ 450 people during its construction, the company said.
The government oversees placement of some interstate natural gas lines, but not liquid fuel lines, experts said. Some states have authority, but Pennsylvania leaves it to local land-use laws.
The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration won’t get involved until construction, when it starts visual inspections and records checks, spokesman Damon Hill said. It will review company records of safety tests.
The agency classifies Mariner East as a “highly volatile liquid” pipeline. Incidents on those types of pipelines killed seven people, injured 27 and caused $78 million in property damage nationwide since 2002, according to data from Pipeline Safety Trust.
That’s a casualty rate of one for every 1,600 miles of pipe during more than 10 years, according to federal pipeline mileage data — nearly double the casualty rate of all pipelines nationwide during that time span, federal data show.
Home heating gas lines — such as those that exploded in Springfield, Mass., on Nov. 24, injuring 18 and damaging 42 buildings — have caused the most raw damage because of the huge number of distribution pipelines in close proximity to people. But natural gas transmission lines and high-pressure liquid fuel lines can do more damage in dense developments, safety experts said.
Frank Kranik, an industry environmental consultant and North Huntingdon resident, compared its worst-case scenario to the 2010 transmission pipeline explosion that killed eight people in suburban San Francisco. That explosion — from natural gas, not the more volatile liquids — was deadly because suburban sprawl grew over a large line. A new line would have been routed away from suburbs, experts have said.
Suburban sprawl and the growing domestic energy industry are drawing closer, causing more of the safety concerns that Mariner East is causing in North Huntingdon, Weimer said.
Several of Kaczynski’s neighbors said that moving the pipeline about 30 yards away would help ease concerns.
“I don’t care if (pipelines are) the safest way. Put it somewhere where it cannot bother people,” said Dominic Rossetti, 66, adding that he probably will hire a lawyer to fight the project if Sunoco Logistics decides to cross his land.
Weimer said some people question whether state and federal governments can help local governments ensure that Sunoco Logistics places the line in the safest area.
“All of a sudden, Sunoco’s land agents are going to be out there buying land for the pipelines,” he said. “The citizens and landowners are going to be upset because they don’t understand the process, and local governments don’t even have a process.”
Timothy Puko is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7991 or
Read more:
3. Fracking Health Calamities-Colorado
Chris Mobaldi became gravely ill after gas rigs moved 300 feet from her home in Rifle, Colorado. Her symptoms worsened when a well next to the property exploded. Developing symptoms of biblical proportions -- rashes, blisters causing her skin to peel off, headaches, bloody stool -- she began to rapidly age, with her vision and balance severely compromised. When the Mobaldis found they could ignite their water, the gas company told them to stop drinking it. But then four months later, the company said it was again safe to drink. Then, Chris was diagnosed with the first of three rare-pituitary tumors linked to fracking chemicals.
"My wife's fingerprints disappeared, which doctors said may have been caused by chemical damage to her DNA or chromosomes," her husband Steve told me. Two of their dogs developed tumors, as did neighboring pets. Dozens of trees and birds on their 10-acre property began to die. Two baby llamas they were raising died of respiratory difficulties. "We were living in a killing field," adds Steve. "My wife was worse affected because she was home most of the time, whereas I was traveling for my work."
Unable to live in or sell their five-bedroom $439,000 home, they were forced to abandon it and move 60 miles away. Eventually, Chris would be diagnosed with severe chemical exposure. She died of her multiple maladies at the end of 2010.
Look what happened to Laura Amos, now in her 40s, who developed a rare adrenal tumor linked to fracking chemicals. Due to "split-estate" laws, her family had a gas well on its property when Laura was breastfeeding her infant daughter for two years, until 2002.
Two years later, Laura became very sick, and was diagnosed with the tumor, associated with a chemical, 2-BE, a colorless, odorless liquid, and a constituent of fracking cocktails. For a year, the gas drilling company denied that 2-BE had been used. Exposure to 2-BE causes kidney damage and failure, toxicity to the spleen, the spinal column and bone marrow, as well as liver cancer, female fertility reduction, embryo mortality and elevated numbers of tumors of the adrenal gland. After a five-year battle, Laura won a settlement from EnCana that reportedly covers health costs of her and her daughter, whom she had been breastfeeding at the time, for the rest of their lives. The settlement came with a gag order, as so often happens. Consequently, Laura can't talk about that experience, but she can talk about what happened next.
As if her family has not suffered enough, Axia Energy of Denver arrived on the doorstep of their new home miles away, wanting to drill on this property. Despite knowing Laura's tragic history, Axia threatened the family with "forced pooling," a law that permits fracking companies to seize mineral rights through eminent domain.
"I'm stunned, heartsick and terrified all over again," says Laura. "I look at the beautiful little face of my daughter Lauren, and I'm petrified for her future. I fear for my husband. I still have health concerns. Axia knows what happened to me. They don't care. They care only about their profits."
4. Local Groups Enter “Bid” for County Airport Land
Members of eight local grassroots groups sent a joint letter to the Allegheny County Airport Authority this week, offering their view on what should be the outcome of the county’s plans to lease its airport land for hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, for natural gas in the Marcellus shale formation.
Earlier this fall, the Airport Authority advertised a Request for Bids from oil and gas companies to lease land at Pittsburgh International and the Allegheny County Airport for toxic fracking. (Link to Request for Bids:
Thursday, November 29, 2012
To the Senior Manager of Procurement,
We, the undersigned organizations, representing thousands of residents of Allegheny County and Pennsylvania at large, are writing to insist that we, the public, be included in the decision about whether to lease county airport land for hydraulic fracturing. Below is our “best offer” for the future of these publicly owned spaces.
Our “Bid” for Allegheny County Airport Land
The industrial process known as toxic fracking has already harmed many tens of thousands of people across the United States and Canada. Carcinogenic, radioactive, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals released into the air and water have caused debilitating illnesses, loss of property value, and loss of drinking water supplies. In short, toxic fracking operations and the dangerous pipelines that it entails are not something we want on our county land or anywhere near our homes, schools, hospitals, roads, and families.
In your Request for Bids document, you state: “The Airport Authority reserves the right to reject any and all bids”. We are calling on you to do exactly that, to protect the citizens who live and work near the airports. The surrounding communities and Allegheny County as a whole can only be harmed by constant heavy truck traffic on local roads, contamination of air and water, and the potential for disasters such as toxic spills, well blow-outs, fires, and explosions.
We do understand, however, that our “bid” for this land would be invalid by your criteria. For example, we do not have annual cash flow of at least $60 million. We do not operate fracking wells or sell natural gas on the world market. But for these very reasons, we are precisely the people who should be consulted before public land is leased for private gain at the public’s expense.
Stated simply, our “offer” is that this publicly-owned county land should not be turned into an industrial site for private exploitation and profit.
Members of:
Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Committee
Communities United for Rights and Environment
Environmental Justice Committee of the Thomas Merton Center
Jefferson Hills Marcellus Shale Concerned Citizens Group
Marcellus Outreach Butler
Marcellus Shale Protest
Shadbush Environmental Justice Collective
South Hills Area Against Dangerous Drilling
5. Fracking Secrets by Thousands Keep U.S. Clueless on Wells
A subsidiary of Nabors Industries Ltd. (NBR) pumped a mixture of chemicals identified only as “EXP- F0173-11” into a half-dozen oil wells in Karnes County, Texas, in July.
Few people outside Nabors, know exactly what’s in that blend. This much is clear: One ingredient, an unidentified solvent, can cause damage to the kidney and liver, according to safety information about the product that Michigan state regulators have on file.
A year-old Texas law that requires drillers to disclose chemicals they pump underground during hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” was powerless to compel transparency for EXP- F0173-11. The solvent and several other ingredients in the product are considered a trade secret by Superior Well Services, the Nabors subsidiary. That means they’re exempt from disclosure.
Drilling companies in Texas, claimed similar exemptions about 19,000 times this year through August, according to their chemical- disclosure reports. Nationwide, companies withheld one out of every five chemicals they used in fracking, a separate examination of a broader database shows.
Trade-secret exemptions block information on more than five ingredients for every well in Texas, undermining the statute’s purpose of informing people about chemicals that are hauled through their communities and injected thousands of feet beneath their homes and farms, said Lon Burnam, a Democratic state representative and a co-author of the law.
"If frack fluids are so harmless, why do they hold onto these trade secrets so strongly?" “Without such protection, companies would have no incentive to develop and put into use new technologies that are both environmentally beneficial and more effective,” McMichael said in an e-mail.
The law, signed by Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, in June 2011, requires companies to disclose their fracking chemicals on FracFocus, a national website that the energy industry helped create in 2011 to allow for voluntary disclosure. Bloomberg News reported in August that more than 40 percent of wells fracked in eight major drilling states last year had been omitted from the voluntary site.
Several other states that require disclosure of fracking chemicals, including Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico and North Dakota, also leave it up to energy companies to determine what chemicals can be labeled secrets. North Dakota’s rule requires companies to report fracking chemicals to FracFocus, beginning last April.
“Texas state government has been a wholly owned subsidiary of national oil and gas interests for a century,” he says. “Do not look at it for guidance on anything related to protecting public health and safety.”
6. Fracking Our Food Supply
If you want to forward one article that provides a good –and startling-overview of the problems with fracking, this is the article. It was produced in collaboration with the Food and Environment Reporting Network and published in the “Nation”. Jan
Jacki Schilke and her sixty cattle live in the top left corner of North Dakota. Schilke’s neighbors love her black Angus beef, but she’s no longer sharing or eating it—not since fracking began on thirty-two oil and gas wells within three miles of her 160-acre ranch and five of her cows dropped dead. Schilke herself is in poor health. A handsome 53-year-old with a faded blond ponytail and direct blue eyes, she often feels lightheaded when she ventures outside. She limps and has chronic pain in her lungs, as well as rashes that have lingered for a year. Once, a visit to the barn ended with respiratory distress and a trip to the emergency room. Schilke also has back pain linked with overworked kidneys, and on some mornings she urinates a stream of blood.
Ambient air testing by a certified environmental consultant detected elevated levels of benzene, methane, chloroform, butane, propane, toluene and xylene—compounds associated with drilling and fracking, and also with cancers, birth defects and organ damage. Her well tested high for sulfates, chromium, chloride and strontium; her blood tested positive for acetone, plus the heavy metals arsenic (linked with skin lesions, cancers and cardiovascular disease) and germanium (linked with muscle weakness and skin rashes). Both she and her husband, who works in oilfield services, have recently lost crowns and fillings from their teeth; tooth loss is associated with radiation poisoning and high selenium levels, also found in the Schilkes’ water.
State health and agriculture officials acknowledged Schilke’s air and water tests but told her she had nothing to worry about. Her doctors, however, diagnosed her with neurotoxic damage and constricted airways. “I realized that this place is killing me and my cattle,” Schilke says. She began using inhalers and a nebulizer, switched to bottled water, and quit eating her own beef and the vegetables from her garden. (Schilke sells her cattle only to buyers who will finish raising them outside the shale area, where she presumes that any chemical contamination will clear after a few months.) “My health improved,” Schilke says, “but I thought, ‘Oh my God, what are we doing to this land?’”
In Louisiana, seventeen cows died after an hour’s exposure to spilled fracking fluid. (Most likely cause of death: respiratory failure.) In north central Pennsylvania, 140 cattle were exposed to fracking wastewater when an impoundment was breached. Approximately seventy cows died; the remainder produced eleven calves, of which only three survived. In western Pennsylvania, an overflowing waste pit sent fracking chemicals into a pond and a pasture where pregnant cows grazed: half their calves were born dead. The following year’s animal births were sexually skewed, with ten females and two males, instead of the usual 50-50 or 60-40 split.
In addition to the cases documented by Bamberger, hair testing of sick cattle that grazed around well pads in New Mexico found petroleum residues in fifty-four of fifty-six animals. In North Dakota, wind-borne fly ash, which is used to solidify the waste from drilling holes and contains heavy metals, settled over a farm: one cow, which either inhaled or ingested the caustic dust, died, and a stock pond was contaminated with arsenic at double the accepted level for drinking water.
Schilke’s troubles began in the summer of 2010, when a crew working at this site continued to force drilling fluid down a well that had sprung a leak. Soon, Schilke’s cattle were limping, with swollen legs and infections. Cows quit producing milk for their calves; they lost from sixty to eighty pounds in a week; and their tails mysteriously dropped off. (Lab rats exposed to the carcinogen 2-butoxyethanol, a solvent used in fracking, have lost their tails, but a similar connection with cattle hasn’t been shown. In people, breathing, touching or consuming enough of the chemical can lead to pulmonary edema and coma.)
“Different plants take up different compounds,” says John Stolz, an environmental microbiologist at Duquesne University. For example, rice and potatoes take up arsenic from water, but tomatoes don’t. Sunflowers and rape take up uranium from soil, but it’s unknown if grasses do. “There are a variety of organic compounds, metals and radioactive material that are of human health concern when livestock meat or milk is ingested,” says Motoko Mukai, a veterinary toxicologist at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine. These “compounds accumulate in the fat and are excreted into milk. Some compounds are persistent and do not get metabolized easily.”
Veterinarians don’t know how long the chemicals may remain in animals, and the Food Safety Inspection Service, part of the US Department of Agriculture, isn’t looking for them in carcasses. Inspectors in slaughterhouses examine organs only if they look diseased. “It’s gross appearance, not microscopic,” Bamberger says of the inspections—which means that animals either tainted or sickened by those chemicals could enter the food chain undetected.
7. First Study of Its Kind Detects 44 Hazardous Air Pollutants at Gas Drilling Sites-Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX)
A new study reports that a set of chemicals called non-methane hydrocarbons, or NMHCs, is found in the air near drilling sites even when fracking isn't in progress.
According to a peer-reviewed study in the Journal Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, more than 50 NMHCs were found near gas wells in rural Colorado, including 35 that affect the brain and nervous system. Some were detected at levels high enough to potentially harm children who are exposed to them before birth.
The authors say the source of the chemicals is likely a mix of the raw gas that is vented from the wells and emissions from industrial equipment used during the gas production process.
The paper cites two other recent studies on NMHCs near drilling sites in Colorado. But the new study was conducted over a longer period of time and tested for more chemicals.
"To our knowledge, no study of this kind has been published to date," the authors wrote.
The researchers took weekly air samples at a site that's within one mile of 130 gas wells in Garfield County, Colo., with little other industry aside from natural gas production. They detected more than 50 chemicals between July 2010 and October 2011, including 44 with reported health effects. The highest concentrations were measured after new wells were drilled, but the concentrations did not increase after the wells were fracked.
Kwiatkowski is executive director of the Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX), a nonprofit research organization in Colorado that studies the impact of environmental pollutants on the endocrine system, a network of hormone-producing glands that affects nearly every organ in the body.
We've been overlooking these non-methane hydrocarbons until now," said Theo Colborn, president of TEDX and the paper's lead author.
When an operator drills a new well, most of the raw gas that flows out of the ground is methane—the target compound that's collected and sold. The gas also contains water and dozens of NMHCs, including the carcinogen benzene. On average, NMHCs account for 18 percent of the unprocessed gas and are released into the air at various stages of production. The NMHCs in the study were detected at levels of parts per million, parts per billion and parts per trillion, but the endocrine system is so sensitive that even tiny doses can lead to large health effects. Federal safety standards rarely consider the impacts of low dosage testing, an omission that scientists say should be addressed. One chemical found at surprisingly high levels was methylene chloride, a common laboratory solvent. It's not a component of raw gas and doesn't appear on any of the public disclosure forms of chemicals used during drilling and fracking. "However, residents and gas field workers have reported that methylene chloride is stored on well pads for cleaning purposes," the authors wrote.
Robert Howarth, a Cornell University scientist who wasn't involved in the study, said the presence of methylene chloride points to a need for better chemical disclosure laws. "Methylene chloride is a surprise…We need a lot more information on what's used at drilling sites overall." Sgamma, the industry representative, said she was not aware of methylene chloride being used on well pads. She said the samples were probably contaminated in the lab.
The TEDX study was inspired by years of complaints about headaches and respiratory problems the researchers had heard from people living near gas wells. Many of the symptoms began the moment drilling started, long before the wells were fracked, Kwiatkowski said.The scientists took a partial set of
baseline data on July 2010, before any wells had been drilled on the pad. On October 19, after residents called to report activity on the well pad, the scientists rushed in to take a full set of baseline readings. The first well was drilled three days later.
Air sampling continued weekly until October 2011. All samples were analyzed in EPA-certified labs. The scientists tested for more than 100 chemicals and found over 50 at levels high enough to be detected by their instruments.
The data showed a major spike in chemical concentrations after the first 16 wells were drilled, but not after fracking. The increase was significant when compared with the baseline samples collected before the drilling, as well as samples from most of the year after drilling stopped.
Colborn said that suggests the increased emissions are linked to the raw gas released from drilling—but she said there's no way to tell for sure, because they couldn't directly sample emissions from the well pad. Colborn said TEDX and other scientists are already making plans for a follow-up study to chemically fingerprint the source of the pollutants.
"What industry does is attack your reputation as a scientist," Kwiatkowski said. "Young scientists in particular can't afford to have their reputations challenged."
The TEDX study cites two recent studies —a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) from the University of Colorado School of Public Health and a pilot study led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The HIA examined the potential health affects of a pending gas drilling project in Garfield County, the same county Colborn's group examined, but the county commissioners cut its funding before it could be completed. A draft of the HIA from Feb. 2011 cited a 2007 air monitoring report that identified oil and natural gas production as the largest contributor of benzene in Garfield County.
The NOAA study, published in February by the Journal of Geophysical Research, found that oil and gas operations released more methane and benzene than previously thought. It used a chemical fingerprint to pinpoint drilling operations as the source of the contaminants, but it examined far fewer non-methane hydrocarbons than the TEDX paper.
Sgamma also questioned the researchers' decision to publish the paper in Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, which she said is not a "typical" destination for air quality studies. Kwiatkowski said they chose the journal because they wanted it to reach scientists who study risk assessment.
To view a copy of the report:
8. US Steel lays off 142 at Pittsburgh-area tube site
U.S. Steel Corp. is laying off 142 union workers at a Pittsburgh-area tube plant, citing unfairly traded imports as the reason.
About 95 workers will keep their jobs at the McKeesport Tubular Operations plant about 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
Spokeswoman Courtney Boone says the company believes the supply-and-demand problem is driven largely by subsidized imports which U.S. Steel contends violate trade laws.
The tubular business had been benefiting from the Marcellus Shale drilling boom. But when the steel giant forecast its fourth-quarter earnings last month officials said they expected the tubular business to turn a profit, but on far less the $102 million operating income reported in the previous quarter.
U.S. Steel says in a statement that it can't speculate on what might happen to the plant in the future.
(AP Press, Times Tribune)
Note from Jon: Since the first quarter of 2008 Pennsylvania has lost 974 jobs in the steel tube and pipe industry ( L&I statistics) not counting the 147 layoffs US Steel is proposing.
Where the pipe the gas industry is using is coming from and how safe is it, are open questions.
9. Is Fracking Contaminating US Livestock?
Like canaries sent into coal mines to warn of breathing hazards, livestock in areas where hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") is occurring are getting sick and dropping dead in alarming numbers, according to the only peer-reviewed scientific study of the impact of fracking on animals. And if cattle are getting sick because of fracking, what about the health of people who later drink their milk or eat their flesh?
The study, authored by Prof. Robert Oswald of Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine and practicing veterinarian Michele Bamberger, compiles case studies of 24 farmers in 6 states whose livestock experienced neurological, reproductive and acute gastrointestinal problems after exposure to fracking chemicals in the water or air.

The case studies include 17 Louisiana cows that died of respiratory failure after an hour's exposure to spilled fracking fluid; 70 Pennsylvania cows that died after 140 of them were exposed to fracking wastewater from an impoundment breach; and a Pennsylvania herd whose pregnant cows had a 50% rate of stillborn calves after grazing in a pasture contaminated by fracking chemicals from an overflowing waste pit.
Fracking a single well requires up to 7 million gallons of water, as well as an additional 400,000 gallons of additives. A 2011 study compiled a list of 632 chemicals used in natural-gas production and determined that 75% could affect the skin, eyes, other sensory organs, and the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems; 40-50% could affect the brain/nervous system, immune and cardiovascular systems, and the kidneys; 37% could affect the endocrine system; and 25% could cause cancer and mutations.
Cattle that die on the farm aren't supposed to get into the nation's food system, but herd mates that look healthy, despite being exposed to the same toxins, do. "They're making their way into the food system, and it's very worrisome to us," Bamberger explains. "They live in areas that have tested positive for air, water and soil contamination. Some of these chemicals could appear in milk and meat products made from these animals."
Although there have been few cattle deaths so far, some institutions that specialize in risk management have begun to see the pattern and take action. For example, Nationwide Mutual Insurance, which sells agricultural insurance, has announced that it will not cover damages related to fracking, and Rabobank, the world's largest agricultural bank, is said to no longer sell mortgages to farmers with gas leases. Some farmers whose land sits atop the Marcellus shale are migrating to land outside that fracking zone, causing shifts in land prices.
If insurance companies won't insure losses from fracking, and farmers and ranchers don't want to raise food in fracking zones, should consumers beware of eating it?
By Matt Bewig, AllGov, Reader Suppported News, Dec 3
10. New York—Fracking Regs Still Debated
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has filed to extend the rulemaking process by 90 days in order to give New York State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Nirav Shah, time to complete his review of the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement. This extension is necessary, in part, because Commissioner Martens requested and Dr. Shah agreed to provide an additional review, in consultation with outside experts, of whether DEC has adequately addressed potential impacts to public health. This filing with the Department of State merely extends the rulemaking period to enable Dr. Shah to complete his review and DEC time to take into account the results of Dr. Shah's review and continue to consider the potential impacts of high-volume hydraulic fracturing.
DEC will not take any final action or make any decision regarding hydraulic fracturing until after Dr. Shah's health review is completed and DEC, through the environmental impact statement, is satisfied that this activity can be done safely in New York State.
If DEC decides that the process can be done safely, these regulations would be adjusted in accordance with the health and safety requirements and issues addressed in the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement.
11. Fracking is Unearthing Surprise Bacteria
Researchers have made a genetic analysis of the microbes living deep inside a deposit of Marcellus Shale at a “fracking,” site, and uncovered some surprises.
They expected to find many tough microbes suited to extreme environments, such as species sometimes found in high-salt environments, volcanoes, or hot springs. Instead, they found many more species that derive from bacteria.
They also found that the populations of microbes changed dramatically over a short period of time, as some species perished during the fracking operation and others became more abundant. One—an as-yet-unidentified bacterium—actually prospered, and eventually made up 90 percent of the microbial population in fluids taken from the fracked well.
To Mouser, the real value of the study is the new knowledge it offers on how microbes in fracking fluids compete and survive when the fluids are injected to the deep subsurface, as certain microbes could prove detrimental to oil and gas quality, or compromise well integrity.
In fact, companies do not normally share the contents of their “flowback” fluids—the mix of water, oil, and gas that emerges from an active well—because they could reveal the proprietary mix of chemicals
The Ohio State study was able to take place only through a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Pittsburgh. NETL is working with industry to study fracking technologies and provided Mouser’s team with water samples donated by an unnamed shale gas operation.
Left unchecked, the microbes in a fracking well can grow and reproduce out of control—so much so, that they may clog the fractures and block extraction, or foul the gas and oil with their waste, which contains sulfur.
This is no news to oil companies, Mouser added. They’ve long known about the microbes, and add biocides to the water to control the population. What isn’t known: exactly what kinds of microbes live there, and what altering their populations does to the environment.
“Our goal is really to understand the physiology of the microbes and their biogeochemical role in the environment, to examine how industry practices influence subsurface microbial life and water quality,” Mouser said.
12. Gas Driller Sues NY State and Town of Avon Over Local Moratorium
A gas drilling company is suing state regulators and a New York town over a local moratorium that threatens to put the company out of business.
Papers were served this week in a lawsuit against the town of Avon and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said John Holko, owner of Lenape Resources, a small gas company. Holko is seeking at least $50 million in damages from the town, claiming its recent ban on gas drilling and storage has cost Lenape millions of dollars in lost business and unused mineral rights.
"I've drilled over 100 wells in this county," Holko said. "I have 100 miles of pipeline, compressor stations and a disposal well. I supply gas to farmers, industrial users and interstate commerce. Now, because three guys on a town board decide they don't want me here anymore, I'm out of business. There's something dramatically wrong with that."
Holko said the town's gas-drilling moratorium and similar ones passed by dozens of other upstate New York towns violate a 1981 law giving the state Department of Environmental Conservation sole authority to regulate oil and gas development. He's also suing DEC, saying it's required to take action against the local bans.
Local courts have upheld drilling bans in the towns of Middlefield and Dryden. Both cases are under appeal with arguments before the state Appellate Division expected in February. Lenape's suit is the first that also names DEC.
Commentary from WMCG Members
***** View from Upper Burrell-from WMCG member
This is the view at 2:45 AM from our front porch. We live in Upper Burrell
Township, Westmoreland County.
The red haze is from two wells being flared, releasing who-knows-what toxic
chemicals into the air.
The white haze is from the new well being fracked.
I am taking a trip to MA next week to see about possible move-to places.
(I could not get the pics to copy well but this gives you an idea of the pollution being emitted, jan)
And a response to the above email----Massachusetts Is Not safe from fracking
Geologists have discovered natural gas in the Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts; activists fear environmentally dangerous drilling will ensue.
Late this summer, the U.S. Geological Survey announced that it had
located several new veins of natural gas in the eastern U.S. One, known as the Hartford (Connecticut) Basin, extends well into Western Massachusetts.
In states where a great deal of natural gas extraction has been done,
fracking has been shown to cause devastating environmental effects, including pollution of air and groundwater.
On December 13, a conference organized by a group of engineers and
industrialists calling itself the American Groundwater Trust will be held at U Mass. They claim the extraction of energy sources should not cause environmental problems. This statement is from its website: "'Fracking'" has become the lightning-rod word of choice for the media whenever shale-gas development is in the news, even although [sic] the actual deep hydraulic fracture process is rarely if ever to blame for environmental problems.”
Meanwhile, the Pioneer Valley Green-Rainbow Party and the Western
Massachusetts chapter of Progressive Democrats of America have organized an event entitled “Beat Back Fracking”
Comment from A Group Member Involved in Farming Responds:
Will our homes be sellable, so we can move to the Berkshires?
For sale- 43 acre organic farm with 3 springs, historic and restored 1860 home, barn, 500 plus blueberry bushes, 9 cherry trees, 84 heirloom variety apple trees, many other variety fruit- paw paw, plum,pear, persimmon, peach, mulberry, raspberry, hardy kiwi, shizandra berry, kebia, and grapes, plus chestnut trees- American hybrid and Chinese variety, English walnut trees; 10 or so acres are in mature woods with stream.
One spring already once contaminated by Marcellus well, 10 acre
Marcellus pad proposed for neighboring property with 500, 000 gallon
frack waste pond to be upwind and less than 100 ft from vegetable gardens. Once peaceful road with occasional Amish buggy now thoroughfare for all things Marcellus.
A Response from Karen about Moving to Massachusetts
I did ask the state geologist prior to moving here about shale. I also studied geological maps; the ground is granite and marble. There is not shale in the Berkshire Mts of W. Mass. The Pioneer Valley is an hour East of the Berkshires. Could you please tell people this so mis-information is not spread around?
If anyone wants to know what are affordable areas for land here I am happy to help. The quality of life is good here. The air is clean. Everyone cares a lot about the environment here. It is so different from Pittsburgh.
Thanks Karen
(So many people have moved or are thinking of moving from this area. Those who agreed to signed leases -along with corrupt PA officials- are pushing out the people who put health and environment above profit, the very people who would make the state a better place to live. jan)
Commentary from one of our group Fracktivists about John Hanger
John Hanger was interviewed in the film Gasland. He said the water in Dimmock was cleared and good to drink. When Josh Fox offered him a drink of the water that he had said was good, he cut the interview and would NOT drink it. The poor people on Carter Road in Dimmock suffered for 3 years on water buffaloes while Pa DEP stalled. They were covered with scabs and were sick all of the time. Their pets died and their lives were a living HELL!
With John Hanger getting into the race so early, I would follow the dollar to see who is financing this campaign. Anyone taking bets its the Oil & Gas industry? Can we find a sane candidate that would obey and defend the Constitution, like the oath of office that they swear to?
Photo of the new 12 compressor station in the southern panhandle of West Virginia
This may change the name from ‘Pleasant Ridge
Photo by bob donnan