Monday, January 7, 2013

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates January 3, 2013
* For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
* To view permanent documents, past updates, reports, general information and meeting information
* For information on the state gas legislation and local control:
To read former Updates, please see our Blogspot listed above.
Calendar of Events
***County Commissioners Meeting- 2nd and 4thThursday of the month at the County Courthouse at 10:00
Continues through Jan. 6
Filmmakers Gallery
477 Melwood Ave.
North Oakland. 412-681-5449 or
“The Marcellus Shale Documentary Project is a collaborative effort by six photographers (five of whom live in Pennsylvania) to document the impact of the gas industry in Pennsylvania over the last two years. Curated by Pittsburgh Center for the Arts director Laura Domencic, this powerful and well-conceived exhibition addresses a timely issue with intelligence and honesty, and with an exceptionally high standard of visual storytelling. (Photographs from the project are also available, in different edits, as a book and online.) The exhibition's introductory text notes: "Politically and socially, lines have been drawn. … You are, it seems, either for or against [gas drilling]." To the credit of the photographers and organizers, the project addresses the nuances of a complex situation, taking it far beyond a simple question of "for" or "against”.
In a photo by Nina Berman, taken in Springville, Susquehanna County, the glow
from a methane flare illuminates an otherwise darkened road.
The entrance features photographs by Nina Berman that suggest powerful physical tensions: Methane bubbles through river water, rashes break a child's skin, a protester is compressed against a window. Tap water swirls grey and a methane flare lights the sky orange. The elements are disrupted; what's expected to be naturally clear and clean has been grimly stressed, transformed, unnaturally enlivened. In the midst of it all is a bright picture of a teen-age girl with a soap bubble, just bursting. Her water is contaminated, the caption tells us; the bursting bubble resonates visually with the surrounding distortions.
Brian Cohen's pictures present a different contrast, describing the struggles of families dealing firsthand with the economic and environmental changes brought on by gas drilling. One has been able to save their farm by leasing land for drilling at the cost of broken relationships with their neighbors; another fights illness and contamination. These pictures are juxtaposed with panoramic views of pastoral Western Pennsylvania landscapes, familiar but for the presence of drilling machinery sitting discretely behind trees or over a hill. One rig overlooks Pittsburgh Mills mall in Tarentum.
Goldsmith's wide-ranging exploration gives us a look at the workers and worksites, and lays out the visible aspects of the drilling process, while at the same time offering glimpses into the lives of one family that has been severely affected by drilling. Martha Rial's images position a geographically spreading drilling industry alongside a small family farm, noting the increasing encroachment of the former on the latter, as well as such new phenomena as the growth of woman-owned businesses serving the gas industry.
Just as the gas pipelines radiate outward, so do the social effects of drilling. Lynn Johnson's pictures show how far-reaching the consequences are: Residents of a trailer park deal with eviction after the park is bought by a water-extraction company; an activist minister serves a congregation that includes gas workers and their families; a gas worker loses his job when gas prices fall. The exhibition ends with a series of large prints by Noah Addis, studied pictures of infrastructure alternating with larger-than-life portraits of individuals who suspect that their water was contaminated after drilling took place nearby.
The last picture in the show is Addis' intense portrait of Frank McIntyre. McIntyre was also one of Cohen's subjects, photographed in his kitchen, having retreated to escape a wind that burned his throat. In Addis's photograph, we know McIntyre differently, his enigmatic expression suggesting both accusation and disbelief.
The success of the show is in Domencic's ability to play to the strengths of each photographer's mode of engagement, and in the photographers' willingness to address the complexity of the issues. The overall effect is not of a single, concerted point of view, but rather, of six distinct perspectives, each defining the subject in its own way, and each using pictures and words to stimulate a different kind of knowledge. The resulting examination is a study of how everyday life is transformed under the shadow of the drilling rig.”
*** Promised Land” The Movie
“PROMISED LAND opens in theaters nationwide this Friday, January 4. As many of you know, the gas industry and their allies have attacked the film.
From Bob-Most of the reviews I have read, and reports sent to me by those who have seen the movie seem to feel it comes up short, with most criticism directed toward the end of the movie. Seems the movie is a better look at small town America than actual issues with fracking.
What you can do: This is a good opportunity to hand out flyers. If you are able to do this, you can contact Jan or Marcellus Protest for tri folds to hand out.
Waterworks Cinemas
930 Freeport Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15238
(12:05 PM)
(2:35 PM)
(4:55 PM)
7:15 PM
9:35 PM
Chartiers Valley Stadium 18
1025 Washington Pike
Bridgeville, PA 15017
(12:15 PM)
(2:45 PM)
(5:15 PM)
7:45 PM
10:10 PM
North Versailles Stadium 18
1701 Lincoln Highway
North Versailles, PA 15137
(12:15 PM)
(2:45 PM)
(5:15 PM)
7:45 PM
10:15 PM
Delmont Carmike Wynnsong
Rt 22 at the intersection of 22 and 66 begins showing "Promised Land" on Friday at 1:10, 4:10, 7:10 and 9:55
AMC Loews Waterfront 22
300 Waterfront Drive W.
West Homestead, PA 15120
Cinemark 18 - Pittsburgh Mills Mall
Galleria At Pittsburgh Mills
Tarentum, PA 15084
Regal Moraine Point Cinema (Click here for map):
1:30 pm, 4:55pm, 7:30pm, 10:10 pm
Cranberry Cinemas (Click here for map):
12:10pm 2:30pm, 4:50pm, 7:10pm, 9:30pm
Hollywood Theaters - Crown Center Stadium 14
1500 West Chestnut St.
Washington, PA 15301
Jan 4 - 1:00pm 3:40pm 7:15pm 9:50pm
Use this link to check your local theaters:
And from Marcellus Outreach Butler About the Movie
How realistic is this movie Promised Land?
Here’s a quick guide to beginning to sort it out.
Where is 'McKinley', actually?
A fictional place, but was filmed here in Butler County & communities south of Pittsburgh- the heart of ‘fracking’ country. The movie’s farms, towns and hills – the ones the people of ‘McKinley’ love so deeply – are the real-world homes that we care about, and are working hard to protect.
Do ‘land men’ really target rural communities?
Yes, absolutely. Drilling companies (such as REX Energy, XTO, Shell, Range Resources) need to assemble big parcels of acreage; and, to do that, they need to steamroll opposition and overpower any ‘holdouts’. Landowners are told that you might as well sign and get some money because the gas companies will take your gas anyway (not legal). Or all your neighbors have signed (often not true). These are sales tactics that have been very successful. No land-man ever tells people the real risks to signing a lease.
Is fracking a threat to our farms and towns?
Spills and blowouts during drilling can pollute surface water. Average of 40,000 gallons of toxic chemicals used to frack each well, many of which are detrimental to health of people and animals. Fracking pollutes billions of gallons of clean water; 3-5 million gallons of water needed to frack each well; fluid flowing out of fractured shale contains toxic chemicals, heavy metals and radioactive materials. 1 out of every 12 well casings fail immediately, endangering well water and local aquifers. Noxious fumes from flaring, compression stations and gas processing plants can cause serous health effects, including asthma, stroke, brain lesions and cancer.
Are there any problems in Butler County?
In the Connoquenessing Woodlands, 25 families can no longer use their water because it has turned brown, black or purple after a number of wells were drilled in their area.
What can I do?
Join other Butler County residents who formed a citizen’s group, Marcellus Outreach Butler (MOB) to learn about the risks and dangers of unconventional gas drilling truth and to demand that the gas drillers stop poisoning our air, water and deflating our property values.
And Support The Mountain Watershed, Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’Group and Marcellus Protest who all continuously monitor and educate about the gas issue, then work to protect our health, environment, and the character of our communities. . We need your support to make a difference.
Every newsletter contains actions that you can take to help. jan
<<For a full calendar of area events please see“Marcellus Protest” calendar:
Frack Links
***From Theo Colborn:
Dear friends and colleagues,
I recently gave a presentation at a TEDxMidAtlantic event in Washington DC in which I read a letter I sent to the President and First Lady of the United States. In this letter I remind them of the current epidemics of endocrine-related disorders and describe how the laws that were supposed to protect us have let us down. I close with two practical suggestions for the President to take action.
Please take a minute (actually 16 minutes) to view this, and if you agree, share it with everyone you know.
You can also copy the link and paste it in a message directly to the President here:
Best wishes for a safe and healthy holiday season,
Dr. Theo Colborn
*** New and Better Frac Mapper
A new mapping utility for website visitors who want an easy-to-use point and click tool .
***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
Frack Videos
***Worker from Williamsport Speaks on You Tube
“My main goal was money.
The plastic containment tears all the time.
I’ve seen some birds, fish, dead.
I’ve seen a lot of spills --a big one about 5,000-8,000 gallons, some small.
The chemical I hated the worst was white and gluey-- gave you headache and pain in chest. Always have cracked hands, sore throat, dizzy, nausea. People were sick all the time, and then would get in trouble for calling in sick. You would be asked to work 15 to 18 hour days. I saw one guy so tired he ran a forklift into a wellhead. When the site is empty and we go back to remove containment, there are chemicals and oil left. You weren’t to question what happened to that and you could be suspended for asking. “ field workers cited in Pa. hospital's losses
***Silica Sand Transfer Station in Wyalusing, PA
***Take a peak behind fracking's facade:
*** Take the CNBC Survey –Is fracking Safe?
**Penn State Conducting Online Survey About Pennsylvania's Water Resources
This is your chance to be heard on the value and importance of water resources in Pennsylvania!
Researchers from Penn State along with several other agencies are conducting an online survey of Pennsylvania residents about the state's water resources. The object is to collect opinions from a large number of Pennsylvania residents on the current status of our water and how to prioritize funding and other resources to best protect and manage our water resources. This informal survey is intended as a public engagement project and does not necessarily represent a statistical sampling of opinions.
The five-minute survey can be completed online at:
The survey will remain open until February 28, 2013 and a summary of results will be published on the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center website in Spring 2013 at:
This survey is funded by the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center and Sea Grant Pennsylvania in partnership with Penn State Extension and the Pennsylvania American Water Resources Association.--
Christie Sebek
Westmoreland Conservation District
Donohoe Center
Phone: 724-837-5271
1. PA Hospital Cites Non-Insured Gas Industry Workers as Cause of Financial Loss
“The first operating loss in about five years at a hospital in Jersey Shore, Lycoming County, PA, is a sign of the influx of gas field workers without health insurance, the facility’s CEO said.
Jersey Shore Hospital president and CEO Carey Plummer told the Sun-Gazette of Williamsport that many subcontractors attracted to the area’s Marcellus Shale drilling boom do not cover employees.
That has brought a growing number of uninsured people to the community-owned, nonprofit hospital, Plummer said.
“We had a loss,” Plummer said. “I don’t think it’s a sign of the economy. I think it’s the influx of the gas industry and those who lack insurance.”
The hospital reported an operating loss of $770,000 while providing more than $3 million in care to people unable to pay in its most recent fiscal year. The uncompensated care figure is the highest it has ever seen.
Other significant factors contributing to the hospital’s losses include cuts in Medicaid reimbursements, employee salary increases and higher pension costs, Plummer said.
With about 660 wells, Lycoming County is the fourth most heavily drilled county in the Marcellus rush that began in earnest in 2008, according to state records. The footprint in Clinton County is smaller, with just under 100 since then. The state’s two most heavily drilled counties, Tioga and Bradford, are neighbors of Lycoming County.”
2. Woodlands, Butler County Residents Still Need Water
“Janet McIntyre is sick of drinking water from plastic bottles.
She‘s among a growing number of neighboring families in Butler County using donated bottled water, claiming their tap water sickened them, stinks and stains what it touches. Federal, state and industry testing ruled unfounded the neighbors‘claims that gas drilling polluted water wells.
Wells for more than 50 households have had some kind of problem, such as black, sulfide-smelling water, red water that looks like acid mine drainage, or elevated salts and pH problems, said John Stolz, a biological sciences professor at Duquesne University. His research team reached about 160 of 268 households, he said.
“I think it‘s horrible,” Dreyer said about their situation. “They are learning to be very thrifty with their use of the water. Every drop is precious to them.”
Township, county and state officials talked with Pennsylvania American Water Co. about laying a water line to the neighborhood. Rex Energy Corp. paid to build a line nearby to supply its shale drilling operations, and that line could be connected to the neighborhood for drinking water when the company finishes next fall, water company spokesman Gary Lobaugh said.
State grant money could cover the $800,000 cost of that extension, but only if Woodlands residents or the township take it the rest of the way, officials said. County, state and water company officials are waiting to hear from township supervisors whether residents would commit to using a new tap, paying for distribution lines to homes or at least providing rights of way for the township to do that, they said. Residents worry about the expense, McIntyre said.
“I feel the chances would be great if they apply” for grant money, said Rep. Brian Ellis, R-Butler County. “... What‘s going to be inherent upon the residents of Woodlands is their willingness to participate.”
Read more:
And Post Gazette Coverage of Woodlands:
Fouled Waters: Woodlands trying to solve its own problems
“Water testing from the state and federal agencies absolved Rex Energy of paying for water buffalos. In the past four months, the number of homes collecting gallon jugs of donated water has more than doubled to 25. Some water smells of a rotten egg stench.
Mr. Stolz, (Duquesne University), hasn't published his findings yet, but he shared some details with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The majority of water samples show elevated sulfate, elevated iron and often-elevated manganese in Woodlands water. Those elements are often associated with legacy mining operations or mine drainage.
Many samples show elevated chlorides, bromides and fluorides, he said, which could signal brine contamination associated with shale or coalbed methane operations. "We're finding a multitude of problems, but the common theme is essentially the water table for the community has changed," he said. "Something is pushing the water around." Full results will be submitted to scholarly journals in the next couple months.
There are complicating factors in trying to determine what has caused the water to change color or cause rashes and vomiting. Private water wells are different in construction, depth, and maintenance. When Mr Stolz analyzed the underground water table that fed the wells by lowering a camera down a new water well, he found that the aquifer flowed a different direction than the surface topography.”
3. DEP Withdraws Proposed Water Standards Due to Business Opposition - Leaves out Dioxane, Chlorides, Sulfates, Molybdenum
“The DEP Water Resources Advisory Committee voted to advance the DEPs final Chapter 93 Water Quality Standards to the Environmental Quality Board for its consideration, but without the proposed standards for molybdenum, sulfates, chlorides, and 1-4 dioxane that raised the concern of the business community.
As the rulemaking was being considered, Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce members joined with other statewide business trade associations to advocate for the removal of the four proposed standards because they said they were not rooted in clear scientific evidence and failed to take the economic impact of the regulated community into account.
Some of the Pennsylvania industries that could have been economically impacted by the standards included electric generation, oil and gas, coal, steel, pharmaceuticals and metallurgy.”
From DEPs Water Resources Advisory Committee
4. Southwest PA Environmental Health Project –Recommendations for Well Water Testing
(This is an excerpt from the paper. The report provides action strategies based on the results of your water test. Jan)
“Getting baseline tests done as soon as possible is important for an effective monitoring strategy. The more you can include in your baseline tests, the better. Thorough baseline tests include ALL of the following:
1. PA DEP suggests you test the following each year, regardless of your environment:
coliform bacteria
total dissolved solids (TDS)
2. We recommend you also test the following as part of your baseline test:
3. Targeted water tests – for baseline and every 6 months during natural gas extraction activities.
Although these tests are expensive, we encourage you to test for as many as you can, especially as a
VOCs surfactants oil and grease
strontium sodium ethane/methane
barium glycols flourides
arsenic calcium iron
Monitor your water for pH and conductivity in between targeted tests. This strategy can alert you to changes in water quality, but it may not be effective for all possible contaminants. This is why we recommend retesting every six months.
If you cannot afford many of these tests, monitoring for conductivity and pH, which are very inexpensive, will give you at least some information about your water quality. We think it is well worth the small amount of effort it takes to conduct these weekly tests.
These recommendations are our best advice based on the very limited research that is available. We are working with members of the local community over the next year to determine which of these tests are most essential and most cost-effective. None of these strategies for monitoring your well water are 100% effective.
Potentially, contamination will occur undetected. But these strategies are still extremely valuable when one considers the consequences of living with contaminated water.
Keep in mind that our rationale and strategy recommendations may not support a legal case. Our focus is to provide the very best advice available for protecting public health, regardless of legal or political concerns.”
5. New Fears Over Fracking Groundwater Contamination-Radium and Barium in High Concentrations
It was found that high concentrations of salts, including those of radium and barium, are present in the flowback waters from fracking operations, lending fears over potential groundwater contamination.
The amounts of the various salts are greater than those in the water-mix used in the fracking operation, and their specific concentrations are consistent as having arisen from an underground aquifer that was set-down during the Paleozoic era.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania ( analyzed samples taken principally from four different sources. These were brines recovered from 40 conventional oil and gas wells in the state; flowback waters from 22 Marcellus gas wells, collected by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Oil and Gas Management; two more samples of Marcellus flowback waters from a previous study; and similar waters from 8 horizontal wells taken by the Marcellus Shale Coalition. Specifically the study examined fluids that were brought to the surface within 90 days of fracking.
The results showed that the flowback waters contained a very high degree of salinity, which is inconsistent with the concentrations of salts contained in the waters used for the fracking operations.
Rather, it appears that these additional elements stem from the Paleozoic era,
While a fluid equal in volume to one quarter of that used for the fracking operation was recovered, it was found to contain high amounts of a range of elements, most disturbingly radium and barium, which were washed up from some 8,000 feet below the surface. The latter observation might appear to run counter to the view that groundwater contamination is impossible because of the great depths at which fracking is done, and well below the water table.
Attention has so far focused on the chemicals, including corrosive salts and benzene, that are present in the fracking fluid; however, this investigation raises issues over the exhumation of other toxic materials that had previously remained sequestered in the rock over millions of years.
The measured levels of radium and barium are significantly greater than those deemed acceptable in drinking water, and so the necessity to dispose properly of the waters from fracking operations is once more stressed, and that account should be taken of the kind of materials that may be washed up from deep underground, as well as the intrinsic composition of the fracking fluid that is injected into the wells in the first place.
If the waters are disposed of incautiously, there may be a real risk of water supplies becoming contaminated by substances that are naturally occurring, but nonetheless highly dangerous.
By. Professor Chris Rhodes Professor Chris Rhodes is a writer and researcher. He studied chemistry at Sussex University, earning both a B.Sc and a Doctoral degree (D.Phil.); rising to become the youngest professor of physical chemistry in the U.K. at the age of 34. 
A prolific author, Chris has published more than 400 research and popular science articles (some in national newspapers: The Independent and The Daily Telegraph)
For this article and other frack articles by Rhodes:
4. Interview with Sandra Steingraber (Excerpts)
“Could you talk a bit about the toxic links between plastics and natural gas?
Natural gas is methane, some of which we burn and some of which is actually a feedstock for making stuff that can include plastic. PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, begins as natural gas, although you just need a source of carbon as a starting point. (In China they use coal to make PVC, but here in the US it’s natural gas.) Natural gas is also the starting point for anhydrous ammonia, which is a synthetic fertilizer that is responsible for the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico and also a water pollutant that causes miscarriages and reproductive problems for people. In addition, the shale below our feet contains not only natural gas, but also bubbles up other hydrocarbons and those include butane, propane, and ethane. These collectively are called “liquefied petroleum gases”and are feedstocks for all kinds of stuff. Ethane is used to make ethylene, which is a building block for lots and lots of kinds of plastics.
PVC is especially dangerous because it’s full of chlorine and when you burn it you get hydrochloric acid, which can liquefy your lungs. You also get dioxin, which is very toxic. It causes cancer, is an endocrine disrupter, it messes around with our liver and enzymes and it lasts in the body for 35 to 50 years. Plastic in general, whether it’s PVC or not, it just never degrades.
You talk about how people feel helpless in the face of the scale of the environmental crisis. How do you try to move them from this “place of inaction”?
We can’t change the scale of the problem, so that means you have to change the scale of your actions. I don’t tell people what those [actions] should be or what they should do. Everybody has to find their own path. I use autobiography to talk about some of the big things that I’ve done and by doing something big I try to inspire other people to do big things, too.
When I became one of the lucky recipients of the Heinz Awards last year, I chose to donate the cash prize that came with it – $100,000 – to the anti-fracking movement. I tell people that the check far exceeded my bank balance. In fact, it exactly equaled the amount of money that I paid for my house. I live in a little $100,000 house. My son shares a bedroom with me because we just don’t have enough space. But I’m not interested in buying a bigger house or a bigger car. (I never owned a car.) None of my plates match. My furniture comes from Goodwill. I’m not interested in acquisition because we are in the middle of a crisis. The people who come after us are going to be inheriting a planet that’s not suitable for life. I’ve been moved by some of the writings of an environmental attorney, Joseph Guth, who wrote that a functioning biosphere is worth everything we have. So that’s what I’m going to be investing in. I’m investing my love, my money, my future in preserving the abiding ecology of the planet. And I think that’s a hard road, but it’s an inspiring road. I feel really honored at this moment in history to be playing this role. This is the human rights movement of our time. I’m getting on the bus and I want other people on that bus with me.”
5. What is Energy in Depth-Fighting a Global Force
(If you recall, this is the organization that launched a vicious attack on Sandra Steingraber. Here’s an excerpt from her response to that attack:
My second message is to the gas industry. Your representatives follow me around to speaking events across the state and post reports about me. You’ve commented on my make-up, my emotional life, my cancer diagnosis, and the size of my house. Which is 1,218 square feet.
I learned that from reading the Energy in Depth blog.
Hey, gas industry: I am not afraid of you. And that’s not because I’m fearless. It’s because I am so scared for the future of my children on a fracked-up planet that I have no fear left over for you.
So, let me tell you about my last name, which you mocked in a recent column. It belongs to the man who took me in when I had no home. A man who fought against Hitler’s army when he was just a teenager. A man who taught me that when you carry around a name like Steingraber, you can’t act like a good German. You stand up against bullies, and you never, never give up.
Memo to the gas industry: I am a biologist. I will debate you on the public health effects of fracking any time, anywhere. Back off my dad.
My third message is for all of you. There are a lot of crappy things about being adopted and having no ancestors, but the gift of it is that you can choose your own tribe and choose your own homeland.”
******************** Energy In depth
It's a website created by a trade group for the gas industry -- the "Independent Petroleum Association of America" (IPAA) --and a public relations firm.
IPAA/EID's "about" page says its "supporting members" are state associations of gas producers. It displays those logos, instead of the global corporations that launched it. What the logos cloak -- in classic PR sleight of hand -- are the larger interests behind the IPAA/EID operation.
IIPAA privately told its allies that EID was its new "online resource center to combat new environmental regulations," created with funding from Shell, BP, Chevron, and more.
In other words, IPAA/EID is more accurately described as a front group launched by global gas companies in order to fight a public relations battle against new environmental protections on fracking.
The leaked IPAA memo reveals that the EID campaign was created through the "financial commitments" of some of the biggest companies (with some of the worst environmental records) on the planet. None of these major for-profit companies or API -- the financial underwriters that launched IPAA/EID -- are listed on the campaign's website or in its description of its supporters.”
For the full article: (“energy-depth”-–-reporters’-guide-its-founding-funding-and-flacks)
6. Injection Wells Proposed for Brady and Highland Townships PA
(Comment period is now over)
Background article:
“Trillion gallon loophole: lax rules for drillers that inject pollutants,” from Propublica (September 2012)
“On a cold, overcast afternoon in January 2003, two tanker trucks backed up to an injection well site in a pasture outside Rosharon, Texas. There, under a steel shed, they began to unload thousands of gallons of wastewater for burial deep beneath the earth.
The waste – the byproduct of oil and gas drilling – was described in regulatory documents as a benign mixture of salt and water. But as the liquid rushed from the trucks, it released a billowing vapor of far more volatile materials, including benzene and other flammable hydrocarbons.
The truck engines, left to idle by their drivers, sucked the fumes from the air, revving into a high-pitched whine. Before anyone could react, one of the trucks backfired, releasing a spark that ignited the invisible cloud.
Fifteen-foot-high flames enveloped the steel shed and tankers. Two workers died, and four were rushed to the hospital with burns over much of their bodies. A third worker died six weeks later.
What happened that day at Rosharon was the result of a significant breakdown in the nation’s efforts to regulate the handling of toxic waste, a ProPublica investigation shows.
But keep reading. Because the devil is in the details. Gas and oil waste is legally considered “non-hazardous” due to exemptions:
In 1988, the EPA made it permanent, handing oil and gas companies a landmark exemption. From then on, benzene from the fertilizer industry was considered hazardous, threatening health and underground water supplies; benzene derived from wells for the oil and gas industry was not.
Local residents near both wells have made an appropriately big stink. They know about this double standard, exempting toxic waste from being treated as such, which threatens their health. And they know the local factors which make them outraged that EPA is even considering permitting these wells.”
Note from Fracktivist on Brady Township:
“Many people in Brady Township obtain water from wells in the area of the proposed injection well. A few are located within the quarter-mile high pressure zone that is supposed to have defunct gas wells plugged off.
*Two mine shifts are located near the proposed injection well and eject water into Sandy Lick Creek near the DuBois Mall.
*Fracturing production wells exist along the edges of the proposed injection well area.
*Two fault lines cross areas next to the proposed injection well.
*Old gas wells from the 1950’s and 1960’s are in the surrounding area of the proposed injection well. Some are located within the quarter-mile area.
*The potential for the proposed injection well is detrimental to property values.
*The proposed injection well is to be located in close proximity to the Oklahoma Elementary School.
*The proposed injection well is to be located in close proximity of the DuBois City’s water reservoir.
*The potential exists for the Brady Township drinking water supply to become tainted.
* Protective casings aren’t long enough and don’t account for the injection well being located on a 150-foot high hill, where there are homes with water wells at its base.
*There is a lack of a one-mile diameter topographical map being included with the permit.
*Brine waters additives, such as corrosive inhibitor, change them from a production well byproduct which the permit is for.
The local folks who turned out and packed the hall on cold December nights to fight for their land, their homes, their water and their future, made their voices heard. Many thanks to organic blueberry farmer Jenny Lisak of Ladybug Farms — excellent researcher, courageously outspoken shale country resident, and maker of the best blueberry jam in the U.S., — for sending all the vital information. May she and all her community be safe and protected in the New Year.”
7. PA Attorney General Appeals Sentence of Robert Shipman who Illegally Dumped Wastewater
“The state attorney general’s office filed an appeal with the state Superior Court this week, claiming Greene County Judge Farley Toothman’s probationary sentence given to Robert Allan Shipman was unreasonable and “did not fit the crime.” Shipman, of New Freeport, was accused of illegally dumping drilling wastewater, sewage sludge and restaurant grease into area streams, a mineshaft, and on various properties throughout the area between 2003 and 2009. He also was accused of stealing more than $250,000 by overbilling companies that hired him to haul and dispose of wastewater by-products.
Shipman pleaded guilty in February to two counts each of theft, conspiracy, receiving stolen property and tampering with public records, 10 counts of unlawful conduct and eight counts of pollution of waters. On June 15, Toothman sentenced Shipman to 7 years of probation and ordered him to pay $257,316 in restitution to companies he over-billed, $100,000 in fines, $25,000 to the attorney general’s office and to serve 1,750 hours of community service. The commonwealth recommended Shipman be sentenced in the standard range of the sentencing guidelines for the most serious charge of theft, which is 9 to 16 months in jail.
Judge Toothman noted that Shipman was cooperative, remorseful, and did charitable work.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Barker argued that if Shipman had any overwhelming sense of remorse he would have entered a guilty plea without an agreement, or at least expressed some sense of remorse to the victims; he did neither” The prosecutor also argued that Shipman’s charitable contributions were funded by his illegal work.”
and (Latrobe Bulletin, AG appeals probation for wastewater dumper, AP, 1-2-12)
1 of 6 Comments:
Jeff Cole
If I were to steal a quarter million dollars I would be locked up and the key thrown away. This sentencing was an absolute joke, and was exactly what I expected out of the corrupt Greene county court system. If the average joe would have committed these crimes I can guarantee that they would be doing the maximum sentence. When I was driving a waste water truck for the gas rigs it was widely known though out the drivers that his drivers were being told to dump illegally.....Remember people, this eventually becomes the water that you use to cook with, drink, and bathe yourself in. He was not only dumping drilling water, but RAW SEWAGE into the creeks. There is a reason that I refuse to drink tap water in this area. His name is Robert Allan Shipman.
Remember Dunkard Creek:
8. Fractivist Site Urges New Candidates
“Two years ago Elizabeth & Gloria began a Facebook group called Marcellus at the Polls -
Their goal is simple: to find & promote fracktivist friendly candidates in PA.
This year they are focusing on getting fracktivists to run for local office, school boards, town councils, etc., because, over the past 2 years, we've seen how important these entities are. They can be either:
A bulwark against fracking's incursion OR The frackers' Welcome Wagon
On this, the first day of the first month of 2013, they are happy to announce that Li Longo, a Chester County, PA fracktivist, is running for School Board in Phoenixville, PA. Here's why:
Please get the word out to friends that live in Chester County, especially if they're in Phoenixville.”
(From site creators)
9. The Gas Industry Should Stop the Fear Mongering
by Jim Russell
“The fear mongering to promote the development of the Marcellus Shale play is out of hand: If the state or local government won’t give the industry what it wants then the sky will fall. Investment and jobs will go elsewhere is the generic threat.
The Corbett administration has made no bones about its cozy relationship with the drilling industry at the expense of state residents
About Shell’s proposed cracker plant--Regarding economic development, Gov Corbett is old school. He’s a smokestack chaser. You need a subsidy? Tell me how much and I’ll oblige. Now Shell wants more. If Act 13 is null and void the cracker might go elsewhere. There are two problems with this line of reasoning. First, the Shale boom resulting in an epic glut of gas occurred under a pre- Act 13 regime. Drilling companies had no problems turning a profit despite bans and other hurdles. Texas and Oklahoma allow for local zoning power to regulate drilling. Shell has two cracker plants in Texas.
But the Marcellus Shale Coalition spins nonsense about Act 13: Lack of uniformity has long been an Achilles heel for PA and must be resolved if the commonwealth is to remain a leader in responsible American natural gas development and reap the associated economic, environmental and national security benefits.
What Achilles heel? The price of gas has plummeted thanks to drilling in PA. Local regulation in Texas and Oklahoma doesn’t pose a threat to national security. Yet we are to believe it does here.”
Gov. Corbett and the Shale Coalition have zero credibility. The shameless propaganda has to stop if Pennsylvanians are to have a frank discussion about their economic future. As for Shell, cease with the empty threats. The attempts to blackmail state residents are despicable. The world will not end if Act 13 is overturned.”
(Jim Russell, Pittsburgh Business Times)
10. CBS Report on fracking
(This news report restates, without rebuttal, the same industry claims that we have heard repeatedly- that the percentage of chemicals in the water used to frack is tiny but not that the percentage results in thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals being pumped into the earth; that most of drinking water contamination was present prior to fracking despite the fact that residents only experienced water problems after fracking began, etc. But unlike many recent AP articles, it does also cite scientists. Jan)
Rob Jackson-Duke U.
“Rob Jackson studied the water at hundreds of homes near Marcellus fracking wells.
"We asked a simple question: 'Is your water any different if you're living near a natural gas well?'" Jackson said. "And it was a glass half-empty, glass half-full kind of story. We did not find evidence for the chemicals in fracturing fluids, for instance. What we did find was much higher likelihood that you would have gas in your water - methane, ethane or propane, the things that are in the natural gas itself. We think the simplest explanation for that is poor well integrity."
“In other words, those mile-long pipes can leak. Depending on where you are, five, ten, 20 percent of oil wells have problems with their well integrity through time," said Jackson.
Bob Oswald-Cornell
"We're not saying it's a problem every time. But there are a number of cases where there have been problems," said Cornell professor Bob Oswald. And it's not just people drinking that water. Veterinarian Michelle Bamberger and her husband, Oswald, studied 24 cases where animals had problems. "Changes in breeding - abortions, still births were more common after drilling than before drilling," said Bamberger. "The problem is there are a number of proprietary compounds that are used; they're not revealed," said Oswald.
We don't know how often problems occur - a number of cases have been closed by non-disclosure agreements. "The landowner, the farmer is compensated, and in exchange for that compensation, their silence is purchased," said Oswald.
So: Is fracking worth the risk? Trouble is, we don't know what the risk is. The EPA is conducting the first national, comprehensive study, but it won't be finished until 2014.”
Human Health Risk—Summary Report
Presented to New York State Dept of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Dept of Health
Albany New York, October 9, 2012
Participants included David Brown, health toxicologist, Southwest Pa Environmental Health project; David Carpenter, Director of Institute for Health and the Environment, U of Albany; Ron Bishop, Dept. of Chemistry, SUNY Oneato, Sheila Bushkin, MD, MPH, Public Health and Preventive Medicine Consultant
**** 1. Fracking will bring to the surface significant amounts of radioactive wastewater in the form of flowback fluid and production brine that flows out of wells during gas production.
**** 2. Processing radioactive chemical- laden wastewater through water treatment plants can contaminate streams. High bromide levels form brominated trihalomethanes which are definitely linked to bladder and colon cancer and are suspected to be linked to birth defects.
****3. Radioactive sludge from drill sites will contaminate landfills. New York permits disposal of radioactive drill cuttings and mud in landfills . Contamination will last for thousands of years. All landfill membranes fail over time. Leaching can result in contamination of ponds, groundwater. Radium 226 emits gamma radiation which can travel long distances.
***4. Vehicles transporting radioactive waste pose a risk
*** 5. Spreading radioactive wastewater on roads exposes people and contaminates surface water. The most common use of radioactive wastewater from drilling is road spread. Radioactive particles can become airborne as vehicles travel.
****6. Storage of radioactive wastewater in tanks can result in leaks and lead to contamination.
***7. Marcellus shale contains high levels of radon. Radon mixes with and stays in gas through pipelines and into homes. When burned, radon is released into the air. According to US Geological Survey, radon 22 levels in Pa Marcellus gas ranged from 1 to 79 pCi/L , with a median of 32. This is 8 times higher than the EPA threshold for remediation of radon in indoor air .
****8. Silica exposes workers and proximate neighbors, which can cause silicoses. Fracking sand is 99% silica, a known cause of lung cancer, and contributor to autoimmune disease, pulmonary disease, and chronic kidney disease.
***9. Diesel machinery contaminates air and to the formation of ozone. Diesel and smog are know causes of asthma and lung cancer are linked to bladder and breast cancer, stroke, heart attack, cognitive decline, premature death, and in pregnant women, preterm birth and lowered birth weight.
****10. Flares contaminate air with hazardous pollutants including hydrogen sulfide, methane, and the BETEX group. EPA has banned flaring, but not until 2015.
****11. Diesel vehicles contaminate air. Fracking can require 322 to 1365 truck trips to transport water, chemicals, sand, and other equipment
****12. Synergistic reactions can result in altered chemical compounds. Synthetic chemicals can form new compounds when exposed to sun, water, air, and radioactive elements.
****13. Well casing failures will contaminate drinking water supplies. All casing will fail over time. Failures provide migration routes for frack fluids methane and other hydrocarbons.
****14. Health impacts from fracking will burden sensitive populations: children the elderly, those with compromised immune system- Asthmatic and those with cardio pulmonary disease
****15.Stress from fracking has real health consequences- noise, traffic, concerns about water and air
****16. Health care costs will increase due to acute effects from fracking, exacerbations of existing chronic diseases, exposure to contamination, etc. Areas of concern include:
*Neurological problems involving cognitive, behavioral and psychosocial disorders in children
*Endocrine disruptors affecting hormonal and metabolic processes leading to infertility, early puberty, and other reproductive issues affecting men and women.
*Immunosuppressants decreasing the immunological defenses of the population, leading to vulnerably to infectious agents.
*Mutagens and carcinogens leading to greater incidence of cancers especially among children, teens, and young adults.
*Other chemicals doing damage to the renal systems, gastrointestinal system, and cardiac and respiratory systems, as well as skin, eyes, ears, and nasopharyngeal tissues.
Costs of chronic diseases resulting from exposure to fracking must be calculated as has been done for coal.
****17 Many health impacts related to fracking may not be evident for years- including longer latency period conditions as asthma cancer and heart disease resulting from exposure to chemicals in air and water. Chromosome damage for radiation exposure may impact future generations. The full extent of risks are not knows in part because studies do not generally take into account long term cumulative effects
****18 Medical professionals are ill equipped to recognize or treat symptoms related to radiation exposure or exposure to hazardous chemicals.
****17. Many health impacts may not be evident for years. Long latency periods exist for asthma, cancer and heat disseat. Chromosome damage for radiation exposure may impact future generations.
****19. Non-disclosure agreements can obstruct the efforts of public health official to obtain accurate data.
****20. Conflicts of interest may affect the veracity of scientific findings Studies have found that industry funded science can result in finding that befit sponsor, poor study design, withholding of negative data from publication and other problems.
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
Hope has two daughters, anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are. St. Augustine