Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates
December 12, 2013
To view photos, please sign up for newsletter at email@example.com
* Our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
* To discuss candidates: http://www.facebook.com/groups/VoteProEarth/
* To contact your state legislator:
For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
* For information on PA state gas legislation and local control: http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-
WMCG Thank You
* Thank you to contributors to our Updates: Debbie Borowiec, Lou Pochet, Ron Gulla, Marian Szmyd, Bob Donnan, Gloria Forouzan, Elizabeth Donahue, and Bob Schmetzer.
I have not yet received links to the Duquesne Seminar or the League of Women Voters Seminar on fracking—both were videotaped. If anyone has this information, please forward it to me to share with the group.
***Several of us have been flyering with handouts on fracking, seismic testing, and health. We need more help though. (See flyercising below)
*** WMCG Steering Committee Meeting We meet the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30 PM in Greensburg. Email Jan for directions. All are very welcome to attend.
Flyercise-This is a good way to work to protect your family from fracking and get exercise.
Flyering helps to inform your area. If you want to distribute information on fracking in your neighborhood, WMCG and the Mt Watershed have handouts for you. Some rural areas are best reached by car and flyers can be put in paper boxes (not mailboxes) or in doors. Please contact Jan if you would like to help. Meetings are also good venues for distributing flyers as well—church meetings, political, parent groups, etc. If you can only pass out fifteen, that reaches fifteen people who may not have been informed.
***Volunteers Needed to Map Frack Pits- Skytruth
You Can Support a Public Health Study By John Hopkins At Home At Your Computer
Volunteers Needed: Crowd sourcing Project to Map Fracking in Pennsylvania for a Public Health Study and National Mapping Initiative
(You are given a window to examine by Skytruth. . Your job is to Click on all the frack pits you see in that square and the data will be processed by Skytruth. jan)
What: FrackFinder PA - Project Moor Frog is crowd sourcing (using the public to help do the work) project that needs cyber-volunteers to find fracking ponds on aerial photographs.
Where: Online at frack.skytruth.org/frackfinder
Why: Data produced by the crowd will be complied into series of maps identifying the location of fracking ponds in Pennsylvania, and support a public health study with partners at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
SkyTruth will be launching the second phase of a crowd sourcing project to map the impact of unconventional drilling and hydraulic fracturing using aerial imagery. We need your help to engage even more volunteers so that, state by state, we can build a nationwide, multi-year map of fracking.
FrackFinder is a web-based tool that presents cyber-volunteers, or skytruthers, with aerial photos of permitted or active drilling sites, and asks users to perform a simple image analysis task. In this phase of the project, we are asking volunteers to find all the fracking ponds at Marcellus Shale drilling sites in PA. Learn more about our first FrackFinder project here.
We are doing this work to support a public health study with our partners at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins. Additionally, we have arranged to have a reporter from Wired magazine (a tech magazine with an audience of 3 million) cover the launch of the effort, which we are calling FrackFinder PA – Project Moor Frog.
We are asking for your help to promote this sky truthing project as we get nearer to the launch. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to learn more and to coordinate efforts to engage the public in this effort to produce a nationwide, multi-year map of the impacts of fracking.
David Manthos: Outreach & Communications Director http://frack.skytruth.org/frackfinder
Office: 304-885-4581 | Cell: 240-385-6423 | email@example.com”
***As always letters to the editor are important and one of the best ways to share information with the public. Pick any frack topic and get it in the public eye.***
The following petitions and actions are active.
1. Wetlands and Streams –Unlimited Impacts
From PA Forest Coalition
“This is big. It almost went under the radar -- It would allow virtually unlimited impacts to wetlands and streams from "temporary" (up to 2 years) activities that currently need an Individual Permit.
The PADEP has proposed to modify and reissue Chapter 105 General Permit 8.
Public comments on this proposal are being accepted until 10 January 2014.
Comments can be emailed to:
For USPS :
Kenneth Murin, Chief
Division of Wetlands, Encroachments, and Training
PADEP Bureau of Waterways Engineering and Wetlands
P.O. Box 8460
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8460
Below are some "talking points" to help you get started on you message.
Feel free to modify or tailor the comments for your own use.
Please circulate them as widely as possible.
TALKING POINTS -
· The proposed modification of GP-8 is contrary to the goals of environmental protection that the PADEP is supposed to uphold.
· It represents a veiled attempt to create an umbrella General Permit that can authorize virtually unlimited impacts to wetlands and streams from a wide range of disparate activities apparently associated with oil and gas operations, but which could be utilized by other enterprises as well.
· The proposed modification inappropriately expands the scope of covered activities.
· While GP-8 currently authorizes only temporary road crossings, the proposed GP-8 would also authorize temporary electric and telephone lines, water lines, and other pipelines as large as 24 inches in diameter carrying undefined “pollutional materials”
· The proposed changes would allow "temporary testing and monitoring activities" that conceivably could encompass full-scale exploratory gas well projects.
IT GETS WORSE:
· The proposed GP-8 sets minimal or no limitations on the length or area of streams and wetlands that can be impacted "temporarily" (up to 2 years)
· Sets no special restrictions on its use or eligibility in Special Protection (EV or HQ) waters,
· Provides no mechanism to assure full restoration of disturbed wetlands and streams, and
· Severely restricts transparency and public oversight.
Happy holidays to the industry; humbug to our environment?
Don’t let it happen. Act now
R. Martin Coordinator
2. Tell FERC---Stop Rubber-Stamping Frack Pipelines
On September 29, Steven Jensen, a farmer in North Dakota, discovered a massive 865,000-gallon fracked oil spill in a wheat field on his land. The spill, which is one of the largest inland oil-pipeline accidents in the United States ever, may have gone on for weeks unnoticed before it was discovered.
The spill in North Dakota is not an isolated incident. Every week there are news reports about pipeline leaks and explosions that contaminate our land and water and sometimes kill. But instead of fixing its crumbling infrastructure, the oil and gas industry has embarked on a reckless spending spree. It wants to build thousands of miles of new pipelines so that it can frack America and make us dependent on dirty fossil fuels for decades to come.
We have to speak out now to stop it. The petition, which is to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, says the following:
America doesn’t need endless pipelines and related infrastructure that impact local communities and that choke off the development of clean, renewable energy supplies. It is time for FERC to put down its rubber stamp and place a moratorium on new fracking and oil- and gas-related infrastructure projects.
Tell the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: Stop approving oil and gas infrastructure.
Private land is seized by eminent domain. Dangerous and polluting compressor stations are constructed in the middle of residential neighborhoods. One gas pipeline is slated to cut through the Gateway National Recreation Area. And now there’s a plan to build another large and potentially explosive pipeline near a nuclear reactor in one of the most densely populated areas of the country.
How can this happen? Isn’t anyone looking out for the public’s safety and welfare?
That "someone" should be FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It’s supposed to consider “public convenience and necessity” before permitting projects like these. But it’s fallen down on the job. Instead of critically examining all the impacts associated with oil and gas infrastructure, it’s become a rubber stamp for an industry that has shown that it doesn’t give a damn about the health and safety of the American people.
Tell FERC that America doesn’t need endless pipelines and related infrastructure that impact local communities and choke off the development of clean, renewable energy supplies.
Will you join me and add your name to my petition to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to demand that it stop approving oil and gas infrastructure?
Thank you for your support.
***To sign up for notifications of activity and violations for your area:
*** List of the Harmed--There are now over 1600 residents of Pennsylvania who have placed their names on the list of the harmed when they became sick after fracking began in their area. http://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list/
***New Penn Environment Video
PennEnvironment, along with the federal organization, EnvironmentAmerica, released a new video exposé on fracking.
You can find the video on
PennEnvironment's website, www.PennEnvironment.org, and also here:
Narrated by Martin Sheen and filmed on location in Pennsylvania, the piece will allow public television viewers to hear from:
· A Pennsylvania family whose well water was contaminated and granddaughter became ill after fracking operations commenced nearby;
· Dr. Poune Saberi, who has examined health data from nearby residents and workers and believes that the numerous, documented cases of residents becoming ill near drilling operations are likely "the tip of the iceberg;" and
· Lou Allstadt, former Executive Vice President of Mobil, explaining why he now sees fracking as inherently fraught with environmental destruction.
The segment has the potential to reach up to 60 million households this year. In addition, we have <http://youtu.be/ljHCJfkZ308> a shorter commercial-length version of the video that is being rolled out to other networks like CNN and MSNBC starting this month.
***Pipeline/Eminent Domain Factsheet-Handout
Food and Water Watch
***Frackademia Handout-Industry’s influence on Education:
***Orange You A'Peelin'? Guide to PA Fracking Permit Appeals
You can print this booklet off the site.
***Video-- Dr Ingraffea Speaks at Butler Community College
Published on Nov 22, 2013
The science of shale gas: The latest evidence on leaky wells, methane emissions, and implications for policy. A.R. Ingraffea Ph.D, P.E.; M.T. Wells, Ph.D, Cornell University; R. Santoro, R. Shonkoff, Ph.D, Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, Inc. Butler Community College, Butler Pa, November 21, 2013.
The latest evidence on leaky Gas wells.
1. New Poll: Gas Drillers Should Minimize Impact On Nature
By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Results of a poll by The Nature Conservancy in the six-state Marcellus Shale region of the Appalachians indicate strong support for better regional planning to minimize impacts on forest and water resources, as well as tougher environmental safeguards.
The poll shows that a majority of those polled -- 54 percent -- say conservation of natural habitats and water resources should be a higher priority than shale gas development, even if that would produce higher energy costs. Forty-two percent of those polled say creation of new gas industry jobs should be a higher priority.
"Clearly people value forests and rivers and natural habitats, and they don't want to see natural gas development come at the expense of those areas," said Nels Johnson, the oil and gas lead for the conservancy's North America Energy Program.
Asked about government actions to regulate shale gas development, overwhelming majorities said they support requiring drilling companies to: avoid damaging forests and streams important for hunting, fishing and hiking (93 percent); follow regional plans for location of wells and pipelines to minimize wildlife habitat impacts (93 percent); mitigate adverse impacts to forests and water quality (92 percent); and base well locations on sound science (91 percent).
Majorities above 80 percent said they favored requiring drillers to take measures to prevent methane releases during drilling, performing regional studies to determine how much water fracking will use and where it will come from, and establishing a state commission to set gas drilling standards.
Mr. Johnson said he was surprised by the strong public support for regional planning for locating shale gas development sites.
"There's been a lot of polling on fracking and a lot of attention paid to economic issues, but not much focus by policymakers on natural habitat issues," he said. "But this [poll] shows that even though the policymakers aren't focused on valuable habitat, the public is."
The Nature Conservancy poll release is the first part of a multistage program aimed at minimizing the shale gas development impacts on natural habitat and water resources. The conservancy also is working with drilling companies to develop new tools to guide the industry's siting of well pads, pipelines and other shale gas infrastructure to minimize damage to natural habitats.
Travis Windle, a spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a gas industry lobbying organization, said he wasn't aware of any coalition member companies working with the conservancy.”
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/marcellusshale/2013/12/02/Gas-drillers-should-minimize-impact-on-nature-poll-says.html#ixzz2mUDqILQm
2. Dr. Tony Ingraffea Speaks in Butler
From Sierra Club Allegheny
“ To an audience of about 260 people, on November 21, Prof. Tony Ingraffea of Cornell University spoke at the second of the grassroots Fracking & Health Speaker Series. This talk was titled “The Science of Shale Gas: The Latest Evidence on Leaky Wells, Methane Emissions, and Implications for Policy“. Prof. Ingraffea is the president of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, a nonprofit group. The following summary is based on notes made by SC member Paul Heckbert.
Ingraffea described the current situation:
PA gas and oil wells leak at a significant rate. Leak means gas or liquid coming up outside the casing (pipe) due to faulty cement between the casing and the drilled hole. About 5% leak at first. About 10-70% leak after 15 years (percentage depends on which set of wells you look at).
The target density of wells in PA is about 10 wells per square mile. Wells drilled since 2009 leak at a higher rate (probability) than older ones. Wells drilled in northeastern PA leak at higher rates than those in the rest of the state, probably because of more complex geologic strata, and drilling haste.
Unconventional wells (those using directional drilling and horizontal drilling) leak at about 4 times the rate of conventional wells (vertical drilling).
Inadequate pollution protection:
Many DEP inspection reports have notes indicating a leaky well, yet the inspector failed to report a violation when they should have. There are hundreds of thousands of gas and oil wells in PA. Many are abandoned and/or lost. The state is falling behind at keeping track of them. Volunteers have begun to search for them. (Old abandoned wells provide a conduit for chemicals and methane from fracking to reach groundwater. Jan)
The state needs much stricter inspection, enforcement, and penalties. If drillers are merely given a slap on the wrist when wells leak and contaminate water, , it will not curb their misbehavior. Fines must be many times larger.
The problem with methane:
A lot of methane leaks from gas wells. Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, so curbing methane emission would slow global warming faster than cutting back on CO2 release. Overall, natural gas appears to be worse for global warming than coal. But data on methane leaks is limited; more measurement is needed.
The gas industry says “PA water wells were contaminated with methane before we ever fracked” but they fail to talk about concentrations. Methane (and other) concentrations rose dramatically and dangerously after drilling, in some areas.
Natural gas is not “clean” or a “bridge fuel”. We should transition to solar & wind power. We can’t eliminate all use of fossil fuels — they’re useful for airplanes — but we should reduce their use for cars, buses, trucks, and home heating.
In concluding, Ingraffea is optimistic that one day Exxon, say, will announce: “we need to get off fossil fuels; Exxon will lead the way“.
Filed under: Marcellus,News — pwray @ December 8, 2013, 12:12 pm
3. Thumper Trucks Coming to Murrysville
(From the Mt Watershed handout on seismic testing---
“Know your protections: If damage to property occurs legal recourse requires documented proof of conditions before and after. The seismic firm may offer to complete a home survey before testing occurs, or you may ask them. Seismic firms are not required to do a pre-‐test survey. Requests from community members and area officials may influence a company’s offering of home surveys. To file a claim, it is necessary to have binding evidence.”)
“Know your protections: If damage to property occurs legal recourse requires documented proof of conditions before and after. The seismic firm may offer to complete a home survey before testing occurs, or you may ask them. Seismic firms are not required to do a pre-‐test survey. Requests from community members and area officials may influence a company’s offering of home surveys. To file a claim, it is necessary to have binding evidence.”)
“It’s certainly not a lot of money, but landowners in the Murrysville (Westmoreland County), PA area may have the opportunity to pick up some pocket change. One method used in seismic testing–finding out what’s down there–is to use “thumper trucks” that pound the ground, sending sound waves into the earth that are recorded with special equipment which allows geologists to draw maps of underground rock structures.
ION Geophysical Corporation of Houston, TX is sending thumper trucks to the Murrysville area in February, and landowners who are selected and agree to allow the trucks access on their land can get a one-time payment of $5 per acre. Depending on how much land you own, it will at least buy a few cups of coffee at Starbucks…”
4. Cecil Township - MarkWest Lawsuit
“CECIL – Cecil Township supervisors on Monday authorized solicitor John Smith to attend Dec. 11 oral arguments before Commonwealth Court on the lawsuit MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources filed against the township zoning hearing board.
The dispute dates to March 2011, when Cecil’s board turned down a request by MarkWest to build a natural-gas compressor station on Route 980 near Coleman Road. The board said it was not appropriate for an area zoned for light industrial use and was not essential. MarkWest countered by filing suit in Washington County Court, asking to let it build the compressor station at that site. A Washington County Court judge upheld the zoning hearing board’s decision in that case.
After the passage of Act 13, the state law governing oil and gas drilling, in 2012, MarkWest also appealed to Commonwealth Court, claiming that the facility would be allowed under the new law.
However, the zoning provisions of Act 13 were found to be unconstitutional by Commonwealth Court and no decision on Act 13 has been rendered by the state Supreme Court. Smith will accompany the zoning hearing board’s solicitor and is waiving his fee in order to attend.
Supervisors voted 4-1 in favor of Smith attending. Supervisor Elizabeth Cowden was opposed.”
5. Investigation Requested By Rep. Jesse White
“State Representative Jesse White called on county, state and federal authorities to investigate an unreported spill and cover up of flowback water related to Marcellus Shale drilling activity in Washington County.
That spill and cover up were detailed in emails and personnel files from Red Oak Water Transfer, now doing business as Rockwater Energy Solutions. Those documents were garnered through the discovery process in a suit filed against Range Resources and more than a dozen of its subcontractors by a group of residents who allege that their drinking water was contaminated and family members sickened by drilling activity near their homes.
The internal emails between Rockwater employees and executives, which were first reported Saturday by the Marcellus Monitor website, detail a spill of gas well flowback water on Dec. 6, 2010, with a minimum of 21,000 gallons spilling into an environmentally sensitive waterway that empties into a trout-stocking stream.
The emails describe black water pouring out of a pipe into the ground, and then into a nearby stream. However, the exact location of the spill was not specified, and sworn testimony from a Rockwater executive, who was included in the emails, now denies any spill ever occurred.
In a letter directed to state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone, U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the state Fish and Boat Commission White wrote:
In September 2013, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane filed charges against XTO Energy Inc. in relation to a spill of 50,000 gallons of flowback water in Lycoming County. The Washington County would appear to be equally, if not more egregious because the spill was never reported and was in fact covered up by the companies. The emails indicate a minimum of 21,000 gallons of flowback water, but the actual amount could have been far more.
Even worse is the fact that the producer, Range Resources, admitted in court filings that they do not know all of the chemicals (it) uses in the hydraulic fracturing process. Based on that admission, which was reported on in the national media, there is simply no way to know what was in the flowback water that spilled. As such, the impact to the waterways and the subsequent impact to humans, wildlife and fish cannot possibly be determined with any level of specificity.
Based on the seriousness of this incident, the uncertain impacts to the people and habitat of Pennsylvania and the seemingly clear intent to cover up this incident to avoid any level of responsibility and or accountability whatsoever, I am asking you to investigate and if necessary prosecute any responsible parties to the fullest extent of the law.
However, in order for the attorney general to take the case, it must be referred by the DEP, the Washington County district attorney or the state Fish and Boat Commission — and White urged all three to refer the case to the attorney general immediately.
“With the companies involved still operating every day in southwestern Pennsylvania, the people deserve immediate action and real answers about what really happened out there,” White said Tuesday in a press release . “Identifying and punishing bad actors is the only way to put the natural gas industry on notice that their commitment to environmental safety must be more than industry talking points. You have to practice what you preach.”
Messages left on the cell phones and at the Harrisburg offices of state Rep. Brandon Neuman, D-North Strabane, and state Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, seeking comment on the matter were not returned Tuesday.”
The spill occurred in their Legislative districts.
Lawsuit claims unreported spill at Marcellus drilling site in Amwell
Haney, Voyles, Kiskadden Suit ---Unreported Spill
by Scott Beveridge
“A Washington County judge will be asked next week to order a Texas-based water hauler to turn over photographs it may have of an alleged spill at an Amwell Township Marcellus Shale gas drilling site.
The motion will be presented by attorney John Smith, who is representing a group of neighbors suing Range Resources over claims they were sickened by the Yeager drilling operation, court records show.
As part of the discovery process in the lawsuit, Smith received documents from Red Oak Water Transfer indicating there was a leak of 500 barrels of flowback water at the site in 2010, and a subsequent cover-up of what took place. Other court documents in the case show a company executive denying the spill took place and alleging that the story had been fabricated by a disgruntled employee to get a coworker in trouble.
The information prompted state Rep. Jesse White Tuesday to ask state Attorney General Kathleen Kane to investigate the matter. Her spokesman, Joe Peters, said the law prevents her from investigating such cases unless they are referred to her by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
John Poister, spokesman for the DEP in Pittsburgh, said the department is conducting an internal investigation of its records to see if there was a spill reported at the drilling site off McAdams Road in Amwell.
The information the DEP has found thus far in its files does not correspond with the allegations that surfaced in the lawsuit, Poister said.
The plaintiffs in the long-running case are Stacey, Harley and Paige Haney; Beth, John and Ashley Voyles; and Loren and Grace Kiskadden.
Last month, President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca ordered 40 companies Range brought to the property to provide Smith with every chemical they used in the drilling process.
Red Oak, which now operates as Rockwater Energy Solutions, did not respond to a message seeking comment.
White also forwarded his complaint to Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone. Assistant District Attorney Joe Zupancic said Vittone’s office would review the matter, but it would be more a matter for the state to investigate.
And from the article by Tim Puko. Tribune review
“Both companies have disputed that the spill happened. The state DEP appears to have no record that it was reported or investigated, though an agency spokesman said he cannot yet confirm that for certain.
“I hesitated to contact Range due to the contentious relationship between our two companies this past week,” Richard Hoffman, a regional safety director for Red Oak, wrote to a company executive four days after he said the spill happened. “If this incident is reported to Range, it could be the end of our business relationship. That has to be your call.”
Hoffman's email on Dec. 10, 2010, said he and another worker investigated the site in Amwell, and they “think” at least 500 barrels of “flowback” spilled from a failed pipeline, that one worker told others at the site to “keep this quiet” and that workers at the scene never reported the spill to management or Range Resources.
It never mentions any reporting to the DEP, which is required immediately. Only one worker there was willing to talk to them on the record about what happened, he said.
Smith filed the case in May 2012 for three families who claim they were exposed to carcinogens and suffered health problems because of Range Resources Corp.'s drilling operations in Amwell. Range Resources has denied those claims.
Smith obtained the Red Oak documents as part of the lawsuit. Smith's motion Friday included a hand-written personnel record for the worker who allegedly told other workers to keep the incident quiet. It says he was suspended for a “cover up of flow back water,” but doesn't say if that was for the spill Hoffman described.
The only call the DEP received from that area at the time of the spill was on Dec. 9, said John Poister, the agency's spokesman in Pittsburgh.
A DEP inspector that day found a one- to two-barrel leak of wastewater on a pipe coming from the nearby Yeager Impoundment, records show. Range agreed in April 2012 to pay a $18,025 combined penalty for that incident and other brine and drilling fluid leaks at properties in that area of Amwell in 2010 and 2011, state records show. The DEP is doing an internal investigation to find out if its staff looked into reports of the larger 500 barrel spill when it did inspections for those other problems nearby, Poister said.
“We don't know that there was a 500-barrel spill at all. That's what we want to clear up,” he said.”
DEP policy requires oil and gas companies and their contractors to immediately report any spills that threaten the state's waterways.”
6. Radioactivity Concerns About Frack Waste
(KDKA) – “Peters Creek has come a long way back from sewage-laden waterway to trout stream in large part from the efforts of the local watershed association.
“Ultimately the goal is to keep this as a resource for the community, to keep it fishable,” Tim Schumann of the Peters Creek Watershed Association said.
But there are new concerns about whether radioactive waste is finding its way into Peters Creek. Marcellus Shale waste being hauled to the local landfill and leacheate from that landfill is being treated at the municipal water authority.
“I think the major concern would be over long term it would accumulate to levels that might be toxic to people,” Schumann said.
The process of extracting natural gas through drilling and fracking produces a lot of radioactivity.
But, is it being properly handled and disposed of?
Some, like Professor Anthony Ingraffea of Cornell University say we don’t know.
“We do not have a definitive answer about this process of bringing radioactive material, which has been safely stored for millions of years into the human environment,” Ingraffea said.
The radioactive waste comes in two forms. One is from the so-called drill cuttings — the rock extracted from drilling gas wells.
The second is from the flowback water from the fracking process.
The water coming back up from the well is filled with solids, which are extracted and pressed into bricks, which are also radioactive.
This waste is taken to a local landfill to be dumped. But, before they’re allowed in, they’re screened for high levels of radioactivity.
Some so-called “hot loads” have been detected in the state and transported to special disposal sites in Nevada and Texas.
At Tervita’s Westmoreland Landfill in Belle Vernon, the operators say the loads are rarely above the level of radioactivity present in our surroundings at all times.
Still, the uncertainty about radioactivity has prompted the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to launch a year-long study of radioactivity produced in the shale gas extraction process.” http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/12/10/marcellus-shale-drilling-concerns-turn-to-radioactivity-levels/
7. Wheeling-Ohio County Health Dept. Concerned About Benzene Emissions At Drill Sites
(Note-Westmoreland Co. has no Dept. of Health. jan)
“A substance believed to cause cancer in those exposed to it over an extended period of time is in the air near Marcellus Shale fracking sites, according to Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department Administrator Howard Gamble.
"The levels of benzene really pop out. The amounts they were seeing were at levels of concern," said Gamble in describing the results of testing his department recently performed at well sites throughout Ohio County.
"The concerns of the public are validated," he added.
Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department Administrator Howard Gamble says benzene emissions at some gas drilling sites throughout the county are “at levels of concern.”
Gamble said he could not identify the specific wells his employees tested in Ohio County because the information is being sent to Michael McCawley, chairman of the Department of Occupational & Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at West Virginia University as part of his ongoing study on the matter. McCawley previously found high levels of benzene in the air near one Wetzel County well site, which he said were so bad he would recommend "respiratory protection" for those in the area.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some short-term symptoms of benzene exposure include dizziness, rapid heartbeat, headaches and tremors. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains that high levels of benzene in the air can cause leukemia.
West Virginia law requires wells be drilled at least 625 feet away from an "occupied dwelling," but Gamble said this distance may not make much difference because the benzene is probably not coming from under ground.
"It is not necessarily what is coming out of the earth. They have a huge amount of equipment that runs - and they have huge numbers of diesel trucks that are going in and out the whole time," he said.
In addition to benzene, multiple legal advertisements over the past few years by natural gas producers confirm the "potential to discharge" various amounts of these materials into the air on an annual basis from the operations at the natural gas wells and compressor stations: carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, methane, carbon dioxide equivalent, xylenes, toluene and formaldehyde.
"This is something that we need to keep track of because we are not sure how it will impact us over the long-term," Gamble said.
To evaluate the health impacts of fracking on local residents, Gamble said his department is developing a website that should be up and running by early 2014. The tool will allow individuals to report non-identifiable data on specific health concerns and problems they may have occurring due to drilling activity in their area.”
8. Colorado Oil & Gas Association Takes Legal Action Against Fracking Bans
Dec 3, 2013
"Four communities — Lafayette, Fort Collins, Broomfield and the city of Boulder — passed measures to limit or ban "fracking" in November"
The Lafayette CELDF Bill of Rights ordinance was passed by 60% of the voters in a referendum on the ballot through the initiative process which put this ordinance out to the people in a popular vote rather than leaving the vote to the elected officials on the city council. This show of democracy in the Town of Lafayette is being challenged by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. They claim the citizens do not have right to say "no" to their corporate assault on their community.
The Fort Collins moratorium put a five-year ban on fracking. This along with two other communities, Broomfield and the City of Boulder, put similar referendums on their ballots voted upon by the citizens of their municipalities to limit or ban fracking."
DENVER - The fracking bans in Fort Collins and Lafayette have prompted legal action from the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA).
A COGA spokesperson calls the bans illegal. COGA's Doug Flanders says that's because the Colorado Supreme Court has "ruled that oil and gas development, which must employ fracking, supersedes local laws and cannot be banned.
"The City of Fort Collins put a five-year ban on all fracking within city limits. Therefore, there is a conflict between the city's ban and state law. COGA argues that Fort Collins has no constitutional authority to implement regulations on oil and gas development, including fracking.
Flanders says that according to the state Supreme Court - "Colorado law preempts the local regulations when an issue constitutes a mixed state and local concern."
9. DUG Conference Pays Politicians Hundreds of Thousands Dollars
“Hart Energy's 2013 DUG East conference was attended by a crowd of more than 4,000 oil and gas executives….
…Mr. Bush's job was not to add another technical presentation in an already long day. His was to be "the funny guy," to give convention delegates an hour of recess during a long day of school. And at an estimated $150,000 per appearance, his work doesn't come cheap. The oil and gas industry spends millions annually bringing in high-profile keynoters to their events, and Pittsburgh has seen the likes of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, oil executive T. Boone Pickens and political consultant Karl Rove (twice), most of whom charge more than $50,000 per appearance. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett addressed the DUG East convention the same day as Mr. Bush, though he wasn't paid to do so.
`Frequently, the speeches touch on energy only tangentially, but all of them have a cheerleading component.
"It's nice being in a room full of revolutionaries," Mr. Rove told the lunchtime crowd at DUG East's 2012 event.
At the most recent DUG East conference, Mr. Corbett praised the crowd for creating jobs and explained to the country's biggest oil and gas executives that directional drilling means going horizontally through the earth. He even swooped his hand through the air to demonstrate.”
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2013/11/24/Oil-and-gas-enlist-GOP-cheerleaders/stories/201311240122#ixzz2mdVzs8P7
10. Fatalities Spike in Gas/Oil Industry
“About every three days, an oil and gas worker was killed on the job in 2012 -- and in 2011 and 2010. In the U.S., fatalities in the booming industry have risen to the highest level since the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics began keeping score in 1992.
Last year, nonfatal accidents jumped as well, from a five-year low of 1,400 in 2011 to a five-year high of 2,600. But even with that spike, the oil and gas industry's rate of nonfatal injuries is still far below the average for all private industries and has been for years. It also means that when things go wrong in the oil and gas fields, it's much more likely to be a "DRT" injury -- "Dead Right There," Mr. Snawder said at a recent health conference in Pittsburgh.
The fatality rate in the oil and gas industry is between five and seven times higher than for private employees in general. Agriculture, fishing and forestry occupations have the highest death rates.
On Nov. 14, NIOSH, along with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and industry partners, organized a national stand down -- a break in regular work activities so employees could discuss safety lessons. The mining industry has had stand downs for years.
"Job gains in oil and gas and construction have come with more fatalities, and that is unacceptable," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez in August, when preliminary data were first published.
Many of the fatalities, 40 percent, are the result of transportation accidents, according to data from 2003 to 2009 presented by Ryan Hill, program manager for NIOSH's Western States Office, during the Nov. 14 stand down webinar. About half of the workers involved in crashes were not wearing a seat belt, he said.
"Operating a vehicle in the oil and gas industry presents a unique hazard," Mr. Hill said. Driving often takes workers into rural, isolated areas, where gravel roads "lack many of the safety features on highways."
Long workdays also raise concerns about driver fatigue. Looking at more recent data, from 2012, Mr. Hill pinpointed several emerging trends, including a rise in deaths of older workers, more falls from height, and fires and explosions.”
Anya Litvak: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1455.
11. Akron Suburb Fights Ohio’s State Gas Drilling Regs
“COLUMBUS, Ohio — A closely watched lawsuit in Ohio is asking a question that's burning in cities and towns throughout shale country: Can regulations in states eager for the jobs and tax revenues that come with gas and oil drilling trump local restrictions that communities say protect them from haphazard development?
The case was brought by Munroe Falls, an Akron suburb of 5,000. It involves a well that Beck Energy Corp. began to drill — with the state's permission — on private property in 2011. In the process, the company sidestepped 11 local laws on road use, permitting and drilling, the city contends.
The legal disagreement over whether Beck's permit can pre-empt Munroe Falls' regulations reached the Ohio Supreme Court this summer. Pro- and anti-drilling forces are watching the case because it is further along in the courts than similar lawsuits in other states, and the outcome could encourage or deter the implementation laws elsewhere that would limit drilling.
The case has implications for the spread of fracking. The case in Munroe Falls centers on a traditionally drilled well, but the centralized oil and gas regulation that's in question regulates both kinds.
Shared Systems-- Similar cases have been decided in favor of shared regulation in New York, where fracking is not yet legal, and Pennsylvania, where fracking is widespread. In those cases, municipalities oversee such things as land use and aesthetics, and the state oversees safety and construction. The lawsuit cites Texas, California, Oklahoma and Colorado as states that use a shared system.
“If this goes the way that I hope and pray it would go, it would restore some home rule to municipalities that has been taken away by the state,” said Munroe Falls Mayor Frank Larson. “It would uphold our right to be able to zone certain areas and exclude certain uses and to allow those uses in other areas.”
The 2004 state law under which Beck's state permit was issued consolidated oil and gas production operations under the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The company said in court filings that the idea was “to end the confusion, inefficiency and delays under the earlier patchwork of local ordinances, and to ensure that Ohio's oil and gas resources are developed on a uniform statewide basis.”
Munroe Falls and its allies in the suit — including cities, villages, environmental groups and a host of local businesses — argue the law empowered the state to regulate drilling methods but gave it no authority to protect the interests of local communities. That “constitutional prerogative,” cities argue, has lain with Ohio's local governments for nearly a century.”
12. Pittsburgh’s Air Still Dirty
(So additional pollution from fracking should not be tolerated. jan)
“According to an analysis by the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force, our region experienced 245 “yellow light” days in 2012 when its air quality was not rated “good,” as determined by the U.S. EPA.
Often our air quality is even worse. Our region violated federal health standards for either ozone or fine particulate matter nearly 10 percent of the time — 35 days — in 2012. On these days, we are warned that the air is unhealthy, especially for children, people with heart and lung disease, older adults and those who are active outdoors
A report published in March titled “The Health Impacts of Pittsburgh Air Quality: A Review of the Scientific Literature, 1970-2012” surveyed the extensive scientific research on outdoor air pollution in the Pittsburgh area and how it affects human health.
Since we all have to breathe, no one is safe from these kinds of health effects. And some of our most vulnerable citizens — children, the elderly, the sick and those living in poverty — are at even higher risk, the report found.
These are the terrified children we treat in the ER gasping for every breath, their caregivers unable to afford pricey asthma meds. These are the premature infants who spend months in the neonatal intensive care unit until they are strong enough to leave the hospital. These are the families struggling financially when a parent can no longer work after a stroke or a diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These are the beloved grandparents who die well before their time.
The situation in Pittsburgh becomes even grimmer when gauged against the lens of more stringent World Health Organization standards. By WHO guidelines, fine particulate matter and ozone levels in the Pittsburgh region were unhealthy for nearly 16 percent and 37 percent of last year, respectively. If the EPA had followed the recommendations of its own advisory scientists to implement more health-protective standards, Pittsburgh would be in violation for these pollutants more than twice as many days.
Speaking in May at The Air We Breathe conference Downtown on World Asthma Day, renowned environmental epidemiologist Joel Schwartz of the Harvard School of Public Health noted that there is no evidence to suggest there is a threshold below which air pollution has no health effects. Particulate air pollution kills more people in the United States each year than AIDS, breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. “The difference,” Dr. Schwartz said, “is we know how to cure it.”
We know how to put scrubbers on coal-burning power plants and how to reduce air pollution from large industrial sources. We know how to retrofit diesel school buses and trucks and how to control wood smoke. We know how to improve energy efficiency and make smarter transportation choices. We know how to harness the energy of the wind and sun to make cleaner power.
The light is yellow, signaling that the moment has come for Pittsburgh to make a decision. Our air quality was among the worst in the United States during the days of Big Steel — and it remains so today. Nine of 10 monitored areas in Allegheny County rank in the worst third in the nation for particle pollution. The county ranks in the top two-tenths of 1 percent with respect to cancer risk from large industrial sources and power plants.
Scratch just under the surface of these statistics, and you’ll find your neighbor’s heart attack or your daughter’s asthma attack, your father’s chronic bronchitis or your best friend’s long and painful battle with lung cancer.
If we truly want to be the most livable city, then it is time to slam the brakes on our air pollution problem. All of us need and deserve to breathe clean, healthy air every day. If we succeed, then every family in southwestern Pennsylvania will enjoy better health, longer lives and lower health care bills.
The light is yellow most of the time in Pittsburgh — and often red. History will judge our success as a region by whether we decide to push through recklessly or to stop putting our children’s lives in jeopardy. There’s really only one choice.”
Deborah Gentile is director of research in the Division of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at Allegheny General Hospital. Keith Somers is a pediatrician with CCP-GIL (Children’s Community Pediatrics). Jonathan Spahr is clinical director in the Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2013/11/17/Pittsburgh-s-air-is-still-plenty-dirty-1/stories/201311150219#ixzz2mdYhqjvZ
13. Fine Particulate Matter and Nitrogen Dioxide =Reduced Fetal Growth
(As you know, these are pollutants associated with fracking. The proposed Tenaska gas plant in Ruffsdale would add 400 tons per year of NOX to regional air. Wells, processing plants, and compressor stations also add to the pollution burden. jan)
David A. Savitz*,
Thomas D. Matte
Jennifer F. Bobb,
Jessie L. Carr,
Jane E. Clougherty,
Received June 22, 2013.
Accepted October 11, 2013.
“Building on a unique exposure assessment project in New York, New York, we examined the relationship of particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 μm and nitrogen dioxide with birth weight, restricting the population to term births to nonsmokers, along with other restrictions, to isolate the potential impact of air pollution on growth. We included 252,967 births in 2008–2010 identified in vital records, and we assigned exposure at the residential location by using validated models that accounted for spatial and temporal factors. Estimates of association were adjusted for individual and contextual sociodemographic characteristics and season, using linear mixed models to quantify the predicted change in birth weight in grams related to increasing pollution levels. Adjusted estimates for particulate matter with diameter less than 2.5 μm indicated that for each 10-µg/m3 increase in exposure, birth weights declined by 18.4, 10.5, 29.7, and 48.4 g for exposures in the first, second, and third trimesters and for the total pregnancy, respectively. Adjusted estimates for nitrogen dioxide indicated that for each 10-ppb increase in exposure, birth weights declined by 14.2, 15.9, 18.0, and 18.0 g for exposures in the first, second, and third trimesters and for the total pregnancy, respectively. These results strongly support the association of urban air pollution exposure with reduced fetal growth.”
14. Arsenic in Drinking Water and Cancer
University of California, Berkley
(Arsenic in water has repeatedly been associated with fracking. Jan
“For the first time, findings by the University of California (UC) Berkeley Superfund Research Program (SRP) provide strong evidence in humans that ingested arsenic causes cancer in specific kidney and ureter cells, called transitional cells. Other recent findings from the group suggest that people exposed to both arsenic and other known or suspected carcinogens have very high risks of lung or bladder cancer.
Millions of people worldwide are exposed to arsenic in drinking water, which is generally a result of arsenic's natural presence in local bedrock. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has concluded that ingested arsenic causes lung, bladder, and skin cancer. However, the same conclusion has not been made for kidney cancer because of the lack of individual data on arsenic exposure and dose-response. In addition, relatively few regulations and policies have taken into account the cumulative effects of multiple agents, including arsenic, and cancer risk, primarily because of lack of data.
This study is the first investigation to identify clear dose-response relationships between arsenic in drinking water and transitional cell kidney and ureter cancers using individual data on exposure and by adjusting for other factors linked to kidney cancer, such as smoking, body mass index, chronic renal disease, diabetes, urinary tract infections, and hypertension. Although the number of cases was small, the statistical significance measurements were high suggesting that these findings were not due to chance. Findings are similar to previous high-exposure studies across populations.”
UC Berkeley SRP researchers
15. Scientists Boycott Scientific Journal Elsevier
(This article is actually about the corruption of science on GMO research—It is yet another example of corporate control of science, but in this case, 100 scientists have committed to boycott the journal Elsevier for its unethical retraction of a research paper. Jan)
“ISIS - Institute of Science in Society
Following the retraction of the Seralini et al scientific paper which found health damage to rats fed on GM corn, over 100 scientists have pledged in this Open Letter to boycott Elsevier, publisher of the Journal responsible.
To: Wallace Hayes, Editor in Chief, Food and Chemical Toxicology; Elsevier
Re: "Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize", by G E Séralini et al, published in Food and Chemical Toxicology 2012, 50(11), 4221-31.
Your decision to retract the paper is in clear violation of the international ethical norms as laid down by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), of which FCT is a member. According to COPE, the only grounds for retraction are
1. clear evidence that the findings are unreliable due to misconduct or honest error,
2. plagiarism or redundant publication, or
3. unethical research.
You have already acknowledged that the paper of Séralini et al (2012) contains none of those faults.
This arbitrary, groundless retraction of a published, thoroughly peer-reviewed paper is without precedent in the history of scientific publishing, and raises grave concerns over the integrity and impartiality of science. These concerns are heightened by a sequence of events surrounding the retraction:
· the appointment of ex-Monsanto employee Richard Goodman to the newly created post of associate editor for biotechnology at FCT
· the retraction of another study finding potentially harmful effects from GMOs (which almost immediately appeared in another journal)
· the failure to retract a paper published by Monsanto scientists in the same journal in 2004, for which a gross error has been identified.
The retraction is erasing from the public record results that are potentially of very great importance for public health. It is censorship of scientific research, knowledge, and understanding, an abuse of science striking at the very heart of science and democracy, and science for the public good.
We urge you to reverse this appalling decision, and further, to issue a fulsome public apology to Séralini and his colleagues. Until you accede to our request, we will boycott Elsevier, i.e., decline to purchase Elsevier products, to publish, review, or do editorial work for Elsevier.
The background to this open letter is described in Retracting Seralini Study Violates Science & Ethics (ISIS report). and on this website at Scientific journal retracts study exposing GM cancer risk.”