Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates
January 16, 2014
* For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
* To view permanent documents, past updates, reports, general information and meeting information http://westmorelandmarcellus.blogspot.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.
*** WMCG Meeting We meet the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30 PM in Greensburg. Jan 14. Email Jan for directions. All are very welcome to attend.
*** Public Hearings On Oil/Gas Regs The public hearings will be held at 6 p.m. A list of locations and dates follows: (I copied those in our area. Jan)
Jan. 22, 2014, Washington and Jefferson College’s Rossin Campus Center / Allen Ballroom, 60 South Lincoln Street, Washington, PA 15301
Jan. 23, 2014, Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Convention and Athletic Complex, 711 Pratt Drive, Indiana, PA 15705
Lisa Kasianowitz, Department of Environmental Protection
(Also see article #1 under Take Action!)
***As always letters to the editor are important and one of the best ways to share information with the public. ***
1. Please Comment On Proposed Oil and Gas Regs
This is our only chance to comment on the regulation that regulates frack pits, potentially radioactive drill cuttings, frack flowback, and protection of water in general. Jan
Environmental Quality Board Will Hold Public Hearings
Harrisburg –DEP and the Environmental Quality Board announced that the public comment period for a proposed regulation for environmental protection performance standards associated with oil and gas activities will open on Saturday, Dec. 14.
The Environmental Quality Board (EQB) is a 20-member independent board chaired by the Secretary of DEP that adopts all of the department’s regulations and considers petitions to change regulations. During the public comment period, the EQB will be hosting seven public hearings across Pennsylvania and offer multiple ways to submit comments.
“Public participation is a key part to forging the best regulations possible,” DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo said. “An exceptional number of hearings are being offered by the EQB to gather information and to be sure that people’s voices are heard.”
The proposed regulation implements key provisions of Act 13 of 2012, including further consideration of impacts to public resources, such as parks and wildlife areas; the prevention of spills; the management of waste; and the restoration of well sites after drilling.
Additionally, the draft rulemaking also includes standards affecting the construction of gathering lines and temporary pipelines, and includes provisions for identifying and monitoring abandoned wells close to proposed well sites.
People wishing to present verbal testimony at a hearing are requested to contact the EQB at least one week in advance of the hearing to reserve a time. Those who wish to present testimony at the hearing may use the address below or call the EQB at 717-787-4526 to reserve time to testify. All relevant written and oral comments that are received at a public hearing will be considered when finalizing the regulation.
Witnesses are limited to five minutes of testimony and are requested to submit three written copies of their testimony to the hearing chairperson at the hearing. Organizations are limited to designating one witness to present testimony on their behalf at each hearing.
The public is being invited to submit comments to the EQB regarding the proposed rulemaking by Feb. 12, 2014. Along with their comments, people can submit a one-page summary of their comments to the EQB. Comments, including the one page summary, may be submitted to EQB by accessing the EQB’s Online Public Comment System at http://www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/RegComments.
Written comments and summaries should be mailed to Environmental Quality Board, P.O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477.
The summaries and a formal comment and response document will be distributed to the EQB and available publicly prior to the meeting when the final rulemaking will be considered.
People can also submit comments to RegComments@pa.gov.
Online and email comments must also be received by the EQB on or before Feb. 12. If an acknowledgement of comments submitted online or by email is not received by the sender within two business days, the comments should be re-sent to the EQB to ensure receipt.
For more information or to register for DEP’s Informational webinars, visit www.dep.state.pa.us, keyword: Webinars. After registration, an email will be sent containing a link to the webinar. The webinar will be recorded and posted on the Oil and Gas webinars webpage for future viewing.
To view materials for the proposed regulation, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click the “Proposed Oil and Gas Regulations” button.
Media Contact: Lisa Kasianowitz, DEP, 717-787-1323
Editor’s Note: The public hearings will be held at 6 p.m. A list of locations and dates follows: (I copied those in our area. Jan)
Jan. 22, 2014, Washington and Jefferson College’s Rossin Campus Center / Allen Ballroom, 60 South Lincoln Street, Washington, PA 15301
Jan. 23, 2014, Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Convention and Athletic Complex, 711 Pratt Drive, Indiana, PA 15705
Lisa Kasianowitz, Department of Environmental Protection
Take 3 copies of your statement
http://files.dep.state.pa.us/PublicParticipation/Public Participation Center/PubPartCenterPortalFiles/Environmental Quality Board/2013/August 27 EQB/Proposed Rulemaking - Ch 78/Annex.pdf
Writing Your Comments --Testify/ Send Comments
From Sierra Club
Are you concerned about impacts to water supplies, open pits and wastewater impoundments, or radioactivity from oil and gas operations? Tell the Environmental Quality Board (EQB)!
Your written statements can be longer than 5 minute summary
The EQB is holding seven hearings in January to gather public input on their proposed oil and gas regulations.
We urge you to attend the one nearest you and tell EQB that:
*Water supplies should be restored to Safe Drinking Water standards at a MINIMUM
*DEP should proactively establish standards for pre-drill testing
*DEP should NOT allow the storage of wastewater in open pits or impoundments
*DEP should require drill cuttings to be tested for radioactivity
Click here for a full list of dates, locations and to RSVP.
Initial Talking Points on proposed Chapter 78 regulations
*Water Supplies should be restored to Equal or Better Condition (Section 78.51)
A resident whose water supply has been affected by drilling should receive water he can drink safely. Act 13 (the new Oil and Gas Act) established a provision that specifies a restored or replaced water supplies must meet the standards in the Pennsylvania Safe Drinking Water Act or be comparable to the quality of the water supply before it was affected, if that water was of a higher quality than those standards. It is clear that legislators intended the person affected to have safe drinking water and to be in a condition no worse than before drilling began.
Providing safe drinking water is the minimum that this regulation should require and it should not be "watered down" by changes.
*Pre-Drilling Water Testing should be comprehensive (Section 78.52)
The pre-drill testing of water quality at a residence is a way of establishing a baseline of water quality and for determining one water quality has not been affected by drilling. One or more tests may be needed to establish this baseline. The proposed regulation does not specify the parameters for the pre-drill test of a resident's water quality. A driller may conduct a test which would not include many of the contaminants (such as dissolved methane gas, BTEX, barium, bromide, chloride, strontium) for which a resident should be concerned. DEP needs to be proactive and to establish standards for pre-drill testing.
*Open pits are not the best practice for storing wastewater and should be prohibited (Section 78.56)
DEP regulations continue to allow the storage of wastewater in open pits or impoundments. The potential for contamination associated with using pits has led major companies to adopt operation policies that aim to transition away from pits and standardize the use of closed loop systems based on tanks. Recent legislation in Illinois took a similar approach by requiring that hydraulic fracturing fluid, hydraulic fracturing flowback, and produced water at well sites be stored in above-ground tanks during all phases of drilling. Tanks should be used for temporary storage. Unless a backup system for containing leaks is installed (secondary containment) and unless these tanks are constantly monitored, pollution of adjacent streams can still occur.
*Drill Cutting need to be tested for radioactivity (Section 78.61)
The Marcellus is different from other shale formations in that it is highly enriched with naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM). Radiation levels in the Marcellus may vary widely from region to region and even from well to well. Newspapers have reported instances where drilling cutting waste has set off radioactivity alarms at waste landfills. Scientists, academics, and public health officials have long advocated that cuttings from horizontal wells in the Marcellus should be tested before choosing a disposal option --and in most cases disposal should occur at low-level radiological waste disposal sites.
*Residual waste disposal on roads and land is not a beneficial use (Section78.70)
The disposal of residual waste from gas and oil development is fraught with problems. Byproduct wastes can pollute waterways and landscapes in a more significant manner than other residual wastes. The proposed rules allow the spreading of wastewater ("brine") from conventional wells on roads, but not from Marcellus wells. DEP regulations do not ensure that land spreading do not result in contamination of soil, vegetation, and groundwater, particularly near drinking water supplies, streams, and rivers.
*Potential stray gas migration is not addressed by the proposed rules (Section 78.52a and Section 78.73)
Stray gas migration has been and continues to be a major problem in the gas fields of Pennsylvania. Old unplugged and abandoned wells are a source of gas which migrates. The proposed rules are not consistent with STRONGER’s (an independent review group) recommendation to eliminate potential pathways for fluid movement into groundwater before conducting hydraulic fracturing operations. The proposed rules for pre-fracking surveys require no on-site inspections and assessments for the purposes of identification of orphaned or abandoned wells prior to drilling. Only a "paper" review of maps and questionnaires is required.
Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter · PO Box 606 · Harrisburg PA 17108 717-232-0101 · (F) 717-238-6330 · email@example.com
http://files.dep.state.pa.us/PublicParticipation/Public Participation Center/PubPartCenterPortalFiles/Environmental Quality Board/2013/August 27 EQB/Proposed Rulemaking - Ch 78/Annex.pdf
2. Disnney Pulls out of Education Propaganda---Thanks to all Who Signed the Petition
After hearing from more than 100,000 parents and concerned citizens like you, Radio Disney has pulled out of "Rocking in Ohio," which promoted fossil fuels to kids in school in a song and game filled roadshow.
This is an important victory. But Disney runs science education programs in schools across the country. So it isn’t enough for them to just pull out of "Rocking in Ohio" — they need to commit to not promote fossil fuels in any of their science and energy outreach to schools and kids.
Now is a key moment to share the news and to let Radio Disney know they need to publicly promise to support kid-safe, climate-safe energy!
3. Using Acid Mine Drainage --The Vote on 411-
411 Passed appropriations committee
****Call Senators to tell them to vote no
“ Immunity to polluters? Corporations profiting from selling contaminated water? Scary though it may be, that's what a bill moving through the Pennsylvania Senate would have in store for our state--the bill that would grant polluters immunity from lawsuits and damage claims. Were this bill to be passed, corporations could withdraw contaminated water from abandoned mines. They wouldn't be required to treat the water before selling it to firms for other uses, like fracking. And, they'd be granted immunity from all legal recourse and damages claims. This law helps polluting corporations and hurts Pennsylvanians. Help us kill it by taking action today. In the past, only watershed conservation groups who were dealing with polluted water were granted these immunities. But now, corporations intend to profit by taking dangerous substances and selling them for dirty practices such as fracking. This destructive bill almost came to a vote at the end of 2013. With the legislature back in action this week, you can bet our opponents will try again to push this bill through. We need you to tell your State Senator now that you oppose the bill. Send an email now to make sure that companies don't get to profit off of pollution: https://secure3.convio.net/fww/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=1031
Thanks for taking action, Sam Bernhardt, Pennsylvania Organizer Food & Water Watch
Senate Appropriations Committee Vote on SB411, approved 16-9:
NO votes: Ferlo, Greenleaf, Mensch, Rafferty, Schwenck, Tomlinson, Vance, Costa, Washington.
YES votes: Argall, Baker, Blake, Brubaker, Farnese, Gordner, Solobay, Smucker, Vogel, Vance, Vulakovich, Wozniak, Yudichak, Pileggi, Scarnati, Hughes.
***Concerned about the air quality in your community related to drilling—Speaker Available
Southwestern Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project will provide a professional speaker if you host a community meeting. “Tyler Rubright is available throughout the next couple of weeks to come to meetings and present and/or help to facilitate and answer any questions.”
Contact Jessa Chabeau
***Energy Industry Runs Roughshod Over North Dakota-Video
Rachel Maddow reports on recent oil disasters in North Dakota and how accountability is sacrificed for fear of discouraging energy industry. http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/watch/energy-industry-runs-roughshod-over-nd-105687108001/www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/watch/energy-industry-runs-roughshod-over-nd-105687108001
***WTAE- Societal Effects Of Gas Industry (Some notes by jan): “Many gas industry workers are not local people but are from out of state. There have been increased criminal cases and abuse problems, and housing has become unaffordable especially for low-income families. In Greene County, the influx of workers spiked housing costs--a $350 apartment may now be $700. Greene has had the highest peak in protection from abuse orders in more than a decade. Nearby counties had similar increases. The Washington County DA notes a steady increase of 700 criminal cases each year since the industry arrived 5 years ago. He attributes this to a rise in drug abuse and also more people coming in from the oil and gas industry.
In West Virginia (Ohio County), calls for emergency service nearly doubled. Larceny increased more than 50% and criminal citations more than quadrupled. During the same period in Green County, larceny climbed 50% and Fayette County drug abuse violations by 20%. In Westmoreland County curfew and loitering increased by 55%. Two out-of-state industry workers were recently charged with murder in the beating death of a Wheeling Jesuit University athlete. No one is tracking whether it is oil and gas workers who have led to these increases. However, in Bradford County, the DA does say they see a 40% increase in criminal cases mostly due to the gas industry. Bradford County has asked a Senate committee for more state police resources
To view the video:
***Video: Hidden Financial Dangers of Fracking-- 16-25 % drop in Property Value--Two Studies cited in the video: Property values drop if you have a water well and live within 1 km of a gas well, property values drop by 16%: Denver study if you live near a well values drop by 25%.
Reuters recently told the story of one Los Angeles man who blames Freeport McMoRan (NYSE: FCX) for the fact that his property's value has plummeted, leaving him unable to sell his house for anything near what he bought it for. Brian Stoffel discusses how those who hold out are being hurt, and what they are threatening to do. Lawsuits are being filed by affected landowners.
***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/
*** Link to the Duquesne Seminar:
Mediasite presentation -- Facing the Challenges Conference, Duquesne University, November 2013
List of Presentations:
Bain - Establishing a Water Chemistry Baseline for Southwest Pennsylvania: The Ten Mile Creek Case
Bamberger, Oswald - Impacts of gas drilling on human and animal health: updates
Boufadel - The potential for air migration during pneumatic drilling: Recommendations for best performance
Brittingham - The effects of shale gas development on forest landscapes and ecosystems
Brown - Understanding exposures from natural gas drilling puts current air standards to the test
Capo, Stewart - Isotopic signatures as tracers for shale gas fluids
Christopherson - Why local governments take action in response to shale gas development
Collins - Regulatory structures for reuse and disposal of shale gas wastewater
Drohan - How fracking technology is changing landscapes compared to past resource extraction disturbance
Grant - Marcellus shale and mercury: assessing impacts on aquatic ecosystems
Howarth - Shale gas aggravates global warming
Ingraffea - A statistical analysis of leakage from Marcellus gas wells in Pennsylvania
Jackson - Water interactions with shale gas extraction
Jansa - Gas Rush Stories
Kelso, Malone - Data inconsistencies from states with unconventional oil and gas activity
Porter - Impact of Marcellus activities on salamanders and fish populations in the Ten Mile Creek watershed
Rabinowitz - Health complaints, water quality indicators, and proximity to gas wells in Washington County PA
Robinson - Air Quality and Climate Issues with Natural Gas Development and Production
Stolz - The Woodlands: a case study of well water contamination related to unconventional shale gas extraction
Stout - Wheeling, West Virginia Experience with Frackwater: What "Brinewater" and "Residual Waste" Trucks are Really Carrying
VanBriesen - Challenges in assessing effects of shale gas produced water on drinking water treatment plants
Ward - Measuring the human and social service impacts of natural gas development
Ziemkiewicz - What does monitoring in the three rivers tell us about the effects of shale gas development?
1. The Act 13 Defeat
“Local governments argued that drilling was an industrial activity that should be subject to reasonable zoning. That view was upheld.
The plaintiffs who brought the case did not seek to overturn the entire law, said Jordan B. Yeager, a Doylestown environmental lawyer who represented several municipalities.
"That's not something we asked for," he said.
"I think it would be a mistake for municipalities to do whatever they want to do with oil and gas," Pifer said. "There still are restrictions."
For the short term, the ruling has created much uncertainty. Anti-drilling activists are likely to pressure the 60 percent of Pennsylvania municipalities that don't have zoning laws to enact them.
"Where this goes is up to the municipalities," said Blaine A. Lucas, a gas-industry lawyer for the Pittsburgh law firm of Babst Calland. "How are they going to react to this? To be more restrictive?"
Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille's opinion said the Act 13 zoning restrictions violated the state's duties to protect public natural resources under the "Environmental Rights Amendment," an Earth Day-era law that guarantees Pennsylvanians' access to clean air and water.” http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140112_Court_decision_may_have_big_impact_on_drilling.html
2. Legal scholar: "Inconceivable" That New Corbett Legal Tactic Will Succeed
“In a statement, Corbett general counsel James D. Schultz said "[T]oday's request for reconsideration seeks to give Act 13 its fair day in court."
Castille's opinion, he added, "made its own sweeping factual findings ... none of which finds any support in the sparse and uneven factual record" in the case.
Jonathan Kamin, one of the attorneys won the case, counters that if the factual record was uneven, the state only has itself to blame. "Everyone agreed to an expedited trial and argument schedule, and they are the ones who requested that" Kamin says. His clients, he adds, did include affidavits and reports documenting concerns about fracking's environmental impact -- all to help prove that Act 13's industry-friendly approach to fracking violated the state's Environmental Protection Amendment. (The amendment, passed in 1971 asserts that Pennsylvanians "have a right to clean air, pure water, and ... the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment.") But the state's legal strategy largely bypassed that evidence, Kamin says, focusing on legal issues like court precedents limiting the Amendment's applicability.
In the end, Castille accepted the environmentalists' more expansive interpretation of the amendment, to the surprise of many -- Corbett's lawyers perhaps most of all. But "it's funny that now they're saying there wasn't a chance at a full discussion," Kamin says. "It's like the classic situation where the children who kill their parents cry about being orphans. "
In any case, Kamin adds, "This is a 160-page decision, well-reasoned and thoughtful, and it took the court over a year to produce." Given all that, "it's not appropriate to say [the court] didn't know what it was doing."
And Duquesne University law professor Bruce Ledewitz, at least, says "it's inconceivable that the court is going to revisit" its opinion now.
Ledewitz has written an op-ed trumpeting the ruling, but he understands the state's objections. "I loved this decision in every way," he says, "but Chief Justice Castille gave us a whole history of coal development in the state -- it's not possible for that have been to decided earlier in this case.
Everybody was completely blown away by that."
But Ledewitz says that Kamin's response -- that the state had its chance to argue the facts -- is "absolutely unassailable. The plaintiffs are going to say, 'We always said the Environmental Protection Amendment meant more than it has meant [in earlier cases], and that's why we brought forward the arguments we did. You relied on [prior caselaw], and that's why you didn't think any of this was relevant.'" And having chosen a losing legal strategy, Ledewitz says, the state can't get a do-over.
Even if the state did present evidence to counter the claims made by the plaintiffs, Ledewitz suspects, the result wouldn't be any different.
"The chief justice clearly knows the state's position. This court knew there was a controversy about how much harm fracking does -- we all know that.
And the court has taken a position that the plaintiffs are right."
It's not that the court never reverses itself. Ledewitz cites the United Artists case, in which the court ruled that historic-preservation laws were unconstitutional in 1991 ... and then reversed itself two years later. Ledewitz says the earlier ruling prompted preservationists to "come out and say 'You can't mean that.' And the court reversed itself." But in dealing a mortal blow to Act 13, he says, "It's very clear that the court did mean that."
So if a motion for reconsideration is such a longshot, why bother to try it? Ledewitz suspects two reasons. First, he thinks the state may have real concerns about the severability question. And second, he says, Castille's ruling essentially argues that the state has jeopardized the environment in the name of "jobs." And especially in an election year, Ledewitz says, "The administration simply can't agree with that position.
"This is about the politics of fracking -- and I don't mean that in an underhanded way," Ledewitz adds. "This is a representation of the governor's honestly held position, and to make a policy statement like this is perfectly honorable."
But it's not one, he adds, that is likely to impress the state's highest court.”
3. Our Pennsylvania PUC and DEP Working Against Us On Act 13 Decision
"... the DEP is charged with protecting the Commonwealth's environment, yet rather than defend its Section 27 (Environmental Rights) fiduciary duties, Agencies seek to undermine their constitutional role."
Municipalities ask court to let drilling ruling stand
“ Jan 15 – South Fayette and six other Pennsylvania municipalities have asked the state Supreme Court to deny a Corbett administration request to reconsider its order declaring unconstitutional the "drill anywhere" provision of the state's oil and gas law. The municipalities say in a 15-page response filed Wednesday that the court's Dec. 19 decision was based on a purely legal determination that the law's provisions overriding local zoning were unconstitutional. They further say there is no need to review additional factual evidence and findings that the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Public Utility Commission now want to introduce on appeal. "This wasn't a factual case with evidence," said John Smith, co-counsel for the municipalities. "It was a pure matter of law and they even argued that, to the Commonwealth Court, that the factual record was of no relevance."
In an appeal filed Jan. 2, those state entities and the governor's Office of General Counsel asked the Supreme Court for an opportunity to re-argue the case and introduce new evidence. In filing for the appeal, the Public Utility Commission and DEP asked that the case be returned to Commonwealth Court for development of the evidentiary record. "They've lost on the law question, so now they want to re-argue on the facts," Mr. Smith said. The municipalities also quote the Supreme Court opinion that states Act 13 did not pass constitutional muster because "constitutional commands regarding municipalities' obligations and duties to their citizens cannot be abrogated by statute."
4. Murrysville Meeting On Leasing Park For Gas
“The possibility of Marcellus shale gas drilling under Murrysville Community Park could become a reality. Next Wednesday, council will discuss a proposed lease to the oil and gas rights at the park.
Murrysville Chief Administrator Jim Morrison confirmed on Wednesday that the municipality had been approached by an oil and gas producer regarding the natural gas rights at the park.
“The council at their next regularly scheduled meeting will discuss the proposed lease,” Morrison wrote in an email. “Council feels the input of the residents of the community is paramount in helping guide an appropriate course of action on this very important issue.”
Huntley and Huntley, a Monroeville-based drilling company, has approached officials about leasing the gas rights under the 262-acre park, but the company has not made a formal offer, said Mike Hillebrand, vice president and chief operating officer at Huntley. “
5.Challenge of South Fayette's Zoning Ordinance On Oil/Gas Postponed
Jan 13 – “Range Resources was attempting to have the South Fayette Zoning Ordinance thrown out. The current ordinance protects schools, residential areas, and parks (conservation districts.)
Range Resources on Monday agreed to postpone its challenge of South Fayette's zoning regulations on oil and gas drilling, deciding that a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that overturned statewide drilling rules left too much unclear. Clifford Levine, representing Range Resources and Cuddy Partners LP, was scheduled to argue on Monday and Tuesday nights before the township's zoning hearing board and challenge drilling regulations South Fayette adopted in November 2010.
But just before the hearing was to begin, he and township solicitor Jonathan Kamin agreed to table the challenge indefinitely until state courts decide what remains of Pennsylvania's Act 13, which had overruled many local drilling regulations until the state Supreme Court threw out parts of the law in December. Rather than fight about what powers the township has or what pieces of Act 13 still apply, both parties agreed to table the challenge until either one decides to resume it, in hopes that the courts would rule on the state law in the meantime.”
6. Candidate for Governor, John Hangar Posts This Article:
DEP, drillers must guarantee safe drinking water in gas field
“80-year-old Max Chilson’s water turned black and he began to get rashes after showering shortly after Chief Oil and Gas began drilling within 1800 feet of his water well in 2010. Three years later Max still cannot drink his water. DEP must retest his water and someone – the driller, the state or perhaps the county must replace Max’s water.
After Max’s water went bad, DEP tested the water and found diesel fuel, high bacteria levels and manganese. Chief supplied Chilson with bottled water until DEP said that the driller was not responsible for the contamination. His water turned black again when Chief fracked a new well 1200 feet from his well in 2012.
Max has lived here all his life, paid taxes and raised a family. DEP must retest his water to determine whether or not it’s safe for any use and conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the well contamination.
This situation is becoming all too familiar in the gas field. Property-owners who are having serious problems as a result of drilling cannot get help from the gas driller or the DEP. That’s why I will create an independent office to handle citizen complaints and work to resolve problems like this.
In the meantime, providing Mr. Chilson with safe water is the right thing to do. Max deserves no less and human decency demands drinking water for this life-long resident of Bradford County.”
7. Range Spokesman Matt Pitzarella Misrepresented Education Credentials
Range Resources Director of Corporate Communications Matt Pitzarella has long listed a master of science degree in leadership and business ethics from Duquesne University as one of his educational accomplishments – one he claimed to have earned in 2005. That degree is listed under his educational experience on his Linkedin profile.
However, an investigation into his education reveals that Pitzarella never earned a degree through Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
Marcellus Monitor received this email from the university’s Director of Communications, Tammy Ewin in response to our inquiry into Pitzarella’s degree:
Matt Pitzarella does not have a degree from Duquesne University. He attended from the spring of 2004 through fall 2004 in the master of science in leadership and business ethics program.
But that’s not the way he’s portrayed his educational accomplishments in recent publications.
Pitzarella is the controversial spokesman for Range, a leader in Marcellus Shale drilling, who has often made national headlines for statements made in high-profile litigation cases.
In January 2012, he claimed a Texas man who sued Range for water contamination lied about problems he was having at his home. One website reports that Pitzarella said the man, Steven Lipsky, “deliberately falsified an internet video of his garden hose flaming.”
Pitzarella also made national headlines when, at the Media & Stakeholder Relations: Hydraulic Fracturing Initiative 2011 conference he revealed in a presentation that Range hires veterans with combat experience in psychological warfare to influence communities in which the company drills for gas.
Pitzarella also made national headlines regarding a lifetime gag order on the minor children of a Pennsylvania family that settled a lawsuit alleging that drilling activity by the company led to water contamination.
8. Mt Pleasant Twp. Upholds Violation of Impoundments
Jan 13 – “The Mt. Pleasant Township Zoning Hearing Board voted unanimously to uphold notices of violation issued by the township’s zoning officer against four impoundments owned by Range Resources. Zoning hearing board members Barry Johnston and Ron Stewart rejected Range’s appeal to the notices of violation.
The township maintains that Range violated its zoning ordinance by failing to restore the impoundments after completing all frack wells that were nearby. The Marcellus shale drilling company contends that all four impoundments – Stewart, Klingerman, Cowden and Carter – are legal nonconforming use, and made a proposal to the township to end the ongoing zoning board hearings that began when the township issued notices of violation to Range’s four impoundments in July 2013. Supervisors rejected the proposal in November. Three of the impoundments are used for fresh water storage, while the Carter impoundment holds wastewater.”
9. Acid Mine Drainage and Fracking Waste Radioactivity
From Bob Donnan
Jan 13 – “:Researchers believe they have found an unlikely way to decrease the radioactivity of some fracking wastewater that is created when some of the chemical-laced water used to frack underground rocks flows back out of the wellbore : Mix it with the hazardous drainage from mining operations. The water is tainted with chemicals, toxins and in — such as PA — naturally occurring radioactive materials, such as radium. Research has shown that even wastewater that had been treated with conventional means was changing the chemistry of rivers when discharged into waterways. In 2011, Pennsylvania barred (Bob Donnan corrects: drillers were not barred but asked”) drillers from taking the wastewater to treatment facilities, forcing them to haul the fluid waste to be disposed in underground injection wells in Ohio.
This, along with a lack of freshwater in other parts of the country needed to drill new wells, has scientists and the industry looking for creative solutions. The discovery by Duke University researchers would allow oil and gas drillers to combine flowback waters from the fracking process with acid drainage from mining, or any other salty water. The solids that form, which include radioactive materials, are removed and dumped at a hazardous waste landfill.”
Photo by Bob Donnan
Drill cuttings are typical hauled on trucks in
covered dumpsters called ‘roll-offs’
10. $280,000 in Penalties On Shale Firm For Using Illegal Workers
Jan 9 – “A federal judge imposed more than $280,000 in penalties on a Marcellus Shale surveying firm and a foreman who were caught using 19 undocumented Mexican workers on a project in northeastern Pennsylvania. U.S. Middle District Judge Yvette Kane levied most of that fiscal pain on Sealy, Texas-based GPX/GXP USA, which she hit with a $25,000 fine and a $250,000 forfeiture order. She gave the company a 36-month probation sentence.”
An operations manager with the firm, Douglas Wiggill, who lives in Fort Worth, Texas, dodged a prison term, but was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine. Wiggill's lawyer, told Kane that his client, a Canadian citizen, might be deported because of the conviction. GPX and Wiggill pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to harboring illegal alien charges. The case stemmed from the arrest of the undocumented workers during a June 2011 police raid of housing the company rented in the Williamsport area. At the time, GPX was conducting seismic surveying to identify natural gas fields within the Marcellus Shale deposits.
11. A Good Example of the Multiple Sources of Pollution that Accompany The Gas Industry
By Bob Donan: “Since I am signed-up for email ‘Permit Alerts’ from the Pa DEP it is hard not to notice the ongoing string of permits for the MarkWest Megopolis in spite of all the air pollution issues…
(These are the kinds of polluting sources that accompany the density of wells we see in neighboring counties. Jan)
THEY JUST KEEP ADDING ONTO THAT HUGE PLANT!” Bob
12. PINELANDS COMMISSION REJECTS GAS PIPELINE
“The members of the New Jersey Pinelands Commission stood up to pressure from the shale gas industry — and from Governor Christie — and voted 7 to 7 to reject a pipeline which would have carried fracked gas from the Marcellus Shale through the treasured, and legally protected, New Jersey Pinelands.
Seven Commissioners rejected an intensely controversial “Memorandum of Agreement” (MOA) which would have violated the Commission’s own rules in order to permit the pipeline. These Commissioners acted to protect a region that provides drinking water to millions of state residents against a brand new, unnecessary, and damaging South Jersey Gas Pipeline.”
13. Gas Development Disturbing Forest Ecosystems
If They Can't Measure it, they can’t Manage It
“The DCNR Forest Monitoring Report is more than two years overdue, with no date of release in sight.
Jan 9 – “Kevin Heatley lives in Lycoming County and has spent years hiking in the Tiadaghton State Forest. He’s an ecologist by trade. As he stands next to a freshly cleared patch of forest, he’s disturbed by what he sees. “Everything from the noise and the traffic to the lighting, to the pad placements, to the pipeline construction to the road expansion,” he says. “This is all industrial infrastructure. It’s inherently incompatible with sustainable forest management.”
It’s called forest fragmentation. It’s what happens when human development crisscrosses the landscape, carving up large swaths of contiguous forest into smaller pieces. The U.S. Geological Survey has found most of the disturbance from Lycoming County’s gas drilling is happening in sensitive ecosystems known as core forests. These areas are very different from edge habitat– that’s forest next to something else, like a grassy field, or a suburban home.
Pennsylvania currently has 2.2 million acres of public forestland.
About 700,000 acres are available for oil and gas development.”
14. EPA Relies On Industry—Duke U. Rebuts The Data
Jan 10 - When the U.S. EPA declared that a group of Texas homes near a gas-drilling operation didn’t have dangerous levels of methane in their water, it relied on tests conducted by the driller itself. Now, independent tests from Duke University researchers have found potentially explosive levels of methane in some of the wells, and homeowners want the EPA to re-open the case. The previously undisclosed Duke testing illustrate the complaints of critics who say the agency is reluctant to sanction a booming industry that has pushed down energy prices for consumers, created thousands of jobs and buoyed the economy.
“I don’t understand why they would let the company that was accused of doing the wrongdoing conduct the tests,” said Shelly Perdue, who lives near the two wells in Weatherford, 60 miles (97 kilometers) west of Dallas. “It doesn’t make sense.” The driller, Range Resources Corp. (RRC), denies that its drilling in the area is the source of any contamination and says its testing was conducted by an independent laboratory. Steve Lipsky, another homeowner, said he’s trying to get the EPA to re-test the water and force Range to permanently close its wells with cement. He sued Range, which countersued alleging defamation and business disparagement. “EPA is our best hope,” Lipsky said in an interview. Unless measures are taken, “something catastrophic is going to happen”
15. Methane Seeps…
Study finds 5,893 natural gas leaks in Washington, D.C.
(If you recall there was a report out of Boston last year about identifying gas leaks by locating dying trees, the roots being starved for oxygen due to the gas. Jan)
Jan 16 – “New research says the nation's capital, has thousands of leaks of methane from natural gas pipelines. More than 5,800 leaks from aging pipelines were found under Washington, D.C.'s streets by scientists from Duke University and Boston University, who dispatched a car equipped with measuring instruments across the city last January and February. Their findings appear in this week's peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology.
The researchers found 19 of the leaks had high concentrations of methane, a potent heat-trapping greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming as well as smog-forming ozone. So they got out of the car and put probes into manholes. They found 12 could have caused explosions because of their levels — up to 10 times the threshold at which explosions can occur. "If you dropped a cigarette down a manhole ... it could have blown up," says Robert Jackson.
16. Symptomatology of_a_Gas_Field_
Health Survey ABSTRACT Queensland, Australia
“The unconventional gas industry has been allowed rapid, unprecedented expansion in Queensland within recent years with little regard to the public health consequences. The people of the remote rural residential estates on the Western Downs near Tara in Queensland are suffering from the side effects of the industry. Despite their pleas over the past few years to successive Queensland Governments, as illustrated in the recently released Queensland Government health report into the effects of CSG in the Tara region, their reports of ill health have been trivialized or ignored.
Conversely this study found a pattern of symptoms, which is extremely concerning. In particular a high percentage of the residents surveyed had symptoms which could relate to neurotoxicity. These included tingling, paraesthesiai, numbness, headaches, difficulty concentrating and extreme fatigue. Of particular concern was the high percentage of symptomatic children, with paraesthesia being reported in approximately a third (15/48) of children to age 18, and headaches being reported in more than 70% (36/48). These symptoms deserve further investigation, something which has not been done adequately to date. If these symptoms are caused by living within a gas field, there are serious implications not only for this community but for many more across Australia. If the health implications of the unconventional gas industry continue to be ignored and the industry is allowed to develop along its current path, the potential exists for serious and widespread harm to human health across Australia.
This report documents an investigation during February and March 2013 by a concerned General Practitioner, in relation to health complaints by people living in close proximity to coal seam gas development in SW Queensland.
Thirty -five households in the Tara residential estates and the Kogan/Montrose region were surveyed in person and telephone interviews were conducted with three families who had left the area. Information was collected on 113 people from the 38 households. Of these, 17 were children 5 years of age or less, 31 were children aged between 6 and 18, and 65 were adults aged between 19 and 82. 58% of residents surveyed reported that their health was definitely adversely affected by CSG, whilst a further 19% were uncertain. The pattern reported was outside the scope of what would be expected for a small rural community. In all age groups there were reported increases in cough, chest tightness, rashes, difficulty sleeping, joint pains, muscle pains and spasms, nausea and vomiting. Approximately one third of the people over 6 years of age were reported to have spontaneous nose bleeds, and almost three quarters were reported to have skin irritation. Over half of children were reported to have eye irritation.
A range of symptoms were reported which can sometimes be related to neurotoxicity (damage to the nervous system), including severe fatigue, weakness, headaches, numbness and paraesthesia (abnormal sensations such as pins and needles, burning or tingling). Approximately a third of the all the 48 children to age 18 (15/48) were reported to experience paraesthesia. Almost all the 31 children aged 6-18 were reported to suffer from headaches and for over half of these the headaches were severe. Of people aged 6 years and over, severe fatigue and difficulty concentrating was reported for over half. Parents of a number of young children reported twitching or unusual movements, and clumsiness or unsteadiness.”
17. New York Times –
EPA Knew the Risk of Fracking and Little to Protect Us (from 2011)
This is a confidential Environmental Protection Agency draft document on the environmental impacts of the oil, gas and coal industries. It shows that federal authorities are concerned about public drinking water supplies in the region of the Marcellus Shale, an especially abundant natural gas reserve that stretches from Virginia up to the southern half of New York State. The document also suggests that the environmental impacts from the oil and gas industry are likely to grow in the coming year. E.P.A. officials express concern about the potential for drilling wastewater to pollute drinking water sources, like lakes and rivers, in the region of the Marcellus Shale, in Pennsylvania.
“As oil and gas development encroach on suburban and urban areas, human health and environmental impacts are expected to escalate. ….Nationally suspected environmental impacts are diverse; concerns exist with produced water disposal issues as they are impacting surface drinking water intakes in the Marcellus plays, air emissions issues and induced seismic events associated with the continuing expansion of Barnett shale play. “
Overview EPA Briefing (Benzene in Petroleum Distillates) P 6
This is an E.P.A. briefing, presented by officials from several regional offices to Robert M. Sussman, E.P.A. senior policy counsel, that highlights concerns and research priorities related to hydrofracking, a relatively new drilling method. The document cites waste disposal as the main “bottleneck for the industry.” It raises concerns about the high number of abandoned wells in Pennsylvania, which is important because some scientists have suggested that improperly abandoned well bores could provide a path for contaminants to migrate from drilling sites deep underground to ground water sources at shallower depths, causing contamination of drinking water. Indeed, the agency intends to include this topic in a national study of the potential risks of hydrofracking, according to draft plans made public on Feb. 8. In this document, federal officials also cite the risk to drinking water supplies posed by wastewater carrying radioactive materials that may not be removed by conventional treatment plants.
This section contains an important policy statement. It says: “E.P.A. recognizes potential indirect impacts from HF,” or hydrofracking. These indirect impacts include pollution of surface water like rivers and lakes by hydrofracking wastewater, the consumption of drinking water supplies, and "methane migration" or the movement of methane underground. Methane migration can happen for many reasons, and can cause dramatic impacts, including flammable tap water. The E.P.A.'s phrasing is significant because the industry has often avoided responsibility for indirect impacts by claiming that hydrofracking is not “directly” at fault. Industry officials make this point often in cases where methane migration is concerned. The E.P.A. is now conducting a national study which may provide answers about the extent to which drinking water problems have been caused, directly or indirectly, by hydrofracking activities.
Here, the agency discusses the use of diesel fuel in hydrofracking. This is important for two reasons, one related to the law and the other focused on health risks. First, although hydrofracking is generally not covered by provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act that deal with underground injection, Congress decided that the exclusion would not apply to hydrofracking conducted using diesel. In this passage of the document, E.P.A. officials say that a report by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy group, found that the E.P.A. was not adequately enforcing laws on hydrofracking with diesel. Second, diesel carries high levels of the so-called BTEX chemicals -- benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes -- which are carcinogens. But E.P.A. authorities say here that diesel is not the only component of fracturing fluid that contains high levels of BTEX and other toxic materials. Indeed, companies have disclosed to the authorities in New York and Pennsylvania that they use other types of petroleum distillates that contain high levels of benzene, a human carcinogen that is considered unsafe in drinking water at levels above five parts per billion, the equivalent of a few drops in a swimming pool. Some of these petroleum distillates that the industry uses include kerosene, mineral spirits, petroleum naphtha and Stoddard solvent. According to scientific literature, these additives can contain up to 93 times the amount of benzene contained in diesel.
Overview Skipping Pre Treatment Causes Pollution P 294
This document, from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, focuses on the development of wells in the state's Marcellus Shale, a vast natural gas reserve. It highlights worries that sending drilling waste through sewage treatment plants may adversely affect the ability of the plant to break down the sewage. When sewage plants fail to effectively break down the sewage they are designed to handle, fecal matter and other dangerous pollutants can end up in rivers.
Overview P 297 Brine Causes Problems at Plants
This document, an internal E.P.A. presentation from September 2009, shows some of the concerns and challenges of Marcellus Shale drilling. The document points out that the federal Clean Water Act prohibits industrial users from discharging wastes to sewage treatment plants that may damage the plant; the high salt content and other toxic substances in drilling waste have presented problems to the microbes used by these plants to clean water. Other documents from Pennsylvania show that some sewage treatment plants taking large amounts of drilling wastewater have already had problems properly treating sewage, which has ended up being discharged into rivers.
Overview Reliance on Dilution P 306
This document, from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, is a presentation related to setting caps on the amount of hydrofracking wastewater that public sewage treatment plants and wastewater treatment plants (W.W.T.P.s) are allowed to accept. The document is noteworthy because, in it, state officials say that their treatment of hydrofracking waste relies on diluting, not actually removing, contaminants. In other state and federal documents, regulators make it clear that sewage treatment plants are, under the law, supposed to treat, not simply dilute, wastewater.
Overview Aquatic Life Affected P 317
This is a study by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Marcellus Shale wastewater discharge to the South Fork Tenmile Creek in Southwest Pennsylvania. In this document, state regulators conclude that even after treatment plants reduced the amount of hydrofracking wastewater that they were accepting, the water discharged from these treatment plants still had a negative impact on aquatic life in the streams that received the discharge.
After this document was produced in 2009, environmental researchers from the University of Pittsburgh came to a similar conclusion in a study that will not be published until March 2011. Even after much of the natural gas industry began recycling their wastewater and even after the state passed new regulations limiting the levels of salts that treatment plants can release into rivers, the researchers found lingering problems with these plants. Last November and December, these researchers tested water discharged by two treatment plants that are still accepting large amounts of drilling wastewater. At the Franklin Township sewage treatment plant, which discharges into the Ten Mile Creek, a tributary of the Monongahela River, the researchers found that the water was more than eight times over a new state limit for a gritty substance common to drilling wastewater known as T.D.S. or "total dissolved solids." T.D.S. is a mixture of salt and other minerals that get pulled up from deep underground during gas production. At the Pennsylvania Brine Treatment Josephine industrial treatment plant, which discharges into the Blacklick Creek in the Allegheny watershed, the researchers found water that was 380 times above that same state limit for the same contaminant levels, according to the data that will be released publicly in March. The lead researcher in the study said that the levels found of T.D.S. represented a breach of state law.
Overview Conference Call between state and Federal Regulators on Marcellus
This summary of a conference call between federal and state environmental regulators about Marcellus Shale reveals that as early as October 2008, E.P.A. officials raised concerns about the effects of wastewater passed through sewage treatment plants and taken in by public water supplies.
Overview EPA Scientist Discusses Radioactivity in Waste P. 388
This is a memo written by Nidal Azzam, a senior E.P.A. health physicist, to another regulator from E.P.A. Region 2, which includes New York. It contains suggestions from Mr. Azzam about what points should be made in an E.P.A. letter bound for New York State. This letter from the E.P.A. was meant to provide guidance to New York, which is in the midst of conducting a study on hydrofracking as it considers whether to allow increased natural gas drilling. The report being conducted by New York is called the New York State Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (D.S.G.E.I.S.) on the Oil, Gas, and Solution Mining Regulatory Program. In this memo, Mr. Azzam raises concerns about the radioactivity in drilling waste. Oil and gas industry officials have repeatedly said that the radioactivity is too low to be a concern. But based on radioactivity readings cited in New York’s proposed draft study, Mr. Azzam takes a different view.
Overview p. 410 Pa Field Survey of Radioactivity at Marcellus Shale Wells
This is a copy of a field survey of radioactive materials in Marcellus Shale gas wells in 2008 and 2009, conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. It includes water and soil samples for multiple well sites that show a range of levels of radium, uranium and other radioactive materials.
Spreadsheet of Tests at Pennsylvania brine treatment plant P. 416
This is an E.P.A. spreadsheet of water tests conducted at Pennsylvania Brine Treatment - Franklin Plant on May 5, 2008; May 19, 2008; and June 19, 2008. This plant is not a public sewage treatment plant but is built to treat industrial wastewater. Commercial treatment plants are better at removing contaminants like heavy metals and operators say they are very good at removing radioactive materials from the wastewater. This chart includes data that is difficult to find in Pennsylvania. There is very little information available that shows what toxic materials remain in the wastewater after processing by treatment plants; most available data indicates only what was in drilling wastewater when it emerged from the well, before being sent through sewage treatment plants. This document, however, has chemical readings of the substances in the wastewater both before and after treatment, including levels of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes. Because of benzene’s carcinogenic nature, the federal drinking water standard for this chemical is 5 ug/l; one test of treated water from this plant showed more than 28 times that amount of benzene.
This document was presented to the owner of the Pennsylvania Brine Treatment - Franklin Plant, Paul Hart. In an e-mail sent on Feb. 18, 2011, he confirmed that his facility can only remove about 50 percent of these chemicals. However, he contested the idea that the concentrations in the discharges in this document were high. To bolster his point, he cited the ability of the river to dilute the waste. Asked whether the state permit that he received to operate the Pennsylvania Brine Treatment - Franklin Plant allows him to discharge the amounts of benzene found in the document, Mr. Hart declined to comment.
Overview-Radiation in Aquatic Systems P. 417
This study was provided to The Times by an E.P.A. official who said it shows that dilution of drilling waste does not always succeed in eliminating the health risks posed by that waste. The study is marked confidential and was conducted on behalf of the American Petroleum Institute in 1990. It found a potential increased risk of cancer among people who often eat fish from waters where drilling waste is discharged. The study is relevant because state regulators in Pennsylvania have said that dilution is effectively removing the risks posed by drilling waste that is discharged into rivers. Importantly, this study found an increased risk of cancer when drilling waste was dumped into a larger body of water than Pennsylvania rivers. Furthermore, state records indicate that the radium levels found in
Pennsylvania wastewater are much higher than those used in this study. Radium, for example, was found in Pennsylvania at levels over 18 times the number used in the this study. It should be noted, however, that this study did not detail actual cases of increased cancer. Rather, it modeled potential increases in cancer rates as a result of radium-laced drilling waste being discharged into large waterways.
In an e-mail exchange with The Times, Anne F. Meinhold, one of the lead authors of the study, wrote, “I suspect that the dilution rates in a river would not be as high as for the open water discharges we considered.” She cautioned, however: “The bioaccumulation factors and ingestion rates we used were based on data collected in the Gulf of Mexico. I don't know if bioaccumulation factors for freshwater fish would be similar or if freshwater fishermen could be assumed to eat as much fish caught over their lifetime.”
Asked about the study, Bill Bush, a spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute, said, “We have no reason to challenge what’s in the study, but to confirm it’s accurate would require someone with expertise to go over it and thoroughly digest what it says in light of any additional related research done over the past 20 years.” Asked to review the study, an expert on human health and ecological risk analysis said that it clearly shows that the drilling waste is not sufficiently diluted in some cases. As a result, the radioactivity levels left behind in receiving waters come close to reaching the threshold at which the E.P.A., under federal Superfund rules, requires a cleanup, the risk expert said.
Overview-Marcellus Shale Wastewater P. 533
This PowerPoint presentation, given by E.P.A. officials in 2009 to state and federal regulators in Pennsylvania, includes some of the results from an E.P.A study that tested whether certain rivers can sufficiently dilute radium-laced drilling wastewater. Such wastewater is passed through sewage treatment plants and discharged into the rivers. In their modeling, E.P.A. researchers looked at one plant where waste was being discharged into the Ohio River, a comparatively larger river that provides more dilution. They also studied another plant that discharged waste into the South Fork Tenmile River, which is smaller and thus provides less dilution. In both cases, the scientists found that the rivers would not dilute radium to allowable levels, according to this slideshow, as explained by an agency scientist familiar with the research. The radium levels considered in the agency’s modeling were also much lower than those found in The Times's review. E.P.A. officials said that the type of calculations done in their modeling of radium-laced waste discharged into rivers are actually something that the state is supposed to be doing as a standard step before they issue permits for sewage treatment plants to accept drilling wastewater. But the E.P.A. officials added that the state had not been doing all of these sorts of calculations for the range of contaminants, including the radioactive elements, in the wastewater.
Tracking Gas Wastewater Overview
This is an example of the kind of document -- known as a 26R -- that tracks gas drilling wastewater in Pennsylvania. 26Rs are very useful because the same document records lab tests that show levels of contamination in wastewater and a list of treatment facilities where this waste was sent for disposal, often including the amount of wastewater sent to each plant. This is a 26R form from 2010 that was provided by EXCO Resources, a company that explores for and produces oil and natural gas, to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, regarding the Sterling Run No. 5 Well. Wastewater from this well contained high levels of radioactive material, as shown in the lab tests attached by the company to this form. The company sent this wastewater to be treated at a sewage treatment plant. In interviews with The Times, officials at the plant said they could not remove radioactive material from wastewater. Under Pennsylvania regulations, public sewage treatment plants are supposed to be sent copies of this form within 30 or so days of taking drilling waste from a particular well, but this does not always happen.
18h. Heinz Endowments President Goes through Swinging Door
Commentary from Bob Donnan: Wow! Imagine the surprise when everyone heard this news… we’ve seen lots of ‘jumpers’ from the Pa DEP to industry, but this is bigger. Ha, looks like everyone was right about his “ties to the O&G industry!”
“Robert Vagt, president of the Heinz Endowment, the city's second-largest foundation, is leaving his post Jan. 24 and later this year plans to become chairman of the board at Rice Energy Inc., a Canonsburg-based drilling company. The news that Mr. Vagt will depart next week was not unexpected; he disclosed in October that he planned to step down from his job following upheaval at the endowments that focused on its involvement in creating the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD), a nonprofit that supports best practices in the shale gas drilling industry.”