Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates February 20, 2014
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* 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, the Pollocks, Marian Szmyd, Bob Donnan, Gloria Forouzan, Elizabeth Donahue, April Jackman, and Bob Schmetzer.
*** WMCG Meeting We meet the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30 PM in Greensburg- next meeting March 11. Email Jan for directions. All are very welcome to attend.
***Feb 28 Public /Town Hall- Injection wells, earthquakes, toxic frack waste impoundments, and a Community bill of Rights. Youngstown, Ohio. Videos and Presentations at the
Unitarian Church 1105 Elm St 7-9pm
***Letters to the editor are important and one of the best ways to share
information with the public. ***
To view what other people wrote thus far: http://www.irrc.state.pa.us/full_list.aspx?IRRCNo=3042&type=1
To view what we presented:
For talking points on the regs: http://alleghenysc.org/?p=16312
The public is being invited to submit comments to the EQB regarding the proposed rulemaking by March 14. 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 March 14. 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.
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
Petitions to DEP To Ban Frack Pits:
***1. Petition From Penn Environment
Here in Pennsylvania, fracking is one of the biggest threats to our communities and our environment. In 2012 alone, the fracking industry created 1.2 billion gallons of fracking wastewater--laced with cancer-causing chemicals, contaminated with radioactivity, and polluted with heavy metals.
This toxic waste sits in exposed pits, which often leaches into our rivers and contaminates our air.
It's both disgusting and frightening.
The DEP is taking public comment right now on a proposal to manage this fracking waste. This is our best chance to end this dangerous practice and limit fracking's damage.
Submit your comment right now to tell the DEP: Ban all fracking waste pits today.
When a wastewater pit caught fire in Hopewell Township, flames shot 100 feet into the air and block smoke spread across the countryside. It was so bad that days later, nearby residents still couldn’t stay in their homes.
With stories like this, you would think these toxic sites would have already been banned. Leaks from pits can contaminate drinking water supplies, and evaporation of these chemicals threatens our air quality. The pollutants pose risks for acute and chronic health impacts, from dizziness to rashes and even cancer.
There's no way to get around it: These pits are dangerous.
We need thousands of Pennsylvanians telling the DEP to ban them all.
Take action now to ban all toxic and dangerous fracking waste pits in Pennsylvania.
PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center Director
PS. If you have friends or family who are concerned about fracking, please forward this to them. We need to get 10,000 comments in to the DEP by the end of the comment period if we’re going to ban all fracking waste pits.
***2. Petition by Ron to Ban Frack Pits To the DEP Environmental Quality Board
Frack pits are a source of toxic waste-waters and cancer causing agents and pollute our environment through leakage, spillage, and evaporation of toxic VOCs, thus contaminating water, soil, and the air we breathe.
Frack pits are a danger to animal, plant, and human life and have no place in our Commonwealth.
In place of the frack pit, all gas operators should be required to use some form of a closed loop system for waste storage.
We, the undersigned, demand an end to the open impoundment or frack pit and demand PA place the health and welfare of its citizens above all other interests.
That's why I created a petition to PA DEP's Environmental Quality Board, which says:
" This petition will be forwarded to the PA DEP's Environmental Quality Board that is accepting comments on proposed regulations and will demand an end to open impoundments or frack pits as they are commonly known. "
Will you sign my petition? Click here to add your name:
***WESA Public Radio
from Briget Shields
WESA Pittsburgh's public radio is having their listener drive now. Instead of renewing my membership I have sent this statement. I think it would help if others vocalize our mission to divest in anyone promoting the fossil fuel industry. Here is my pledge comment. Don't know if they will print it in the comment section I posted it in but wanted to share in hopes others will relay the message. You can promote your own organization and put it in your own words but while the membership drive is going on is a good time to let them know we are not happy with the Range Resource ads we are constantly hearing.
I have always supported public broadcasting. BUT....there is a well fire in Greene County where people are being exposed to toxic fumes, 300,000 people in WV living with contaminated water from chemicals used in the fossil fuel industry including fracking , hundreds of people without any water for over 5 years because of the fracking industry in SWPA thousands in PA. Are you reporting this? NO. Imagine my surprise when I hear many times a day your station promoting the very industry that is the cause of this destruction.
Instead I am giving my membership dollars to those organizations that promote clean renewable energy and those that work to educate the public to stop the toxic fossil fuel industry like: Shalefield Stories, Marcellus Protest, PennEnvironment, Sierra Club, The Thomas Merton Center.
Public broadcasting like all media outlets is failing us.
WESA Facebook page
***Petition to Protect Deer Lake Park Allegheny County
Please sign the CREDO petition to stop the fracking of Allegheny County’s Deer Lake Park. You and over 3,500 others are making a difference. Your voices are being heard on the Allegheny County Council.
In order to keep you informed of events, as they are about to unfold in the County Council, I ask that you take the time to visit the Protect Our Parks web page.
By signing up at Protect Our Parks you’ll provide POP with the ability to mobilize Allegheny County residents who’ve already signed the CREDO petition. I hope you can do this today!
In the coming weeks, the Allegheny County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald intends to present legislation to the County Council that would enable the leasing of gas rights in Deer Lakes Park to notorious drilling operator, Range Resources - the only driller to submit a proposal to the County.
We certainly appreciate the support of non-county residents as well. I invite you to sign on to the Protect Our Parks page too! However, the County Council has stated that they will give greater weight to the opinions of the citizens of Allegheny County. It looks like it will be a very close vote. If you live outside of the county and have friends and/or family in Allegheny County, I hope that you will reach out to them and ask them to sign up with Protect Our Parks.
Widely circulating the Protect Our Parks link on social media is also very much appreciated.
I am depending upon you to help put a stop to the fracking of our county parks.
I do hope you will continue to be a part of this effort. Please, go to the Protect Our Parks link today - sign up and, together, we’ll protect our parks!
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania http:
P.S. Be sure to visit the PROTECT OUR PARKS homepage! http://www.protectparks.org
State Groups Oppose Fracking Our State Forests.
From Clean Water Action
As you are probably aware during Corbett's budget address he proposed balancing the budget by over turning the moratorium on new gas drilling leases for state parks and forests.
Please find attached an organizational sign on letter we are working on with several other groups. The letter will be sent to all legislators urging them to oppose this proposal and any budget that contains it.
Clean Water Action- Pennsylvania
Marcellus Shale Coordinator
February 11, 2014
WMCG Signed on to the following letter:
The undersigned organizations urge you to oppose Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed plan to end the existing moratorium on gas leasing in state forests and ask you to vote against any budget that incorporates revenue from that plan. Reopening state forests to new gas development fills a one-time budget gap with decades of risk and the vast majority of Pennsylvanians oppose it.
Pennsylvania state forests are recreational and ecologic gems as well as leading drivers of our tourism economy. Our state forests consist of more than 2.2 million acres of pristine wilderness that are home to a variety of animals including black bear, wild turkey, native brook trout, and rare birds. Parks and forests offer opportunities for hiking, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding and is one of the best sources for hunting and fishing.
Governor Corbett’s proposal to balance the 2014 budget by opening up our state forests to further gas leasing threatens both the environmental and economic benefits our forests provide. His proposal would end the moratorium on new leases for natural gas drilling former Governor Ed Rendell put in place. Former Governor Rendell issued the moratorium in October 2010 because he determined that more forest drilling would “jeopardize fragile ecosystems.”
The public agrees with former Governor Rendell’s decision. A poll in September 2013 by Mercyhurst University found that 67% of Pennsylvanians thought gas extraction should not occur in state parks. A more recent January 2014 poll by Franklin and Marshall College found that 68% of Pennsylvanians oppose additional gas development in state forests. Governor Corbett’s proposal is an affront to the wishes of Pennsylvanians. Advancement and support for this proposal would signal that our government is not listening and that the opinions of citizens don’t matter.
Gas exploration and drilling causes impact to the state forests. There is no such thing as no-impact drilling. Even proximity to drilling puts our forests at risk. Pollution respects no boundaries. Accidents with natural gas drilling operations like spills of toxic wastewater, explosions, and methane migration have occurred across the Commonwealth. Additional drilling will mean noise and light disturbance from heavy machinery, seismic exploration, construction of new roads and pipelines, and increased truck traffic. These potential dangers and activities increase the risk of upsetting the natural habitat of animals, disrupting the peace that is associated with enjoying nature and threatening the health of nearby families. The Commonwealth has leased nearly half of the 1.5 million acres of forest it owns that overlays with the Marcellus shale. Many of the leased land have yet to be drilled. Have we not already leased enough land for the natural gas industry? According to a study the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) finished in 2010, all of the unleased forest land is in ecologically sensitive areas or cannot be accessed without cutting through ecologically sensitive areas. According to former DCNR Deputy Secretary John Quigley, the Rendell administration scoured the state forest for tracts that were not ecologically sensitive and could still be leased. “We found all the needles in the haystack at that time, said Quigley. I don't know where there are additional tracts like that.”
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently reminded us that we have an obligation to protect our forests for future generations. Once the integrity of our state forests are destroyed there is no turning back. Our state forests were established as sacred places for the enjoyment of all and the conservation of the natural environment—not as future industrial sites used to fill short term revenue needs. We need to preserve these places for future generations as they were preserved in the past for us.
Again, we ask you to oppose Governor Corbett’s proposal to lease our state forests for natural gas drilling and any budget proposal that includes it. We look forward to any comments or questions you may have on this subject and offer our support to any leader standing in opposition to this irresponsible and irrevocable action.
Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus Shale Campaign Coordinator
Clean Water Action
Josh McNeil, Executive Director, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania
***Concerned about the air quality in your community due 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
***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?
*** Southwest PA Environmental Health Has Air Monitors
From Ryan Grode at the SWPA-EHP:
“I am beginning a distribution of new air quality monitors for individuals who are living near any type of drilling activity. If you know of anyone who would want to have one of these monitors at their home I would visit them and set up the monitor for them, then come back in a few weeks to pick up the monitor and perhaps our nurse practitioner will join me and conduct an exposure assessment on the family.
If you hear of anyone who would like help dealing with issues because of drilling please refer them to me. The office number is 724-260-5504. As mentioned I'll personally be able to go out to see the family and speak with them and possibly set up air quality, water quality, and possibly in the future soil quality monitors.”
At our last WMCG meeting, SWPA-HEP provided information about the air and water monitors. “Speck” is the air monitor developed by Carnegie Mellon. It is used indoors, plugged into an outlet, and detects particulate matter. These monitors are being used within about 3 miles of fracked wells. The device is not calibrated in a way to be used in a court of law. It is used to give the homeowner an idea of the level of pollution they are being exposed to, and it registers a continuous read. The dylos monitor could detect 2.5 particulate but had no continuous read.
The water indicator, called “Catfish”, is placed in the back of a toilet and measures conductivity which is related to general water quality of water. Further testing can be done if conductivity is abnormal.
All articles are excerpted or summarized. Please use links to read more.
1. North Huntingdon Commissioners Vote to Drill Under Parks
Braddock’s Trail and Oak Hollow
The vote was 5-yeahs and 2-nays, allowing a subsurface lease to be signed with Huntley & Huntley for Braddock’s Trail and Oak Hollow Park. This means a drill rig with associated flaring will be sited in close proximity to those parks as well as heavy truck traffic, use of toxic chemicals, and possibly a frack impoundment pit to hold flowback waste which contains brine, heavy metals, toxic chemicals and can be radiocactive. .
Frack lines will run under the parks to extract the gas via the use of high pressure, toxic chemicals, and millions of gallons of water.
A group of North Huntingdon Township citizens informed the commissioners of concerns regarding the health, environmental, and property value effects of fracking. WMCG and Mt. Watershed Assoc. supported their efforts.
Had I read this excerpt from Sandra Steingraber’s letter (see item 10) to Governor Cuomo prior to the NH meeting, I would have included an excerpt in the WMCG letter to the NH commissioners:
“New York State currently funds important projects, such as the creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play programs, many of which are being carried out in rural or small-town communities. Objectives of this initiative include increasing the availability and accessibility of places to be physically active and creating landscapes conducive to physical activity, such as playgrounds and walking trails. It is clear that the industrialization of the landscape where fracking would occur – with increased truck traffic and reduction in air quality described above – undermines these initiatives.
As cancer advocates, we know that regular physical activity lowers the risk for many common cancers. Indeed, the American Cancer Society attributes one-third of all cancer diagnoses to sedentary lifestyles, obesity, and poor diet and thus specifically advocates for land use and urban design that encourages outdoor exercise: “Let’s make our communities safer and more appealing places to walk, bike, and be active” (American Cancer Society). Fracking does the opposite. No one wants to walk, bike, or jog along roads filled with 18-wheelers hauling hazardous materials and filling the air with diesel exhaust. Changes to the built environment that discourage outdoor recreation and promote sedentary behavior will increase our state’s cancer burden and further fan the flames of rising health care costs.”
2. PA Residents Offered Pizza
By Allie Malloy and Lauren Morton, CNN
“A Chevron natural gas well exploded last week, killing one worker and injuring another.
Meanwhile, 100 certificates for free pizza are sent by Chevron to residents
One resident tweets: "Worst apology ever: Sorry our ... well exploded. Here's a free pizza"
(CNN) -- Some Pennsylvania residents who live near a Chevron natural gas well that exploded, killing a worker, are getting compensation of sorts from the corporation.
Free pizza and sodas.
Chevron is dispensing 100 gift certificates for pizza and soft drinks to those in the area of Greene County where the February 11 explosion sparked a fire that burned for four days. An employee at Bobtown Pizza confirmed the corporation's order of gift certificates.
The cause of the explosion is still unknown, according to Jeff Rhodes, Greene County 911 Emergency Coordinator.
The blast killed a worker and injured another, and although the fire is out gas and heat are still being emitted into the atmosphere, Rhodes said.
"Nice community relations: if you are frightened by fire and explosion, relax, have a pizza!" another tweet stated.
One resident who said he wished to remain anonymous because of Chevron's strong presence in the area told CNN that he received a certificate on Sunday while he and his family were out. He said it was the first and last time they had heard from Chevron regarding the incident.
"It felt like a huge slap in the face," the resident told CNN.
"I do not feel that they've addressed anything. I haven't even called their hotline yet because I'm just too upset. A pizza coupon? I mean come on!"
"We appreciate the strong support we have received from nearby residents as we work to respond to this incident in a safe manner," the Chevron statement said.
The resident who spoke to CNN said he plans to move his family as a result of the incident.
"We're moving as soon as we can. That's not their only well near our house. It's just not safe," he said.
In an update published Tuesday on its website, Chevron said the situation at the well "remains serious and teams are working around the clock to safely approach and shut the well."
Update from Bob Donnan on Greene County Explosion
“A newspaper carrier said they almost evacuated his small town of Bobtown. After playing outside earlier in the week, his daughter told him “the air isn’t right Daddy.” While exiting the area, I drove through a valley downwind from the well site and noticed a strong odor that is difficult to describe, maybe mineral oil with a tangy scent? My second thought was that I hoped no one set off a spark or lit a match! For about 15-minutes after passing through that area I was more conscious of my lungs and experienced a mild headache. You really have to wonder who at the Pa DEP is a health professional that has the credentials to say those fumes are “non-hazardous” and are “not a problem.” Shouldn’t the Department of Health be called in?”
3. Gas Drilling Explosion Highlights Danger of Proximity to Homes and Schools
“On Feb. 11, the town of Dunkard, PA was rocked by an explosion at a Chevron Appalachia natural gas drilling site. Yesterday the fire was still burning. One worker was reported injured and another as missing. According to press reports,
DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo said it was “fortunate” that the nearest house was about a half mile away from the exploding drilling site.
While Abruzzo is busy thanking fortune for protecting families and the community from the devastating explosion, it is his agency that continues to fight to reinstate Governor Corbett’s pro-drilling Act 13—the law that would allow gas well pads and their attendant infrastructure and harms, to be built just 300 feet from homes, schools, day care centers, hospitals or any other structure in Pennsylvania.”
4. Greene County Gas Well Fire Raises Concerns About Drilling at Airport
Feb 18 – “A gas well fire that burned for four days in rural Greene County raised concerns among Allegheny County Council members over drilling operations at Pittsburgh International Airport. They worried a similar well fire could ground flights and pose a public safety risk. “I don't see how any person who ever flies in and out of that airport would not be concerned about this,” Councilwoman Barbara Daly Danko, D-Regent Square, said on Monday. “If we end up having to shut down the airport for any amount of time, that becomes problematic.”
County Council voted a year ago to allow Consol Energy to drill for natural gas at the airport. Danko joined three other members in voting against the deal, which could generate more than $500 million in royalties over about 20 years. Drilling could start this year. As the fire burned, state police established a half-mile perimeter around the well site as a precaution. With the fire out, the perimeter became 300 feet. The airport has an average of 139 flights per day. At least $14 million in economic activity could be lost each day Pittsburgh International Airport is out of service, based on an economic analysis by the Allegheny County Airport Authority.”
5. Dr. Landrigan- Neurotoxins Include Arsenic and Toluene
(CNN) —“The number of chemicals known to be toxic to children's developing brains has doubled over the last seven years, researchers said.
Dr. Philip Landrigan at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and Dr. Philippe Grandjean from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, authors of the review published Friday in The Lancet Neurology journal, say the news is so troubling they are calling for a worldwide overhaul of the regulatory process in order to protect children's brains.
"We know from clinical information on poisoned adult patients that these chemicals can enter the brain through the blood brain barrier and cause neurological symptoms," said Grandjean.
"When this happens in children or during pregnancy, those chemicals are extremely toxic, because we now know that the developing brain is a uniquely vulnerable organ. Also, the effects are permanent."
The two have been studying industrial chemicals for about 30 years. In 2006, they published data identifying five chemicals as neurotoxicants -- substances that affect brain development and can cause a number of neurodevelopmental disabilities including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, dyslexia and other cognitive damage, they said.
Those five are lead, methylmercury, arsenic, polychlorinated bipenyls (PCBs), and toluene.
At greatest risk? Pregnant women and small children, according to Grandjean. According to the review, the biggest window of vulnerability occurs in utero, during infancy and early childhood.
The impact is not limited to loss of IQ points.
"Beyond IQ, we're talking about behavior problems -- shortening of attention span, increased risk of ADHD," Landrigan said.
"We're talking about emotion problems, less impulse control, (being) more likely to make bad decisions, get into trouble, be dyslexic and drop out of school. ... These are problems that are established early, but travel through childhood, adolescence, even into adult life."
It's not just children: All these compounds are toxic to adults, too. In fact, in 2006 the pair documented 201 chemicals toxic to the adult nervous system, usually stemming from occupational exposures, poisonings and suicide attempts.
Landrigan and Grandjean now say all untested chemicals in use and all new chemicals should be tested for developmental neurotoxicity.
This is not a new concept. In 2007, the European Union adopted regulations known as REACH -- Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals -- to protect human health from risks posed by chemicals. REACH covers all chemicals, placing the burden of proof on companies to prove that any chemicals they make are safe.
"We are behind right now and we're falling further behind," Landrigan said. "... I find it very irritating some of the multinational manufacturers are now marketing products in Europe and the U.S. with the same brand name and same label, but in Europe (they) are free of toxic chemicals and in the U.S. they contain toxic chemicals."
Read more: http://www.wtae.com/news/health/debate-rages-about-chemicals-effects-on-young-brains/24493356#ixzz2td2vSeVr
6. Methane Negates Benefit of Gas-Fueled Buses and Trucks
Feb 14 – “The sign is ubiquitous on city buses around the country: “This bus runs on clean burning natural gas.” But a surprising new report, to be published in the journal Science, concludes that switching buses and trucks from traditional diesel fuel to natural gas could actually harm the planet’s climate. Although burning natural gas as a transportation fuel produces 30 percent less planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions than burning diesel, the drilling and production of natural gas can lead to leaks of methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Those methane leaks negate the climate change benefits of using natural gas as a transportation fuel, according to the study, which was conducted by scientists at Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Natural gas producers celebrated a September report published in The Proceedings of the Natural Academies of Science that concluded that methane leaks from hydraulic fracturing sites are, on average, at or lower than levels set by the E.P.A. However, that study also found that on some fracking rigs, valves allow methane to escape at levels 30 percent higher than those set by E.P.A.”
7. Gas Worker Arraigned In Standoff
“Feb 16 – Joe Carl Cunningham, 48, was arraigned Sunday by District Judge James Ellis on charges of burglary, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint, terroristic threats, simple assault, criminal mischief and recklessly endangering another person. Cunningham, of Ellsworth, kept police at bay for about 19 hours during a standoff this weekend. Ellis said Cunningham’s bond was set $250,000.
Cunningham moved to the Pittsburgh area four years ago from Texas to work in the natural gas industry.
Cunningham surrendered Saturday morning after a 19-hour standoff with state police at a home along Oak Street in Ellsworth. According to state police, Cunningham went to the 36 Oak St. home he once shared with an unidentified woman who currently lives there about 4 p.m. Friday. He ordered the woman, who was with her boyfriend and 15-year-old daughter, to open the door or he would harm them. State police said Cunningham had weapons at the time.”
8. DEP Fines Halliburton For Repeated Violations Of Waste Management Act
“DEP is fining Halliburton Energy Services $1.8 million for 255 violations of the Solid Waste Management Act between 1999 and 2011.
DEP became aware of the violations in 2011 during an inspection of the facility, and further investigation revealed violations dating back to 1999. “Our regulations are in place to protect the health and safety of our residents and to preserve our environmental resources,” DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo said. “Halliburton’s repeated disregard of these regulations is unacceptable.” The violations occurred when the company, at its Homer City facility in Indiana County, stored, treated and transported waste hydrochloric acid without obtaining proper permits from DEP.
During the 12-year time period, Halliburton transported acidic waste, which had originated from various gas well sites, without identifying the waste as “hazardous waste,” without proper hazardous waste trucking records, and without using a licensed hazardous waste transporter. In addition, the company sent the hazardous waste to an unauthorized treatment and disposal operation. While there is no evidence that Halliburton’s handling of the hazardous waste caused any actual harm to the public or the environment; Halliburton violated state regulations governing the handling, storage, transport and disposal of hazardous waste on hundreds of occasions.’
Tim Puko- Tribune Review:
Halliburton to pay $1.8 million DEP penalty
“Feb 18 - The loophole wasn't big enough for Halliburton Co. The company that helped make fracking popular with loophole critics named after it agreed to pay a $1.8 million fine for its work with local drillers. It violated an exemption that allowed it to store small quantities of waste from its acid-based fracking fluid, storing more than 10 times the limit at its facility in Indiana County, the DEP said. Hart Resource Technologies former owner, Paul Hart, said the company was since sold to Fluid Recovery Services LLC and he referred questions to a spokeswoman who could not be reached. Both companies signed separate consent agreements with the DEP and the EPA in 2013 for unrelated violations for exceeding permitted limits for the waste they could dump in local rivers. Hart will not face more penalties for the Halliburton case, Poister said.
Unlabeled trucks could have posed a hazard during any spill, putting truckers, emergency responders and the public at risk of serious health problems, Poister and a safety expert said. Hydrochloric acid is so corrosive it dissolves cement and minerals, making it useful to help start the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process used in shale gas drilling.” Short-term exposure in humans can cause severe burns and scarring and potentially deadly respiratory problems, according to the EPA.
“For this to go on this long, it's evidence of a corporate culture that lacks concern for environmental compliance,” Jugovic said. “It's just incredibly outrageous.”
9. How Do You Count the Jobs?
“Gov Corbett routinely says 200,000 plus jobs have been created by fracking. An economist responds that there is only one seventh of that. PA Senator McCarter has introduced a resolution directing the Legislative Budge and Finance Committee of the state House to study the number of jobs being generated by the industry, paying specific attention to jobs in ancillary industries, workers from out of state, and what wages and benefits are offered.
That bill haves gotten no traction but Mc Carter keeps pushing
He said it’s important to have an unassailable statistics when debating whether to tax the industry or give it incentives.
In Pennsylvania, if you go with the conservative estimate, counting only jobs that touch a well pad or pipeline, or if you bunch in all jobs in 30 other related industries, oil and gas employment still comprises a sliver of the states workforce-between .4 % and 3% of the employed populations.
Stephen Herzenberg of Keystone Research Center notes, ”Its still true that the scale of the jobs is modest.”
PA Dept of Labor and Industry calculates employment by counting jobs in six core industries and jobs in 30 other industries the state designates as ancillary. This includes truck transportation, power plants, sewage treatment plants and engineering.
The counting mechanism underestimates some jobs as lawyers working on gas deals or diner waiters who staff increased demand.
But it inflates other jobs by placing the entire trucking industry in the count. The numbers don’t say what percentage of truckers on the road are hauling frack water and which are delivered to Wal-Mart.
Mc Carter says Pennsylvania needs an economic boom, “If this industry’s not helping us, we need to tout other things. “
He’s interested in determining how many workers are brought in form other states to serve the industry, an issue that can downplay the impact of shale development on the economy.”
Post Gazette, 12-9-13, Anya Litvak,
10. Bad Air From Drill Operations
The Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas is the site of one of the biggest energy booms in America, with oil and gas wells sprouting at an unprecedented rate. But local residents fear for their health - not from the water, but from the air they breathe. Our eight-month investigation reveals the dangers that come with releasing a toxic soup of chemicals into the air and just how little the government of Texas knows - or wants to know - about it.
KARNES CITY, Texas — When Lynn Buehring leaves her doctor’s office in San Antonio she makes sure her inhaler is on the seat beside her, then steers her red GMC pickup truck southeast on U.S. 181, toward her home on the South Texas prairie. About 40 miles down the road, between Poth and Falls City, drilling rigs, crude oil storage tanks and flares trailing black smoke appear amid the mesquite, live oak and pecan trees. Depending on the speed and direction of the wind, a yellow-brown haze might stretch across the horizon, filling the car with pungent odors. Sometimes Buehring’s eyes burn, her chest tightens and pain stabs at her temples. On those days, she touches her inhaler for reassurance.
People who live close to oil and gas development — whether in Texas’ Eagle Ford, Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale or Wyoming’s Green River Basin — tend to report the same symptoms: nausea, nosebleeds, headaches, body rashes and respiratory problems. Public health experts say these shared experiences point to a pressing need for improved air monitoring.
“If you have pockets of communities with the same symptoms downwind of similar sources, then there is a body of evidence,” said Isobel Simpson, an atmospheric scientist at the University of California, Irvine, who studies air pollution around the world.
Chemicals released during oil and gas extraction include hydrogen sulfide, a deadly gas found in abundance in Eagle Ford wells; volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene, a known carcinogen; sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, which irritate the lungs; and other harmful substances such as carbon monoxide and carbon disulfide. VOCs also mix with nitrogen oxides emitted from field equipment to create ozone, a major respiratory hazard.
Studies show that, depending on the concentration and length of exposure, these chemicals can cause a range of ailments, from minor headaches to neurological damage and cancer.
The TCEQ relies primarily on field canister samples, on-the-ground investigations and aerial surveys with infrared cameras to detect emissions. Last summer, the agency used the cameras during two flyovers to capture hundreds of images of the Eagle Ford. A contractor then surveyed 16,015 oil and gas storage tanks and found 800 with leaks, TCEQ spokesman Terry Clawson said.
Scientists say that while these spot checks are important, they are no substitute for strategically placed, stationary monitors that continuously measure how air quality changes over time.
The TCEQ has only five permanent monitors in the Eagle Ford, all positioned far from the most heavily drilled areas. The Barnett Shale in North Texas, by contrast, has 35 permanent monitors, even though that field covers only about 5,000 square miles — a quarter of the area of the Eagle Ford.
“The biggest challenge with air monitoring is having the measurements in place so you can catch the times when concentrations are high,” said Rob Jackson, a Duke University scientist who studies pollution from shale extraction.
Even the EPA doesn’t know much about methane emissions or the other pollutants from oil and gas production. An inspector general's report last year concluded that the agency's air emissions database is incomplete and “likely underestimates” those emissions. The lack of reliable data, the report said, “hampers EPA’s ability to accurately assess risks and air quality impacts from oil and gas production activities.”
Environmental groups have tried to collect their own air-quality data in the Eagle Ford, but the process is so expensive and time-consuming that they’ve had little success. Last March, Wilma Subra, an environmental consultant from Louisiana, and Sharon Wilson of the advocacy group Earthworks, accompanied Calvin Tillman, who runs a nonprofit called ShaleTest, as he took air samples near Mike and Myra Cerny’s one-acre tract, about a half-mile from the Buehrings.
There are at least 17 oil wells within a mile of the Cernys' small house. Their teenage son, Cameron, gets frequent nosebleeds, and the fumes make his parents dizzy, irritable and nauseous. “This crap is killing me and my family,” said Mike, a former oil company truck driver. “We went from nice, easy country living to living in a Petri dish.”
Myra complained to the TCEQ in 2012, and the agency cited Marathon Oil for operating a broken flare and failing to report thousands of pounds of unauthorized emissions at its Sugarhorn Central gas processing plant. But Marathon paid no penalty. “I feel like we’re expendable,” Myra said.
The air samples the environmental groups took near the Cerny home detected 14 VOCs, including benzene, toluene and xylene, but none in concentrations the TCEQ considers immediately dangerous. Subra said that doesn’t mean the air is safe, because the data came from a “grab sample” that represented only a snapshot in time. Guidelines are set for one compound at a time without considering what happens when people are simultaneously exposed to multiple chemicals. To add to the confusion, scientists don’t know much about some of the chemicals emitted, and certain proprietary compounds are hidden from public scrutiny.
11. Fracking and Cancer: Health Risks At Every Step
(Sandra Steingraber’s letter from 2011 is still a valuable resource and provides a good overview of problems associated with fracking. Jan)
By Barb Harris
“We’ve got to push the pause button, and maybe we’ve got to push the stop button” on fracking, said Dr. Adam Law, an endocrinologist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. Law was among doctors at a conference in Virginia calling for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in populated areas until health effects are better understood. The January 2012 conference was organized by the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment and Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy.
Fracking for shale gas has been the hot environmental health story of 2011. An unfamiliar word to most people a year ago, fracking is now a household term in much of North America. Millions of people already live with the effects of shale gas and fracking, or face the impending threat. Fracking is a technology used to extract natural gas from dense shale, (or from coal). Fracking for shale gas combines several new techniques, including multi-well pads, horizontal drilling, high pressure fracturing, and the addition of fracking fluids containing toxic chemicals to huge volumes of fresh water.
Development of shale gas, including fracking, releases toxic chemicals into air, water and soil at every step of the process, from drilling to waste storage and disposal. Multiply these exposures by thousands, because shale gas development is dense, averaging one well pad with 8 or more wells per 10 acres. In Pennsylvania, more than 3,000 gas fracking wells and permitted well sites are located within two miles of 320 day care centers, 67 schools and nine hospitals, and development is still in the early stages.
Over the last year, the public health impacts of fracking have gained increasing attention. Scientific American, June 2011, published an article titled “Science Lags as Health Problems Emerge Near Natural Gas Fields.” “In some communities it has been a disaster,” states Christopher Portier, director of the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the National Center for Environmental Health. “…We do not have enough information on hand to be able to draw good solid conclusions about whether this is a public health risk as a whole.” In July 2011, Global Community Monitor released “Gassed”, a study of toxic air near natural gas operations in Colorado and New Mexico. When citizens became ill in large numbers and could not convince government agencies to respond to their concerns, they were trained by Global Community Monitor to take their own air samples. The samples were sent to a lab for analysis, and the results compiled. Citizen air sampling found four known carcinogens, including high levels of benzene and acrylonitrile, as well as toxins known to damage the nervous system and respiratory irritants.
Fracking and shale gas pose serious and irreversible multiple health risks, including cancer, respiratory damage and endocrine disruption that can lead to birth defects and increase cancer risks. It is too early yet to know definitively whether cancer rates are rising in areas where shale gas development and fracking is taking place. But there is abundant evidence of exposure to carcinogenic substances from these operations.
Environmental biologist and prize-winning author Dr. Sandra Steingraber summarizes the cancer risks of fracking in a letter to New York State Governor Cuomo. New York State is poised to decide whether to lift a moratorium on fracking and allow extensive development throughout the state. The state’s environmental assessment has been widely criticized for virtually ignoring all health issues. The Steingraber letter was signed by major cancer prevention organizations throughout New York State and sent to Governor Cuomo and review panel members on December 12, 2011 as part of the state’s environmental review process.
The main points of the letter are excerpted below.
1. Hydraulic fracturing introduces cancer risks from the start and into perpetuity. Cancer-causing chemicals are associated with all stages of the high-volume hydraulic fracturing process, from the production and use of fracking fluids, to the release of radioactive and other naturally hazardous materials from the shale, to transportation and drilling-related air pollution, to the disposal of contaminated wastewater. The potential for accidents during the injection and transportation of fracking chemicals concerns us deeply. And, as data from other states clearly demonstrate, the storage, treatment and disposal of the contaminated water can be a source of human exposure to chemical carcinogens and their precursors (Volz, 2011). In addition, the industrialization of the landscape and congestion of small communities with truck traffic impairs the safety and healthfulness of outdoor exercise. Regular exercise is an important, established risk reducer for many cancers, including breast cancer (Bernstein, 2009). Outdoor exercise is associated with a greater intent to continue the activity, along with other positive health indicators.
2. Fracking fluids contain carcinogens and cancer-promoting chemicals. More than 25% of the chemicals used in natural gas operations have been demonstrated to cause cancer or mutations (Colborn, Kwiatkowski, Schultz, & Bachran, 2011). Between 2005 and 2009, according to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, hydraulic fracturing companies used 95 products containing 13 different known and suspected carcinogens. These include naphthalene, benzene, and acrylamide (Committee Staff for Waxman, 2011). Thirty-seven percent of chemicals in fracking fluids have been identified as endocrine-disruptors. By definition, these substances have the power, at minute concentrations, to alter hormonal signaling pathways within the body. Many can place cells on the pathway to tumor formation. Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals has been implicated in cancers of the breast, prostate, pituitary, testicle, and ovary (Birnbaum & Fenton, 2003; Soto & Sonnenschein, 2010). These exposures may alter gene expression in pregnancy and early life (Colborn, et al., 2011).
3. Fracking operations release from the earth radioactive substances, carcinogenic vapors, and toxic metals. The shale bedrock of New York State contains many highly carcinogenic substances that can be mobilized by drilling and fracturing. Among these are arsenic, chromium, benzene, uranium, radon, and radium (Bishop, 2011). Drill cuttings and flowback waste are typically contaminated with naturally occurring radioactive substances and cancer-causing metals, which would otherwise remain safely entombed underground. Flowback waste can contain up to 16,000 picoCuries per liter of radium-226, this is more than 200 times higher than the discharge limit in effluent (60 pCi/L) and more than 3,000 times higher than the US EPA drinking water standard (5 pCi/L) (NYSDOH Bureau of Environmental Radiation Protection, 2009). Traditional water filtration cannot remove these contaminants. We are especially alarmed by the ongoing practice of burying radioactive drill cuttings on-site (Bishop, 2011) and of using radioactive production brine from (currently out-of-state) fracking operations on New York State roads, for purposes of dust control and de-icing (NYSDOH Bureau of Environmental Radiation Protection, 2009). This practice exposes unknown numbers of people, without their consent, to unknown amounts of a known human carcinogen.
4. Fracking pollutes the air with known and suspected human carcinogens. Air pollutants from fracking take the form of diesel exhaust (from trucks, pumps, condensers, earthmoving machines, and other heavy equipment) along with volatile organic compounds, including benzene (released from the wellheads themselves) and formaldehyde (produced by compressor station engines). Exposure to these air pollutants have been demonstrably linked to lung, breast, and bladder cancers (Brody et al., 2007; Liu et al., 2009). Using US EPA risk assessment tools to examine carcinogenic effects of air quality at oil and gas sites, researchers in Colorado found excess cancer risks from air pollution alone (from 5 to 58 additional cancers per million). At 86 percent of these sites, the human carcinogen benzene was found at hazardous levels. Airborne concentrations of other carcinogens were also elevated (Witter et al., 2008).
Volatile organic compounds can combine with tailpipe emissions to create ground-level ozone. We are alarmed by studies conducted in the gas fields of Wyoming that reveal ozone non-attainment in areas with formerly pristine air quality (Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, 2009). Ozone can travel up to 200 miles beyond the gas production area (Colborn, et al., 2011). While not a direct carcinogen, ozone exposure is strongly associated with premature death and is believed to promote the development of metastases, thus making cancer more lethal (Breslin, 1995; Fann et al., 2011). Exposure to traffic exhaust and petroleum fumes further potentiates tumor formation and increases cancer risk (Hanas et al., 2010).
Natural gas drilling in New York State is predicted to increase heavy truck traffic on local roads by as much as 1.5 million more trips per year, with an average of 90 and up to 1000 trucks per day at a single well pad (NYSDOT, 2011). For each individual site, hundreds of tanker trucks hauling fracking fluids for injection and flowback fluids for disposal will roll through our communities and neighborhoods, and yet no one has calculated the cumulative impact of the resulting particulate matter and ozone on public health.
We remind the Governor that traffic exhaust, especially from diesel engines, is a well-established cause of chronic illness and premature death – even at levels well below regulatory limits. Most ominously, research is steadily corroborating the relationship between childhood leukemia and traffic density, and childhood leukemia and exposure to airborne benzene (Amigou et al., 2011; Pearson, Wachtel, & Ebi, 2000; Whitworth, Symanski, & Coker, 2008). We are also deeply concerned by the growing evidence linking lung cancer in non-smokers to air pollution, including traffic exhaust. Among adults, non-smoker’s lung cancer is now the sixth most common cancer diagnosis, and rates are rising particularly rapidly among women. A new, nationwide study finds that people who have never smoked but live in areas with higher air pollution are 20 percent more likely to die from lung cancer than people breathing cleaner air (Turner et al., 2011). Fracking will increase this lethal risk.
5. Fracking adds carcinogens to drinking water. Nationwide, more than a thousand different cases of water contamination have been documented near fracking sites. We draw your attention to one of these: the drinking water wells of Pavillion, Wyoming. An EPA study released just this month confirms the presence of the carcinogen 2-butoxyethanol, a widely used fracking chemical, in the aquifer under Pavillion, which is an intensively drilled community (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2011). Pavillion’s drinking water also contains benzene, naphthalene, and diesel fuel. We are deeply troubled that confirmation of these cancer-causing contaminants comes three years after their initial discovery and in the wake of repeated denials of responsibility by the gas industry. The story of Pavillion reveals not only that drinking water is at risk of chemical contamination from fracking operations but also that swift mitigation of such disasters is far from assured. The wheels of science grind slowly while the lives of people have remained in harm’s way.
We are also troubled by the discovery that drinking water wells located near active gas wells here in the Marcellus region contain methane levels that are 17 times higher than those located near inactive wells (Holzman, 2011; Osborn, Vengosh, Warner, & Jackson, 2011) and by the reports of spiking bromide levels in the rivers of western Pennsylvania that followed discharges of fracking wastewater into sewage treatment plants last spring (Hopey, 2011). While methane and bromide are not suspected carcinogens, they serve as precursors for the creation of trihalomethanes, which can form when water is chlorinated. Trihalomethanes are associated with both bladder and colorectal cancers (Weinberg, Krasner, Richardson, & Thruston, 2002).
6. Preliminary evidence points to high rates of cancer in intensively drilled areas. In Texas, breast cancer rates rose significantly among women living in the six counties with the most intensive gas drilling (Heinkel-Wolfe, 2011). By contrast, over the same time period, breast cancer rates declined within the rest of Texas. In western New York State – where vertical gas drilling has been practiced since 1821 and has resulted in significant contamination of soil and water – rural counties with historically intensive gas industry activity show consistently higher cancer death rates than rural counties without drilling activity. In women, cancers associated with residence in a historically drilling-intensive county include breast, cervix, colon, ovary, rectum, uterus, and vagina. Men living in the same region are consistently in the highest bracket for deaths from cancer of the bladder, prostate, rectum, stomach, and thyroid (Bishop, 2011), (based on National Cancer Institute cancer mortality maps and graphs).
While these correlations do not prove a connection between abnormally high rates of cancer and gas industry pollution, they do offer clues for further inquiry. We in the cancer advocacy community believe that this inquiry must precede, not trail behind, any decision to bring hydro-fracking to New York State. Benefit of the doubt goes to public health rather than to the forces that threaten it.
7. Fracking operations will undermine New York State efforts to prevent chronic disease. New York State currently funds important projects, such as the creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play programs, many of which are being carried out in rural or small-town communities. Objectives of this initiative include increasing the availability and accessibility of places to be physically active and creating landscapes conducive to physical activity, such as playgrounds and walking trails. It is clear that the industrialization of the landscape where fracking would occur – with increased truck traffic and reduction in air quality described above – undermines these initiatives.
As cancer advocates, we know that regular physical activity lowers the risk for many common cancers. Indeed, the American Cancer Society attributes one-third of all cancer diagnoses to sedentary lifestyles, obesity, and poor diet and thus specifically advocates for land use and urban design that encourages outdoor exercise: “Let’s make our communities safer and more appealing places to walk, bike, and be active” (American Cancer Society). Fracking does the opposite. No one wants to walk, bike, or jog along roads filled with 18-wheelers hauling hazardous materials and filling the air with diesel exhaust. Changes to the built environment that discourage outdoor recreation and promote sedentary behavior will increase our state’s cancer burden and further fan the flames of rising health care costs.
8. The proposed mitigation strategies set forth in the revised environmental impact statement are insufficiently protective. The revised environmental impact statement makes no attempt to explicate the possible human health effects that may result from permitting thousands of gas wells within New York State and from filling our roadways with the fleets of trucks that will service them – or to project the monetary costs of these health effects. Rather, the document asserts, axiomatically, that no such health effects will occur because each gas well will be surrounded by a buffer zone that sets it apart from residential areas and public drinking water sources. But set-backs, like non-smoking sections inside airplanes, are imaginary circles that cannot contain volatile, inherently toxic substances when they are released from multiple sources into interconnected environmental media. We all breathe the same air, and we all live downstream. The best science shows us that cancer is the end result of multiple stressors adding together over time to alter the genetic signaling pathways within our cells (President’s Cancer Panel Report, 2010) When it comes to cancer, the cumulative impact of many small straws is what breaks the camel’s back.
9. Chemical disclosure requirements, health registries, and after-the-fact bio-monitoring programs cannot substitute for due diligence. Disclosing the chemicals used in fracking operations, monitoring human exposures to those chemicals, and establishing registries of those harmed by chemical exposures are useful tools for scientific study and are basic to a transparent, right-to-know democracy, but they do not, by themselves, protect public health. Instead, we need a precautionary, prevention-oriented approach to reducing environmental cancer risk. Drawing on scientific research conducted here in New York and concluding that “… the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated,” the 2008-2009 Annual Report of the President’s Cancer Panel, calls on state governments to take action to reduce and eliminate toxic exposures implicated in cancer causation before human harm occurs (President’s Cancer Panel, 2010). To permit a form of fossil fuel extraction that opens countless portals of toxic contamination – upon commencement of the fracking operation and in perpetuity – turns us away from a meaningful approach to cancer prevention.
Full text of the letter including references and supporting organizations is available here.Barb Harris is a writer, researcher and activist. Her focus for the last decade has been the human health impacts of environmental toxins and finding healthier alternatives. For the last year, she has researched the health impacts of shale gas and fracking. She is a Board member of the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia, and co-author of the on-line Guide to Less Toxic Products. She lives in River John, Nova Scotia. http://www.preventcancernow.ca/fracking-shale-gas-and-cancer-health-risks-at-every-step
“I’d have to say this is the first year the Olympic flame made me think first of a gas well flare.” Bob Donnan