Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates
June 12, 2014
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For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
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In Memory Of Terry Greenwood
Many of us know Terry Greenwood as one of the first fractivists in the area. He was there at government hearings to speak truth to power. He spoke of stillborn cattle- a farmer who had not had reproductive problems with his animals until there was a water contamination problem on his farm due to gas drilling.
Many of us know Terry Greenwood as one of the first fractivists in the area. He was there at government hearings to speak truth to power. He spoke of stillborn cattle- a farmer who had not had reproductive problems with his animals until there was a water contamination problem on his farm due to gas drilling.
Terry has died of glioblastoma, brain cancer, and we are greatly saddened by this loss. Blessings on Terry and may our heartfelt gratitude for his hard work to protect the environment and all living things serve to sustain us in this fight. Jan
Terry’s Request by Cynthia Walter
Wearing blue jeans, a baseball cap and a crisp, white, Western shirt, Terry waited with my husband and I for the van ride to visit legislators at the state capital. He carried a manila envelope with pictures of his small farm. Unknown to us, he also bore the brain cancer that would take him within the year.
At the Senator’s office, he sat next to the legislator’s aid and balanced his photos on thin knees. Terry’s long fingers pointed out details in the photos as he told his story. He and his wife raised beef cattle. They all depended on water from wells and springs. For decades the small herd yielded a few dozen calves to sell each year; stillborn calves were rare, about 1 every few years. After a gas well was drilled, all water supplies became dark and foul smelling. That year 10 out of 18 calves were still-born, later, cows died and a bull became sterile. Terry’s steady voice recounted years of exchanges with local government officials and drilling company men. The result was temporary delivery of water buffalos for a few remaining cattle, but no admission that water was harmed. He buys bottled water for drinking. At the office visit’s end, Terry’s lanky frame rose from the leather office chair, he put on his cap and thanked the aid for listening.
All Terry asked was for someone to listen.
We must ask for more.
From an Article About Terry’s Farm
Protecting Our Waters by Iris Bloom, November 2011
“Pennsylvania farmer Terry Greenwood said in an interview last week that the negative impacts his animals have been experiencing for years due to gas drilling got even worse: of the thirteen cows remaining on his farm, not one gave birth to a live calf in 2011.
In an interview last week, Greenwood said he believes the lack of any calves born this year on his farm may be due to his bull becoming sterile after being exposed to gas drilling chemicals. He said, “I talked to Tara [Meixsell, author of Collateral Damage: A Chronicle of Lives Devastated by Gas and Oil Development] and she said bulls went sterile” due to contaminants from heavy gas drilling in Garfield County, Colorado.
Greenwood, who lives in Daisytown, PA, spoke appreciatively of his bull, “He was a real long-legged one, a limousine, a beautiful, laid-back bull,” who had successfully impregnated the cows for several years. “I didn’t want to [get rid of him], but I had to… He’d follow you to the gate, he wouldn’t hurt you, he’d follow you to the barn,” Greenwood said. “I would have had 19 or 20 calves this year if not for the gas drilling; I had to downsize my herd to 13 after they took my hayfields and pastures. But I should have had at least 13 calves. And I didn’t have one.”
Cows, deer and other animals are especially attracted to drinking from flowback spills, leaks and overflows due to the salty taste. Such spills are extraordinarily common in Pennsylvania, where regulations allow this liquid toxic waste to be stored in huge open-air fracking pits which overflow easily and are lined only with plastic, which routinely tears and breaks. Marcellus Shale gas drillers currently commit an average of eleven known (discovered and officially documented) environmental violations per day.
Terry Greenwood blames Dominion Resources Appalachian for the escalating impacts of gas drilling on his land, animals, and life. Dominion first began drilling on his land in 2007. Consol Energy bought natural gas properties from Dominion in March 2010. As Greenwood puts it, “It was Dominion beating me up then, Consol beating me up now. That’s who I’m fighting now, Consol….”
It was early 2008 when Greenwood first noticed the fracking flowback water “flowing out of the pit into the field, into the pond the cows drink from. It was flowing brown and muddy-looking in the snowy field, that’s how I knew” what was going on, he said.
He called DEP but was shocked at their response. “They wouldn’t test my water in that pond because they said, ‘that isn’t for human consumption.’ “
Instead of being concerned about the toxic waste flowing across his field, he said, the DEP inspector told him ” ‘they dump it on the fields in West Virginia.’ “
Among the cows which drank water from the contaminated pond, one died and ten had calves which were born dead and in some cases deformed.
When Greenwood travelled all the way to Philadelphia to participate in the Protecting Our Waters press conference here on September 7th of this year, he was too shy to speak in public. But his neighbor, Washington County resident Ron Gulla, did speak out and held up a photo of one of Greenwood’s dead calves (to see that clip from the press conference click here on Ron Gulla).
When Greenwood reported the dead and deformed animals in 2008, Greenwood says the DEP inspector responded, ” ‘That’s a farmer’s luck, losing cattle.’ “
Dominion was told to restore his water, but instead Greenwood has been living with a water buffalo– a large container which has to be re-filled frequently to supply his cows with water — for four years. “They haven’t restored my water and when Dominion decided to leave, in 2009, they said, ‘We’re done with you.’ That’s what they do to you, they ignore you,” he said.
Greenwood described a standoff in 2009 when Dominion told him to sign a release form, threatening to take the water buffalo away if he did not. Greenwood says he told them, “You know what you can do with that piece of paper,” and called Channel 11 News and the newspaper. He said Dominion then backed down.
Greenwood reported other troubles along the way. ”When the gas company put the fence up, and the horse got hurt, got all tangled up, it was because they didn’t put ribbons on it [the fence]… They hooked their temporary fence into the electric fence and the horse had skin taken off his legs, it hurt him, it scared him. I had to have the vet come right out… The horse is ok now but it took a while. The gas company doesn’t care what they do, they don’t have respect,” Greenwood concluded.
“Look at my hayfields, all the parts they ruined,” Greenwood said in an interview on October 19th, 2011. “They took 1 1/2 acres of good pasture, they took 6 acres of hayfields when they put the well pads and the roads in…. It hurt me big-time. I had to downsize my herd from 19, 20 healthy cows to 13 cows…. There’s a lot more problems than people realize. Since November 2007, it’s been four years and my son calculated the gas drilling cost us $50,000 in losses.”
But it’s not the money Greenwood is most concerned about. He’s worried about more than his “limousine” of a bull. “There’s been dogs died, goats died, and people sick. You put the sick people and the animals together and you have a big problem. There’s been more stillborn [human] babies around here too.”
Without a large-scale epidemiological study, it may be hard to confirm or deny Greenwood’s comment about human stillbirths. What we do know, however, is that with volatile organic chemicals, particulate matter and aromatic hydrocarbons pouring into the air (no, aromatic does not mean they smell good — rather the opposite; in fact, people have been known to scream in pain and pass out from breathing the air near fracking wastewater impoundments) and with hundreds of millions of gallons of hazardous chemicals being injected underground, an actual Health Impact Study is called for.
Before one more permit is issued, that is. The logical sequence SHOULD be: Ready (immediate moratorium). Aim (conduct Health Impact Study along with cumulative impact studies). Fire (issue regulations based on science, if in fact there is any consensus to proceed with gas drilling at all).
WMCG Thank You
* Thank you to contributors to our Updates: Debbie Borowiec, Lou Pochet, Ron Gulla, the Pollocks, Marian Szmyd, Bob Donnan, Elizabeth Donahue, and Bob Schmetzer.
A little Help Please
***Tenaska Plant Seeks to Be Sited in South Huntingdon, Westmoreland County***
Petition !! Please forward to your lists!
Please share the attached petition with residents of Westmoreland and all bordering counties. We ask each of you to help us by sharing the petition with your email lists and any group with which you are affiliated. As stated in the petition, Westmoreland County cannot meet air standards for several criteria. Many areas of Westmoreland County are already listed as EPA non-attainment areas for ozone and particulate matter 2.5, so the county does not have the capacity to handle additional emissions that will contribute to the burden of ozone in the area as well as health impacts. According to the American Lung Association, every county in the Pittsburgh region except for Westmoreland County had fewer bad air days for ozone and daily particle pollution compared with the previous report. Westmoreland County was the only county to score a failing grade for particulate matter.
The Tenaska gas plant will add tons of pollution to already deteriorated air and dispose of wastewater into the Youghiogheny River. Westmoreland County already has a higher incidence of disease than other counties in United States. Pollution won’t stop at the South Huntingdon Township border; it will travel to the surrounding townships and counties.
If you know of church groups or other organizations that will help with the petition please forward it and ask for their help.
Sierra Club Sues Texas Commission on Proposed Tenaska Plant
SIERRA CLUB VS TEXAS COMMISSION On ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY,
I. CASE OVERVIEW
Sierra Club seeks an order reversing Defendant’s December 29, 2010, final order in Docket No. 2009-1093-AIR.1 The order authorizes the construction and operation of a new solid fuel-fired power plant by approving the application of Tenaska Trailblazer Partners, L.L.C. (Tenaska, Trailblazer, or Applicant) for state and federal air pollution permits.
This new facility is a large solid fuel-fired electric generating unit, or power plant, to be constructed in Nolan County, Texas. The Tenaska facility will generate about 900 megawatts (MW) of electricity and is authorized to emit over 9,207 tons per year of criteria air pollutants.2
While under the jurisdiction of the State Office of Administrative Hearings, the proceedings bore SOAH docket number 582-09-6185. 2 There are several “criteria” pollutants: carbon monoxide, lead, particulate matter with a diameter of less than 10 micrometers, particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, nitrogen oxides, ozone, and sulfur oxides. For each of these air pollutants, National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) have been established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and are adopted through the Commission’s rules. See e.g 30 TEX. ADMIN. CODE § 101.21 (“The National Primary and Secondary Ambient Air Quality Standards as promulgated pursuant to section 109 of the Federal Clean Air Act, as amended, will be enforced throughout all parts of Texas.”) Criteria pollutants must be evaluated prior to obtaining a PSD permit.
Filed 11 March 14 IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS
.3 The facility will also emit an estimated 6.1 million tons per year of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2).
At the heart of this lawsuit, Sierra Club alleges the approval of the permit application was made in violation of:
a. the requirements of the Texas Administrative Procedures Act (TEX. GOV’T CODE, Chapter 2001) regarding Defendant’s authority and duties upon adoption of a final order;
b. the requirements for a preconstruction application and approval by TCEQ, including:
i) Deficient information and legal bases for the findings related to hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and the corresponding maximum achievable control technology (MACT) determination.
ii) Deficient information and legal bases for the findings related to prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) review and the corresponding best available control technology (BACT) determination.
iii) Failure to consider and minimize the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. II. DISCOVERY
1. This case is an appeal of an administrative agency’s actions, and therefore based on the administrative record. Designation of a level of discovery is not applicable. If discovery becomes necessary, it should be controlled by Level 3. TEX. R. CIV. PROC. § 190.4.
*** WMCG Group Meeting We meet the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30 PM in Greensburg. Email Jan for directions. All are very welcome to attend.
***Rally and Lobby to Protest Fracking of Our State Forests and Parks, Harrisburg, June 17
Clean Water Action and Sierra Club are sponsoring a rally and lobby day at 1 pm on June 17th in Harrisburg to protest Gov. Corbett’s recent decision to allow further fracking beneath our state forests and parks. Unlike the recent fight in Allegheny County, State Democratic legislators are united in their opposition to this move by the Corbett administration. Rides from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg are being co-ordinated by Clean Water Action – please contact Tom Hoffman at 412.523.2255.
*** Rally June 13, Washington DC Stop Fracked Gas Exports!
“Join thousands of people to rally to Stop Fracked Gas Exports – Cove Point and beyond!
Our nation is racing towards the export of natural gas to get rid of the glut of gas the fracking frenzy is producing, despite the destruction left in its wake for communities and the environment and despite the escalating global climate change fed by this fossil fuel.
Sign up, find out about buses from your area and get details as they emerge: http://org.salsalabs.com/o/423/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=82078
Please share the Stop Fracked Gas Exports Rally on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1412140832399683/
And Tell FERC NO! On Cove Point Natural Gas Export by June 16!
In the meantime, please take a moment to send a letter opposing the approval of the Dominion Cove Point Liquified Natural Gas export facility. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an Environmental Assessment and draft General Conformity Determination in response to the Dominion Cove Point’s application to export natural gas overseas from its Maryland facility in Lusby, Maryland. They basically wave away all the serious problems with the application, ignore basic facts about the proposal, and try to say the impacts are so minor that they don’t even need to do a full environmental impact study.
Lots of letters are needed to FERC during the public comment period that closes June 16, 2014. Please send a letter telling FERC to reject the Cove Point Export terminal for the sake of public health, the environment, and the future of our climate. You can submit a letter easily at this link, sponsored by our colleague organization, CCAN:” http://org.salsalabs.com/o/423/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15740
To read comments submitted to FERC in February by DRN and seven other Riverkeeper organizations on the application by Dominion Cove Point to export natural gas from its LNG terminal: http://bit.ly/1hgKFab
To learn more about how Liquified Natural Gas exports hurt the environment and only benefit the gas companies go to: http://bit.ly/1paXuD5
Please share the Stop Fracked Gas Exports Rally on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1412140832399683/
To get more info about the Stop Fracked Gas Exports Rally July 13: http://bit.ly/ScWfqX
TAKE ACTION !!
***Letters to the editor are important and one of the best ways to share information with the public. ***
***See Tenaska Petition at the top of the Updates
***Petition- Help the Children of Mars School District
Below is a petition that a group of parents in the Mars Area School District are working very hard to get signatures. Please take a moment to look at the petition and sign it. It only takes 5 minutes. We are fighting to keep our children, teachers, and community safe here and across the state of Pennsylvania.
Please share this with your spouses, friends, family, and any organizations that would support this cause. We need 100,00 signatures immediately, as the group plans to take the petition to Harrisburg within a week.
Your support is greatly appreciated!
***Petition For Full Disclosure of Frack Chemicals
From Ron Slabe
I created a petition to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which says:
"We, the undersigned, in conjunction with the public comment period currently underway, call on the EPA to conduct public hearings in areas where fracking operations are either occurring or have occurred so that we may voice our concerns over the lack of full disclosure of the fracking chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. (Docket number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2011-1019)"
Will you sign this petition? Click here:
***Don’t let Gov Corbett Frack More State Parks and Forests
Gov. Corbett just lifted the moratorium on leasing our state parks and forests for fracking. Our legislators could stop him--but only if you act now. Send a message to your legislators today.
Gov. Corbett just lifted a three-year moratorium on leasing of state forests and parks for gas drilling.
He is hoping we’ll all just forget about the ways fracking has already devastated Pennsylvania. We’re no fools. We know more drilling means more blowouts, more spills of toxic fracking wastewater, and more ruined landscapes.
The governor’s order will allow drilling under our state parks for the first time. The Legislature is the last line of defense for our state parks and forests--and that’s why I need you to act immediately.
Tell your state representative and state senator to fight Gov. Corbett’s effort to open more of our state parks and forests for fracking.
Already more than 700,000 acres of our state forests have been leased for gas drilling. That’s more than 40 percent of our existing state forestlands.
But the drillers want more--and sadly, Gov. Corbett is happy to hand it to them.
Tell the Legislature to stop this wrong-headed idea.
It just makes sense: Our parks are some of the best natural places in our state. They should not be sold off for private gain and put at risk.
We cannot stand back and watch as more of our state is opened to drilling.
Click here to stand up for our state parks and forests today.
***Forced Pooling Petition
“The PA DEP announced the first public hearing on forced pooling in PA to be held in less than two weeks. We're pushing on the DEP to postpone the hearings and address the many problems we have with their current plans. In the meantime, we're circulating a petition to the legislature calling on them to strike forced pooling from the books in PA.
Forced pooling refers to the ability to drill under private property without the owner's permission. It's legal in the Utica Shale in western PA, but the industry has not made an attempt to take advantage of it until now. Forced pooling is a clear violation of private property rights and should not be legal anywhere.
I know I've asked a lot of you. Unfortunately, we're fighting battles on many fronts and they just keep coming. But with your help, we've made lots of progress, so I'm asking you to help me again by signing and sharing this petition.”
Appreciatively, as always,
***Sunoco Eminent Domain Petition
“PA PUC for public utility status, a move that would impact property owners and municipalities in the path of the Mariner East pipeline. As a public utility, Sunoco would have the power of eminent domain and would be exempt from local zoning requirements. A December 2013 PA Supreme Court ruling overruled Act 13’s evisceration of municipal zoning in gas operations and upheld our local government rights. We petition PA PUC to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution and deny public utility status to the for-profit entity, Sunoco.
That's why I signed a petition to Robert F. Powelson, Chairman, Public Utilities Commission, John F. Coleman Jr., Vice Chairman, Public Utilities Commission, James H. Cawley, Commissioner, Public Utilities Commission, Gladys M. Brown, Commissioner, Public Utilities Commission, Pamela A. Witmer, Commissioner, Public Utilities Commission, and Jan Freeman, Executive Director, Public Utilities Commission, which says:
"We, the undersigned, petition the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution and deny public utility status to the for-profit entity, Sunoco."
Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name:
***Link to Shalefield Stories-Personal stories of those affected by fracking
***PCN TV Court Hearing- Act 13 –The remaining 4 issues (from Debbie)
The May 14th Commonwealth Court session from Philadelphia aired Tuesday, May 27. Here is the link. It is now posted on the site but will only be available for about a month so watch it now.
***Video Beaver Meeting –“Living in a Fracking Sacrifice Zone “
Panel with Yuri Gorbi, Bill Hughes, Jill Kriesky
***Dr. Jerome Paulson- Links Between Unconventional Gas Extraction and Human Health Thank you to Bob Donnan for taping and putting this video on you tube
Jerome A. Paulson, MD, FAAP, is a Professor in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, and a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Dr. Paulson is the chairperson of the executive committee of the Council on Environmental Health American Academy of Pediatrics, serves for the Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee for EPA and on the technical advisory board for the Blacksmith Institute. Dr. Paulson has served as a special assistant to the director of CDC's National Center on Environmental Health, again focusing on children, and in 2000 received a Soros Advocacy Fellowship for Physicians from the Open Society Institute working with the Children's Environmental Health Network.
At Children's National Medical Center, Dr. Paulson serves as the Medical Director for National and Global Affairs of the Child Health Advocacy Institute.
Dr. Paulson is an expert on the health effects of hydraulic fracturing and has presented and lectured frequently on the subject.
***To sign up for Skytruth 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/
All articles are excerpted. Please use links for the full article.
1. Robinson Township Zoning Battle Continues
A proposed overhaul of zoning and gas drilling rules in Robinson, Washington County, drew support and opposition during a public hearing Monday.
Board chairman Rodger Kendall, who is a leaseholder with driller Range Resources, proposed major changes to the township’s zoning and drilling regulations after he and Vice Chairman Stephen Duran took office in January.
Mr. Kendall said the vote will occur after the township receives an opinion from the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission on the appropriateness of his voting on drilling issues.
The proposal would alter the zoning ordinance and map approved in December by Mr. Brositz and former supervisors Brian Coppola and Terrence Love.
A May letter from the five-member township planning commission lists concerns about the proposed zoning amendments, including lack of control over natural gas development, instances of spot zoning, possible noncompliance with state law and inconsistencies with the comprehensive plan that “could create controversy and potential litigation issues.”
The planning commission points to a concern that some gas drilling applications would be approved as a permitted use rather than a conditional use.
“With the diverse population of rural and residential, different rules may need to be applied depending on location and proximity to residential areas,” the letter says. “The proposed ordinance changes do not allow for specific ‘conditions’ to be applied in different situations.”
Under the proposal, the township may approve natural gas well development in two ways.
Township staff may review and OK gas well development as a permitted use in areas zoned for industry, agriculture, rural residences and Southern Beltway-related Interchange Business Development.
Gas wells in commercial, special conservation, single-family residential and general residential zones must go through a more rigorous conditional use process, including public input, review by the planning commission and the possibility of additional restrictions or safeguards being required by the supervisors.
Judy Kramer, a former planning commission member, urged the supervisors to consider all applications as a conditional use.
“The conditional use format, as opposed to the permitted use application, affords the local government a great deal of power,” she said. “It also affords the supervisors and the people of the township ownership of their community.”
Some speakers said Robinson’s proposed drilling rules resemble the parts of Act 13—the state drilling law—that the state Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional last year.
“If the zoning ordinance as currently proposed is passed, it will not pass constitutional muster … [and] will inevitably result in legal challenges against the township,” said Michael Oliverio, an attorney representing former supervisor Mr. Coppola and his wife, Susan.
Robinson had been a plaintiff in a multi-party challenge of Act 13, but supervisors Mr. Kendall and Mr. Duran voted to withdraw from the lawsuit soon after taking office.”
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/west/2014/06/05/Washington-County-gas-drilling-draws-crowd-in-Robinson/stories/201406050072#ixzz347dGJPJK
2. Westmoreland County Reservoir
It is unbelievable that Westmoreland County has approved 37 frack wells next to the drinking water reservoir that serves communities from Delmont to North Huntingdon.
Thank you to Dr Cynthia Walter for being the only voice of reason. Jan
“By the end of this year, royalties from Marcellus shale gas drilling could provide 10 percent of the revenues generated by the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, according to agency officials.
And while the sale of drinking water will remain the primary moneymaker for the authority, the publicly owned utility is aiming to maximize the amount of cash it earns from the deep gas wells on its properties, officials said.
On Wednesday, authority board members agreed to hire the LitCon Group, a Pittsburgh auditing firm, to oversee gas revenues expected to top $6 million this year.
The authority will pay the auditing firm up to $40,000 to review the drilling operations. Authority manager Chris Kerr said the audit could find as much as $810,000 in new revenue.
“I think it will be money well-spent by the authority,” Kerr said.
The authority has 37 Marcellus shale gas wells on its Beaver Run Reservoir property in Washington and Bell townships.
The reservoir provides drinking water to more than half of the nearly 121,000 authority customers in five counties.
In April, gas wells generated more than $731,000 in royalties to the authority, the first month of the new fiscal year.
Originally, authority officials expected gas royalties would generate about $5 million this year, but revised expectations increased that amount by $1 million.
More wells are tentatively scheduled to be drilled in October on the authority's 1,600-acre property in Fayette County.
“It's a good idea to try to pick up additional revenue,” said authority board Chairman Randy Roadman.
But Hempfield resident Dr. Cynthia Walter, an ecology professor at St. Vincent College who has lobbied against drilling near the reservoir, said on Wednesday the financial windfall the authority receives from the gas wells does not outweigh potential safety risks to the water supply.
“Ben Roethlisberger can throw a football from one well to the reservoir. They have increased the risk just having those wells there,” Walter said. “It's absolutely not worth the risk.”
Authority officials said gas revenues have stabilized water rates and minimized potential future rate hikes. Walter said it's still a gamble because gas revenues will decrease over time.
Kerr said the authority expects to be flush from the gas revenues for the next 15 to 20 years.
“We want to take advantage of this opportunity while it exists,” Kerr said.”
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/westmoreland/6266124-74/authority-gas-drilling#ixzz34TmV2DWM
3. Radiation Levels in Pipes , Dr Resnikoff
(Notes from the video, Jan)
Solid waste that goes to landfills can be 20% liquid which can be radioactive. Radium is soluble in water and is present in the production brine; brine contains up to 15,000 picocuries per liter. The safe drinking water limit is 15 picocuries per liter. Radium calcifies in the pipes, in the separator, the feeder lines to the condensate tanks, and a lot of the above ground apparatus.
The question is- what are we going to do with these radioactive pipes. After 5 years the pipes clog with scale and are radioactive. These pipes have to be removed and cleaned and that releases the radioactive material into the air. Dr Resnikoff has worked on a large number of personal injury cases where people have inhaled this material.
Workers who clean pipes have developed cancer due to inhalation of particles, as have residents who live near the yards where they clean the radioactive material from the pipes.
Radiation levels were measured on the outside of the pipes:
- 2/3 had radiation greater than NY is proposing (50 microroentgens per hour)
- 5% had no radioactivity
- The remainder had less than 50 microroentgens per hour
Inside the pipes, the radiation levels from radium 226 were calculated to be 1300 picocuries per gram. The EPA standard is 15 picocuries per gram.
Dr. Marvin Resnikoff is an international consultant on radioactive waste issues. A nuclear physicist and a graduate of the University of Michigan, Dr. Resnikoff has worked on radioactive issues since his first project at West Valley, New York in 1974. Throughout his career, he has assisted public interest groups and state and local governments across the US in order to identify and create solutions for radioactive waste storage and transportation issues. His recent research focus has been on the risk of transporting and storing radioactive waste and the health impact of radioactive waste from oil and uranium production. He has studied NORM issues for the past 20 years and more recently, NORM in Marcellus shale. Dr. Resnikoff has also co-authored four books on radioactive issues, including Deadly Defense and Danger Below, regarding contamination at DOE facilities. In June 2000, he was appointed by DOE secretary Bill Richardson to a Blue Ribbon Panel on Alternatives to Incineration.
4. The Real Story Behind Fracking Exports- Slideshow
5. On The Mariner Pipeline-
Excerpted By a Group member:
“If you live in Pennsylvania or Delaware, now’s a good time to start writing and calling your state and local legislators to get them on board to stop this project, which turns our communities into sacrifice zones for exports to Norway.
But please remember. Sunoco applied for public utility on Mar. 21, 2014. If they receive that classification from the PUC, they'll be able to install anything they want in residential areas.
And another EXCERPT:
Mariner East will be transporting ethane and propane exclusively in the liquid state. The operating pressures required to transport liquid propane and ethane are significantly higher than the pressures used to transport refined products, like gasoline and diesel fuel. This is because gasoline/diesel are liquids at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, while ethane/propane exist as gases. The only way to keep ethane and propane in the liquid state is to keep them under high pressure.
Why does this matter? Sunoco claims to be reusing existing pipelines that previously carried refined products. This means that pipe in Mariner East will be seeing 150-200% more pressure than it has ever seen before. I’m sure that the pipe sections are rated for the increased operating pressures, but these ratings are given by pipe manufacturers for new pipe, not pipe that has been sitting in the ground for decades. When you look at the heavily populated areas that Sunoco is planning to run Mariner East through, this seems like the recipe for disaster.”
6. How Controlled Is Fracking?
“Terry Engelder, a Penn State University geoscientist, who has been a longtime booster of shale gas development in the state:
He said fracking "can't be controlled" horizontally, sometimes cracking shale and releasing gas as much as 2,000 feet from the end of the well pipe, even under adjacent, non-leased property. And, he said, although the oil and gas are locked into the shale, they are still treated as "fugitive resources," which means they aren't owned by the surface property owner until they are extracted.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/nation/2014/05/18/Neighbors-sue-driller-Utica-Shale-forced-pooling/stories/201405180097#ixzz349flhlQT
7. Mahoning Twp. Approves Wells/Compressor Station
But Trees will Mitigate Noise and Gas Burns Clean.
“NEW CASTLE — Mahoning Township approved 11 Hilcorp Energy Co. gas and oil drilling wellpads and a compressor station.
The unanimous approvals — by Supervisors Vito Yeropoli, Mark Sackin and Gary Pezzuolo — followed a four-and-a-half-hour session Tuesday attended by about 100 people.
Lou Perrotta, Mahoning Township’s solicitor, conducted the conditional use hearing and warned those attending that no audiotaping or videotaping was allowed, threatening to prosecute them if they did not comply. Twice, he ordered people to stop recording with electronic devices.
Initially, Perrotta told several who wanted to speak that according to the zoning ordinance, they had no official standing in the hearing because they were not Mahoning Township residents.
But they were allowed to comment after several pointed out they have children in the Mohawk school district who could be affected by traffic, pollution and safety concerns from the Leeper wellpad, which is about a mile from the school complex.
Chris Miller of Hillsville Road said she fears for her three children’s health “10 years down the road” from the wells. Margaret Henry of Columbiana Road said, “We have no right to expose those children to 12 years of crap that is coming out of that well.” She added the proposed Gebhardt wellpad “is even closer to the Mohawk school district.”
Stephanie Carter said that while she is not a Mahoning Township resident, she also lives in the Mohawk school district and is concerned about the proximity of the well to the facility. “At least put conditions restricting the flaring or drilling while children are at recess or on the bus,” she said.
Lisa DeSantis of Pennsylvania Avenue, New Castle, asked whether anyone has addressed methane migration from old abandoned wells in the school area.
“Those comments are taken to heart by Hillcorp and me,” replied attorney Michael K. Vennum, of Burleson in Canonsburg, who represented Hilcorp. He commented that setbacks and the well’s distance from the school meet state standards. He said residents with concerns can pursue a grievance process by contacting the DEP’s Meadville office.
Resident Mike Angelo of Hillsville Road objected to the Siegel wellpad and compressor station being built in a rural area near his home.
“I enticed my daughter to move there and now she is stuck,” he said, adding “Who’s going to want to buy a home by a well or a compressor station?” If he had known the wellpad and compressor station were coming, “I’d have moved out of the area ... ” he said, adding “I never thought our supervisors would have morally let this happen.”
He added the DEP’s own figures state that seven percent of all new wells leak “from day one.” He said that some of the chemicals from the wells can cause cancer and other illnesses and include benzene, toulene, xylene and ethylbenzene.
Angelo’s lawyer, Michael Oliverio of Lynch Weis in Cranberry Township, called John Trant Jr., a certified community planner, to testify. Trant said the conservation districts where the wellpads will be located are not compatible with heavy industrial use and there will be visual, noise and traffic impacts on nearby residential property.
Oliverio also argued that deep well drilling is not specifically permitted in the zoning ordinance and that the township zoning hearing board, not the supervisors, should have jurisdiction over their zoning request. Oliverio also questioned the legality of reduced setback waivers on two of the wellpad requests.
Perrotta stated at one point that the conditional use hearing is similar to a court hearing and “we’re not here for questions and answers.” However many residents with questions were eventually allowed to ask them.
Vennum repeatedly stated that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has given the DEP, not supervisors, authority over oil and gas development and related questions of water testing, pollution and air quality. He said supervisors only have authority over a few zoning issues, such as wall heights.
Ryan Godwin, operations engineer, said that compression stations are necessary for gas production. He said Hilcorp already has a compression station in Pulaski Township and in Poland Township, Ohio. He said the proposed Siegel compressor station has deliberately been located in a secluded area with numerous trees that will help “mitigate” noise.
He would not answer Oliverio’s question about what chemicals will be released into the air as a result of operations and Vennum objected that this is a Pennsylvania DEP-regulated matter and if there is an issue with the permit, anyone can contact the DEP and request a hearing.
Godwin would only say, “All our fuel is natural gas, clean burning fuel.”
Jerry Blackmon of Elite Compression Services, stated mufflers can be put on compressor engines if noise is a problem.
The conditional uses were approved for wellpads at the following locations: Ambrosia Coal and Construction Co., West Main Street, Hillsville; Carmen Shick, Kendra Shick-Tabak, Kenneth Shick and Rosie Bartholomew, 206 Baird Road, Edinburg; Scott H. Buckner, 1082 Skyhill Road, Edinburg; Richard A. and Cyndee D. Patton, Matthews Road, Edinburg; Walter H. Burkhardt, Jacobsen Road, Edinburg; Edwin H. and Gretchen Yeo III, McBride Road, Edinburg; W. John Gebhardt, State Route 224, Edinburg; Donald L. and Christopher J. Leeper, 1701 Mohawk School Road, Edinburg; David Gennaro, Carbon Micco Road, Edinburg; Paul Siegel, Baird Road, Edinburg; and David Gennaro, Carbon Micco Road, Edinburg.
8. First 'Conclusive Link' Between Fracking & Aquifer Contamination
Scientists say water samples from Texas man's well show identical chemical signatures from nearby gas drilling operations
Parker County, Texas homeowner Steve Lipsky demonstrated for local TV news outlet WFAA how water coming from his underground well can be ignited.
Independent scientists who have reviewed a water analysis conducted by state authorities of a Texas resident's drinking well say the chemical signatures found in the water may provide "the nation's first conclusive link" between fracking operations and aquifer contamination.
Though a state investigation—conducted by the Texas Railroad Commission in response to an official complaint filed by landowner and Parker County resident Steve Lipsky—said it found the chemical analysis of the water inconclusive, experts shown the results say the commission was simply wrong. "And not just by a little," reports local ABC-affiliate WFAA News who shared the results with several scientists, "but by a lot."
Lipsky said he has long believed that nearby hydraulic fracturing by the Range Resources company was to blame for the increasing amounts of methane and other chemicals in his drinking water. Since 2010, he says, growing amounts of methane have been seeping into the groundwater beneath his land - enough of it so that he can literally light the water coming out of his well on fire.
Range Resources says there is no connection between the methane in Lipsky's well and their drilling, but scientists shown the results from the water analysis—specifically one called an isotopic analysis—say the chemical composition shows they are an exact match to the gas being fracked at two nearby drilling sites—called Butler and the Teal—within the Barnett Shale deposit.
"The methane and ethane numbers from the Butler and Teal production are essentially exactly the same as from Lipsky's water well,” said earth scientist Geoffrey Thyne of Wyoming, who reviewed the data for WFAA. “It tells me that the gas is the same, and that the gas in Lipsky's water well was derived from the Barnett formation."
And soil scientist Bryce Payne of Pennsylvania—who himself conducted testing Lipsky's water in 2013—agreed with that assessment and told WFAA the gas in Lipsky's water (referred to in the state's report as "well number 8") is clearly the result of fracking operations.
"The gas from well number 8 is coming from the Barnett and it's coming nearly straight from the Barnett," Payne said.
Thyne and Payne separately told WFAA that they believe the test results could represent the nation's first conclusive link between fracking and aquifer contamination, even if the state commission has so far refused to acknowledge the weight of the evidence.
"What we seem to have here is the first good example that that, in fact, is happening,” said Thyne.
Watch the entire WFAA report as it aired for local Texas residents on Thursday night:
9. Representative Jesse White Comments on Range’s Jon Day Impoundment Leak
From the Observer Reporter article: “State environmental regulators said a leak at the Jon Day impoundment contaminated groundwater with chloride as crews removed nearly 12,000 tons of soil from the Marcellus Shale drilling operation in Amwell Township.
A monitor at the site found the contamination in the groundwater supply Friday, nearly two months after a tear in the impoundment’s 30-millimeter thick liner was discovered, state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman John Poister said.”
“This article from the Observer-Reporter contains one of the most ridiculous and infuriating quotes I have ever read regarding the contamination of groundwater at a Range Resources wastewater impoundment. Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella says the company "does not have concerns and will continue to safely manage this process", as if the entire article wasn't about Range failing spectacularly to manage the process. It seems as though any sort of apology or acceptance of responsibility is above Range, which is wrong on many levels, especially considering the incredibly close proximity of the impoundment to Trinity South Elementary School.
The issue of contaminated wastewater impoundments is not going to go away, at least not if I have anything to say about it. Stay tuned,”
10. Regulating the Natural Gas Industry in Pennsylvania
John Trallo’s response to the DEP’s you tube video
“Seriously? Regardless of what this agencies name implies, the job of the DEP is to issues permits that allow activity to be conducted that is detrimental to the environment, the ecological integrity, and ultimately public health and safety.
What the DEP "regulates" is the rate of damage done to the environment, not the amount of damage.
The egregious half-truths and misinformation in this video is over-the-top.
Here's an example of one of the half-truths:
"We're never going to take that casing out of there. That casing will always be there"
FACT: What was not mentioned was that the integrity of that casing will be compromised over time. 7% of well casings fail immediately - only 50% of the "squeeze jobs" that industry uses to attempt to repair that casing are successful - eventually all well casings will fail. The only issue is 'when'.
"We want people to know that the DEP has 'world-class' regulations in place."
Apparently, every state that allows O&G extraction has those same 'world-class' regulations.... or at least makes that same arbitrary claim.
FACT: The DEP has made it their policy to "partner with the O&G industry". It doesn't take much to realize that it is never in the best interest of one partner to regulate the other. On the contrary, it is in the best interest of any partnership to watch each others back, and in this case, run regulatory interference.
Many of the DEP's revised regulations are practically carbon copies of the regulations that have been established in other states that have been written, conceived, and suggested by industry lobbyists. [i.e. The "fox guarding the hen house" syndrome.]
It is interesting, and quite telling, albeit no surprising, that the 'comments and ratings' on this YouTube PR video have been "disabled". Fortunately, we can still access the video, copy the link, and expose it for misleading piece of propaganda it is on blogs, social media, email blasts, op-ed pieces, and in newsletters. We will also publish this link right along side the 161 "documented cases of contamination" that the DEP was forced to reveal under the RTK law, the list of violations the industry has racked-up in the last six years, and the scandalously low "fines" that the DEP has imposed on the O&G operators.
Then, there's also that ever spinning "revolving door" between the O&G industry and the DEP regulators. After all, who better to know how to skirt the regs then the regulators themselves?
What really puzzles me is... How do you ******* sleep at night? Aren't you even concerned about how this is going to affect your children and grandchildren?
I guess it takes a special breed of self-serving political reptile to be that cold-blooded.
So.... stay tuned. Instant Karma's gonna get you... “
"When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty." - Thomas Jefferson
John Trallo, Vice Chair Executive Committee, Shale Justice Coalition
11. Residents in Colorado Town File Class-Action Lawsuit Against State
“Lafayette, CO residents passed a measure to ban fracking within city limits in November, yet they’re still fighting for clean air and water.
A month after elections, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association filed a lawsuit against the City of Lafayette to overturn the newly passed Community Bill of Rights. Now, residents are turning the tables back on the association, as well as the state and Gov. John Hickenlooper in a first-of-its-kind, class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday in Boulder County District Court.
While the suit centers on fracking, it seeks to protect the citizens’ right to self-governance under the Community Bill of Rights. The residents allege that the Colorado Oil and Gas Act and the industry’s enforcement of it violate that right to local self-government under the U.S. Constitution.
Residents in Lafayette, CO are fighting to uphold the fracking ban they approved in November under the Community Bill of Rights.
“This class action lawsuit is merely the first of many by people across the United States whose constitutional rights to govern their own communities are routinely violated by state governments working in concert with the corporations that they ostensibly regulate,” said Thomas Linzey, Esq., executive director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, which helped craft Lafayette’s Community Bill of Rights.
“The people of Lafayette will not stand idly by as their rights are negotiated away by oil and gas corporations, their state government, and their own municipal government.”
The suit comes after Hickenlooper postponed a special legislative session with energy industry representatives who wanted to get fracking control back from the residents in Lafayette, Longmont and other towns with local control over fracking. Eleven environmental groups have demanded they be allowed in such a meeting if it ever takes place.
12. Representative Jess White-Knowledge is Power
“In 1597, English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon coined the famous phrase “knowledge is power.” Several incidents from the past month, which have caught the attention of many in the community, bring new meaning to the quote from more than 500 years ago.
On May 1, families living near the Carter wastewater impoundment in Mt. Pleasant Township discovered a large container labeled “radioactive” close to their homes. A state Department of Environmental Protection inspector told residents there had been a spill of radioactive water near “weir tanks,” which were set up next to the impoundment to separate solid particles from the water and chemical mixture used to hydraulically fracture the gas-containing shale. A DEP spokesman later denied that any spill had taken place, and the radioactive material remains in the container at the impoundment site.
Early in the morning of May 14, about 35 residents were evacuated from their homes when an equipment failure at a Range Resources drilling site in Mt. Pleasant Township caused a gas leak. The DEP and Range called it a “precautionary measure.”
On May 27, Range Resources confirmed that Marcellus Shale drilling sludge with radioactivity content too high for normal landfill disposal was being stored at two more sites in Smith Township. Range tried to ship the 12 tons of radioactive sludge to a landfill in West Virginia, but they rejected it as well. A DEP spokesman maintains the radiation, which is more than 26 times greater than background levels, poses a threat to public health. By law, these containers can remain on site for an entire year before Range Resources must dispose of the radioactive waste.
On May 28, lightning struck the MarkWest natural gas processing plant in Chartiers Township, damaging a pipe to a de-ethanizer chamber where ethane is removed from the natural gas. The resulting gas leak led to the evacuation of about 100 residents who lived within a two-mile radius of the plant, an effort that was complicated by flooded roads and power outages from a thunderstorm.
On May 30, it was reported that an undetected leak at the John Day impoundment in Amwell Township, operated by Range Resources, caused much more damage than originally disclosed. Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella called the situation a “minor impact” on the soil that has not affected air or water quality, even though crews have been working for nearly two months to remove more than 10,000 tons of contaminated soil from the site.
These incidents have one disturbing thing in common: In each instance, residents were given little information, no information or misinformation about what was going on.
The radioactive waste situation only came to light after residents gathered enough information to get the attention of reporters.
Calling the removal of 10,000 tons of contaminated soil a “minimal impact” is insulting. During the MarkWest evacuation, people were told they weren’t allowed to know why they were being evacuated from their homes. Officials claimed the fire at the plant was out, yet residents reported seeing flames several hours later. Worst of all, families living near the MarkWest plant had requested to see an evacuation plan months ago and were denied because of “security concerns.”
Let’s be absolutely clear on this: The people living near the industrial activity created by natural gas drilling have the right to know what is happening when something goes wrong, especially since problems are becoming the rule instead of the exception.
Being told after the fact that “the safety system did what it was supposed to do” is insulting because it ignores whatever the underlying problem was. When the smoke detectors in your house go off, that’s the safety system doing what it was supposed to do, but it doesn’t explain why your house burned down.
Anyone can spot public relations talk from a mile away, and that’s what we’ve been inundated with. It’s unacceptable. A big part of the problem is the state Department of Environmental Protection, the same DEP that put on a presentation for elected officials in April about how there are no problems and nothing to worry about in the shale industry.
I don’t know how two evacuations, tons of radioactive waste that no one will take and 10,000 tons of contaminated soil in just one month can be downplayed as the usual “nothing to see here” we get from Tom Corbett’s DEP.
The people living near these sites aren’t stupid. They know when they are being talked-down to, misled or ignored. As a result, many of them are growing increasingly distrustful and legitimately afraid for their property values and personal safety.
To be clear: This is not a “drilling vs. anti-drilling” issue. This is a public safety issue. I know people who practically have “drill baby drill” tattooed on their foreheads who are really concerned not only about the growing frequency of problems, but the total lack of information given to the public about what’s going on.
Last time I checked, we don’t live in a totalitarian state. People have the right to information that could provide them with peace of mind and potentially save their lives. Considering the frequency of incidents is clearly trending upward, a basic level of transparency is not too much to ask for. A lack of honest and timely information fosters rumors, which doesn’t benefit anyone.
People need to speak up by attending meetings, writing letters and contacting elected officials. Journalists need to ask tougher questions instead of accepting carefully worded statements specifically designed to downplay potential negative press. Public officials at all levels need to work together and demand greater accountability. Taking a “let someone else handle it” approach simply won’t work.
Sir Francis Bacon’s words ring true five centuries later; and if knowledge is indeed power, it’s easy to see why so many people are feeling powerless.”