Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates
July 3, 2014
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For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
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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.
Thank You --Recent Donations
Thank you to April Jackman for her donation that supports our work for the health and environment in local communities.
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-Next meeting July 8. Email Jan for directions. All are very welcome to attend.
***EPA Carbon Hearing Pittsburg-July 31
Hearing: EPA Rules on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, July 31
As a move to mitigate global warming, the EPA has proposed new rules for CO2 emissions from existing power plants. Hearings for public comment will be held in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC. The Pittsburgh hearing will be:
8:00 am to 9:00pm, Thursday, July 31, 2014
William S. Moorhead Federal Building
1000 Liberty Ave,
Pittsburgh Pa 15222
To testify and request a time: contact Pamela Garrett at 919-541-7966 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: There will be a lunch break from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. and a dinner break from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
TAKE ACTION !!
***Letters to the editor are important and one of the best ways to share information with the public. ***
***Health Survey Allegheny County-What Are Your Concerns-Fracking
From Sierra Club: Our lead item this week is a call for people to urge the Allegheny County Health Department to include fracking of County Parks in the list of health concerns that need to be addressed.
The Allegheny County Health Department is conducting a survey through the end of June 2014 to determine County residents' concerns about public health matters. This is the same Health Department that refused to study the health effects of fracking before the County leased Deer Lakes Park by a 9-5 vote on May 6, 2014 to Range Resources. In fact, ACHD Director Dr. Karen Hacker stated at a County Council Parks Committee meeting on April 16, 2014 that as far as she knew, there were no scientific studies about fracking and public health.
Protect Our Parks (www.protectparks.org) is a broad coalition of individuals, grassroots groups, and environmental organizations working to prevent toxic fracking of the public parks in Allegheny County. Please take a few seconds to help us send a message to Dr. Karen Hacker about her responsibility to protect public health by answering her survey.
Here's how to do it:
• Go to www.achd.net/survey.html
• Click on "Take the survey." in the middle of the page.
• Because the survey doesn't list shale gas extraction as an option, find the box at the bottom for "Other (please specify)".
• Write a few words, something to the effect of "the dangers of leasing County Park land for fracking"
• Sign your name, type in your zip code, and click "Next" at the bottom of the page. You're done!
It's a simple as that. Once you've done it, please ask other Allegheny County residents to help, too.
Thanks for your support, Protect Our Parks
***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:
Thanks! Ron Slabe
***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
“Sunoco has petitioned the 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:
***Cove Point Liquid Gas Facility--Petition
In order to ship natural gas overseas, you've got to liquefy it. The process is a very dangerous one. LNG facilities that serve domestic energy needs already exist. An incident at one of them in Plymouth, Washington in March forced everyone within a two-mile radius of the facility to evacuate. The risks it poses are not limited to the area surrounding the facility, however. Fracking to extract the gas from the shale and then moving it by pipeline to the LNG facility damage the environment and put health and safety at risk.
The Plymouth facility is located in a fairly remote area, however. The proposed Cove Point LNG export facility in Maryland is a different story. There are 360 homes within 4,500 feet of the facility and there's only one road in and one road out of the area. Oh, and the facility is adjacent to a public park. The Chesapeake Climate Action Network prepared a fact sheet on Cove Point with lots more information.
At present, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is considering what the environmental impacts of the Cove Point LNG facility might be. FERC is notorious for rubber-stamping projects and downplaying their environmental impacts. Just last week, a U.S. Circuit Court ruled that FERC acted improperly when it overlooked environmental impacts by looking at a proposed pipeline one segment at a time, rather than as a whole. It is a decision that is likely to have reverberations that are felt within the commission for some time.
The ruling comes at an important time because FERC is currently in the process of downplaying the environmental impacts of the proposed Cove Point LNG export facility. FERC is currently accepting comments on the environmental review of the Cove Point project. The Department of Environmental Protection and others called for an extension of the deadline, but FERC rejected their requests yesterday. The comment period ends on Monday.
That means we only have a few more days to flood FERC with comments telling them to conduct a full, comprehensive, and credible study called an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Will you add your name to my petition and share it with your friends?
Here's the URL to the petition, just in case the link doesn't work. http://petitions.moveon.org/environmental-action/sign/say-no-to-the-cove-point
Thanks so much, as always!
***Peters Township Zoning Workshop-
A discussion of Township zoning options for gas drilling after the Act 13 ruling by the Pa Supreme Court.
Thank you to John Smith and David Ball, and to Bob Donnan for posting the video.
1:49:00 -- Select the HD setting for viewing
***Link to Shalefield Stories-Personal stories of those affected by fracking http://www.friendsoftheharmed.com/
***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.
***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.
Special Thanks to Bob Donnan for photos.
1. Apex Energy Considering Penn Township Drilling Sites
“As part of its push into Southwestern Pennsylvania, a Marcellus shale-drilling company is considering as many as eight projects in Penn Township, municipal and company officials said.
Representatives of Apex Energy, which received state permits this year to drill in three Armstrong County locations, have met with officials in Penn Township and Murrysville as they evaluate several potential drilling sites in the region.
One of the targeted locations is “real close” to the Penn Township-Murrysville border. Some residents in both municipalities are supposed to receive letters requesting water-quality testing in case properties near them are used for drilling, he said.
Leasing agents working on behalf of the Pine Township-based company have been talking to people in Penn Township and Murrysville about obtaining mineral rights.
“We have people leasing and are constantly looking at projects in Southwestern Pennsylvania,” Rothenberg said. “We have no bull's-eye on any singular township out there or a single county.”
Though Apex officials didn't divulge many details about potential sites in Penn Township, they mentioned interest in as many as eight projects within the next year, said Dallas Leonard, the township's community-development director. Proposed changes to the township's zoning ordinance that are being considered would permit oil and natural gas extraction in all five of the proposed zoning districts, though some conditions would apply.
“There's no question, they're looking at all the communities around,” Leonard said.
As of Tuesday morning, the only potential Apex site in Penn Township that is listed on the state DEP website is a family farm near the North Huntingdon and Trafford borders. To date, Apex has requested only an expedited permit for erosion and sediment control, DEP records show.
Meanwhile, Murrysville chief administrator Jim Morrison said Apex applied for an erosion-and-sediment-control permit with the state for Marcellus shale activity in the municipality. But the property along Lyons Run Road isn't located within the municipal drilling district, he said.
“We told them that whatever they think they might do there, it is not a permitted use,” Morrison said. “They said their plans were preliminary.”
Apex's interest in part of Murrysville surprised homeowner Jeanne Zombek, who lives about a quarter of a mile from the Murrysville Swim Club. She said a New York-based agent inquired about a lease on her property, which she described as being “in the heart of Murrysville.”
“It's not something we would have even done if we were interested in drilling,” Zombek said.
As for the water-quality testing letters, DEP spokesman John Poister said that is something that some drilling companies do as a good practice. The state agency advises companies to do the testing but doesn't require it.
“That way, when there is a question (about water quality), they have a baseline to work off of,” Poister said.
Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourpenntrafford/yourpenntraffordmore/6372011-74/township-drilling-apex#ixzz36QdAqyRn
2. Air Pollution Spikes In Homes Near Fracking Wells
“Levels of particulate matter spike at night inside homes near gas wells in Southwest Pennsylvania, the director of an environmental health monitoring project said.
The Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (SWPA-EHP) has been conducting a “pretty aggressive” indoor air monitoring project since 2011 in the midst of Pennsylvania’s gas drilling boom, particularly near unconventional wells that employed hydraulic fracturing, project director Reina Ripple said in a webinar hosted by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The project has documented sudden increases in particulate matter within homes, she said.
“These are really significant spikes in particulate matter, and a lot of the time they do happen at night,” Ripple said.
The spikes may last three to four hours, and they cannot be explained by typical household activities like cooking, Ripple said.
The spikes occur at night, she believes, because of stable atmospheric conditions that hold particulate matter low to the ground instead of dispersing it.
“The air masses at night tend to be pretty stable, so you’ve got a lot of people who are living not even downwind from these sites necessarily, but downslope.”
SWPA-EHP employs a nurse practitioner who conducts exams and offers consultations at people’s homes and offices. In 2012-13, they determined 27 health complaints were likely attributable to gas drilling activities, including dermal, respiratory and neurological symptoms and eye irritation.
“The acute impacts do seem to be the concern right now, and you can imagine if these people are getting spikes there are going to be acute impacts from that. What the long term effects are going to be, we’re not certain,” Ripple said.
Likely sources include flaring, venting of gas at compressor stations, and activities at processing facilities, Ripple said.
“That’s another thing were doing with the data, we’re defining it in relation to what the source was—was it a processing facility, was it a compressor station, was it a flare? And those are going to create different acute health impacts, and as to what the chronic effects are, we just don’t have that data yet.”
SWPA-EHP typically installs two Speck particulate monitors provided by Carnegie-Mellon University’s CREATE lab in each home. The monitors are able to document the duration and intensity of spikes that might not be revealed by more common monitors that average readings over a longer sampling duration.
A 2010 air pollution study by the DEP found compounds attributed to gas drilling activities, including methane, ethane, propane, and benzene, but “did not identify concentrations of any compound that would likely trigger air-related health issues” (pdf).
The Speck readings do not reveal the nature of the particles or the presence of other pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds.
The project is now working with researchers from Yale and the University of Washington to grab air samples during the spikes that can be analyzed for content.
“That literally has gotten off the ground in the last week or two,” Ripple said.
The pro-fracking website Energy in Depth, a project of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, has questioned SWPA-EHP’s findings because the project is supported by foundations that have expressed environmental concerns:
“The Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project is a non-profit entity closely related to some very biased groups who directly or indirectly advocate against all natural gas development. For obvious reasons, this should raise red flags in terms of the veracity of the information they’re putting out.”
But the project could be pioneering findings in a public health arena that, according to several panelists at the NRDC webinar, has not received adequate study.
“These episodic peak exposures, the particulates and volatile organic compounds, may be related to more short term health effects. We can’t really tell because we’re not really tracking this stuff in a useful way over time,” said John Adgate of the Colorado School of Public Health.
“So what we see, what you hear, is sometimes called anecdotal, but it’s but it’s consistent with the facts and what we know about the compounds that are emitted.”
3. Fracking Study: New Gas Wells Leak More
“ In Pennsylvania’s gas drilling boom, newer and unconventional wells leak far more often than older and traditional ones, according to a study of state inspection reports for 41,000 wells.
The results suggest leaks of methane could be a problem for drilling across the nation, said study lead author Cornell University engineering professor Anthony Ingraffea, who heads an environmental activist group that helped pay for the study.
The research was criticized by the energy industry. Marcellus Shale Coalition spokesman Travis Windle said it reflects Ingraffea’s “clear pattern of playing fast and loose with the facts.”
The study was published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A team of four scientists analyzed more than 75,000 state inspections of gas wells done in Pennsylvania since 2000.
Overall, older wells – those drilled before 2009 – had a leak rate of about 1 percent.
Newer traditional wells drilled after 2009 had a leak rate of about 2 %; the rate for unconventional wells was about 6 %, the study found.
The leak rate reached as high as nearly 10 % horizontally drilled wells for before and after 2009 in the northeastern part of the state, where drilling is hot and heavy.
The researchers don’t know where the leaky methane goes – into the water or the air, where it could be a problem worsening man-made global warming.
The scientists don’t know the size of the leaks or even their causes and industry officials deny that they are actual leaks. The study calls it “casing and cement impairment,” but the study’s lead author said that is when methane is flowing outside the pipe.
“Something is coming out of it that shouldn’t, in a place that it shouldn’t,” said Ingraffea, who was part of a team of Cornell researchers finding problems with fracking. Also, Ingraffea heads a group of scientists and engineers that criticized fracking and two of his co-authors are part of the group.
The study didn’t discuss why the leak rate spiked. Ingraffea said it could be because corners are being cut as drilling booms, better inspections or the way the gas is trapped in the rock formation.
Pennsylvania regulatory officials said their records show gas leaks peaked in 2010 and are on the way down again, reflecting their efforts to stress proper cementing practices. Further in 2011, the state focused more on unconventional wells to make leak protection efforts “more stringent,” wrote Morgan Wagner, a spokesman for the state environmental agency.
4. Cornell Study: Fracking Fluid Increases Pollution Potential
“Wastewater from fracking could release tiny particles that bind to heavy metals and pollutants, exacerbating environmental risks during accidental spills, according to Cornell University researchers.
The properties that make fracking fluid effective at extracting natural gas from shale also make associated pollutants, such as heavy metals, leach out, according to the Cornell researchers.
The study’s findings can be used by people looking to prevent or cleanup fracking fluid spills, co-author on the paper, Cornell postdoctoral associate Cathelijne Stoof, said.
The tiny particles they studied are colloids — larger than the size of a molecule but smaller than what can be seen with the naked eye — which cling to sand and soil due to their electric charge.
“If there’s a spill, mobilization of these tiny particles by the flowback fluid (fracking wastewater) could cause additional contamination of the groundwater,” Stoof said.
Stoof said the Cornell research is a first step in studying the interaction between fracking wastewater and colloids.
“What we would like to do as the next step is continue with this and look at what happens in more complex systems.”
The research was supported by the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station’s USDA Hatch funds, as well as the U.S. National Science Foundation and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.”
5. PA Dept of Health “Buzzword” List Confirmed
“Did Pennsylvania health department officials circulate a list of drilling-related “buzzwords” and a meeting permission form that led department staff to believe they were being silenced on the issue of natural gas development?
Two weeks ago, when StateImpact Pennsylvania first reported on the buzzwords list and meeting form, the department’s answer to that question was no.
Since then, State Impact Pennsylvania has obtained copies of the documents, which show that department employees needed high-level permission to attend forums on Marcellus Shale.
Agency officials confirm those documents are authentic.
Two retirees with the Department of Health have said that because of the department’s policies, they and their colleagues concluded they were not supposed to respond directly to public health concerns or attend forums about drilling.
Michael Wolf, state Secretary of Health, said in an interview with StateImpact Pennsylvania this week that the goal was not to stifle the agency’s roughly 1,400 employees, but to ensure “that we are speaking with one voice.”
Buzzwords include “hair falling out,” “skin rash”
On February 24, 2012, the Bureau of Health Planning and Assessment sent an email to eight bureau directors and the deputy secretary.
“Please share the following email with all staff as a reminder,” it said.
The email instructed employees to call the Bureau of Epidemiology with complaints about “possible cancer clusters, health concerns related to natural gas drilling, and other types of environmental hazards” from citizens, legislators, healthcare professionals, or public employees.
It also includes a list of 19 words and phrases that may be used in these complaints including: “hair falling out,” “skin rash,” "superfund site", "drilling", "fracking" and "Marcellus Shale".
Tammi Stuck, a retired community health nurse in Fayette County, told StateImpact Pennsylvania she remembered that her supervisor – after distributing what Stuck called the list of “buzzwords” – told employees not to return calls on these topics.
“We had to take their name and number and forward it on to our supervisor,” Stuck said. “Somebody was supposed to call them back and address their concerns.”
Marshall Deasy, a retired program specialist with the Bureau of Epidemiology, said some nurses he knew also told him they were not allowed to return calls about drilling-related health complaints.
When StateImpact Pennsylvania first contacted the Department of Health, a spokesperson denied that a list was sent out to community health employees.
The department has since confirmed the February 2012 email. Spokesperson Aimee Tysarczyk said she had not been aware of the list because she did not work for the department at the time the email was sent.
“Nowhere in those documents does it say not to take health complaints as these employees are claiming,” Tysarczyk said.
That is true, but the only instruction the email clearly offers is to send complaints to the Bureau of Epidemiology.
Stuck said employees were not told how to counsel people who called other than passing the information up the chain. Normally, she said, community health nurses would discuss symptoms and gather other information from the caller.
“This was the only time I can remember getting a list of buzzwords saying this is a list that you don’t talk about,” she said.
Since 2011, Celeen Miller, a public health advocate based in Bucks County, estimates she has worked with about two-dozen people from heavy drilling areas who reported drilling-related health concerns.
She said they described to her their frustration as they were referred from their local state health offices to the Department of Environmental Protection and back again to the Department of Health.
Miller was concerned that the department’s district offices did not know how to deal with these complaints.
“It just was this lack of communication between the [state and] individuals who were concerned about what they were experiencing with symptoms whether it would be nosebleeds or asthma attacks,” Miller said. “I think it was frustrating for people. Many were afraid and concerned.”
Miller began facilitating contact between people with complaints and Department of Health employees in Harrisburg who seemed willing to help.
She was aware of the February 2012 email laying out the protocol for handling these complaints. Miller said it did not seem to minimize confusion in the district offices.
Tammi Stuck and Marshall Deasy also said that community health employees were informed in 2011 that in the future they would need permission to attend any meetings outside the agency. They said that directive came after a meeting where a consultant with the department made statements about Marcellus Shale that upset officials in Harrisburg.
Tysarczyk initially said employees were not required to fill out a form, but that it was “not unusual” for an agency to want to know what staff are doing and saying in public settings.
However, the form does exist. You can read it by clicking here. (see article, jan)
According to a bulletin distributed by the Bureau of Community Health on August 10, 2011, permission had to be granted by a district executive director, the bureau director or the deputy secretary depending on the nature of the meeting.
Two “special initiatives requiring Deputy Secretary approval for attendance” were Marcellus Shale and the health insurance exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act.
The Department of Health said that policy is still in effect.
Secretary Wolf said he did not think this policy would discourage an employee from attending a forum about natural gas development.
“One of the challenges that we in the Corbett administration faced when we walked in the door to the Department of Health was the fact that there was, from time to time, not commonality of message,” said Wolf, who would not say specifically what discrepancies existed within the department.
“One of the things we are trying to accomplish and still accomplish today is to make sure that we’re providing guidance to our employees who are working in the public and make sure that we are speaking with one voice.”
The Governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
“We’re doing our job”
The Department of Health said it has logged 51 complaints related to natural gas development in a database since 2011 and has found no link between drilling and illness.
However, the agency said the contents of the database include “protected health information” and cannot be made public.
“If we get a complaint that comes in from an individual it is still investigated,” said Wolf. “The only thing that really should truly matter to people is that we’re doing our job and we’re investigating what we’re supposed to investigate.”
*You can see the actual documents by going to the link to the article below:
6. Thyne: Trinity Aquifer Contaminated By Fracking
Posted June 25, 2014 by PETER GORMAN in News
“A geologist who has spent years studying the effects of natural gas drilling on water sources said last week that he has “no doubt” that Range Resources gas drilling activity has contaminated the Trinity Aquifer, ruining several water wells in Parker County — but not due to leaks from the gas wells themselves.
Retired professor Geoffrey Thyne, who has worked as a consultant for gas drillers, gas drilling critics, and the EPA, told Fort Worth Weekly he is convinced that natural gas, disturbed by the hydraulic fracturing process, is migrating through a natural fault into the aquifer. The Trinity aquifer serves as a primary water source for 20 counties, from the Oklahoma border south to Bandera.
Thyne is principal geochemist at Wyoming’s Science Based Solutions LLC, which investigates environmental impacts of industrial development on watersheds.
Since 2010, he said, the number of water wells affected — in some cases to the point that the water is so saturated with methane that it can be set on fire — has gone from one to five, and the five make a line that parallels a geologic fault in the area.
“Initially I was hopeful that this was stray gas that would dissipate in time,” Thyne said. Instead, the area of methane pollution of the aquifer “is getting bigger. It’s spreading geometrically. And it’s not the fault of a bad well,” he said. “The wells are very well done. This is coming from the rock that has been fracked, and it may be the first time we are actually seeing that.” The Barnett Shale strata lie several thousand feet below the level of the aquifer.
Not only has the number of affected wells grown, but the methane levels have risen, and the methane has a chemical signature that ties it back to the Range Resources fracking operation, he said.
“We have no way of knowing if it will get worse, but you cannot fix this,” he said. “And that makes it a game changer.”
The affected wells are in Weatherford. Steve Lipsky, owner of one of those wells, has gained a measure of celebrity for demonstrating, on film, that his well water can be set on fire.
Lipsky’s problems started in 2009, shortly after Range Resources fracked two natural gas wells near his property. He and several other nearby families said that their water wells had soured, and Lipsky himself began to suffer daily from nausea and headaches.
He attributed it to a possible gas buildup in his water well. After the problem literally reached the flammable point, he contacted the Railroad Commission. The agency required Range to run a series of tests on the water well.
Lipsky also contacted Alisa Rich of Wolf Eagle Environmental to test the water. Her tests showed high levels of methane, as did the Railroad Commission tests. Lipsky and his wife Shyla were told by the commission to stop using their well.
In late 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency also tested Lipsky’s well and shortly thereafter issued an emergency order that included a finding that Range Resources had “caused or contributed” to the contamination of the Lipsky water well and another nearby. The order directed Range to develop “a plan for EPA approval identifying gas flow pathways to the Trinity Aquifer, eliminating gas flow to the aquifer if possible, and remediating impacted areas of the aquifer.”
The EPA hired Thyne as an independent contractor to evaluate all the testing data. “I did a report saying that I thought the gas signature matched the water wells with the gas wells,” he said.
Ironically, Earthworks’ Oil and Gas Accountability Project had hired Thyne in 2005 to review an EPA study of fracking. His negative remarks about that study — related to a lack of data “to evaluate potential links between fracking and water quality” — led him to be excoriated by the gas industry.
The signature, Thyne explained, “is equivalent to a fingerprint, or unique pattern of 10 or so distinct parameters that are very similar or identical” in the detailed chemical makeup of the gas found in the water wells and that coming from Range’s operations.
But then the EPA backed off.
“The EPA settled and told me to drop it, and since [his work] was litigation support, that was the end of it,” Thyne said. “But I was still curious as to how Range got such a different conclusion than I had, so I continued to follow the case, analyzing data that came along.”
The EPA dropped the potential litigation against Range immediately after the Railroad Commission issued a report in March 2011 noting that “hydraulic fracturing can be ruled out as a potential source of natural gas in the Silverado neighborhood” where the Lipskys lived. The report instead suggested that the methane in the neighborhood’s water wells most likely came from gas migrating from the Strawn shale formation, which is much shallower than the Barnett Shale into which Range drilled.
The Railroad Commission got involved in the Lipsky case again in August 2013, at the request of the Lipskys and several neighbors, when the level of methane in their wells increased. New tests confirmed that in five of the nine water wells sampled, methane levels had risen.
However, in its most recent report, the commission still concluded that the data “are inconclusive as to a specific source of the gas.” The report said that “seismic reflection data submitted by Range Resources to the RRC do not show the presence of faults” that would allow gas to migrate into the Trinity Aquifer and thus into the water wells.
Thyne is certain that there is such a fault. “What we … have is that back in 2010, there was one well that had a serious problem. Now there are five, and they form a straight line, and that line is parallel to the fault system in the region … that is allowing the gas from the Barnett to seep up to the Trinity Aquifer,” he said.
Range Resources did not return calls for comment on this story.
Railroad Commission spokesperson Ramona Nye wrote in an e-mail that “Our staff could find no evidence that oilfield activity is the cause of methane contamination in the aquifer, and as a result no further investigation activities are currently planned … . [T]he physical data described in the commission’s report do not reveal pathways that could allow natural gas to migrate from the Barnett Shale (approximately 5,700 feet below ground) and into the residents’ water wells.”
Nathan Matthews, a staff attorney with the Sierra Club, disagreed. “To my knowledge, this is the first time the signature of the methane in the water is identical to the methane in a gas well in Texas,” he said. “We’ve seen it in Pennsylvania, but this is a first for Texas.”
Sharon Wilson, representative of the Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project, posted the initial video of Lipsky’s well water being lit on fire on her BlueDaze blog. “As far as industry is concerned, they’ve never done anything wrong, so they’re not going to change anything,” she said. “But in the public eye, I think this is a game changer. The possibility of poisoning an aquifer is a very big deal.”
Calvin Tillman, former mayor of DISH, Texas, and a co-founder of Shale-Test, a company that helps communities test air and water quality before and after fracking, said he understands why the Railroad Commission denied any connection between the gas drilling and water well contamination.
“They’re nothing more than a PR group for the oil and gas industry. If they would own up to the problems, we could see what went wrong and try not to let it happen again,” he said. “Instead the industry goes into denial, and they’re backed by the Railroad Commission — which fails to remember that they are a taxpayer-funded organization.”
Tim Ruggiero, Tillman’s partner in ShaleTest, said the findings by Thyne should be a game changer but probably won’t be “until more scientists come forward with proof that the water wells are being contaminated by drilling. As it is, we have one industry scientist saying there is no conclusive evidence that fracking spoiled the wells and an independent scientist saying there is proof. That builds a level of doubt in the public’s mind as to what is the truth.”
“We never imagined [the aquifer pollution] would spread, but it is spreading on this linear thread,” said Thyne, who will soon be publishing a peer-reviewed article on the Parker County situation. “Will it get worse? We don’t know. I hope not, but we just don’t know.”
7. EQT Offers $50,000 To Leasors Who Sign Release From All Liabilty
“ In a corner of Washington County, EQT Corporation has been busy – drilling close to a dozen new wells on one site.
It didn't take long for the residents of Finleyville who lived near the fracking operations to complain – about the noise and air quality, and what they regarded as threats to their health and quality of life. Initially, EQT, one of the largest producers of natural gas in Pennsylvania, tried to allay concerns with promises of noise studies and offers of vouchers so residents could stay in hotels to avoid the noise and fumes.
But then, in what experts say was a rare tactic, the company got more aggressive: it offered all of the households along Cardox Road $50,000 in cash if they would agree to release the company from any legal liability, for current operations as well as those to be carried out in the future. It covered potential health problems and property damage, and gave the company blanket protection from any kind of claim over noise, dust, light, smoke, odors, fumes, soot, air pollution or vibrations.
The agreement also defined the company's operations as not only including drilling activity but the construction of pipelines, power lines, roads, tanks, ponds, pits, compressor stations, houses and buildings.
"The release is so incredibly broad and such a laundry list," said Doug Clark, a gas lease attorney in Pennsylvania who mainly represents landowners. "You're releasing for everything including activity that hasn't even occurred yet. It's crazy."
The industry has undertaken an array of efforts to quell worries and preserve its business — lobbying state legislators, conducting its own scientific studies and occasionally settling quietly out of court with landowners who have threatened to sue.
The liability agreements EQT has used in Finleyville — they are often known as nuisance easements — have been used in other circumstances. Residents living close to airports, for instance, are often offered such easements as compensation for having to bear with the noise, vibrations and fumes from air traffic. Property owners close to landfills and wind farms may also sign similar agreements.
But experts say such easements are rare in the oil and gas industry.
"This is only the second time I've seen one," said Clark, the Pennsylvania attorney. "They're absolutely not common at all."
Clark says it is unlikely that companies will start handing out such agreements en masse, saying doing so could decrease landowners' confidence about the safety of the company's operations and their personal health.
"People are going to say the gas companies must be concerned about air pollution because they're offering these easements," said Clark. "Everybody's going to get suspicious."
Earlier this year, a couple in Texas was awarded $3 million in a lawsuit against a gas drilling company. The couple alleged that the company's operations had affected their health, decreased their property value and forced them to move away. The case was one of the first successful lawsuits alleging that air pollution from gas drilling activity caused health issues.
Experts say that verdict and others like it have emboldened landowners to take their claims to court. Nuisance easements may be one way to ensure that the company can easily block landowners from claiming damages.
Apart from drilling and fracking wells, EQT also builds and operates the infrastructure — pipelines and compressor stations — necessary to move natural gas to market. Its operations are headquartered in Pennsylvania but it also owns wells in Kentucky and West Virginia.
In 2008, landowners in Finleyville signed a gas lease for drilling with Chesapeake Energy. The company only drilled one well, but last year it sold its leases to EQT, which has since drilled 11 additional wells.
So far the company's strategy to reduce its liabilities has worked with some landowners.
Muriel Spencer, whose house is about 500 feet from the drilling, took the money. She said she did not consult with a lawyer, but had asked the company to put a five-year time frame around the release. The initial contract released the company from liabilities indefinitely.
Muriel Spencer, who lives about 500 feet from EQT Corp.’s gas well, says she has no complaints about the company’s operations. (Courtesy of Robert M. Donnan)
"I cannot complain about the drilling to this point," Spencer said, adding that EQT "has been nothing but fair with me."
The company's spokeswoman would not comment on how many landowners EQT approached with the proposed agreements, but said that "approximately 85% of the residents" had signed them.
An initial version of the proposed standard agreement listed 30 Finleyville residents and required that they all sign the agreements in order to receive the $50,000. When the residents refused, EQT modified the agreement such that the compensation was not contingent on all landowners signing it.
ProPublica found that at least four of the 30 residents have agreed to some version of the initial agreement that EQT proposed and have received $50,000 in exchange. It is unclear what changes were made to the agreement during negotiations.
Robertson, the company spokeswoman, said in her statement that "any changes made to the agreements during negotiations were based on requests directly from the resident, and/or their attorney."
But some of the residents have refused to negotiate with the company.
"I was insulted," said Gary Baumgardner, who was approached by EQT with the offer in January. "We're being pushed out of our home and they want to insult us with this offer."
Baumgardner says his house is like an amphitheater, constantly vibrating from the drilling. At times the noise gets up to 75 decibels, equivalent to a running vacuum cleaner, he said. Earlier this year, EQT Corp. put up a sound barrier to limit the noise, but Baumgardner says it has made little difference to his quality of life.
"We took the pictures down in the bedroom because they still vibrate at night," he said.
Baumgardner says he has had to leave his house at least three times so far because the gas fumes from the well site were too much to bear. A local health group has installed air quality monitors in his home and several of his neighbors. Last year when the one of the monitors began flashing red, his daughter, pregnant at the time, fled the house. She has since moved away after her doctor advised her not to live close to a drilling site.
"Our house is most often not livable," said Baumgardner. EQT's response to his complaints, he said, has been "constant dismissals, excuses, delays and broken promises."
Robertson would not respond to Baumgardner's specific assertions. She did point to several mitigation efforts she said the company had taken, including the sound wall, but also involving switching to quieter machinery and applying for permits to transport water via pipes instead of trucks.
Baumgardner believes the nuisance easement he was offered is a part of the industry's tactic to silence landowners.
"Throughout the last several months, an EQT regional land manager, one of our community advisers, and our community relations manager have all been engaged in phone calls and personal meetings with residents, attended township meetings, and visited the production site on multiple occasions to identify and confirm the reported issues, if any," Robertson's statement said.
"The easements are part of our overall consistent and ongoing effort to address leaseholder concerns."
If you've been approached by the oil and gas industry with an overly broad agreement, email email@example.com.
8. More Than Chloride Found At The John Day Impoundment Leak
DEP Will Get Info From Range Resources
“A DEP spokesman on Thursday confirmed that “other chemicals associated with drilling” have been found in the contaminated soil being hauled from the Jon Day impoundment in Amwell Township, Washington County – the site of a “significant” leak earlier this year.
The spokesman, John Poister, said a “wider array” of tests showed the other chemicals, while initial testing showed only chlorides, which he indicated was a “marker” for contamination.
The exact chemicals found in the soil were not immediately disclosed.
DEP is seeking further information from Range Resources, Poister said.”
9. Oil/Gas Industry Buys Colorado Fracking Election
“In what may have been the most expensive and farce of an election in the history of Colorado, the oil and gas industry has likely spent $1 million to buy a fracking election in the city of Loveland, CO.
When the votes were tallied last night for a two-year fracking moratorium in Loveland, “no” votes squeaked out a victory by a 10,844 to 9,942 margin, getting just 52 percent of the vote.
The industry has so-far reported spending more than $375,000 on those 10,844 votes, but massive unreported spending that exploited a loophole in the Colorado campaign finance law ruled the election. As long as the industry’s ads didn’t say “vote for” or “vote against,” they didn’t have to report their spending. That resulted in a deluge of an aerial attack of TV ads, radio ads, newspaper ads and inserts, and mailers that inundated voters in Loveland. Residents reported getting one and sometimes two mailers a day over the last three weeks, many including bucolic photos of pristine Colorado landscapes while hailing positive aspects of fracking.
Anti-fracking activists from a local group Protect Our Loveland spent about $7,500 trying to pass the moratorium. In the end, Protect Our Loveland was likely outspent by a 100 – 1 margin by the most profitable industry on the planet.
At the same time that the industry bought the election, it also fought fiercely to manipulate the election date and process. Anti-fracking activists in Loveland gathered the signatures and tried to place the vote on the ballot in November of 2013 at the same time that anti-fracking elections swept neighboring cities of Fort Collins, Boulder, Lafayette and Broomfield in Colorado’s “Frack Zone.” But, the oil and gas industry sued in court to get the election postponed and bullied the Loveland City Council into delaying the vote. A couple months later, a judge ruled against the industry and the city and forced the election to occur. An industry-friendly city council then cherry-picked a date—June 24—for the election that coincided with the hotly contested Republican Governor’s race in Colorado, thus ensuring a large turnout of very conservative voters.
The anti-fracking fight continues in Colorado where 53,000 active wells are splattered across the landscape and about 3,000 new wells are drilled every year, many of those in suburban neighborhoods like Loveland. But, one thing is clear: the oil and gas industry will do anything, say anything and spend anything to force fracking down the throats of citizens. If you’re involved in the fracking fights in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas or California, be forewarned—this industry is fighting for its life and you will have to fight for yours, too.” ““http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/271-38/24486-oil-and-gas-industry-buys-colorado-fracking-election
10. Heavily Fracked Oklahoma Has More Earthquakes Than California
“Oklahoma has had nearly double the number of earthquakes as California, after five earthquakes on Thursday morning rattled an area of the state where oil and gas drilling is prevalent.
While California recorded 88 earthquakes of a magnitude 3.0 or greater this year, 174 of the same intensity have shaken Oklahoma. On Thursday, the region was hit by five quakes with magnitudes higher than 3.0 — the magnitude at which tremors can easily be felt, Oklahoma City’s KOCO news reported.
Whereas California’s quakes are spread throughout the state, seismic activity in Oklahoma is concentrated in the central and northern part of the state — areas where oil and gas drilling, otherwise known as fracking, has increased in recent years. In Oklahoma as a whole, drilling doubled between 2009 and 2012.
The rise in oil and gas drilling in the state has paralleled increasing earthquake activity. Previously, the state averaged about one quake per year, but that has increased to at least one a day, KOCO reported.
Seismologists have concluded that fracking can cause small earthquakes.
At the Seismological Society of America’s annual meeting in May, scientists said that underground disposal of vast amounts of wastewater generated by fracking likely induce earthquakes by changing the state of stress on existing faults.
Researchers hypothesized that as more wastewater is sequestered underground, it could trigger larger faults tens of miles away from fracking sites.
While researchers initially believed such fracking-triggered quakes could not exceed 5.0 magnitude, the U.S. Geological Survey reported a 5.7-magnitude "human-induced" earthquake in a heavily drilled area near Prague, Oklahoma, in 2011.
Another quake stronger than magnitude 5.0 occurred in 2011 near Trinidad, Colorado, another heavily fracked area. On Tuesday, Colorado officials shut down a fracking wastewater well in Greeley after the second earthquake in less than a month was felt.
Scientists believe wastewater disposal could have a cumulative effect and that as more wastewater is shot underground, more intense earthquakes could become the norm.
The Red Cross recommended a free earthquake app after an earthquake swarm — a series of small earthquakes — hit the state. The organization cited the skyrocketing numbers of quakes since 2009.
The state government has begun reviewing scientific data, holding public discussions, and considering new regulations.”
11. Letter From Dr. Paulson, Director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health & the Environment And Professor of Pediatrics
To Abruzzo, Sec. of DEP
Dr Paulson is Director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health & the Environment
Child Health Advocacy Institute
Children’s National Health System
Professor of Pediatrics and of Environmental & Occupational Health
George Washington University
(Health departments in both New York and Maryland, which also lie atop the Marcellus Shale, are working on health studies. Those studies are funded by their respective state governments and their governors have refused to allow fracking until the studies are complete.)
30 June 2014 Dr Paulson’s letter:
E. Christopher Abruzzo
Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Rachel Carson State Office Building
400 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101
Via e-mail and hard copy firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Secretary Abruzzo
I am writing in regard to decisions that your office will be making about unconventional natural gas extraction (UGE). Some of these decisions may relate specifically to children, such as decisions about setbacks between UGE sites and schools. Other decisions may relate to UGE in a broader sense. As a physician with significant expertise in environmental health*, I want to point out that there is no information in the medical or public health literature to indicate that UGE can be implemented with a minimum of risk to human health.
In this very new area of research, there are very few articles in the public or peer-reviewed literature that do indicate that there are health problems and there are a number of other pieces of data that suggest that UGE is fraught with negative health outcomes. Elaine Hill at Cornell University compared pregnancy outcomes from a group of mothers who lived in proximity to active wells to outcomes in mothers who lived near wells currently under permit but not yet developed. The results showed an association between shale gas development and incidence of low birth weight and small for gestational age (25% and 18% increased risk).
McKenzie and colleagues looked at the relationship between proximity and density of gas wells to maternal address and birth defects, preterm birth and fetal growth. Two approximately even exposure groups were formed for births in rural Colorado between 1996 and 2009: zero wells within ten miles and one or more wells within ten miles. For women residing with one or more wells within ten miles, women were then categorized into three groups of increasing number of wells within ten miles. Women in the highest exposure group, with greater than 125 wells per mile, had an elevated risk of births with congenital heart disease (CHD) and neural tube defects (NTD). A risk for both CHD and NTD increased with increasing number of wells. The authors cited chemicals such as benzene, solvents and air pollutants as previously established associations between maternal exposure and CHDs and NTDs.
It is also very clear that there are adverse mental health outcomes associated with UGE in addition to the physical health problems noted above. A community study by Ferrar and colleagues found that the predominant stressor of citizens impacted by shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania was a concern for their health. The majority of persons interviewed felt that their health concerns were largely ignored and the most common health complaint of community members was stress. Noise can also be a source of stress for residents near UGE activities. Well pad operations, when set up, are industrial facilities often running 24 hours a day near homes, schools and public areas, creating unhealthy noise levels for the surrounding area. Although noise is a part of our daily life, with typical conversations occurring at sounds levels between 55-60 decibels (dbA), annoyance to noise can begin to occur at sound levels around 55 dbA, school performance begins to decline at 70 dbA, and sleep is disturbed at anywhere from 35-60 dbA. For well pads, noise levels have been shown to be 89-90 dbA at 50 feet from the pad, 60-68 dbA at 500 feet and 63-54 dbA at 1,000 feet from the pad. Stressors may also include odors, such as from the rotten egg smell of hydrogen sulfide released by unconventional gas extraction operations.
In addition to individual health, UGE activities can impact population health and create community wide changes. A health impact assessment done in Battlement Mesa, CO found that unconventional gas extraction activities create community-wide impacts, including an increased transient worker population and a decreased use of public outdoor areas. The assessment also found increased crime rates and rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and although crime rates and STIs cannot be directly correlated with UGE activities, they are none the less real community changes that coincided with the introduction of UGE. Other identified health impacts include: increased traffic accidents, decreased use of outdoor space and reduced physical activity, increased stress, a decline of social cohesion and strain on community resources, such as healthcare and housing, due to an influx of workers.
Although research is limited on the health impacts of UGE, there are real pathways of exposure, such as through air and water, from UGE activities to human populations. Air pollution occurs during every stage of UGE. In an analysis of all chemicals used in UGE processes, 37% were found to be volatile and therefore able to aerosolize. Of these volatile chemicals, 81% were found to have adverse effects on the brain and central nervous system. Aerosolized chemicals have the ability to be inhaled and be absorbed directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the body’s detoxifying mechanisms of the liver. Diesel engines and generators, another source of air pollution, are widely used in UGE and a number of federal agencies and international bodies classify diesel exhaust as “carcinogenic to humans,” as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” or as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”
Water pollution has been documented in association with UGE. While this research focuses on contamination with methane, it is reasonable to think that components of hydraulic fracturing fluids and normally occurring underground toxic substances travel with the methane. Data collected by the Minority Staff of the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the US House of Representatives in 2011, based on data submitted by the 14 leading oil and gas service companies, revealed the use of more than 2,500 hydraulic fracturing products containing 750 chemicals and other components. From the limited information available, it is evident that many of the substances used in hydraulic fracturing fluid are toxic, including some which are known carcinogens. Wastewater, such as the flowback and produced water, can contain a large number of naturally occurring toxic chemicals in addition to the chemicals added to make the hydraulic fracturing fluid. Naturally occurring toxic chemicals may include radioactive material, salts, salts of manganese, chlorides, sodium bromides and heavy metals such as lead and arsenic. Radionuclides shown to be present in natural gas wastes include: radon, 226radium and 228radium and radionuclides of potassium, strontium, lead, thallium, bismuth and thorium. Radium in flow-back and produced water often incorporates into solids formed during wastewater treatment, thereby producing low level radioactive waste. ,
In protecting children from environmental health hazards, it is essential to recognize that for many reasons children may be more exposed to environmental health hazards than adults in the same location. Moreover, children may have different outcomes than adults similarly exposed. For example, children breathe more air and drink more water per unit of body weight than adults do, Therefore, if the air or water are contaminated, the children will receive a higher dose than the adults. Children also live longer than adults. While that may seem self-evident, it is important in the environmental context because many outcomes of environmental exposures occur years after the exposure. If the delay between exposure and outcome is, for example, 40 years or more, as it may well be in terms of some of the chronic lung diseases of adulthood, if a 60 year old adult is exposed, s/he may not live long enough to develop the adverse outcome. A child, however, will, in all likelihood, live long enough to experience that adverse outcome.
In summary, neither the industry, nor government agencies, nor other researchers have ever documented that UCG can be performed in a manner that minimizes risks to human health. There is now some evidence that these risks that many have been concerned about for a number of years are real risks. There is also much data to indicate that there are a number of toxic chemicals used or derived from the process, known or plausible routes of exposure of those chemicals to humans; and therefore, reason to place extreme limits on UGE. When and if industry can present the following information, it would then be reasonable to expect your agency and the communities which may become involved in UGE to make decisions on whether or not to proceed with UGE: 1) disclosing complete information of the composition of all materials used to make hydraulic fracturing fluid, 2) studying and disclosing information about all air contaminants released from well pads and the extent of their expected dispersion, 3) studying and disclosing information about mechanisms of water contamination and dispersion of contaminants in ground and surface waters, and 4) studying and disclosing information on the extent to which air and water pollution can reasonably be expected to be minimized. While this type of research should not be carried out by industry, it certainly should be funded by industry. Industry profits from UGE; and industry should bear the responsibility for determining how it can be done in the safest manner possible. Then, and only then, can regulatory and public health agencies and communities make reasonable decisions about whether or not UGE should proceed.
If you or your staff have any questions, I be happy to try to provide answers.
Jerome A. Paulson, MD, FAAP*
Medical Director for National & Global Affairs
Director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health & the Environment
Child Health Advocacy Institute
Children’s National Health System
Professor of Pediatrics and of Environmental & Occupational Health
George Washington University
* Jerome A. Paulson, MD, is a Professor of Pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences and Professor of Environmental & Occupational Health at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health. He is also the Director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment (MACCHE) based at the Children’s National Health System. Dr Paulson has helped organize and was a presenter on a panel on Unconventional Gas Extraction at the 2011 American Public Health Association national meeting; and helped organize and was the lead-off speaker at the 2012 conference on the Public Health Aspects of Shale Gas Extraction jointly sponsored by Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy and MACCHE. He was an invited panelist at the May 2012 meeting on unconventional gas extraction organized by the George Washington University School of Public Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry; and on the planning committee for a meeting on data collection related to water and air toxics exposures from unconventional gas extraction that was jointly sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Harvard Center for Environmental Health and MACCHE in December 2013.
MACCHE (www.childrensnational.org/MACCHE) is one of 10 Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSUs) (www.pehsu.net) in the US. MACCHE serves Federal Region 3; i.e., Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia and the District of Columbia. It is funded by a grant from the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC) (www.aoec.org) which receives its funding for this project from the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) of the CDC and from the EPA. MACCHE receives no corporate funding. The two basic functions of MACCHE, and the other PEHSUs, are to provide education to health professionals and others about environmental issues that impact on the health of children and to answer questions from the public that are related to children, health and the environment. MACCHE has been receiving inquiries about the potential health impacts of unconventional natural gas extraction for at least the last 7 years.
While MACCHE is indirectly funded by ATSDR and the EPA, the opinions expressed in this letter do not represent the policy of either organization and have not been reviewed by either organization.
12. No Health Registry So PA Doesn’t Know The Impact of Fracking on Health
SW Health The Only Agency Doing Health Related Research
By Natasha Khan
“After more than five years and about 6,000 wells drilled in the Marcellus Shale boom, public health experts said the need to collect information near fracking operations in Pennsylvania is urgent.
A health registry could show trends of illnesses, collect data and potentially answer the question of whether fracking is safe – a debate currently characterized by emotional arguments with little reliable information.
How will anyone in the state know the possible health impacts of hydraulic fracturing unless information is collected?
A health registry “is a critical issue that needs to be addressed,” said Dr. Ralph Schmeltz, an endocrinologist and former president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society.
Three years ago, the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission recommended that just such a registry be created to track people near fracking operations who reported they believed they were sick because of fracking.
“The most timely and important initiative that the Department (of Health) can undertake is the creation of a population-based health registry,” Dr. Eli Avila, the state’s secretary of health at the time, told the commission.
Yet Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican who appointed the commission, has made no move to create a registry, and funds for it were stripped from Act 13, a bill that rewrote the state’s oil and gas law.
Aimee Tysarczyk, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, said in an email that the agency is still “exploring” creating a registry, but is trying to answer the question of where the money would come from. Without a registry, some researchers are forming partnerships to study health information in drilling communities. But there is little funding for the studies.
Many residents blame natural gas drilling for health problems that include headaches, stomach aches, respiratory issues and rashes, as well as the psychological impacts from the noise, lights and heavy traffic that are part of drilling. But there’s been no long-term study about how drilling affects public health overall, which is exactly what the Governor’s Commission called for – following individuals who live within a one-mile radius over time. Currently, evidence of health impacts is largely anecdotal.
Health departments in both New York and Maryland, which also lie atop the Marcellus Shale, are working on health studies. Those studies are funded by their respective state governments and their governors have refused to allow fracking until the studies are complete.
While groundwater issues have long been a focus of the health debate, research also is needed on air emissions, wastewater disposal and potential harm to gas workers, public health experts said.
The lack of funds for the registry is a problem, said Dr. Bernard Goldstein, a former dean of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
“The impact fee goes to 17 different state agencies, sub-agencies and commissions, but not the Pennsylvania Department of Health,” Goldstein said. “Does that mean that the Department of Health is certain that there is no impact on public health?”
When asked if she sees a state-led health registry getting created anytime soon, Raina Rippel, director of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, said: “Not under this administration.”
It’s not the Health Department’s fault, said Nina Kaktins, a nurse and co-chair of an environmental health group within the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association.
“They had their hands tied,” she said. “If there is no budget allocated, they can’t perform the duties they are supposed to.”
• The Southwestern Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project
The Health Project is a nonprofit in Washington County, that uses public-health researchers, toxicologists and medical professionals to study health impacts from fracking. It also staffs a nurse practitioner who evaluates people who think they’ve been sickened by drilling.
It may be the only outlet in the country doing health-related research and providing medical attention in shale communities.
The Health Project is currently funded by the Heinz Endowments and the Claneil Foundation. (PublicSource also receives funds from the Heinz Endowments.
In June, the Health Project published a health survey of people who live near drilling sites in Washington County. Between 2012 and 2013, the project found 27 cases of sick people who believed their symptoms were caused by air and water pollution from nearby drilling. Their symptoms included skin rashes, eye irritations, breathing problems, headaches and nosebleeds.
Researchers and medical professionals at the project continue to monitor them, Rippel said.
In March, the project released a study that suggests common air-monitoring techniques used by state and federal regulators don’t protect the public against health threats. The techniques fail to record harmful air emissions that spike during different stages of gas-drilling operations, researchers found.
“And we absolutely feel that those spikes are associated with poor health outcomes,” Rippel said.
PublicSource is an investigative news organization that collaborates with newspapers and radio throughout Pennsylvania. Learn more at publicsource.org. Reach Natasha Khan at 412-315-0261 or email@example.com.
13. Woman Driver Burned By Fracking Chemicals
(Note that this article dates 2011 and refers to an incident in 2008, but it contains interesting information about drivers and their exposure. Jan)
“Posted By: TXSHARON NOVEMBER 18, 2011
‘Frac Tech has agreed to pay $450,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a transport driver who claimed she could not find any working safety showers after suffering chemical burns at Frac Tech’s Aledo facility in Texas, according to a statement released November 16 by the woman’s attorney. Frac Tech Services provides hydraulic fracturing services to gas-well drilling sites, using pressurized rigs to shoot so-called “fracking fluid” into casings deep underground in efforts to fracture rock formations and free natural gas. According to the statement, the woman, a worker for – 2 – L&B Transport, was unloading hydrochloric acid in February 2008 when a hose fitting came loose, spraying the acid onto her face and body. The victim alleged that of the two safety showers in the Aledo facility, “one was not working properly and that the second was locked and not accessible,” according to the attorney’s statement, which notes that the woman suffered serious chemical burns to her face, chest, and abdomen.
LINK FIXED – Source: http://www.reporternews.com/news/2011/nov/16/woman-alleging-no-working-safety-showers-at-frac/
Note From Sharon: This is not the first time and it won’t be the last. I have talked with three people who worked for trucking companies that hauled fracking chemicals or hydraulic fracturing chemicals. Two of the people worked for the same company. All three told me that their companies did not provide any kind of protective gear. Yet they forced workers to go inside the tanks on their trucks and clean them out after hauling fracking chemicals or flowback. One woman suffered from a chronic cough. The others witnessed coworkers who suffered horrible chemical burns that even penetrated through their leather boots.
This is not new news folks. Fracking chemicals are deadly.” http://www.texassharon.com/2011/11/18/woman-burned-by-fracking-chemicals-not-the-first-wont-be-the-last/