Friday, August 8, 2014

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates August 8, 2014

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group                           Updates August 8, 2014

*  For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
*  To view past updates, reports, general information, permanent documents, and meeting                   information
* Our email address:
*  To contact your state legislator:
                   For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
*  For information on PA state gas legislation and local control:         

To read former Updates please visit our blogspot listed above.

WMCG     Thank Yous
                  Contributors To Our Updates
 Thank you to contributors to our Updates: Debbie Borowiec, Lou Pochet, Ron Gulla, the Pollocks, Marian Szmyd, Bob Donnan, Elizabeth Donahue, and Bob Schmetzer.

                                                                        Latrobe Farm Market, Computer Training, Merton Society
Thank you to Mike Atherton and Cynthia Walter, Dorothy Pochet and Jan Milburn for working our TDS testing table at Latrobe Farm Market.
To Carol Cutler for a lovely job on creating the flyer, Mike Atherton for publicity, and Jan and Jack Milburn for posting flyers around the Latrobe area.
Thank you to Jim Robertson for computer training on understanding DEP search sites and permitting.
Thank you to Lou and Dorothy Pochet for representing our group at the Thomas Merton meeting.

Thank You --Recent Donations
                  Thank you to April Jackman, the Shelton family, and Marc Levine for their generous donations that support our work to protect the health and environment of local communities. 

A little Help Please --Take Action!!

***Tenaska Plant Seeks to Be Sited in South Huntingdon, Westmoreland County***
            Petition !!                 
Just Use the Link
                  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. 



*** WMCG Group Meeting  We meet the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30 PM in Greensburg.  Next meeting is August 12. Email Jan for directions.  All are very welcome to attend.

***Boston Art Show Utilizes Local Voices-- July 11, 2014  through  January 5, 2015
                  Open to the public, Boston Museum of Science
                  Several of us spoke to artist Anne Neeley about water contamination from fracking. Excerpts of what we said about our concerns regarding fracking will play in a loop along with music in the background as people view Anne’s murals of water. The show is not exclusively about the effect of fracking on water and includes other sources of pollution. (see sites below).
                  Some of us were fortunate to see photos of Anne’s murals. They are beautiful and very thought provoking. Jan
July 2014 – January 2015, Museum of Science, Boston
                  “Water Stories: A Conversation in Painting and Sound” is at the Museum of Science, Boston through January 2015. In recent years I have conveyed ideas about water and the phenomena of water through nature, the news, memory and imagination. These paintings explore the beauty and foreboding of water, related to central themes, mostly manmade and thru climate change affecting this country. Sound artist Halsey Burgund has created a 35 minute audio composition that accompanies the paintings, comprised of five sections grouped by thematic content: The Future, Stories, Bad Things, Science and Cherish. The voices are edited and combined with water sounds and musical elements and play in a continuous loop throughout the gallery. By placing this work in this Museum of Science there is an extraordinary opportunity to clarify and illuminate issues around water through visceral connections that paintings often elicit from viewers while raising public awareness.                   My hope is that this exhibition will spawn a new sense of ownership about not only the issues facing us about water but how we use water on a daily basis.”
                  "Together, Anne and I plan to explore big ideas about what’s happening with water in this country. In the 2014, the Museum will exhibit Anne’s work and host a series of related programs. At the Museum, we find that mixing art with our more typical educational approaches works well. The art opens people to ideas, emotion, scale, and import, in ways that more explicit techniques may not. It broadens the audience, welcomes people who learn differently, and adds dimensions of experience that are otherwise unavailable."
— David G. Rabkin, PhD, Director for Current Science and Technology, Museum of Science, Boston, MA
Visit these sites for images and more information:

*Join the People’s Climate March in New York City, Sept. 21. ACTION:  Register now for a seat on one of the Pittsburgh buses.
And Other Sierra Club Posts:

***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

***EPA Carbon Hearing- Pittsburgh’s Air At Stake
To Restrict Carbon From Existing Power plants
Everyone Should Submit a Written Statement
                  From Sierra Club: It is too late to register to speak, but you can send a statement to the EPA. We need to send a strong message to the EPA and Big Coal that there’s overwhelming public support for national climate action –NOW! Big Coal and their climate-denying allies are already trying to weaken the EPA’s historic climate protection efforts.
Comments on the Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule must be received by October 16, 2014. You do not have to write a long statement. Any statement of support for Carbon reduction is helpful and there’s lots of data, just google climate change—flooding, storms, effects on health, plant and animal adaptation, etc.
Send Your Comments To:
Q: Can I submit written comments at the hearing site
A: We recommend that you submit your written comments to the docket. The docket number for this rule is: Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602 (for the Clean Power Plan for Existing Sources)  and information on how to submit written comments is listed below. The public comment period will be open for 120 days from the time the rule is published in the Federal Register. We will be taking comments that are submitted the day of the hearing and will ensure that those get submitted to the docket.
In addition to the public hearing in Pittsburgh, comments on the EPA’s new rule covering the carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants may be submitted via Email to with docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602 in the subject line of the message.
Be sure to reference Docket ID: 
For information about the carbon reduction plan:
Impact on Pennsylvania
According to the EPA, coal is currently the largest energy source for power generation in Pennsylvania (Coal – 39.0 pct, Nuclear – 33.6 pct, Natural Gas – 24.0 pct and Clean Energy – 3.4 pct).                   In 2012, Pennsylvania’s power sector CO2 emissions were approximately 106 million metric tons from sources covered by the proposed rule. Based on the amount of energy produced by fossil-fuel fired plants and certain low or zero emitting plants, Pennsylvania’s 2012 emission rate was 1,540 pounds/megawatt hours (lb/MWh).
                  The EPA is asking Pennsylvania to develop a plan to lower its carbon pollution to meet the proposed emission rate goal of 1,052 lb/MWh in 2030. The EPA is giving states considerable flexibility in how they achieve their reductions, including energy efficiency, clean energy programs, etc. It will be interesting to see what Gov. Corbett’s administration plans before the deadline of June 2016, but the Governor’s quick criticism and the failure to support programs such as the Sunshine Solar Program do not suggest enthusiastic compliance. Nor does Pennsylvania’s decision in 2005 to serve as an observer rather than active member of the northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative cap-and-trade system reflect well on our state.
Opposition to the New EPA Rules
The Obama Administration clearly anticipates strong opposition to the new rules, and the fight will take place on several grounds. Despite strong public support for the EPA’s proposed rules, the climate change deniers were quick to claim the rules were unnecessary. The national Chamber of Commerce said the costs were exorbitant, but Nobelist Paul Krugman dismisses their argument. But it is the legal challenges that will perhaps slow-down the implementation of the EPA’s rules, a delay we cannot afford.
Shift from Coal to Natural Gas
As early as 2010 utilities were shifting away from coal to natural gas for electricity generation, partly in anticipation of eventual climate regulation but also because of lower operating costs with gas. That shift has accelerated with the greater production of fracked gas, with natural gas predicted to overtake coal as the preferred fuel by 2035. Although overall burning natural gas is cleaner than burning coal, it is by no means a ‘clean’ fuel, and that concerns environmentalists.
Given the reliance on natural gas to achieve the reduction in emissions, environmentalists will be calling for a number of actions, such as calling for removal of exemptions to the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and other laws that the drillers currently enjoy. But that requires unlikely Congressional action. What the Executive branch can do is properly understand and strictly regulate air and water pollution associated with all aspects fracking.
And From Public Citizen
See the top 10 FAQs on the carbon pollution reduction plan.

***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!
Best Regards,
Amy Nassif

***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

***Forced Pooling Petition
                  “The PA DEP announced the first public hearing on forced pooling in PA .We're pushing 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:

Frack Links
***Link to Shalefield Stories-Personal stories of those affected by fracking

***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.

Frack News
All articles are excerpted and condensed. Please use links for the full article.
                  Special Thanks to Bob Donnan for photos.

**Mariner East Pipeline
 From: Chester County Community             Coalition
From: Chester County Community Coalition <>
“Letter To Andy (To Be Shared)
                  I have seen all the emails you have sent to me. I appreciate your presence at the meeting on Wednesday night and the support of the community members that were present. Your questions were all valid and the responses were standard issue rhetoric. The determination by the Administrative Law Judges proves that legally Sunoco is not a public utility under the law. The response from the representative was from last year and since then Sunoco had changed from a claim of Interstate to Instrastate. They are playing games that must be stopped. Please forward our contact information to your friends, neighbors, and family so that people on the western side of the state can stay informed.
                  Many of the questions you submitted have already been answered by the fighters on this side of the state. Rest assured that we have seen through their nonsense and are fully on the way to stop their lies. Our legal team is working hard for all PA residents but the fight is not over. The PUC commissioners can rule in Sunoco's favor by overruling the judges' decision. We are going to begin a blitz of the PUC commission to uphold the judges' decision and would appreciate the community around Delmont to support this goal. I will add you to our email list so that you get continue updates about the legal fight. You can also go to our facebook page, wg.justthefactsplease, or the web site to get more information. Please share this with everyone you know.
                  Finally, we have a good strong legal team. Our attorney at the PUC level is the only one getting paid in our group. If there is anything that your community could do to help our fight that would be greatly appreciated. If you choose not to contribute then that is OK as well. We will still fight for you and everyone in PA so that our rights are upheld by the courts. If there is any more questions you may have please do not hesitate to ask. PA residents need to stand together! It was a pleasure to meet your community at the Delmont Library.
Tom Casey,  Director  Chester County Community Coalition
P.O. Box 2074,  West Chester, PA 19380”

**Anti-Pipeline Group Helps Others At July 30 Meeting
         Sunoco Fights To Bypass Local Regs
                  “The local group leading the charge against Sunoco Pipeline LP’s Mariner East Project pump station in West Goshen is hoping to help community groups across the state in opposing the pipeline.
                   Tom Casey of the Chester County Community Coalition (the 3cCoalition), and representatives from the Clean Air Council traveled to Delmont Wednesday, July 30 to speak at a community meeting regarding residents’ fight against the Mariner East Pipeline.
                  Casey said the meeting was sponsored by the Clean Air Council and the League of Women Voters. He said he hopes to share some of the 3cCoalition’s knowledge of how to work as a group to spread information about the pipelines.
                  “The purpose of this meeting was to relate our experiences and help the people of Delmont organize in their fight against corporate incursions into their community,” said Casey.
                  The 3cCoalition began shortly after Sunoco submitted a request for special exemption to West Goshen Township in February, seeking exceptions to put a 34-foot combustion tower and pumping station in a residentially zoned area as part of its Mariner East project.
                  The project looks to re-purpose an 80-year-old pipeline to deliver liquid natural gas products, mainly ethane and propane, from the Marcellus Shale region in western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook Facility in Delaware County. The pipeline previously carried petroleum products from east to west, and is now not in use.
Sunoco is seeking public utility status from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, which would allow it to bypass local regulations in the 31 municipalities where its pumping stations and valve control centers are set to be built for the project. Sunoco maintains it is a public utility based on the previous use of the pipeline, while opponents say Sunoco does not meet the definition and should be forced to deal with municipalities’ local regulations.
                  The project has garnered attention from across the state, with several community organizations forming to speak out against the project. It also has its supporters, especially in Marcus Hook, Delaware County, where the line is expected to create new jobs.
                  Casey said 3cCoalition is hoping to speak at the meeting to inform residents about organizing against Sunoco, as well as offer advice on community organizing, group dynamics, fund-raising, searching for legal help and vetting potential experts. Casey said the group was also making plans to visit some of the construction sites and witness the facilities that are being built in the area.
                  “We’re trying to spread the information out,” said Casey. “We’re trying to say ‘this is how you do it the right way so you’re not stepping on your own toes.’”
Casey said he hopes to continue to speak and organize with groups across the state that are facing similar challenges with pipeline companies. He said the group is hoping to work with those in Lancaster and South Heidelberg, two areas also being affected by pipelines.
                  “The 3cCoalition believes that information is the key to understanding our rights as landowners here in Pennsylvania,” Casey said. “Our experience has been that these multi-billion dollar companies are not forthcoming with information. We often receive conflicting information from the companies. Residents of Pennsylvania are entitled to know what is going on in their towns.”

****Notes From the Delmont Meeting: See bottom of blog

**Youngstown Contractor Sentenced For Illegal Dumping          Tens of Thousands of Gallons of Frack Waste

                  CLEVELAND, Ohio – The owner of a Youngstown oil-and-gas-drilling company was sentenced Tuesday to 28 months in prison for ordering employees to dump tens of thousands of gallons of fracking waste into a tributary of the Mahoning River.
                  U.S. District Judge Donald Nugent also fined Benedict Lupo, 64, of suburban Poland $25,000. Nugent rejected defense attorney Roger Synenberg's request for home detention and a harsh fine.
                  Synenberg said Lupo is frail and extremely ill, as he requires dialysis treatments daily and suffers from chronic pain and diabetes. "If he goes to jail, it's the death penalty for him,'' Synenberg said.
                  But Nugent cited the fact that Lupo ordered two employees to dump the waste and lie about it. The employees tried to talk Lupo out of it, but he refused. He also pointed out a prosecutor's pictures that detailed six weeks of clean-up in an oil-soaked creek.
                  "All you have to do is look at those photographs to see the damage that was done,'' Nugent said.
                  In March, Lupo pleaded guilty to the unpermitted discharge of pollutants under the U.S. Clean Water Act. His company, Hardrock Excavating LLC, stored, treated and disposed waste liquids generated by oil and gas drilling.
                  As the stored waste liquids piled up at his company in the fall of 2012 and into 2013, Lupo ordered employees to purge waste tanks into a storm-water drain that flowed to tributary.
                  Two employees dumped waste 33 times. In some instances, they drained only a portion of a tank; most times, however, they dumped all of it, said Brad Beeson, an assistant U.S. attorney.
                  On Jan. 31, 2013, state authorities, acting on a tip, caught one of Lupo's employees dumping the waste. Beeson, in court records, said the impact of the dumping was devastating. Officials found the creek "void of life,'' the prosecutor said.
                  "Even the most pollution-tolerant organisms, such as nymphs and cadis flies, were not present,'' Beeson wrote in court documents. "The creek was essentially dead.''
In a statement to Nugent, Lupo apologized to residents of the Mahoning Valley, as well as his family.  "My actions were irresponsible,'' the statement said.
When Nugent asked if he had anything else to say, Lupo spoke softly.
"If this was 20 years ago, this probably never would have happened,'' he said, citing his health.
Lupo's sentencing ends a case that brought convictions to the two employees ordered to dump the waste.
                  In March, Nugent sentenced Michael Guesman of Cortland to probation for three years. In July, Nugent gave Mark Goff of Newton Falls a similar sentence. Guesman and Goff pleaded guilty to the same Clean Water Act charges as Lupo.
                  Guesman told authorities that Lupo ordered him to run a hose from the 20,000-gallon storage tanks to a nearby storm-water drain and dump the polluted wastewater.
                  The wastewater was a byproduct of Lupo's frack operations consisting of saltwater brine and a slurry of toxic oil-based drilling mud, containing benzene, toluene and other hazardous pollutants.
                  Guesman said he was afraid of losing his job if he failed to comply with Lupo's orders. Guesman dumped the polluted water into the drain 24 times between Nov. 1, 2012, and Jan. 31, 2013, according to court records.
                  Guesman said Lupo ordered him to perform the secret dumping under cover of darkness and after all of the other employees had left the facility. Guesman said Lupo ordered him to lie if questioned about the dumping and to tell law enforcement officers he had emptied the waste tanks only six times.
                  Goff said Lupo told him to empty tanks of waste into a nearby stormwater drain in October 2012. Lupo told Goff to do it after no one else was at the business and only after dark. The charges said Goff emptied tanks of the liquid on nine different nights.
                  "Clean air and fresh water is the birthright of every man, woman and child in this state," said U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach. "Intentionally breaking environmental laws is not the cost of doing business, it's going to cost business owners their freedom."
Plain Dealer news researcher Jo Ellen Corrigan contributed to this story.

**DEP Refused To Notify, So Cecil Township Warns          Residents of Potential Water Contamination Near          Frack Pit 


                  “The controversial Worstell centralized water impoundment in Cecil Township and operated by Range Resources may have contaminated nearby soil and groundwater, prompting municipal officials there to hand-deliver letters to about 50 nearby residents.
                  “The township has come to learn that the impoundment is currently not holding any fluids and was taken out of service in April of this year,” the letter reads. “It is the township’s understanding that the impoundment was taken out of service as part of an investigation to determine whether any fluids entered the groundwater and soils in and around the impoundment site and the source of any fresh water.”
                  Cecil Township supervisors for more than a year have raised concerns about Cecil 23 impoundment, formerly known as the Worstell impoundment – and the board said in a press release that information it recently received “has furthered those concerns.”
                  Previously unknown to both the township and the public, is that on July 11 Range Resources notified the DEP that there were elevated chloride levels detected by the ground water monitoring wells at the Cecil 23 waste water impoundment, according to the press release.
                  In response to repeated inquiries by Cecil Township officials, the DEP confirmed Thursday that they will conduct a limited investigation.
                  Upon learning this information, Cecil Township called DEP and requested that they notify Cecil Township residents of potential ground water contamination. Unfortunately, the DEP declined to do so initially stating ‘the DEP will not make a general notification to residents, according to Cecil officials.
                  “Based on recent evidence of water and soil contamination at other Range Resource impoundments in Washington County coupled with concerns raised by Auditor General, DePasquale’s report on DEP performance; we feel that the public has a right to know if it’s safe to live in their neighborhood,” supervisor’s Chairman Andy Schrader said. “Our residents’ safety is our first concern.”
                  The township intends to closely monitor this investigation and keep residents informed.
                  The Worstell impoundment made headlines in 2013, when Cecil Township supervisors sought to meet publicly with DEP regarding concerns over the frack pit.
                  DEP refused to meet in public, and documents obtained through a state Right to Know request showed high-ranking officials making a joke about using a provision in the open records law to keep the gathering in private.
                  News of possible groundwater and soil contamination at the Cecil 23 Impoundment comes in the wake of a “significant” leak at another Range Resources impoundment in Amwell Township, Washington County. That leak necessitated the removal of at least 15,000 tons of soil. DEP issued notices of violation for the leak.
                  A third frack pit in Amwell run by Range Resources known as the Yeager impoundment – which was the subject of lawsuits and a federal probe – is reportedly in the process of being closed.
                  Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella did not immediately return an email seeking more information.”

Editor’s Note: While the township intends to closely monitor this investigation and keep residents informed, concerned citizens should contact both the township at 724-745-2227 and the DEP at 1-866-255-5158 with any questions or concerns.”
Aug 01 2014

**Contaminated Water And Soil At 3 Washington Co. Frack          Pits
By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
                  “Leaks of fracking waste water from three impoundments in Washington County have contaminated soil and groundwater, prompting the state to issue a violation notice at one site and increase monitoring and testing at another.
                  John Poister, DEP spokesman, said the problems at three of Range Resources Inc.’s nine Washington County impoundments have raised concerns and increased regulators’ scrutiny. The impoundments store flowback and wastewater from multiple Marcellus Shale well drilling and fracking operations.
                  “We have had some discussions with Range about its impoundments,” Mr. Poister said. “We are looking at them and discussing things with them.
                  “But in terms of saying all Range impoundments are bad, we can’t say that. But we are likely stepping up our inspections, and actually have done so already.”
                  In response to complaints by Cecil officials, the DEP said it is ordering additional testing and monitoring around the Cecil 23 impoundment, previously known as the Worstell impoundment. A Range monitoring well measured chloride levels at 500 milligrams per liter, twice the acceptable level, during the second week of July.
                  Mr. Poister said it will take 30 to 45 days to get the results of the additional testing, which will try to determine if there is a “plume” of contamination in the groundwater.
Township manager Don Gennuso said the township sent letters last week to about 50 residents along Swihart Road, most of whom use private water wells, informing them of the findings. It urged them to inform the DEP if their well water developed a foul odor or taste and to immediately get their water tested.
                  At no time was the township board or its residents notified of the potential contamination,” Mr. Gennuso said. “I know they don’t want to scare people, but we really need in to be informed.”
                  On July 24, the DEP issued a “notice of violation” to Range as a result of contamination of a stream and ground water near its 3-million-gallon Yeager impoundment on McAdams Road in Amwell.
                  That impoundment was put into service in 2010 and is in the process of being closed. It has been the subject of ongoing investigations by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the EPA, and nearby residents have filed lawsuits, claiming their health was damaged by air and water pollution.
                  Also in Amwell, cleanup is continuing at Range’s John Day impoundment, where a contractor is excavating an estimated 15,000 tons of chloride-contaminated soil. The                   DEP has issued the company an open-ended violation notice.
Elevated chloride levels typically indicate fracking fluids or flowback waste water has been released into the soil, the DEP said in a July 24 letter to Range detailing the violations at the Yeager impoundment.
                  Mr. Gennuso said the three impoundments were constructed incorrectly because their leak-detection systems are beneath dual liners instead of between them, meaning leaks in the upper liner aren’t detected until the ground is contaminated.
                  Matt Pitzarella, a Range spokesman, declined to answer questions about the individual impoundments.
                  His statement said company monitoring systems identified small discharges of “brine water,” which were reported to the DEP and “appropriately, resulted in regulatory action.”
                  According to the statement, Range and the DEP have not found any health or safety impacts resulting from soil and groundwater contamination, and “the limited environmental impacts can and have been mitigated.”
                  According to the DEP letter about Yeager, the company reported in May that a hole penetrated the liners of the impoundment, and other holes were found during earlier company inspections. The company’s own assessment noted that five areas of elevated chloride levels were found near the holes, which allowed waste water to escape into the soil in possible violation of the state Solid Waste Management Act.
                  The DEP notice of violation said Range also failed to monitor chlorides as required, did not provide required impoundment construction records and allowed impoundment fluids to escape. The company faces civil penalties for the alleged violations of the state Oil and Gas Act, the Clean Streams Law and the Dam Safety and Encroachment Act.”

**Frackers Hear From CSA, Pittsburgh
 (CSA is Community Sponsored Agriculture)
By Eve Andrews
                   “The Pennsylvania Constitution stipulates that its citizens have a right to “clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment.”
In New Sewickley Township, about 30 miles north of the city of Pittsburgh, there’s a new microcosm of the ongoing tug-of-war between the oil and gas industry and people who just happen to like clean air and water (crazy! I know). Kretschmann Farm, which has supplied certified organic produce to the greater Pittsburgh area for 36 years, is engaged in battle with Cardinal Midstream, a Texas-based corporation proposing to build a natural gas compressor station right next door.
                   The state has 6,391 active fracking wells, and with salivating oil and gas companies aggressively courting legislators and landowners across the state, that number is rapidly growing. But this has all happened very quickly — 10 years ago, the use of “fracking” in conversation was more likely to be understood as a hedged expletive than anything else.
                   Becky Kretschmann, who owns Kretschmann Farm with her husband, Don, tells me that her opposition to the proposed compressor plant has to do with the possibility of how it could contaminate their crops.
                  It’s not like these concerns are unwarranted. A few recent and alarming news items from the Keystone State regarding its natural gas industry: Hundreds of incidences of contaminated water, health workers prohibited from discussing fracking with patients, and faulty measurement of harmful emissions.
                  I reached out to Cardinal Midstream to ask about the precautions that would be taken to prevent contamination from the proposed compressor station, and received the following response from their spokesperson:
                  We are committed to being a good neighbor and it’s our job to make sure we minimize impact.  We’re serious about that job. As you know, emissions are heavily regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The station will meet and exceed all federal and state standards and the requirements of the township’s ordinance. This facility will not impact the quality of the produce and livestock grown in the community.
                  It’s worth noting that just this week, the DEP issued a report detailing its own inability to adequately monitor and regulate fracking operations in the state. From the report:
In conclusion, as evidenced by this audit, DEP needs assistance. It is underfunded, understaffed, and does not have the infrastructure in place to meet the continuing demands placed upon the agency by expanded shale gas development.
                  Cardinal Midstream first started posting notices about a hearing regarding the proposed compressor station four months ago, Kretschmann tells me, but she didn’t find out about it until three weeks ago. “We got a call from a neighbor who said, ‘You know what’s going on?’ and we [didn’t],” she says. “That was on July 2. There was a meeting that night with the township board of supervisors and the gas company and the compression company. And they wanted a vote right away, yes or no.”
                  A second hearing, which took place last night, was attended by more than 300 people — so many, in fact, that the venue had to be changed at the last minute — and lasted approximately six hours. “I was astonished at how many people stayed until the bitter end,” says Kretschmann.
                  While the majority of the attendees were New Sewickley residents, a number of the Kretschmanns’ CSA customers came in from the city for it. Approximately 300 of their customers wrote letters of support to the township manager.
                  Kretschmann tells me that Cardinal Midstream made an hour-and-a-half long presentation on the safety of the proposed compressor station, and brought along a panel of their own experts. New Sewickley residents opposed to the station, however, were not as well-prepared.
                  “We were just frustrated — we did the best we could with the information we could garner ourselves, and had quite a few people presenting various [pieces of] information, but we didn’t have the experts that they had,” says Kretschmann. “And shame on us, in a sense, because we weren’t keeping up on what was going on in the township.”
                  The New Sewickley Township supervisors will meet again on July 31, and then render a decision within the following 45 days.
                  On one hand, you kind of have to admire the balls of a corporation fighting to potentially endanger the supply of Pittsburgh’s up-and-coming restaurant scene. One does not thoughtlessly fuck with a foodie’s seasonal vegetable ragout. But on the other hand, the oil and gas industry is pretty much the absolute worst, so — admiration rescinded.”

**Dan Simpson / Fracking Compromises the Future of          Pennsylvania
Dan Simpson, a former U.S. ambassador, is a columnist for the Post-Gazette (,412-263-1976).
                  Our state officials shouldn’t let oil and gas companies run roughshod over the environment.
                  I guess that having lived in the Ohio-Pennsylvania-West Virginia tri state area for decades of my life should have hardened me to the apparently popular concept that it is completely acceptable to rape the environment to make a few people rich. But it hasn’t.
                  The grade school I attended as a child was called Indian Run, based on the red-orange hue of the water in the creek that ran through the neighborhood, thanks to run-off from coal mines.
                  When I read last week that Pennsylvania’s DEP would be releasing a report that oil and gas operations in the state damaged people’s water supplies 209 times since the end of 2007, it did not fail to enrage me, even after all these years.
                  I have tried, ever since fracking replaced casinos as Pennsylvania’s supposed El Dorado of unearned wealth, to make light of it. My usual laugh line on the subject is to claim that I won’t mind having to shower with bottled water. But the fact is that, even though the oil and gas companies have made a mighty effort in recent years to buy our support for what they are doing, they still are raping the environment to the profit of very few, with the vast mass of us paying the price, now and in the future.
                  The fact that Gov. Tom Corbett and the Legislature have been entirely complicit, not only in what the companies are doing but also in seeing that they are not adequately taxed for it — even to the level that other gas-fracking states do — makes it worse, although, honestly, we should be paying the taxes we need to meet our needs in education, infrastructure and law and order in any case. These functions should be financed without whatever could be legitimately extracted from the fracking companies.                   After all, what they are doing to the environment and our future cannot be compensated for by taxes, even high taxes.
                  Normally I don’t write about fracking, which is off my normal beat of international affairs, national politics and economics. Instead, I’ve squirreled away information and brooded on it, until now, when it has made me angry enough to address the subject in a column.
                  It has been preposterous from the start to imagine that frackers could do what they do — pump a combination of water, sand and noxious chemicals underground to break up shale formations that then cough up to the surface petroleum and gas-bearing liquid — without fouling the water supply. Whether they do it going down, or coming up, or breaking up the shale down below, they are definitely going to mess up our underground water supply over the long run.
                  Someone gets paid. A few jobs are created. The roads get torn up. I suppose we shouldn’t care about the formerly scenic views.
                  America’s natural gas supply is increased substantially. The companies doing the work make big money. The increase in the natural gas supply takes some of the heat off the United States to do something about global warming — if that is a good thing.
                  The augmented U.S. natural gas supply means we now have enough of the stuff to export. That tempts us to encourage the Western Europeans to replace their imports of natural gas from Russia with natural gas bought from us. This generates some of the pressure for the United States to push the Western Europeans to levy economic sanctions on Russia, including reducing or eliminating European imports of gas from Russia and replacing them with imports from the United States. This is sometimes called “doing well by doing good.”
                  What is indisputable is that the American population is paying a heavy price for natural gas extraction and is almost certainly destined to pay even more dearly.
                  The Pennsylvania DEP report includes 209 cases in 77 communities of contaminated water or reduced flow due to fracking from the end of 2007 to May of this year. That contamination, particularly from wastewater brought up from down deep, can include radiation and radioactivity, something none of us would probably like to think about — except for those who’d like to glow after taking showers.
                  Given the mix of water, sand, chemicals, thickeners and other materials forced into the shale to break it up and free the gas, it is hard to imagine that some of it will not make its way into underground aquifers, our long-term reserves of water.
                  Add fire to rain. Earlier this year there was an explosion and a fire at a gas well operated by Chevron in Greene County, killing one person. There have been other such incidents.
                  There are earthquakes. Fracking-related tremors were recorded in Canada as early as 2009 and in Oklahoma in 2011. Closer to home, near Youngstown, tremors earlier this year drew a very concerned reaction from Ohio officials.
                  Then there is the question of long-term property values. After the shale gas has been pumped out, there will be residual water pollution. There also will be the possibility of subsidence, already an issue in this area because of the coal mines. What will fracking do to property values over the long haul?
                  Three phenomena are in play at this point regarding fracking.
                  The first is, of course, greed, trumping any sense of community responsibility.
                  The second is a lack of understanding of the environmental fire that we are playing with, in terms of potential damage to our water, air and land.
                  The third is the politicians who make the rules, starting with the governor and legislators, who have been bought off by the gas and oil companies.
                  I would judge that anyone foolish enough to be taken in by the television and other media advertisements put up by the gas and oil companies deserves to be poisoned or radiated. Basically, we’re letting them wreck the place.”

**Drillers Did Not Report Half of Finable Spills
            They Were Found by Landowners or State
By Sean D. Hamill / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
                  Half the spills at Marcellus Shale well sites that resulted in fines weren’t spotted by gas companies, which are required by state law to look for and report spills of drilling-related fluids.
                  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reviewed hundreds of thousands of state and company documents for every incident at a Marcellus well site that led to a fine against a driller through the end of 2012.
                  The documentation showing that companies often failed to detect spills on their own sites offers a look at self-regulation in the shale gas industry.
State regulation of the industry was the subject of a withering state auditor general review of the DEPs oversight issued July 22. The audit detailed the agency’s shortcomings, including failing to consistently issue enforcement orders to drilling companies after regulators determined that gas operations had damaged water supplies, even though the state’s oil and gas law requires it.
                  The Post-Gazette investigation using well permit file documents and other DEP data focused on 425 incidents involving 48 companies that resulted in nearly $4.4 million in fines.
                  Of those 425 fines, 137 were due to spills at or near a well site. They ranged from relatively small incidents involving a couple of gallons of diesel fuel on a well pad to larger accidents involving thousands of gallons of hydraulic fracturing flowback fluid that killed vegetation or fish.
                  Since the first fine of the Marcellus era in 2005, the DEP has made it clear that incidents that potentially impact the environment would be the ones most likely to result in a fine, so it is no surprise that spills make up a significant portion of the fines.
                  But what is surprising — to politicians, environmental groups, the industry itself and state officials — was the number of spills that were not first spotted by the drillers themselves. About a third were first identified by state inspectors while others, about one-sixth, were discovered by residents, according to the Post-Gazette’s analysis.


                  State law requires that reportable spills and even muddy runoff events be called in to the state within two hours of discovery. At least 60 % of the 137 spills occurred while drilling crews were on site; it was not always possible to discern from reports whether crews were working.
                  Few of the 20 drillers contacted for this story would address the question of why spills were missed. Some of those that did cited confusion over what constituted a spill in the early years of the Marcellus era. Companies that responded said they never failed to report a spill that they were aware had occurred. Several current and former DEP inspectors — all of whom asked for anonymity — said they believed some spills they didn’t find went unreported.
                  The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry trade group that represents all of the main drillers in the state, dismissed the Post-Gazette’s analysis of spills and fines because the number of incidents represented just a small percentage of active well sites in the state (more than 6,000 wells drilled through 2012).
                  In some cases, the spills were first noticed by landowners who then reported them to the driller, who in turn notified the state. State officials sometimes took companies to task for not spotting the spill first.
                  “You’d hope that the companies would report 100 percent of them,” said Davitt Woodwell, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh-based Pennsylvania Environmental Council, which has worked with the industry to find ways to make drilling more environmentally friendly. “Spills have been one of our biggest concerns. Because the biggest number of problems aren’t necessarily the hydraulic fracturing itself, but the handling of the chemicals at the surface that poses the greatest threat.”
                  The concern over spills is illustrated by two other facts shown in the state files. About one-third of the spills that resulted in a fine impacted a stream, pond or wetland, and about one-quarter of them occurred in a specialty or high-quality watershed — areas in which the state asks drillers to take special precautions to prevent spills.
                  One of the state’s largest fines for a spill stemmed from an incident that began on June 10, 2010, at a Marcellus well site owned by Chief Oil & Gas on a family dairy farm in Somerset County in the Laurel Hill Creek special protection watershed. April Weiland, a state inspector making a routine inspection, found what appeared to be a small spill of an oily substance on a corner of the well pad.
                  It didn’t seem to be that big of a deal at first to Ms. Weiland or the landowners.
“I saw the spill earlier” than the inspector, said Robert Miller, 67, a second-generation farmer who runs the farm with his wife, Janet, 62. “It was just a darkened area on the side there, but I didn’t think much of it.”
                  They and their son, Andy, 34, who also works the farm, said the well has been good for them and not impacted their farm life dramatically, and they support the natural gas industry.
“They provide jobs. They provide money for landowners. And they provide energy,” Andy Miller said of drillers like Chief. “But if they did something they weren’t supposed to do, well, yeah, come down on them.” That’s what the state did in this case.
                  Over the five months after she first found the spill, Ms. Weiland returned to the Millers’ farm as Chief dug up enough of the well pad to dispose of the contaminated soil she found only for Ms. Weiland to return and spot additional oily spots on the pad that had to be dug up.
                  It took Ms. Weiland a dozen return inspections, a dozen phone calls, four soil samples and several emails in the four months after she first spotted the spill to get it properly cleaned up, which involved removing 2,200 tons of contaminated soil. Despite her repeated requests to identify exactly what was spilled, it took Chief five months to tell her that it was hydraulic oil.
At a settlement conference with the state in April 2011, Chief officials “admitted they didn’t adequately handle the incident initially,” according to a state document.
Ultimately, Ms. Weiland determined that it appeared that Chief had “intentionally buried” the spill with soil and rock something Chief denies and it was fined $180,000, one of the largest single-incident fines in the Marcellus era.
                  State documents show that the state has assessed fines for everything from the most basic administrative errors to the most damaging well site accidents.
                  In 28 incidents, the main reason for a fine was because a state inspector found “sediment-laden water” runoff at a well site. Such incidents are associated with inadequate erosion and sedimentation controls. The state considers these muddy runoff incidents to be potential pollution because they can damage surface and water environments by choking out vegetation or streams.
                  Not one of the 28 runoff events that led to a fine was first reported by a driller, records show, and more than half of the runoff cases impacted a stream, pond or wetland; seven occurred in a specialty or high-quality watershed.
                  In one of those cases, the state’s largest driller, Chesapeake, paid $215,000 (the second-largest fine in state history for a single incident tied to a well permit) after repeated warnings from state inspectors about erosion problems at a well site in the Pine Creek high-quality watershed in Potter County.
                  During a rain and snow melt in March 2011, so much muddy runoff left the well site that the borough of Galeton had to close one of its two public water supply intakes on a stream for three months after the runoff choked its filters.
                  Some of the spills that were missed by the drillers were relatively small, maybe a couple dozen gallons of spilled brine, drilling mud, hydraulic fracturing flowback fluid or some other contaminant. But others were large, comprising thousands of gallons that killed large swaths of vegetation, state documents show.
                  There is no way of determining whether spills not spotted by inspectors or others went unreported.
                  Scott Perry, a DEP deputy secretary who oversees the Office of Oil and Gas Management for the state, said: “I don’t personally presume any criminal intent” on the part of drillers.
                  He cites confusion over the state’s laws and policies about what constituted a reportable spill as a possible reason so few of the spills were first spotted or reported by the drillers.
                  “The [former] spill policy had a fair degree of ambiguity to it,” said Mr. Perry. “We felt that small spills weren’t getting reported to the DEP. With the new [spill] policy, we’re intending to define a reported release. Anything more than 5 gallons dumped over 24 hours into a noncontained area. Drips are hard to ascertain, so we recommend spills of any size be reported.”
                  The new spill policy, adopted last fall, is DEP’s attempt to provide a thorough definition of a part of the rewrite of oil and gas laws that were adopted under Act 13 in 2012, he said.
                  Mr. Perry said he expects that rewrite, plus additional changes in the industry, to reduce spills generally and improve the reporting of spills.
                  Though nearly every major driller has had multiple spills that resulted in fines, some firms did better than others.
                  Chief Oil & Gas, which was responsible for the spill on the Miller farm, had one of the worst records with spills that resulted in fines. Of 10 spills on the list, Chief spotted two of them first. Inspectors found seven spills and a farmer spotted one.
A spokeswoman for Chief, which sold many of its wells to Chevron, did not respond to the question of why the company failed to spot the spills. But she did say in an email response to questions, in part: “Chief complies with the regulatory process outlined by the PA DEP. We are inspected at our locations several times per month by the DEP. Chief’s goal is zero violations.”
                  East Resources, which has sold all of its Marcellus wells to Shell, was the first to spot three out of 14 spills that resulted in fines, while inspectors noticed seven of them first and residents spotted four spills.
                  In one notable case in May 2010, a spill of hydraulic fracturing fluid was suspected to have been drunk by some cattle on a farm in Tioga County. The fluid had leaked from a surface impoundment on a well pad, the seventh such occurrence at an East drilling site. All were discovered either by a landowner or a state inspector. East had inspected the cattle farm in Tioga County site twice in the four weeks prior to the spill there but reported it did not detect a leak.
                  Eventually, all seven incidents, plus one more that occurred a month after the Tioga County spill, would result in $159,165 in fines by the state.
                  East’s record in spotting spills “surprises me,” Scott Blauvelt, East’s regulatory manager, said in an interview. “With our inspections, we were incredibly proactive. We were never shut down because DEP believed we were being proactive. Even though there were releases, very few of them left the well pad and none affected the ground water. There was no long-term damage.”
                  Mr. Blauvelt said East used a two-prong incentive system to try to prevent or find any spills at well sites.
                  Employees involved in drilling activities were given “substantial bonuses if there were no releases on that well pad,” he said, in an attempt to make them be more careful.
Asked if that could have had the opposite reaction of encouraging employees or subcontractors to not report spills, Mr. Blauvelt said: “No. I don’t think so. We spent a lot of time talking with contractors. We made it a contractual obligation of them to report spills and clean them up. And we tried to tell people there was nothing to be gained by fighting with DEP.”
Private inspectors hired by East were given bonuses if they found spills at a well site, he said, “so that they knew they could report them.”
                  Two other large drillers were among the five companies with the most spills that resulted in fines: Chesapeake, which spotted seven of 12 spills that led to fines against it, and Atlas Resources, which had the most spills that led to fines with 15, and spotted nine of them itself. Neither company would comment for this story.
                  The other large Marcellus driller in the top five is Range Resources, which had a markedly different record from the other companies.
                  Range, the second-largest Marcellus driller in the state behind Chesapeake, had 14 spills that resulted in fines.
                  One of those spills was one of the state’s most egregious: A hydraulic fracturing flowback fluid spill that killed fish and other aquatic life along nearly half a mile of a stream in Washington County in October 2009. That spill resulted in one of the largest fines in state history, $141,175.
                  But Range reported that spill first, as it did all but three of its 14 spills on the list. One spill was first spotted by an inspector and two others by residents.
                  “Our goal is to have zero” spills, Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella said. But if there is a spill, “our policy is to report everything spilled over 1 gallon to DEP, even if it is contained” to the well pad, he said. “We make a big push for that internally. We discuss that at safety meetings all the time. And we measure and track all of that stuff internally.”
Sean D. Hamill:

**Cancer Rates At Flower Mound
                  “Flower Mound, population 65,000, sits atop the Barnett Shale, one of the largest and most heavily drilled reserves of unconventional natural gas in the U.S. with more than 12,000 gas wells. Most of these wells have been horizontally drilled and hydraulically fractured (fracked) to stimulate gas flow since 2004. Residents asked for an investigation into what they thought to be an unusually high number of diagnoses for cancer including leukemia, brain and breast cancer. After initial investigations in 2010 and 2011, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) concluded that although the breast cancer rate among women was elevated, there was no reason for concern and not enough evidence of a cancer cluster. But residents were not convinced, arguing that the cancers in their community included rare types and affected children and young adults—demographic groups in which most cancers are typically rare.
                  In response to questions about the adequacy of its investigation, the DSHS has now released a new, updated report, which concluded that “female breast cancer was the only type of cancer … where the observed number of cases was higher than expected and the result was statistically significant; this result is consistent with previous findings.”
                  Yet, it is not only the breast cancer rate that is worrisome: a closer look at the numbers shows that certain types of leukemia and brain and nervous system cancers (reported only for children) also occurred at higher numbers than expected. However, due to the small population size it was not possible to say with very high certainty that they were not due to chance. Leukemia is a type of cancer that has been linked to chemical exposure, in particular the pollutant benzene, which has been detected in air samples at and near oil and gas production sites.
                  The DSHS simply says that it “plans to continue to monitor cancer incidence in the Flower Mound area.” As a statistician, and a parent, I can say that neither the analysis nor the DSHS’s response go far enough to address the legitimate concerns of Flower Mound residents.
                  A real response would be to conduct a more detailed analysis of the patterns of breast, leukemia and brain and nervous system cancers in the community. The statistician’s toolbox contains a number of robust methods for working with small sample sizes in addition to the Standardized Incidence Ratios (SIR) used by the DSHS, which can be too easily dismissed for lack of statistical significance. Instead, an analysis of the number and location of diagnoses over time could show if there are increasing trends in diagnoses and their spatial patterns (i.e. proximity to pollution sources).
                  The choice of study period is also an important component in the search for potential environmental risk factors. The DSHS based its investigation on the time period 2000-2011. However, gas production in the Barnett Shale started to increase substantially around 2001 and the boom in horizontal drilling and fracking began in 2004. Since gas drilling and fracking is seen by residents as a potential cause for the perceived cancer cluster, the investigation should have compared cancer incidences before and after 2001 and also before and after 2004.
                  The residents of Flower Mound deserve to have their concerns taken seriously by their state’s health department. A more detailed and rigorous analysis is an important first step and will go a long way towards providing this community with some real, and evidence-based, answers.”

**Scientists Describe Fracking Effects on Animals and          Families
                  “Michelle Bamberger, a veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell have documented cases of contaminated water and air, of sick pets and dying livestock and of similar symptoms experienced by the animals’ owners, all with few apparent explanations. And that, the researchers, argue, is the real scandal: It’s up to the people being affected, and not the industry causing the damage, to prove that something’s wrong.
                  In “The Real Cost of Fracking: How America’s Shale Boom is Threatening Our Families, Pets and Food,” Bamberger and Oswald share the stories of people whose lives have been affected — and in some cases, destroyed — by fracking, in a way that aims to open up the conversation to what’s at stake. “Simply put,” they write, “we are not certain of the public health implications of large-scale industrial oil and gas drilling.” The effects we are seeing, they add, are being seen most prominently in animals, children and oil and gas workers: the ones who, because they are so sensitive to hazards from gas operations, end up serving as the canaries in the coal mine.
Was it hard to find people who were willing to speak about the experiences they’re having? 
                  MB: I started to get emails from people who knew I was a veterinarian who were local farmer-type people up here in New York who had connections with people in other states through the farming groups. So they started putting me in contact with people, and I started to become known as a vet who was interested in looking into these cases and starting to document them, and that’s how I got pulled into this.
What are some of the more shocking things you turned up?
                  MB: I can think of one particular occasion — this was in Louisiana in April 2009 — and that was the one where the cattle were exposed to hydrolic fracturing fluid and they died within an hour. What was shocking about that was that these are animals, which are over 1,000 pounds, and it takes something pretty powerful to knock them out, that they’re exposed to it and then dead in just an hour. That really grabbed me by the neck, because what I’ve been reading about was usually cattle exposures, where even if it’s pretty toxic, it’s one to three days. One to three days is pretty fast, actually, but within an hour is pretty amazing. So I think that was the most amazing thing that I heard of with these cases. Robert is shaking his head in agreement.
                  RO: I think that was the most dramatic case we had. We had a lot of cases that were interesting but that was a dramatic one.
                  MB: Robert, the other answer you give for this is the case where we were sitting at the kitchen…
                  RO: That wasn’t dramatic but it had a big effect on me, let’s put it that way. We went to visit some people and they had actually had some documented contamination on their land and their cows were quarantined. And we’re just sitting in their dining room, which is off their kitchen, and you can look through their kitchen window and all you can see out their kitchen window is a well pad. We look outside the dining room window and about 10 feet away from it is a driveway, and that’s the access road to the pad. So I realized for these people, all this drilling and fracking and everything, it was right on top of their house. These people had several hundred acres and they didn’t want them to put the pad there, but the company insisted on putting the pad right by their house. That was a thing that was really early on and it really struck me as something that I just didn’t understand — how people could live with that, and how the companies could actually do that.
                  Would you say that all adds up to these people’s lives being dominated, or ruined, by drilling operations? Or is it just that we’re not hearing enough about any of these things that are happening?
What do you with water that’s not good, and you can’t drink it and maybe you can’t even bathe in it? You’re getting rashes, you’re getting ill — it really does turn your life upside down and it does dominate it. We have one woman we described in our book who said, “I go to sleep thinking of water. I wake up thinking of water. Every minute is thinking of water.” It just made me realize that we take so much for granted. But this is huge: When you have to think of every drop, counting exactly how much water you’re going to need and how much you’re going to use and think of your community and think of your neighbors, it’s really overwhelming. It’s hard to really understand. We got a little bit of a taste of it when we went and visited these people and spent some time with them, but I think no one could ever understand it unless you go through it.
                  RO: You know, Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP, during the BP oil spill, he said he wanted his life back. That had such a hollow ring to it. These are people who really need their lives back, and they’re not going to get it back.
                  There’s one point in the book where you compare some of these people to victims of rape, which seems like a pretty extreme comparison.
MB: The thing I was trying to get at there as an analogy was lack of control. They’re powerless. And again, you can get that feeling through all the chapters that we’ve written in describing the cases.                   Especially in that last chapter, on environmental justice, where they’re at the complete mercy of these companies that are working around them and then at the companies’ mercy as to whether they’re provided with a water buffalo [a large container of replacement water], to whether it’s decided that the results of their testing show they need it. What do they have to prove in order to be able to have good water again? I think that’s the sort of thing I was trying to build and get there with that analogy: powerlessness and lack of control.
                  Going back to your research, how many of these case studies that you feature are backed up by conclusive evidence that says “Yes, fracking is definitely causing these problems?”
MB: So on those cases, a few are, most are not. We feel strongly that it’s because of the current testing methods that are used and the fact that for a lot of these chemicals, we don’t know what they are actually using — especially the proprietary mixes, we don’t know what all the components are.                   But also we don’t know what the maximum contaminate levels (MCLs) are. So, in other words, what is the level below which there are no health effects and above which definitely there are? And what are the effective screening levels for air? If we don’t really know them, then we believe these people have no recourse because there’s no MCL. And that came out really strongly for me. We have several cases in the book that are part of the EPA study, where I was shocked when I saw the water results that a large majority of those chemicals the EPA was testing didn’t have MCLs. And if you don’t have an MCL, you can’t go into litigation, you can’t go to court and say “we have conclusive evidence.” It doesn’t matter how sick they are and that they can’t use their water or that when they stop using their water they get better and when they use it again they get worse. None of that counts as conclusive evidence. Having said that, we do have several cases you can read about in the book where it is conclusive evidence. But it’s the rarity really because of the many reasons we discussed in the book.
                  RO: You should also sort of realize that it took about 30 years to determine conclusively that cigarettes caused cancer, and part of the reason is that there’s always some sort of plausible deniability. It really depends on what we accept as a level of truth and what’s more important. Is it more important to absolutely prove there’s contamination here, or is it more important to prove that there’s not contamination here? And where do we find the balance? The balance, unfortunately, is very much in favor of companies and not in favor of the people who are living with this.
                  So you mentioned more testing. Are there simple things that could be put in place to help make the link more clear, or to help protect people?
                  MB: That’s a really good question. We are now, getting back to the testing thing, thinking of looking at it in a different light, to make it simpler for people to know right away: “Is this water I shouldn’t be drinking? And if it needs much further testing that maybe I can’t afford, at least I shouldn’t be drinking it.”
As far as simple things that could be done that might lessen the effects right now, I think the best discussion of that is in our first paper, where we talk about what could be done: just getting further away from these operations, for the drilling companies to operate further away, there’s also been a lot, lately, about cement casing failures. I think the big thing is that we were shocked about the number of inspectors. There are so few inspectors that they cannot get out and really make sure things are running correctly, even as they stand now. So there’s something that’s really simple and really basic, and the state regulators would probably say we don’t have the money for that, we can’t afford it. But then it comes down to this question that we’re hearing all over the country now: “What’s more important, to get the energy out of the ground or people’s health?” That’s a real basic question; that’s what it comes down to now and we strongly believe people’s health and children and animals and food and all of that should come way before going after an energy source that’s not really viable, especially in light of the climate change we have — but that’s another issue.
I can’t imagine that the industry has had a positive response to your work.
                  MB: Energy In Depth is one of the energy industry sites and they pretty much attack anybody who doesn’t say that this is great stuff they’re doing. So we are not the only ones who have been attacked. But we look at it like we don’t really care what they have to say. We’re just going to do the best science in the most objective way possible and that’s what we’re still trying to do. The reason to write the book, in addition to the articles, is to reach an audience that might not read an article, even though our article was pretty easy to read. A lot of people hearing it from a scientific journal just would not read it. So the book is an effort to reach those people who would read a book. So we’re hoping to get more people aware of the situation, and if more people are aware maybe things will change eventually.
                  Would you say nondisclosure agreements are making it harder to get those stories out there?  
                  MB: That is true and I think that’s happening more and more. And it’s been hard; we’ve had a few cases shut down and people say “I can’t provide you with any more information,” or right up front we were not able to follow up on a really good case because they’d already signed. So for us as researchers that really cuts out a lot of information where we’re trying to find out what’s happening, especially as health researchers for the public health — it’s hard to protect the public health if you can’t ask what’s happening.
Leaving aside the climate change aspect, and just so far as the direct effects on people who live near fracking operations, do you see the point where the industry could make significant enough improvements that fracking will be safe — or at least safe enough — to be justifiable, from an energy standpoint?
                  RO: Well I think they can do better, that’s true. And maybe they are doing better. I don’t know. I don’t think there will ever be a case where it will always be safe. There will always be problems; mistakes happen. And when they wipe out a community’s water by making a mistake, that’s the major issue. When you get right down to it, what’s more important: Do we find alternative ways of getting energy? I think there are alternatives, but I think what we’re doing is sending all our money to subsidize the oil and gas industry and sending very little money subsidizing alternative energy. It’s that balance for change for alternative energy, which has become much more affordable for people. I think it would not be worth taking the risk of contaminating water and air and ruining some people’s lives.”

**Dads' Regular Exposure to Benzene Linked To Childhood          Brain Tumors
(As most of you know, benzene and toluene are found in frack fluids and frack emissions. Studies have linked fracking chemicals to health problem in babies. Jan)
            Brain tumors in children could have as much to do with the father's occupational exposure to solvents as they have to do with the mother's, a new Australian study has found.
The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, has found a link between parents' exposure to chemicals such as benzene, toluene, and trichloroethylene and brain tumors in their children.
                  Lead author Dr Susan Peters, occupational epidemiologist at the University of Western Australia, says while brain tumors are relatively rare they are a major cause of cancer death among children, and the causes are largely unknown.
                  "Because most of the cases occur before age five, the question is what are the risk factors because there are some genetic syndromes that are known to cause brain tumors but only in less than five per cent of cases," says Peters.
                  "The children are pretty young, [so] it could be that some of the parental exposures before or during pregnancy may be a cause."
                  The new study surveyed nearly 306 cases of parents of children up to 14 years old with brain tumors, which were diagnosed between 2005 - 2010 in Australia.
                  The researchers compared the parents' occupational exposures to solvents with those of 950 parents whose children did not have brain tumors.
                  The findings suggest that fathers working in jobs where they are regularly exposed to benzene in the year before their child is conceived are more than twice as likely to have that child develop a brain tumor.
                  Women working in occupations that expose them to a class of compounds called chlorinated solvents -- found in degreasers, cleaning solutions, paint thinners, pesticides and resins -- at any time in their lives also have a much higher risk of their child developing a brain tumor.
                  While brain tumors in children are relatively rare, previous studies have suggested a link between parental occupation and childhood brain tumors, finding parents working in industries such as the chemical and petroleum industries, car-related jobs, and jobs with regular exposure to paint, have a higher risk of their children developing brain tumors.
Peters says a previous study in rats also found that toluene -- found in petrol, paints, and inks -- had an effect on sperm cells, which points to a possible explanation for the link in humans.
                  Commenting on the study, Emeritus Professor Michael R. Moore, vice president of the Australasian College of Toxicology and Risk Assessment, says the data shows paternal exposure was a key issue.
                  "This is the children being directly affected by the father and the father's exposure is taking place prior to the children being conceived," says Moore.
                  "Parents who are thinking of having children should be thinking about not just what's happening with the mums but also with the dads."
                  Peters stressed that the study only involved relatively small numbers of cases, and it was still too early to say whether solvent exposure was the cause of childhood brain tumors. However she said these solvents were associated with a range of other effects so exposure should be kept as low as possible anyway.”

News in Science

**Environmental Groups Call For Investigation Of PA          Health Dept.
                  “Science requires replication, and lots of it.  So it’s been difficult to gauge the health impacts of shale development from a few scattered studies, says Bernard Goldstein, a public health expert who once led the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health and remains an active voice in the fracking health debate.
                  What’s more, it’s been difficult to get such studies funded, he said, although interest and money for research is increasing.
                  "There is much more enthusiasm to fund these kinds of studies now than there was                   before Obama got re-elected," Dr. Goldstein said.
Public health concerns with fracking have intensified in recent weeks, although the issue has been bubbling for years in Pennsylvania.
                  Earlier this month, half a dozen environmental groups called for an official investigation into the state health department's handling of complaints related to oil and gas development.
                  The groups, including PennFuture, PennEnvironment and the Sierra Club, said they had been provoked by news accounts revealing that the Department of Health had a list of “buzzwords" relating to Marcellus Shale activities that, if said by callers, would mean their complaints would be handled differently than other complaints.

                  And former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Eli Avila was quoted saying the state did not study the potential health impacts of shale gas exploration.
                  Mr. Avila, who resigned in 2012, now heads the Orange County Department of Health in New York State, where shale drilling is under a moratorium. In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this month, he said the Pennsylvania legislature yanked $2 million in funding for a statewide health registry that was proposed by the governor's own Marcellus Shale Commission.
                  Dr. Goldstein, who is listed as a member of the Marcellus Shale Commission's health and environment working group, says no such group was actually convened. Instead, faced with criticism that the commission failed to include public health experts, the commission came up with the idea of a statewide health registry. Mr. Goldstein approved of it.
                  But, as Mr. Avila noted, it was never funded.
                  "I like to think that was all in another state," said Bruce Pitt, chair of the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, who has overseen several studies exploring links between health and Marcellus Shale development.
                  What’s comforting to him is that the Allegheny County Health Department seems to be approaching the issue with forethought.
                  In April, the department hired LuAnn Brink, a former assistant professor at Pitt, to lead its epidemiology division.
                  Ms. Brink was one of the researchers at the university looking into the pregnancy outcomes for women living near well sites. She declined to talk about her study as it is being prepared for publication now.
                  Ms. Brink said she would like to see some kind of health registry for fracking complaints and "we would hope that would be at the state level."
                  But locally, Ms. Brink said the county health department will investigate any health complaint that comes in, focusing specifically on "clusters of illness around drill sites."  So far, she's not aware of any such calls.
                  People who think they may have been sickened by nearby oil and gas operations typically complain of headaches, nosebleeds, lesions, nausea, and dizziness.
                  "These issues are pretty nonspecific," Ms. Brink said. "There's no really definitive health outcome or issue that's been associated with it at this point."
                  A 2013 study from the University of Pittsburgh showed that the most common health outcome from exposure to shale gas activity is stress.
                  "We're really keeping a very close eye on what's going on in the published literature to just maintain awareness of the potential health effects, and, to that end, we are being pretty proactive in our air monitoring around the fracking sites, especially ones that are coming up," Ms. Brink said.
                  "We just believe that it's very important to monitor the air before drilling commences and through every phase of the operation — drilling, fracking, flowback, and of course while they're extracting the natural gas."
                  Ms. Brink said the health department also will work with the DEP to get water samples at Deer Lakes Park before and after drilling begins.
                  Also, the health department is currently compiling a list of government and peer reviewed studies chronicling what is currently known about drilling health impacts which will be posted on the agency’s website sometime next month, Ms. Brink said.
                  Mr. Pitt said it's comforting to have someone like Ms. Brink at the health department of a county about to embark on two major drilling projects.
                  "We’re familiar with her skills and looking forward to a closer interaction," he said. "We're lucky in Pittsburgh."
                  So far, several studies have focused on the impacts of shale gas exploration on pregnancy outcomes.
                  A study out of Colorado published in April in the journal of Environmental Health Perspectives drew a link between a pregnant woman's distance from oil and gas wells and the increased prevalence of congenital heart defects. The study used publicly available data — Colorado's well location database and the state's birth records registry — for its analysis, which also found that babies born to mothers living near well sites were slightly less likely to be born early or have low birth weight.
                  Ms. Brink’s study in Pittsburgh looked at birth records from Pennsylvania to explore similar inferences.
                  So far, studies have relied only on the location of a well to establish links to health outcomes. But Brian Schwartz, co-director of the program on global sustainability and health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is breaking down exposures by what's happening on those well sites.
                  "We're going to really look at health outcomes by the phase of well drilling and stimulation," Dr. Schwartz.
                  Knowing the date a well was spud, or when construction began, could be a clue for estimating truck traffic. Knowing the frack date corresponds to diesel pollution and possible hydrocarbon emissions. The team of researchers on the project are also mapping the location and capacity of compressor stations, using paper records from DEP regional offices.
                  Dr. Schwartz is involved in a series of studies at Geisinger Health System, a mostly rural network in northeastern and central Pennsylvania that serves about 3 million people. Geisinger has the advantage of pulling detailed patient data from its electronic medical records.
                  Dr. Schwartz is overseeing two studies at the moment: One will measure pregnancy outcomes for women living in proximity of a well site. The other will look at medical events for 38,000 asthma patients, assessing how many times they were hospitalized, if their medication regimens intensified and if their asthma was under control at critical periods in the shale gas development process.
                  The first round of results will be ready within the next year, Dr. Schwartz said.
                                    Findings from the Geisinger studies could be generalized to other areas in Pennsylvania, although different drilling conditions may elicit different responses.
                  Indeed, more than 7,000 unconventional wells have already been drilled in Pennsylvania. But if industry estimates pan out, there might be more than 60,000 wells on the ground in the future.”
Anya Litvak: or 412-263-1455

**Research: Gas Extraction Outpaces Science
            Can Affect Animal Health and Reproduction

            Natural-gas production from shale rock has increased by more than 700 % since 2007 in the United States alone. Yet scientists still do not fully understand the industry's effects on nature and wildlife, according to a report in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
            As gas extraction continues to vastly outpace scientific examination, a team of eight conservation biologists from various organizations and institutions, including Princeton University, concluded that determining the environmental impact of gas-drilling sites — such as chemical contamination from spills, well-casing failures and other accidents — must be a top research priority.
            With shale-gas production projected to surge during the next 30 years, the authors call on scientists, industry representatives and policymakers to cooperate on determining — and minimizing — the damage inflicted on the natural world by gas operations such as  "fracking." A major environmental concern, hydraulic fracturing releases natural gas from shale by breaking the rock up with a high-pressure blend of water, sand and other chemicals, which can include carcinogens and radioactive substances.
            "We can't let shale development outpace our understanding of its environmental impacts," said co-author Morgan Tingley, a postdoctoral research associate in the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy in Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
            "The past has taught us that environmental impacts of large-scale development and resource extraction, whether coal plants, large dams or biofuel monocultures, are more than the sum of their parts," Tingley said.
            The researchers found that there are significant "knowledge gaps" when it comes to direct and quantifiable evidence of how the natural world responds to shale-gas operations. A major impediment to research has been the lack of accessible and reliable information on spills, wastewater disposal and the composition of fracturing fluids. Of the 24 American states with active shale-gas reservoirs, only five — Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Texas — maintain public records of spills and accidents, the researchers report.
            "The DEP website is one of the best sources of publicly available information on shale-gas spills and accidents in the nation. Even so, gas companies failed to report more than one-third of spills in the last year," said first author Sara Souther, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
            "How many more unreported spills occurred, but were not detected during well inspections?" Souther asked. "We need accurate data on the release of fracturing chemicals into the environment before we can understand impacts to plants and animals."
            One of the greatest threats to animal and plant life identified in the study is the impact of rapid and widespread shale development, which has disproportionately affected rural and natural areas. A single gas well results in the clearance of 3.7 to 7.6 acres (1.5 to 3.1 hectares) of vegetation, and each well contributes to a collective mass of air, water, noise and light pollution that has or can interfere with wild animal health, habitats and reproduction, the researchers report.
            "If you look down on a heavily 'fracked' landscape, you see a web of well pads, access roads and pipelines that create islands out of what was, in some cases, contiguous habitat," Souther said. "What are the combined effects of numerous wells and their supporting infrastructure on wide-ranging or sensitive species, like the pronghorn antelope or the hellbender salamander?"
            The chemical makeup of fracturing fluid and wastewater is often unknown. The authors reviewed chemical-disclosure statements for 150 wells in three of the top gas-producing states and found that an average of two out of every three wells were fractured with at least one undisclosed chemical. The exact effect of fracturing fluid on natural water systems as well as drinking water supplies remains unclear even though improper wastewater disposal and pollution-prevention measures are among the top state-recorded violations at drilling sites, the researchers found.
            "Some of the wells in the chemical disclosure registry were fractured with fluid containing 20 or more undisclosed chemicals," said senior author Kimberly Terrell, a researcher at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. "This is an arbitrary and inconsistent standard of chemical disclosure."
"Biotic impacts of energy development from shale: research priorities and knowledge gaps. - Souther, Sara, Morgan W. Tingley, Viorel D. Popescu, David T.S. Hyman, Maureen E. Ryan, Tabitha A. Graves, Brett Hartl, Kimberly Terrell. 2014 Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Article published online August 1, 2014. DOI: 10.1890/130324.

**Lesser Prairie Chicken and Drilling
            Important Birding Areas (IBAs) as defined by the Audubon Society often overlap with oil and gas extraction sites as well as endangered species habitat.
                  A way to look at the interaction between hydrocarbon production and GSG in the Great Plains and Pacific Northwest is to investigate the density of wells in the bird’s historic range. That is precisely what we did for the 16 states where GSG once roamed. The bird’s historic range is 2.21 times the size of its current range, while the acreage we analyzed is slightly more than the often-reported “165 million resource-rich acres” (Cardwell and Krauss, 2014). On average each of the 16 states was home to 35,580 square miles of GSG habitat and are now home to a mere 28 percent of that figure.
                  While GSG habitat in these states has decreased, hydrocarbon production has skyrocketed. The Lesser Prairie-Chicken (LPC)—along with GSG—is hardly what anyone would call charismatic mega-fauna but it’s habitat is coming under pressure in the name of drill baby drill “energy independence” across many of the same Great Plains states. The Prairie-Chicken’s range once spread across 97,977 square miles in five states with 43 percent of that acreage in Kansas alone. The bird’s range has declined by 68 percent and as much as 78-79 percent in Colorado and New Mexico. In terms of US hydrocarbon production the Prairie-Chicken’s historic range is home to 58,152 wells, while its current extent contains 22,049 wells.”
**Swimming Pool Size Hydrochloric Acid Spill
                  An acid spill in Kingfisher County, Okla., could turn out to be the largest spill “in relation to fracking materials” in the state according to an Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman.
                                    Spokesman Matt Skinner said 480 barrels of fracking-related hydrochloric (HCL) acid, nearly enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool, emptied out of a tank where it was stored.
                  Acid is used in the fracking process to both clean wells and stimulate the flow of oil and gas.
                  The cause of the spill, which occurred in an alfalfa field, is under investigation.
Skinner told ThinkProgress this is the largest frack-related spill he is aware of in the state’s history. He was unable to comment on the cause of the spill because it is currently under investigation, but said they “think they know the cause.”

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Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s GroupMission Statement
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Delmont Mariner Pipeline Notes
This information was posted in 4 Parts by Alyson Holt

Delmont Sunoco Logistics Public Meeting

 Post #1 - Sam Koplinka-Loehr's
News Report from the Delmont Sunoco Logistics Mariner Pipeline public meeting run by the Clean Air Council and Council of Women Voters on Wed July 30, 2014.

               There was a lot of information made available at the meeting that will be of particular interest to Delmont, Export, Murrysville, Penn Twp, and beyond. Because of the amount of information, it will be divided into a few posts and in the next few days, I'll try to add it to the FAQ, too.
               The main speaker was Sam Koplinka-Loehr from the Clean Air Council. His Powerpoint presentation is well worth reading through and can be found here:
               On the first page of the PPT presentation, you can see the brown line going from the left of the picture (west), then crossing 22, then North above Delmont and down to the gas processing station East of Delmont, visible from 22. That is the gas pipeline right-of-way and construction work *is* ongoing.
Sunoco Logistics Plan (from the slides):
               * Switch the pipeline direction to pump natural gas liquids from wells near Houston, PA to the Marcus Hook Refinery near Philadelphia.
               * Increase pressure from 800 psi to 1400 PSI
               * 18 new pumping stations and 17 new valve control stations (along the way)
               * 70,000 barrels of liquid natural gas per day, as of 2015 ALL WILL BE DESTINED FOR EXPORT to gulf coast and overseas
               This 100% ethane is extracted as gas (methane), but under pressure becomes liquid and is EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE
               The Current Public Utility Commission process will determine whether or not the pumping stations are "reasonably necessary for the convenience and welfare of the public"
               Mariner East 1 (I believe Delmont is part of this) will be operational by Fall 2014.
               FLARING will be during maintenance operations and CONSTANT FLARING of fugitive emissions. Flare will operate 24/7, igniting fugitive emissions from the motor and pipeline seals.
Contact Sam at
Next posting will be the email pertaining directly to Delmont that Sam sent me.
Post 2 Delmont Sunoco Logistics Public Meeting Post #2 –
My email exchange with Sam Koplinka-Loehr from the Clean Air Council regarding specifically what's going on in Delmont:
Q1: If any Delmont residents have questions to put to Sunoco (like where is this flare stack going to be), who is the Program Manager they could contact?
Answer: Matthew Gordon and his number is 610-670-3284
It would be great for people to call him with tough questions and leave him messages
His information is publicly available from Sunoco's filings with the DEP and PUC
Q2: What is the state of development of the pipeline in Delmont?
Answer: In answer to your question my understanding is that the Delmont pumping station is the farthest along with construction with the flare stack basically completed the last that I had heard. The other stations to the east of Delmont in Indiana and Cambria counties have not been constructed yet. Tom Casey and I went by those areas where they are slated to be built today and did not see any ground clearing or pumping station installation. In terms of the actual pipeline you can get images from this site, a fellow who does fly-overs of the pipeline route with updated photos of where they are constructing:
I also saw the pipeyard and a cleared right-of-way for the pipeline. It is also visible on google earth:,+PA/@40.4112536,-79.5832922,5298m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x8834c60e84150ff5:0x13df8f35afe691
               It is the tan line that stretches around Delmont, zoom in to see the actual right-of-way. I am unsure how much of the total pipeline has been constructed, but yes they have been using eminent domain and definitely constructing sections of it. My understanding, though, is that the western portion from Houston to Delmont hasn't been completely finished yet as they are still going through some final Eminent domain proceedings. Some of the folks on the Westmoreland County lists may know more about exactly how far along the pipeline construction has gotten.
               The information about the flare stack is available in the presentation. Basically it would be a constantly running flare to burn off any ethane that sneaks out of the pipe fittings and seals in the pumping station. At times it would burn off even more ethane during maintenance operations when the company needs to empty the line to inspect it. It is going to be 30 feet tall and 4 feet wide, an enclosed flare manufactured by the John Zink company. Again, you can see the flare design in the presentation. My understanding is that it would be at Sunoco Logistics' main plant in delmont, here:,-79.577599,17z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x8834c63e76608dc3:0xd5f372de986f7e19
Q3: Could you tell me how pipelines and fracking economics are connected?
Answer: In terms of pipelines and fracking as a whole - yes you have it right that in order to get these products to market (in this case ethane) the industry needs a way to do it. They can truck it across the state, or they can send it by rail, or they can build a pipeline. Right now they have been trucking a lot of the products and are trying to build as many pipelines as possible since they are cost effective once they are in the ground. What this means is that they would be able to get ethane from the shale fields and export it from Marcus Hook Refinery near Philadelphia and ship it overseas to markets where they can get up to 4 times more for it. This is dangerous in terms of fracking because it would ensure further avenues for the industry to increase demand and lock communities into a future based on fracking. If we are going to work against the impacts from fracking, that also means working against pipelines, compressor stations, and all the other infrastructure projects required to get the product from miles under the ground to overseas markets. Does that answer your question?

Our look at construction of the
               The Sunoco Logistics Mariner East pipeline was constructed to deliver ethane and propane from Marcellus Shale gas wells to the Marcus Hook facility where it will be processed and stored until distribution can take place to foreign and domestic markets. The transport of butane may be also be added at a later date.
               Initially the pipeline will have capacity for 70,000 barrels (2.94 million gallons) per day of NGL (natural gas liquids) with the potential for increased capacity. Initial estimates include the transport of propane in late-2014 with the addition of ethane transportation beginning in the first half of 2015. Ethane is used to manufacture plastics.                
               The pipeline will run from the MarkWest Gas Plant in Houston, Pennsylvania to an existing gas processing facility in Delmont, Pennsylvania. From Delmont the NGL will enter an existing Sunoco pipeline and be transported to Sunoco Logistics' SPMT terminal river port in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania and Claymont, Delaware.

Meeting Post #3 - Sam Koplinka-Loehr from the Clean Air Council also provided this Sunoco Logistics Emergency Response presentation. It has information that the general public has not been informed about. It's a good read to see what they have yet to inform people living next to the pipeline (at the link).
               One as-yet unclear issue is HOW CLOSE these pipelines can be to homes. Perhaps the Delmont Council addressed this but I'm (Alyson) not sure. My suggestion would be to call Sunoco if your home is near the right of way (brown line from post #1 today) because the Delmont facility is being worked on right now.

On page 15, a discussion of Gathering lines, Transmission lines, Distribution lines, Pump stations and valve sites.
Gathering lines are well head to storage and treatment (compressor stations I presume) - not run by Sunoco, but by drilling companies. I assume these come under the authority of local councils/ordinances.
Transmission lines ARE Sunoco lines like Mariner East. Diameter ranges from 6 to 42 inches. 300 to 1500 psi. Mariner East will have 8" and 12" internal diameter pipes.
Distribution lines move product from transmission system and storage directly to consumer (think of your neighborhood gas distribution lines). 1/2 inch to 18 inches with pressure up to 250 psi on distribution main. (Alyson question - I assume these are not liquid natural gas, but just natural gas in gaseous form. The kind in our homes.) Sunoco does not operate these. These are public utilities and subject to PUC (PA Utility Commission) and eminent domain.
Pump stations - every 17 miles along Transmission lines. Hazards include high pressures, high voltage and gas. Delmont will have a pumping station and a flare stack.
Valve sites every 5 miles. There was some concern expressed at the meeting that these are not fully automated enough for public safety but are manual. Some are automatic, some are manual. This was one area of concern of the union representatives attending the meeting.
Pipeline Maintenance includes: flaring, "smart pig runs" (not sure what that is), road openings and major excavation
Pipeline has a command center: Pipeline Control Center 1-800-786-7440.
Page 29 - "How will you know where a pipeline is located?" yellow markers with approximate location (NOT EXACT and does not include depth)
Page 34: Deliveries through pipeline will be "batched". (interesting)
Page 46: Ethane, Propane, Butane - General Hazards
heavier than air, spread along ground and may travel to source of ignition and flash back. colorless, tasteless, odorless, under high pressure 1500 psi. Severe injury possible.
Page 37: Ethane, Propane, Butane comparison chart
Page 45: Pipeline incidents "releases" either Not ignited, or ignited.
Page 46: How would you recognize a pipeline release? sight - bubbling, fogs, blowing dirt and sound - hissing or roar. And then a continuation of procedures for first responders.
Page 65: Pump stations problems - electrical fire, fuel-fed fire, non-ignited release.

The Sunoco Logistics Mariner East pipeline was constructed to deliver ethane and propane from Marcellus Shale gas wells to the Marcus Hook facility where it will be processed and stored until distribution can take place to foreign and domestic markets. The transport of butane may be also be added at a later date.
 Initially the pipeline will have capacity for 70,000 barrels (2.94 million gallons) per day of NGL (natural gas liquids) with the potential for increased capacity. Initial estimates include the transport of propane in late-2014 with the addition of ethane transportation beginning in the first half of 2015. Ethane is used to manufacture plastics.                

 The pipeline will run from the MarkWest Gas Plant in Houston, Pennsylvania to an existing gas processing facility in Delmont, Pennsylvania. From Delmont the NGL will enter an existing Sunoco pipeline and be transported to Sunoco Logistics' SPMT terminal river port in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania and Claymont, Delaware.
The Mariner East Pipeline originates at the
MarkWest Gas Plant in Houston, Pennsylvania
The Sunoco Mariner East Pipeline
terminates in Delmont, Pennsylvania
at an existing Sunoco pipeline
Delmont Sunoco Logistics Public Meeting-- Post #4 - Sunoco's web page dedicated to the overall Mariner project:

Alyson’s Added Quotes
The Penn-Franklin had a front-page thorough report on the Sunoco Mariner Delmont meeting last week that I posted about on 4 posts. Good job on following up on details to the staff at Penn-Franklin!
A few quotes that add to what I had posted previously:
"Currently, Sunoco Logistics is attempting to obtain a designation from the PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) as a Public Utility Corporation. If granted, Sunoco would be exempt from complying with all local zoning laws and ordinances that would otherwise prevent them from constructing flaring stacks in residential areas. A preliminary ruling that the company oddes not meet the criteria of a public utility, was made by a PUC judge last week, but a final ruling has not been made.
Since the majority of the natural gas liquids in Mariner East I would not be distributed to the public but sent to Europe for the manufacture of plastics, the argument is that Sunoco Logistics should not be granted status as a public utility corporation."
2 reps from the Steamfitters Union and Operating Engineers Local 66 are in favor of the pipeline but also in favor of more regulation and one mentioned "you need to slow them down".
"Although the information on the pipeline states that it will go to a pump station in Delmont, from informatoin and maps it appears the station is the existing one which is actually in Salem Township, just beyond the Delmont line."

*****Unprecedented Investigation Finds PA Prioritizes Fracking at Expense of Health, Environment & Law

Nicole D'Alessandro | August 7, 2014 10:05 am | Comments
  177  71    16  282         
Pennsylvania has been a hot spot for fracking—and many consequences of this from of gas drilling in the state have come to light, from social to health to environmental costs, as well as controversies, including contaminated drinking water in the town of Dimock, gag orders on doctors and victims, and the state health department’s enforced silence on the practice.

While that sounds ominous enough, a new report released by Earthworks, after a year in the making, proves that the rush to drill undermines the protection of Pennsylvanians and the enforcement of regulations. Blackout in the Gas Patch: How Pennsylvania Residents are Left in the Dark on Health and Enforcement for the first time definitively connects health and environmental impacts of fracking with a lack of state oversight on a site-by-site basis.

“Legitimate, well-funded oversight should be a prerequisite for deciding whether to permit fracking, not an afterthought,” said Nadia Steinzor, the report’s lead author. “Governor Corbett and [Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection] DEP Secretary Abruzzo often say that the state has an exemplary regulatory program—but refuse to acknowledge that it’s not being implemented properly and that air, water and health are being harmed as a result. DEP’s limited resources make it impossible to keep up with required paperwork, let alone enforce the law and hold operators accountable.”

Blackout in the Gas Patch looks at the permitting, operational and oversight records of 135 wells and facilities in seven counties and details 25 key findings of associated threats to residents’ health and the environment. It also includes seven case studies using detailed timelines and maps, including the experiences of the Judy family from Carmichaels in Greene County.

Pam Judy said of her family’s experience with fracking: “The Governor and DEP claim that gas and oil operations are safe and that they have everything under control. I live with it every day, and know that’s not true—and this report confirms it.”

Based primarily on data and documents from the DEP, Blackout in the Gas Patch has found that Pennsylvania prioritizes development over enforcement; neglects oversight; fails to consider known threats; undermines regulations; and prevents the public from getting information.

The report concludes that the oversight of Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry is occurring with three inherent contradictions at play, which are as follows:

1. DEP is charged with protecting the environment and the public, but is under strong political pressure to advance an industry that harms water, air and health.  

2. Steep budget cuts to DEP during a shale gas boom means the agency has to do more with less—which in effect has meant insufficient oversight and enforcement.

3. As the number of people impacted by and concerned about the impacts of gas development grows, public access to information on the activities of both operators and DEP remains limited, inconsistent and restricted.

While the report, which offers many recommendations for the state, is a firm indictment of the current situation in Pennsylvania, as Bruce Baizel, director of Earthworks’ Oil and Gas Accountability Project, points out: “There’s a national crisis in fracking oversight. This report focuses on Pennsylvania, but it easily could have been written about Ohio, or the federal Bureau of Land Management, or Denton, Texas. Blackout illustrates why many residents across the United States have given up on the idea that regulators can manage the oil and gas boom, and are working so hard to stop fracking.”