* For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
* To view past updates, reports, general information, permanent documents, and meeting information http://westmorelandmarcellus.blogspot.com/
* Our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
* To discuss candidates: http://www.facebook.com/groups/VoteProEarth/
* To contact your state legislator:
For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo
* For information on PA state gas legislation and local control: http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-
WMCG Thank You
Contributors To Our Updates
Thank you to contributors to our Updates: Debbie Borowiec, Lou Pochet, Ron Gulla, the Pollocks, Marian Szmyd, Bob Donnan, April Jackman, Kacey Comini, Elizabeth Donahue, and Bob Schmetzer.
Tenaska Air Petitions—Please sign if you have not done so:
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. Email Jan for directions. All are very welcome to attend.
***The Great March for Climate Action –Event in Butler
WHAT'S NEXT FOR PITTSBURGH-AREA CLIMATE ACTIVISTS?
How about this? Can you help make it happen?
The Great March for Climate Action
Coming to Monroeville October 16. On March 1, 2014, hundreds of everyday Americans set out from Los Angeles, CA, on a 3,000-mile walk to Washington, D.C., with a goal of inspiring others from all walks of life to take action on the climate crisis. The march has delivered to thousands of Americans the message that urgent action is needed on climate change. Dozens of newspaper and television reports have resulted. Thousands have marched for at least a day, with a core group of 25-35 persons walking the entire distance. Thousands of one-on-one conversations between Americans concerned about our future have taken place. Songs around the campfire and sermons in church sanctuaries and coalition-building gatherings have reverberated across the country.
Take a look at the website to learn more: http://www.climatemarch.org
The march will enter Pennsylvania on October 10, with stops in Bessemer on Oct 10 at Maggie Henry's farm, Darlington (Oct 11) [with an excursion that day to Butler, PA for a Global Frackdown rally], Freedom (Oct 12), Ben Avon (Oct 13), Pittsburgh, (Oct 14-15), Monroeville (Oct 16), South Greensburg (Oct 17), Ligonier (Oct 18) and five other stops in PA before exiting to Maryland on October 25th.
. The marchers want nothing more than to be helpful in adding their voices and bodies to the fights we have on our hands.
If you are interested in helping this march amplify its impact as it comes through Pennsylvania, then let me know and I will try to connect you with events along the Pennsylvania rout.
CONTACT: Stephen Cleghorn, Paradise Gardens and Farm
email@example.com or 814-932-6761
Butler is Hosting An event for the Climate March-Oct 11
Save the Date:
Western PA’s Global Frackdown is set for Saturday Oct 11 at Diamond Park in Butler, 2-5 PM.
Here is link to the website http://www.globalfrackdown.org/ Be there to welcome the Great March for Climate Action on the Pennsylvania leg of its journey from LA to DC.
Here is link to Bill Moyers’ interview of one of the marchers: http://billmoyers.com/episode/climate-change-next-generation/
Be there for the launch of Pennsylvanians Against Fracking.
Bring your signs. Bring your banner. And BE THERE!
(More details to come. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to carpool to attend this event)
***Conference-Shale and Public Health Features Dr Paulson, Dr McKenzie, Dr Panettieri- Oct. 26/27
The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania's Straight Scoop on Shale initiative will hold a conference "Shale and Public Health: Days of Discovery" on Sunday afternoon October 26 and Monday October 27 at the Pitt University Club.
Featured speakers on Monday October 27 include Dr. Jerome Paulson, Director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment (MACCHE), and Dr. Lisa McKenzie of the Colorado School of Public Health.
On Sunday afternoon October 26, Dr. Reynold Panettieri of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine will present new research on the health impacts of shale gas development.
The conference is open to the public and free (with a small charge for lunch on October 27), but pre-registration is required.
For more information and to register, please visit our website, http://shale.palwv.org
Or call 1-800-61-SHALE (800-617-4253)
***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
ANNE NEELY WATER STORIES PROJECT: A CONVERSATION IN PAINT AND SOUND
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:
TAKE ACTION !!
***Letters to the editor are important and one of the best ways to share information with the public. ***
***See Tenaska Petition at the top of the Updates
***- Pittsburgh’s Air At Stake- Please Comment-Time is Almost Up For Submitting Comments
Send Statement/Comment To Restrict Carbon From Existing Power plants
Everyone Should Submit a Written Statement
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:
A: Comments on the EPA’s new rule covering the carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants may be submitted via Email to: A-and-R-Docket@epa.gov
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:
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.
And From Public Citizen
See the top 10 FAQs on the carbon pollution reduction plan.
***Should Sunoco Be exempt From Zoning Laws and Ordinances
“Here is the action alert for pressuring the PUC to deny Sunoco Logistics' petition during their upcoming meeting on October 2nd. Please pass along this blurb and link to your networks!
If granted a designation as a Public Utility Corporation, Sunoco Logistics would be exempt from complying with all local zoning laws and ordinances that would otherwise prevent them from constructing a pipeline and flaring stacks in residential areas. Send a strong message to the PUC to deny Sunoco's petition!
Thanks! Sam Koplinka-Loehr”
*** Tell EPA: Our Ocean's Not a Dump for Fracking
From: "Center for Biological Diversity" <email@example.com>
The agency charged with protecting our environment is failing to do its job, and we need your help to right this wrong. Off California's coast the EPA has been letting oil companies dump up to 9 billion gallons of toxic fracking wastewater directly into the ocean every year.
Many of the nearly 250 chemicals used in fracking wells are toxic to people and to wildlife like whales, dolphins and sea otters. Some chemicals are known carcinogens; others cause immune and nervous-system damage. Still others hover in the shadowy category called "unknown" -- oil companies say their contents are trade secrets, and the EPA blindly agrees to assume they're harmless.
We can't let this dumping continue. If you wouldn't drink well water tainted by fracking fluids, surely no animal should have to live in such water.
Act now to tell the EPA to do its job and bring an immediate ban to the discharge of toxic fracking chemicals off the coasts of Southern California and the Gulf of Mexico. Click here to take action and get more information.
If you can't open the link, go to http://action.biologicaldiversity.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=16356.
***For Health Care Professionals—Tell PA Dept of Health to Stop Ignoring Fracking Health Complaints
***Saving Pittsburgh Parks-
Needed: Registered voters in Allegheny County Who Will Help
Please read the message below and call me today to talk about this more:
Protect Our Parks submitted 5000 signatures to County Council on May 6, calling for a no vote on drilling under Deer Lakes. Unfortunately, council voted anyway to go ahead with County Executive Fitzgerald's proposal to drill under Deer Lakes Park.
Although we lost that battle, we have a new campaign to protect the other 8 county parks. And we need your help!!
This is basically a citizen’s initiative to require Council to vote on an ordinance -- not a resolution, but an ORDINANCE --which WE write. We've written an ordinance, to put a hold on activity in the other parks --which we believe will be attractive to some of the council members who voted yes last time. We need signatures on a petition from 500 (really 750) registered voters in Allegheny County.
Council will be required to hear public testimony and vote within 60 days.
For this campaign to be successful we need registered voters ( i.e. YOU) to circulate this ordinance/petition between October 17 and Nov. 4. And we need signatures from all over the county.
This petition is similar to the ones for elected officials -- if you've ever seen those. The signers must be registered votes in Allegheny County. And you must get your petitions notarized.
Please give me a call today if you will participate. October 17 is coming up soon.
***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
***Sign On To Letter To Gov. Corbett-- Urge Him to Implement De Pasquale’s Recommendations For DEP
“I know you are as concerned as I am about the recent news out of Harrisburg regarding the protection of our drinking water from the dangers of natural gas drilling. Then join me to take action now.
It started with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) acknowledgment that there have been 209 known cases of water contamination from oil and gas operations since 2007. http://powersource.post-gazette.com/powersource/policy-powersource/2014/07/22/DEP-Oil-and-gas-endeavors-have-damaged-water-supply-209-times-since-07/stories/201407220069
If that wasn’t enough, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale also released his much anticipated audit http://www.auditorgen.state.pa.us/reports/performance/special/speDEP072114.pdf
of DEP’s ability to protect water quality in the wake of escalated Marcellus Shale drilling. The report shows how the explosive growth of shale development caught the DEP flat footed, how the agency is underfunded, and slow to respond to monitoring and accountability activities. Some of the more alarming findings where:
DEP would rather seek voluntary compliance and encouraging industry to work out a solution with impacted homeowners instead of issuing violations for cases where industry impacted a water supply.
There is no system in place for frequent inspections of drilling pads, especially during critical drilling operations much less during the lifetime of the well.
DEP relies on a voluntary system of reporting where and how fracking waste is disposed, instead of using a system, where regulators can see how waste is handled from well site to disposal.
DEP’s system to track complaints related to oil and gas development is “woefully inadequate.”
In addition to his findings, Auditor General DePasquale made 29 recommendations, 18 of which require no additional funding, for how DEP can address these issues and improve operations. Email Governor Corbett today and urge him to have DEP implement all 29 of the Auditor General’s recommendations.
These types of events shake the confidence Pennsylvanians like you have in our government’s ability to protect our drinking water. However, they also serve as a call to action. DEP owes it to you to do everything it can to protect water supplies and public health, Contact Governor Corbett TODAY and tell him to have DEP take steps to improve the protection of our drinking water from natural gas drilling.
Best, Steve Hvozdovich - Campaign Coordinator
Pennsylvania Office, Clean Water Action http://org.salsalabs.com/o/2155/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=16207
***Toxic Tuesdays –Tell DEP’s Abruzzo--Do not approve paving pads and access roads with radioactive drill cuttings
“The next 4 Tuesdays, starting 8/26, are Toxic Tuesdays. They're the days we're going to call PA DEP Secretary Abruzzo to tell him that his agency should NEVER have approved Range Resources' permit to experiment with using drill cuttings as a paving material for well pads and access roads! We're going to tell him to reverse their decision.
The DEP gave Range Resources permission to experiment with using radioactive drill cutting to pave well pads and access roads. We have 30 days to appeal.
Call Sec Abruzzo to reverse the decision 717- 787- 2814”
From: Karen Feridan
***TRI (Toxic Release Inventory) Action Alert-Close the Loophole:
“We need your help!! Please send an email to the US EPA urging them to "Close the TRI Loophole that the oil and gas industry currently enjoys".
We all deserve to know exactly what these operations are releasing into our air, water and onto our land. Our goal is to guarantee the public’s right to know.
Please let the US EPA know how important TRI reporting will be to you and your community:
Mr. Gilbert Mears
Docket #: EPA-HQ-TRI-2013-0281 (must be included on all correspondence)
Some facts on Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) – what it is and why it’s important:
What is the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI)?
Industrial facilities report annually the amount and method (land, air, water, landfills) of each toxic
chemical they release or dispose of to the national Toxics Release Inventory.
Where can I find the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI)?
Once the industrial facilities submit their annual release data, the Environmental Protection Agency
makes it available to the public through the TRI’s free, searchable online database.
Why is this important?
The TRI provides communities and the public information needed to challenge permits or siting
decisions, provides regulators with necessary data to set proper controls, and encourages industrial
facilities to reduce their toxic releases.
Why does it matter for oil and natural gas?
The oil and gas extraction industry is one of the largest sources of toxic releases in the United
States. Yet, because of loopholes created by historical regulation and successful lobbying efforts,
this industry remains exempt from reporting to the TRI—even though they are second in toxic air
emissions behind power plants.
What is being done?
In 2012, the Environmental Integrity Project filed a petition on behalf of sixteen local, regional, and
national environmental groups, asking EPA to close this loophole and require the oil and gas
industries to report to the TRI. Although EPA has been carefully considering whether to act on the
petition, significant political and industrial pressure opposing such action exists.
What is the end goal?
Our goal is to guarantee the public’s right to know. TRI data will arm citizens with powerful data,
provide incentives for oil and gas operators to reduce toxic releases, and will provide a data-driven
foundation for responsible regulation.
What can you do?
You can help by immediately letting EPA know how important TRI reporting will be to you and your
Send written or email comments to:
Toxics Release Inventory Program Division, Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20460
Docket #: EPA-HQ-TRI-2013-0281 (please be sure to include in all your correspondence)
From: Lisa Graves Marcucci
Environmental Integrity Project
PA Coordinator, Community Outreach
***Link to DEPs Water Violations List
“The link lists 250 water supplies across PA compromised by fracking...the tip of the iceberg, since the DEP can't be depended on to know about or report on the actual number of spills. The spread of fracking across the state is reflected in when and where these spills occur, so you'll find the arrival of fracking (and the inevitable spills) here in Westmoreland County on page six, with spills in Donegal in 2013 and 2014.”
***Democracy Now! Naomi Klein discusses fossil fuels
She criticizes Nature Conservancy for drilling on “preserved” land.
***Link to Shalefield Stories-Personal stories of those affected by fracking http://www.friendsoftheharmed.com/
***To sign up for Skytruth notifications of activity and violations for your area:
*** List of the Harmed--There are now over 1400 residents of Pennsylvania who have placed their names on the list of the harmed when they became sick after fracking began in their area. http://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list/
*** To See Water Test Results of the Beaver Run Reservoir
IUP students test for TDS, pH, metals- arsenic, chromium, and strontium.
A group member who checks the site still does not see testing for other frack chemicals including the BTEX group or cesium for example. Here is a link to the IUP site:
***Video of Pipeline Incidents since 1986
All articles are excerpted and condensed. Please use links for the full article. Special Thanks to Bob Donnan for many of the photos.
*** Grant Awarded WMCG was very pleased to be awarded a $2000 grant from the Mt Watershed Association which will allow us to further our efforts to educate the public about the harmful effects of fracking and to provide TDS and radioactivity screening for interested homeowners.
***Zoning- Good Analysis of Local Questions Under Discussion
From Group Member:
“1. Let's assume for this discussion that all fracking surface operations within any pre-existing zone with "residential" in the name can be prohibited or challenged based on the Robinson decision/Constitution.
2. If a municipality then has either a small industrial district OR no industrial district OR a mostly built-out industrial district (with no large enough parcels for fracking surface operations) OR an ag zone but no (or small) industrial zone, what are this municipality's legal options?
A. No rezoning. Fracking is limited to industrial zones, even if they are too small to accommodate or non-existent. Tough luck for the industry. No large enough open industrial zone land is available to put this industrial use. (Is this choice vulnerable to an exclusionary zoning challenge and/or curative amendment?)
B. Or is this municipality legally under obligation to rezone more industrially zoned land to accommodate this industry? How does this fit in with comprehensive planning? How do you make a previous residential zone where people live into something else? Can pro-fracking residents make a case to be rezoned industrial? Can you rezone more industrial land big parcel by big parcel, (if leasing residents want to) or is that spot-zoning?
C. Is a resource recovery district legal if residents live there? (Incompatible uses problem still exists, right?) Would this district have to allow other industrial uses?
I think this is a common dilemma many municipalities are facing. Maybe the bigger question is do municipalities really need to make accommodation for all heavy industry? If a municipality has big open parcels zoned "residential" or "agricultural", are they legally compelled to rezone some of them to "industrial" to avoid an exclusionary zoning challenge? How would this work in practice?
It's got to be confusing for the industry, too, because big parcels of undeveloped land exist in mostly Ag/low density residential zones. Pre-existing industrial zones are often built out with whatever industrial uses are already there, right? Is adding onto industrial zones more parcels the only legal way to go about this?
(Many of the same questions apply to Ag zones, too, I would think.)”
***PA Auditor General: Don’t Trust DEP Information
“The Attorney General’s office showed reporters evidence of how DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo exchanged pornographic emails with his pals on taxpayer time.
And now, another state agency, the Auditor General’s office, has released a “citizens guide” to shale gas water complaints warning Pennsylvanians not to trust information on the DEP’s website.
In an audit released back in July, the Auditor General described DEP’s ineptitude when it comes to investigating and acting upon shale gas related water complaints from citizens. Sloppy record-keeping, lax oversight, and poor communication with citizens topped the list of findings. So perhaps it’s not surprising that “Shale Gas Development and Water Quality Complaints — A Citizen’s Guide” urges caution when relying on DEP for accurate information.
“Users should exercise caution in accessing any information from DEP’s website as the information may not be accurate and may not be representative of actual conditions. DEP frequently posts data it obtains directly from operators without checking to see if the data is valid and reliable. In particular, drilling dates (or spud dates) may be inaccurate on DEP’s website. As we found in our audit work, the only way to really know when critical drilling activity occurred on a site is to conduct a file review at the applicable district oil and gas office or to speak with an operator’s representative.”
The guide advises residents to keep good records and insist on a complaint identification number when informing DEP of a suspected problem with water supplies. And it urges citizens demand a detailed, written description of the investigation. It also encourages residents to allow operators to test their water prior to any drilling activity.”
***DEP Deception In Lab Reports
Acetone Taken Out of Nail Polish Removers But Found In Water
“DEP might have used incomplete and inaccurate test information to decide whether chemicals leaking from a Marcellus wastewater impoundment and a drill cuttings pit contaminated a water well and springs in Washington County.
The disclosures came during sworn testimony by Vincent Yantko, a DEP water quality specialist and supervisor of the investigation at Range Resources’ Yeager farm drill site in Amwell Township, as part of a case before the state Environmental Hearing Board in Pittsburgh.
Mr. Yantko was the first defense witness the DEP called in the case brought by Loren Kiskadden, who is appealing the department’s determination that his private drinking-water well wasn’t contaminated by pollutants leaking from Range Resources’ 13.5 million-gallon wastewater impoundment and mud and cuttings pit in 2010 and 2011.
The case before Thomas Renwand, chief judge of the hearing board, is the first in the state to challenge a DEP water supply determination denying contamination.
The DEP sent a determination letter to Mr. Kiskadden on Sept. 9, 2011, saying Range’s gas operations on a ridge above rolling farm fields did not contaminate his well water.
Range has repeatedly denied its shale gas development operations on the Yeager farm site produced any impacts on Mr. Kiskadden’s well or the well water of other residents of the narrow valley below the drill pad, impoundment pit and cuttings pit. Range blames Mr. Kiskadden’s problems on natural contaminants, bacteria from livestock and septic systems.
Mr. Kiskadden, who lives about a mile from the Yeager drill pad at the lower end of the valley, wants Range to provide a replacement water supply.
He and two other families also have filed a lawsuit against Range alleging that they experienced serious health problems due to exposure to water and air pollutants from the Yeager site.
During cross-examination by Kendra Smith, who is representing Mr. Kiskadden with her husband, John, Mr. Yantko admitted the DEP did not follow its regulations to determine whether leaks had occurred and did not report all of its findings to Mr. Kiskadden.
Although Mr. Yantko said the DEP had “concerns about leaks and migration of fluids” through the soil and groundwater in March 2010, it did not order Range to drain the double-lined impoundment and check for leaks, conduct dye tests to track leak migration or perform its own water sampling until August 2011.
DEP samplings at a leak-detection manhole next to the wastewater impoundment in August 2011 found total dissolved solids at more than 29,000 milligrams per liter — four to five times greater than what is expected in normal groundwater and more than 50 times what is acceptable for drinking water.
Mr. Yantko testified that even though those tests showed “a strong possibility of a leak,” the department had no reason to believe the contamination was moving through the groundwater off-site and did not tell Mr. Kiskadden or any other area residents about the results.
Mr. Yantko testified that the DEP did not tell Mr. Kiskadden that seven months after it sent the September 2011 determination letter, tests showed acetone in soil around the drill cuttings pit and in Mr. Kiskadden’s drinking water. Acetone is a component of some fracking fluids, and the EPA has detected it in investigations of shale gas contamination in Wyoming.
Although Range has admitted contaminating the Yeager farm springs, Matt Pitzarella, a Range Resources spokesman, said state and federal regulators have confirmed the company’s operations have caused “no impacts on any other water supplies in the area,” including Mr. Kiskadden’s.
Mr. Yantko also testified that Range did not seek or receive permission from the DEP to flush the drill cuttings pit with 30,000 gallons of clean water on July 14, 2011, in an attempt to dilute contaminants in the soil.
In his field notes, Mr. Yantko wrote, “This action was both intentional and reckless, and may have resulted in additional contaminants entering the Yeager spring water supply.”
Range had trouble digging out all the contaminated soil around the drill cuttings pit. According to its own records, between June 17 and July 7, 2011, it removed 722 tons of drilling mud and cuttings, the waste rock that comes to the surface during the gas well drilling process, plus 131 tons of contaminated soil beneath the pit.
Soil tests done after that excavation still found carbon disulfate, benzene, toluene, oil and grease and total petroleum hydrocarbons in the soil that remained, Mr. Yantko confirmed in his testimony.
Some of those contaminants also were present in the laboratory test results on Mr. Kiskadden’s tap water, according to court documents filed with the Environmental Hearing Board in October 2011.
Range conducted five excavations of the pit from June through September 2011, digging up a total of 2,135 tons of dirt and cuttings.
The DEP eventually approved Range’s pit closure plan because it was able to show that the chemical residue in the pit matched that in a background or baseline soil sample taken outside of the drilling area. That’s a regulatory requirement before a closure plan can be approved.
But there are indications, according to testimony, that test results on the background soil sample might have been altered to include chemical components that were not actually present in the sample. That allowed DEP to conclude that the samples matched and approve Range Resources’ request to close the pit.
Ms. Smith raised questions about the baseline report, and Mr. Yantko testified that benzene and toluene did not show up in DEP’s laboratory findings and were actually listed as not detected by the lab.
Ms. Smith: “The report says toluene was detected in the background sample, but the lab report indicates it was not detected?”
Mr. Yantko: “Yes.”
Ms. Smith: “Was that inaccurate?”
Mr. Yantko: “The numbers don’t match.”
Ms. Smith: “Not only don’t they match, one says it’s not there.”
Mr. Yantko: “That’s correct.”
The Yeager impoundment was one of five Range Resources impoundments in Washington County that the DEP ordered closed earlier this month. The consent order also required Range to pay a $4.15 million penalty, upgrade two existing impoundments and begin soil and groundwater investigations.”
By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette http://powersource.post-gazette.com/powersource/companies-powersource/2014/09/29/DEP-admits-drilling-probe-error/stories/201409280221
***Treated Frack Wastewater Still Toxic
“Researchers with the American Chemical Society found that even extremely diluted wastewater can still produce toxic byproducts when treated
A new study suggests fracking wastewater can endanger drinking water even after it has passed through treatment plants and been diluted.
At the end of the fracking process, drillers are left with highly radioactive wastewater laden with heavy metals and with halide salts like bromide, chloride and iodide.
Most fracking operations store their wastewater in holding ponds. Eventually, that water is filtered through municipal or commercial treatment plants and emptied into rivers, lakes and ponds.
But new research suggests that wastewater contaminants, when subjected to traditional treatment methods like chlorination or ozonation, encourage toxic byproducts.
Researchers with the American Chemical Society found that even extremely diluted wastewater can still produce these byproducts during the treatment process. Scientists say their findings suggest regulators and energy officials should be more careful about which surface waters treated wastewater is emptied into. They also say new water treatment methods should include halide-removal techniques.
"The potential formation of multiple disinfection byproducts (DBPs) in drinking water utilities in areas of shale gas development requires comprehensive monitoring plans beyond the common regulated DBPs," researchers wrote in the newly published study.
The research was detailed this week in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology”.
Read more: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2014/09/24/Treating-fracking-wastewater-results-in-new-unsafe-compounds/9151411587274/#ixzz3ENoRcs6R
The Research Study: Enhanced Formation of Disinfection Byproducts in Shale Gas Wastewater-Impacted Drinking Water Supplies
Kimberly M. Parker †, Teng Zeng †, Jennifer Harkness ‡, Avner Vengosh ‡, and William A. Mitch *†
† Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-4020, United States
‡ Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708, United States
Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP
Publication Date (Web): September 9, 2014
Copyright © 2014 American Chemical Society
*E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone: (650) 725-9298; fax: (650) 723-7058.
The disposal and leaks of hydraulic fracturing wastewater (HFW) to the environment pose human health risks. Since HFW is typically characterized by elevated salinity, concerns have been raised whether the high bromide and iodide in HFW may promote the formation of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) and alter their speciation to more toxic brominated and iodinated analogues. This study evaluated the minimum volume percentage of two Marcellus Shale and one Fayetteville Shale HFWs diluted by fresh water collected from the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers that would generate and/or alter the formation and speciation of DBPs following chlorination, chloramination, and ozonation treatments of the blended solutions.
During chlorination, dilutions as low as 0.01% HFW altered the speciation toward formation of brominated and iodinated trihalomethanes (THMs) and brominated haloacetonitriles (HANs), and dilutions as low as 0.03% increased the overall formation of both compound classes. The increase in bromide concentration associated with 0.01–0.03% contribution of Marcellus HFW (a range of 70–200 μg/L for HFW with bromide = 600 mg/L) mimics the increased bromide levels observed in western Pennsylvanian surface waters following the Marcellus Shale gas production boom.
Chloramination reduced HAN and regulated THM formation; however, iodinated trihalomethane formation was observed at lower pH. For municipal wastewater-impacted river water, the presence of 0.1% HFW increased the formation of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) during chloramination, particularly for the high iodide (54 ppm) Fayetteville Shale HFW. Finally, ozonation of 0.01–0.03% HFW-impacted river water resulted in significant increases in bromate formation. The results suggest that total elimination of HFW discharge and/or installation of halide-specific removal techniques in centralized brine treatment facilities may be a better strategy to mitigate impacts on downstream drinking water treatment plants than altering disinfection strategies. The potential formation of multiple DBPs in drinking water utilities in areas of shale gas development requires comprehensive monitoring plans beyond the common regulated DBPs.
***Arsenic-Laced Coffee Good for You
by Walter Brasch
You’re sitting in your favorite restaurant one balmy September morning.
Your waitress brings a pot of coffee and a standard 5-ounce cup.
“Would you like cream and sugar with it?” she asks.
You drink your coffee black. And hot. You decline her offer.
“Would you like arsenic with it?” she asks.
Arsenic? You’re baffled. And more than a little suspicious.
“It enhances the flavor,” says your waitress.
“I really don’t think I want arsenic,” you say, now wondering why she’s so cheerful.
“It really does enhance the flavor—and there’s absolutely no harm in it,” she says.
“But it’s arsenic!” you reply. “That’s rat poison. It can kill you.”
“Only in large doses,” she says. “I’ll add just 150 drops to your coffee. It tastes good and won’t harm you,” she says, still as cheery as ever.
“But 150 drops is deadly!” you reply, looking around to see if you’re on “Candid Camera.” You’re not, and she’s serious.
“It’s really nothing,” she says, explaining that 150 drops, when mixed with five ounces of coffee is only 0.5 percent of the total. She explains that 99.5 percent of the coffee—about 2,800 drops—is still freshly-brewed coffee.
Of course it’s ridiculous.
But the oil and gas industry want you to believe that 99.5 percent of all the fluids they shove into the earth to do horizontal fracturing, also known as fracking, is harmless. Just fresh river water. Move along. Nothing to see here.
As to the other half of one-percent? They tell you it’s just food products. Table salt. Guar gum (used in ice cream and baked goods). Lemon juice. Nothing to worry about, they assure you.
The EPA, in 2013, identified about 1,000 chemicals that the oil and gas industry uses in fracking operations, most of them carcinogens at the strengths they shove into the earth. Depending upon the geology of the area and other factors, the driller uses a combination of fluids—perhaps a couple of dozen at one well, a different couple of dozen at another well. But, because state legislatures have allowed the companies to invoke “trade secrets” protection, they don’t have to identify which chemicals and in what strengths they use at each well. Even health professionals and those in emergency management aren’t allowed to know the composition of the fluids—unless they sign non-disclosure statements. Patients and the public are still kept from the information.
What is known is that among the most common chemicals in fracking fluids, in addition to arsenic, are benzene, which can lead to leukemia and several cancers, reduce white blood cell production in bones, and cause genetic mutation; formaldehyde, which can cause leukemia and genetic and birth defects; hydrofluoric acid, which can cause genetic mutation and chronic lung disease, cause third degree burns, affect bone structure, the central nervous system, and cause cardiac arrest; nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, which can cause pulmonary edema and heart disease; radon, which has strong links to lung cancer; and toluene, which in higher doses can produce nausea, muscle weakness, and memory and hearing loss.
Each well requires an average of three to eight million gallons of water for the first frack, depending upon the geology of the area. Energy companies drilling in the Pennsylvania part of the Marcellus Shale, the most productive of the nation’s shales, use an average of 4.0–5.6 million gallons of water per frack. That’s only an average. Seneca Resources needed almost 19 million gallons of water to frack a well in northeastern Pennsylvania in 2012; Encana Oil & Gas USA used more than 21 million gallons of water to frack one well in Michigan the following year. A well may be fracked several times (known as “restimulation”), but most fracking after the first one is usually not economical.
After the water, chemicals, and proppants (usually about 10,000 tons of silica sand) are shoved deep into the earth, most have to be brought back up. Flowback water, also known as wastewater, contains not just chemicals and elements that went into the earth, but elements that were undisturbed in the earth until the fracking process had begun. Among the elements that are often present in the flowback water are Uranium-238, Thorium-232, and Radium, which decays into Radon, one of the most radioactive and toxic of all gases.
Wastewater is often stored in plastic-lined pits, some as large as an acre. These pits can leak, spilling the wastewater onto the ground and into streams. The wastewater can also evaporate, eventually causing health problems of those living near the pits who can be exposed by inhaling the invisible toxic clouds or from absorbing it through their skin. In the eight years since drilling began in the Marcellus Shale, about 6.5 billion gallons of wastewater have been produced.
Many of the pits are now closed systems. But that doesn’t prevent health problems. Trucks pick up the wastewater and transport it to injection wells that can be several hundred miles away. At any point in that journey, there can be leaks, especially if the truck is involved in a highway accident.
Assuming there are no accidents or spills, the trucks will unload flowback water into injection pits, shoving the toxic waste back into the ground, disturbing the earth and leading to what geologists now identify as human-induced earthquakes.
Now, let’s go back to the industry’s claim of innocence—that 99.5 percent of all fluids shoved into the earth are completely harmless. Assuming only five million gallons of pure river water are necessary for one frack at one well, that means at least 25,000 gallons are toxic.
Would you like cream and sugar with that?
[Dr. Brasch, an award-winning social-issues journalist, is the author of 20 books. His latest book is the critically-acclaimed Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting With Disaster, an overall look at the economics, politics, health, and environmental effects of fracking.]
***Porn Email Scandal Includes DEP Arbruzzo
“At least eight prominent state officials - including the head of the state police, Pennsylvania's top environmental regulator, and a former spokesman for Gov. Corbett - were among commonwealth employees who sent or received hundreds of sexually explicit photos, videos, and messages from state e-mail accounts between 2008 and 2012, according to documents made available Thursday by the state Attorney General's Office.
Following a court battle and public record requests from The Inquirer and other news organizations, Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane's office named the eight recipients and showed reporters some of the pornographic material it said traveled over state-owned computers during work hours.
The recipients include Frank Noonan, the current state police commissioner; E. Christopher Abruzzo, secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection; and Kevin Harley, who had been Corbett's top spokesman both when Corbett was attorney general and after he became governor.
None responded to requests for comment.
All three men worked for the Attorney General's Office when Corbett headed the agency. Noonan and Abruzzo were elevated to cabinet posts when Corbett became governor. Jay Pagni, Corbett's spokesman, said he did not know if the governor had spoken to Noonan or Abruzzo or if he would take action against them.
In an interview, he said: "The images described in these news accounts are unacceptable and have no place in the work environment. It is [the governor's] expectation of those who work for him that they perform with the utmost professionalism and are guided by high ethical standards beyond reproach."
***DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo resigns
“DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo (center) resigned from his post today. Dana Aunkst will now serve as Acting Secretary. The resignation is effective immediately. It comes amidst a scandal involving several top Corbett officials exchanging lewd emails.
Abruzzo is one of eight Corbett appointees recently named by the Attorney General’s office as having sent or received pornographic emails on state computers. Some of the emails were shown to reporters, but the information was released without details as to who sent what to whom.
In a letter to Gov. Corbett, Abruzzo says he doesn’t remember the emails but accepts “full responsibility for any lack of judgment I may have exhibited in 2009.” At that time, Abruzzo worked under Corbett in the Attorney General’s office leading the Drug Strike Force. Current Attorney General Kathleen Kane says Abruzzo and others exchanged the lewd emails between 2008 and 2012, while Corbett served as AG.”
***Panelists Debate Effects Of Act 13 Decision
“Participants in a panel discussion at the Shale Insight 2014 Conference sparred over the state Supreme Court’s decision on Act 13, which affirmed municipalities have the ability to regulate oil and gas wells through local zoning rules.
Panelist David Ball, a Peters Township council member, said the decision was right to restore municipal say-so in where natural gas wells are located, something that Act 13 had taken away.
“Industrial operations belong where industrial operations belong,” he said.
However, two others said the decision essentially puts the courts in the position of deciding whether individual projects get done.
“This decision is frightening,” said David Overstreet, a partner with ALL Consulting. “Courts — trial judges — are going to sit up there and decide what’s good for us,” he said.
He said the decision leaves businesses with no predictability, which they need to plan for projects.
But law professor John Dernbach, who co-directs Widener Law’s Environmental Law Center, said there is bar for such lawsuits — litigants have to show that there is a harm. He said he doesn’t believe the decision will bring a halt to new projects, as others suggest.”
***More Industry Backed Research To Come Out Of Penn State
“Penn State University said that General Electric Co. will give the school up to $10 million to create a new center for gas industry research.
GE said the money will support research projects, equipment, and undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral fellowships at The Center for Collaborative Research on Intelligent Natural Gas Supply Systems.
The new center will include faculty from the Smeal College of Business, Earth and Mineral Sciences, Engineering, and Information Sciences and Technology.
GE said the money will be donated over the next five years and earmarked for different uses. The company will also have engineers in residence to work with faculty and students.”
(Note: GE Oil & Gas is involved in technology equipment and services for all segments of the oil and gas industry, from exploration & production to downstream.)
***Pennsylvania Keeps Gas Leak Sites Secret
“ The location of leaking natural gas pipelines in PA is kept secret by the PUC which is charged with regulating companies that own the lines.
But PUC commissioner Gladys Brown told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review it's important to shield the locations because of "security concerns."
The secrecy can prevent the public from finding out about leaks.
Pennsylvania's aging natural gas distribution network last year sprang more than 31,000 leaks, a Tribune-Review analysis of federal data found. Pennsylvania has more than 10,000 miles of dangerously leaky, decades-old distribution pipes and it could cost $11 billion to replace them all.
The distribution network to homes and businesses is not to be confused with much larger interstate transmission lines.
Most natural gas leaks aren't dangerous. The gas vents upward into open air and doesn't reach explosive concentrations. But sometimes pavement or frozen soil forces natural gas to flow sideways, trapping it underground. That can lead to deadly explosions.
During the last 10 years gas, explosions killed 10 people and injured 21 in Pennsylvania, the paper found. Nationally, accidents involving distribution lines have killed more than 120 people, injured more than 500 others and caused more than $775 million in damage since 2004.
Some researchers are strapping methane detectors to cars to record readings. "It's another diagnostic tool that we believe we can use," said Peoples spokesman Barry Kukovich, adding that "the more the public knows, the better."
Peoples plans to remove the last of its cast iron pipe this year, part of a five-year, $500 million infrastructure upgrade project.
By comparison, half of Philadelphia's 3,000 miles of gas lines are cast iron, the Tribune-Review analysis found.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140924_ap_55fe1fb0ed7348dcb86a644708bb4722.html#efEM418gPpUdkodr.99
***PA Gas Leaks Among Worst in Nation
“One in five miles of Pennsylvania pipeline — nearly twice the national average — is older than 1960, federal data show. And the older the pipes get, the more they leak, officials say.
When a line breaks, the gas begins to surface. If pavement or packed earth block its rise, the gas can move sideways through softer soil, seeking a hole.
Across the country, nearly 75,000 miles of such pipe remains in use — mostly under Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.
"We have a ticking time bomb under most of our cities, especially in the Northeast where we have older cities," warns Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. In 2011, a gas explosion killed five people and destroyed most of a block of that Lehigh County city. He worries that dangerous pipelines will remain in use for decades.
"It's going to happen again," Pawlowski said. "It's just a matter of time."
***PA Fish and Boat Commission Struggling To Monitor Gas Violations
“The PA Fish and Boat Commission says its officers are struggling to monitor possible violations at Marcellus gas drilling sites.
Executive director John Arway says they would like an additional $1 million to hire seven more officers for that task. The commission previously asked the legislature for the funding and didn't get it.
The chief of the agency's law enforcement bureau says they are already short 16 waterways conservation officers, and that many drilling violations don't get investigated.
Officers who stock fish and perform boating safety patrols only investigate pollution incidents reported to that commission. The DEP monitors many other aspects of oil and gas” production. http://cumberlink.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/pa-fish-boat-agency-seeks-gas-drilling-funds/article_5abf23ba-0c61-11e4-a78b-001a4bcf887a.html
***The Real Costs of Fracking by Bamberger and Oswald
Recounting of Sick Animals and Humans
Book Review by Ellen Cantarow,
….Sarah and Josie are neighbors in countryside south of Pittsburgh, a quiet rural landscape undergoing massive industrialization by the fracking industry. Josie's dream was to raise purebred boxers and bulldogs, her life revolving around the animals. A neighbor leased several acres of his farmland to a fracking company and Josie, who already knew about the links between fracking and water contamination, began keeping precise records charting the drilling and completion of wells and also the completion of a wastewater impoundment. after the impoundment was completed in spring 2010 Josie lost her well water and her spring water dropped to a trickle. she and her husband began hauling water from a nearby creek for the family needs - they couldn't manage physically to haul water for their horses.
"A young dog less than two years old, progressed from healthy to incapacitated in a few days, with lab work indicating the possibility of cancer, but also liver and kidney toxicity."
The first animal to die wasn't a horse, but a young, beloved boxer named Mr. Higgins. A veterinarian diagnosed kidney failure. One of Mr. Higgins' lymph nodes was enlarged; a New York State veterinarian, Michelle Bamberger, who was interviewing Pennsylvania residents for a book she was writing with Cornell University molecular medicine professor Robert Oswald, advised a needle biopsy to rule out lymphoma ,common in this breed. The needle biopsy was never done - even though Josie brought Mr. Higgins to a specialty clinic, she "declined further diagnostics and opted for euthanasia," not being able to bear watching him suffer any longer.
"A young dog," observes Bamberger, "less than two years old, progressed from healthy to incapacitated in a few days, with lab work indicating the possibility of cancer, but also liver and kidney toxicity." Josie told Bamberger that two days before Mr. Higgins became ill, a truck had spread wastewater on her road (a common industry practice), and Mr. Higgins lapped up a puddle near the driveway. "Josie will never know for sure," says Bamberger, "but very likely Mr. Higgins drank a cocktail of heavy metals and radioactive and organic compounds that tasted salty and made him want to consume more."
Next in the death march was a horse named Amy, pronounced healthy by a veterinarian several months after Mr. Higgins died, but who, a few weeks after that, stopped eating, lost weight and appeared to lose her balance and coordination. A vet came to treat Amy for what he assumed was a neurological disease (equine protozoal myeloencephalitis) and took blood for testing. Two days later Amy's back legs became so weak she couldn't stand. She sank in her stall and began convulsing. Again distraught, Josie had Amy euthanized. The blood results indicated liver failure due to toxicity - the vet suspected poisoning from heavy metals (these are present in fracking wastewater) - but the illness was never diagnosed. Josie couldn't afford the necropsy and further testing that might have concluded the diagnosis. Moreover, representatives of the drilling company came soon after the euthanasia and offered a "neighborly thing": carting Amy's body off to be incinerated.
" Earlier, the view from Sarah's farmhouse had been gorgeous, with vistas across the valley to the next ridge of hills, and a feeling of seclusion and privacy. But a large well pad (a "pad" is the area where wells are located) was built with seven wellheads and attendant tanks (one of the signal characteristics of high-volume fracking is multiple wellheads occupying a single pad). From these issued poisons (my word rather than the euphemism "contaminants") that thickened the atmosphere, finally driving Sarah, a single mother and a nurse, to take her children and leave.
"There were times in the morning - the air would feel dewy. You could just feel the chemicals on you," she told Bamberger. "It was so thick. It's almost like a bug that is caught in a fogger . . . I felt like I couldn't breathe - I would get so short of breath."
The animals were sentinels for Sarah's symptoms. Besides shortness of breath, she lost her sense of smell. After abandoning the house, whenever she returned, she'd get a metallic taste in her mouth and a recurrence of headaches. "We didn't even know [the impoundment] was up there until we figured out what was going on. We just thought it was a well pad." Both women are left to live with uncertainty about the consequences of living where they have: cancers, for instance, take many years to develop, and by the time they do, it is even harder to establish causes.
In October 2011, air testing was done on Sarah's and Josie's properties by a nonprofit organization that provides the service for low-income families affected by industrial drilling. The tests detected chemicals that, according to Bamberger, "[read] like an environmentalist's worst nightmare: BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, m-xylene, p-xylene, and o-xylene); carbon tetrachloride; chloromethane; methylene chloride; tetrachloroethylene; trichlorofluromethane; I, I, 2-trichloro-I, 2, 2-trifluoroethane; and I,2,4-trimethylbenzene." These chemicals, the authors observe, impact the neurological and respiratory systems and can be toxic to blood cells.
High-volume hydraulic fracturing is a virtually unregulated industry; sleights of hand transform horribly toxic waste containing heavy metals, radioactive matter and chemicals from fracking fluid, into innocuous "brine" or "residual waste" (you see these legends on the side of trucks passing by you as you drive on Pennsylvania highways). Many of the chemicals used in fracking are deemed "proprietary" - that is, corporations don't disclose them, compounding problems of testing and diagnosis when animals and people get sick.
The authors had heard stories of: healthy cattle dying within one hour after exposure to hydraulic fracturing fluid; cows failing to reproduce and herds with high rates of stillborn and stunted calves after exposure to drilling wastewater; dogs failing to reproduce after drinking contaminated water; dogs and horses developing unexplained rashes and having difficulty breathing after living in intensively drilled areas." In 2012 they published an article, "Impacts of gas drilling on human and animal health," that became known for the same scientific assiduousness as the book that would follow. They had already begun interviewing dozens of people in Pennsylvania, and finally decided on the five families whose stories are related in The Real Cost of Fracking (all names are pseudonymous; the stories are true).
That the industry was already underway meant it was ignoring what's known as "the precautionary principle," under which any action suspected of causing harm must be proved not to cause harm by the agency committing it. That principle, write the authors, "would suggest that this industry has the obligation to prove that its actions do not cause public harm. The fossil fuel industry . . . seems to have taken a page from the tobacco industry playbook. That is, if a link between drilling operations and public health cannot be proven definitively, then the link is rejected, effectively putting the burden of proof on the victim." (9) So Bamberger and Oswald set about "documenting exposures and subsequent health problems by detailed reports - just as would be done for a new disease - in both animals and their owners."
In Butler County, Pennsylvania, a region in the state peppered with wells and fracking infrastructure, Claire Wasserman, who had leukemia but was in remission, had a resurgence of the disease after gas operations arrived in her community. In August 2011, she noticed a metallic taste in her water and a black stain on her dishes. Tests by the drilling company and the PADEP showed no "obvious contamination" and so Claire and her husband Jason, a retired water-well driller, continued drinking their well water. Claire's white blood cells spiked, her leukemia returned, the family then stopped using their well water for drinking and the leukemia went back into remission.
But Jason began suffering from massive nosebleeds. "[H]e was standing in the bathroom, and he said, 'Oh my God, Claire, come here.' Blood was just pouring out of his nose. I said, 'Hold it up here, hold it up here!'" She tilted her head back and pinched her nostrils to illustrate to Bamberger. "When he was holding it like that, blood started coming out of his eyes. I said, 'Close your eyes, close your eyes!' and it started coming out of his ears. I thought, 'This is it . . . '"
The bleeding happened during the flaring of a gas well (gas impurities are burned off in this process). Chemicals released by flaring include the BTEX compounds described above. Among the blood cells destroyed by BTEX chemicals are platelets, whose numbers fall under BTEX impact; platelets are important in clotting and when their numbers fall, explains Bamberger, bleeding is more likely.
"The only honest answer to the question of whether our food and water are safe from this process is that we really don't know."
Toledo Attorney Terry Lodge added: “What we are seeing already is a trend that can devastate entire watersheds in Ohio and elsewhere. If fracking continues as projected, all other uses for water – for industry, agriculture, support of life – will likely be harmed. What people may not realize is that fracking destroys water for good. Billions and billions of gallons of clean freshwater removed from the water cycle forever and turned into contaminated waste. Remaining water can be poisoned beyond any ability to remediate. This water can never be replaced. When it’s gone, it’s gone for good.”
*** More Water Being Used To Frack
"Ohioans are beginning to realize that fracking uses a great deal of water, permanently ruining it for other uses. But what they may not know is fracked gas and oil wells in Ohio are turning out to be less productive over time, with more water needed so the effects of water usage are rising. Now, each time a Utica well is fracked in Ohio, over seven million gallons of water is needed on average per well. This volume of water needed is steadily increasing as the long drilled laterals increase in length. As more and more water becomes necessary per unit of gas or oil produced, the cumulative effects are being seen. Very little water is recycled by the industry for re-use; most fracked water is lost to the watershed and beyond forever as it is turned into concentrated toxic and radioactive waste.
The water loss to the Ohio River basin is expected to be 18.5 billion gallons in the next 5 years. The industry also tends to underestimate water usage in its reporting to the ODNR. For instance, in Harrison County, the actual amount used for fracking was 714,010,470 gallons compared to the estimated 587,864,044 gallons. That is an under estimation of 126,146,426 gallons for just this one county. A single well used 22,139,168 gallons of water to frack.
Paul Rubin, a New York hydrogeologist and environmental consultant warns, “Public waters should not be provided to the gas industry. The concept that this is a ‘beneficial use’ of these waters is seriously flawed. Any use of public waters that will assuredly lead to the long-term contamination of the state’s aquifers, waterways, and reservoirs and should not be advocated in any way whatsoever. Public health is a major and very real concern.”
Rubin’s warnings are supported by depictions of migratory pathways of frack fluids intersecting with groundwater flows. These figures show that groundwater and gas industry contaminants steadily move toward our major aquifers and water supplies, often well below thousands of feed of bedrock."
Not only does fracking itself consume vast amounts of freshwater, the massive amount of waste that is generated as a result must be disposed of in dumps and injection wells. For the first half of 2014 Ohio injection wells disposed of 5,279,341 barrels of waste from operations in Ohio and 4,554,747 barrels imported from other states. Steady migration of toxic fracking and wastewater fluids from gas and injection wells threaten groundwater and surface water as well, especially those directly under reservoirs and valley bottoms where major population centers have developed. Reservoirs such as Clendening, Leesville, Piedmont and Seneca Lakes leased for fracking by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) and proposed fracking under the Ohio River could cause widespread toxic contamination of public drinking water sources over time – not only with toxic chemicals and radioactivity, but from the concentrated salts contained in frack waste.
A recent peer-reviewed report stated, “Noble gas isotope and hydrocarbon data link four contamination clusters to gas leakage from intermediate-depth strata through failures of annulus cement, three to target production gases that seem to implicate faulty production casings, and one to an underground gas well failure.” (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/09/12/1322107111). Another report concluded, “Even in a best-case scenario, an individual well would potentially release at least 200 m3 of contaminated fluids. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120806093929.htm).
FracTracker.org continues to compile data showing the increasingly significant impacts of water withdrawals from fracking. The results of their detailed work are publicly accessible at http://www.fractracker.org/2013/12/water-demands/ for the Muskingum River Watershed analysis and at http://www.fractracker.org/2013/01/ohlakes/ showing Ohio lakes under threat. According to Ted Auch, PhD, FracTracker Ohio Program Coordinator, “What we are seeing already is a trend that can result in devastating impacts upon entire watersheds. First, already fragile ecosystems will be impacted very detrimentally, and if this trend continues according to the projections of the fracking deployment in Ohio, human and other industries’ needs for water will most likely be severely affected. We predict a regional water crisis at this rate of destruction.”
Freshwater usage is increasing. According to Dr. Auch, “The increase in lateral length accounts for 40% of the increase in freshwater consumption, so now freshwater is up from 4.88 million gallons average per Utica well fracked to 7.27 million gallons today. Additional water is used to increase well production. As water use goes up, the cost of this valuable resource consumed by fracking is only .0027 the cost of the entire fracking operation. Water is a cheap way to increase well production – a disposable commodity used by the industry without constraint that in no way reflects its real worth.”
There is a very limited, finite amount of freshwater on earth and not enough of it to be destroyed in such quantities.
Related files and documents:
FracTracker Statistics (pdf)
Lake Erie: Permitted Fracking Wells (excel spreadsheet)
Ohio River Basin: Permitted Fracking Wells (excel spreadsheet)
***Fracking Flowback Could Pollute Groundwater with Heavy Metals Published in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology.
The chemical makeup of wastewater generated by fracking” could cause the release of tiny particles in soils that often strongly bind heavy metals and pollutants, exacerbating the environmental risks during accidental spills, Cornell University researchers have found.
Previous research has shown 10 to 40 percent of the water/chemical solution injected at high pressure into deep rock strata, surges back to the surface during well development. this “flowback fluid” has properties that make it effective at extracting gas from shale but can also displace tiny particles that are naturally bound to soil, causing pollutants such as heavy metals to leach out.
They found that fewer than five percent of colloids ( larger than the size of a molecule but smaller than what can be seen with the naked eye ) were released when they flushed the columns with deionized water. That figure jumped to 32 to 36 percent when flushed with flowback fluid. Increasing the flow rate of the flowback fluid mobilized an additional 36 percent of colloids.
They believe this is because the chemical composition of the flowback fluid reduced the strength of the forces that allow colloids to remain bound to the sand, causing the colloids to actually be repelled from the sand.
Stoof said awareness of the phenomenon and an understanding of the mechanisms behind it can help identify risks and inform mitigation strategies.
“Sustainable development of any resource requires facts about its potential impacts, so legislators can make informed decisions about whether and where it can and cannot be allowed, and to develop guidelines in case it goes wrong,” Stoof said. “In the case of spills, you want to know what happens when the fluid moves through the soil.”
***West Virginia Fracking Under Ohio River
“ West Virginia is ready to let companies drill for oil and natural gas deep beneath 14 miles of the Ohio River.
Sgtate commerce officials opened bids to drill under the northern West Virginia section of the river, which serves as a border with Ohio. Officials said other river tracts could be next, and a wildlife management area is under consideration.
Leasing state land for fracking, is a new venture for West Virginia, and could produce plenty of money during uncertain budget times. A bid by Triad Hunter, for instance, would yield the state $17.8 million up front for a five-year lease, plus 18 percent in royalties from what’s extracted.
Environmentalists and citizen groups are alarmed at the drilling proposal, since it would allow drilling a mile beneath a river that provides drinking water to millions of people. State environmental regulators would have to approve permits for the operations.
Advocates urged the governor only to think back to January, when a massive chemical spill sullied drinking water for 300,000 people in West Virginia for days. They expressed little confidence that state regulators would be diligent about safeguarding against spills.
Elsewhere, horizontal drilling under rivers is generating state revenues.
In March and in 2010, Chesapeake Appalachia paid Pennsylvania $10.5 million for five-year leases to drill beneath two sections of the Susquehanna River, not counting royalties.
Burdette said additional lands are being considered, but state parks aren’t on the table now. The actual drilling will be done off of state land. Currently, the mineral money has to go back to the Division of Natural Resources, Burdette said.” http://www.observer-reporter.com/article/20140927/NEWS04/140929500#.VCkFdle9Zwy