Saturday, May 28, 2016

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates May, 2016

* Our email address:
*  To contact your state legislator:
For the email address, click on the envelope under the photo

Facebook Site- Please see the Westmoreland Marcellus Citizen’s Group county site for more articles and photos.

If anyone wants your event listed, please send it to Jan via email.
***Marcellus Shale Documentary Project-In Shadyside, Through July 31
            "As Goldsmith is quick to point out, “The dangers of fracking are around us everywhere in Western Pennsylvania — from water contamination, air contamination, land contamination and food chain contamination. We need to do more to spread the word of dangers associated with fracking, and I feel this project is a good vehicle to do that.”
            For “Marcellus Shale Documentary Project: An Expanded View,” Martha Rial of Edgewood focused on trains moving through Pittsburgh.‘ 
 Through July 31 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays;  noon-4 p.m., Sundays. 
Admission: $5 suggested donation
Where: Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, 6300 Fifth Ave., Shadyside
  Details: 412-361-0873 or

***March for a Clean Energy Revolution
            Sunday, July 24, 2016     Philadelphia, PA
With the eyes of the world on Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention in July, thousands will march and present these demands directly to our current and future national leaders:

***Citizens To Preserve Ligonier Valley Board Meetings are the Third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 PM at the Unitarian Church on Rt. 30. All are welcome to attend.  The next meeting is on June 21.

***Video of Murrysville Meeting
Dr. McCawley and Dr. Haley on Fracking: Health Effects, and Setbacks

***Penn Township Wonderful news for Penn Twp and surrounding areas:
            The second well pad, Draftina pad was denied at the Penn Twp ZHB.
(Apex has appealed this decision.)

Local Permits of Interest
***PA Gas Drilling Permit Issued in Salem Twp Township
            Gas permit issued on 2016-05-06 00:00:00 to APEX ENERGY (PA) LLC for site STEWART CENTRAL PAD-21 10H in Salem Twp township, Westmoreland county

*** Salem Municipality:
    Authorization # 1136210 has been updated on 5/5/2016.
        Subfacility ID=1211494 Name=MCILVAINE TO SPECTRA PIPELINE GP05650716-005 eMapPA search
    Authorization # 1136214 has been updated on 5/5/2016.
        Subfacility ID=1211495 Name=MCILVAINE TO SPECTRA PIPELINE GP05650716-005 eMapPA search
    Authorization # 1136309 had started the following major task: Completeness Review on 5/5/2016.

 Fracking News
***Pipeline Through Westmoreland Co.   “Officials from Sunoco Logistics have begun contacting residents who will be affected by construction of the company's Mariner East II pipeline project, expected to cross about 270 properties in Westmoreland County.
The 20-inch pipeline will run parallel to Sunoco's 12-inch Mariner East line, with both carrying propane, ethane and butane to the company's Marcus Hook plant in eastern PA. .”

***Salem Twp Pipeline Explosion Meeting   “Many in the crowd voiced a variety of concerns about health, safety, travel restrictions around the site of the blast, and the length of time it took Spectra Energy, which operates the pipeline system for Texas Eastern, to shut down the gas flow in the ruptured line.
            Two environmental groups have theorized that a more powerful compressor station that began operating at the end of 2014 a mile and a half upstream from the explosion site could have caused internal corrosion that weakened the pipeline. Spectra officials have discounted that theory.
            Ron Niziol, who inspects the welds on pipelines like the one that blew up, said there’s no inspection of the weld coatings.“Nobody looks to see if the weld is adequately covered,” he said

***Why Are There Not Automatic Shut Off Valves "Residents said some damage could have been averted if the 35-year-old line had been equipped with automatic shutoffs that block gas immediately after detection of a rupture.
            Spectra officials said workers had to manually close two valves on the 30-inch line, one at a compressor station in Delmont, the other 15 miles away along the Conemaugh River near the Indiana County border.
            The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allowed Texas Eastern to significantly increase the horsepower of its Delmont compressor station in November 2014, boosting the speed of gas flowing through the 35-year-old pipeline that exploded April 29 in Salem, Westmoreland County.
            The faster gas flow from the compressor about 1½ miles upline could have caused corrosion inside the 30-inch diameter pipeline, according to two environmental organizations that have tracked recent expansion and operation of gas pipelines."

***Increase Well Setbacks-- Letter to the EditorSalem Township gas explosion, citizens must demand their elected officials establish safe distances between homes and gas pipelines and wells.
            These distances, called “setbacks,” are 500 feet and totally inadequate. The Salem explosion occurred not 500 feet — but 500 yards — from a home, destroying it. It severely damaged others. Who can still think 500 feet is safe?
            Gas well explosions and blowouts occur yearly. A 2014 gas well explosion in Greene County killed a worker and burned intensely for days. A Clearfield blowout spewed toxic chemicals and explosive methane for days before being quelled. Many similar incidents have occurred in Pennsylvania since the advent of Marcellus drilling.
            This has been an issue in Upper Burrell for months. Supervisor Allen Uhler has been willing to discuss increasing the setback but Supervisors Pete Dombroski and Ross Walker III have refused. Walker signed a gas lease last year and hasn't recused himself from gas-related votes. Both have sided with the gas industry.
            Officials who do nothing are neglecting their sworn duty to protect property and lives. The Salem incident surely demonstrated the need to keep gas well activity as far as possible from homes and property. How could any public official live with himself knowing he could have saved lives by increasing setbacks but refused to do so?
            Upper Burrell residents must demand reducing the drilling risks through a dramatic increase in these setbacks.
Debra Borowiec, Upper Burrell”

***Public Support For Fracking Falls   "GOP support for fracking plunged from 66% to
55%. Democrats and independents overwhelmingly oppose fracking with approval at only 25% of Dems and 34% of independents."
***Gov. Wolf Says We Must Support Gas Industry, Mark Ruffalo Speaks Out              "Ruffalo also said the PA Depart. Of Health hadn't moved on fracking-related health complaints made during the Corbett administration. He also referenced the Wolf administration's approval of more than 1,000 fracking permits.
            "You have done nothing to help Pennsylvanians harmed by this industry," Ruffalo wrote. "You have worked hand-in-hand with the industry, creating the Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force, that included a group of government officials from your administration and members of the oil and gas industry to 'build public acceptance' and make it easier to fast-track fracking infrastructure."
            The governor believes the natural gas industry is an important part of the commonwealth’s economy and we must support its growth by focusing on the development of important infrastructure like pipelines, while protecting the health of our environment and our residents.”

***DEP Head Quigley Resigns
            Here is a quote from recently resigned DEP head Quigley's blog site, 2014. Probably the only DEP head to post a similar message.
            "Yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks.
Here in Pennsylvania, the New York report should add great weight to the already self-evident case for tougher, more comprehensive regulation - and for the urgent study of the many unanswered questions about the public health, environmental, and socioeconomic impacts of unconventional oil and gas development.
Posted by John Quigley "

***Quigley's Email About Lack of Support for Stiffer Fracking Regs
               The email was released by Marie Cusick of WITF and StateImpactPA. It provides some context into the conflict that led to the episode and why environmentalists are still upset about Quigley’s ouster.
The full text is also included below (NSFW):
"I’ve slept on this but can no longer hold back.
Where the fuck were you people yesterday? The House and Senate hold Russian show trials on vital environmental issues and there’s no pushback at all from the environmental community? Nobody bothering to insert themselves in the news cycle?
Is there no penalty for D apostasy, at least, or shaming of the gas-shilling Rs? Apparently so.
Do some of you think that staying on your moratorium hobby horse does anything to advance the cause of protecting the environment and public health?
Do you really think the Governor will veto this shit with NO support?
The environmental community is without influence in Harrisburg. What will you do about it?"

***Penn State Awarded $20 Million For Research To Support Fossil Fuels
            (There’s $20 million that could have gone to research on renewables)
            “Penn State’s job will be to “identify, select, execute, review and disseminate knowledge from research that will improve the efficiency of production and use of fossil energy resources while minimizing the environmental impacts and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. -- $20 million six-year multi-college project for the federal government.”

***"Friends Don't Let Friends Ban Fracking   “A conflict of interest between the gas industry and academia continues. Students for Liberty, funded largely by the Koch Brothers, presented a property rights/ free market conference featuring climate change skeptics and fracking proponents at Florida Gulf Coast University. One featured presentation: "Friends Don't Let Friends Ban Fracking"

***Petition Result —FERC Delays for Seven Months  “….The response has been overwhelming and we're making progress! In March, FERC delayed the decision on the possible approval of PennEast's application for seven more months.
            The PennEast pipeline will pollute our water and destroy wildlife. Its path runs through the Delaware and Susquehanna River watersheds, which provide drinking water to millions of people. It would cut through some of the cleanest streams in Pennsylvania that we use for fishing and swimming. Landowners don't want to risk their families' lives or lose their land. That's why nearly every municipality and county in the path of the pipeline opposes it.
            If we continue to mobilize, we can keep the pressure on FERC. Thank you again for signing the petition to oppose the PennEast pipeline and urging FERC to reject the application!
Please know that PennFuture is working hard to protect our environment for you and for future generations. If you like what we do, please take a moment to show your support.”

***Chemicals and Heavy Metals Fluctuate Over Time
             "As more unconventional wells were drilled and stimulated, more drilling-related contaminants were found in the groundwater. There were significant increases in pH, inorganic carbon, toluene, o-xylene (probable human carcinogens), and barium, along with statistically significant decreases in salts, fluoride, beryllium, chromium, iron, zinc, and zirconium. Dichloromethane, an industry chemical and potential human carcinogen, was found in quantities above safe drinking water levels in water wells on highly fracked landscapes. By 2014, concentrations of ethanol, bromide, fluoride, chloride, nitrate, and sulfate all increased from phase three testing. Samples containing common frack or drilling ingredients such as methanol, isopropyl alcohol, acetaldehyde, cyclohexane, ethyl benzene, and o-xylene also increased." Science of the Total Environment, 2016

***Gas/Oil Wastewater Microbial Changes Found in Surface Water, Endocrine Disruption
             Lead author, Akob
                        “Scientists from U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Duke University, and the University of Missouri collaborated on a study at an underground injection well site  to ascertain potential impacts of unconventional oil and gas (UOG) wastewaters to surface waters. The observed changes in the microbial community and evidence of endocrine disrupting activity indicate potential adverse health outcomes for organisms living in or near the stream.
            Scientists found evidence of UOG wastewaters in surface waters and sediments collected downstream from the disposal facility, specifically elevated concentrations of barium, bromide, calcium, chloride, sodium, lithium, strontium, which are known markers of UOG wastewater. Iron concentrations also increased and were in excess of WVA DEP water quality standards.
                        Communities of microbes that help support life were dramatically altered downstream. There was a lower diversity of the life forms downstream, “which could impact nutrient cycling,” a building block of life in the creek, the USGS explained in a statement .
            “Water samples adjacent to and downstream from the disposal facility exhibited evidence of endocrine disruption activity compared to upstream samples.”  Endocrine disruptors can wreak havoc on the hormones of mammals. In the Chesapeake Bay watershed that includes bays, rivers, streams and creeks in six states and the District of Columbia, scientists have determined that endocrine disruptors have switched the testes of male smallmouth bass to ovaries.
            At the West Virginia site, Akob and her researchers did not know where leaks might have occurred.”

***Legacy of Radioactivity, 2016, Duke University, lead author, Lauer
            Thousands of oil and gas industry wastewater spills in North Dakota have caused “widespread” contamination from radioactive materials, heavy metals and corrosive salts, putting the health of people and wildlife at risk, researchers from Duke University concluded in a newly released peer-reviewed study. Some rivers and streams in North Dakota now carry levels of radioactive and toxic materials higher than federal drinking water standards as a result of wastewater spills, the scientists found after testing near spills.
            High levels of lead as well as the radioactive element radium, were discovered near spill sites.  Selenium, was found in the state's waters at levels as high as 35 times the federal thresholds set to protect fish, mussels, and other wildlife, including those that people eat. The pollution was found on land as well as in water. The soils in locations where wastewater spilled were laced with significant levels of radium, and even higher levels of radium were discovered in the ground downstream from the spills' origin points, showing that radioactive materials were soaking into the ground and building up as spills flowed over the ground, the researchers said. These spilled brines consist of inorganic chemicals, metals and salts that are resistant to biodegradation,” said Nancy Lauer,  Duke University who was lead author. “They don't go away; they stay.” This has created a legacy of radioactivity at spill sites,” she said.             The highest level of radium the scientists found in soil measured over 4,600 Bequerels per kilogram [bq/kg] — roughly two and half times the levels of fracking-related radioactive contamination discovered in Pennsylvania in a 2013 report that drew national attention. To put those numbers in context, under North Dakota law, waste over 185 bq/kg is considered too radioactive to dispose in regular landfills without a special permit or to haul on roads without a specific license from the state.
            And that radioactive contamination — in some places over 100 times the levels of radioactivity as found upstream from the spill — will be here to stay for millennia, the researchers concluded, unless unprecedented spill clean-up efforts are made. Federal laws leave the waste exempt from hazardous waste handling laws, no matter how toxic or dangerous it might be, under an exception for the industry carved out in the 1980's.
            The drilling industry enjoys looser federal standards for their radioactive waste than many other industries. The spills the Duke University researchers identified often resulted from a failure to maintain infrastructure including pipelines and storage tanks. Roughly half of the wastewater spilled came from failed pipelines, followed by leaks from valves and other pipe connectors, and then tank leaks or overflows.” 2016 Environmental Science & Technology

***Children Heart, Lung, Immune Affected, One-Mile Setback Recommended
            2016, Webb, Dyrszka, Rodriguez, et al
             A newly published peer-reviewed study concludes that air pollution from fracking puts people's lungs, hearts, and immune systems at risk – and that the health risks are particularly pointed for young children and infants.
            The study — the first to specifically focus on how shale oil and gas drilling affects children ability to breathe — concludes that starting in the womb, children's developing respiratory systems are particularly at risk from five airborne pollutants associated with fracking and drilling.
            “We conclude that exposure to ozone, [particulate matter], silica dust, benzene, and formaldehyde is linked to adverse respiratory health effects, particularly in infants and children,” researchers wrote in the study, titled “Potential Hazards of Air Pollutant Emissions from Unconventional Oil and Natural Gas Operations on the Respiratory Health of Children and Infants”. Published in Reviews on Environmental Health.
            Based on the risks associated with breathing air laced with the five most-studied pollutants, the researchers expressed concern about fracking near homes, day cares, and schools. “We recommend that at a minimum, one-mile setbacks should be established between drilling facilities and occupied dwellings such as schools, hospitals, and other dwellings where infants and children might spend a substantial amount of time,” they wrote.
            In Pennsylvania, the researchers noted, over 53,000 children under 10 live or attend school within a mile of a permitted fracked well. A separate mapping project, conducted by a group called Healthy Schools Pennsylvania, discovered more than 40 pipeline compressor stations – notorious for spewing pollution into the air – within a mile of the state's schools, and found that one school district that had over 40 oil or gas wells within a mile of its schools. In Pennsylvania alone, over 400 documented violations of state environmental laws occurred at wells located within one mile of a school or a day care, and 13 violations occurred at wells less than a mile away from a hospital.
            “Our research shows that the current setback distances between fracked gas wells and homes, schools, and health care centers are not enough to protect public health, especially children,” Dr. Marsha Haley, an oncologist at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after she authored a different peer-reviewed study.
            The new study is the most comprehensive review of the literature to date.
As troubling as the new study's results might be, they represent only the tip of the iceberg, since most of the chemicals used by the oil and gas industry for fracking remain gravely under-studied.
            In part, that's because little health testing is generally required under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the main federal law that covers chemical safety – including many chemicals used for fracking, a recent report by The Partnership for Policy Integrity found.

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 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.

*** To See Water Test Results of the Beaver Run Reservoir
IUP students test for TDS, pH, metals- arsenic, chromium, and strontium.
We have not seen results for other frack chemicals including the organics BTEX group, or cesium for example. Here is a link to the IUP site:

This Update has been sent blind copy.
For more information contact Jan Milburn