Friday, July 31, 2009

Citizen Report Reveals a Gas Well Leak in PA

If ever there was a question about the need for citizen watchdogs, this latest mishap should clear that up. Someone who was paying attention last week called the DEP to report discoloration of water in a tributary to Lycoming Creek in Lycoming County, PA. At first it was thought to be a sediment problem in the creek. The DEP investigated on Friday, July 24th. On Monday, July 27th, the DEP received a report of possible natural gas bubbling from the tributary.
The gas drilling company, East Resources, is now monitoring 18 private wells in the nearby area and is providing water to four homes. They are also monitoring methane levels in the homes.
One resident has been evacuated, and some local roads have been closed by state police. East Resources began flaring the Delciotto #2 well on Monday to reduce pressure from the natural gas, and it will most likely flare two other wells. It is thought by industry representatives that the gas leak was caused by a casing failure. Two teams of consultants from Penn E & R were sent to the area on Thursday to help to monitor the situation. The Departments of Public Safety for Lycoming, Bradford, and Tioga counties are lending their help as well. The gas leak is by no means corrected yet although some progress is being reported.

An enormous amount of effort is being required at this one site of a drilling accident. With hundreds and thousands of wells being drilled, how many more accidents will occur and when will the personnel needed to respond reach full capacity until there will not be enough emergency aid to go around? Will the public be protected against these dangerous events? And who will pay for the response teams? American taxpayers, of course. Don't be too sad about East Resources which spent a lot of money on these wells in McNett and will now have to abandon them. It is fortunate that so far no one has been hurt or killed.

Read the entire article in the Towanda Daily Review here. Another article appears in the Canton Independent- Sentinel here.

DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY!
The photo above is Old Loggers Path in McNett.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Earthquakes in Cleburne, Texas, Cause Concern

The mayor of Cleburne, Texas, Ted Reynolds, acknowledges that some of his constituents believe that a June 2nd earthquake in his town may have been caused by gas drilling.
We haven't had a quake in recorded history, and all of a sudden you drill and there are earthquakes.
There have been other small earthquakes since, all with a magnitude of 2.8 or less. One quake occurred just as the City Council was meeting in an emergency session to discuss what to do about the ground moving.

There are about 200 drilling sites in Cleburne, a town with 22,000 people about 50 miles southwest of Dallas. Some residents didn't feel the quakes, but others ran outside to see if a house had exploded. The city manager said he thought his wife was closing the garage door.
Picture frames and windows rattled.
Some people are concerned about an earthen dam at Lake Pat Cleburne. Although few fear a catastrophe, the ground shaking is worrisome. Townspeople want to find out what is causing this strange series of tremors. Chesapeake Energy, the gas company responsible for the drilling in the area, says it is eager to get the facts and cooperate with researchers in this case. To date there have been seven reported earthquakes in Cleburne, the latest one on July 10th.

Read two articles about these earthquakes here and here.

DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY!
[The picture above is Lake Pat Cleburne.]

Monday, July 20, 2009

Land Farms Pollute Our Soil

Land farms are a so-called acceptable and recommended method of disposing toxic sludge produced by hydrofracking. Here is a description of how it is done:

"The objective of applying drilling wastes to the land is to allow the soil's naturally occurring microbial population to metabolize, transform, and assimilate waste constituents in place. Land application is a form of bioremediation.

Optimal land application techniques balance the additions of waste against a soil's capacity to assimilate the waste constituents without destroying soil integrity, creating subsurface soil contamination problems, or causing other adverse environmental impacts.

The exploration and production (E&P) industry has used land farming to treat oily petroleum industry wastes for years. Land farming is the controlled and repeated application of wastes to the soil surface, using microorganisms in the soil to naturally biodegrade hydrocarbon constituents, dilute and attenuate metals, and transform and assimilate waste constituents.

Land farming can be a relatively low-cost drilling waste management approach. Some studies indicate that land farming does not adversely affect soils and may even benefit certain sandy soils by increasing their water-retaining capacity and reducing fertilizer losses."

Who wants to take the first bite of fresh broccoli
grown on a land farm or order a juicy hamburger made from cattle who have grazed on such a farm?

Does this information put out by our government sound in any way healthy? Land farms do not adversely affect the soil? How can this be true? With thousands of natural gas wells already installed and thousands more planned in 32 states, where will all these land farms be located? Near your front porch? Near a watershed or river? The scale and magnitude of this industrial process is beyond understanding.

Read about land farms here at a web page provided by the US Department of Energy.

DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY!
Thanks to Bluedaze: Drilling Reform for Texas for the video above.
http://txsharon.blogspot.com/

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Apollo 11 Pilot Remembers


Mike Collins was interviewed about his experience as pilot of Apollo 11. Here are two questions and his answers.

Q. Turning to your flight, what is your strongest memory of Apollo 11?

A. Looking back at Earth from a great distance.

"I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of 100,000 miles their outlook could be fundamentally changed. That all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument silenced. The tiny globe would continue to turn, serenely ignoring its subdivisions, presenting a unified fa├žade that would cry out for unified understanding, for homogeneous treatment. The earth must become as it appears: blue and white, not capitalist or Communist; blue and white, not rich or poor; blue and white, not envious or envied."

Small, shiny, serene, blue and white, FRAGILE.

Q. That was 40 years ago. Would it look the same today?

A. Yes, from the moon, but appearances can be deceiving. It's certainly not serene, but definitely fragile, and growing more so. When we flew to the moon, our population was 3 billion; today it has more than doubled and is headed for 8 billion, the experts say. I do not think this growth is sustainable or healthy.
The loss of habitat, the trashing of oceans, the accumulation of waste products - this is no way to treat a planet.
DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Personal Testimony: Seismic Testing


Here is a personal story told by a member of a family from French Azilum, PA, which tells of her dismay about seismic testing on her family property, lovingly referred to as "Camp."

"Permission was given by a family member last November for Geokinetics to do seismic testing on Camp property. The family received $5 per acre. These tests are not connected with any gas company. They are done by an independent company which hopes to cash in big time on the gas drilling frenzy, which undoubtedly they are. The testing, in which dynamite is buried 20 feet down and then detonated, is all set to begin on our property in the next two weeks or so. Workers have been all over our property marking with ribbons, orange, pink, blue, and white. Big tire vehicles have trampled down vegetation and left big tire tracks in the mud on our path to the river.
It gave me a sick feeling to walk down that beautiful path and see the evidence of newcomers who do not know they walk on sacred land.
They do not know the animals and the flowers and trees that live there and will soon be traumatized by earth-shattering blasts. Here is a little information that we probably should have found out about before we agreed to have this done. Also, if we are not thinking about leasing, WHY DO WE NEED TO HAVE TESTING DONE?" [Read my comments at the end of this post.]

Seismic Exploration—Issues and Impacts
• Survey stakes for mapping out the exploration area should be wooden, and not wire pin flags, because farming activities like making silage or hay can shred the wire flags. The resultant metal bits can kill livestock that eat the feed. Also, all stakes and markers should be removed after exploration is completed, because livestock and wildlife can die from eating ribbons or flags.

• Seismic lines will destroy vegetation and may cause erosion, which could lead to sediment entering surface waters.

• 3-D tests tend to cause greater surface disturbance and companies use your land for longer periods of time than with two-dimensional surveys.

• If dynamite is used during exploration, the "shot" holes may intercept the water table, and water may begin to flow or seep to the surface. These flowing holes have caused problems for some landowners, e.g., by making the land so wet that farmers were unable to cut hay. These holes need to be plugged from bottom to top. Ensure that the company properly plugs and abandons these holes.

• Seismic work crews may generate different types of waste (plastic, paper, containers, fuel leaks/spills, food and human wastes).

Seismic Exploration—Tips for Landowners
• Prior to any exploration, it is advisable to ask the company to show you, on a map and on an aerial photograph of your property, where they intend to conduct their seismic operations. [WAS THIS DONE?]To minimize damage, try to ensure that work is conducted as far away from surface waters as possible. Ask companies to avoid steep slopes, as this could lead to erosion. As well, request that the company avoid any areas of ecological sensitivity or importance to your use of your land. [WHAT ABOUT WILD FLOWERS ON OUR PATH?]

• Landowners may want to negotiate more payment and negotiate stronger surface-damage provisions if they consent to 3-D seismic tests, due to a greater degree of surface disturbance caused by this type of testing.

• It is advisable to get water wells tested before and after seismic testing, because seismic shot holes can provide a path for surface contaminants to come into direct contact with groundwater. The seismic explosions may also create pathways for water to flow to the surface, which could decrease pressure in the reservoir and affect water quantity in water wells. You can request that the company pay for these water quality and quantity tests.

• After the company leaves, do some ground-truthing: ensure that holes have been properly filled; that no flags, pins or trash are left around to endanger livestock or wildlife; and that water is not flowing into or from any holes. [WILL THIS BE DONE?]

• Review the state regulations governing exploration (contact state agencies to obtain copies of any regulations pertaining to exploration). There will likely be a number of things that the company is required by law to do (e.g., plugging of seismic holes; notification of exploration; posting a bond to cover potential surface damages, etc.). The more you know, the more you can ensure that the company is acting responsibly. For example, if notification is required before a company can enter your property, you may want to use the opportunity to make some requests of the company, e.g., negotiate a surface damage agreement, or right-of-way (access) agreement.

It should be stressed that geophysical techniques and remote sensing cannot identify oil or gas accumulations directly; they can only indicate the potential for reserves. The presence of oil and gas can only be confirmed by actual drilling. So, if the preliminary tests indicate a high likelihood of oil and gas, the company may decide to drill an exploratory well.

THERE HAS DEFINITELY BEEN SURFACE DAMAGE ON OUR PROPERTY. WAS THAT ADDRESSED WITH GEOKINETICS? WERE THEY ASKED TO NOTIFY US WHEN THE TESTS WOULD BE DONE? I DO NOT BELIEVE SO. WERE WE AWARE OF WHAT SHOULD BE DONE BY THE COMPANY AFTER THE TESTS ARE COMPLETED? I DO NOT THINK SO. DID WE KNOW WHERE THE DYNAMITE WOULD BE BURIED? I DO NOT THINK SO. WAS THERE A COMPELLING REASON TO HAVE THIS DONE ON OUR PROPERTY IN THE FIRST PLACE? I DON'T THINK SO. DO I WISH OUR FAMILY REPRESENTATIVE HAD BEEN MORE RESPONSIBLE AND DONE RESEARCH BEFORE AGREEING TO THIS TESTING? YES!

MY HEARTFELT APOLOGY TO ALL THE CREATURES WHO LIVE ON OUR PROPERTY AND WHOSE HABITAT WILL BE BLASTED OR SHAKEN DURING THESE NEEDLESS TESTS.

DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Waste from Marcellus Shale Drilling Kills Fish

Waste from Marcellus shale drilling in Cross Creek Park kills fish
Friday, June 05, 2009

A leaking waste water pipe from a Range Resources Marcellus shale gas well drilled in Washington County's Cross Creek Park has polluted an unnamed tributary of Cross Creek Lake, killing fish, salamanders, crayfish and aquatic insect life in approximately three-quarters of a mile of the stream.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said Range Resources reported the May 26 waste water discharge from a coupling on a 6-inch pipe running from a recently drilled well to a waste water impoundment.

The DEP has taken water samples of the stream above and below the pollution release, said Helen Humphreys, a department spokeswoman, and, after those are evaluated, will determine the appropriate enforcement action.

The Range Resources has drilled three Marcellus shale deep gas wells in the 3,000 acre county-owned park.


Read more here.

DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY!

Drilling Rig Snags Poles in Bradford County, PA


Drilling Rig Snags Powerline - by David Keeler - 7/2/2009

A small drilling rig aboard a truck traveling along Route 187 in Wilmot Township Wednesday afternoon somehow became entangled with nearby power and phone lines and before the driver could stop, three poles were snapped off and the lines hung just a few feet over the roadway. The accident took place about 2:30 p.m. about a half mile from the Rainbow Bridge toward Sugar Run. Traffic was reduced to one lane, and large trucks were prohibited as Penelec crews arrived on the scene. An employee of Geokinetics, the company which apparently owns the truck, said the incident involved no injuries. As of 3 p.m., the incident did not involve the interruption of electrical power.

Access the original article in the Rocket-Courier
here.