Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Marcellus Shale: Cabot May Be Forced To Bring Water To Dimock, PA

A glass of refreshing Dimock well water
The PA Department of Eventual Pollution Environmental Protection is going after Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation.  The DEP Secretary John Hanger wants Cabot to provide a permanent solution to the water issues in Dimock, PA, the little town in Susquehanna County that has been turned into an industrial zone by the gas industry in the last two years.  Hanger is calling for a public water extension from Montrose.  Dimock is 6.5 miles from Montrose, making this project a huge undertaking.  Cabot was found responsible for contaminating 14 residential water wells in Dimock.

Water buffaloes sit in a yard in Spring Lake, Bradford County, PA
Photo: Karen Korell
Secretary Hanger plans to meet with Dimock residents soon, perhaps as early as September 29th, to discuss how he intends to solve their water problems.  Cabot is still claiming no responsibility for the methane contamination, which it says was due to natural causes.  The company likes to talk about the wonderful filtration systems they have so graciously installed in some homes in Dimock, but some residents are not at all satisfied with these systems and have declined to have them in their homes.



Monday, September 27, 2010

Susquehanna River, Bradford County, PA: This Bubbly Is Not Fun

Bubbling Waters 2 - Susquehanna River from Don Williams on Vimeo.

Don Williams of the fantastic blog Susquehanna River Sentinal shows video of the Susquehanna River bubbling with methane in Sugar Run, Bradford County, PA.

In memory of a dear friend
Karen Korell

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Victoria Switzer: Dimock Warrior Speaks Out In Harrisburg

Victoria Switzer, a resident of Dimock, PA, spoke at a rally in Harrisburg, PA, on September 21, 2010.  She lives within walking distance of nearly 100 gas wells. Her water well is ruined.  She has to use water brought in by Cabot Oil.  Thirty-two families in Dimock now use what is called "replacement water,"  delivered every day by truck.  Gas companies, says Switzer, deny any culpability for contaminated water wells, and they bring water to Dimock residents as a good neighbor gesture.  It is okay with the gas drillers for people to simply disconnect from their aquifer forever.  Then what goes on underground on their properties becomes a non-issue- supposedly.

Ms. Switzer has had her water tested by independent labs for several years.  In 2008 she had good water.  In April 2010 4 deadly chemicals were found in her water which only could have gotten there through methane migration of chemicals used in the drilling process.  This is a hugely significant discovery and very damning against the gas industry. 

Switzer has coined a new phrase:  Marcellus Madness.  It is madness.  It is insanity of the first order to destroy our water- a vital resource which cannot be replaced once it is gone.  Have we gone crazy?


Monday, September 13, 2010

Don't Drink the Water

News from The River Reporter, Narrowsburg, NY

In far away Pavilion, Wyoming, it is confirmed that the water is not fit for human consumption.  A few weeks ago, representatives of the EPA said that at least 20 wells in the Pavilion, WY, area were contaminated with an array of substances and that residents should not drink OR cook with the water.  Local residents have known this for more than two years and suspect that nearby gas drilling operations had fouled their drinking water.

Now travel east to New York State.  People are wondering:  Does frack fluid migrate to the surface? Industry supporters say it is impossible.  Opponents say that the vast majority of water wells near gas drilling operations have never been tested.  And fracking chemicals are proprietary, so how does anyone know what to test for anyway?  James Northrup, a native of Texas, and a summer resident of Upstate NY, says the very nature of the Marcellus Shale allows gas migration.  He says it is likely that frack fluids will migrate to the surface.  He says the shale contains many faults, some of which go from the bedrock to the surface.  To make matters worse, there is not a lot of seismic data in Upstate NY.  No one knows where these faults are located.  So how can any gas driller claim they have everything under control? 
To listen to James Northrup, click here.

In memory of Karen Korell

Natural Gas Drilling: Think, baby, think!

Water guzzler trucks line up at a water extraction site in Ulster, PA, on the Susquehanna River
Photo: Carol Manuel (2010)
The numbers can be deceiving. That is what the gas companies are counting on. They make a habit of using rhetoric for their own purposes. Words can be misleading. Take, for example, the idea of water trucks stealing taking 3,570,000 gallons of water out of rivers and streams in Susquehanna County, PA. Cabot Oil recently filed a request with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, indicating their intention of procuring this volume of water for what is called "consumptive use." This means that the water is never returned to the environment- gone forever. The average person, like you and me, would have a hard time visualizing just what this means for the surrounding community.  Gerald Salmon, a resident of Vestal, NY, writes on pressconnects.com
Hard for you to picture what 3.6 million gallons looks like? An 18-wheeled Hess tanker truck delivering gasoline to a station on the Vestal Parkway holds about 9,000 gallons of gas; 10 trucks would hold 90,000 gallons of gas, and 100 of them would hold 900,000 gallons. So, it would take 400 such trucks to hold the 3.6 million gallons of water Cabot wants to use each day.
And Salmon goes on from there, developing the picture further, painting the image of almost 5 miles of trucks end to end. Next he puts the "only one-half of 1 percent additive," proudly proclaimed by the "good neighbor" gas companies as an advantage, into perspective. Gas driller public relations people will stand in front of local citizen groups and say that the amount of deadly, toxic chemicals used in the drilling process is so minimal as to not be significant. Salmon does the math for us: two full tankers filled with 18,000 gallons of a "witch's brew of toxins, chemicals, and carcinogens guaranteed to poison its associated drilling water forever. That's the one-half of one percent we're talking about. Unless laws are changed, these chemicals do not have to be made known to the public. It is proprietary- a company secret.

Read the article in full here.

Towanda, PA: Big white pickup involved in hit and run accident

I am only asking the question:  Who was the driver in the large white pickup truck?  And who owned that truck?  Why would the driver not stop for a simple accident?  No one was hurt.  Just an ordinary fender bender.  Why would a driver flee the scene?  I am very suspicious for some reason.  Who drives big white pickup trucks?  Well, most of the pickup trucks I have seen in Bradford County, and they are all over the place, are gas drilling-related vehicles.  Not to jump to conclusions................

Police Briefs 9/8/2010 (from the Rocket-Courier, Wyalusing, PA)

Published: September 8, 2010

Hit-and-run crash occurs in Towanda

Towanda police said they are trying to determine the identity of the hit-and-run driver who was involved in an accident Tuesday afternoon on Main Street in Towanda. The accident occurred at approximately 2:55 p.m., when a 1995 Subaru wagon, which was traveling south on Main Street, was stopped in the right-hand lane at the red light at the intersection with Franklin Street, police said. At the time, a white full-size pickup truck, which was also traveling south on Main Street, was stopped at the same light, but in the turning lane, police said. When the light turned green, both vehicles began moving forward, but the pickup truck apparently made a wide turn, traveled into the Subaru's lane and struck the rear of the Subaru, police said. The driver of the pickup truck did not stop and exchange information with the other driver, and instead drove across the Veterans Memorial Bridge into Wysox Township, police said. At the time of the crash, the pickup truck was towing a white, enclosed trailer, police said. The Subaru sustained minor damage in the crash, police said. No one in the Subaru was injured, police said. Anyone with information about the accident is asked to contact the Towanda police at (570) 265-2522.

In memory of Karen Korell
Artist, Activist, and Friend

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Gas Well Pads Are Extremely Dangerous Places

A well explodes in Forth Worth, Texas
Beware!  Do not go near gas drilling well pads. 

To: Advis...@PaForestCoalition.org

Subject: Details of the Carmichaels Gas Site Accident: Greene County (PA) Incident

On August 20, we received a report of an accident at an East Resources site on South Muddy Creek Road, Carmichaels (Greene County) .  The report claimed that a worker's flashlight set off a methane explosion from a "brine tank" (industry buzzword for flowback water?)  It was very strange that there was no word of this from DEP or the media. Finally, on August 26, we received this confirmation from DEP via Kathy Davis:

“There was an incident where a water hauler was on the top of a tank and he said when he checked the tank with a flashlight, it flashed on him. Burning him on the hands and face. He went to the hospital and was treated and released. The company contacted our Greene county oil and gas inspector and we were notified of the incident.  The cause of the ignition was never proven and new protocols have been initiated by the company including no water transfers after hours, no flashlights, lighters or anything that is not intrinsically safe.  The department is supplying our inspectors with intrinsically safe flashlights and related equipment as needed.  Ignoring the fact that no unauthorized people should ever be on a well location, tank or anywhere near the wellhead themselves. Gas wells, locations and the equipment used on the locations by their very nature must be assumed to be flammable atmospheres. One should never be discharging a firearm, smoking, burning, taking pictures, using a cell phone, running gasoline or diesel engines anywhere on or near the location without the proper protocols being put in place.  And just to be clear, no one should ever be hunting from the top of any brine, oil or fluids tanks associated with any oil or gas wells in the commonwealth or anywhere in the country for that matter. . . “
Michael H. Arch, PG
Oil and Gas Inspector Supervisor

Dick Martin, Coordinator

The Pennsylvania Forest Coalition is a unique alliance of hunters, hikers, anglers, landowners, wildlife-watchers, paddlers, bikers, churches and conservation groups who are united in our concern for the good stewardship of our public lands.

Caring for what God has created http://www.paforestcoalition.org/.  You can give up eating Gulf Coast shrimp, but you can't give up drinking Pennsylvania water.

In Memory of Karen Korrell

Energy Independence? American LNG Headed For Overseas

The US has too much natural gas.  Liquified natural gas will be sold overseas to the highest bidder.  Wasn't all this shale gas extraction supposed to produce energy for us?  Now we have so much, we have to sell it abroad?  Here is an article from The Wall Street Journal:

Cheniere Wins Approval to Export U.S. Liquefied Natural Gas


* SEPTEMBER 9, 2010, 7:59 P.M. ET


HOUSTON—The U.S. Department of Energy said Thursday it has granted approval to Cheniere Energy Partners LP's bid to export liquefied natural gas produced in North America from a terminal in Louisiana.
The approval, granted Sept. 7, puts the terminal in Cameron Parish one step closer to becoming the first facility to export natural gas produced in the Lower 48 states, drawing supply from the burgeoning
unconventional gas fields in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The proposal underscores how the natural-gas supply picture in the U.S. has turned from scarcity to overabundance, thanks to the exploitation of rock formations called shales. It also marks a radical shift in the plans of companies such as Cheniere, which once planned to profit from building multibillion-dollar liquefaction terminals in different U.S. coastal locations. But the natural-gas shale boom brought those plans to a halt. North America's new gas wealth has prompted other export projects, such as Apache Corp.'s proposed facility in British Columbia, which aims to supply Asia with large quantities of Canadian natural gas. Natural gas, usually shipped through pipelines, has traditionally been a regional market, but when it is converted into liquid, it can be shipped overseas. Through its Sabine Pass Liquefaction subsidiary, Cheniere asked the Department of Energy in early August for permission to export up to 16 million metric tons annually for 30 years. It also filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build, in
phases, a liquefaction facility that would eventually handle an average of 2.6 billion cubic feet a day from four liquefied natural gas, or LNG, trains.

The Department of Energy's approval allows Cheniere's unit to export LNG to any nation that has the capacity to import the fuel and with which the U.S. has entered, or may in the future enter, into a Free
Trade Agreement, including Canada, Mexico, Chile and Singapore,
according to the order from the Department of Energy.

Gas-bearing rock formations known as shales have changed the view that domestic U.S. natural-gas output would decline and that new supplies would have to come into the U.S. from other countries. In fact, these
new supplies have depressed gas prices, discouraging gas imports that were once thought critical to feed growing demand for the fuel. Prolific onshore gas fields in Texas and Oklahoma, and the well-
documented unconventional gas fields in the Barnett, Haynesville, Eagle Ford, Fayetteville, Woodford and Bossier basins in Texas and Louisiana, would represent the most likely sources of physical supply for the Sabine Pass, Cheniere's unit said in its application.

The Sabine Pass LNG terminal is already an import facility. With a total send-out capacity of four billion cubic feet a day and 16.8 billion cubic feet of storage capacity, it is the largest receiving terminal, by regasification capacity, in the world, according to Cheniere's website. The FERC recently allowed Sabine Pass to use the terminal for the additional purpose of exporting foreign-sourced LNG. Cheniere will soon file a separate application for authorization to export LNG to countries with which a Free Trade Agreement applicable to natural gas and LNG isn't in effect, according to the application it filed in August. The second application will be subject to more rigorous public-interest review and analysis by the Department of
Energy, the company has said in the application.
—Jason Womack contributed to this article.

In Memory of Karen Korell

Gas Drilling Bad For Business in Bradford County, PA

A water tanker spews dust as it drives along North Street recently.  Jackie Vanderpool says some of the customers at her hair styling business are reluctant to venture out in the dust after an appointment.
Photo: The Rocket-Courier, Wyalusing, PA

Road construction and heavy truck traffic on North Street in Terry Township have not been kind to Jackie Vanderpool and her business.  Road work has hurt her business immensely she says.  Other small business owners have experienced similar problems- lost business.

Vanderpool says that the entrance to her salon used to be level with the road, but now there is a steep incline to traverse in order to get to her walkway.  Some of her elderly clients have a lot of trouble now, and they are afraid of falling.  She says,
All I want is for it to be fixed somehow.  I worry about my customers falling down and hurting themselves.
Customers have started calling the salon to see if road conditions are good or bad. Roads being worked on are sometimes closed off. Vanderpool has asked the construction company if her customers can be allowed to go through to get to her salon. Some of her clients just want their hair cut instead of the usual wash, set, and style. They feel like it is futile to get their hair styled only to go outside and be enveloped in dust.
It's sometimes so thick you can't even see across the street.

While it is nice that the construction workers have offered to come and help customers get back to their cars safely, that solution seems undesirable. Who wants to have a sweaty, road crew member in full battle array take a hold of your arm?

Vanderpool told the reporter, Cain Chamberlin, that it takes her two or three weeks to make the same amount of money that she used to make in only one week.

In memory of Karen Korell

Thursday, September 9, 2010

POLL: Do You Favor Natural Gas Drilling In Pennsylvania?

Well pad on Moody Road in Bradford County, PA
Photo: Carol Manuel

Please vote today!   Perhaps we can't stop the moving train, but we can make our opinion heard. The deadline for this poll has been extended.

In memory of Karen Korell

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

DEP Investigating Source of Methane Bubbles In Susquehanna River

The French Azilum United Methodist Church
Located on the Susquehanna River, French Azilum, Bradford County, PA
Photo credit:  Carol Manuel
By Feed: PA Environment Digest in Gas Industry
Tue, 09/07/2010 - 16:02

The Department of Environmental Protection is continuing to investigate the source of stray methane gas detected in the Susquehanna River and at six private water wells in Wilmont Township, Bradford County, late last week. "Chesapeake Energy has been working at the direction of DEP to determine the source or
sources of the stray gas," said DEP Secretary John Hanger.
"Gas migration is a serious, potentially dangerous problem. Chesapeake must stop the gas from migrating."
Chesapeake has six Marcellus Shale gas wells located on the Welles well pads one three and four, located two to three miles northwest of the Susquehanna River. These wells are believed to be the source of stray gas that was detected on August 4 at a residence located on Paradise Road in Terry Township.

DEP issued a notice of violation to Chesapeake and required it to provide and implement a plan to remediate. Progress has been made, but, to date, this violation has not yet been fully resolved. While neither DEP nor Chesapeake have been able to conclusively show that the Welles wells are the source, DEP believes that they are the most likely source.

The wells were drilled between Dec. 2009 and March of this year; however the wells have not been fractured or "fracked" and are not producing Marcellus gas. For that reason, DEP believes that any stray gas migrating from these wells is not from the Marcellus Shale formation, but from a more shallow rock formation.

Chesapeake has screened 26 residences within a one-half mile radius of the river and found six water wells to have elevated levels of methane. Chesapeake monitored each of the houses served by an impacted water well and found no indication of methane gas in the homes.
On September 3, high levels of methane were detected in the crawl space under a seasonal residence. Emergency responders were contacted to ventilate below the home and gas and electric utilities were shut off to eliminate any potential for ignition.
Chesapeake has equipped water wells with high levels of methane with ventilation systems and installed five methane monitors in the homes associated with the impacted wells. Additionally, Chesapeake has provided potable water to the effected residents. No residents have been evacuated from their homes.

DEP first received information about water bubbles in the Susquehanna River late  on September 2, with additional reports received the next morning of bubbling in two private drinking water wells nearby. In response, DEP sent two teams of inspectors to investigate the source of stray methane gas on September 3.
One team of DEP inspectors went to the Susquehanna River near to Sugar Run where bubbling had been reported. DEP collected samples of the gas for isotopic analysis which is used to identify the source. Analysis of the lab results will be complete within 2 weeks.

Biogenic methane gas is formed at shallow depths from the natural organic decomposition of waste, such as one would find in swamp gas. Thermogenic methane gas is produced in deeper geologic formations and is the gas typically developed for economic purposes.

Both DEP and Chesapeake have taken gas samples from the water well heads and the natural gas wells. The results will help to determine if the source of the stray gas detected at the river and in the water wells is the Welles wells.

Anyone who notices unusual bubbling in surface or well water should notify DEP immediately by calling 570-327-3636.


Also click here to read the Chesapeake Bay Foundation blog.

In memorium
Karen Korell

Monday, September 6, 2010

Gas Bubbles in the Susquehanna River

Gas was seen bubbling in the Susquehanna River on Thursday, September 2nd near Sugar Run in Bradford County, PA.  The PA DEP came to take water samples Wednesday.  Chesapeake Energy has several gas wells nearby.

Video: David Keeler, The Rocket-Courier, Wyalusing, PA

In memory of Karen Korell

Towanda Creek in Monroeton, PA, Is Looking Shallow

Don Williams standing in Towanda Creek
Photo Credit: The Susquehanna River Sentinel

Does this water look like it's five feet deep?

This from The Susquehanna River Sentinel:

According to the USGS website - that's how deep the water is right where I'm standing. Click here  for back-up. The USGS has been contacted about this and has done nothing. The SRBC is allowing water to be taken from this stream based upon totally erroneous data. Does anyone have a clue? Does anyone care?

Who is taking water from this creek?  The gas drilling industry.  Will the water taken ever be useable for any purpose again?  Most of it won't, and it will never return to the hydrologic cycle.

In memory of Karen Korell

Thursday, September 2, 2010

SPLASHDOWN Water Drops: Karen Korell's Artistry

Here are some of the little water drops which Karen Korell designed and drew.  Karen died August 30, 2010.  We will all miss her very much.  Her water drops were very unique and were just one example of her creativity and her passion for the environment and public health.

We need clean water.

The gas industry is exempt from The Safe Drinking Water Act

Dirty water cannot be washed.

Can you light your tap water on fire?  Some people can.
Karen fought hard for passage of the FRAC Act.  It is still unpassed.


Gas Bubbling in Susquehanna River in Sugar Run, Bradford County, PA

A man cutting weeds along the riverbank spotted small streams of bubbles coming from the Susquehanna River near his Sugar Run home today.  Read how he was able to light a water sample on fire.  As neighbors gathered along the riverbank, they talked about other problems they have been having with their water.  One resident said,
If it's coming up through the river, it could be coming up other places, too.
Read the whole story here.
Sugar Run, Bradford County, PA
[see red star]


In Memoriam: Karen Korell

Karen Korell
January 14, 1944- August 30, 2010

Karen Korell, artist, activist, blogger, dear friend to many, died on Monday, August 30, 2010, at her home in Towanda, PA.  She had a blog called SPLASHDOWN which she dedicated to the detrimental effects of natural gas drilling in Bradford County, PA.  She was passionately dedicated to this issue.  Her presence will be deeply missed.  Karen, your spirit will live in us.  Thank you for all your tireless efforts on behalf of people, animals, and our fragile planet.

Visit her blog.  Leave a comment if you wish.

At the end of every blog post, Karen would write:


Chapman Township (PA) Zoning Board Resigns: Gas Drilling Issues Cited

Boating on the Western Branch Susquehanna River

My hat is off to these three zoning board members in Chapman Township, PA!  Thank you for standing up for the safety of your citizens and the protection of the environment.
Act of defiance

All three Chapman Zoning Hearing Board members resign in protest to water withdrawal

August 27, 2010 - By SCOTT JOHNSON - sjohnson@lockhaven.com

NORTH BEND - In a stunning move Thursday night, all three members of the Chapman Township Zoning Hearing Board resigned minutes before a special hearing to allow a natural gas company to withdraw hundreds of thousands of gallons of water daily from the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

The move left most of the approximately two dozen people at the municipal building speechless, and further drags out the seemingly-endless process by Andarko E&PA Co. LP to acquire a special exception to withdraw up to 720,000 gallons of water daily from the river near Gold Star Mothers Bridge.

They sought, but the zoning hearing board denied, a special exception to the Agricultural-Forest District to allow the water-pumping and hauling operation. The property is owned by Bob Maguire and would be leased by Anadarko. The parties have secured a permit from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission to withdraw water at the site, but with limitations. Also, the township planning commission previously recommended the operation be approved, but with limitations.

About 10 minutes after the scheduled 6 p.m. start to the hearing last night, township Solicitor Frank Miceli addressed the crowd, holding three letters in his hand. The letters were, individually, resignations by board members Chairman John P. Rathmell Jr., Alice Tarr and John Drake, and each was turned in about a half-hour before the start of the hearing, leaving officials no chance to have alternates fill their places. Drake had been serving as an alternate for Dennis Trout.
"I've been doing this for 20 years never (have I seen something like this),"
said board Solicitor Stephen Smith after the hearing. The three were ordered by Clinton County President Judge J. Michael Williamson earlier this month to grant Anadarko the special exemption, saying the board's decision to deny the request in May was "arbitrary, capricious (and)... an abuse of discretion and error by law." Instead of going against their wishes - and instead of being held in contempt of court - Rathmell, Tarr and Drake resigned their seats.

Smith said he met the three at Dremel's gas station at 5:30 p.m. and was handed three, sealed envelopes addressed to Miceli. Miceli opened the letters, which turned out to be resignations, mere moments before the scheduled 6 p.m. start, forcing the adjournment due to a lack of a quorum.

Tarr's letter said that, since she was being forced to go against the wishes of herself and the community - and due to the risk of environmental harm - "I can no longer serve and, therefore, resign my position as of 5:30 p.m."

Drake's letter stated,
"After much thought, I cannot morally position our citizens' safety, health and welfare in jeopardy. Therefore, please be advised, as of Aug. 26, 2010, at 5:30 p.m., I am resigning as alternate of the Chapman Township Zoning Hearing Board."
Rathmell's letter gave no reason for his resignation.

"Nobody knew this was going to occur," leaving no time to find alternate members, Miceli said. "I think the only thing we can do is say there can't be a meeting tonight because there's no zoning hearing board members," he said, noting the township supervisors may appoint new members at their next meeting on Sept. 7.

Anadarko spokesperson Mary Wolf commended the board members for their concerns about the safety of the public, saying her firm will enact any measures either the board or the judge will impose to ensure the public's safety and "make the road safer than it is right now." "We will just let the judicial process play out," she said. "That's the beauty of our democratic system, that we have the checks and balances with the judicial branch, with the citizens, the zoning hearing board and the planning commission. It worked. It's just taking a little longer."

After three hearings that spanned three months, the zoning hearing board unanimously denied Anadarko's request in May, saying the water-withdrawal operation will cause a travel hazard on Route 120 and negatively impact the environment and property values. Earlier this month, Judge Williamson reversed that decision and ordered the board to approve the request with several conditions, including:

n No vehicles associated with the site shall be parked along Route 120 or by the Fish and Boat Commission access road from Route 120 to the river.

n The intake pipe shall be marked and flagged at least 50 feet in all directions with appropriate warning signs posted.

n Anadarko remains subject to SRBC regulations regarding river water levels during pumping activity.

n Anadarko will work with the township to request PennDOT install a traffic control device or sign to alert oncoming traffic near the entrance of the site of slow-moving trucks.

n No hauling of water will be scheduled or performed during the Hyner Mountain Challenge, the first weekend of fishing season, the three-day bear season and for a five-day period commencing the Monday after Thanksgiving Day of each year.

n The perimeter of the facility shall be fenced to a high of six feet with a gate regulating access.

n No more than seven vehicles capable of storing or hauling water shall be on the site at any time.

Water Well Driller Questions Cheaspeake Energy's Theory in PA

Water extraction facility in Ulster, PA.   These trucks are sucking up the water from the Susquehanna River.
Photo credit:  Carol Manuel

Letter to the Editor, Aug. 29, 2010
Published: August 29, 2010 (The Towanda Daily Review)

Loss of one resource for another?

EDITOR: Being a licensed Pennsylvania water well driller for the past 40 years and being born and raised in the Towanda area, I feel I must respond to the stories I keep reading about the gas drilling companies shifting the blame of water well problems to poor well construction and local water well drilling.

One such story was in this week's Sunday Review (Aug. 22, 2010). And before I begin I want it known that any subsequent mention of the Chesapeake company shows no hostility towards them or their representatives. With mutual respect and dual acknowledgement of experience, I do believe that natural gas extraction and water well drilling can harmoniously coincide in Northeast Pennsylvania.

First of all, if a water well is not constructed properly, there are problems from day one and not 10, 20 even 50 years later. Referring to Sunday's article, Brian Grove of Chesapeake stated he does not believe, the facts, implicate its drilling operations is causing the water issues at hand. We have not spoken with any of the Paradise Road residents, but, the fact is, we have recently received many calls from local homeowners regarding disturbances in their water wells that began after nearby gas drilling activity had started. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to recognize the time line coincidence and figure out gas drilling activity probably has caused these water well issues.

Again referring to the Sunday article, Mr. Grove wrote, affected water wells are drilled into shallow aquifers. Most of our calls pertain to rock wells, but our answer to his comment is, this is Pennsylvania, not Texas! In many local areas, residents depend on the shallow aquifers because the deeper water is salty, or sulfury, and not compatible to human consumption. What a shame to disturb their only potable water resource.

And Mr. Grove's insinuation that poor water well construction could be causing current water well issues is a direct disrespect to me, my father before me, and other local reputable water well drillers. Speaking for myself and my father's memory, we have drilled thousands of water wells during decades of business in Northeast Pennsylvania. Our continued good reputation is testimony that we do successfully construct quality water wells. I invite Mr. Grove to call me to discuss well construction but not to come into my hometown and discredit my work. Mr. Grove stated that Chesapeake has offered to drill replacement water wells of "superior construction standards." A recent telephone conversation with Chesapeake representative Larry Wooten makes me question what he means by "superior construction standards?"

Mr. Wooten called in regards to me drilling a replacement well on my neighbor's property. He quizzed me about my practices and prices. When I told him I use a steel drive shoe on the bottom of my casing to seal contaminates from entering the well, he told me they never use them and thought this contaminant seal was an unnecessary added cost. Again, this is Pennsylvania, not Texas. I believe embedding a steel drive shoe into rock formations is necessary to superiorly construct a Pennsylvania water well.

To end, we believe Northeast Pennsylvania is both blessed and cursed by the Marcellus Shale mineral deposits which lie underneath our homes. The excitement of gas lease funding and large drilling rigs coming to our area has been replaced by damaged roads; delayed travel and traffic snarls; streams sucked dry by convoys of trucks, driven by persons foreign to our area, who may skillfully drive Texas flatlands but have difficulty maneuvering our hilly serpentine roadways; residential sweet water invaded by methane that is blowing off well caps; local families displaced by gas workers; and other changes affecting our work and lifestyles.
 Unlike cautious New York state, we think Pennsylvania jumped the gun and has allowed natural gas drilling companies into our area too soon, in too large of numbers, and with too few regulations in place. The saying, you don't know the worth of the water until the well is dry, sounds like a reality to us. Our drinking water is being affected and millions of gallons of water are being extracted from our streams, rivers and municipal wells with insufficient recharge. Well, Sen. Casey, we agree it is high time to protect our water, our people and our future.

Thomas and Loraine Cummings Water Well Drilling

The letter can be viewed as it appeared in the Towanda Daily Review here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Must See: Listen to James Northrup of Sustainable Otsego (NY)

James Northrup worked in the gas industry for thirty years. He's from Texas, but summers in Cooperstown, NY.  He's concerned about hydrofracking in NY State.  He says the gas industry could use non-toxic fracking chemicals, or at least non-carcinogenic chemicals, but they don't because they don't have to.  He talks here about four things which need changing in NY State:

1) Require a severance (production) tax like almost every drilling state does.
2) Separate the agency that issues drilling permits from the agency that serves as a watchdog for the environment.  The NY DEC currently does both.
3) Get rid of compulsory integration which he says is just wrong.
4) Do something about the vulnerability caused by the ownership of NY State surface water.  The state owns almost all lakes in NY State.  Municipalities have absolutely no control over water use.

Northrup says that NY State law is antiquated and completely inadequate for today's technology and the geology of New York State.


Marcellus Shale: Stream Relocation in Wyoming County, PA

Chief Oil and Gas spokesperson tells Wyoming County residents about the wonders of natural gas drilling.  Notice the poster:  A Clean Source of Energy!  They're kidding, of course.

Wow!  Look what's going on in Wyoming County, PA!  They're getting their bridges ready for those gigantic gas drilling-related trucks.  And what's this?  RELOCATING A STREAM??????  Say what?  And one more thing:  What is a "temporary" wetland impact? Sounds strange to me. Can any impact be truly temporary for sure?

From today's PA DEP update:

Authorization ID: 832039

Permit number: E66-147


Client: PA DOT ENG DIST 4 0

Authorization type: Water Obstruction & Encroachment Pmt

Application type: New

Authorization is for: FACILITY

Date received: 03/26/2010

Status: Pending

Sub-Facilities for Authorization

Sub-Facility ID Sub-Facility Name Description eMap PA Location

1019098 0.05 AC WETL IMPACT Wetland Impact
1019099 0.22 AC TEMP WETL IMPACT Temporary Wetland Impact 

1012702 SR 0029 SEG 0050 OFF 0000 - EXISTING BRIDGE Bridge 

1012701 SR 0029 SEG 0050 OFF 0000 - PROPOSED BRIDGE Bridge

1012797 SR 0029 STREAM RELOCATION Stream Relocation

The late Splashdown blogger would end every post with this:

Thanks, SPLASHDOWN, for all your hard work on behalf of people and the planet.
Rest in Peace, Dear Friend

SPLASHDOWN's Last Blog Entry
SPLASHDOWN Karen Korell with her beloved dog Hattie
Karen died at her home in Towanda, PA, August 30, 2010.