In 1930, my greatgrandparents purchased a beautiful farm in Bradford County, PA, in a little hamlet called French Azilum. In the summer, we spent time there, resting, breathing in the fresh air, enjoying the wild flowers, the bright stars and planets on a clear moonlit night, and swimming in the Susquehanna River. If gas drilling is allowed to continue, Bradford County and all of Pennsylvania will be forever changed, ruined beyond repair.
Where does one start with anarticle like this from PennFuture? Entitled "A Machete Instead of a Scalpel," the article describes what will happen to many good programs which stimulate the economy and enrich the lives of the people who live in or visit the state of Pennsylvania. The PA State Senate decided to slash funding from tourism funding to state forest rangers and the black fly spraying program. Here is a sampling of the cuts:
Closing at least 35 state parks and 1,000 miles of state forest roads $1.7 million from the black fly spraying program $1.9 million from the West Nile virus program *$50 million from the DEP budget (affecting flood protection, repair of sewer and water systems, clean up of air pollution)
Absent from the plan is a severance tax on natural gas drilling which would bring revenue to the state- something that most other states have.
The state wants gas drilling revenues. However, gas wells will pollute the water, soil, and air. It will make Pennsylvania a dangerous place to live or visit. It will pollute the rivers and streams and aquifers, making clean drinking water less available. The animals will suffer from all aspects of the gas industry, including noise pollution, bright lights, toxic water, habitat destruction, deforestation, to name a few. The roads will be torn up by the huge trucks needed for fracking. The trucks will make driving on country roads much more hazardous. State parks will be closed or be forced to run on skeleton staff. Roads in the parks will be closed (except the roads needed for gas companies). Being outdoors will be less pleasant with black flies and West Nile virus to worry about, not to mention bad air to breathe. Just when we need more money for the DEP, a huge cut will necessarily adversely affect its work. We need more watch dogs everywhere to observe the goings on of the gas companies and make them accountable. I guess this means less public protection and more leeway for gas companies to operate with little overseeing.
For PennFuture to say that it cares about tourism and quality of life for its citizens and still support rampant gas drilling all over the state is disingenuous at best. When will we realize that we really can't have it both ways? Severance tax or not, we are headed for trouble. There won't be anything left to protect after all the wells are drilled and the pipelines laid. It's really not about the budget. It is about hydrofracking gas wells. Read the article here.
Reprinted here is an appeal from Williamsport resident, Jon Bogle, and a letter of petition to DEP. Please do your part.
Below is a letter to DEP opposing the granting of a permit to operate a waste water discharge plant at Water Tower Square. In total, there are ten plants in the works which will dump four million gallons of the gas drilling industry’s waste water, containing millions of pounds of dissolved salts, into the West Branch Basin every day.
The thirty day period DEP has set to comment on this permit ends on June 1st. A strong response is needed.
This is the first issue where the gas industry will try to transfer our quality of life to their bottom line. We need to send a clear message that we won’t stand for it. The Gas industry will do what is necessary to get to the gas. If we demand the state of the art treatment of our landscape and environment we will get it. If we don’t--they will treat rural Pennsylvania as a third world country. Our quality of life is not their concern.
You can simply print out this letter, add your name and address and send it in. Or, you can modify it in any way you want, add to it, or write your own. It is your letter and each person, not just each address, is entitled to send one.
Many of us believe that DEP is under political pressure to grease the way for the gas industry. A strong public response will help to counteract that pressure and loosen the bonds of DEP’s better angels.
If you have persons on your e-mail list who may be willing to help, please send this on to them.
Jon Bogle 201 E 3rd St. Williamsport PA 17701 570-772-0151 firstname.lastname@example.org
TO: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Water Management Program, Permit Section 208 West Third Street, Suite 101 Williamsport, PA 17701-6448
RE: Opposing the granting of a NPDES permit to operate, PA0233650, Industrial Waste, TerrAqua Resource Management, LLC, 1000 Commerce Park Drive, P. O. Box 487, Williamsport, PA 17703-0487. Also opposing NPDES permits for the nine other similar facilities in the West Branch Basin which DEP has knowledge of that are preparing to submit NPDES permit applications or have already done so.
FROM: YOUR NAME/ADDRESS HERE
The TerrAqua proposed facility at Water Tower Square is clearly a transfer of the Susquehanna Riverʼs water quality to the financial bottom lines of the gas industry and to the facilityʼs owners. It will put hundreds of thousands of pounds of dissolved salts into the river at Williamsport-- every day. It will not remove most of the dangerous chemicals in the water from gas well fracturing operations. As is the case with the other nine plants being proposed for the West Branch basin, it will be little more than a dilute and dump operation. Pennsylvaniaʼs rivers and environment deserve the same state of the art treatment for this waste water that the gas industry has available and uses in other places. Our rivers havenʼt yet recovered from the damage inflicted by the coal industry over a hundred years ago. We need DEP to protect them from being used as a chemical dump. Pennsylvaniaʼs DEPʼs new policy statement, Permitting Strategy for High Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Wastewater Discharges April 11, 2009 clearly describes the damage of continuing to dump dissolved solids (salts) into our rivers. The new strategy, which goes into effect on January 1, 2011, will not permit new large volume dischargers of dissolved salts. It also clearly states that any facilities seeking a licence until then must show they will possess the technology to remove salts from the discharge. A capability TerrAquaʼs application doesnʼt have. The April 11th Strategy policy is cited below: (a) DEP will not issue permits for new sources of High-TDS industrial waste unless the applicant proposes to install adequate treatment for TDS on or before January of 2011. TerrAqua, which is still at the conceptual, approval seeking stage, will begin discharging large quantities of dissolved solids into the Susquehanna river almost exactly when DEPʼs new policy goes into effect. It is difficult to understand why TerrAqua would go forward with this application unless they are expecting to be granted an exception to the new regulations when they go into force. It is also clear that TerrAquaʼs facility isnʼt a critical component of the new gas exploration industry because at a 400,000 gallon maximum capacity it doesnʼt begin to address the volumes of anticipated waste water from this industry. Indeed, even if all ten of the new high-salt dischargers on the Susquehanna were approved, they would only account for 20% of the needed capacity. Estimates from the industry indicate that demand for brine water treatment in Pennsylvania will reach approximately nine Million Gallons per Day (MGD) in 2009, 16 MGD in 2010, and 19 MGD in 2011. Estimates from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission are 20 MGD for that same timeframe. The April 11th report makes clear that the Susquehanna, like other rivers in Pennsylvania, is already challenged from discharges and acid mine drainage. Many of the areas where the drilling for natural gas is proposed have a history of mining activity and are affected by Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD). Brine and fracturing wastewater have high concentrations of dissolved solids, and considering the already elevated levels of dissolved solids in the AMD-affected surface waters, the need to stringently control these dissolved solids likely will prevent other pollutants from exceeding water quality standards on a cumulative basis. ...watershed analyses conducted by DEP of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River watershed has documented that it is also severely limited in the capacity to assimilate new loads of TDS and sulfates. Local biologists have estimated that several million fresh water clams live in each mile of the Susquehanna River. These serve to filter the nutrients out of the water which are so harmful to the Chesapeake Bay. Without this natural filtering our local cost of reaching acceptable nutrient levels for the Chesapeake Bay will be higher. Again below, from the April 11th policy: The major concern associated with high TDS concentrations relates to direct effects of increased salinity on the health of aquatic organisms. It is clear that TerrAquaʼs NPDES permit application, and the other nine possible facilities, are in direct opposition to the strategic intentions of DEP for maintaining water quality in Pennsylvaniaʼs rivers and streams. There is no ethical or logical reason why this permit should be granted.
Dimock, Pa, was the scene of contaminated wells. PA DEP ruled that the contamination was most likely due to nearby gas well drilling by Cabot. Here is a photo essay, poignant and compelling, which is a must see. Be sure to click on the captions link so that you can read them as you look at the pictures.
Here is the link.
Photographs by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica - April 26, 2009
Pat Farnelli, top left, Ronald Carter, bottom left, Richard Seymour, top right, and Norma Fiorentino, bottom right, live in Dimock, Pa. A year after Cabot Oil & Gas landmen knocked on their doors to sign drilling leases, they are finding that their drinking water now contains methane, the largest component of natural gas. Here is the article to read if you want to find out more about what happened in Dimock. And here is another related ProPublica article for those of you who want to read "Natural Gas Politics." Here is a synopsis of that article:
"Four years after Vice President Dick Cheney spearheaded a massive energy bill that exempted natural gas drilling from federal clean water laws, Congress is having second thoughts about the environmental dangers posed by the burgeoning industry. With growing evidence that the drilling can damage water supplies, Democratic leaders in Congress are circulating legislation that would repeal the extraordinary exemption and for the first time require companies to disclose all chemicals used in the key drilling process, called hydraulic fracturing. The proposed legislation has already stirred sharp debate."
Thanks to ProPublica and author Abrahm Lustgarten for this excellent piece.
A business associate of Dick Cheney, Albert Jackson Stanley, has admitted guilt for coordinating over $180m of bribes on behalf of a consortium led by Halliburton, the US's biggest and most profitable oil and gas services company based in Houston, TX. In an exclusive report published by businessdayonline, we read about how international companies and politicians ran Africa's biggest corruption scandal ever. According to documents obtained by The Africa Report, as well as eye-witness accounts, Halliburton and three other companies paid bribes to win a contract to build a $6bn liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project on Nigeria's Bonny Island. Nigerian investigators have discovered that their country has lost hundreds of millions of dollars through over-priced contracts and bribes linked to the project. Last August, Nigeria's House of Representatives heard evidence suggesting that the country could be losing billions of dollars through under-pricing of its gas exports. That's the gist of the situation now being brought to light. How will it turn out? What was Dick Cheney's role, if any, in this crime syndicate? That remains to be seen.
When Stanley pleaded guilty on September 3rd to the US Department of Justice, it was brought out that many of the bribes on behalf of Halliburton were paid on Cheney's watch. Cheney was CEO and chairman of the company from 1995-2000. He supposedly had to sever all ties to Halliburton in order to become our Vice President. Remember that? During the 2000 presidential campaign, Cheney was asked about these "payments" (aka bribes), but he said "the charges are false."
Cheney appointed Stanley as president of Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton in 1998. [KBR is the company which built the showers for Iraq soldiers, several of whom were electrocuted in those showers. *See note below.] While serving as our Vice President, Cheney was more tight-lipped about his relationship with Stanley. But after Britain, France, Nigeria, and the US started investigations into Halliburton's involvement in the corruption syndicate in 2004, Halliburton tried to distance itself from Stanley.
Stanley's decision to plead guilty on 3 September 2008 to offenses under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act could prove to be very bad news for Halliburton.
As this investigation proceeds, other Halliburton top officials may be charged and may face substantial jail terms. Cheney, for his part, may or may not be prosecuted. US anti-corruption laws cover cases where senior managers and directors of companies knew, or should have known, that bribes had been paid. No one has come forth with evidence yet that might implicate Dick Cheney. However, since this deal in Nigeria was one of the biggest contracts globally, it is reasonable to assume that Cheney might possibly have known about it and that he was aware of Halliburton's links to a complex web of fraudulent financing and tax evasion schemes.
It looks bad if Cheney knew and didn't act; it could be worse if he didn't know, according to one Washington lawyer.
Another player in this scheme was British lawyer, Jeffrey Tesler, who was paid a consultant fee on the Nigeria gas plant in 1999. Tesler was a central figure in all of this. It was he who set up front companies and foreign bank accounts for the shady operation. He moved money from New York to Amsterdam with much of it ending up in payments to Nigerian officials and a Nigerian political party, according to Stanley. During Cheney's chairmanship, of course.
There's more to the story. If you want to read more, go here. If you are a playwright, this story could be the stuff of a great movie. On the right is the Bonny Island gas plant in Nigeria while it was under construction. What does Dick Cheney know about this gas plant? Will we ever know?
The original article was written by Patrick Smith and Lucy Komisar for businessdayonline.com.
*Now, a new Pentagon document shows that 94 percent of American troops in Iraq, Afghanistan or other CentCom facilities with KBR contracted showers, sought medical treatment for electric shock.
A recent article, published by the Marcellus Shale Committee, highlights three primary messages which are part of an advertising campaign begun last February: “Energy Independence,” “Jobs and Economic Prosperity,” and “Environmental Stewardship.” Joanne Fiorito, a concerned citizen and regular contributor to the Susquehanna County Gas Forum, is taking exception to these misleading or false phrases, saying that use of them should not be allowed. She writes:
...at least two of these three claims are false and our government should force them to stop such advertising.
1)Energy Independence - would only be true if, WE KEEP THE GAS HERE IN THE US, currently it's liquefied and then shipped overseas. How does that make us Energy Independent? The answer is: IT DOES NOT.....but it does make the investors in that product RICH, without giving a thought to our FUTURE ENERGY NEEDS.
2)Environmental Stewardship - would only be true if our land water and air weren't impacted.....but alas we have plenty of documentation to prove that this harms our environment. Yet the government fails to act.
3) Jobs & Economic Prosperity- we still have plenty of folks who are unemployed. The only folks working the rigs and trucks in this area (PA) are from other parts of the US, many from Texas. Job opportunity for local folks is still NON-EXISTENT.
Read the article, "Marcellus Shale Committee Continues Advertising Campaign," here. Since the PA Marcellus Shale Committee provides all state, county, and local government or regulatory bodies with information pertaining to the oil and gas industry, it is incumbent upon it to use accurate words and phrases, free of misleading or false claims.
For a related article from Bucks County Courier Times, click here.
Mary Sweeney of Upstate NY, writing on the Susquehanna County Gas Forum online, writes:
The gas industry has played up the possibility of using natural gas as a "transition" fuel. However, the gas locked up in the shale will take decades to extract. Moreover, that gas will be expensive to extract and extracting the gas presents very serious public health and environmental problems. In the end, even taking into account unconventional sources like shale gas and coal bed methane, this country does NOT possess that much natural gas in comparison to what is available in Russia and the Middle East.
If we convert more and more of our energy usage to natural gas, it will not be long before we are forced to turn to Russia and the Middle East for our natural gas. Meanwhile, we will have trashed some of our most valuable resources (e.g. water) in trying to squeeze more gas from the shale.
Rather than investing a HUGE amount of money in drilling the shale and then trying to clean up the environmental and public health mess that results, it would make a great deal more sense to invest that money in renewable energy sources. And if we get truly serious about energy efficiency and conservation, we will use up less fossil fuel in the meantime. That is the way to make the transition--by using less coal, oil, and natural gas. A transition based on conservation can begin immediately, will help the environment rather than harming it, and will save people money, because using less energy costs less money. Needless to say, the fossil fuel industry has its own reasons for NOT wanting people to conserve--they would like us all to keep buying fossil fuel, regardless of the environmental and health problems that will result.
We don't need a transitional fuel. We need to understand that fossil fuel use is not the way to go forward, that we have already wasted several decades and a lot of money pretending that fossil fuel use could go on and on, and that we need to stop repeating past errors and get serious about conservation and renewable energy. My sentiments exactly!-Peacegirl
Methane gas has been known to escape into aquifers and end up in the water pipes of people's homes. This problem has been attributed to natural gas drilling activity. Methane is an odorless gas. How can anyone feel safe?
In April the Susquehanna River Basin Commission convened its interagency Drought Coordination Committee to assess growing impacts to water resources in the Susquehanna basin due to ongoing precipitation shortfalls. Three consecutive months of shortfalls have caused streams and groundwater well below normal for this time of the year, particularly in the Lower Susquehanna region in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
If drought is a concern, why are gas drillers given permission through the permit process to extract millions of gallons of river water for their drilling operations? This water is consumptive in nature, meaning that it ends up as hazardous waste and cannot be reused as water again. It is gone forever. Should not drilling be halted until a drought subsides? Why are the citizens of PA asked to fixed their leaky toilets to save 200 gallons of water per day, take shorter showers instead of baths, and repair dripping faucets while gas drillers are allowed to take as much water as they need for their operations?
I think the answer lies in the money the state stands to gain by gas drilling. We've heard about selling someone down the river. What about selling the river? Our river is now a commodity. This is unconscionable.
The Susquehanna River Basin Commission will meet in Binghamton, NY, on June 18th. Go to the website here. Read the press release about the drought and rainfall deficits here.
Read an article from the Baltimore Sun about the threatening drought. All kinds of measures may be put in place, including mandatory water restrictions on golf courses, power plants, and big water users. There is not a mention of the hydrofracking of gas wells. Will the gas drillers be asked to curb their water use like everyone else?
In April the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, through the Office of the Director of Communications, Susan Obleski, initiated enforcement action against Ohio-based Belden & Blake Corporation, a natural gas drilling company, for using water without approval from SRBC. The water was used to hydraulically fracture the Marcellus shale formation in Smithfield Township, Bradford County, PA.
Just one more example of how the gas industry violates the few regulations they do have to follow. Read the press release here.
The House of Representatives will soon consider removing the exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act. Contact your representative now! Tell him or her that you want the exemption removed! The gas industry must be required to protect our water. The Devil's in the details!
4/3/09 Sen. Arlen Specter answers Muhlenberg College students' questions on Halliburton's poisonous hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in Pennsylvania and water rights. More information on www.waterunderattack.com
An environmental activist from Colorado came upon this scene, and this is part of what she wrote:
On May 14th I was conducting a wrap-up interview with a documentary film crew in an area overlooking EnCana’s F11E pad, when quite by happenstance, the crew began reclaiming the frac sludge pit. During removal of the liner (probably due to the large volume of sludge left standing in the pit) the waste overtopped the liner, contaminating the soil beneath. The liner was subsequently removed, some of the sludge pumped out and the remainder dozed underneath soil in the unlined pit. Sadly, this pad lies atop shallow ground water – an aquifer which EnCana intercepted at 200 feet. The aquifer feeds a spring that often exits at this location and also feeds Divide Creek - where we get our drinking water. It is also within about 200 yards of a neighbor’s private water well and only 30 feet or so from an irrigation ditch. It looks like this sludge is destined to leach into the aquifer. Not many people are aware of or understand the risks these chemicals pose, so I hope the footage and photos posted on this week’s update will be helpful, especially in the effort toward repealing exemptions from the Safe Drinking Water Act. I can’t discount the coincidence of seeing this pit cover up when it happened. Had we been a few hours later, we would have never even known. It begs the obvious question, “where else?” And industry is standing firm on how safe it is… but this incident shows a different side.
For a pictorial documentation of how the frac chemicals were bulldozed into the soil, go here.
Below is a video of this illegal disposal of toxic chemicals. Or perhaps it is not illegal since the gas industry is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act.
Thanks to Journey of the Forsaken and Lisa Bracken for reporting and documenting this incident. www.journeyoftheforsaken.com
A pipeline operated by Florida Gas Transmission Co. ruptured on May 4th, forcing 80 Martin County residents from their homes. A nearby high school was closed and Florida's Turnpike and Interstate 95 shut down. In this case, there was no fire, making the investigation easier. The broken pipeline is part of a 5,000-mile system running from south Texas through several states and into the Florida Panhandle. After the repair is made, the pipeline will operate at a reduced pressure while the gas company tries to figure out what caused the rupture. The pipeline was built in 1959 and was last inspected in 2004.
What the general public may not know is this:
Every year, DOZENS of natural gas pipeline accidents are reported to the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
Since 1986, 65 people have died and 259 have been injured by natural gas transmission lines, according to the PHMA. Even more casualties have been caused by accidents involving smaller lines that link to homes and businesses. Deaths: 364. Injuries: 1,556.
This pipeline incident is the ninth pipeline incident in Florida for Florida Gas Transmission since 1998. The causes of the incidents were lightening, corrosion, material failure, excavation damage, and natural force.
This incident raises many questions. Are people sufficiently aware of the serious danger posed by pipelines? Are gas companies going to be given permission to lay pipelines everywhere, including heavily populated residential areas? Will pipelines be inspectedappropriately?Is it common knowledge how many people have been killed or injured in pipeline accidents?
A young Rockville, Indiana, resident, fourteen-year-old David Crowder, was hunting mushrooms in the woods last week when, all of a sudden, a gas pipeline ruptured nearby.
We heard like a jet engine running and then a big boom, and we saw the smoke rising, Crowder said.
People called 911, thinking that something terrible must have happened. Residents within a mile of the explosion were evacuated. Emergency vehicles lined the road, blocking traffic. A Parke County (Indiana) sheriff said the erupting flames reached as high as 700 feet and were visible for miles.
I never saw anything like it, he said, describing the roar as that of "ten jet engines."
A six-year-old little girl, Krinjal Patel, said
We thought a plane crashed.
The good news is that no one was hurt or killed. Several residents reported how scary it was to hear the explosion and see the massive flames. There were homes and a church near the explosion, and people were worried that they might have been damaged. Apparently no homes or buildings were affected by the explosion and fire.
What is the effect of pipeline explosions on people who experience them? Do they not create anxiety and fear? Could this happen again? Will someone be killed next time? Is this lack of safety damaging to our children? What about six-year-old Kringal? Will she ever feel the same about the place where she lives? Will she ever forget that day she heard that loud boom and saw the flames reaching for the sky?
You can read the whole article in the Terre Haute News here.
Do you recall what happened recently in South Caddo, Louisiana? Seventeen cows died last month after apparently consuming what they thought was water. But the water was contaminated with toxic substances, including elevated chlorides, oil, grease, and some organic compounds. Members of United Neighbors for Oil and Gas Rights staged a protest in downtown Shreveport. Protestors carried signs decrying Chesapeake Energy Corporation, owner of the well adjacent to the pasture where the cows died. They claim that Chesapeake Energy is killing animals and causing illnesses. Read the whole article here.
Construction of a gas well pad has already begun in the city of Mansfield, Texas, right next to a youth playing field. The City Council voted on May 3, 2009, to proceed to the second reading of the proposal to allow the gas well to be drilled within feet of where children play soccer. The vote was 6-1 in favor. The Council will be required to read and vote on this proposal two more times before it is finally approved. Concerned citizens of Mansfield are asking people to speak up and speak out against this plan. The administrator of the blog Protect Mansfield writes,
They are building an actual road EXACTLY where the current temporary one is laid… WAY too close to homes and still utilizing current park infrastructure for their entrance and exit from the well site. The location of the pad is as documented… VERY close to both sets of youth athletic fields. The frac pound will be on the other side of the park. This basically means the entire park will be an industrial zone due to the traffic to and from the well to the pond. You can talk about how clean their sites are, and I'm sure they do what they can to make them more aesthetically palatable to the general public.. but this is a PUBLIC PARK WHERE KIDS PLAY SPORTS.
The request of XTO for a Special Use Permit to drill 20 natural gas wells over a 5-year period inside the Mansfield Sports Complex was put forth at an April 28th City Council meeting. Over 75 concerned citizens showed up to protest. They expressed their concerns regarding the drilling itself and the presence of heavy industrial vehicles. The remarks of these residents were characterized as fear-mongering by Tim McCann, who is, perhaps surprisingly, the President of the Mansfield Soccer Association. McCann spoke vigorously in favor of the permit.
More details of the meeting are available here. [Money! Money! Money! Is it worth our children's safety?]
It is no secret that hydrofracking a gas well is a very toxic procedure, affecting the air, the soil, and many times the water. A well pad brings with it, not only negative health issues, but also noise pollution, dangerous traffic problems, and a very real possibility of explosions. Why would any municipality even consider for a moment allowing such a gas well to be placed next to a public park?
See pictures here. The close proximity of the well pad site and the playing fields is shocking.
Another meeting of the City Council was held May 11th.
In 2005, the Congress passed an Energy Bill which exempted the gas industry from the Safe Drinking Water Act. All other industries in the country are required to meet the regulations in the SDWA. Why? The Congress must remove the exemption and demand that the gas industry regulate itself in compliance with the SDWA.
Read a fact sheet from the Natural Resources Defense Council here.
DEMANDACCOUNTABILITY! NO EXEMPTIONS FROM THE SAFE DRINKING WATER ACT
A discharge permit for a gas well wastewater treament plant on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River has been published by the PA DEP. It was published on May 2, 2009, for a 30-day public comment period. The permit is the first for the DEP. Northcentral Regional Director Robert Yowell said:
When approved, this permit will establish specific treatment parameters for gas well drilling wastewater, which includes frac water, brine water and drill water.
The permit would allow between 54,412 and 522,245 pounds per day of total dissolved solids to be discharged to the river. A maximum of 400,000 gallons a day of typical well-drilling wastewater would be treated and discharged from a facility to be constructed on the Water Tower Square property in Williamsport. Ten more permits are in the works for the West Branch of the river, all of which will be published by the end of June 2009.
An article in the Williamsport newspaper, The Sun-Gazette, reports:
"The DEP has adopted a strategy for allowable dissolved solids entering the river. Effective Jan. 1, 2011, an average monthly limit of 500 parts per million of total dissolved solids, and 250 parts per million of chlorides and sulfates will be allowed to be discharged into the river.
In the meantime, the river's assimilative capacity - its ability to take in toxic materials without harming aquatic life or humans who consume the water - will be divided among 10 proposed dischargers, including Terra-Aqua Resource Management LLC."
Discharging treated frac water into the river is a troubling proposition. Will the treatment process remove all toxins? Doesn't the phrase "assimilative capacity" mean that it will be acceptable to pollute the river as long as the fish don't die or develop tumors and people don't get sick after swimming in the water?
Read this description of what the people of Texas have experienced.
Marcellus Shale is next.
In the last few years in North Texas we have seen the BOOM of the BARNETT SHALE GAS FIELDS. We have all seen the TV ads by Tommy Lee Jones and Chesapeake Oil & T. Boone Pickens, telling us how great the benefits of Natural Gas are for the Texas economy.
What they haven’t told you about is the devastation the Barnett Shale has done and is doing to the Texas environment!!
If you don’t have a gas well yet, then take a drive in Wise, Tarrant, Johnson or Hill Counties in the rural areas--not Ft. Worth, they have regulated the drilling somewhat, but in the country. You might have seen the drilling rigs up for 6 to 8 weeks, but look at the completed wells! You will recognize them by what looks like storage tanks in the fields surrounded by a fence. Listen to the NOISE the compressors make. Notice the PONDS of Drilling Sludge. Those big tanker trucks you see, that are speeding and destroying your streets and roads, Notice they have big HWP permit numbers! HWP, “HAZARDOUS WASTE PERMITS”. The TV ads tell us we are SAFE, NOT TO WORRY!
Why do these trucks have these PERMITS?
Notice the PIPELINES being laid. Notice where fences have been cut, trees torn down, and the pipe above ground, (that can be tampered with by anyone who chooses to do so) and ask a property owner if they were threatened with eminent domain? Ask them how their peace and quiet has been disturbed and if they would sign a lease now with what they have learned? Ask the towns people of Dish, Texas, what they think about the pipelines!
Go see a “LANDFARM or MUDFARM”, this is where they dump all the Toxic Sludge from the pits at the drilling sites. These farms require commercial permits; however, they can take 100 acres and divide it into 30 three-acre cells and get what is called a “MINOR PERMIT.” They say they don’t have to notify the adjacent landowners to issue a MINOR PERMIT! My home is 50 feet from a 100 acre landfarm across the road!
Thanks to Ohio-based Schreiner Oil Company, at least seven Hedgehog Lane residents in Bradford Township, PA, (Mckean County) have tainted well water. The company is not disputing the damage or its responsibility for it. Cause: recent oil and gas drilling in the area. Schreiner has been ordered to restore clean water to the affected households. Meanwhile the families are being supplied with bottled water. This has reportedly been going on for weeks.
I'm wondering how one takes a bath or shower with bottled water...
One family, the Baileys, chose to move out of their home seven weeks ago. It remains to be seen how much longer they will be in exile away from their home. Bradford Township Supervisors' Chairman Don Cummins believes that the best way to resolve the dilemma is to hook up the homes to city water "in case any further issues arise with future drilling." Getting funding for such a project is a major issue which government officials are working on. Further complicating the situation and the cost of bringing city water to Hedgehog Lane is the high elevations. Water pressure would be very limited to higher-up houses. Cummins says the residents definitely want city water.
They don't want to deal with the taste and the smell and the methane gas (infiltration)- they're just living that every day.
Meanwhile the drilling is expected to continue. Schreiner has plans for more wells in the area. The residents of Hedgehog Lane will just have to wait. Disrupted lives is just the price we pay for the mistakes and industrial accidents of the big gas companies.
Read more about the story here. Here is the news release from the PA DEP regarding this incident.
May 8, 2009- An emergency is unfolding at a well site in a Louisiana town. A valve or casing at the well has ruptured. The well is owned by Chesapeake Energy Corp. Evacuation of nearby residents may be necessary if the wind shifts. Employees have been instructed to take an alternate route when leaving the site. Sheriff's deputies are blocking traffic. The state police hazardous materials unit has been contacted, and the DeSoto Fire District is already on site.
Another example of a dangerous situation involving a gas well. These incidents happen every day it seems.
The photo shows what is commonly called a "Christmas Tree" at a well site.
UPDATE ON THIS INCIDENT: Thirty-four people from 15 families were evacuated from their homes Friday (May 8th), and they remained at a Shreveport, LA, hotel on Saturday. Roads in the area affected remained blocked off. Read more here.
Chesapeake Energy has informed the Wyalusing (PA) Borough Council that the company plans to locate a gas well on the borough's land in Wyalusing Township. This 400+ acres of land was purchased years ago for the purpose of protecting the watershed of a now closed reservoir that served the borough. Rather than sell the land, the Council decided to sell timber and open it up for hunting.
The well will be located on a steep mountainside overlooking the Wyalusing Creek. Drilling is expected to begin later this year or early in 2010. There will be approximately 4,000 wells drilled in Bradford County before all is said and done.
A gas well drilled on a mountainside with a creek nearby may pose serious problems. The many toxic chemicals which are added to fracking fluid during the initial drilling phase have found their way into aquifers in other areas of the country. While one hopes that a well is self-contained, perfection is sometimes not achieved, and fracking fluid escapes in the ground. The pulverized shale deep in the earth causes cracks which are unpredictable and undetectable. Methane gas and other gasses are released, sometimes finding their way to the surface. Chesapeake Energy, like all gas companies, are exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, and other regulations that every other industry is required to follow. A citizen putting a pool in the backyard has to satisfy more standards than a gas company. And as has been shown in Dimock, PA, once a problem with water and wells occurs, a gas company first denies culpability, and it takes a long time to get the problem resolved. And, in the end, no amount of money can make up for a ruined well. Even hunters may find the area less desirable since deforestation, environmental damage, noise pollution, bright lights, and habitat disruption can often interfere with the animals in a significant way.
The citizens of Wyalusing may be optimistic about this new well, but time will tell. It may be the worst thing that ever happened to them.
Read the Rocket Courier article by David Keeler here.
This video is a unique reading of Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation, written in 1870, as an antiwar statement after the terrible losses of the American Civil War. There is an undeniable link between the gas and oil industry and US foreign policy. So that is why, on this Mother's Day, I have posted this video. Mothers everywhere, unite!
The Pennsylvania DEP has fined two Owego, New York, businesses a total of $15,500 for disposing and burning solid waste in Windham Township, Bradford County, in September of 2008 without a permit. Windham is a small little township of about 32 square miles, population 967. The median income for a household is $37,589. Somewhere in this town, employees of Central NY Oil and Gas and Willbros Project Services (U.S.) decided to dump nearly 40 tons of waste: timber mats, tires, pallets, oil booms, foam pipe inserts. straw, and other waste. Just this week a Montana newspaper published an article about the hazards of burning tires, to name one of the things that were dumped and burned in this incident. Burning tires is illegal in some areas, or at least carries with it strict regulations.
Tire burning is known to produce a variety of toxic pollutants including heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury and chromium and extremely hazardous organic compounds like furans, PCB's, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and dioxins.
Bravo to the citizen who took the responsibility to report this to the authorities. And shame on the people who showed such total disregard for the law, for the residents of Windham, and for Mother Earth. Unfortunately, the gas industry does not have a good record of being good neighbors, although spokespeople for the industry will tell you over and over how important it is to have a friendly relationship with the communities where they drill. It is hollow talk at best. A few thousand dollars in fines is a small price to pay for a little dumping. Although the offending companies cleaned up the trash, the damage was already done. After setting fire to a pile of industrial waste in a field somewhere, how can that place ever look the same again? Perhaps in a few years? However, what does it do to the people of Windham, to realize that their homes and community are expendable and subject to the lawless whims of some big gas company? It is a means of intimidation, a reminder of who is in charge now.