Friday, May 8, 2009

Gas Companies Trash the Place

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.

Read the whole article here.

For more information from the PA DEP, visit here.

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