Friday, September 30, 2011

Transition Lancaster Visits PA Gasland

Concerned citizens from Lancaster, PA, trek up to Northern PA to witness natural gas rigs, well pads, storage facilities, and transport trucks in action. They visit with fellow Pennsylvanian land owners effected by the drilling and subsequent contamination of local waterways and diminishing air quality; who are standing up for their constitutional and human rights to clean air and clean water.

Spraying roads in Terry Township Route 187
Photo: Carol Manuel

So when we see a gas truck labeled brine or fresh water, do we really know what is in that vehicle?  I don't trust the markings on those trucks.

What is Transition Lancaster? Click here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Trouble With Health Problems Near Gas Fracking: NPR Interview

Read the article here.

If you go for a walk in the country and there are gas wells around,  can you feel safe?  Can you be sure that you won't inhale toxic chemicals or become contaminated in some way while you are strolling by? This story tells of a woman from Parachute, Colorado,  who became very ill while working on her property in 2005.  She didn't think about the connection to gas wells until she began talkng to some of her neighbors.  They had problems, too, in some cases.  Now she believes the gas drilling was the cause of her illness.  We simply do not have enough data yet to be sure we are safe from negative gas drilling effects.  Until we have data, we can assume we are at risk.

In loving memory of my Dad
The Reverend Robert F. Shippee
November 29, 1922-September 29, 2010
He loved the Earth and opposed natural gas drilling until his dying day.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Pipeline Comes To Town: Dallas, PA

In Dallas, PA, this pipeline preparation gouges the forest, plucking up the old trees like matchsticks and hauls them off as if they are of no value. A resident who treasured this place wrote:

Every school day for 8 years, I traveled past this corner . Admiring the beautiful stone walls on the property - wondering: who built them, how did they build such magnificent perfect walls, where did the stone come from, how long did it take to build it.... now it's all gone. Breaks my heart.

Check out Susquehanna River Sentinel.  Excellent views about the gas drilling industry from a PA resident.

Retirement Ruined: Personal Story of Truman Burnett (2009)

Mr. Burnett's simple story of how his beautiful property was ruined forever by gas drilling spills nearby speaks for itself. The gas corporation that is responsible for this tragedy? Chesapeake Energy. Our good neighbors.

More Floods in PA This Week

Last night (Sept. 27) the rains came again to an area of PA near Scranton.  Flash flooding caused traffic nightmares and more nervous businesses and homeowners as streams and creeks swelled and heavy rain came down.  Some areas got as much as 5 inches of rain in a matter of 5 hours.  The region was already saturated from recent weather events:  Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. 

An employee of a local mart and gas station in South Abington, PA, said she's been through this before.  "Too many times," she said.  In Clarks Green Borough, the council president said "This is a major water event for an area that is already saturated."

Read the Times-Tribune article here.

Do we have emergency plans in place for gas wells and other gas facilities when these quite common weather events occur?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Michael Moore @ Occupy Wall Street (YouTube)

By now you have heard, I hope, about the occupation of Wall Street. Connecting the dots is always essential to any view of history. We must connect the dots from what has happened on Wall Street with what is happening on gas well pads. Corporations rule in this country. That must change.

Hear what Michael Moore has to say. His words are being repeated by the crowd because they have no microphones, and Michael wanted everyone to hear what he was saying. It worked beautifully!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Berry Tales: Personal Stories from Gardendale, Texas (Video)

"Berry Tales" are real, first-hand accounts of how residents of Gardendale have been treated by Berry Oil and their 'landman' representative, Gray Surface Specialties. In this segment, long-time Gardendale residents with a thriving horse farm are virtually put out of business by Berry Oil.

Berry Tales: How can they do this? (video)

"Berry Tales" are real, first-hand accounts of how residents of Gardendale, TX, have been treated by Berry Oil and their 'landman' representative, Gray Surface Specialties. This segment was excerpted from a lengthy interview with a 77 year old widow suffering from a heart condition. Including her home, she lives on 12 acres of land. Berry Oil has staked 2 oil wells on her 12 acres.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Real Cost of Fracking: Angela and Wayne

Angela and Wayne Smith live in Clearville, PA. They have beef cattle and grow bluberries. In 2007 gas companies put in storage wells near the Smiths. Water pollution ensued. A horse died an agonizing death (*footage disturbing), followed by the deaths of a cow, a dog, and a chicken. The Smiths suffered headaches. They had to install and pay for an $11,000 water treatment system. A compressor station was built near them which blew up, spraying everything with oil. Their blueberry sales went down. They had wanted to give the farm to their grandchildren eventually. Angela says, "Why give death to our grandchildren, because that's what this is. Who would want to live here?"

Video filmed and edited by Kellan Davidson. For more information, go to Coalition To Protect New York.

The Real Cost Of Fracking: Jenny

Jenny and her family live in Punxsutawney, PA. In 1983, she and her fiance bought a farm. They got married on their farm and gave birth to their children at home there. They have an organic garden and grow blueberries. Their neighbor, who does not live in PA, but rather lives in Colorado, leased to EOG Resources. Jenny found out some bad things about what was coming to the land next to hers. She called the PA DEP and asked them not to approve the permit. But, of course, the DEP told her it was there duty to approve the permit as long as the gas company met all requirements.

Listen to this short video and hear what Jenny is worried about.

The video was filmed and edited by Kellan Davidson. For more information, go to the Coalition To Protect New York.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fracking the Finger Lakes (NY): Sandra Steingraber (video)

Sandra Steingraber gives a talk in Hammondsport, New York, on September 15, 2011.  She describes the earth below the surface as a living eco-system, especially in the Marcellus Shale.  It is not a dead, inert place, just rock and dirt, as many of us might assume.  She tells the story of how New York State was formed.
Then she addresses the effects of natural gas drilling on air, water, food production, tourism, and road safety.  She explains that the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement that is now being vetted does not even mention these impacts.

 She says, inspite of gas industry representatives' claims to the contrary, there are now 1000 documented cases of ground and/or surface water contamination from the natural gas drilling process.  That contamination includes the carcinogen benzene.
If you have 40 minutes, please watch this talk.  At the end, she shows some visual aids which are presented in a very poignant and clever way.

RIP Troy Anthony Davis: Abolish the Death Penalty

Troy Davis and his mother
Violence in all its forms must end on this planet.  The legal murder, listed as homicide on the death certificate, of a very possibly innocent man (there is too much doubt about his guilt),  is a macabre,  grisly act carried out, in this case, by the State of Georgia.  The purposeful act of injecting a drug into the arm of a human being in order to stop his heart from beating is something that must be stopped from ever happening again.  Georgia has 104 more people on death row.  How many more Troy Davises will there be?  Killing a man who is in prison and therefore helpless is a barbaric act.

The rape of the Earth by hydrofracking is another violence which pervades our world and must be stopped.  Capital punishment and environmental destruction are related.  Our belief in the sacredness of all life touches both the execution of a human being and the killing of the environment,  human beings, and animals with toxic chemicals.  We are putting toxic fluids into the Earth just as lethal fluids were injected into the arm of Troy Davis on September 21, 2011.

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now covered the execution of Troy Davis live, the only media to do so.  Go to for more on this tragic killing.

Our hearts go out to the family of Mark MacPhail, the young man who was killed in 1989.  We also pray for the family of Troy Davis who have suffered, too.

I am Troy Davis.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Don't Get Fracked: NRDC Has New Website For Citizens

Click on the map to enlarge
NRDC is very pleased to announce the launch of Don't Get Fracked, a toolkit for citizens around the country looking for sources of information on the permitting and drilling processes, legal rights, environmental information, health resources, local organizations working on these issues, and more.

From the Overview of the toolkit:

Drilling for natural gas is growing across the United States. The use of hydraulic fracturing has opened up gas shale resources in many parts of the country where drilling was not previously occurring. Although drilling can create jobs and income, many fear the effects of drilling on their health, land and quality of life. Current laws need to be changed to catch up with the drilling explosion.

In the meantime, you can act now to protect yourself and your family. These pages provide tools to learn about
  • The drilling planned for your community
  • The harm drilling can cause
  • Steps you can take to limit the dangers to yourself and your family
  • Resources in each state in which drilling is or is likely to occur.
Here are the categories in the Toolkit:
  • Overview
  • Health Effects
  • Your Rights
  • Environmental Impacts
  • Pollution
  • Resources by State
This website is worth a look.  Amy Mall of NRDC asks that people send information as well so that everyone can benefit from the experiences of others.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Letter To the Editor From the Past: Floodplains

A road floods in Sugar Run, Terry Township, PA
September 2011
A friend of mine wrote this LTE years ago, but it has significance now as well. In light of the devastating flood in PA September 8th,  would we not be wise to re-evaluate the safety or risk of natural gas drilling in floodplains? My cousin, a resident of Wysox, PA, is now facing a major reconstruction of his home on the Susquehanna River after 5-6 feet of water flowed into his home uninvited last week.  Floods are not the least bit uncommon in that area.  Will frack wastewater be released into raging rivers and streams in the future?  It could happen. Can we prevent that from happening?

Dear Editor:

Floods happen. They are an integral and permanent part of a river's natural cycle. Even with dams, levees and all the engineering innovations of the past, the present & the morrow...rivers will continue to inundate their floodplains until the end of time. Man may delay the outcome, but nature always prevails.  People construct homes and buildings of commerce on floodplains. After  each flood, these same people cry for more protection. "Raise the levees -  dredge the river"...not realizing neither action will prevent future floods. Prior to the 1700's, Pennsylvania - "Penn's Woods" - was covered by forests from the Delaware River to Lake Erie. It was once written that a  squirrel could travel from the Atlantic shores to the Mississippi River without ever having to touch the ground. And amidst the forests were the swamps, a.k.a. wetlands. More than half the wetlands are gone, and even today the forests are sold to the highest bidder behind closed doors.

Think about the travels of a raindrop back then. It would first contact the upper reaches of the arboreal canopy maybe 150 feet above the forest  floor. Layer upon layer of pine, oak, hemlock and maple would slow its descent. When it eventually reached the ground, which was cooled by almost constant
shade, it would slowly seep into the dense humus-rich soils and percolate into and become part of the water table. Any dust or impurities were removed either by chemical or physical processes. The forests & wetlands acted as buffers, reservoirs and filters. How was water quality back then? You can't even imagine.

Picture that same raindrop hitting a parking lot, driveway or city  landscape of today. Surface runoff - storm drain - sewer system - stream. It gets to the nearest waterway a lot faster, dirtier and warmer than its counterpart of yesteryear. Envision that same area covered by thousands of umbrellas at various levels, with the ground itself covered with sponges wrapped in fine, porous filters. A very simple example, yes. But that's what is missing today. The forests and wetlands were nature's flood protection and water purification system for hundreds of thousands of years. Today, we pay for a far inferior substitute that once was perfectly free.

The Army Corps of Engineers knows it...they just won't tell you. As more land is developed, as more forests are felled, wetlands filled and streams channelized...floods along the Susquehanna are going to increase in magnitude. If an event equal to Hurricane Agnes in 1972 occurred  today...the newly raised levees in the Wyoming Valley would not provide the level of protection anticipated. In the last 30 years, people have been very busy upstream - and they have not been planting trees and saving wetlands.


Don Williams
H*******, PA

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Gas Wells in Floodplains Should Be Banned: CBF and TU

Flooded well pad next to Wyalusing Creek
Stone Energy
January 26, 2010
Photo: Susquehanna River Sentinel
February 18, 2009
Press Release

CBF and TU Call for Ban on Marcellus Gas Wells in Floodplains

Hydrofracking in Floodplains is an Environmental Disaster Waiting to Happen

(HARRISBURG, PA)—In the rush to develop the Marcellus shale formation in Pennsylvania, natural gas wells are being permitted and drilled in floodplains. Two such wells, one operated by Stone Energy along Wyalusing Creek in Rush Township, Susquehanna County, and one operated by XTO along Muncy Creek in Shrewsbury Township, Lycoming County are already experienced flooding events. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and Trout Unlimited (TU) call upon the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to remedy this clear environmental and public health hazard.

"The handling of fracking chemicals and highly contaminated drilling wastewater in floodplains is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. It has to stop," said Matt Ehrhart, Executive Director of CBF's Pennsylvania Office. "Permitting well pads in floodplains causes a very serious threat of pollution. We call upon DEP to use its authority under the Clean Streams Law to order the companies operating these wells to permanently cap and abandon them, and then reclaim the sites to their natural condition."

While current regulations do not allow well pads to be located within 100 feet of streams or within the floodway without an encroachment permit, neither the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act nor its regulations prohibit siting wells in floodplains. Because horizontal drilling technology is used to drill into Marcellus shale, the gas underneath streams and floodplains can easily be accessed from a pad location in an upland area, avoiding risk of flooding and catastrophic pollution to Pennsylvania's rivers and streams. There is no reason to site wells in floodplains.

"This loophole must be closed immediately," said Dave Rothrock, President of the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited.

In late January, heavy rains hit northern Pennsylvania and several streams and rivers experienced flooding events, including Wyalusing and Muncy Creeks. Both the Stone Energy and the XTO sites were flooded as a result of these events.

"The risk of pollution to our streams will increase exponentially in a matter of weeks," said Rothrock. "As we head into the season of snowmelt and spring rains, there should be absolutely no more well drilling activity in floodplains anywhere in Pennsylvania."

The Stone Energy site was permitted along Wyalusing Creek by DEP without the necessary encroachment permits. While DEP issued a notice of violation to the company the week before the flood, the agency should have never issued the well drilling permit in the first place. CBF has previously highlighted serious flaws in the fast track permitting process implemented by DEP since April 2009, where permit applications do not receive careful environmental review but are instead pushed quickly out the door.

In August 2009, CBF appealed three erosion and sediment control permits issued by DEP for drilling sites in Tioga County. CBF's appeals resulted in a DEP review of the plans and revocation of all three permits because of serious deficiencies.

"The Stone Energy site is yet another example of permits being issued without the necessary review," said Ehrhart. "DEP should not have issued a drilling permit that close to the creek, plain and simple. If the agency was spending any time looking at the proposed location, it would have known that."

Governor Rendell recently announced plans to hire 68 new DEP staff to bolster inspection and environmental compliance as Marcellus shale development expands, and DEP announced plans to open a new regional office in Scranton to increase its presence in the northeast, where much drilling is already taking place.

"We are glad Pennsylvania has taken these actions," said Ehrhart. "We hope that DEP will take advantage of these new staff and resources to ensure more careful review of permits."

Credit: Don Williams
Susquehanna River Sentinel

A History of Flooding in the Susquehanna River Basin

Bradford County, PA, Flood 2011

Chesapeake CEO McClendon Has Harsh Words For Protestors

Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon
Why is he smiling?  We know.
Billionaire Aubrey McClendon smiles because he is filthy rich.  He gets millions and millions of dollars every year for being CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corporation, a company that drills and drills and drills into our Mother Earth to get the final dribs and drabs of un-natural gas out of her before we all have to develop sustainable energy.  He minimizes Mother Earth's agony and the suffering of human beings because, well, he really is more focused on money.  Here are some of the sensitive, caring  (and inaccurate) things he said a few days ago in Philadelphia at a big gas conference:
“Looking back, was anybody hurt? Was there any permanent or even temporary environmental damage? No, no and no. Some folks were inconvenienced, for sure, and for that we're deeply sorry,” McClendon said. But he said the industry's benefits — including lower home-heating bills, tens of thousands of new jobs, and millions of dollars of landowner wealth — more than outweigh the isolated cases of contamination.

“We moved into an area that hadn't seen a lot of drilling, that had pretty unusual surface geology,” he said. “We had some problems in the beginning. We think we've got them fixed.”

“Remind me: What value have the protesters outside created? What jobs have they created? You know the answer and so do I,” he said. “So it's time that we contrast what we do for a living with what they do for a living.”

“What a glorious vision of the future: It's cold, it's dark and we're all hungry,” said McClendon, who co-founded Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake, the most active gas driller in the Marcellus Shale and nationwide. “I have no interest in turning the clock back to the dark ages like our opponents do.”

Read the article here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

PA Sierra Club Worried About Frack Fluids in Flood Water

Bridge in Wyalusing, PA
For Immediate Release

September 9, 2011


Jeff Schmidt, Sierra Club - Pennsylvania Chapter, 717-602-5431

Tracy Carluccio, Delaware River Network, 215-692-2329

Pennsylvania Groups Express Concerns over Fracking Fluids in Flood Water

Demand Disclosure of Chemicals and Number of Well Pads in Floodplains

Harrisburg, PA-As tropical storm Lee continues to dump massive amounts of rain throughout Pennsylvania, concerns are growing over natural gas drilling pits overflowing and spilling their toxic contents into flooded creeks, streams and rivers.
There are no currently safeguards in place by the State of Pennsylvania to prevent natural gas drilling and the placing of open pits containing toxic fracking fluids in flood plains.

The groups call on the DEP to immediately disclose to the public and emergency response professionals how many wells are located within the floodplain, how many may have potentially leaked into our waterways, and what types of chemicals residents and emergency responders may have come in contact with.

Pennsylvania Environmental groups released the following statements in reaction to the heavy rainfall and potential for contaminated flood regions:

"Given the significant flooding over the past several days, there is much concern over how many well pads, open pits and chemical storage tank fields have been inundated with toxic chemicals washing into our waterways and flooded communities," states Jeff Schmidt, Director with the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter. "It is imperative that the PA DEP not allow natural gas wells and infrastructure to be located in floodplains."

"The human devastation experienced by flooding is largely the result of bad decision making - building in the wrong place and the wrong way," said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper. "Because we have once again put the priorities of industry above the health, safety and protection of people, which includes protecting the environment that feeds and sustains them. We have created a catastrophic situation - and the damage we see here will far surpass what we are able to see with our eyes, the chemical slurry of the drillers will spread its poison, becoming an insidious and unseen threat that will cause sickness and harm for years to come."

"We can only assume that the runoff from gas well sites during this terrible flooding is a toxic flood," said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director of DRN. "PA should shut down all drilling now and must immediately revise its regulations to prohibit any gas well development within the floodplains adjacent riparian areas, for the sake of public health and safety."

B. Arrindell, Director of Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, said, "We have verified that there is a spreading oil slick in the Wyalusing area along the flooding Susquehanna River. This is indicative of not just oils, but also all the chemicals being used and released materials brought to the surface by the drilling that are now being spread everywhere the flood waters travel. This has profound ongoing health implications for everyone living, working, farming or visiting the area. Pennsylvanians are being denied their constitutional right to a clean environment."

"While the industry mouths rhetoric about 'safe and responsible' drilling, they do the absolute opposite in fact, storing hundreds of millions of gallons of toxic flowback fluid in open frack pits, now flowing into floodwaters," said Iris Marie Bloom, director of Protecting Our Waters. "Fracking fluid chemicals, and even worse, the radioactive materials, arsenic and other deadly contaminants brought up from the deep shale, should never come into contact with air, water or earth. But here they are flowing with flood waters irreversibly into our ecosystem. This is a public health disaster in the making. Not one more fracking permit should be issued. All open frack pits must be permanently abolished and life-cycle cumulative impact studies done."

Nature Abounds President Melinda Hughes-Wert commented on the situation, "Prior to the epic flooding, we already knew that toxic water from the wells was seeping into our waterways through inefficient containment ponds placed in mountainous topography. Now with the epic flooding, we have even more toxic chemicals in our ground and surface waters. This is truly a significant problem for the commonwealth and it should be addressed by our officials with urgency. Anything less, is an insult to the intelligence of the citizens of Pennsylvania."

"The devastating flooding occurring in Pennsylvania is just another chilling reminder that we are all downstream of poorly regulated, poorly understood, and inherently dangerous natural gas drilling operations. Natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania needs to stop," said Karen Feridun, Founder of Berks Gas Truth.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chesapeake Energy Entices Towanda's Police Chief to Take Gas Job

Towanda Borough Police Department has revealed that the Chief of Police, Mitch Osman, will leave the department to accept a job with Chesapeake Energy Corp. [Chief Osman may also have been frustrated (only guessing here) by the lack of extra funding and personnel needed to address the growing police needs of the area mostly due to the gas drilling industry.)A classic example of how the gas industry is siphoning off local people from public service jobs.  A few months ago, I attended a meeting about hydrofracking in Rochester, NY, at which Mike Lovegreen was a panel member.  Mike is the district manager for the Bradford County Conservation District, headquartered in Towanda, PA.  At the meeting Mike told me that several of his employees had left to accept jobs with the gas industry because the salaries were significantly higher.  He simply could not compete with that, given his budget.  And he said it was hard to find new people to fill these positions vacated by employees who left for better pay.

Boomtowns have this effect on local economies.  The Big Boys ride in to town, offer great (at least a little better) salaries to often economically depressed people.  The local people are enticed to go to work for them, in an effort to provide a better life for their families.  The local businesses take a hit.  It becomes a mono-economy, dependent on the gas industry.  Gas industry eventually leaves.  The area returns to its original condition or worse.

Will Bradford County experience this boom/bust cycle in the future?

Read the full article here.

More Flood Pictures in Bradford County, PA

Looks like a gas truck at the pump
Wyalusing, PA

Sand tankers under water near Wyalusing Valley Elementary School

Train track washed out and train cars topple
Near Wyalusing Valley Elementary School
Wyalusing, PA

Photos: Wyalusing Rocket-Courier
September 8, 2011

Flooding in Bradford County, PA

The Bradford County Court House and Susquehanna River flooding behind it
Susquehanna River from Wyalusing Rocks
Bradford County, PA
Photos: Wyalusing Rocket-Courier
September 8, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Shale Gas Outrage Protest in Philadelphia, PA, today

Two thousand people marched in the streets of Philadelphia, PA, today! Hurray for all who marched!

Read more about the event here and here.

Heavy Rains Close Some Bradford County Schools (PA) Today

The Susquehanna River in French Azilum, PA
Photo: Carol Manuel
Breaking News from the Wyalusing Rocket-Courier: (09/07/11)

Heavy rains and increasing reports of flooding and road closings have prompted the early dismissal of classes at Wyalusing Area Schools, where elementary students will be dismissed today at 12:15 p.m. and high school students at 12:30 p.m. Towanda area schools will be dismissed at 12:50 p.m. and Canton at 11:15 a.m.

My thoughts:  With many gas well pads in this area,  floods may well transport toxic chemicals randomly over a wide area, both on land and in the waters of the area.  This will take place unbeknownst to anyone.  Flooding is a common occurrence in NEPA.  Have the gas drillers taken this into consideration in their methods and plans for containment of toxic fluids?  Is this acceptable?  No, but people are not important to the gas companies.  Money is.  This fact will never be admitted by the gas companies,  but that doesn't change the reality.  We are collateral damage along with animals and plants.

Wyalusing Area School District officials have announced that due to flooded roadways, all schools will be closed tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011. Watch our website for developing stories as this storm continues to impact our region.

Gas truck on Route 187, Bradford County, PA
September 7, 2011
Photo: Wyalusing Rocket-Courier

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chesapeake Energy Accused of Operating Without a Permit (with Update)

The Arnold pad on Kerrick Road at Sollick Road
Taken in 2009 before it became a residual waste treatment facility
Photo: Carol Manuel
This would be just another bad story about Chesapeake if it were not so close to my family's summer home in French Azilum, Bradford County, PA. In this week's Rocket, there is news that Chesapeake is already hauling residual waste/frack fluid up to the Arnold site  on Kerrick Road.  The pad was there in 2009, but no well was put there. A group of neighbors with property on the border of Terry and Asylum Townships is making a lot of noise. They are claiming that Chesapeake Energy is "operating several wastewater treatment facilities in the area that were either improperly permitted, not permitted at all, or operating on sites that were not adequately prepared for such usage."

David Bohlander and Patrick Blow are angry that Chesapeake is so bold and DEP seems less than adequate in oversight.
They don't understand why this remote rural area was chosen for what they feel is a regional facility.
Chesapeake is claiming that these local people are just making a fuss over nothing.

The Asylum Township supervisors have taken an active role in questioning the operations. They noted that no Land Development Application had been submitted to the municipality as required in the township's 2008 subdivision/land development ordinance. Lee Allyn also expressed concern about the truck traffic on Herrick Rd. [Note:  I know this road very well.  It is very hilly, some steep hills.  Much of it is dirt, not paved.  I frankly cannot think of a less desirable location for a centralized facility.  It is literally out in the boonies!  I kid you not!] 

Bohlander and Blow say they would be "willing to put up with 300-600 trucks daily passing their homes on their way to the Arnold pad" if they could be assured that the watershed would be properly protected. Blow has a personal reason for being worried. He has lost two parakeets and a dog to ontaminated well water.
Both men say this is a matter of public health.
The Arnold facility, just up the hill from the family homestead  for all intents and purposes, is being used to treat waste drilling mud as we speak even though the permit for such an operation is not in place yet. How can this be? Gas drilling activity with no permit? The audacity is impressive. Meanwhile, my family is in jeopardy of contamination, both air and water. The recent hurricane, not to mention the earthquake which was felt in Frenchtown by none other than Cousin Mark, are reminders that weather happens. Rains and wind come, and the earth shakes. Unusual, at least the earthquake is unusual. At least it used to be unusual. Some say that fracking can cause earthquakes. It is a real problem in Arkansas and Texas.

Update:  I called the PA DEP Friday to speak with Lisa Houser, environmental waste manager.  She was not at her desk, but called back and left a message.  She said that indeed  Chesapeake Energy is operating what will be called the Arnold Centralized Fluids Processing Facility, as yet not fully permitted, though an application was filed in March.  Ms. Houser said there are a few minor issues yet to be worked out, for example, they are using a different kind of truck than originally stated in the application.  But she did not seem terribly concerned. (I will talk with her this week to get more information and verify this.  You can't always determine too much in a voice message.)

Click to read the whole Rocket-Courier article.

Important Update:
I had a very good conversation with Lisa Houser of the DEP today.  She called me in response to my phone call to her last Friday before Labor Day.  She told me that the DEP does not regulate the number of trucks that can go back and forth.  It regulates the amount of frack fluid that can be processed per day:  940,000 gallons.  She said there are many kinds and sizes of trucks, so it is impossible to know how many trucks it will take on a given day.  However, the average capacity is about 9,000 gallons per truck load.  So that would add up to about 200 truck trips up and down the mountain daily.  That number would change if the trucks used are smaller, of course.

Even more important:  I was in error (technically at least) to say that the Arnold facility is operating without a permit.  They do have a valid permit (issued last July) to operate a 123 facility.  However, the DEP has several issues still unresolved, involving the size of trucks and the kind of tanks that were listed in the permit. Ms. Houser said that the facility was not constructed in accordance with the permit.  She has spent a lot of time the last two weeks in conversation with Chesapeake in regard to this facility.  She told me that she only has four inspectors to cover 14 counties!  She added that, even if she had 100 inspectors, it wouldn't be nearly enough to do the proper oversight.  I have to sympathize with her frustration.

It is exasperating to think that gas companies can wiggle out of situations.  For one thing, they have scads of money in case fines are levied.  I think they "go ahead and apologize later."  And the chances of being caught in a remote area up on a mountain like the Arnold site are small.  Also, as Ms. Houser explained, these drillers are used to the way things are done in Texas and environs.  They are not used to the regulations in PA.  And they seem to treat the regs in a somewhat cavalier manner in my opinion.  The consequences are not harsh anyway.

I am beginning to see that permit issues can be messy.  It is impossible to police what is going on.  Violations are discovered perhaps by luck, random inspections, or maybe through citizen reports.  As for the latter,  it is almost impossible to observe what is going on because most well pads are off limits.  No Trespassing signs bar people from legally going on pad sites.
Sign at Arnold Site
Arnold Centralized Fluids Processing Facility
238 Sollicks Road at Kerrick Road
[Click to enlarge photo]
Photo: Carol Manuel
Asylum Township

Another Fatality Related To Gas Drilling: Bradford County, PA

Gas truck on a PA road
In a nutshell,  there was a fatal accident early Sunday morning (a few minutes after midnight) in Terry Township (Bradford County, PA), involving a 2008 Ford F-150 welding rig truck driven by a North Dakota man.  The man killed, the passenger, was from Arkansas.  It appears that speed and alcohol were involved.

My thoughts:
The two people involved were NOT local residents.  So this is an example of job opportunities for Pennsylvanians.  Just anecdotal, but interesting.  The workers are so often from somewhere else.

This accident was at night on a curve in the road, and the truck was allegedly going too fast.  a) Roads in rural PA are typically curvy. b) I have found through personal experience that gas drilling trucks do go too fast- ridiculously fast.  They scare me to death.

Alcohol was allegedly involved.  Drug and alcohol abuse is rampant among gas workers.  A gas worker I talked to last June told me that every worker has to take a breathalyzer test before being allowed to enter the drilling pads.  That is good.  However, there is still a problem with drinking and drugs, especially on the roads.

So send the comments in.  Will you tell me that I should not single out gas workers?  That accidents happen to anybody?  There is some truth in that.  However,  the occupation presence of the gas industry brings with it many more dangerous elements, including vehicle accidents.  And often it is a local citizen who dies or is seriously injured. 

Here is the article from the Daily Review (Towanda):

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Another Mud Spill In Laurel Lake Creek in Susquehanna County, PA

Eye Witness Report From Vera:

Just passed Laurel Lake Creek at noon and saw the pumping going on again for the escaping pipeline drilling mud entering the creek bed. All the guys and tankers and trucks and pumping station back again with Southeast Directional Drilling working to pump this out and contain it.

I called Tom Karam , the owner of this Laser Pipeline and told him what is happening and he didn't know!
I videotaped the latest "blow-out"--they supposedly tried some different tactics and the mud escaped again !! The Creek is not wanting this mud to stay underground and it is barfing it up--

Here are Vera's reports after the other accidents in this creek last month: (08/05/11) (08/11/11) (08/16/11) (08/17/11)

And this from the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council:


Remembering a dear friend who fought against unconventional gas drilling in Pennsylvania:

Karen Korell

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fracking Hurting Health Right Now

Sugar Run on the Susquehanna River
Site of methane bubbling since September 2010
Chesapeake Energy has accepted responsibility, but the bubbling continues
Photo: Carol Manuel
This is an original transcript of an article by Iris Marie Bloom of ProtectingOurWaters.  It was published in the University City Review. (Philadelphia)

Ms. Bloom went for a bike ride August 10th, and, based on her experience, she wrote this piece.  Here are a few excerpts:

If I didn't personally know people being hurt by fracking right now in Susquehanna County and Bradford County, in Washington and Greene Counties in southwestern PA, and elsewhere in the state and country- I could really imagine the seductive appeal. How much more appealing it must seem to those who have not been listening to hydrologists, biochemists and climate scientists make the case for a moratorium on fracking.
Carl and Judy Stiles of Sugar Run in Bradford County were told by a toxicologist to get out of their home last November after they'd been suffering severe abdominal pain, muscle tremors, dizziness, racing heart and other cardiac symptoms for months......They have been told by one doctor to expect to get leukemia within two years.
The health impacts from gas drilling are so new, and the chemicals and other contaminants brought up by the drilling and fracking, compressor stations and condensate tanks, pipelines and frack pits, are so little understood, that the current wave of families whose health is being severely impacted by fracking in Pennsylvania are literally guinea pigs for a process being sold to the public as "clean." Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Read the entire article.
Methane bubbling at Sugar Run
Used by permission