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Dangers, Events, Violations – Feb. 6th 2011 Newsletter

Environmental Dangers of Hydrofracturing the Marcellus Shale

by Robert Myers, Lock Haven University

Over the past three years, I have watched the hydro-fracturing industry rapidly expand into central Pennsylvania, and I have been disgusted by the consequences.  The state forests, where generations of Pennsylvanians have hunted, fished, and hiked, have been defaced by a growing network of well pads.  But even more disturbing are the effects that we can’t see.  Unknown chemicals are being pumped thousands of feet underground.  The extreme pressures involved in the hydro-fracturing process are forcing methane gas into people’s homes and into their water supplies.  Thousands of gallons of chemicals have been spilled in our forests and streams.  It’s clear to me that hydro fracturing is the single biggest environmental threat to Pennsylvania that this generation faces. Read the remainder of Myers’ comprehensive article here:

Upcoming Events

PennFuture Natural Gas Workshop for Local Citizens

6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 15th James V. Brown Library, 19 East Fourth Street in Williamsport Local citizens and landowners have an indispensable role in helping to protect communities from the risks posed by gas drilling. This workshop provides an overview of the relevant laws and regulations, an update on production and development, and where to go from here. Space is limited. Pre-registration is required. RSVP here:

Gas Leasing in Public State Forest Lands

7:00 p.m. Wednesday, February 16th Lycoming College, Heim Science Bldg, Room G-11. This free and open public meeting is sponsored by Lycoming College Clean Water Institute and  Susquehanna Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Nels Johnson, of The Nature Conservancy  Harrisburg office, will describe the study conducted by PA DCNR on impacts of leasing additional State Forest Land. The study includes a mapping analysis of surface disturbance effects on the sustainable balance and wild character of remaining State Forest Lands not yet leased for gas development. For more information, contact: Carey Entz-Rine, Lycoming County Conservation District, Watershed Specialist (570)433-3003

“Marcellus Shale and the Impact on Local Communities” series at Bucknell University

February 10 – 7:30 PM (Gallery Theater):  Economic Impact and Job Development •Tim Kelsey, Professor, Agricultural Economics, College of Agricultural Sciences, Penn State University •Suzanne Lee, President & CEO, Williamsport Lycoming Community Foundation •Larry Michael, Executive Director of Workforce & Economic Development, Pennsylvania College of    Technology February 15 – 7:30 PM (Forum):  Public Health •Thomas Shelley, Chemical Safety and Hazardous Materials Specialist, Cornell Environmental Health and Safety (retired), Cornell University •Sharon Larson, Co-Director Rural Health Policy Institute, Geisinger Center for Health Research •Susan Everett, Director of Outpatient Rehab, Susquehanna Health March 3 – 7:30 PM (Gallery Theatre):  Severance Tax •Gene Yaw, State Senator, 23rd Senatorial District •Rick Marabito, State Representative, 83rd Legislative District                                                                                                                      These events are all free and open to the public. The location for all three events is Bucknell’s Elaine Langone Center in the middle of campus on Moore and 7th Avenues. The Gallery Theater is on the 3rd floor, and the Forum is on the 2nd floor, both of which you can access via the stairs or the elevator on the ground floor.

Violations abound

Gas drilling is bringing multiple environmental accidents to our region and with these spills and violations comes exposure to an ever-increasing array of known and unknown toxins.  The official list of violations continues to grow. Follow it here:

What boon?

Gas drilling in Arkansas is about 5 years ahead of what is happening in PA. Here is one resident’s experience, backed up with unemployment facts:

“Van Buren County is in the heart of the Fayetteville Shale Play and is experiencing some of the heaviest drilling and road damage in the state along with neighboring counties.  They call it the “sweet spot,” yet we can see from these statistics from the USDA, unemployment figures have risen in Van Buren in the five years the gas companies have been boasting about how many jobs they have brought to the area.  The meager severance tax is not able to even meet a fraction of the cost of the destruction of our roads in this area, while politicians still chant the mantra big gas feeds them.  We have a population in this sacrifice zone who have been crying out for anyone in government to listen to their sometimes desperate situations to no avail. Water contamination, earthquakes, air choked with toxins, compressor stations that roar 24/7 at such a high level people can’t sleep are just some of the problems.  Some in government say all these problems are worth it because of this great economic boon the gas industry is bringing us.  I say, what boon?”

Tens of millions of gallons of diesel fuel used in fracking

According to a story published in the January 31st edition of the New York Times, U.S. Congressional investigators have charged oil and gas companies with injecting tens of millions of gallons of diesel fuel underground as part of the contentious process known as hydraulic fracturing. The full story by Tom Zeller, Jr. is available here:

Diesel fuel and what else?

The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) has released a new spreadsheet and summary of the potential health effects of chemicals identified in nearly 1,000 products used in natural gas operations.  For nearly half of the products, less than 1% of the ingredients were disclosed. Demands for full disclosure must require product manufacturers to reveal 100% of the ingredients in their products. This is necessary for effective air and water quality monitoring to protect public health and the environment.  Contact legislators and demand full disclosure! For the new TEDX spreadsheet, go to:

PA State Forests under siege

Last month, a Marcellus Shale gas drilling well erupted in the middle of Tioga State Forest, spilling thousands of gallons of toxic waste for nearly four hours. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and unless we take action it may not be the last. Blowouts like this one have occurred before, including a spill of 12,000 gallons of toxic drilling mud last spring in Sproul State Forest. The Tioga State Forest blowout occurred at a well owned by Talisman Energy, which operated 150 wells at the end of last year. When this company’s wells were inspected last year, the Department of Environmental Protection found 151 violations, the second highest for any drilling company. And yet, companies like Talisman are still permitted to drill in our state forest. If Governor Tom Corbett gets his way, our last remaining areas of pristine wilderness could be lost to more drilling, spills, destructive roads, well pads and pipelines. S.O.S! Save our state forest.

Retired military officer suffers health consequences from gas compressor noise

The human ear does not respond equally to all frequencies. We are much more sensitive to sounds in the frequency range of 1 kHz to 4 kHz (1000 to 4000 vibrations per second) than to very low or high frequency sounds. However, it is possible to be affected by sounds we can’t even hear. Such was the case with Charles Morgan, a retired USAF Major living in Fairfield, Texas, who claims he was harmed by Low Frequency Noise (LFN) emitted from a large natural gas compressor station 0.9 miles from his home. When Major Morgan went to the hospital emergency room, doctors were baffled. A series of visits to a neurologist, and heart and pulmonary specialists, found brain and heart damage due to lack of blood flow.  Morgan believed the damage was caused by the Low Frequency Noise (LFN) and began investigating this issue trying to find the relationship between his symptoms and LFN.  A subsequent review of research revealed that environmental LFN could indeed cause the symptoms of a disorder called Vibro-Acoustic Disease (VAD). Morgan contacted Dr. Debbie Wright, M.D., a cardiologist in Lafayette, Indiana, who is familiar with Vibro-Acoustic Disease (VAD). Dr. Wright’s review of his echocardiogram confirmed a thickened pericardium of the heart, a sign of VAD. Since LFN travels five to eight miles, it depends on how many compressor stations there are in a given area in order to be out of the range of influence.  Major Morgan lives Freestone County, Texas, where there are 130 compressor stations.  Other gas drilling states have similar problems, and Morgan has received e-mails from Arkansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York inquiring what can be done to alleviate the situation. There is a federal law concerning noise—The 1972 Noise Control and Abatement Act—that is still in effect.  The EPA was tasked to develop guidelines for noise limits, but Low Frequency Noise was not specifically addressed.  In 1982, the EPA noise control office was closed and authority to regulate noise was delegated to state and local governments.   Only six states out of 50 have a state law on noise control.  They are California, Illinois, New York, Maine, Massachusetts and Colorado. Compressor noise is just one more example of why, contrary to the claims of the industry and its political allies, gas drilling in PA is far from “adequately regulated”. For more information, contact Charles Morgan at:

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