Dear RDA Members,
Mark your calendar, and come help us celebrate Rider Park! As we approach the 1-year anniversary of last year’s successful campaign to stop the First Community Foundation from leasing Rider Park for gas drilling, RDA is planning a “Celebrate Ride Park” picnic-style reception. You and your friends and family are invited to come to the Rider Park pavilion on Sunday, September 18th from 4 – 6 pm to enjoy refreshments, take a walk in the new and improved park, listen to live music, talk with fellow members, and hear some brief updates on what the Board of Directors and Working Group has been up to. No long speeches or presentations, just some tasty snacks, a few hours of informal fun, and a way to show our gratitude that these treasured acres have been preserved for all of us to enjoy.
The Citizen’s Marcellus Shale Commission held the first of 5 public hearings near Pittsburgh last week. Nearly 200 folks were on hand to share their experiences and listen to testimony. The Citizen’s Commission will hold a hearing in Williamsport on Tuesday, September 13th from 6 – 9 pm in Room D-001 of Lycoming College’s Academic Center. Free parking is available in the lot off Mulberry Street. If you would like to share your opinion or tell the story of how you have been impacted by the gas industry, you can sign up to participate at:http://citizensmarcellusshale.com or by calling Stephanie Frank at 717-255-7181.
As gas drilling continues to change the landscape and culture in Lycoming and other PA counties atop the Marcellus, other industry may soon follow on the heels of the drillers. Shell Oil Company is looking at Pennsylvania as one of 3 possible locations for a type of petrochemical refinery known as an ethylene cracker plant, which would convert natural gas liquids to other chemicals. The scale of this multi-billion dollar project is a “radical shift” and “unlike anything seen for decades in this region”, claims David Hounshell, a professor of technology and social change at Carnegie Mellon University.
Petrochemical plants are not without risks. A 1988 explosion at a Shell cracker in Norco, Louisiana killed seven people, injured dozens, and forced 2,800 residents to evacuate. The blast was so powerful it broke windows and set off burglar alarms 20 miles away.
In Pa, where agriculture and tourism now serve as the top two sources of income, the direction of our future hangs in the balance. The risks posed by chemical plants go far beyond that of accidents and explosions. Living nearby (and downwind/downstream) of these operations brings a litany of challenges.
Last month, the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSU) Network issued a statement expressing concern regarding the possible impact of the gas industry on children’s health. Referencing the special susceptibility of children, the PEHSU report stated, “Children are more vulnerable to environmental hazards. They eat, drink, and breathe more than adults on a pound for pound basis. Research has also shown that children are not able to metabolize some toxicants as well as adults due to immature detoxification processes. Moreover, the fetus and young child are in a critical period of development when toxic exposures can have profound negative effects.”