They looked up
and saw a star
burning in the east
not all that far
and to the earth
it gave great fright
as the pounding continued
both day and night
go to hell
go to hell
go to hell
go to hell
Mammon is King
and life is to sell
New Environment Bulletin Number 387
Syracuse, N.Y (June 27, 2011)
It is possible that either The Wyoming Valley Sanitation Authority (WVSA) or The Lower Lackawanna Sanitation Authority (LLSA) will build a treatment plant for hydraulic fracturing (frack) waste water, adding to their existing facility. WVSA is adjoining Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a block away from the Carey Avenue Bridge, and LLSA is in Duryea, both on the Susquehanna River. Either one or both of these plants could treat a large proportion of the frack water from Northeastern Pennsylvania and South Eastern New York.
WVSA has looked into this possibility carefully and has dropped plans for now mainly because of the truck traffic it would cause in residential neighborhoods. If either of these plants treat frack water in the future, it may be transported to these plants on 5000 gallon tanker trucks at the rate of one truck every five minutes, maybe day and night. Indeed a million gallons of frack water a day could be coming to Wyoming Valley. And what is in this water? This is how Dr. Thomas Jiunta1 describes the chemicals added to the water:
“over 300 of them in an average fracking solution, have been revealed by scientists, to be at least 75 percent hazardous to our health, including many cancer-causing substances. Not only are the additives carcinogenic and proven endocrine disrupters, but unfortunately the fracturing process causes normally underground toxic organic and inorganic substances and heavy metals to come to the surface. These include volatile organic solvents naturally found underground such as the methane extracted and also compounds, such as benzene, toluene and propane. They also include heavy metals which are trapped in the shale and are then soluble in the mixture that comes back up including: Lead, arsenic, mercury, barium, chromium and strontium. In addition, brine is extracted which ranges from sea water type salinity to six times this salinity. Radioactive elements which are normally found under ground, are brought up.”
With all of those trucks passing through towns in the valley for decades into the future, there are bound to be leaks, spills and catastrophic crashes. In addition we need to guard against air pollution from the water being processed at the our local sanitation authorities. Laura Legere, Staff Writer for the Citizen’s Voice2 reported: “a centralized impoundment that holds the waste water from 10 wells could theoretically release 32.5 tons of methanol into the air each year – meaning it could qualify as a “major” source of toxic air pollutants under federal rules.” We can expect that waste water from many more than ten wells will be held at the treatment facility, and so we are threatened by toxic air pollution in the Wyoming Valley.
The function of the treatment plant at our sanitation authorities would be to separate chemicals from the frack water, and then ship it back to be reused in the drilling operations. The sediment from this process will contain these hazardous chemicals. According to published reports the plan is to deposit the sediment in state approved land fills. These chemicals such as elements arsenic, cadmium and radium last for thousands of years, while a typical land fill holds waste for only twenty years, after which it leaks into the environment. Thus the land fill solution to waste storage may be only temporary, and future generations will be saddled with our waste again. To illustrate this issue consider radium.
Marvin Resnikoff, Ph.D.3 studied the radioactivity on rock pieces in the flow back from drilling operations and concluded the following:
* Radioactivity in Marcellus is 20 times higher than background.
* Radium-226 is soluble in water and is in waste water
* Drilling fluid is reused many times and some Radium-226 can accumulate each time.
* Ra-226 is a carcinogen so causes cancer.
* This could cause landfill workers to be exposed.
* 1600 years is the half-life of Ra-226,
Since the radioactivity of individual trucks may be below the ability of landfill radiation detectors to measure, large amounts of radio activity in the waste may not be detected until they build up over time in the landfill.
Resnikoff further concludes:
Workers at a landfill where drill cuttings are dumped can be expected to exceed the health-base dose limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the NRC.
Based on calculations radiation exposures received by a future resident farmer of the land at the landfill will exceed allowable regulatory limits.
Radioactive scale cuttings and fluids are more appropriately deposited in a radioactive land fill designated for this disposal.
Thus we can conclude that the typical land fill with a 20 year lifetime may be inadequate to protect the environment from these hazardous and radioactive chemicals. Resnikoff recommends use of a nuclear waste land fill which is designed to hold for 1000 years. (Is that enough time, given a 1600 year half-life of the radium?) Also the constantly reused frack water can be expected to become increasingly radioactive. Indeed radioactivity in the truck parts, in particular in rust builds up over time, so that the drivers may become increasingly threatened with excess radiation exposure and may need to be considered nuclear hazardous material workers and regulated as such.
In conclusion, if we get to the point of having a million gallons per day of Marcellus Shale drilling waste water processed in the valley, we will need to take many precautions to avoid its health and environmental threats.
(1) “Letter to the Editor”, Thomas Jiunta Wilkes-Barre, PA: Citizens Voice (May 13, 2010)
(2) “Wastewater: A risky business” Laura Legere (Staff Writer) Wilkes-Barre: Citizen’s Voice, June 22, 2010.
(3) “Radioactivity in Marcellus Shale,” Marvin Resnikoff, Ph.D., 526 W. 26th Street #517, New York, NY 10001 : Radioactive Waste Management Associates, (May 19, 2010).
See also: “Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement On The Oil, Gas, and Solution Mining Regulatory Program” NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Mineral Resources, Bureau of Oil & Gas Regulation 652 Broadway, 3rd Floor, Albany, NY 9 (September, 2009).
June 1, 2011
There will be tens of thousands of gas wells drilled and fracked over the next two decades using slick water horizontal hydrofracking
This Massive-Scale Gas Drilling Will Bring You:
Lower Property Values
Polluted and Unusable Water
The loss of rivers of water to the earth deep below.
Toxic Waste (heavy metals, carcinogens, brine and radioactive materials) (10 to 30 tons of chemicals per well)
Open Waste Pits
Carcinogens Left Underground
Depleted Water Habitat
Loss of Farmland
Loss of Tourism
Disrupted Wildlife Habitat
Higher Crime Rate
Choking Truck Traffic
Lower Quality of Life (why do you love this place?)
Loss of habitat
Dubious Farm Products
Increased Health Costs
Increased Infrastructure Costs
Educate yourself and take action!
Don’t be fooled by the propaganda you see on television and billboards.
All this is happening within the context of:
Machine-like Corporate values (IE the maximization of profit)
Political values (IE re-election is the god)
Mismanagement and disregard for the community (see Accidents and Violations Section here and elsewhere).
Then mix in weakened laws, a depleted DEP, and rapid expansion.
Isn’t this a case for MORATORIUM!?
Don Williams of the Susquehanna River Sentinel sent me this encouraging news from the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.
(It is ironic that Chesapeake carries the same name as the very place it threatens. It is an old totalitarian tactic. Wolves in sheep’s clothing.)
Attorney General Gansler Notifies Chesapeake Energy of the State’s Intent to Sue for Endangering the Health of Citizens and the Environment
BALTIMORE, MD ( May 2, 2011) – Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today announced that he has sent a letter to Chesapeake Energy Corporation and its affiliates, notifying the companies of the State of Maryland’s intent to sue for violating the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA). On April 19, thousands of gallons of fracking fluids were released from a well owned and operated by Chesapeake Energy into Towanda Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River, which supplies 45% of the fresh water in the Chesapeake Bay. In his letter, Attorney General Gansler notified the company that at the close of the required 90-day notice period, the State intends to file a citizen suit and seek injunctive relief and civil penalties under RCRA for solid or hazardous waste contamination of soils and ground waters, and the surface waters and sediments of Towanda Creek and the Susquehanna River. The State also intends to seek injunctive relief and civil penalties under the CWA for violation of the CWA’s prohibition on unpermitted pollution to waters of the United States.
Chesapeake Energy owns and operates numerous natural gas wells in the Marcellus Shale, including the Atgas 2H well in Leroy Township in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. At approximately 11:45 p.m. on April 19, 2011, essential components of the Atgas 2H well failed, causing tens of thousands of gallons of fracking fluids to be released. These fluids escaped Chesapeake Energy’s inadequate containment, crossed over neighboring farm fields, and entered into Towanda Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River, which flows into Maryland. The Susquehanna River supplies drinking water for approximately 6.2 million people and sensitive fish populations like the American shad and striped bass are moving into the Susquehanna flats at this time of year. Exposure to toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in unknown quantities creates a risk of imminent and substantial endangerment to humans using Pennsylvania and Maryland waterways for recreation and to the environment.
“Companies cannot expose citizens to dangerous chemicals that pose serious health risks to the environment and to public health,” said Attorney General Gansler. “We are using all resources available to hold Chesapeake Energy accountable for its actions.”
Towanda Creek, located in central north Pennsylvania, is a tributary of the Susquehanna River, which provides 45% of the fresh water in the Chesapeake Bay. It is situated above the Marcellus Shale, an underground rock formation that spans portions of Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York. The Marcellus Shale is estimated to contain 250-500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, a valuable energy resource. Natural gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale are extracted through a process of vertical and horizontal drilling known as hydraulic fracturing, “hydrofracking,” or “fracking.” This process involves the injection of fluids containing a mixture of water, chemicals, and other compounds into a well that has been drilled into the Marcellus Shale, fluids that, at high pressure, can fracture rock formations in the shale and release natural gas, which can then be extracted. These fluids are referred to as “drilling fluids, “fracturing fluids,” or “fracking fluids.”
Although the precise mixture of these fracking fluids is not known, a recent Congressional study found that they contain 750 chemicals and other components, including several extremely toxic compounds. High levels of these contaminants remain in the fracking fluid that returns to the surface as wastewater after a well has been hydrofracked. This wastewater, referred to as “flowback water,” is then contained at the well site, either to be recycled or hauled away for disposal. Flowback water also contains high levels of radioactive materials. The New York Times has reported that both industry and EPA confidential studies indicate that these materials “cannot be fully diluted in rivers and other waterways.” Radioactivity levels in Pennsylvania fracking wastewater have sometimes been thousands of times above the maximum allowed by the federal standard for drinking water.
I initially posted this story and its related document two days ago and then pulled it after several hours. Here is why I originally yanked it, and eventually re-posted it.
Upon originally skimming the Talking Points document, I felt it gave concrete proof of what the anti frack/ pro change movement has been charging all along. I thought the handbook was so chillingly manipulative and deliberate, it would contribute to the growing awareness and discontent. So I posted it
But after a second read, I began to wonder if it was legitimate. It seemed too blatant. Too contrived. How could someone be so naive and/or arrogant to print this? Perhaps it was a fabrication of some sort. I wondered. So I suspended the post and did a bit more searching and reasoning.
First, I thought back on how blatant and sophomoric the industry’s style has been thus far.
I recalled the first zoning meeting at the Luzerne County Courthouse. EnCana’s presenters were not their usual people like Joel Fox and Wendy Wiedenbeck. Rather, it was two young attractive women sporting cleavage and long legs. They were marketing lightweights, there for eye candy purposes only. How blatant! (Audrey Simpson has the whole thing on tape.)
Then I thought of Dimock. How violating! The community was occupied and transformed by a soulless corporate entity with the full backing of an equally soulless state. And when people spoke up, they were spied upon and marginalized. Some day their survivors will win big law suits.
And then I considered the buying of Corbett, the lobbyists, billboards, commercials, sponsorships (compromising the likes of WVIA and Penn State), flag waving, “clean gas” propaganda, and “jobs, jobs, jobs,”… All the while: the violations, spills, accidents, explosions, deaths, injuries, dumping, diving land values, foreign investment, water depletion, well spoilage, lack of oversight, expedited permitting, and on and on…
Why these heartless bastards even put drill pads next to schools! Blatant!
So I came to the conclusion that these companies are capable of anything immoral, sophomoric, and stupid.
Secondly, the document is consistent with reports on landman tactics that I have heard and read.
So, here it is again:
A post by John Trallo in the Susquehanna County Gas Forum:
For immediate release to all media outlets:
This document (see attached) marked: ” Proprietary – Do Not Distribute ” was ‘dropped’ by a land man and ‘fell’ into my hands.
This is a section of a ‘land man’s handbook’ on how to acquire oil/gas/mineral leases using false claims, misinformation, careful wording, half-truths, lies, and lying by omission. It clearly demonstrates that the oil and gas industry know exactly what they’re doing, and are completely aware of the ground water contamination, radiation, loss of property, loss of property value, and loss of quality of life. They know exactly how this industrialization will ruin a community.
This may be the most damaging evidence we have .
Pass this on to each and every investigative reporter, journalist, newspaper, environmental advocacy group, and legal defense group. Pass it on to all citizens who are concerned about the dangers of natural gas drilling, too.
See the document HERE: Talking Points for Selling Oil and Gas Lease Rights
This poem is from a collection: “Gas, Fire, and Water from Marcellus Shale”, a collection of poems and drawings of John Bromberg’s sculptures by Richard Aston which has the aim of making people aware of the time involved in the life cycle of gas from Marcellus shale (100 million years), and acquire an appreciation for the water which is threatened by the process of drilling for and extracting the gas. What right do we have to use all this gas in one century? How will this process affect future generations? A thematic poem goes:
How long has it been since you felt the sun, turned toward it, put out a flower, fed a flighty thing after your nectar?
How did you bear the weight pressing on you, the millions of years, the rocks and the sea?
Was it me you were fixing to attend,
I who burn you,
use the energy that you stored so long, all of it for me?
For what purpose?
To go where?
John Bromberg is a prolific artist working in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and Richard Aston published most of the poems, primarily in the region.
The Kirby and WVIA have both refused to show Gasland despite the the fact they sit atop the Marcellus Shale and are charged with being community resources. And, in spite of the the many requests by their patrons to do so. Something is prejudicing them against an open mind.
If you want to watch films such as Gasland, and The Future of Food (in their entirety and absolutely free) go to www.thoughtmaybe.com.
Here is a fantastic Public Radio Station with diverse, intelligent programming: www.Wgdr.org
(if you have any suggestions of your own please forward)
My wife and I have listened to and supported WVIA radio for thirty years. We are not sure what to do. Bill Kelly seems unwilling to consider his manifest bias for gas drilling. He gets a privileged salary at the “non-commercial” station, why should he bite the hands that luxuriate him. Quite the contrary, he seems to kiss those hands with fervor . Witness the Northeast Business Journal series.
We must try every possible (and impossible) avenue, strategy, tactic, and maneuver we can think of to stop the ruination of Pennsylvania by the gas drilling industry. Whether it is a protected species or place. Whether it is super inflated performance bonding. Or, perhaps, the discovery of forgotten laws. Moratoriums, and rights ordinances. Political and populist activism. Consciousness raising, demonstrating, civil disobedience … There is no one way. When you are in a fight, you don’t use just one hand. You use your whole body and spirit to defeat the invader.
Here is a letter to a state representative, asking that Harveys Lake be considered “exceptional”. While it can be argued that all bodies of water are exceptional, the state does have that designation to consider as a solution for this particular body of water. Why not try it?
It has come to our attention that DEP issued a drilling permit on Dec. 3rd for a gas well on Sterling Farms in Wyoming County. This is about a mile from our lake. It is inconceivable that an agency charged with protecting our environment could issue a permit for drilling within such close proximity to the lake.
I see in today’s Citizens’ Voice that the state is nearing a decision on making Silver Lake (also a glacial lake) a designated “exceptional value” watershed, which will prohibit gas drilling activities in that area. For the life of me, I can’t understand why the citizens need to be pointing out to the DEP where these exceptional water sheds exist! Do they do any research before handing out these drilling permits?
A single accident like the one in Clearfiled County in June can potentially destroy Harveys Lake. This would be a crime of significant proportions.
Throughout the years, DEP has had a great deal of influence on protecting our lake. Our public sewer system was state mandated, as is the current moratorium on any new connections to this system. Residents are experiencing difficulty in obtaining permits from DEP to build docks on their shoreline property because of the potential to harm plankton. We have our own ordinance banning the use of port-a-potties/job johnnies because of the potential leakage into the lake. It is ludicrous to allow gas drilling so close to this lake!
I am asking for your immediate attention as I consider this a matter of urgency! Please do whatever you can to stop this madness. Harveys Lake is the state’s largest natural freshwater lake and is pristine. If that doesn’t qualify it for “:exceptional value” status, I don’t know what does! – Michell’e Boice (letter to Representative Karen Boback)