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“Showdown at the SRBC Corral”

March 15, 2012

Anadarko is just one of the fracking corporations looking forward to receiving massive handouts of fresh water from the beautiful Susquehanna River Basin on Thursday, March 15th when the Susquehanna River Basin Commission meets to vote on water withdrawals. Over 30 organizations have now joined the call for an immediate halt on new permits for water withdrawals for fracking in the Susquehanna Basin. Here is excellent coverage of the “Showdown Expected at the SRBC Corral” by Susan Phillips of StateImpact:

Although the SRBC says no pub­lic com­ment will be allowed at tomorrow’s meet­ing, activists say they will tes­tify any­way. Drilling oppo­nents are plan­ning non­vi­o­lent direct action at the Susque­hanna River Basin Com­mis­sion meet­ing on Thurs­day, in Har­ris­burg. The SRBC is expected to approve sev­eral water with­drawal per­mits for Anadarko Petro­leum, Cabot Oil and Gas, and Car­rizo. But envi­ron­men­tal activists say the SRBC has rubber-stamped these per­mits while ignor­ing the envi­ron­men­tal impact of gas drilling in the Susque­hanna river watershed.

Iris Marie Bloom, from the Philadelphia-based Pro­tect­ing Our Waters, says she’s reluc­tant to resort to direct action, but pre­vi­ous attempts to influ­ence com­mis­sion­ers through pub­lic com­ment has failed.

“We feel we have to be pro­tec­tors,” she said. “Nobody wants to get arrested.”

Isaiah Thompson also blogged about the March 15th SRBC meeting here, “Susquehanna River Basin Commission to vote on massive water withdrawals for fracking tomorrow morning; has threatened disrupters with arrest.”

Phillips covered the SRBC’s draconian new policies regarding public comment here, in “The Susquehanna River Basin Commission’s New Rules for Radicals,” and also blogged recently about the surprising harassment Ben Kessler, a “young fractivist” — an environmental activist in North Texas — experienced when his attempts to influence gas drilling policy inspired the FBI to start questioning those around him, including his philosophy professor: “A Young Fractivist in Texas Finds Himself the Target of an FBI investigation.” The full story about Ben Kessler is in the Washington Post, here: “As Eco-Terrorism Wanes, Governments Still Target Activist Groups Seen as Threat.”

Seems to me that, while showdowns and FBI intimidation fascinate us, the reality which continues to escape us is the reality that every day, there are 12 more violations at Marcellus Shale gas drilling wells in PA, and those are only the ones that are caught. Here is a one-page summary of the violations from just one company, Anadarko, which a Protecting Our Waters volunteer looked up on the PA DEP website tonight. IW means “Industrial Waste.” Out of 154 violations, the company was fined, according to her research, just over $20,000 total. That is what passes for enforcement in a state which refuses to set up a registry for gas drilling-related health complaints, let alone a system to make sure that people impacted by toxic fracking contaminants in the air or water can actually get treatment.

Here’s the Anadarko summary:


82 inspections since 5/28/2008, all of them showing violations for a total of 154 violations and 22 enforcements in various counties.

Only 2 penalties were assessed for all this: $9,641 and $12,455.

Violations included:
• numerous EH&S violations related to site stabilization and erosion as well as failure to fill “rat holes” (drill or bore holes used to facilitate well drilling) before removal of rigging from wellsite, (see more info and photo at bottom.)
• failure to prevent leaks related to improperly lined pit, pit and tanks not constructed with sufficient capacity, inadequate spill prevention measures, impoundment not structurally sound and illegal or inadequate transport or storage measures
• discharge of “pollutional material” into waters of Commonwealth (3/17/2010 Grugan County)
• discharge of IW into waters of Commonwealth without a permit (Centre County 9/29/10)
• IW discharge without permit (Lycoming Co, 10/18/10)
• inadequate, insufficient or improperly installed cement
• production fluid released from a line disconnected from a gas water separator by a contract worker and left uncapped or sealed for 24+ hours (Centre Co 12/22/10)
• stream discharge of IW
• gas bubbling in cellar (failure to report)
• diesel fuel spill,
• 200 gallons of triethylene glycol released to the containment and ground when a union failed on an overhead pipe from the dehydration unit (Clinton county 2/1/2012)

Rathole: a rathole accotding to OSHA, is a hole in the rig floor 30-35’ deep that is lined with a casing that projects above the rig floor and into which the Kelly (the steel hexagonal member that turns the drill stem) is inserted. Falling into it is listed as a potential hazard.

IW means Industrial Waste. Source: Pennsylvania DEP Website. More about the action at SRBC today: our Media Advisory is here.

  1. Mark Schmerling permalink
    March 17, 2012 2:22 pm

    My speakers are not hooked up. Who’s the guy in the video?


  1. Video, News: Showdown at the SRBC Corral vs. Toxic Fracking Secrets « Protecting Our Waters

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