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Urgent: Comment here by Dec. 31st to EPA: Deny two deep injection wells in PA

December 24, 2012

Seriously? A New Year’s Eve deadline? Yes. The EPA is patting themselves on the back for their generosity in extending the period for written comment about two new wells to inject poisonous waste from fracking (known as flowback) deep underground in western Pennsylvania, until New Year’s Eve.Seeing as how people are extraordinarily busy this time of year, the extension has gone completely unnoticed.

As of Friday December 21st, the EPA had received “one or two” emailed comments.

Please take two minutes to comment right now. We are urging EPA to reject permits for both wells. We also demand that they require the use of radar, seismic testing, or best available technology to definitively establish whether, and where, ALL old oil and gas wells are in the area. A paper search for 100 years’ worth of old abandoned oil and gas wells is not enough. Click on the links below to learn more and to add your voice.

This is a national issue. Anyone in the U.S. can comment.

This is a Marcellus Shale regional issue and a Pennsylvania issue. EVERYONE in Pennsylvania should comment.

Whatever it takes — even if you have to take this link to your New Year’s Eve parties — let’s generate 500 comments by midnight on December 31st. (psst: if it’s Jan. 1st and you think you missed it — try anyway. The EPA folks responsible for this comment period, trying to be accessible, said, “we don’t usually turn comments away if they’re a couple days late.”).

Background: Exemptions You can Drive a Frack Truck Through

Earthquakes caused by injection wells (also called deep injection wells, re-injection wells, and “disposal” wells) are becoming more frequent and getting bigger, including a 4.0, 4.7, 5.3 and 5.6 quake as well as hundreds of quakes in Arkansas. But EPA is claiming they can guarantee there will be no quakes from the Pennsylvania re-injection wells. Really? First we heard years’ worth of denial that these quakes were man-made. Then we were told they were too small to matter. But the people who have endured the shaking, been injured, or had their homes damaged strongly disagree. What’s an EPA guarantee worth these days, especially when it comes to fracking? That’s not clear, given the gas industry’s special exemptions.

National coverage: “Trillion gallon loophole: lax rules for drillers that inject pollutants,” from Propublica (September 2012), opens dramatically:

On a cold, overcast afternoon in January 2003, two tanker trucks backed up to an injection well site in a pasture outside Rosharon, Texas. There, under a steel shed, they began to unload thousands of gallons of wastewater for burial deep beneath the earth.

The waste – the byproduct of oil and gas drilling – was described in regulatory documents as a benign mixture of salt and water. But as the liquid rushed from the trucks, it released a billowing vapor of far more volatile materials, including benzene and other flammable hydrocarbons.

The truck engines, left to idle by their drivers, sucked the fumes from the air, revving into a high-pitched whine. Before anyone could react, one of the trucks backfired, releasing a spark that ignited the invisible cloud.

Fifteen-foot-high flames enveloped the steel shed and tankers. Two workers died, and four were rushed to the hospital with burns over much of their bodies. A third worker died six weeks later.

What happened that day at Rosharon was the result of a significant breakdown in the nation’s efforts to regulate the handling of toxic waste, a ProPublica investigation shows.

But keep reading. Because the devil is in the details. Gas and oil waste — carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, biocides, neurotoxins, hydrocarbons, radioactive material and all — is legally considered “non-hazardous” due to exemptions:

 In 1988, the EPA made it permanent, handing oil and gas companies a landmark exemption.  From then on, benzene from the fertilizer industry was considered hazardous, threatening health and underground water supplies; benzene derived from wells for the oil and gas industry was not.

Local residents near both wells have made an appropriately big stink. They know about this double standard, exempting toxic waste from being treated as such, which threatens their health. And they know the local factors which make them outraged that EPA is even considering permitting these wells. Please back them up now, wherever you live.

Here is national coverage of the fight over the Clearfield County well in USA Today.

WJAC-TV — Channel 6 (print story and video) “Clearfield County Leaders Hoping EPA Denies Permit” http

The Courier Express: “Opponents Make Case Against Disposal Well

The Courier Express editorial on December 10th, 2012, before the public hearing: “Injection Well Won’t Dispose of Anything.” 

The Progress also covered the opposition to these injection wells in western Pennsylvania.

EPA LINK with all relevant details is here.

Summary of concerns about the Brady Township well, voiced at the December 12th hearing in Dubois, as listed by Gant Daily, included these items:
  • A large amount of people and Brady Township obtain water from wells in the area of the proposed injection well. A few are located within the quarter-mile high pressure zone that is supposed to have defunct gas wells plugged off.
  • Two mine shifts are located near the proposed injection well and eject water into Sandy Lick Creek near the DuBois Mall.
  • Fracturing production wells exist along the edges of the proposed injection well area.
  • Two fault lines cross areas next to the proposed injection well.
  • Old gas wells from the 1950’s and 1960’s are in the surrounding area of the proposed injection well. Some are located within the quarter-mile area.
The local folks who turned out and packed the hall on cold December nights to fight for their land, their homes, their water and their future, made their voices heard.
Now it’s our turn. It’s much easier for us: no cold, no discomfort, no waiting interminably for your minutes to speak. Speak now, speak here, speak by New Year’s Eve!

Last time: here are the two links to comment — this time with the name and phone number of the relevant EPA official, so you can  phone in, or email in, your own comments directly if you prefer not to use our link.

 

1. Windfall injection well: CLEARFIELD COUNTY. Brady Township. Hearing was in Dubois; Documents for review are in Luthersburg. For comments and questions contact Steve Platt platt.steve@epa.gov, or phone number, 215-814-5464.

Tell the EPA to deny this permit, and why, here.

2. Seneca injection well: Highland Township. Hearing was in James City. Documents avail for review in Kane.

Comments and questions go to Roger Reinhart: reinhart.roger@epa.gov, or phone number, 215-814-5462

Tell the EPA to deny this permit, and why, here.

Many thanks to organic blueberry farmer Jenny Lisak of Ladybug Farms — excellent researcher, courageously outspoken shale country resident, and maker of the best blueberry jam in the U.S. — for sending all the vital information. May she and all  communities be safe and protected in the New Year.

23 Comments
  1. Heavenman permalink
    December 24, 2012 8:12 am

    Fracking and fire arms = US children future compromised , period.

  2. December 24, 2012 8:51 am

    BAN ALL SLICKWATER HORIZONTAL FRACKING AND THE EARTHQUAKE CAUSING INJECTION WELLS. They knew from a 1966 industry Oklahoma study that injection wells caused earthquakes and that was confirmed again by an 11 member panel of geologists and engineers in Ohio. .

  3. Rebekah Ray permalink
    December 24, 2012 9:18 am

    We need drinking water more than we need oil or gas. Stop fracking in PA!

  4. December 24, 2012 9:43 am

    If we don’t have clean water, what will we drink? Use common sense. Keep our water clean.

  5. Diana Luks permalink
    December 24, 2012 11:10 am

    WATER is our essential gift from Nature…if we don’t treat our MOTHER EARTH with care and kindness she will give us what we deserve….nothing clean and wholesome. Get It NOW before it’s too late

  6. Paul permalink
    December 24, 2012 12:07 pm

    Stop injecting sh** into the ground, thanks!

  7. Naomi Teppich permalink
    December 25, 2012 12:55 am

    PA has had its western part of the state pretty much ruined. it is so inhuman to do this to people, trees, and water. Leave nature alone. Use greener forms of energy.

  8. Victor permalink
    December 26, 2012 6:47 pm

    Absolutely unacceptable.

    Erin Brockovich, anyone?

  9. December 27, 2012 11:03 am

    Dear EPA: I have not met one citizen, resident, home owner, non-biased voted, human or family who is in favor of this short sighted solution to a practice which is wrecking our water supply for generations and possibly for centuries to come. Why don’t you store this toxic cocktail in your own back yard in steel drums if it is so harmless? Please stop these irresponsible corporations from proceeding.

    • Wendy permalink
      December 29, 2012 6:44 am

      Well put…..

  10. angelika lehrke permalink
    December 27, 2012 5:56 pm

    Water is our most valuable resource besides air – we need CLEAN water to live and do not want to be poisoned by iresponsible actions…

  11. December 28, 2012 4:56 pm

    Injection wells and toxic wastewater from fracking are a threat to safe drinking water. No injection wells in Pennsylvania! Ban fracking until a solution to cleaning up the toxic wastewater is found. We need safe drinking water now and for future generations.

  12. Gary permalink
    December 28, 2012 8:28 pm

    Stay the hell out of my backyard!

  13. Daniel W. Beck permalink
    December 29, 2012 12:04 am

    There has got to be a better solution to our energy problem than polluting the aquifers on which we depend for our drinking water. Air and water are even morecritical to our survival than energy, don’t you think?

  14. December 29, 2012 12:36 am

    We need a fuel that is free of dangerous waste products. Hiding it in wells that will eventually leak or cause disruptions in the earth are not the way.

  15. Wendy permalink
    December 29, 2012 6:43 am

    I have sent emails and letters, I have also shared this with as many people as I can….here is what I sent;
    With so many alternatives, please consider NOT destroying the Earth any more then we have already done. If you only care about the money as many do that are in this industry, then at least think about your children or grandchildren that may one day have to depend on the water supply that is being contaminated. Be a part of the SOLUTION, not the problem. It takes ONE person to start a change….and it is MORE POWERFUL than anything else in this world….CHANGE.

  16. Rik Sherry permalink
    December 29, 2012 8:41 am

    Benzene is poison no matter where it comes from. Why limit farmers who need all the breaks they can get & free up the oil & gas industry to poison our water at an alarming rate? Say no to any more freakin frackin! We can’t maintain this arrogant disregard for human life any longer! The rivers are just beginning to run clean, lets keep ém that way!

  17. Spencer permalink
    December 30, 2012 1:07 pm

    Water and air are more important than oil and gas. We have a right to clean water and air and we’d like to keep it that way. Ban Fracking in PA and invest in renewables!

  18. Nancy Matejka permalink
    December 30, 2012 6:30 pm

    Greed will be the demise of us! These gas industries don’t give a rats ass about people …all they care about is the bottom dollar! If fracking was so safe why don’t they do it in their own backyards!!

  19. Susan Dobrowolsky permalink
    December 31, 2012 12:58 pm

    Please leave the Earth in tact for us and for future generations. NO FRACKING!

  20. David Morgan permalink
    December 31, 2012 11:57 pm

    Please, no fracking in PA due to the high risks involved.

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