Urgent: Comment here by Dec. 31st to EPA: Deny two deep injection wells in PA
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.
- Click here to comment about the Brady Township well (Windfall Oil and Gas) in Clearfield County. Pennsylvania.
- Click here to comment about the Highland Township well (Seneca Resources) in Elk County, Pennsylvania.
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.
- 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone number, 215-814-5464.
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.