High Volume Gas Metering Station to be a Stone’s Throw from Northeastern PA Elementary, Middle and High School Campus
Chief Gathering LLC is going to build a gas metering station 1,300 feet from the Dallas Township Schools in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, according to The Dallas Post on December 11, 2011, and much to the dismay of residents opposed to industrial gas activity so close their children’s schools.
From the beginning, The Times Leader/Dallas Post reporter Sarah Hite has been following the story with old-school, local reporting. Her article, Gas Issue Was a Talker All Year Long, provides a detailed timeline of the Dallas Township schools saga. Hite covers the facts, and also reveals how difficult it is for citizens to have a meaningful say in shale gas development, even in their own school districts. Her reporting cranks up the volume on this community’s personal, urgent plight against the gas industry, lending concerned parents and residents a more resonant voice in the state-wide debate over industrial gas development.
The issue of the Dallas Township Schools highlights the need for local zoning ordinances to be determined and enforced locally. It may not be easy, but it’s the only real recourse we have. It underscores the importance of contacting your state senator and representative, and asking them to protect your local zoning rights today. Clean Water Action/PA has a popular campaign opposing this key sticking point of SB1100.
Is Opposition to Gas Activities Near Our Public Schools Purely Academic?
Imagine you’re a parent living in this Dallas Township school district, and you’ve been opposing the Chief station for months. You’ve learned enough about the explosiveness and toxicity of natural gas production to worry. You know that this kind of air pollution can cause nose bleeds, endocrine disruption and cancer. You saw the news when a San Bruno, California neighborhood went up in flames after a massive gas pipeline explosion. You might even have friends in Allentown or Northeast Philly who felt the large gas explosions there. And you may even have heard about the compressor station explosion in sleepy Bedford County, PA, too.
Maybe you’ve seen the infrared footage, and joined the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition. Together, you worked and organized all year long until finally, in December, 2011, your local zoning board approves a significantly downgraded version of Chief’s original permit.
Now, instead of a larger, highly noxious gathering and compression station, Dallas Township kids will learn and play alongside a site where there is “strictly a building with measuring equipment.” Never mind that this intentionally nondescript building will sit atop the nexus of a 33-mile gathering pipeline from Susquehanna County, constructed to tap into the Transco interstate pipeline. Chief is touting it as a victory for all sides.
I agree with Dallas Township supervisor-elect Liz Martin when she said, “I don’t think natural gas activities should be anywhere near the schools.”
The natural gas industry emits untold toxins into the air through processing, compressing, purifying and liquifying, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is only required to file a report on these emissions once every three years, and then only because the EPA requires it. Plus, the DEP has only just begun reporting on shale gas producers like one big industrial polluter, rather than a number of smaller ones.
The Dallas Township Schools metering station permit issue appears to be history, for the time being, but the township’s larger local zoning issues are far from over. Today, Hite also reports in the The Dallas Post, in Gas Metering Station to be Built, that “Next week zoning hearings will begin for another natural gas company, Williams Field Services LLC and its request to build a similar facility about 500 feet away from the Chief site.”
Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover…
While the Dallas Township metering station will have a relatively small footprint above ground, a glimpse behind the curtain reveals it is an important link in Chief LLC’s gathering infrastructure. The company states that station will be used only to measure the quantity and quality of the gas flowing through it, and they are to be prohibited from using the site for storage or developing any further gas processing facilities for a 1.75 mile radius from the Dallas Schools station.
We know however, because it’s widely documented, that there will be increased toxic air pollution, noise and the new possibility of explosions near the schools. The natural gas industry may have slick promotional campaigns, but processing “nat-gas” clearly has a dirty and dangerous underbelly – one that no parent in Pennsylvania can ignore.
In this 5-minute video, the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition deconstructs the myth of the innocuous-looking natural gas facility. If you don’t have time to view it, simply remember one fact about toxic air pollution, “When the symptoms show, it’s too late.”