PA DEP “Gets It Right” About 5% of the Time

“It Looked Like the Mountain Was Bleeding…”

Fracking is now being widely debated in Europe and Canada, and according to a January 2011 documentary by Britain’s Ecologist TV, fracking in Pennsylvania is a study of Natural Gas Extraction done wrong. Picture postcard American landscapes are being poisoned and destroyed by toxic chemicals injected into the ground. There is Methane Migration in domestic drinking wells near drilling sites, massive volumes of highly carcinogenic, radioactive flowback (267 times the safe disposal limit) being trucked out of state, mostly to New York and, all too often, flowback is spilling into streams, ponds and wetland, killing off local ecosystems.

“Some of the sites are well regulated, yeah, where DEP and OSHA and stuff like that, where they’re right on `em and stuff, they’re well-regulated, but the rest of the 95% where they’re not going to go out to the site and look at them? No.” Laughs. “No, they’re not well-regulated. Some of them are real bad. I’ve seen chemicals come out the side, literally the side, and it looked like the mountain was bleeding.”   
~ Former Bradford County gas well worker [SOURCE: Ecologist TV,]

Just to recap, in 2010, Pennsylvania had 6,583 approved drilling permits, and 2,755 wells drilled. As of the end of March 2011, 956 new permits have been approved. The PA DEP has roughly 3,000 inspectors in six regional offices throughout the state. In 2010, DEP reported 2,486 violations. Stringent regulation of the toxic chemicals used in Hydraulic Fracturing, which were exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act by the Bush administration in 2005, has fallen to the state agencies like the DEP in Pennsylvania. Since unabashedly pro-gas Governor Corbet took office in January, 2011, the number of violations reporting has fallen off sharply compared to violations reported in prior months and in January, 2010, as well.

The average frack well requires about 5,000 gallons of toxic chemical cocktail to stimulate production. Drilling sites may have up to 8 wells per pad. That’s 40,000 gallons of carcinogenic chemicals potentially used in a single drilling site. So when the PA DEP approved 956 drilling permits this year, it also gave a green light to inject as much as 4,780,000 gallons of chemicals into the ground in Pennsylvania.

These chemicals have known links to disease, including:

Bone Cancer
Liver Cancer
Breast Cancer
Gastrointestinal Diseases
Respiratory Diseases
Developmental Disorders
Brain & Nervous System Disorders

I know, right? I’m pretty good at math but by no means gifted, yet even I can interpret the numbers: The cumulative impacts of fracking are accumulating, exponentially. And I’m confident my summation is correct because the rest of the world seems to be drawing the same conclusion. Because environmental concerns are being swept aside in the name of Profitability and Inevitability, and because regulation is so sorely lacking, the Gas Boom in Pennsylvania isn’t merely the classic runaway train, it’s a potential “catastrophe in the making.”

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