Berm, Baby, Berm! Freaked Over Fracking in Westmoreland

This week, Anthony Brino at SolveClimate News reported that residents near Beaver Run Reservoir in Westmoreland County are concerned over the risk of toxic pollution from a CNX frack wellpad which sits on a low-lying peninsula in the reservoirAs many as 80,000 water customers rely on Beaver Run, as do area private well-users whose taps are informed by this important body in their watershed. What’s more, this questionable slip of real estate was leased by the Municipal Water Authority of Westmoreland County.

Why on earth would a water authority lease its land to a gas driller? Even if you don’t subscribe to The Precautionary Principle, isn’t this totally counter-intuitive? Are water companies merely trying to make withdrawals more convenient for their new, big customer? Or do they plan to keep an eagle eye on drillers, making certain they don’t drill well bores closer than 1,000 feet from the reservoir’s banks? One thing I do know, drillers like watersheds almost as much as they like drilling sweet spots and proximity to coastal urban markets.

One look at the aerial view of Beaver Run says it all. The photo was taken by the most literal of all watchdog groups operating in Pennsylvania, Marcellus-shale.us. They keep an outstanding visual record of fracking and the PA Gas Boom. Their photo-journalistic activism offers both detailed glimpses of the process, and breath-taking bird’s eye views of the current state of affairs in Pennsylvania. Their work leaves an impression.

I wonder how it feels to know that the only thing between fracking’s killer toxins and your tap are tanks, trucks, bermed-up, double-lined pools, and three layers of steel and synthetically-bonded concrete? It’s not as if we can live with the pollution from serious fracking accidents. Both the chemicals deployed and the wastes produced are highly toxic and carcinogenic. We can’t learn to suck it up and live with it. What voter folly allows a local zoning board to operate as if 1,000 feet of buffer will seriously protect a watersheds and its people?

And, btw, whose watershed is next?

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