A note to township supervisors for meetings with Natural Gas Industry representatives - please advise residents to wear hip boots and bring shovels. The manure piles up pretty fast and high.
Dallas, PA: Beginning on May 1, there have been a 5 pipeline blowouts, spilling more than 6,000 gallons of drilling mud at two different Dallas Township sites: Leonards Creek on Kunkle Road, and Upper Demunds Road and Goodleigh Road.
Dallas Supervisors were contacted on May 3, (two days after the first blowout), by a resident requesting information about the blowout.
PA Department of Environmental Protection (PA-DEP) stated they were notified by Chief Gathering of the blowout when the first blow out happened and PA-DEP responded that day. It did not ocurr to them to perhaps.... notify town officials? This was one of many questions asked at the Wednesday, May 15, 2012 town meeting.
The small meeting room was filled with local residents concerned about the mud blowouts, especially since the incidents were in or near a public water supply, residential artesian wells and sensitive wetlands. Also present were representatives from PA-DEP, Chief Gathering (a subsidiary of Chief Oil & Gas), and their contractor, Southeast Directional Drilling.
Chief Gathering and PA-DEP had requested they be placed first on the meeting agenda and to keep discussion at a minimum. They were first on the agenda, but the discussion was anything but "minimal".
For a little over an hour, representatives from Chief, PA-DEP and Southeast were peppered with questions. Their answers were less than satisfactory and comprised of the Natural Gas industry's talking points, and spin. If it weren't for the absence of television cameras, I would have thought a natural gas TV commercial was being made before our eyes.
Three of the choicest bits from the meeting:
1. PA-DEP spokesperson said it wasn't a mud spill or mud blowout... ready for this? It was an "inadvertent return to surface". Does calling it an "inadvertent return to surface" make it less of a hazardous situation? The information the repesentatives from PA-DEP were not especially helpful or informative and were perceived as condensending. One PA-DEP representative was caught smirking when local Dallas residents were expressing concerns about their drinking water.
2. Chief representatives were grilled about the Bentonite recipe they are using. No big surprise that Chief played down the health risks, and mentioned that bentonite is used in many food products as a binding agent or used to drill water wells. Crickets were heard when they were asked if they would drink a glass of water with bentonite in it.
One Chief spokes-parrot piped up and said bentonite is also used as a laxative....
ooooooooo-kaaayyyy.... be that as it may, I don't know about you but I don't want my drinking water dispensing laxatives.
3. Chief should know better than to send an inexperienced spokes-parrot to these type of meetings - especially the Dallas town meetings where we have several people quite well informed on fracking and related activities.
As this part of the town meeting was winding down, Chief was asked what their purpose in coming to the meeting was about as it was obvious it wasn't to answer questions and address concerns.
Chief's spokes- parrot stated they were there to educated the public so they can but it behind them, complete the job and get out of town.
Uhhhhh...yeah. Do good neighbors drill, contaminate water and run?
"You have to please understand the skepticism we have," resident Jim DeMichele said. "We're new to this. We're here. They're getting done and they're getting out of here."
I agree with Mr. DeMichele with one correction - the word skepticism is too nice, distrust would be better.
We do not trust Harrisburg legislators and the current occupant of the governor's mansion to do what's best for the people of Pennsylvania. We do not trust the PA-DEP, one wonders which "environment" are they really protecting? The air, land and water belonging to the people of Pennsylvania, or the business environment for the benefit of the Natural Gas Industry? And we certainly do not trust the Natural Gas Industry when their priority is to get the job done and get out.