Environmental Impacts on the Monongahela River and Dunkard Creek

Monongahela River and Dunkard Creek
Thursday, December 3, 2009, 4PM – 8PM
Mt. Morris Gospel Tabernacle Church – Community Room
103 School Rd.
Mt. Morris, PA 15349

Results of the investigation to date of the fishkill on Dunkard Creek by various agencies will be presented. Water drawdowns contributing to low flow conditions and elevated TDS due to gas drilling waste water dumping have been suggested as contributing factors in the Dunkard Creek event. Lets find out what the experts say.

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Hi Melissa,

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES or HELP WANTED is a good topic. I suggest you start a discussion with this title so you enjoy the benefit of a headline to the discussion rather than have it misplaced under Environmental Impacts. Good luck. Dee
Update: I attended the Greene Co. Economic Dev./Upper Mon River Assoc. meeting in Mount Morris. Several agencies from PA and WV, as well as the EPA, gave presentations. The conclusion is that coal mine discharges were responsible for the elevated Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in Dunkard Creek. Golden alga, a marine organism previously unknown to the MidAtlantic region, were able to thrive in the salty water environment; toxins produced by the alga killed 20,000 plus fish. The 14 species of mussels were wiped out by the high TDS. The flow rate of the stream was at record lows. Some residents claim that there were extensive water withdrawals by tanker trucks. The PA Fish and Boat Commission has referred the incident to the Attorney General's office as a criminal investigation.
“Recent water restrictions from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), both from the freshwater side as well as the wastewater disposal side, will limit the pace of tapping Marcellus natural gas,” said David Kohl, of CWM Environmental, Inc., a local environmental company. “Until an economically viable water desalination process proves itself in the field, industry tends to be skeptical. Well, now that problem has been solved with this Altela unit.”
For the complete story, go tohttp://www.waterandwastewater.com/www_services/news_center/publish/article_001921.shtml

Washington PA OBSERVER-REPORTER Sunday 13 December 2009:

Lessons of coal industry apply to natural gas rush, too

12/13/2009 3:33 AM

By George R. Carter Jr.
More than a hundred years ago, men such as B.J. Tuit, J.V. Thompson, G.L. Hibbs and J.E. and J.R. Barnes traveled from farm to farm in Southwestern Pennsylvania acquiring the mining rights to the Pittsburgh coal seam. They amassed great fortunes in mineral wealth, compared to the pittance they paid to the landowners. Still, the farmers were generally quite pleased with the money in their pockets, and many probably were convinced they "got the best of the city slickers" because the coal would "never be mined."

Jump forward to the 1960s, when the mining of the coal and the spread of suburban development came into ever-increasing conflict. Mine subsidence began to affect not just isolated individuals in rural areas, but whole communities of people with the financial and political power to bring about a change. As a result, new law was enacted to limit the mining rights of the coal owner and provide guidelines for the protection of certain surface structures. Then, in the 1990s, the law was re-written, removing some of the mining restrictions imposed in 1966 in exchange for the assumption of responsibility for water replacement and compensation for subsidence damages. To this day, there are still serious flaws in the system of mining regulations which allow social injustice and environmental harm to occur all to frequently. I could go on, but that is not my real point.

Today's Tuits and Thompsons are agents of Atlas, Chesapeake, CNX, Range, et al., and their prize is the Marcellus Shale. Like the farmers of old selling their Pittsburgh coal, too many landowners are getting so excited about the "wealth" they are being promised that they fail to see the negative aspects of this boom.

It took nearly 60 years after the birth of the modern coal industry for the public and politicians to recognize the problems it created and to begin to take corrective action. With the Marcellus boom, we cannot afford to wait that long. The first Marcellus well was drilled in Washington County in 2003. The Department of Environmental Protection reported 64 new Marcellus Shale natural gas wells started in the commonwealth (22 between Greene and Washington counties) during the first two weeks of November!

Already the flaws in the regulatory system are evident. Thirteen residential water wells in the Susquehanna basin were contaminated by methane from Marcellus drilling, and DEP - after the fact - required the driller involved to submit a well-casing plan before a new permit will be issued. Why is this not a requirement of every drilling permit? Forty-three miles of Dunkard Creek in West Virginia and Pennsylvania are now devoid of aquatic fauna from a toxic bloom of algae, which exploits water with characteristics common to Marcellus Shale discharge. Who is responsible for tracking the millions of gallons of water involved in each Marcellus well and assuring proper disposal? With the new horizontal drilling technique, Marcellus gas can be produced from shale thousands of feet from the surface well location. Who monitors the placement of these wells to assure that the well operator has the leasehold right to the gas being extracted?

Sure, the Marcellus represents jobs, and I'm all for that. A little bit of personal wealth can come in handy, too. But let's not let the current "gas rush" create the kind of problems we have seen with the coal industry. Speak out. Urge your legislators to put some brakes on the boom until an appropriate legal framework is in place.

George R. Carter Jr. lives in Jefferson and retired in 2007 after a career in the coal industry in production, engineering and consulting. He is a past president and active member of the Harry Enstrom (Greene County) Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America.

Copyright Observer Publishing Co.
Dear Mr. Carter> Bless you for your essay and for sharing your concerns. Yours is the first voice of reason I have heard in the " gold rush " of marcellus shale. I have property in Dimock and what has occurred there is a travesty and a tragedy . Why can;t the drilling companies use biodegradable and environment friendly compounds? Why are they allowed to put so many drill rigs up? What happens after the gas is gone and people are left with toxic water supply, decimated landscapes and worthless real estate? What are they doing with the wastewater? No one has answered these question. Would you let your child drink water with methane gas in it? I would not. No one is going to buy property in an industrial wasteland.
To the belligerent and unreasonable environmentalist above:

I'll answer your questions.

1) Drilling companies can't use biodegradable and environmentally friendly compounds because they don't work. When they don't work we don't have energy. And when we dont have energy then you can't come onto these sites and rant and rave like a 3 year old. .05% of Frac water has these chemicals - the majority of them you wash your dishes with. Where does that water go?

2) Why are they allowed to put so many drill rigs up? First of all - they're drilling rigs. Okay now down to your simple-minded question. We need an alternative to coal - TODAY. I get it, you'd like to live in your hut in the forest, eat nuts and berries and sing kumbaya to the whoosh of wind mills, but that's not realistic in today's world. Yet I think everybody here realizes you don't live in the same world we do. You can't poke one hole and you're done. In order to get off coal - which I think has tainted your little brain - we need to tap into a cleaner burning domestic fuel. One that can save this country on its way to becoming more dependant on renewables.

3) What happens after the gas is gone??? Really? If the gas in the Marcellus is gone I'll tell you what happens. One, the US is energy independent meaning we can stop funneling billions of dollars into overseas wars to fight those who are buying rocket launchers with our (your) own money. Two, we are using natural gas, which is much cleaner than oil and coal. Three, the 1.7 trillion dollars from taxes will save this country from it's debt, and Pennsylvania (if it was a country) would be the 18th richest country in the world. I'm sure you've been living under a rock the past 30 years, literally, so you might not have noticed the 102,000 wells already drilled in Pennsylvania prior to the Marcellus being the Marcellus. You say your land was pristine before drilling though. So, 102,000 wells is okay, but when you add in a few thousand from the Marcellus I guess we pass the critical 110,000 well threshold. Good observation!

4) What are they doing with the wastewater? They're dumping into residential pools and in recreaction parks of course. Is that not good? I'm not serious obviously (well, maybe not obvious to you). Do you purposely ignore any environmentally friendly operations these companies are conducting? Range is using 100% of the "wastewater" it gets back. Chesapeake is moving down the same path and its only a matter of time until everybody gets there.

The thing is - ALL of these questions have been answered. Hundreds of times. It's just you are so ignorant about the subject and so biased against any drilling that you only listen to the bad news.

Carolyn, everybody knows you live in Dimock - you mention it on everything you write. Everybody knows you hate drilling no matter what. In that respect, everybody knows you're against being energy independant today. Everybody knows you support foreign oil, we know you support the depression we're in due to the lack of jobs, they know you support pennsylvania's large deficit. We get it, you support the ban of drilling for the Marcellus shale. Now get back to your hut, I think your acorn soup is ready.
(Clapping noises!) LOL! Well said Roy!! I just had a moment of silence for you! Nice POST!
Mean-spirited, abusive shaling is prohibited. I have requested that your post be removed.
Mr. Jones,

Please take it easy, you made a lot of good points but your not going to make a lot of converts by being mean to people. Many people have legitimate concerns about what is going on, and they are going to sometimes ask questions that sound silly to people in the industry. That is frustrating, but it's the way it is.

The general public doesn't know a lot about what we do and how we do it. There is also as I'm sure you have noticed a lot of misinformation and sometimes speculation that is past off as information floating around out there. It's up to the workers in this industry to try to inform the general public without being jerks. When you insult people they automatically put up their guard, and even the most logical of arguements falls on deaf ears.

Extremists such as Carolyn will never be "converted". The same goes for the environmental groups such as shaleshock or basically any hardcore green activist group. It doesn't matter how safe it is, they wont budge. It's because of these people that the industry is viewed the way it is. Sorry, but I don't feel bad about making blunt and truthful comments towards a pathological liar. It's a shame we live in such a sensitive society. Not referring to you, but when did people turn into such pansies??????

- Roy
OK I see your point, there are people who can not be convinced. Still I think we should take a more civil tone when argueing with them, because there are people who are on the fence and simple things like being polite even when you are talking to someone who is willingly ignorant goes a long way with people who are sane and just being flies on the wall taking it all in. In fact by playing it calm, cool, and polite you make your opposition look even crazier, and normal people with open minds will see that. They might not if both of you are acting negatively.

As far as living in a "sensitive society", I beg to differ. It doesn't matter if you are conservative or liberal, when you wake up in the morning there is already a TV News network that agrees with you and has a loud mouthed insensitive jerk yelling into a camera to prove it. I'm not calling on people to be oversensitve to the concerns and feelings of others to the point that we coddle eachother. I just think we should return to an age of civility, where at least there is some respect.

To sum it up I'm tired of important issues being clouded by Kieth Olbermann and Rush Limbaugh style discussions. Adopting a more respectful attitude towards people with concerns about what we do, doesn't make us pansies, it makes us convincing.
Well Roy, I can appreciate your sarcastic sense of humor. My skin is thick if you reply to one of my comments like that, no problem. Anyone who will be actively involved wth some aspect of this gas play had better grow hide like a dinosaur. These drilling companies play rough. That said, try putting such comments into general new discussions with your name at the top so those of us who might find your comments amusing can read them and those frailer individuals may leave your cage door closed and pass on by.


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