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Time for our county government to start working for us

timeRecently a local waste hauler, United Sanitation Network, inc. along with other partners including Waveco Energy Services, delivered plans for a DEP permit and made requests for a Luzerne County variance to build a industrial waste (frack) fluid disposal and recycling site in Lake Township. Never mind that the application was deficient and misleading in so many ways. Discrepancies from starting up with 30, 20,000 gallon tanks on site to 60 tanks, hours of operation going from 13 hours per day to round the clock 24/7 operations and amateurish methods of collecting toxic spills with buckets, left a lot to be desired.

Kudos to our Luzerne county council for pointing out and expressing strong opposition to the county zoning board, their concerns about the local environment, traffic safety, potential for serious accidents, and how this would negatively affect the quality-of-life for Luzerne county residents.

We elected a county council to make it harder to continue past corrupt county decision-making practices, and they took an oath to protect our health, safety and welfare. Councilman Bobeck was in disagreement with expressing the council reservations to the zoning board, and although he gave his reasons( with which I disagree), he at least presented his rationale for his decision. Mr. Brominski on the other hand, would not agree with counsel to send the letter voicing opposition to the hazardous waste site and gave no valid reason for his stance against this resolution that would help improve the quality of life for Luzerne County residents.

Let’s be honest, drilling, fracking, extraction, transportation and processing of the Marcellus Shale gas with its ancillary industrial facilities such as compressor and dehydration stations, pipelines and toxic waste discharge problems, is a dirty practice with negative environmental and health consequences.  Just ask the people living near the Chapin dehydration station, what negative effects they have experienced both in quality-of-life issues and property value decreases. The chemicals involved in fracking and the waste disposal products are known human carcinogens and have the potential for serious negative health consequences. These industrial facilities should not be allowed near any residential homes, near streams, rivers or wetlands feeding our water supplies nor should they be allowed to spout fumes that degrade our air-quality over the Wyoming Valley. The huge toxic water trucks hauling radioactive, hazardous waste should not be traveling our quaint narrow rural roads alongside our school buses and degrading our roads and bridges. We all pay the price for increased incidence of leukemias and other cancers, neurological problems, and increased asthma and breathing issues with a poorer quality-of-life and higher health costs.

Let’s give thanks to the overwhelming majority of county council members who spoke up to keep these industrial facilities out of Luzerne county and agreed to help safeguard our health and properties. The people of Luzerne county came out to speak at these meetings and the council listened. Let’s put the DEP and the county zoning board on notice that we live in a democracy and the people will decide what we want for our county.

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frackWe’ve all heard the refrain of “fracking doesn’t contaminate water”.  We’ve heard it from the Natural Gas Industry, from their front groups, from politicians, from the government environmental departments and their supporters.

This is true, because fracking is just one small part of the entire process of natural gas drilling.    The “frack” is the moment of explosion where the shale is shattered, and in that moment of explosion there is no contamination.

Contamination may occur at other points of the entire process of natural gas drilling.

It may be from failed well casings.  Mark Boling, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Southwestern Energy Co, Stated he has examined several incidents in Colorado and Pennsylvania where gas drilling appears to have caused gas to get into drinking water.  “Every one we identified was caused by a failure of the integrity of the well, and almost always it was the cement job.”

March 2013 Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology said “Environmental contamination can result from a multitude of activities that are part of the oil and gas exploration and production process.”

“While the study found no direct link between water contamination and fracking itself, it did cite surface spills of fracturing chemicals as a risk to groundwater. It also found blowouts underground during fracking operations have been under-reported.” Per Reading Beyond the Headlines: Fracking and Water Contamination | February 17, 2012 | By Mose Buchele | StateImpact.npr.org

Many reports of groundwater contamination occur in conventional oil and gas operations (e.g. failure of well-bore casing and cementing) and are not unique to hydraulic fracturing. Surface spills of fracturing fluids appear to pose greater risks to groundwater than hydraulic fracturing itself.   Blowouts – uncontrolled fluid releases during construction and operation – are a rare occurrence, but subsurface blowouts appear to be under-reported.

The Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS), through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), has obtained determination letters from the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  Each and everyone of them states very clearly:

DEP Determination


DCS has over 30 of these letters available for you to read, and from their website, it sounds like they will have even more available soon.  Dates on the letters range from as far back as 2009 to May of this year.   The determination letters are from Orwell, Tuscarora, Alba Boro, Monroe, Wilmont, Terry, Granville, Asylum, Leroy, Smithfield, Troy, West Burlington, and Windham.