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A Flood of Problems From Pennsylvania's Gas Drilling Rush

Floodeddrilling In Pennsylvania's rush to approve new wells for a booming natural gas industry, the state is  allowing drilling in areas that could cause environmental damage - including in floodplains.

This reckless practice means that wastewater and toxic chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process can be swept into rivers during floods.

This practice of allowing drilling in floodplains must stop, because it creates public health hazards.

Pictured above is a drilling site near a stream in northeastern Pennsylvania (Susquehanna County) that was flooded on January 26 after heavy rains. This photo, and the ones below, are from the website of the Susquehanna River Sentinel, which granted permission for them to be posted here.  

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and its partners in Trout Unlimited are demanding that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection order gas companies to remove their well drilling operations from flood-prone areas. CBF and Trout Unlimited are also calling for the closure of current legal loopholes that allow drilling in floodplains.

Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is a process in which drillers inject millions of gallons of water laced with chemicals into the ground to crack rock and release natural gas. The drilling companies use hydrocholoric acid and other toxic chemicals that have the potential to spill and cause damage to the environment, as Bay Daily reported in December. Wastewater from drilling sites is also heavy in salts and other minerals that can harm freshwater streams. 

 "The handling of fracking chemicals and highly contaminated drilling wastewater in floodplains is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. It has to stop," said Matt Ehrhart, executive director of CBF's Pennsylvania office.

CBF has found serious flaws in the "fast track" permitting process that Pennsylvania instituted in April 2009 to encourage drilling in a formation of black rock called the Marcellus Shale.  More than 650 wells have been drilled across Pennsylvania over the last four years, tapping into this formation.

Last August, CBF appealed three erosion and sediment control permits that had been issued by the state for drilling sites in Tioga County, Pennsylvania.  CBF's appeals resulted in the state reviewing the plans and revoking all three permits because of serious deficiencies.

Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell recently announced plans to hire 68 additional staff to increase inspections and improve compliance of drilling sites in the Marcellus shale region.  Some of this additional staff should be used to more carefully scrutinize permit applications, and keep drillers out of flood-prone areas like these.

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Comments

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Also, one of the big issues from this fracking method is that all of the water that is being forced down into these drilled wells, then forces up the gas and chemicals. Well, it also has been poisoning residents drinking water due to the contamination from the Gas being forced up into peoples private wells and the water table. Why isn't the government trying to protect the health and welfare of the residents of these PA towns?
I guess the tax payers will have to pick up the cleanup bill for this too. These big companies come in, do what ever they want, including ruin public and private property(our drinking water), polluting soils etc. Then the EPA (our tax dollars), will come in later on when people can't get a clean drink of water, or shower with out smelling like a gas well,and make more superfund sites and spend billions of our tax dollars on buying up properties, cleaning up the mess that these big business's are creating and then leaving behind. This has gone on long enough in this country. This is the kind of government spending that can be prevented now! Stop this type of drilling now! How can these people sleep at night?

Onshore Gas Drilling Pollution Disasters have compromised water from toxic chemicals used in drilling fluids. The government exempted the Poisons from being included in water testing! An underground live video cam can show where toxic drilling chemical end up...in your next sip of water, in your bath water near gas drilling? Spread the word: Humans, wildlife and aquatic life are being polluted by toxic chemicals while the government and corporations legally loot and pollute. This is an onshore gas drilling environmental crime!
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