Sunday, August 30, 2009

Private Well Owner Outreach and Training Session - PA Free Assistance to Watershed Groups

Wilkes University and B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. conducted a private well owner outreach and education program and summarized the findings of the 2008 and 2009 assessment at the Birchwood Lakes Community in the Pocono Mountains. The program is part of the Homeowner Outreach Program at Wilkes University and is funded as part of the C-SAW Program - Managed by the Pocono Northeast Resource, Conservation, & Development Council. This program is supported in part by the efforts of the Pocono Northeast RC&D Council, Consortium for Scientific Assistance to Watersheds, Pennsylvania Lake Management Society, Wilkes University - Center for Environmental Quality, PA Growing Greener Program, and the Carbon County Groundwater Guardians.

The education session included 3 workshops and training session related to the geology of the Poconos, the relationship between surfacewater and groundwater, private well construction, groundwater quality, the results of the 2008 and 2009 groundwater sampling, Marcellus Shale Development and a Q/A session of water quality and water treatment. The main speaker was Mr. Brian Oram, Professional Geologist who is the principle at B. F. Environmental Consultants Inc and manager for the Center for Environmental Quality - Water Quality Laboratory within the Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences Department at Wilkes University. The C-SAW program provides free assistance to watershed organizations.

The Carbon County Groundwater Guardians is a nonprofit, volunteer organization providing education on groundwater, private wells and septic systems to homeowners, civic groups and students based in Carbon County, PA. The website for the organization is

The mission of the Pocono Northeast Resource Conservation and Development Council is to enhance and improve the ecological, cultural, and economic characteristics of the area through projects and programs that promote the management, protection, and utilization of the area's resources and the vision of the Council is to be a recognized leader and advocate of natural resource and community sustainability in northeastern Pennsylvania. The Council is the administrator of the C-SAW grant program. For more information -

If your community or watershed organization is interested in participating or conducting an education workshop, please contact Mr. Brian Oram at Wilkes University.

For more details - visit

Community Outreach and Education Programs

C-SAW Program

# # #

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

EPA: Chemicals Found in Wyoming Drinking Water Might Be From Fracking

"About 65 people, many in jeans, boots and 10-gallon hats, filled Pavillion’s community hall on Aug. 11 to hear the EPA’s findings. They were told that a range of contaminants, including arsenic, copper, vanadium and methane gas were found in the water. Many of these substances are found in various fluids used at drilling sites.

Of particular concern were compounds called adamantanes, a natural hydrocarbon found in gas that can be used to fingerprint its origin, and 2-BE, listed as a common fracturing fluid in the EPA’s 2004 research report on hydraulic fracturing. That compound, which EPA scientists in Wyoming said they identified with 97 percent certainty, was suspected by some environmental groups in a 2004 drilling-related contamination case in Colorado, also involving EnCana.
EPA investigators explained that because they had no idea what to test for, they were relegated to an exhaustive process of scanning water samples for spikes in unidentified compounds and then running those compounds like fingerprints through a criminal database for matches against a vast library of unregulated and understudied substances. That is how they found the adamantanes and 2-BE.

An EnCana representative told the crowd that the company was as concerned about the contamination as the residents were, and pledged to help the EPA in its investigation "

To read the full article go to

Portion of Article by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica

What is Polycythemia vera

"Polycythemia vera (PV) is a chronic myeloproliferative disorder caused by a mutation in the JAK2 gene. It represents one of a spectrum of blood cell proliferative disorders in which there is a clonal proliferation of a particular cell line. Other diseases in this spectrum include: essential thrombocytosis, myelofibrosis (from stromal cell proliferation) and chronic myelogenous leukemia.

Clinical Issues
1. occurs at any age
2. pruritis, especially after a warm bath
3. erythromelalgia (burning pain in feet or hands with erythema, pallor or cyanosis)
4. thrombosis (both arterial and venous)
5. non-specific GI symptoms associated with gout

“The PV Study Group” developed diagnostic criteria back in the 1960s:
Increased red cell mass
Arterial oxygen saturation > 92%
(Palpable) splenomegaly
Platelet count > 400 000 /uL
Leukocyte count > 12 000 /uL
(Elevated serum B12 level, leukocyte alkaline phosphatase)

These criteria can now be complemented by blood tests:
erythropoeitin level (should be low in PV; high in secondary causes of erythocytosis)
genetic studies, including for the JAK2 mutation (essentially 100% have a JAK2 mutation)

Phlebotomy to a target hematocrit is the primary therapy (<45% men, <42% women).
Low dose aspirin should be added unless there is a significant contraindication.
Hydroxyurea may be added if there is a high risk of thrombosis.
Other therapies, including interferon and radioactive phosphorus can be used, usually for intolerable pruritis. Allopurinol may be added for gout management.

With treatment life expectancy is good, although there is an overall mortality almost twice that of age-matched peers. Main morbidity and mortality stems from thrombotic events and from progression to other hematologic malignancies including myelofibrosis, myelodysplastic syndrome and acute leukemia".

This is a reposting of a good article.
August 25, 2009, 12:56 Filed under: Hematology, Malignant

This was not written by Brian Oram, but we did repost to help get out the information in this article.

National Resource Council Reports - Atrazine in Drinking Water

Trying to get out information on Atrazine Detection.

"Drinking water containing a common herbicide could pose a greater public health risk than previously thought because regular municipal monitoring doesn't detect frequent spikes in the chemical's levels, according to a report released Monday by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The report documented spikes in atrazine in the water supplies of Midwestern and Southern towns in agricultural areas, where the herbicide is applied to the vast majority of corn, sorghum and sugar cane fields.

Atrazine, an endocrine disrupter, can interfere with the body's hormonal activity and the development of reproductive organs. The Environmental Protection Agency looks at annual average levels of the chemical in drinking-water systems, but the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says this misses spikes likely to occur after rain and springtime application of the herbicide.

"Our biggest concern is early-life-stage development," said NRDC senior scientist Jennifer Sass. "If there's a disruption during that time, it becomes hard-wired into the system. These endocrine disrupters act in the body at extremely low levels. These spikes matter."

She said the chemical could also be linked to menstrual problems and endocrine-related cancers in adults.

Scientists with atrazine manufacturer Syngenta called the NRDC study alarmist and said the spikes fall within one- and 10-day limits that the EPA considers safe.

"Atrazine is one of the best studied, most thoroughly regulated molecules on the planet," said Syngenta toxicologist Tim Pastoor. "Those momentary spikes are not going to be injurious to human health."

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, municipal water supplies are typically tested for chemicals, including atrazine, four times a year. The EPA considers an annual average atrazine level below 3 parts per billion as safe for human consumption. But biweekly data collected by the EPA from 139 municipal water systems found that atrazine was present 90 percent of the time and that 54 water systems had one-time spikes above 3 parts per billion in 2003 and 2004, according to an analysis by the NRDC.

NRDC scientists and lawyers argue that the EPA's limits are too lenient, given studies showing the effects of low levels of atrazine on rats and other animals and the fact that it is nearly impossible to epidemiologically trace the chemical's effects on humans.

Steve Owens, assistant administrator for the EPA's office of prevention, pesticides and toxic substances, said the agency will review its atrazine policies as part of a larger reassessment of how chemicals and pesticides are regulated.

"The Obama EPA will take a hard look at atrazine and other substances," he said. "This thorough review will rely on transparency and sound science, including independent scientific peer review. We will continue to closely track new scientific developments and will determine whether a change in our regulatory position is appropriate."

Atrazine can be removed by carbon filters at water treatment plants or in households. Many water treatment plants use such filters, but others do not. The Washington Aqueduct, which treats water from the Potomac River for about 1 million Washington area customers, does not treat for atrazine because it is rarely found at levels over 0.5 parts per billion in the water.

The NRDC is asking the EPA to step up its atrazine monitoring and make the results public. The group is also encouraging farmers to greatly reduce or end use of the herbicide. Atrazine is effectively banned in the European Union, though Pastoor said a similar chemical, terbuthylazine, is widely used in Europe. He noted that atrazine, introduced in 1958, is especially attractive to farmers because it lasts for about 40 days in the soil and can be applied before, during or after planting. It is considered conducive to no-till practices that reduce a field's carbon footprint.

Atrazine is also used on lawns and golf courses in the South, and Sass said children playing on treated grass could be dangerously exposed to it. It can also concentrate in rain and fog.

Since 2003, the EPA has monitored atrazine levels in surface and ground water in 40 watersheds in the central and southern United States. The NRDC says the results raise grave concerns for wildlife and ecosystems in these areas and in the Gulf of Mexico, where much of the agricultural runoff from the Midwest ends up. Atrazine has been found to cause limb deformities and hermaphroditism in frogs at concentrations as low as 0.1 parts per billion. It is also known to kill algae and micro-organisms that make up the base of aquatic food chains, and in conjunction with other pesticides and herbicides, it suppresses animals' immune systems.

In 2003 the NRDC filed a lawsuit charging that the EPA violated the Endangered Species Act during the atrazine re-registration process by failing to adequately consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service about how the herbicide could affect about 20 endangered species of frogs, fish, turtles and other reptiles and amphibians.

A 2008 letter from the Fish and Wildlife Service says atrazine could harm endangered Alabama sturgeon and Chesapeake Bay dwarf wedgemussel, since it is known to damage such organisms and affect food supplies, even at lower levels than what the EPA considers safe.

Negotiations between the Fish and Wildlife Service and the EPA could result in different limits or requirements for atrazine."

Original Source
Herbicide Found in Water May Pose Greater Danger

Article Author - By Kari Lydersen
Tuesday, August 25, 2009

This posting is not the work of Brian Oram, but it an important press release that needs to be posted.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Online Course Announced - Introduction to Ground Source Heating and Cooling

"Geothermal energy uses the flow of thermal energy from beneath the Earth's surface to heat homes and businesses and generate electricity. Geothermal energy is also used in many industrial and commercial applications, such as agriculture, fish farming, food dehydration, gold processing and milk pasteurizing. Geothermal energy has many advantages over other forms of energy. It is cleaner and more abundant than fossil fuels. In fact, the thermal energy in the uppermost six miles of the Earth's crust amounts to 50,000 times the energy of all oil and gas resources in the world. With advances in technology, geothermal energy is becoming a more economically viable energy choice for many applications.

In this course, the student will review the document "Geothermal Energy... Power from the Depths" published by the U.S. Dept. of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This publication describes the basics of geothermal energy and outlines its advantages relative to other energy sources. This course is relevant to engineers who are interested in learning about an alternative energy source that can potentially reduce the energy costs and emissions of a plant, business or residence.

This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:

· Merits of geothermal energy relative to other forms of energy
· Types and geographic locations of different types of geothermal resources
· Types of geothermal power plants
· Direct uses of geothermal energy
· Heat pump basics

This course is part of the outreach efforts of B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc to promote alternative and renewable energy" (Website Content).

Geothermal Energy Systems Online Course

Online Course in BioMass Systems and Biorefinery Technology - Biomass Oil Systems

"Biorefinery technology can improve the income of firms that produce energy products combined with biobased coproducts. They do this by producing a variety of high value products in addition to the typically low value fuels. The biomass feedstocks evaluated in this report are lipids from animal fats, fish and poultry oils, plant oils, and recycled cooking greases. Higher rates of return attract investors and lead to expanded capacity. Profits generated by the biobased fuels may encourage more investment, more facilities, and eventually a larger biofuel supply. Thus, biomass biorefineries need biobased coproducts to succeed in the fuels industry.

In this course the student will learn about biomass oils and distillate fuel use opportunities, production, composition, supply and biorefinery methods. The student will learn of the business advantages of using alternate fuels such as biomass fuels to improve the bottom line."

Go to

Biomass Training Course - Online Training Program

Wind Energy Assessment - Online Training Course Announced

B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc is announcing the availability of a wind resource assessment course. The course is offered as part of the companies distance learning program and the course is available to citizens and professionals.

A wind resource assessment program is similar to other technical projects. It requires planning and coordination and is constrained by budget and schedule limitations. It demands a clear set of objectives so the best assessment approach is selected. Its ultimate success rests on the quality of the program's assembled assets—sound siting and measurement techniques, trained staff, quality equipment, and thorough data analysis techniques.

In this course the student will learn various resource assessment approaches and recommendations for the use of a formal measurement plan, a monitoring strategy, and a quality assurance plan. The course summarizes the most commonly used siting techniques and addresses land leasing and permitting requirements for a measurement tower. The course details the recommended measurement parameters and offers guidelines for incorporating other optional parameters that may benefit your monitoring program. The course describes the instrument components of a recommended wind resource monitoring station, including the performance specifications for basic and optional sensors. The course highlights data issues related to in-field raw data storage, data retrieval and protection, retrieval frequency, and documentation.

This course can be used by professional engineers to fulfill PDH requirements mandated by state and provincial licensing boards. This course provides 6 hours of continuing education.

Wind Energy Training Course

Monday, August 17, 2009

Solutions for Natural Gas Development for Northeastern Pennsylvania

The following are just my ideas related to natural gas development in Pennsylvania. To minimize problems with natural gas development, the citizens, communities, educators, and companies should consider working together and it may be advisable to implement the following:

1. Establish private well construction standards that include grouting annular spaces and initial water quality testing. This monitoring should include documenting static water level and direction of groundwater flow.

2. Requiring predrilling and post-drilling water testing of groundwater wells, springs, and surfacewater sources.

3. Royality owners with wells should consider replacing substandard wells with sanitary wells. If royality owners have old hand-dug wells, these wells should be abandon.

4. Royality owners should reach out to none royality owners and encourage them to get their wells tested.

5. Drilling and Exploration companies

a. Install at least one nested groundwater well within the general vicinity of the construction pad or establish additional regional monitoring sites to better understand the vertical extent of the freshwater aquifer. These wells should be fitted with a pressure transducer and the water pressure should be monitored during the drilling and fracing process.

The nested wells should be divided into zone - shallow groundwater consolidate formation (< 150 feet), moderately deep consolidated (150 - 400 feet), deep consolidated (400 to 600 feet), deep possible brine water (600 to 1500 feet), and if shallow gas is present from 1500 to 2500 feet.

b. In the production well - the drillers should install additional fresh water casing. The first freshwater casing should not extend more than 300 feet below ground - Typical depth of most private wells) and should not penetrate a shallow gas producing formation. The second freshwater (shallow gas) casing should extend from 300 feet to 800 feet or the maximum depth of private wells and community water supplies within 1 mile from the production well and this casing should not penetrate a shallow gas zone. If a shallow gas bearing zone is encountered, a separate casing would have to be installed. There are databases available to assist with this evaluation or it may be necessary to survey local well drillers and private well owners.

Note: It may be advisable to have a PA licensed geologist be part of the decision making regarding the extent and depth of the freshwater casing.

Note: Casings should be cemented to the surface. The revisions in the casing should include the installation of the 13 3/8 casing that is used for coal seams - even when coal is not present and this casing should be grouted to the surface.

Possible Casing Breakdown

1. 24 inch conductor casing - up to 60 feet.
2. 20 inch casing - up to 600 feet to 800 feet (i.e., freshwater interface) cemented to the surface * - If many of the surrounding private wells are shallow the well design may want to attempt to add a casing segment that has a maximum depth of 300 feet and then 600 feet.
3. 13 3/8 inch casing - up to 1000 feet cemented to the surface
4. 9 5/8 casing - seal off shallow gas - cemented to the surface
5. 5 1/2 casing - this should be cemented to within the 9 5/8 casing.

c. These decisions would be based on a combination of database searches, information from local drillers, information from surrounding private wells, and on-site water quality monitoring during drilling to document the variation in the freshwater chemistry and presence of shallow gas deposits.

d. At the production well - it appears that it may be necessary to improve the cementing process to make sure that the freshwater sections are properly cementing. I believe that limiting the vertical leg of each casing section and grouting segment will help and create multiple barriers in the system and conducting third party assessments of the cement seal are necessary.

In addition, the cement should be field tested. From experience with drilling in the consolidated formation in PA, it is possible that the minimum amount of cement required to fill the annulus may be 3 to 5 times the actual void volume. This would take into consideration loss of cement to the formation or fractured zones.

Limiting the vertical sections also limits the chance that shallow gas may be pushed by grouting into a shallow freshwater zone.

6. If PA levees a tax on natural gas - a portion of the funding should go to a program to replace substandard private wells, install water treatment for sites that have been impacted,  and water systems for areas that have been impacted by natural gas drilling. The program could then take the legal action to recover from the companies- so each homeowner does not have to carry the financial burden.

7. Municipalites - should develop a private well construction and permitting ordinance and facilitate education and outreach in the community.

Just a few thoughts.

Brian Oram, Professional Geologist
B. F. Environmental Consultants

Saturday, August 15, 2009

New IGSHPA-Accredited Installer for Ground Source Heat Pumps In Northeastern Pennsylvania

Copy of Press Release

B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc announces that Professional Geologist - Mr. Brian Oram successfuly completed training and certification by the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association and has obtained IGSHPA-Installer Accreditation.

The training coordinator for the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association announced that Mr. Brian Oram of B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. is now accredited by the International Gound Source Heat Pump Assocation as an accredited installer and a member in good standing with The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association . Mr. Brian Oram is a licensed professional geologist, soil scientist, and a licensed well driller.

B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. has worked with local engineering firms, well drilling companies, and other to assist in the assessment, evaluation, and design of ground source heating and cooling systems. Obtaining this certification was a continuation of the companies efforts to encourage and promote local and more efficient energy solutions for residential, commercial, and institutional systems in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

In addition, the Company has partnered with the eLearning Center to promote the Go Green Program. This program is a series of over 20 courses in green development, solar energy, wind turbines, biofuels, biomass heating, biodiesel, geothermal, microhydro turbines, hydrogen power, alternative energy, environmental management, and much more. This program offfers CEU (continuing education), PDH (professional development hours), distance learing opportunities, and continuing education credits for professionals.

For more Information, please visit

Business Annoucement and Outreach - Residental Water Testing Program Available Private Well Testing Marcellus Shale

B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. of Dallas, Pennsylvania has collaborated with local Pennsylvania Certified Laboratories to assist landowners and royality owners in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The program provides a mechanism were the private well and water supply owners can have their well or water source inspected, documented, and sampled to meet chain-of-custody protocols and provide a water quality and water quantity baseline prior to natural gas development.

All field work is conducted by a licensed professional geologist following approved and standard protocols for field sampling, collecting, and transporting samples to the certified laboratory and all reports are reviewed and signed and sealed by a professional geologist.

A summary of the services provided by B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. and its partners:

a. conducting baseline water quality sampling and monitoring and developing custom environmental monitoring/ assessment programs;

b. expert testimony and professional consultant services;

c. environmental education and outreach;

d. conducting environmental assessments and inventories; and

f. implementing engineering controls and engineering design.

In providing education outreach and other environmental related services, B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. partners with a number of locally owned consulting, environmental testing laboratories, engineering firms, municipalities, planners, and local grassroots community organizations.

If you would like to learn more about this program, please visit

B.F. Environmental Consultants Community Outreach

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Superfund Settlement in Pennsylvania- Finally !

"The largest environmental damage settlement in Pennsylvania's history will pay for the restoration of vegetation, water, and the ecosystem in and around the Palmerton Superfund site. Many of the state and federal agencies involved in the settlement will recoup some of the cost of their cleanup and other efforts over the years.
Residents of Palmerton and the towns in Lehigh, Northampton and Monroe counties affected by the contamination, however, will not share the $21.4 million to be paid by five companies."

"CBS/Westinghouse of Pa. Inc., the current owner of the site, along with CBS Operations Inc.,TCI Pacific Communications Inc., HH Liquidating Corp. and HRD Liquidating Corp., the successor companies of the zinc smelting operators that polluted the region for decades, agreed to make a cash payment of $9.875 million.
The money will be used to help pay for the restoration of the region, which was declared a Superfund site in 1983 following decades of zinc smelting by the former New Jersey Zinc Co."

"The smelting, which emitted hazardous materials including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, manganese and zinc, contaminated nearby rivers and streams and destroyed acres of vegetation on neighboring Blue Mountain.A lawsuit brought by more than 100 Palmerton residents against the New Jersey Zinc Co. was settled in the 1990s."

To read more on this article go to
The Original Article

Posted a poriton of an article by Matt Birkbeck | OF THE MORNING CALL