Wednesday, November 18, 2009

PA Law Suit Related to Natural Gas

This is not my work - The Source is
Original Article

"* Suit seeks to link fracking and polluted water

* Company says suit without merit, plans to defend

By Jon Hurdle

AVELLA, Pennsylvania, Nov 9 (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania landowner is suing an energy company for polluting his soil and water in an attempt to link a natural gas drilling technique with environmental contamination.

George Zimmermann, the owner of 480 acres (194 hectares) in Washington County, southwest Pennsylvania, says Atlas Energy Inc. (ATLS.O) ruined his land with toxic chemicals used in or released there by hydraulic fracturing.

Water tests at three locations by gas wells on Zimmermann's property -- one is 1,500 feet (460 metres) from his home -- found seven potentially carcinogenic chemicals above "screening levels" set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as warranting further investigation.

Jay Hammond, general counsel for Atlas, said Zimmermann's claims are "completely erroneous" and that the company is in compliance with Pennsylvania's gas-drilling regulations. Hammond said Atlas will "vigorously" defend itself in court and declined further comment.

But Zimmermann says he has evidence that chemicals used by Atlas contaminated his land.

"There are substances that can't be made by nature and that's what's in the ground," he told Reuters during an interview in his 12,000-square-foot house on a remote hilltop.

Atlas is exploiting the Marcellus Shale, a vast gas reserve that underlies about two-thirds of Pennsylvania and parts of West Virginia, Ohio and New York State. Experts estimate it contains enough natural gas to meet total U.S. demand for at least a decade.

The gas is being extracted by hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking", in which a mixture of water, sand and chemicals is forced a mile (1.6 km) or more underground at high pressure, fracturing the shale and causing the release of natural gas.

Development of the Marcellus, together with other major shale fields in Texas, Louisiana and other states, is being aided by advances in fracking combined with horizontal drilling, which provides more exposure to a formation than a vertical well and leads to less surface disturbance.

If Zimmermann wins his case, it would be the first in America to prove that hydraulic fracturing causes water contamination. Such a finding could slow the development and use of cleaner-burning natural gas that would reduce American dependence on overseas energy.


Baseline tests on Zimmermann's water a year before drilling began were "perfect," he said. In June, water tests found arsenic at 2,600 times acceptable levels, benzene at 44 times above limits and naphthalene five times the federal standard.

Soil samples detected mercury and selenium above official limits, as well as ethylbenzene, a chemical used in drilling, and trichloroethene, a naturally occurring but toxic chemical that can be brought to the surface by gas drilling.

The chemicals can cause many serious illnesses including damage to the immune, nervous and respiratory systems, according to the Endocrine Disruption Exchange, a researcher of the health effects of chemicals used in drilling.

Zimmermann's suit, filed in September in the Washington County Court of Common Pleas and obtained by Reuters, follows claims by residents in many gas-drilling areas of the United States that fracking pollutes private water wells with toxic chemicals and threatens widespread contamination of aquifers from which many rural households draw drinking water.

Although communities as far apart as Pennsylvania and Wyoming complain that their water has become unusable, they have been unable to prove a link to gas drilling. Energy companies refuse to say what chemicals are used in so-called fracking fluid, saying the mixture is proprietary.

Companies are not required to disclose the composition of the fluid because of an exemption to a federal clean water law granted to the oil and gas industry in 2005.

Many local residents have been deterred from fighting the gas companies by the expense of legal action and water testing. Zimmermann says he has spent about $15,000 on water tests and will spend whatever it takes to prove his case.

Rural residents who live near gas drilling say their water has become discolored, foul-smelling, or even flammable because methane from disturbed gas deposits has migrated into water wells.


Farmers in southwest Pennsylvania blame cattle deaths and mutations on local fracking. Other complaints attributed to tainted water include children's sickness, skin rashes and neurological disorders.

The industry says the chemicals used in fracking are injected through layers of steel and concrete thousands of feet below aquifers, and so pose no threat to drinking water. Spokesman argue there has never been a documented case of water contamination as a result of fracking.

On Zimmermann's property, the presence of water and soil contaminants that exceed EPA screening levels risks wider pollution of drinking water supply, wrote Cleason Smith, a consultant with Hydrosystems Management, which tested the soil and water, in a letter explaining the test results.

Atlas rejected Smith's report, saying in court documents that the findings were inadmissible.

Smith said further tests are needed to confirm the source of contamination but that some chemicals seem to come from fracking or related activity. Benzene, for example, is unlikely to be found on land that was previously forested, he said.

Zimmermann's suit says his land has become "virtually valueless" because it is permanently contaminated with toxic chemicals as a result of the 10 wells that Atlas has drilled.

The suit accuses Atlas -- which is able to drill on the land because it acquired the mineral rights from a previous owner -- of negligence. It is seeking an injunction against further drilling, and unspecified financial damages.

With a wife, an eight-year-old son and eight-month-old twins, Zimmermann, 66, worries about air and water quality.

He said he has invested about $11 million in the estate, which includes a winery and an heirloom-tomato business, but he now just wants to walk away because he believes it has been ruined by gas drilling.

He rates his chances of selling the property as "slim to none" in light of the proven water contamination.

"I don't want to live here any more," Zimmermann said. "I'm afraid of the chemicals.""

(Editing by Mark Egan and Philip Barbara)

This is a great article and individuals on all sides on this issue should follow. Personally, I believe the gas development companies need to take a hard look at the chemicals that are being used to attempt to use products that would have less impact on the environment.

Tent Caterpillars, Gypsy Moths, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid - Forest Pests in Wayne County, Pennsylvania

Tent Caterpillars, Gypsy Moths, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid - Forest Pests in Wayne County, Pennsylvania
The focus of the event is to update landowners on the pests affecting the Poconos and Wayne County, Pennsylvania- The Poconos Region. These pests include Tent Caterpillars, Gypsy Moths, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, Emerald Ash Borer, and more


PRLog (Press Release) – Nov 13, 2009 – Tent Caterpillars, Gypsy Moths, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, Emerald Ash Borer, Asian Longhorned Beetle, just to name a few. What is here now, and what is headed our way? Which "bugs" attack which trees? Will they affect the health of my forest? How do I know if I have a problem? Isn't there some way to stop this!

Wayne Conservation District, in partnership with PA-DCNR, is holding a Forest Pests presentation at the Wayne County Park Street Complex on Thursday, Nov. 19th at 6:30pm. The focus of the evening will be to update landowners on the pests affecting our area, as well as others that are headed our way. Landowners will also receive information on programs available to assist them with forest management. In addition, Wayne Conservation District has invited numerous area Forestry Consultants and Aerial Spray Applicators/Consultants to be on hand to discuss management, monitoring, and control options with landowners.

The presentation is free and open to forest landowners of Wayne County and surrounding areas. Doors will open at 6:00pm, with the program starting at 6:30pm. For more information contact Paul Reining, Forest Specialist at (570) 253-0930 or email

Event Promoted by
Pocono Northeast Resource Conservation and Development Council

Pennsylvania Energy Service Provider Network- Funding Alternative Energy Projects

Pennsylvania Energy Service Provider Network- Funding Alternative Energy Projects
The Sustainable Energy Fund has partnered with Wilkes University and the Pocono Northeast Resource Conservation & Development Council to host a meeting to introduce the SEF Energy Service Provider Network to Northeast Pennsylvania.


PRLog (Press Release) – Nov 12, 2009 – On Wednesday, Nov. 18th from 9:30AM-4PM at Wilkes University's Martz Center (Room 214- Building 28), the Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) in cooperation and coordination with the Pocono Northeast RC&D Council and Wilkes University Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences Department will be hosting a meeting/seminar for businesses, companies, and individuals on alternative and renewable energy and funding energy related projects.

The SEF is working on developing a service provider network to help deliver quality, cost effective sustainable energy projects to businesses, citizens, and non-profit organizations. The network will not only help to educate and inform local business and citizens, but will facilitate funding of local energy projects for individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations.

The meeting/seminar will focus on:

9:30AM-1:00PM - The SEF's "Energy Service Provider Network"

2:00PM-4:00PM - Energy info seminar for business people and the general public

Note: For the morning meeting parking is limited and preregistration is required- Mr. Chris Flynn at (610)264-4440 ext.16.

The morning session is for businesses or non-profit organizations that provide alternative energy services, such as: energy audits, solar and PV Systems, wind generation, groundsource, geothermal heating and cooling, biomass systems, insulation and weathering services, alternative energy training, and other energy related services. The main goal of the morning session is to inform the service providers how this partnership business could streamline the loan underwriting process, provide working capital, and introduce a microloan program.

The afternoon session is for citizens, businesses, and non-profits that are end users of energy related products and services. The purpose of the meeting will be to educate and inform the public on the financial incentives, financing options, ways to conserve and use energy more efficiently, and to introduce the Energy Service Provider Network. The main goal of the afternoon session is to inform the end users with information on the benefits of the Service Provider Network and the potential for streamlining the process of funding an energy project. For the afternoon session- no on-campus parking is being provided.

For more information, Visit or call Mr. Chris Flynn at (610)264-4440 ext.16.


For a Map of the Campus

Biomass Energy Project Assessment Workshop in Northeastern Pennsylvania

Biomass Energy Project Assessment Workshop in Northeastern Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Fuels for Schools and Beyond Partnership is conducting a Pre-Feasibilty Assessment Workshop for the use of biomass heating systems for institutional and commercial facilities in Northeastern Pennsylvania.


PRLog (Press Release) – Nov 17, 2009 – The Pennsylvania Fuels for Schools program is a statewide energy-use initiative aimed at promoting the use of local wood and biomass resources to provide reliable energy for Pennsylvania schools and businesses. Our main tasks are education, financial analysis support, and technical assistance. Physically, the initiative consists of a collaborative partnership of over 50 organizations and private groups that meet together regularly and work together towards the common goal of efficient, sustainable, and economical use of renewable wood and biomass energy in the state.

The Pennsylvania Fuels for Schools and Beyond Partnership is conducting a Pre-Feasibility Assessment for the use of biomass heating for institutional and commercial facilities in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The program will be a 1.5 day training session on December 17 and 18th, 2009 at the Clearfield County Career & Technology Center in Clearfield, Pennsylvania. The cost for the training session is only $ 10.00. The fee includes lunch and coffee on Day 1 and a copy of the workshop materials. The goal of the training session is to introduce the fuel for schools program and to provide hands-on training to determine if a biomass heating system is a feasible option for a building or facility.

For more information about this event, please visit

You can download a registration form and learn more about the program.

Your registration form is due no later than December 8, 2009 and the form should be mailed to the

Pocono Northeast Resource Conservation & Development Council
1300 Old Plank Road
Mayfield, PA 18433

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email Mr. Ryan Koch ( or Doan Ciolkosz (

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dredge Site Evaluation - Hazleton PA


Geologist critical of dredge site tests
By KENT JACKSON (Staff Writer)
Published: October 30, 2009

A geologist's report questions whether the groundwater monitoring wells at Hazleton's proposed amphitheater site will protect public health.

Geologist Robert Gadinski said the site has only one well capable of detecting whether contaminants from fill placed in the site are entering groundwater. He also said an increase in pH and the presence of arsenic in one well suggest contamination might be occurring.

Mark McClellan, consultant for the developer that installed the wells, said Gadinski and the opposition group that he represents agreed to the placement and depth of the wells before dropping a legal challenge. McClellan said Gadinski and the group, Citizen Advocates United to Safeguard the Environment (CAUSE), also signed a legal agreement saying that they wouldn't attack the groundwater monitoring plan. They raise a claim about pH that McClellan called bogus.

The developer, Hazleton Creek Properties LLC, installed five monitoring wells last year as part of a settlement reached with CAUSE in a case before the state's Environmental Hearing Board. CAUSE challenged Hazleton Creek's permit to reclaim the site - which is between Routes 309, 93 and 924 - with dredged material, coal ash and kiln dust.

McClellan said the groundwater system cost $2 million and Hazleton Creek posted a bond to ensure water monitoring continues 10 years after work stops at the site, where Mayor Lou Barletta proposed building a 20,000-seat amphitheater, stores and restaurants.

The state Department of Environmental Protection reviewed the groundwater plan, verified the surface locations of the wells before they were dug and then approved the system as built and tested, McClellan said.

Gadinski said only one of the wells is downgradient and capable of capturing water that would move through the 10 million cubic yards of fill or more that Hazleton Creek plans to bring to the site. The other wells are upgradient and may never show contamination picked up from the fill, he said.

Based on available information and a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, Gadinski wrote that one well cannot monitor the 3,200 feet across the property plus the shallow and deep mine pools at the site.

"This isn't monitoring but rather an attempt at making it look like the site is being monitored," Gadinski wrote. He also said it is reprehensible that the department sanctioned the system.

McClellan and Gadinski both worked for the department before becoming consultants.

Asked to comment on the report, Mark Carmon, the department's spokesman in Wilkes-Barre, said he forwarded copies to colleagues reviewing Hazleton Creek's latest application.

In the application, the company requested permission to reclaim the site's largest strip mine with dredged material, regulated fill and fine material from construction and demolition sites.

People have until Nov. 23 to comment about the application and they may attend a hearing about the application scheduled for Nov. 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Hazleton Area School District Administration Building.

In his report, "Technical Concerns Regarding the HCP Groundwater Monitoring System Hazleton City/Luzerne County/Pennsylvania," Gadinski said the pH at the downgradient well increased to 6.9 in a test on Jan. 20, 2009. He said the pH was 6.2 on Aug. 13, 2008. Rising pH suggested an alkaline substance entered the water, Gadinski said.

After the pH increased, arsenic was detected in the downgradient well and Gadinski said arsenic could become more soluble as the pH rises. He also said lead detected in one of the upgradient wells might show a connection to lead found in private wells off the site along Route 309.

McClellan replied that pH commonly fluctuates in mine pools. The tests done between August 2008 and March 2009 were to establish the background levels of contaminants such as arsenic and lead present before Hazleton Creek began permitted operations at the site, which formerly housed city landfills.

Hazleton Creek hasn't begun to mix dredged material with fly ash or kiln dust, which the company has approval to do under the terms of a state general permit.

Under another permit that doesn't require groundwater monitoring, the company has brought unmixed dredged material and regulated fill such as sand, stone, used asphalt, brick and block to the site.

"Everything Mr. Gadinski claimed here is erroneous, untrue and an absolute misrepresentation of the facts," McClellan said.

He also said Hazleton Creek is free to pursue damages against Gadinski and CAUSE for violating the agreement not to malign the groundwater monitoring plan.

When sending the report to the department, Tom Yurek, the president of CAUSE, wrote a cover letter saying he acted in the public interest.

"Note that this action is not a challenge by CAUSE to the PADEP or to Hazleton Creek Properties for the groundwater monitoring system," he wrote.

State Rep. Todd Eachus in the next few days plans to post a copy of Gadinski's report on his Web site,

Monday, November 2, 2009


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