Friday, September 25, 2009

Training Courses in Soil Science, Land-Based Wastewater Disposal, and Stormwater Infiltration

Wilkes University Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences and the Center for Environmental Quality is offering three 1-day courses on soil morphology, soils and wastewater / stormwater management, and introduction to hydric soils. These are field courses that are available for profession continuing education credits or university credit (undergraduate or graduate credit) that are being offered in Pennsylvania. For University Credit, an exit exam is required.

Course 1 - Soil Morphology- How to Describe and Interpret a Soil Profile
The one-day course will provide an introduction to soil science and soil morphology for the professional and educator. During the field component of the course, you will learn how to describe the physical properties of a soil, soil horizons, and make interpretations related to water movement and saturation.
Course Date - October 9, 2009 - (9:00 am to 5 pm)

Course 2- Application of Soil Science to Wastewater Recharge and Stormwater Management
The workshop will include a summary of the regulations related to land-based wastewater disposal and stormwater best management practices in Pennsylvania. The course will include a review of soil morphology, percolation/infiltration testing, and hands on field experience.
Course Date - October 16, 2009 - (9:00 am to 5 pm)

Course 3 - Introduction to Hydric Soils
This is an introduction to describing hydric soils, introduction to the use of the field indicators, and to the physiochemical reactions that occur with the soil and wetland ecosystem.
Course Date - October 23, 2009 - (9:00 am to 5 pm)

For more information, please go to
or call
1-570-408-4235 - Option 1
soils training courses Pennsylvania, field training Professionals, soil science, engineering, wastewater, stormwater

Mr. Brian Oram is a licensed professional geologist and the laboratory director for the Center for Environmental Quality at Wilkes University. In addition, we is the principle for B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc a family owned business based in Northeastern Pennsylvania and providing professional geological soils hydrogeological environmental consulting services since 1985.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Future Fuels and Pennsylvania - Fox

Fox Video on the siting of a carbon dioxide capture system and new energy resource based on coal in Pennsylvania. Future Fuels Director Albert Lin on the company's clean coal pact with China's Thermal Power Research.

Video at
Future Fuels and Carbon Capture in Pennsylvania

Western Pennsylvania oil, gas fields eyed for carbon dioxide storage

Western Pennsylvania oil, gas fields eyed for carbon dioxide storage
Original Source

Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The region's many oil and natural gas fields could become sites for the underground storage of carbon dioxide, which is one of the options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are harming the environment, a state environmental official said Wednesday.
The state is in the early stages of developing a database of potential sites that could be used for storing carbon dioxide captured from sources such as coal-fired power plants and cement plants, said Kristin M. Carter, section chief of carbon sequestration for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey.
"All of Western Pennsylvania is a prospective area because of the oil and gas drilling over the past 150 years," Carter said.
Identifying sites in the state for storing carbon dioxide might take seven to 10 years, Carter said, given all the factors that must be considered. Those include geologic conditions, environmental risks, the availability of potential sites and who owns the property where carbon dioxide could be pumped underground, Carter said.
The process of capturing carbon emissions and sequestering them underground is being explored at the International Pittsburgh Coal Conference, where 450 representatives of government, industry and universities are exploring how to reduce coal's impact on the environment. The four-day conference concludes today in the Westin Convention Center hotel, Downtown.
"CCS (carbon capture and storage) needs to be part of the" program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, said Anthony V. Cugini, director of the Office of Research and Development at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in South Park.
Finding where Pennsylvania can store carbon dioxide is important in a state that emits 1 percent of the world's human-caused global warming gases, and ranks third among all states in global warming emissions, according to a 2007 report from the National Environmental Trust, an environmental advocacy organization.
Pennsylvania has an estimated geologic capacity to store hundreds of years' worth of carbon emissions, at the present rate, according to a conservation department report issued in May as part of the project to develop the database. A 2008 law requires the state to study carbon dioxide sequestration, and a risk assessment report and business analysis is to be finished in November, Carter said.
"We have targeted deeper rock layers," Carter said, which are about 2,500 feet below the surface, far below the level of underground mine operations in Pennsylvania. Abandoned coal mines would not be good sites because of the proximity to the surface and potential for leaks, Carter said.
While no carbon dioxide emission sites have been targeted, Carter said there has been a case study on an area referred to as Summit Field in southern Fayette County.
The underground site is about 15 miles east of Allegheny Energy Inc.'s Hatfield's Ferry power plant along the Monongahela River in Greene County. The Summit Field in the Laurel Highlands includes state-owned land in the Forbes State Forest and is underneath small towns of fewer than 1,000 people, Carter said.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Announcements Related to Natural Gas Development - Frac Water Treatment

Please note that these are NoT articles written by Brian Oram or B.F. Environmental Consultants, but timely articles from the area.

Announcement # 1

"Major natural gas permit on hold in Wayne County
Buckingham Township, Pa. -
A natural gas drilling company will have to wait to at least December - possibly longer - for its operations in Wayne County to move forward until a critical environmental permit is approved by the Delaware River Basin Commission. A special public meeting on Wednesday, September 23 in Pike County regarding a one-million-gallon per day water withdrawal permit has been postponed by the request of the applicant, Chesapeake Appalachia. The commission also said on Thursday that it will not vote on the permit at its October 22 meeting. The commission’s next meeting is in December - stalling the natural gas producer’s plans in Wayne County, if the request is even approved then. Chesapeake Appalachia, of West Virginia, is a major leaseholder here and in other areas throughout the Commonwealth including Bradford County, which has witnessed a drastic upsurge in drilling this year. Bradford County, however, is under the jurisdiction of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, which has approved quite a few water withdrawal permits for the burgeoning natural gas industry there. Commission Spokesperson Clarke Rupert said on Friday that a date has not been set for the postponed public hearing.

The permit, originally submitted by the company in May, has been revised since then after the commission received innumerable comments - for and against - prior to and at a public hearing held in July in Bethlehem, Pa. The permit is asking for a copious amount of water, up to 30 million gallons a month, from the West Branch of the Delaware River in Buckingham Township, a pristine area of the Upper Delaware that has been designated as “Special Protection Waters” by the commission. The proposed site would be located on a private property adjacent to the river. An estimated five million gallons of water is needed - for one drilled well - to bust open deep underground formations to release natural gas beneath the surface.

Chesapeake Appalachia cannot produce Marcellus Shale natural gas wells without water; the commission, a five-member, state-appointed board, regulates water quality and quantity in the Delaware River Basin, requiring any substantial water users to seek environmental permits.

Stone Energy Corp., of Louisiana, also submitted a water withdrawal permit for the West Branch of the Lackawaxen River in Mount Pleasant Township. The water, if approved, would crack open one natural gas well in Clinton Township and proposed sites in Preston and Mount Pleasant Townships - targeting the Marcellus Shale, a vast geologic formation that contains trillions of tons of trapped natural gas. Wayne County ‘s population resides more than a mile above it. Stone Energy Corp. and Chesapeake Appalachia are the only companies with leaseholds in Wayne County that have submitted water permit applications to the commission, according to the agencies records as of Friday. The companies would only be able to use the water for natural gas wells in the Delaware River Basin, which includes most of Wayne County".

Article Written by: By Steve McConnell, Wayne Independent, Fri Sep 18, 2009, 02:32 PM EDT
Link to Article

Announcement # 2
Fracturing fluids spill into Susquehanna County stream
Dimock Township, Pa. -
"An investigation is underway into the spilling of 8,500 gallons of potentially harmful natural gas production fluid that also entered a stream and wetland in Dimock Township, Susquehanna County on Wednesday, The Wayne Independent has learned. “Frac gel” - a lubricating material used during the production process - poured out of a pipe that connected a chemical holding tank to a natural gas well, said Mark Carmon, a spokesperson for the state Department of Environmental Protection. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., a Texas company that has a number of natural gas wells in the area, reported the spill to DEP on Wednesday. The company is responsible for the incident, said Carmon.

DEP is in the process of identifying the exact nature of the fracturing fluids involved in order to measure the level of harm posed by the chemicals for human health and local wildlife, he said. Natural gas production companies use an array of chemicals, sand, and millions of gallons of water to extract the energy commodity by busting open underground rock formations, which are located more than a mile beneath the surface. The procedure is typically called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracing.”
The spill occurred on two occasions: once in the afternoon and a second Wednesday evening, equating to an estimated 8,500 gallons of fracturing fluid illegally flowing into the environment. The fluid made its way into Stevens Creek and a wetland, spurring a massive clean up and biological impact investigation by the state environmental regulator and the state fish & boat commission.“We’re up there again today (Thursday). We’re doing sampling,” said Carmon. “The most important thing for us is getting this cleaned up.” He added that the investigation will determine whether private wells need to be sampled for fracturing chemicals. The chemicals can be harmful to human health, causing sickness and the possibility of various forms of cancer.

This would be Cabot Oil & Gas Corp’s second disastrous incident in Dimock Township since the company began extensive drilling operations in the township last year. A protective well casing failed at a different well around December 2008, causing methane to pollute the local aquifer. Due to that, neighbors in the area had their private wells tainted with methane, forcing some to drink bottled water. Their residences were also constantly monitored for the explosive yet odorless gas.
The spill on Wednesday occurred in the vicinity of a natural gas well named “Heitsman.” According to a Wayne Independent review of DEP records, Cabot has five natural gas wells called “Heitsman” - with four of the five incurring violations from the state environmental regulator.The violations centered on inadequate or non-existing erosion and sediment control plans, which prevent harmful chemicals, for example, from running off drill sites into nearby waterways. "
Article Written by: By Steve McConnell, Wayne Independent, Thu Sep 17, 2009, 04:10 PM EDT
Link to Article

B.F. Environmental Inc. Partners with National Water Testing Business

B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. has partnered with National Testing Laboratories (NTL) to provide informational water testing for private wells, springs, and other water sources. This relationship offers are customers access to world-class water testing service at an affordable price. This testing is for informational purposes only and not for a regulatory submission or legal action. By having the water tested professionally from a lab that uses approved and EPA methodologies, the testing results carry the quality and reliability of a certified test and provide information to target and identify potential environmental issues at an affordable rate. This service provides an affordable option for attempting to identify problems, design water private residential water treatment systems, and confirm the general quality of the water.

The featured water testing package is the Well Check Water Testing package. This package  our well water testing package that includes microbiological testing (Total Coliform & E-Coli) and the analysis of 19 heavy metals & minerals, 6 inorganic chemicals and physical factors. This package helps homeowners to determine what is in their well water and if a treatment system is needed. This package is a great follow up test for our customers who are using our Watercheck test package and need to determine if new treatment systems are working to correct any bacteria or metals issues that were detected. This product also benefits anyone who is looking to monitor their well water on a regular basis. There is no more reliable, easier, faster, or cost effective way for testing your drinking water". For more details follow this Informational Water Testing Program .

For additional outreach services and information on water treatment, visit us at

Looking for more Free Information - Visit our Online Helpguide - Its Free !

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hazleton firm offering free disposal of oil

Hazleton firm offering free disposal of oil

The Hazleton Oil & Environmental Inc., will be celebrating Oil Recycling Day during the week of Sept. 28 to Oct. 2.

Persons may bring their waste oil, antifreeze, oil filters and vehicle batteries and the items will be collected with no charge to the participants. However, people are reminded not to bring any hazardous waste such as paint or gasoline, it will not be accpeted.

The first 200 participants will receive a free gift at the time of the drop off.

The drop off site is located along SR309 between Hazleton and McAdoo. The collection process will run from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information call (570) 458-3496.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

River dredge material to reclaim mine land in PA

Transport of river dredge to reclaim mine land resumes
By KENT JACKSON (Staff Writer)
Published: September 10, 2009

Trains have resumed transporting material dredged from the Delaware River to mine land in Hazleton that a developer is reclaiming.

The developer, Hazleton Creek Properties, is removing 200,000 cubic yards of dredged material that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stored along the Delaware at Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia.

Corps spokesman Steve Rochette said Hazleton Creek is shipping the material through options on a contract from 2006.

The original contract paid the company $21 million for withdrawing 500,000 cubic yards, which were delivered to Hazleton by truck and train through 2007.

Rochette didn't know the payment that Hazleton Creek will receive for shipping the next 200,000 cubic yards, which he said could go to Hazleton or to other approved sites.

So far this year, about 100,000 cubic yards have left Fort Mifflin on weekly trains, he said.

The Corps also plans to remove another 65,000 cubic yards this fall before closing the contract with Hazleton Creek, Rochette said.

While Hazleton Creek might remove 765,000 cubic yards of dredged material through its contract with the Corps, the company estimates reclaiming the land in Hazleton will require 10 million cubic yards.

Hazleton Creek also imported brick, block, stone and other materials sorted from demolition sites to Hazleton. The material helped build roads and a railroad line at the site.

The site includes pits and former landfills on 277 acres bounded by routes 309, 93 and 924. Mayor Lou Barletta said the land could house an amphitheater, stores, restaurants and motels when he enlisted Hazleton Creek as a developer.

Hazleton Creek paid the city about $750,000 in royalties based on the amount of dredged material delivered to the site in 2006 and 2007.

Then last year, Hazleton Creek agreed to purchase the land for $3 million, payable in yearly installments of $600,000 to the Hazleton City Authority. The authority keeps the deed until the payments are complete.

Acting City Administrator Mary Ellen Lieb said Hazleton officials knew that shipments of dredged materials resumed.

The state Department of Environmental Protection also received advance notice of shipments, spokesman Mark Carmon said. Hazleton Creek must disclose the source of materials before shipping them and also must test the materials, according to state requirements.

Hazleton Creek also has the state's permission to mix dredged material with fly ash and dust from cement or lime kilns.

To determine whether the mixture could resist water seeping through or around it, the department conducted tests at Bark Camp in Clearfield County. After the tests, the department issued a general permit allowing the mixture's use as mine fill at approved sites.

Carmon said he isn't aware that any mixing has occurred at the Hazleton site yet.

Because the mixture hadn't undergone long-term testing and because dredged material and fly ash can contain metals and other hazards, two citizens groups challenged Hazleton Creek's plans.

In a settlement approved by the state Environmental Hearing Board, Hazleton Creek was allowed to continue reclaiming land but had to install more monitoring wells.

Carmon said the new wells were installed, and Hazleton Creek supplies test results of the well water to the department's mining office in Pottsville.


Article Source

Drinking well contamination probed in Nockamixon

Possible drinking well contamination probed
The Intelligencer
State officials are investigating a possible hazardous chemical contamination in Nockamixon.

Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection is looking into elevated levels of trichloroethylene, commonly called TCE, in drinking wells near Route 412 and Route 611.

Agency scientists began testing wells at 16 homes along routes 412 and 611 last month and are awaiting completed questionnaires from those homeowners before further testing, said DEP spokeswoman Lynda Rebarchak.

The DEP is working to investigate the contamination's severity, how far it has spread and whether there is an active pollution source.

"We want to get out there and look at some of these homes that have TCE levels in their wells and those who are in close proximity to the wells just to get a sense of what's going on," she said.

With no public water system, Nockamixon Township homes, schools and businesses rely on their own private wells, which draw from the same groundwater.

Unfortunately, TCE contamination is not uncommon, said Rebarchak.

The chemical was once a commonly used degreasing agent in any number of businesses.

It was also used by homeowners, and at one point was even used as a degreasing agent in septic systems.

"Quite often, what we're seeing now is because of handling from 20 to 30 years ago or more," she said.

Drinking or breathing high levels of TCE can cause a variety of nervous system problems, liver and lung damage, abnormal heartbeat, and possibly death, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

TCE is also believed to cause cancer.

Amanda Cregan can be reached at 215-538-6371 or

September 09, 2009 02:39 AM

Original article or posting

Another Reason for Private Well Construction Standards in PA

Beltzville Lake Estates

A site meeting was held at Beltzville Lake Estates to try and find a solution to contaminated water. Attending were Sean Corey of Spotts Stevens and McCoy, the sewage enforcement officer; Bill Richards from Rep. Keith McCall's office; Rob Stermer from the Department of Environmental Protection; William Meecham, a resident of the development who brought it to supervisors' attention in August; and the supervisors.

They found evidence of contamination of surface water and a stream that begins at an artesian well. Stermer suggested dye testing to eliminate on-lot septic systems as possible sources.

E coli and fecal matter have been found in Meecham's well and another house going in does not meet location requirements. The proposed septic system has to be 50 feet from a water source and his is six feet. It is believed the drainage moved closer to the proposed site since the approved test was done. The water will have to be redirected or another site for the septic system will have to be found.

Ducks were removed from the property since they were considered a possible source but it did not make a difference.

Joseph Faradlo said, after last month's complaint that his septic system did not work even though it passed inspection, he found neighbors whose system were not working properly also and passed inspection. He suggested the township get a new sewage enforcement officer.

Original author - By ELSA KERSCHNER
September 9, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sustainable Energy Fund $ 20,000 Grant for Businesses - PA Program !

Sustainable Energy Fund, a Lehigh Valley-based non-profit organization that invests in renewable energy projects, energy efficiency projects, and energy education initiatives, announces a limited-time grant opportunity for small businesses in PA. Must be within the PPL Electric Utilities territory, and if the project yields at least a measurable 15% increase in energy efficiency, a business may be eligible for up to $20,000. Only one grant may be submitted per contractor or grant-seeking entity. Retrofits of existing buildings, ventilation systems, windows, automated control systems, lighting, or deployment of renewable energy technologies.

To view the entire program qualifications and eligiblilty, or to download an application, please visit

Sincerely, Sharon Ettinger, Marketing and PRogram Funding Manager, SEF

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What should be the goal of the Low Income Energy Assistance and Weatherization Programs?????

My understanding of the program

The Department of Public Welfare has updated Pennsylvania’s proposed Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) State Plan for the Federal Fiscal Year 2010. LIHEAP is a federally-funded program which enables the commonwealth to help households with low incomes meet their home heating needs. LIEAP Credits are based on household size, household income and the type of fuel used as the primary heating source. Payments are made directly to the fuel provider.
Problem - where is the insentive to make the home or apartment more energy efficient or to conserve ! If we just keep paying the heating cost - the cost is going to go up and up and we are wasting more and more energy.

Crisis Assistance:
Help is available to eligible clients facing an emergency: A life or health threatening situation, deposit funds for a fuel hook-up or to avoid a shut-off, or a heating system failure during winter months. For more information, please contact the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095, Monday through Friday (individuals with hearing impairments may call the TDD number at 1-800-451-5886).

We need to be there for the Critical need, but for an inefficient poorly built apartment we are wasting money in the long-term. We need to support the program, but a portion of the funding should go to long-term changes and improvements - Not Just Weatherization. Many places need new windows, doors, and even insulation !
Does this require a change in the Federal Program?

What is Weatherization
Typical measures addressed by the Weatherization program are: Monitoring for unsafe conditions such as carbon monoxide leaks, poor ventilation and wiring, tuning and adjusting the heating system, wrapping pipes and water heaters, sealing major air leaks and caulking, insulating attics, floors, walls, ceilings and bellies of mobile homes.
In my company a non-profit provides this weatherization assistance for free to individuals living in apartments. When I asked if the landlord has to pay back the cost for the improvement, I was told that he does not, but he is required to sign an agreement he would not increase the rent. That is a joke.

My recommendation

1. We need to provide assistance as hopefully a short-term program.

2. When individuals come into this program, if they are a homeowner - they should be give the option of getting a grant or allocation to make the home more efficient. Put in new windows, insulation, and install energy efficient practices that should allow them to pay their own bills. They would not be eligible for the program unless their was a lose of empolyment or medical, but the payments would be put on as a lien against the real estate.

3. Individuals in an appartment or Section 8 housing - they should not get this at all. The landlords should be required to make the homes energy efficient as a requirement to be able to rent the unit or be part of Section 8 housing. I was in one apartment that rented for $ 450.00 per month plus utilities - the winter gas bill was over $ 600.00 per month. Even after putting plastic and sealing all of the windows- which filled up like ballons - the cold area was coming through the walls - there was no insulation.

We should realize that "money does not grow on trees" and that we have to invest in our infrastructure and our people. Landlords must take the responsibility as a citizen to do their part to make our county efficient.

Just my thoughts - let look to the short term and the long term. We need to encourage people to save, pay their own bills, take responsibility for their decisions, but at the same time be a good neighbor and help.